Saturday, April 27, 2013

What Kids Clothes Week does to the kids...

Two interesting moments today.

Moment 1:  asking Marcus to model a lovely hot pink striped dress.

Just the shot I wanted for my blog and to check the fit...complete with a nice flash of his monster alien underpants :)

Seemingly wearing a dress is the funniest thing ever.

Moment 2:  Issy drawing a picture of us today.

There's the dog (looking like a cat...) on the sofa at the top, Mummy on the left, Issy and Marcus playing with toys at the bottom.

Let's have a close up of Mummy in that picture:

Yes, I am standing at the raised counter bench area, doing some pattern tracing and cutting.  Significant enough impact on her life that I made it into her pictures...Should I feel bad?  Nah...I am seriously considering making this my profile picture :)

Here it is again once coloured in, as she did such a nice job.

Woo Hoo for KCW!

Days 2, 3 and 4 of KCW

A little behind on the blogging but I have been sewing sewing sewing (with a little knitting thrown in for good measure).

Various finished bits and pieces :)

A Heidi and Finn Cowl Neck Dress...without the cowl:

The little girl who I made this for *hates* wearing dresses and wants to only wear boys clothes.  Am hoping a plainish, non-pink, snuggly "tunic" might be the ticket.  I plan to make some leggings for underneath out of the same burnt orange jersey.

I left off the cowl as I thought it might be too dressy and fussy - instead I used the bound neckline option (like the Flashback Skinny Tee, option 2).

That bicycles dress was the leftovers from Marcus' hoodie (shown below).  I often end up buying too much but this time I am pleased I did!  I didn't realise I would get a hoodie for him and a dress for someone else...

Then...I made another out of the leftovers from Issy's hoodie (not yet finished).  This one is for another friend's daughter who loves dresses, but not stuff around her neck (apparently I know some picky kids!).  I love the simplicity of this dress anyway...

I toyed with idea of making a belt like this (well actually I just about fully made the belt then decided against it).  I like the look but I think it would be a lot cleaner looking if I had made it as a faux belt attached to the dress all the way around, rather than as an actual belt.

I tried this on a similar sized model (not the recipient) and think it might be a little long, but will tell her mum just to bring it over and we can adjust it quickly if so.

There is something odd going on with the hem here, I think it's because the mystery model is twirling...

I also finished off the hoodie I blogged on day one, for Marcus:

This is what happens when you ask him to model while the Octonauts is on...

He does actually like it and it looks great.  I love the burnt orange contrast lining/facing.  My adjustment to not fully line it worked fairly well, and the buttons make it look super cool.

Plus I have started sewing Issy's hoodie, cut out a Flashback Skinny Tee for them both and have plans for a Go To Signature dress as a nightie for Issy's birthday.

I should mention at this stage that I plan to extend KCW to be KCF (Kids Clothes Fortnight) as my husband is still away and my bloggy mate Amanda from Ellieboo has been away this week.  Assuming she isn't pooped from her holiday, we are having our own KCW next week.  Hurrah for sewing!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

KCW update

So I didn't yet post for days 2,3,4... but I have been sewing! I have made most of two Urban Unisex Hoodies and two Cowl Neck Dresses (apparently I am rocking the Heidi and Finn patterns this KCW!).

Annoyingly though, I have also been ill. So I have been super slack in the blogging :( I hope to catch up tomorrow or Sunday.

Meanwhile I am staying at Mum's tonight for some R&R.  But it's still KCW, so I am knitting:

My friend is having a baby soonish, but selfishly has not found out the gender.  So I am making the booties above with either pink or orange blanket stitch, depending on what arrives.

I am also going to make this matching rabbit:

This is super cute. But first (as it's KCW), the booties...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Also NOT for KCW: Elegance & Elephants Bubble Shorts Pattern Test

I was asked a couple of week's ago to test the very lovely Bubble Pocket Shorts pattern from Elegance and Elephants.  I finished my version and then went away for work and haven't got around to blogging this until now.  While I didn't make these in Kid's Clothes Week, the post is at least a perfect fit for the theme :)

Bubble Shorts - Hands in Pockets

I ummed and ahhed a bit about whether to put my hand up to pattern test this one.  Mostly because I live in Tasmania, where we are hurtling rapidly towards winter and I wasn't sure of how much longevity this make would have (despite being in Australia, we don't really have a need for shorts in the Tassie winter!).  However, I found a fabric I thought would be perfect, and I think she could wear these with a pair of navy tights over our winter too!

I previously tested the Ruffle Top pattern from E&E and was delighted to find the Bubble Pocket Shorts are just as well thought out and constructed.  It's a lovely pattern with two variations - one is the classic (which I made) and the other is a sailor style front which is super super super cute.  I chose to make the classic only because I was short on time (going away for work) and they are ridiculously quick to sew.  Even with pattern tracing and so on I think they only took me about 3 hours or so.

Bubble Shorts - Tummy

I made them from a blue seersucker which has darker blue pears all over it.  I accented the front with a red bow to break up the print a little.  I love this picture - I asked her to "pull her top up a little to show me the whole of the shorts" hahahaha.

Another winner from E&E - she says they are comfortable (as evidenced from the picture below) and she really likes the pockets.  She said something vague about them not being like other shorts - I think she feels the pocket fullness and bow make them more appealing like a skirt which is awesome news for those of us who struggle to encourage our kids into trousers and shorts!

Bubble Shorts - Upside down

A great compromise between her preferred skirt and the more practical shorts - necessary when there is a lot of this sort of thing going on!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Exactly what is my ethos? The "Frenchification" revisited... and the Handmaker's Factory Pledge

Previously on this blog, I have discussed moving away from the disposable culture and my ideal notion of frenchification.  That post was back in October, during the last (and my first) KCW.  The arrival of the next KCW (this week) made me look back over the last, and to revisit where my head was at in those

My initial thoughts on this topic are summarised below (from the original post).

  • I would like to buy fewer things, but buy things of higher quality
  • I need to invest in the things that I have, and look after them better
  • I have not adequately prepared for Kids Clothes Week Challenge and am instead procrastinating with lofty musings
  • This resolution applies to more than clothes - am sitting in my very much in need of decluttering house... 
  • I am full of good intentions but probably need some sort of action plan otherwise I might be reposting this again in several months time with no change.

Since this post, I have in fact thought a lot about this and have tried to live a little more accordingly.  I haven't sorted out the final bullet point yet, but have been aware of it and also have been trying to enact the first two in various ways.  I have also read Overdressed:  The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion and while it didn't change my life (I was already heading in the direction indicated...), it added weight to what is slowly taking hold for me.  I haven't spent a lot of time and effort and planning on this yet but I think my new summary of how I am feeling looks like this:

  1. I need to consume less
  2. I need to better look after the things I already have
  3. I need to make as many things as I can, preferably from "good" (sustainable, organic, recycled etc) materials
  4. Sometimes, I will buy cheap stuff for the kids (and also for me) from the likes of Target and "the dubs" (Big W) and that is OK.  My life is not a mission of binary, polarising values; I am not a saint and as long as I am thinking and trying and considering my purchases, buying things is not/does not make me "bad".
  5. I still need a plan

What I need help with here is - with limited time - what is the plan?  I currently vacillate between these two approaches:

  • Trying to sew lots of the basics (tee shirts, tops, quicky skirts etc).  The theory here would be that these are the things that I am mostly likely to buy as "disposable" fashion items, so I would achieve a lot by making those myself.  They are also most frequently worn, and most open to personalisation with minimal risk.  On the flip side, they are also insubstantial (in sewing terms) and so perhaps less exciting for me to sew.  It's also hard to reproduce the range of fabrics and designs that exist commercially - my particular bugbear issue being unable to find matching or complementary rib for nice knit fabrics.  The real temptation point is of course that I don't save a lot of money by sewing these things either, as they are so cheap anyway (for all the horrible reasons outlined in Overdressed).
  • The alternate route I see is to sew the things which are more timeless and long lasting in the wardrobe.  My recent foray into trouser making was exciting - I wear trousers a lot and now feel like I could have a stab at a variety of different trouser shapes / styles from my basic pattern (or the experience and shape of the basic pattern combined with a new pattern).  I struggle to find nice bras for a reasonable price - a long held goal is to make my own which would be a revelation for me, but which I suspect is it's own journey of discovery re fit and materials and so forth.  I also think sewing exercise wear would be an astonishing saving, with vest tops costing at least $40-50 and hoodie type running jackets in around the $150 mark for extremely basic clothing.
This isn't really a question I think, as the answer is (most obviously) that I should sew a bit of both.  I can't solely do one or the other, and it doesn't make sense to, but that means I have to reconcile that I won't be sewing one or the other to the exclusion of purchasing that set of items either.

It's not easy, especially when I work close to full time and have all manner of gardening, hanging with the kids, exciting TV and wine drinking to be getting on with as well as sewing :) but I think it's worth the thinking about it and the writing about it and the pause I feel when my hand reaches for a $15 top or a bolt of cheapie fabric in Spotlight.  I recently read Jorth's post about her daughter's desire to adopt the Handmaker's Factory Pledge and I decided to do the same.  The pledge is not all or nothing - it involves learning and thinking about the impact and source of goods - exactly where I am at!  And so:

As a member of Handmaker's Factory I pledge that I shall learn about the impact my clothing choices make on our planet, step off the merry-go-round of dictated fashion and confidently explore the traditional craft of making my own clothes. As part of this global interactive community I will share my passion and expertise, be respectful to others and have fun! 

Look out for all my *expertise* coming at you :)

KCW Day One - Urban Hoodie Modification

I recently saw some super cute plush backed fleece in Spotlight and snapped it up before it was all gone.  I bought three colours - an orange geometric design for me, a grey and hot pink stripe for Issy and some cream with super cute orange bicycles for Marcus.

Hoodie fabrics

The plush back of the fleece was so snuggly and soft that I wanted to modify the Urban Unisex Hoodie from Heidi and Finn pattern to make it mostly unlined, so the plushness wasn't wasted.  For my first "hour" (it was somewhat more!) of KCW I worked out how to change the lining into a hood lining and facing, then got sewing.  As you can see from the picture above, I got a lovely orange rib to make the lining/facing from which goes very well with the bicycles on the fleece.

To do this pattern modification I had to draft a couple of new pattern pieces, which were really just thinner edge versions of the main pattern pieces.

Here is the (rather insignificant looking) back facing:

Drafting Urban Hoodie Back Facing

And this was the front facing:

Drafting Urban Hoodie Front Facing

I then changed the construction order as follows:

  • Overlock the facing edges
  • Make hood as normal
  • Attach outer shell at shoulders, attached facings together at shoulders
  • Attach hood and facings
  • Sew down facings
  • Set in sleeves
  • Side seams
  • Carry on from step 20 as normal
On the whole, this seems to have worked fairly well.  The facings shore up the front edges and hide the neck seam well.

Bicycle Hoodie Facing

However, the rib I used here for the lining/facing was quite unstable and stretched across the neckline.  In comfort terms this is neither here nor there, but it looks a bit unsightly from inside.  I will likely modify further when I make Issy's, to separate the neckline facing from the edges facing, which should allow me to tuck the facing edges under and top stitch down for a neater finish.

For Marcus I used the size six this time, which so far looks like a good fit.

Trying on bicycle hoodie

Actually, it's a bit hard to tell much about the fit from this picture, but notably the thing will be definitely long enough with the band attached, and the sleeves are long enough (my kids have monkey arms they got from their father...)

Looking forward to my hour of power today!  I will likely sew longer again to capitalise on having a husband out of the country and a reason to sew sew sew :)  Hopefully I can finish this one off and get the facings etc cut out for Issy's version.  More tomorrow - how awesome is Kid's Clothes Week!

NOT Day 1 of KCW - Urban Hoodie for Marcus

I made this a week or so ago, so this is not really a Kid's Clothes Week post, despite this being day one.

I bought the Urban Unisex Hoodie from Heidi and Finn a looong time ago (as part of their five for $25 pattern deal) and never got around to making it.  I don't know why I waited so long as it's gorgeous! I think it was probably just a lack of fleece / hoodie material that I liked.  I eventually got to it recently and here is the result:

Marcus in Star Hoodie

I found this star printed fleece at Spotlight and immediately saw this small person in a hoodie or zippy top made out of it.  It's lined with a plain grey rib, which is reasonably thin, but even so this is super snuggly.

Marcus in Star Hoodie leaning

The only issue I had was that the pattern only went to size five, and my enormous three year old has grown!  I didn't try it on as I went, so I had to remove the original band around the bottom and replace it with a larger one.  I think it looks better with the smaller band (better balanced) but it is still super cute and lovely for the colder weather we are having.

Marcus in Star Hoodie with Hood

The pattern was straightforward to follow and quick to make.  I promptly went off to buy the larger size and am making both kids a modified version for KCW...more on that soon!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Two Skinny Flashback Tees

As part of a sew-a-long with the lovely Amanda, I recently made a couple of Rae's Flashback Skinny Tees for the kids.  Amanda has already finished and posted her Star Trek effort - which I love, though I think she considers it kind of like a muslin...

So here are mine:

Man they look like criminals in this one...

Did you spot the deliberate error?  Yes, the only pictures I have of the kids in their tops so far is before I finished the necks and sleeves and hems.  To be honest, you get the idea.  And actually, I am kind of digging the boat neck vibe that Marcus has going on and I might make a wider, shallower neck version of this at some point as a result :)

Here are the finished ones: 

This is a Michael Miller stretch from  It is kind of firmer than a jersey knit and I quite like that it gives the top a smarter look.

This is Marcus' tee once finished.  A striped jersey, again from  I love the way the neckline looks in the stripes.  I was going to add a patch pocket to this in the opposite direction or diagonal to the stripe, but then I vagued out and forgot.  I will add one to the next version I think :)

The pattern has various variations (such an awesome sentence..) including cuffs versus hems, several different necklines etc.  I hemmed both rather than cuffing the sleeves, but tried two different necklines:

For Marcus, I did the standard option:

 And I don't like it.  I may have executed it poorly, but it looks messy and it seems like he would find it a bit uncomfortable as there is jaggedyness in there (totally technical term).

For Issy; the bound neckline:

 which by comparison, I love.  It seems like it might take longer but I am not sure it did, as you don't have to finish the seam inside and I think the difference might be taking twelve minutes instead of ten (or whatever), which is totally worth it.

So- I like the pattern and have my pinterest eye on various variations (my favourite new expression) which I plan to tackle as part of Kids Clothes Week.  I imagine I will make many more of these, especially as this is a pattern which goes to bigger sizes.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

First Wearable Chloe Pants!

As previously mentioned, I have been working on successive muslins of the Tessuti Chloe Pants.  The first muslin was a straight make of the pattern, with some adjustments for sizing only.  It was made in homespun and blogged here.  For the second muslin, I moved the zipper to centre front and added a waistband with a tab closure.  I also adjusted for my somewhat flat posterior, and considered adding in seam pockets but didn't.  It was made of black homespun and blogged here.

I finally felt ready to make a "real" version - and this is the result.

I am a bit annoyed with myself in my fabric choice for this.  I found a remnant of dark denim which was a serendipitous match as I think it came from the remnant table at Tessuti.  I didn't really think about until I started cutting, but there is actually some stretch in this fabric, which wasn't really what I wanted for this make, it meant I wasn't really comparing apples with apples in terms of fit.

Having realised that, I plowed ahead bravely and decided to make a semi-skinny jean type version rather than the looser fitting Chloe Pant.  This means my first version of the Chloe is very un-Chloe...oh well!

As you can see, these are rather more skinny than the pattern.  I have also made them tighter across the waist and hip (unflatteringly so, in these pictures...) to allow for how much this fabric relaxes during wear.

For this version, I focused on thinking about the details and what I might want to change for successive makes.  I used the turn under and stitch method of finishing the crotch seam - this makes for a smooth and non-bulky seam finish.

I added my tabbed waistband, as for muslin two.

Here you can possibly see how I made the tab parts before attaching the waistband, which allowed for a neater finish.  Here is the waistband added to the pants:

And this is how it looks when closed.  You can also see in these pictures one of the bits I loved most about these - the lapped zipper.  Jill from Patchworks (my sewing teacher mentor lady) showed me how to do this, though I have since found various tutorials on the internet.  It looks so neat and professional, and with the waistband addition I love these pants.

Here is the waist band sitting closed.  I realised after I was finished adding the waistband, I had fallen into a trap for young players.  If I had made the long tab of the waistband on the other side (or the lapped zipper in reverse) then the tab of the waist band would work with the lap of the zip, rather than against it as it does here.  This isn't super critical, but the front of the pants would sit better with it the other way.

So all up, these are now my go to pants pattern.  I think this pattern will make my lovely linen pants for summer (my original intention), good jeans-type pants like these, some nice work pants and probably also a shorts pattern for next summer.  I am aware they don't really resemble the original pattern so much (except for muslin one) but I definitely like a waistband on trousers and I think the fit of these is better for me.  Next time, I will definitely add pockets too!

Not bad for a ten dollar download :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Chloe Pants - Muslin Two

So I have been away from blogging for a while, mostly (excitingly) because I have been sewing.  I have been getting on with a second muslin, and a first wearable of the Tessuti Chloe Pants.

As you might recall, I had some issues with my flat ass in my first muslin below:

This is the second muslin - this time in black homespun.  As you can see below, the fit is a lot better in the seat.   These aren't finished at the leg hem or similar, so they look a bit more baggy in the leg because they are sitting on the ground....

In this version, I added a waistband and moved the zip to the front.  Please ignore the fact that I used a beige invisible zip which shows horribly - I was too impatient to wait for a trip to Spotlight!

Similarly, the waistband sits out in the picture below as I haven't actually put buttons and hooks on the tab of the waist.  I wanted to move on once the fit was good to the first proper pair, which is coming in the next post :)

Happy sewing!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Handprinted: A Fabric Swap III - All Finished!

I think I already mentioned that I signed up for Handprinted: A Fabric Swap III, which is hosted by Leslie Keating over at Maze & Vale.  I was initially a bit intimidated by signing up, as the fabric Leslie produces is amazing.  I have a stash of it ready to make some cushions with when I get to it!

But meanwhile, I took the plunge and got stamping.  There are some work in progress shots here.  The swap rules were pretty simple - you were to use natural fibres for the fabric, and had to send a fat quarter each to your four swap buddies.  I ended up making four different fat quarters as I was having fun playing with the different fabric bases and colours:

My first effort was a kind of wedge shape of teal on white linen.  I went all old-school (or indeed primary school) and used cut up sweet potato for this stamping.  This is one of my favourites of the four and was very artsy-fartsily based on the shells below.

Our last holiday with the kids was to Eaglehawk Neck in Tasmania.  The weather wasn't super great but we still went to run around the beach.  There were heaps of these conical shells and my husband made a long line of them in the sand (I think the kids were saying it was a fence to keep out penguins or something...).    Anyway, I liked the look of the shapes all in row, so that was the inspiration for the teal wedges stamping.

My next two used a mixture of cut sweet potato (the kind of bug-like prints) and some lino stuff I got from a local art shop (the pink and green ones).  This one was on natural linen

And this was on white linen.  Its hard to tell here but the pink shapes make a kind of gridded criss cross pattern.  I liked stamping with sweet potato but wanted to see if I got a crisper result from the lino stuff.  In addition, I got to buy new toys, in the form of a set of japanese steel tools for carving the stuff - they are awesome :)

I spent rather a lot of time messing about with the lino and eventually came up with what is my favourite print, shown below.  I cut a diamond with an open side and a diamond inside it.  This didn't have any inspiration except that I really like geometric shapes, like triangles and diamonds.

I used yellow, red and made an orange to go in between.  I then roughly flicked some paint all over the surface to add to the graininess of it.  I love this one and will likely make some more of it for me.

I have received three of my four fat quarters in return and they are fantastic - I will share them all when the fourth comes.  The only real downside of living in Tasmania is how very far away we are from things - I sent my pieces a bit early to try and compensate for this but sometimes I just have to be patient waiting for the post!

I would thoroughly recommend Handprinted to anyway wanting to try out stamping.  Leslie has some great tutorials to get you started.  If for some reason you don't want to try it yourself...the maze and vale etsy shop is a great way to kill some time and part with some cash :)