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

Perri Pullover for Stella

Finally, I have modelled photos of the Perri Pullover that I made for Stella back in May!  Taking photos of her with just de-braided hair was really part of a sneaky plan to get photos of her outfit…..

Perri Pullover

Most of the details are in the review of Clare’s Perri Pullover. The fabric is from Spotlight, a brushed sweatshirt knit, and the fabric for the bands, inseam pockets and matching leggings came from Darn Cheap Fabrics.

Perri Pullover

It’s hard to remember now (reminder to self: blog about finished garments AS SOON AS they are made because otherwise the details evaporate into the ether) but I think that I cut this out in size 6 length but size 4 width. It has the same slouchy look as Clare’s and mine.

Perri Pullover

As with Clare’s, I left the neckband the same width as the hem and sleeve bands. I like the high-low hem, and the band on the bottom curves it in nicely. But that neckline is definitely wide and a little too Flashdance for Stella’s liking. She was happiest wearing it layered over a long-sleeved, higher-necked tee.

Perri Pullover

This is a cute pattern for the kids – and Clare has worn hers quite a lot – but mine is going to be donated. Just too loose on me, even though I’m currently at my heaviest, and the neckline drives me nuts. I found the Day Tripper top to have similar design lines but a much better fit on me. I’m glad that the kids like theirs!  And the whole family enjoyed the “big hair”.

Perri Pullover

togs for Thailand – part 3

So Melbournians, are you feeling even colder each time that I post the bathers I have been making or mention our imminent trip to Thailand?  We are getting VERY excited now – less than a week before we leave!  Part 3 of togs for Thailand are the one-piece swimsuits that I made for Clare and for Stella.

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These are Clare’s. Once again the fabric was from Rathdowne Fabrics. The pattern is the All 4 one Stylish Swimsuit, available on Etsy from Coles Creations. I found the instructions very straightforward. The binding was time consuming, but otherwise these are pretty easy to sew.

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The swimsuit straps can be crossed over and stitched into place, attached straight, or tied in a halter neck. Clare elected to have hers crossed over. She chose the skirted style with a frill along the bodice triangles. We used one fabric throughout because that is what we had!

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The small floral is very pretty. I sewed size 8/9 for Clare, which pretty much corresponded with her measurements, although she will possibly only get one year’s wear from it. Bathers degenerate pretty quickly with chlorine exposure anyway.

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Surprise surprise, Stella chose exactly the same style as her sister, except in a different print (but also from Rathdowne fabrics). However she decided to leave hers to tie as a halter neck.

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And somewhere during the construction process I forgot to line the bodice. Oh well! This fabric was slightly beefier than the one I used for Clare’s bathers. This time I made size 6/7, which appeared to be too big for Stella but in reality seems to fit quite well. Sometimes it’s just worth giving things a go!

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I use the overlocker for some of the construction, but much of it is on the machine with a zig zag stitch. I have started to get a little obsessed with sewing bathers, and have started trawling Etsy for women’s patterns from the 80s and 90s, many of which appeal to me much more than those available today. Speaking of women’s bathers, I still have a “togs for Thailand part 4″ blog post in the works – a Bombshell swimsuit for me!

new togs for Thailand – part 2

I wasn’t the only person in need of new togs for Thailand.  Both of my daughters needed (wanted) some too! This time it was Kwik Sew 3605 to the rescue.

Kwik Sew 3605

These are for Clare. Boy leg bathers bottoms, and a coordinating tankini top. The bottoms were made from scraps, and the top from a small piece of fabric that someone had given me. I had to cut the straps from another swimsuit fabric that was in stash.

Kwik Sew 3605

The pants are super simple. Cut two of one pattern piece, seam the inner legs, then seam the crotch. Add elastic to the leg edges and the waist then you’re done! The pattern has great instructions that include the elastic measurements and how to apply it. I used the overlocker for seaming, but the machine for applying the elastic.

Kwik Sew 3605

The cups are lined, and the upper back and underbust seams are reinforced with elastic. After the success of this pair I decided to make Clare a second pair that she could mix and match with the first.

Kwik Sew 3605 for Clare

This pair uses the same fabric as I used for the straps of the first pair. It’s from Rathdowne Fabrics, and the colours in the stripes really speak to me. Sadly I didn’t pay as much attention to matching the stripes while sewing as I should have, although I did pay attention to it when cutting.

Kwik Sew 3605 for Clare

Oh, those slightly misaligned stripes are going to drive me nuts every time that I look at these bathers! Clare however couldn’t care less. I did a better job on the top.

Kwik Sew 3605 for Clare

Stella didn’t want to be left out either. She has been asking for a pair of bathers with an attached skirt for a while now, and finally got her wish.

Kwik Sew 3605 for Stella

This fabric also came from Rathdowne Fabrics. There are metallic dots in various part of the print, which she loves. The pattern has a separate skirt, but I just basted the top of it to the top of the pants and treated them as one.

Kwik Sew 3605 for Stella

Kwik Sew also tells you where you need to stretch the elastic – around the bottom of the briefs – and where to have it in a one to one ratio – around the front of the legs. That is SO helpful! The first few times I made bathers I overstretched the elastic. Remember that bathers are usually made with negative ease, so the elastic will be stretched on the body anyway. It’s just around those more definite curves where you might need the elastic to pull in just that little bit more. They just aren’t comfortable if the elastic is too tight and digs in!

Kwik Sew 3605 for Stella

The construction of the top for Stella was exactly the same as the construction for the other two pairs of bathers. And guess what….there is a “new togs for Thailand – part 3″ blog post in the works!

Swoon Patterns Scarf Neck Cardigan

Well, it’s Sunday night.  And instead of rushing around the house getting ready for work tomorrow I am browsing the weekend newspapers, checking out instagram, and uploading photos taken over the weekend.  Best holiday of the year tomorrow – the Queen’s Birthday Public Holiday!  How lucky are we to get this day off without any obligation.  I love it!

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I’m trying to get pre-Thailand sewing finished at the moment, but yesterday afternoon realised that I had the correct colours in the overlocker to assemble a Swoon Patterns Scarf Neck Cardigan for Clare. I cut this out a few weeks back, so the actual assembly was very fast.

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The fabric is an acrylic sweater knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics. I have used it before to make a cowl necked tunic for Clare, and was able to cut out this cardigan from the leftovers. I sewed up the size 9/10 for Clare, and used a 6mm seam throughout. It was very straightforward to make. From the pattern description:  An open-front layering cardigan made with lightweight knit, featuring form-fitting princess seams, a draping scarf neck, and an irregular bottom hem. Features full length sleeves. This cardigan is very easy to sew, great for beginners, and takes no time with a serger. Instructions are included to sew this together with neat french seams if you are using a regular sewing machine instead. Sizes include 3/4, 5/6, 7/8 and 9/10. Includes sizing chart.

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Clare discovered that she could get an alternate look from wrapping and tucking the fronts. And did I mention that this pattern is free? And comes in adult sizes as well as children’s sizes?

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Construction was done on the overlocker and hems with a simple zig-zag stitch on the sewing machine. I particularly like the fit obtained from the princess seams.  This cardi is definitely a success. And isn’t Clare looking so much older! I’m almost starting to acknowledge that she is in high school next year….

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Clever Charlotte Olivine

I generally sew each of my daughters a dress for their birthday (and one for Christmas).  They really enjoy having input into the fabric selection and into the pattern that is used.  Last year Stella chose some fabric for the Clever Charlotte Olivine dress.  I cut it out, but never sewed it up, as I was less than enamoured with her fabric choice.  Since then she has hassled me on a regular basis to finish her birthday dress.  Finally I acquiesced and it was finished just in time for her birthday this year!

Clever Charlotte Olivine dress for Stella's 7th birthday

It is a really pretty style. The contrasting pleats in the skirt and the radiating tucks in the bodice are so lovely! However, that fabric. You can see the issues – so incredibly awful to sew and to press in particular. Plus it shows every single crease. She had only had it on for about half an hour when these photos were taken – it looks like she’d been wearing it all day!  It came from deep stash and was originally given to me from someone else’s stash – I have no idea of the composition.

Clever Charlotte Olivine dress for Stella's 7th birthday

Now that I have ranted about the fabric, some discussion of the pattern. It is a beautiful pattern, and everything fits together just as it should. The instructions are comprehensive. The description from the pattern says: Plenty of pleats make the Olivine Dress our fanciest look yet. She’ll look great at holidays, birthdays, even sashaying down the aisle as the scene-stealing flower girl. What fun color combo will you choose to show off the contrasting pleats and pockets on the skirt? The lined Dress has an A-line skirt with a center back zip and full, gathered sleeves.

Clever Charlotte Olivine dress for Stella's 7th birthday

Now, as far as I am concerned those sleeves aren’t gathered, but are eased. The sleeve cap has lovely fullness, but is quite smooth after the sleeves are set in. The centre back zip is an invisible zip. The dress is fully lined, in quilting cotton in this case. That’s what Stella chose!

Clever Charlotte Olivine dress for Stella's 7th birthday

This is a straight size 6, with no alterations. I should have understitched the bodice facing/lining around the neckline, as it is rolling to the outside a little. And I had a hell of a time getting the pleats and tucks to look decent where they met. The fabric completely worked against me, and the shine of it makes it all look a bit dodgy in that part.

Clever Charlotte Olivine dress for Stella's 7th birthday

We really do like the effect of the contrasting fabric in the skirt pleats, and it’s not difficult to do that part. I used the blind hem stitch and foot on the machine for the skirt and sleeve hems of both the dress and the lining. So overall, this wasn’t a quick sew, but it was satisfying. Just don’t use a slippery shiny fabric like this one if you want a happier time during the process!

Clever Charlotte Olivine dress for Stella's 7th birthday

Happy Birthday my gorgeous girl – the years are flying past almost a little too quickly! And finally you have your birthday dress.

Lucy La La skirt

Anna recently alerted me to the presence of the free Lucy La La skirt pattern by The Surly Seamstress.  As luck would have it, the measurements looked as though they would fit Stella, so I popped the pattern into my Sewjourn packing.  Luckily for me Rachel was giving away a few remnants that included some lovely denim with small pink spots.  The perfect fabric to make a new skirt for Stella!

Lucy La La skirt

This is a very straightforward pattern, which made is fast to sew yet surprisingly effective. I decided not to topstitch the seams,due to sheer laziness, but the next time that I make it I will definitely either topstitch them or pipe them. The flounce flips out beautifully to allow for movement and the elasticised waist makes it easy to put on and to wear.

Lucy La La skirt

As the skirt flounce is quite flared, I decided to blatantly copy Anna and finish the hem with some pretty printed bias binding that has been sitting in my stash for some time. I also finished all the raw edges by overlocking with contrasting pink thread. A little bit of fun!

Lucy La La skirt

This is a nice basic pattern with that extra little bit of style. It’s only in the one size, around Australian size 6, but I highly recommend it if you have a little one who is around those measurements.

Lucy La La skirt