more swooning

Well, it seems that Stella passed her URTI on to me.  But there is an upside – although we cancelled most social engagements over the weekend, and while I did feel rotten and still do – I didn’t feel so rotten that I couldn’t sew.  So while the kids rested up and watched tv and played with the dog and enjoyed the knitting nancy, I put the pedal to the floor and got quite a bit of sewing done.

Swoon scarf neck cardi in ponte from Clear It

This is the Swoon Scarf Neck Cardi, a free pattern for girls (and there is a women’s version). You’ve seen it before, on Clare. And you’ll see it again! I printed off a second copy (one of the advantages of pdf patterns) and quickly taped and cut the size 5/6 for Stella. Stella is 7 years old, but quite small.

Swoon scarf neck cardi in ponte from Clear It

The fabric is a super spongy ponte from Clear It (most likely from the Alannah Hill range). I’d already made myself a cardigan from it (as yet unblogged) and already knew that it would handle best with the overlocker for construction and a simple zig-zag stitch to secure the hems. So that is what I did. The edges were only turned once to the inside as the fabric is quite substantial but doesn’t fray, then zig-zagged along the edge.

Swoon scarf neck cardi in ponte from Clear It

On my monitor the fabric looks incredibly bright, and a fuchsia shade. In real life it is still bright, but more towards a candy shade of pink than a fuchsia. It is quite substantial, and clearly contains a fairly high percentage of lycra. Just perfect for a child’s cardigan. Stella styled it with a dress that I originally made for Clare, and a coordinating orange hair clip. I think she’s done a great job of her outfit!

Swoon scarf neck cardi in ponte from Clear It

I like the pointed hemline and the curved princess seams at the side fronts. Although very fast to make, it’s a fashionable style and has just enough detail to look quite “now”. Maybe I’d better tape up the women’s version of the pattern too.

Swoon scarf neck cardi in ponte from Clear It

And last but definitely not least, thank you all SO much for your lovely comments on the girls’ Eowyn and Ellie costumes.  I really enjoyed making them, and am pleased that you all seemed to enjoy seeing them as well!  And now time for more painkillers and a little more sewing…..

 

Ellie

Stella has been sick with a head cold since Thursday (we got the phone call to come and collect her from school after she fell asleep in the classroom….) and we really didn’t think that she would make it to the book week parade this year.  In the end she perked up just enough to go in to school for an hour and join her friends to show off her costume, talk about the book it was from, and share some alliterative poems that she had written.  The kids were all SO excited; it was lovely to share in the fun with them.

Stella as Ellie - book week 2014

Stella has enjoyed The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley for a little while now. Our version is a 1986 hardback with beautiful illustrations by Anne Grahame Johnstone. (You might also remember the 1978 film of the book that mixed live action and animation – you can find it here on YouTube if you are interested).  The little girl in the white dress – Ellie – was the character that Stella wanted to be. Originally I hoped that we’d be able to cobble together a costume from existing clothing, and that in combination with the mob cap she would look the part. But then I got mother guilt over all the time that I’d spent on Clare’s costume, so on Thursday morning I decided to make a new dress for Stella too. She was VERY pleased that I did, so I got some mummy points there.

Stella as Ellie - book week 2014

On to the pattern details! I used two vintage patterns that were in my stash, Simplicity 8576 and Style 4247. The dress is mostly the Style pattern (the version illustrated in green), but the sleeves are from the Simplicity pattern. I also made the matching pantaloons from the Style pattern, but Stella refused to wear them as they were “wide” and chose to wear leggings instead. Righto. I used size 6 for both the dress and the sleeves.  It’s roomy, but not ridiculously so, and Stella is rather skinny.

Ellie from The Water Babies costume - sleeves from vintage Simplicity 8576 and rest of dress from vintage Style 4247

And the fabric? Would you believe that I didn’t have any crisp white cotton in stash? So I used an old sheet. And the more eagle eyed of you will have already noticed that it is not a consistent shade of white around the dress. Should have bleached it first. That is what you get for using an old sheet. The parts of the dress cut from the edges of the sheet (utilising the selvedges so I wouldn’t have to finish the edges) are a lovely crisp white. The parts cut from the centre? Not so much. Is that too much information for you?

Stella as Ellie - book week 2014

I cut the skirt in one piece utilising the sheet hem as the hem, and added the tucks and the lace as per the pattern. Cotton is so easy to work with, and having the skirt already hemmed saved a bit of time. The laces were all in my stash, and were mostly vintage as well.

Stella as Ellie - book week 2014

I did take some short cuts. This dress is meant to be fully lined; I left out the lining entirely. Seam allowances were either not finished at all (if cut from the edge of the sheet) or they were pinked or overlocked. And the bias neck band had one edge overlocked so that after it was attached I could just turn it to the inside them top-stitch it in place knowing that there would be plenty of fabric to be caught in the stitching. This is something that I would usually turn under and hand-stitch on the wrong side of the dress. By hey, this is a costume – and one with a deadline!

Stella as Ellie - book week 2014

I used an invisible zipper in the centre back seam to close the dress – and hey, check out how well I matched the waist seam across the zipper! I shall blow my own trumpet on that one! But don’t notice that it needs a hook and eye at the top of the neckline. I didn’t add one. Lazy.

Stella as Ellie - book week 2014

The sleeves frankenpatterned in very easily. The notches matched perfectly, and then I just gathered the sleeve cap in to fit. I took another short cut with the sleeves though. The puffed upper sleeve is meant to be sewn to a stay, to maximise the amount of puff. I left the stay out, and simply gathered the upper sleeve to the lower sleeve and to the armhole. The upper puffed part of the sleeve is cut on the bias, so using the stay would be a great idea for extra puff and I’ll remember it if I use this pattern again. There is also an elbow dart in the lower sleeve to make it conform more nicely to the body. I have to say that I love vintage patterns for those sorts of details. They’re not hard to do and make things fit so much better. The main dress also includes darts at the back shoulder, with the same pleasing result for better fit.

Stella as Ellie - book week 2014

The mob cap was made from a small remnant of embroidered cotton that I had in stash, with pre-gathered broderie anglaise sewn to the edges and pink ribbon for trim. It is double layered with elastic threaded through a casing. I used this tutorial which removed the need for me to think.  Sometimes I like not to have to think (maybe because I am coming down with a cold as well).

Stella as Ellie - book week 2014

Cost wise, this dress was essentially “free” as everything came from stash (or the linen cupboard). Time wise, it possibly took around six hours to make, including the cap and pantaloons. I do wish that I’d realised that the sheet wasn’t a consistent colour before I started sewing, but will give the dress a good soak in some bleach and see what difference that makes. Some of the other school mums thought it would be ideal as a first communion/confirmation dress – but as we aren’t Catholic, that isn’t likely to happen!

Stella as Ellie - book week 2014

I’m glad that Stella got to join her classmates for the fun of the book week parade, but as you can see it wasn’t long after we got home that I found her on the couch like this. Poor little mite.

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Eowyn

“I am no man”.

Clare as Eowyn book week 2014

You know, I used to be a major Scrooge about things like dress ups and costumes. But things have changed, and in recent years I have actually enjoyed making my daughters their book week character costumes. And I have to say, I think that this year is my absolute FAVOURITE.

Clare as Eowyn from Lord Of The Rings

Clare chose Eowyn as her character months and months ago. Let us confess right up front here that Clare hasn’t actually READ the Lord of the Rings trilogy – but she has read The Hobbit, and there weren’t any female characters in it that she was interested in going as (I did suggest that she didn’t have to go as a female character, but she would have none of that). So Eowyn it was. Clare googled images from the movies, and had a clear picture in her mind about what her costume should be like. She wanted it based on the green dress that Eowyn wore in The Two Towers. Enter Burda 2463 for the dress and vintage Style 1034 for the collared undershirt.

Eowyn costume - vintage Style 1034 heavily modified for undershirt and Burda 2463 for dress

All the fabrics and trims came from Darn Cheap Fabrics, with the fabrics from the $2 per metre table or the remnants bin. The dark green woven appears to be a cotton blend and was very easy to sew, gather and press. The lace overlay is a stretch lace. Originally I was looking for a jacquard, but after cost comparisons decided that the lace worked well over the green anyway. The undershirt is a black chiffon base with gold printed all over it.

Clare as Eowyn book week 2014

We mixed up the pattern views a bit, using the double layered skirt from one view with the longer sleeves and plain upper sleeve puff from the other. The lower sleeve was lined with the stretch lace, and the underskirt has a stretch lace overlay. This gave a similar look to the film photos, remembering that we were inspired by the film for the costume but weren’t trying to reproduce it completely faithfully. Lace trim was zig-zagged to the neckline after the bodice was constructed – it is fully lined – but before I inserted the lapped zipper up the back. There was only just enough of the trim to get around both the neckline and the waistline. It was meant to be!

Clare as Eowyn book week 2014

Halfway through constructing the dress I realised that I had only cut out one lower sleeve, and was out of the green fabric. So while I was at work, I sent my husband back to Darn Cheap on a mission to buy one more metre. Luckily they still had it in stock! He also went on a sword hunting mission, locating this rather appropriate piece of plastic at a $2 shop.

Clare as Eowyn book week 2014

The overskirt at the front was lifted at two points and secured under the lace trim with a zig-zag. Fortunately this also provided a handy place to store her sword. Who’d have thought!

Clare as Eowyn book week 2014

The undershirt is a modified version of the vintage Style pattern. I cut it off at hip length, left off the sleeves, sewed up the centre front to the bottom of the collar rather than using a zip, and kept the collar edges with one point instead of being notched. Clare could just slip it on over her head, then use a safety pin to adjust where the collar meets in the centre front once the dress was over the top.

Clare as Eowyn book week 2014

Clare centre parted her hair damp last night, and slept with clips keeping each side in place. We spent half an hour or so with the curling iron in the morning, and before long she was looking a lot like the Eowyn we know from the films (if anyone knows Miranda Otto and wants to send her a link to this blog post, please do!). She still had some henna painting on her hand from an Indian themed night at Guides a couple of days earlier, and thought that it added nicely to the overall look.

Clare as Eowyn book week 2014

Overall, this costume probably cost us less than $30 in materials, including the pattern, zips and other notions. The dress used loads of fabric, but that’s not a problem when it comes from the $2 per metre table! But in terms of the hours spent making it? Possibly about 8 hours in total, I suspect. It could have been a little less. I didn’t really keep track.  In terms of sizing, the undershirt was size 8 and rather roomy, and the dress was in size 9 which matched up with Clare’s measurements.  It is a great fit.

Clare as Eowyn book week 2014

I love that Clare chose such a gutsy character to dress as for book week, and that the entire family enjoyed the dressing up process so much. She’s really finishing off primary school with a bang!

Clare as Eowyn book week 2014

book week

Eowyn costume in progress

It’s book week in Australia, and all over instagram there are photos of frantic costume making. I am no exception. The parade is on Friday, so this week I am working on Clare’s Eowyn costume. Just a zip, hems, an undershirt, and another lower sleeve to go. Somehow I only cut one lower sleeve, and I’m out of fabric. Stay at home dad has a trip to Darn Cheap ahead of him today….

Foxy Simplicity 1787

Clare’s fox dress is Simplicity 1787.  This pattern has been in stash for a little while.  It starts at a girls size 8, and that’s what I made in width.  I used size 10 for length, both for the sleeves and the body of the dress.  Clare thinks that the sleeves could have been a little longer still.

Simplicity 1787 for Clare

I had plenty of black corded piping in stash, so used it to highlight the front princess seams and the yoke. (Yes, it’s a yoke – not a yolk. Sewing spelling pedants unite). Because I was using a stretch fabric I eliminated the centre back zip, and cut the back yoke pieces on the fold without the centre back seam allowance. Clare can get the dress on and off without a zip without much trouble, but if I use the pattern again in a woven I will include the zip. The centre back seam is slightly curved, so retained it rather than cutting on the fold. A little bit of shaping is a nice thing when you are a tween!  The fabric is from Darn Cheap Fabrics, and is the same as Stella’s dress from my last blog post.

Simplicity 1787 for Clare

Now, before someone else notices, let me point out the lack of proper pattern matching. Yes, I managed to get a line of foxes centred nicely down the centre front piece, but I failed to match the lines of foxes nicely elsewhere. It really needed cutting out as a single layer, but because I was trying to conserve fabric so that I’d have enough left for a dress for Stella, I didn’t pay as much attention as I could. It is annoying me a little, but it’s too late now! And go on, only half of you noticed anyway.

Simplicity 1787 for Clare

The outer yoke pieces are interfaced, and the facing pieces are not. I did understitch the facing so that it wouldn’t roll to the outside around the neckline, and it is also secured with a row of stitching hidden under the piping around the yoke curve. I must use piping more often – it adds such a lovely detail. One of the other nice details about this dress is the cuffs. There are three tucks at the bottom of the sleeve that bring it in to form mock cuffs. I sewed these with the sleeve pieces flat, so they were easy to assemble, and because I was using a knit I sewed the sleeves in to the body of the dress flat as well. Construction was shared between the machine and the overlocker, with the twin needle coming to the fore again to topstitch the hems of the sleeves and the skirt once they had been secured with Vliesofix. But Clare’s favourite detail has to be the pockets.

Simplicity 1787 for Clare

See how they sneakily fit into the curved princess seams? This is very much like the Simplicity 2245 Lisette Portfolio dress, and it’s new updated version the Liesl + Co Cappucino dress.  They are surprisingly straightforward to make.  Just follow the instructions!  Actually, that’s possibly the only point where I did pay a great deal of attention to the instructions.  The rest of construction was straightforward and what you’d expect it to be.

Simplicity 1787 for Clare

This is another pattern that I’ll definitely make again, and it might even be before winter is over! An excellent tween style, in my opinion, and in Clare’s.

Foxy Figgy’s Ethereal dress

The Ethereal dress by Figgy’s is recommended for use with soft, delicate fabrics.  Cottons, rayons, voiles, gauze, other similar wovens.  You know, fabrics that are a little bit ethereal!  So I made it in a lightweight ponte-style doubleknit.

Figgys Ethereal Dress for Stella

This is a pattern that I’ve used before, so I was familiar with the shapes of the pattern pieces and was pretty confident that it would work for winter as well. It’s just a straightforward front and back bodice, front flounce overlay, simple straight sleeves and the same A-line pattern piece for the front and back skirt. Oh, let’s not forget the neck facing. Nothing too complicated! I left off the buttoned opening at the centre back, figuring that in a stretch fabric it would pull on over Stella’s head without much trouble. And it does.

Figgys Ethereal Dress for Stella

The fabric came from Darn Cheap Fabrics, and is currently available both in store and online. I just couldn’t resist those foxes any longer! In fact, I bought two metres, which turned out to be enough to make a dress for both of my daughters. It’s wide fabric.

Because the top of the skirt piece isn’t all that wide and I was using a knit, it eased rather than gathered into the bodice. Still rather effective! I used both the sewing machine and the overlocker for construction, depending on what seams needed to be sewn.

Figgys Ethereal Dress for Stella

The edge of the flounce was finished with a simple rolled hem done on the overlocker. The skirt and sleeve hems were twin needled in contrasting red thread after securing them with Vliesofix tape. The facing was understitched to keep it from rolling to the right side, and was also stitched down along the shoulder seams and underneath the front flounce. It still looks to have flipped up a little in the photo above, but I didn’t notice that happening while Stella was wearing it at any other stage today.

Figgys Ethereal Dress for Stella

I sewed size 4/5 in width but size 6/7 length, cutting the skirt off at the knee length option. This was a very straightforward garment to sew, and that flounce combined with the foxes just make it a little more fun than usual! Definitely a success.  I spent some quality time in my sewing room this weekend, also sewing a foxy dress for Clare, doing general tidying up and sorting out, and production line assembly of pairs of pants for me.  And mending – lets not forget the mending!  The sewjo is back – just in time for a very busy period at work.  Oh well!

Figgys Ethereal Dress for Stella

Nessie dress for Stella

Thanks to all who responded to my last blog post – both to those who added to the discussion about fit and flattery and to those who left such flattering comments on my Mabels!  And guess what – in the last two days I have sewn TWO THINGS!  Admittedly, both were cut out weeks months ago, and both were extremely straightforward.  A dress for me, and finally a second pair of school pants for Clare.  They really needed to be sewn, considering that she finishes primary school in December!  In the meantime I can finally share another garment I made ages ago.  Once again my photography of Stella had an ulterior motive – to get photos for the blog, not just to get photos of her having fun drawing chalk pictures with friends!

Nessie top as dress

This is the Nessie Top pattern, lengthened to become a dress. I also added a yoke to the back in order to take advantage of the gorgeous Babushka fabric that Anna had given me. Despite being a knit, the skirt fabric isn’t terribly stretchy.  It does however have a loop pile back, and is nice and snuggly for winter.  The fabric I used for the yokes and sleeves is a cotton/lycra knit from the depths of stash. I bought a LOT of this once upon a time.

Nessie top as dress

Now a confession – I did a terrible job of aligning the yoke seams at the sides. There is about two centimetres misalignment at the side seams. Shoddy. I remember that I was making this in a bit of a hurry and I didn’t actually draft a new back pattern divided into a yoke and lower back – I just held the front yoke pattern piece near the back piece and chopped away accordingly. Learn from my mistakes people!

wet chalk painting

I originally used the tiny remaining scraps from the skirt to bind the neckline, doing a double folded band. It looked really cute – but wouldn’t actually stretch enough to go over Stella’s head. It was rather entertaining while I tried pulling it on and it just wouldn’t budge over her ears, but clearly something else needed to be done. I chopped off the neckband and cut another from the same cotton/lycra knit that the yokes and sleeves were made from, using the 7/8 of the neck measurement rule, joined it into a circle then quarter marked the folded band and the neckline to match them up then seam them together. This worked well.
Nessie top as dress

The length was determined entirely by the amount of fabric that I had available. It still has the gentle high-low hemline of the original top pattern. I think that I sewed this up in size 6, but don’t hold me to that. Construction was all on the overlocker, and hems were all twin-needled. We already had leggings in the drawer from a previous make in the same fabric. What coordination!

Nessie top as dress