Sewing for many good causes…

When I mentioned the Five Unblogged recently I forgot about The Other Seven which are all the same pattern so we’ll be able to get through them quick 😉

When my super awesome nerdy Perth friends Mr Owns-a-Subaru-AND-a-Mitsubishi and Miss Insert-Metal-Sign-of-the-Horns-Here announced they were expecting I  decided to sew something special.

I have a theory that I stick to when buying or making presents for expectant parents. I’ve not been told it’s wrong so I’ll stick with it until told otherwise. My theory is that you get lots and lots of brand new baby sized items but babies grow petty fast and one day baby will be too big for all those nice presents. So generally I buy/make items to fit 24 months or older.

I decided a hoodie pattern would be a fun make and inspired by their little cutie of a dog, Nippet, I found some “Dogs in Space” sweat-shirting at myfabrics.co.uk.

Stolen FB photo follows:

It ticked both the dog and nerd theme check boxes and was all kinds of awesome . Plus I already had some coordinating green ribbing left over from another nerdy hoodie. It was meant to be.

I bought a PDF pattern from Brindille and Twig, Hoodie: 014.

Designed for year-round layering, our long-sleeve hoodie makes for a cute and cozy any-weather staple. Select one fabric for the arms and hood, while another for the bodice to create your own cool mash-up of prints.

It is sized from 0M to 6T and is recommended for a confident beginner and as explained above I cut out the size bracket 18-24 months. I have no idea if my maths is right but I was aiming for babies second winter.

I’ve bought a few children’s PDF patterns before and they all seem to suffer from the same issues. The pages almost never have a border so it’s difficult to trim them and they often have weird or no alignment marks for joining. In this case each piece had 2 small numbered squares near the edges that you are supposed to overlap. Yep, overlap, you know, through solid paper…x-ray glasses at the ready…

It sounds a bit nit picky and on basic pieces it’s not really an issue but it gets a bit difficult when joining three pieces especially when parts of them are placed on the page at an angle.

With so many sizes the coloured lines are nice (although I tend to print in black and white) and all the pattern markings were clear and correct. I just find it really interesting that almost every single children’s PDF pattern I’ve seen chooses to copy this style and no one seems to have investigated how adult pattern houses publish their PDFs or have thought about why boarders and split diamonds are such good referencing techniques.

On a positive note the instructions were excellent. All nicely photographed on a white background and sewn with a good choice of contrasting fabric for clarity.

I really like how the hood is shaped and on an overlocker this is really quick and easy to throw together. I cut and sewed this up in 30 minutes.

I used green thread to match the ribbing and the only thing I might do next time is line the hood.

I posted this off with a couple of books by NZ authors, classic Harry Maclary by Linley Dodd and a counting book of NZ birds that had amazing illustrations.

A few days after I finished this there was a big donation drive for Te Puea Memorial Marae organised by A+W-NZ and our Studio sewing group thought it would be nice to follow their example and use our collective sewing talents to give back locally to those in need. After a bit of investigation we decided to make some warm items for small children and we decided we would donate them to Women’s Refuge who do so much amazing work here in Wellington.

I contacted Levana Textiles in Levin to see if they had some small off cuts we could use for sewing childrens clothing and they kindly offered to fill a box with merino scraps and send them down if we covered the courier fee. I was really excited to hear that but you should have seen my face when I saw the size of the box that arrived! It was huge and stuffed full with so many colours! We were overwhelmed by their generosity.

I made 6 more hoodies mixing and matching pieces from the box and thread colours. It was so much fun!

I sent the Levana team a photo of the finished hoodies and they really appreciated seeing the merino scraps sewn up for a good cause.

They were so generous and wonderful to communicate with. If you are ever near Levin please pop in and see them at their factory shop and treat yourself to some beautiful merino. If you can’t make it you can check out their new online shop.

We added to my six hoodies:

  • Five more hoodies sewn by L
  • Another hoodie sewn by P who also stitched some tops, leggings and a pair of booties
  • Five super cute cardigans knitted in scraps of wool by another work colleague’s mum
  • Two teddy bears donated by G

And we still have heaps of merino left over!

We boxed everything up and walked them up town to the Women’s Refuge office. The ladies there were really excited to look at what we’d made. They were starting to make up Christmas parcels for the current and past families in their care and so our timing was perfect. Before we left some of the items were already allocated to parcels and it’s nice to think we’ll be helping to keep some little ones warm this coming winter.

Warm fuzzy tummy feeling xx

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“There’s no limit to how much you’ll know, depending on how far beyond zebra you go.”*

You might have worked out by now that I quite like the Papercut La Sylphide pattern.

😉

(La Sylphide the first, second, third)

Hey guess what?

I made another one! 😉

I was in The Fabric Store when I really shouldn’t have been (my meeting up that end of town finished early so actually it’s my clients fault…) when I saw this cute bolt of zebra printed silk. I picked it up and carried it around for a bit and by my second store lap the chubby little zebras had convinced me I wasn’t leaving without them.

I bought 2 meters along with some dark blue poly-cotton blend. I already knew this was going to be my 4th La Sylphide.

I underlined the dress bodice and lined the skirt with the blue poly-cotton. I kept the side seams free below the waist and hemmed both skirts separately but caught the lining into the button packet at center front.

I “Frenched” the skirt side seams (that’s a sewing term) and we all know French seaming on silk goes better when paired with white wine.

I don’t really need the instructions anymore but I still find hemming is the worst part of this pattern for me, especially with naughty fabric and ALL my versions have been made with naughty fabric! To make it even worse this time I had to do two hems.

TWO HEMS!

So I hung the dress for several weeks before I could be bothered to be extra sure it had fully dropped. Then I had an epiphany and decided to hem the silk with hug-snug.

Then I just turned the dress inside out and pressed the lining hem up just a little bit shorter than the silk and stitched a simple double-fold hem.

I’m really glad I underlined/lined the silk. The poly-cotton is nice and soft to wear and it should help the dress last longer.

I had a lot of help from Harriet for my photoshoot.

She loves being outside with her humans and the Kowhai tree was just starting to flower so that means lots of birds to watch and unsuccessfully stalk.

I chose simple black buttons from Spotlight.

Spot my creepy stalker cat…and I’ll leave you with my failed twirly pictures.

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Papercut La Sylphide, size S

Fabric – Chubby zebra silk and blue poly-cotton from The Fabric Store, Wellington. Buttons from Spotlight, Porirua.

Other notions – Invisible zipper, interfacing

*Dr Seuss

99 Hot Air Balloons

I recently completed my first Singer Australia/New Zealand Blog post – I’d love it if you popped over and read that post here, maybe leave a comment 🙂

You might remember seeing me cut this dress out when I reviewed my new Singer scissors.

I’m sharing it here too (because blog) but in the interests of not repeating myself entirely and this being my first Pauline Alice make I thought I’d make this post more of a pattern review.

The Cami Dress has a fitted bodice with front and back waist darts, a classic shirt collar and buttons on the front from the waist up. The high-waisted full skirt is gathered and has inseam pockets and a side zipper (“for comfort”?).

My pattern was bought some time ago and I noticed that the line art on the front page of the instructions pdf incorrectly shows a view of the dress with a waistband.

It’s cute with a waistband, so perhaps my next version will have one…

I bought my pattern as a pdf and the nice thing about this particular pdf pattern is that you only have to print and assemble the bodice, sleeves and collar. The skirt is a simple drindle rectangle gathered to the width of the bodice. The dimensions for this are given in the instructions for the overall size and where to place the notches for the CF, pockets and zipper placement.

It’s great that we don’t have to waste a heap of paper printing a simple rectangle (Burda I’m looking at you!) and, although it’s a simple thing, I appreciate that I can be trusted with some measurements and then left to get on with it.

Instructions are given for both regular and invisible zipper insertion. I made version A with the short sleeves and I used an invisible zipper.

I was expecting the suggested skirt length will be a little short on me and I always need a bit more over my bottom. To get the longest possible skirt out of my fabric I cut out all my patterned pieces first and then I divided the left over fabric length in half. This was 140cm so I ended up with two 70cm tall rectangles instead of the suggested 55cm. When I hemmed the dress I cut off 9cm so next time I know I’ll need to cut the skirt rectangle 61cm long.

In general the instructions are quite thorough with good diagrams except for when we get to the collar where they become confused and a little convoluted while including the dubious suggestion to clip all the way around the neckline.

It had been a while since I’d sewn this type of collar so I decided to ignore the instructions and consulted my Reader Digest Complete Book of Sewing instead. It’s not the first time I’ve resorted to this page while sewing a collar using Indie pattern directions…

If you’re looking for a general sewing book to supplement your sewing knowledge this is my number one recommendation. I bought my older copy second-hand but you can also still buy this book brand new, it’s all the same great content in a new dust jacket.

There is also some confusion around button placement. One image shows the buttons on the left, then later they are shown on the right. Even the finished garment photos on the website show dresses with buttons on differing sides.

I’ve accidentally sewn buttons on to the “wrong” side of a blouse before and my brain did not like it. So I made sure to place mine on the traditional side and while it might not matter to some once the buttons are done up I find this dress tricky to get on and off unless I undo the buttons as well as the zipper.

Speaking of buttons, mine are abalone with a brass surround and I think they were a Fabric-a-Brac find. I’ve been dying to use these so I’m very happy that they suit this fabric. I tried out several top-stitching colours (yellow, dark green, coral and orange) before I settled on the light green.

This dress was stitched 95% on my 1946 Singer 99k – the remaining 5% is these buttons and their respective button holes.

I couldn’t get my vintage button-hole attachment to work correctly so I used my modern Elna instead and while I was at it I stitched the buttons on too because I hate hand stitching and I’ve not lost a machine stitched button yet.

So that’s it!

I really like my finished dress, there are a few modifications I would make if I did sew it again (the pockets feel a tad low, it’s a bit tight across the ladies), but I wore it to work last week with a belt and got several unsolicited compliments. Yay.

Contrast pockets!

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Pauline Alice Cami Dress, size 42 graded to 44 at the waist.

Fabric – Spoonflower Hot Air Balloons

Other notions – Invisible zipper, interfacing

Next time I will lengthen the bodice by 2 – 3cms, do an FBA, insert the pockets a little higher and make them slightly deeper. The skirt needs to be cut 61cm in length.

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Time Machine Sewing, episode 4: Summer Robes

It’s baaaaack!

Because if I don’t blog it, then it never happened.

I made Nerdy Husband a summer robe for his birthday at the start of the year and because unselfish sewing must be balanced I also made myself one.

Then we wore them all summer long…and last summer, it was loooong…don’t worry, I washed them occasionally. But basically unless we were at work or sleeping, or they were in the wash, we were in our new summer robes. So I just never got around to photographing them.

When winter finally showed up we swapped back to our winter robes, fluffy warm rtw robes that are next on the sewing hit-list…it’s long list, don’t hold your breath…and so I gave our summer robes a final wash, pressed them, hung them in my sewing room to be finally photographed and blogged about and then promptly forgot.

Winter is on its way out again, Spring is here (well, it will fade in and out for a few more weeks yet) so I thought I’d better get these on the blog before we start to live in them again!

So, NH requested his robe and we went to Spotlight where he picked out some dinosaur cotton that was on special and I also grabbed McCall’s 6231 – the first envelope pattern I’ve purchased from Spotlight in a looooong time.

I cut out view B minus the shorts and because the robe is unlined I decided to flat fell the shoulder seams and then I used Hug Snug seam binding on all other seams and hems.

I also used Hug Snug to finish the inside edge of the collar.

And that’s about it – here are some finished photos, courtesy of Scarlett:

It has pockets, remember this for later…

The sleeve pattern piece looked really short and I couldn’t find any finished measurements either in the instructions or on the pattern tissue. From the line art the sleeve looks like it sits right at the edge of the shoulder so I was convinced there was an error in the pattern.

So to be safe I added some ridiculous amount of length (I can’t remember how much) and as you can see in the photo below the excessive shoulder width means that the sleeve ends up halfway down the upper arm. I checked my pattern and I’ve removed the yellow paper and stuck the pattern piece back together as per normal so I’m guessing I must have chopped all that extra length off during the first fitting!

Anyway, I’m pretty proud of it and Nerdy Husband loves his robe so here are some close ups:

The only pattern modification: a handy hanging loop at the back of the neck 🙂

My robe is the Named Asaka Kimono and I shopped my stash for fabric. I bought some Michael Miller “Children at Play” cotton in July last year and instantly regretted it. I mean, I love it, but it’s far too light for me to wear everyday, I’m such a grub!

However it is perfect for this and Harri agreed. She has such good taste.

I only had 3 yards and the pattern called for 3.9 but I love a good challenge…and yeah it didn’t fit! That’s ok, I managed to piece the collar front on the outside and for the inside collar I use a contrasting colour, left overs from my Tangram Bleuet which made me very happy.

I might have managed it if my fabric didn’t have such an obvious print direction and what annoys me is that the cutting layout shows the two piece sleeve cut upside down and yet in the website sample photo they clearly have been cut right way up with the pattern…

Anyway, I really shouldn’t complain, I managed to get my robe out of 25% less fabric than recommended 😉

I didn’t lengthen the pattern at all despite reading a few comments online about it being super short. It looks pretty short on the Named model but a quick tissue fit check and then with the fabric and I thought it looked ok.

I really liked the long sleeves with the split so I made them up as per the pattern to begin with and then I realised they were going to be a pain. I run around in my robe after I get home from work so I’d probably catch myself on fire while making dinner or something equally unbelievable but highly likely. As well as being a grub I am also a klutz! I tried sewing the split shut but the end of the sleeve is huge…so finally I lopped them off just below my elbow and sewed the split shut up to the crook of my elbow. Now I have the best of both worlds: shorter sleeves that I won’t set on fire and sexy arm split 😉

Scarlett’s turn!:

More flat felled shoulder seams and Hug Snug on the other seams and hems. I own many colours of Hug Snug 🙂

I also got hanging loop at the back of the neck and remember those pockets? I used the McCall’s pattern piece and added them to my robe too. They hold a surprising number of clothes pegs.

Pockets on everything.

What’s that Nikki? Oh you want to see me wearing it?

Oh alright then! 😉

Dirty cell phone pics but at least my toenails match…

THE DEETS:

Patterns –

Fabric –

Other notions – Hug Snug seam binding

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#AnnaforArmageddon

Earlier this month I saw an advert for Armageddon returning to Wellington. That means it’s been almost a year since I first wore my still unblogged #AnnaforArmageddon…so I thought I better get some photos 🙂

In late July last year Armageddon was on in Wellington and for the first time NH and I decided we would go…it was the perfect excuse to finally sew up my Dr Who printed fabric from Spoonflower. I had already decided it would make a great Anna dress and, having made two previously, I knew I could whip one up really quickly…we decided we would go on to Armageddon on the Saturday morning, nice and early before it got too crazy so of course I started sewing my dress on Friday night.

Now I’m just going to pause and talk about my fabric for a bit: It’s called “The Doctor’s Favourite Things” and I ordered it on Kona cotton.

I love that the Dr Who references are designed into a damask pattern so that the symbols aren’t immediately obvious to the uninitiated. I bought it exactly one year previously (July 2014) and I remember when it arrived I was disappointed at the colour vibrancy. To the point that I thought I had ordered the wrong colour combination. I am in design so I know that the computer screen can easily misrepresent true colour but all the photos on the Spoonflower site look much more intense.

Nighttime photos of unimpressed black cats require heavy Instagram filtering – keep reading for more colour-accurate fabric photos 😉

So I shrugged that off and put it into my stash for a future project. I pre-washed it on the Thursday (I am not usually a wash-as-I-buy seamstress) and as I was cutting out I noticed little white dots on the fabric.

On closer inspection these were areas where there was no ink. It looked like the fabric had pilling on it before printing and the pills had come off in the wash, along with the ink that was printed on them. I didn’t notice this when the fabric first arrived or before prewashing. There are quite a lot of them and it was really disappointing to discover these flaws halfway through cutting out. I was working quickly and concentrating on keeping the print mirrored while capturing my favourite parts without any accidental Seal-of-Rassilon-beewbs or a poorly placed Tardis.

I kept sewing and never contacted Spoonflower about my experience because I assumed that after having owned the fabric for a whole year, then already washing and cutting it they probably wouldn’t be interested in hearing my issues. However as I was drafting this post I decided that it would be unfair for me to not give them a chance to respond, in particular to the white dots.

Here’s what they had to say (click to enlarge):

So I sent some photos, lots of photos, like these:

And the reply:

Which I am sure you will agree is a great outcome. Lesson learnt: Wash and inspect Spoonflower fabric as soon as you receive it, contact them within 60 days if there are any issues.

I didn’t buy the Dr Who print again as my dress was all finished. I bought Hot Air Balloons instead, inspired by a dress i saw in a window:

I chose the cotton poplin this time and I washed my new fabric immediately. No white dots this time. Still not impressed with the colour vibrancy but free fabric is free fabric.

So anyway, back to the dress, which sewed up the same as my previous two and I wore it to Armageddon with sneakers because the Tenth Doctor is my favourite.

I even found a friendly Darlek.

These more recent photos were taken at Aotea Lagoon, I saw the phone booth on a previous visit and it seemed appropriate.

And in this image we can see that the photographer failed to notice that I didn’t quite get the zipper all the way up but if you squint you can see my label on a purple cotton rectangle that I attached to the facing…oh and slightly below average pattern matching on the CB zipper seam…

The problem with telephone booths and Dr Who themed dresses is that they are begging to be Photoshopped…

Wouldn’t you agree?

Too far? 😉

We didn’t go back to Armageddon this year. I found last years event pretty unimpressive. It was held in the concourse of Westpac Stadium, that’s the area immediately inside that you walk around while you try to find the right entrance to your seats.

Concourses are not event spaces, they are circulation.

We arrived just before doors opened and it was ridiculously busy. We were herded clockwise around the concourse past all the various stands, 20% of which were interesting but we couldn’t get to because of the crowds. The other 80% were stalls selling cheap knockoffs of nerdy toys. We decided to do one lap and then head back to the stalls that had caught our eye. At the end of our circuit we found the way back to the start was blocked off for the zombie run so the only option for another lap was to turn around and fight our way back against the flow or exit completely and queue back up outside in the rain.

We exited and went home.

But I got an amazing dress and yes I do wear it to work. You never know when Darleks might show up unannounced 😉

THE DEETS:

Pattern – By Hand London Anna Dress, variation 3, straight size 12

Fabric –The Doctor’s Favourite Things” on Kona cotton from Spoonflower

Other notions – Invisible zipper, a smidge of fusible interfacing

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Betty in the Sky with Racoons!

I made another Betty dress!

I made another Betty dress a really long time ago!

I’ve made some other things too and haven’t blogged about them either…so here goes with my first catching up post in a while 🙂

I’d had this fabric since early 2014 and pre-washed it as soon as I got it which is unusual for me (yes, I’m a wash-only-as-required sewist) so that shows how keen I was to sew it up. I just needed a pattern that would suit the large scale print.

Hot on the heels of my last Betty dress I needed another one asap and realised it would be perfect for this fabric. Kat also wanted a Betty dress so we collaborated for a new Twinsie make and for October’s Monthly Stitch challenge, “The Final Frontier”…yes, that’s how long ago I made this dress…

We were a little bit slow getting our photos done and posts written so we too these photos for post during December’s TMS Amnesty Month instead…oops! 😮

There isn’t a lot more to say about this make.

  • As I mentioned in my last Betty post I lengthened the bodice by 2cm which was perfect and I was more careful trimming my hem this time around!
  • I also had to piece the corners again due to the narrow width. The pattern is less abstract than the camera print so I decided to match the raccoons. This meant I had to be a bit more careful laying out so that I would have the right raccoon parts available to join on.
  • I deliberately placed the raccoons off center on the bodice front to avoid any Racoon Boobies.

If you are wondering how racoons relate to “The Final Frontier” challenge theme, the fabric colour is called “sky”…I know it’s a stretch but I make the rules and I’m an admin/editor so… 😉

We took these photos at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park here in Wellington, among the sandstone columns of the Australian Memorial and in front of the carillon tower. The park underwent a major redevelopment in time for Anzac Day 2015 and the centenary of New Zealand’s participation in the First World War.

The carillon tower was built in 1932 and a large portion of the redevelopment work went into the sinking of Buckle Street so that we could have this fantastic public space in front of it.

Also there are poppies which was a nice surprise.

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Sew Over It Betty dress, size 14.

  • Removed fullness from the skirt to match Colette Hawthorne as per previous version.
  • Lengthened bodice 2cm.

Fabrics – Tula Pink Acacia Racoons in Sky, USD$30.00/yd, purchased March 2014

Silk Twill La Sylphide

This will be a short post with more photos than words 😉

This is my third Papercut La Sylphide. I wear my Owl La Sylphide ALL THE TIME, it’s one of my all time favourite makes. My second La Sylphide I hardly ever wear. I did something weird to the button placket, I think I cut if slightly off grain, so it doesn’t sit right. I’m also not sure that the lighter colour combined with diagonals suit me…so I needed to make another and when I saw this silk twill at Fabric-a-Brac I knew exactly what it was destined for.

This time around the fabric was way too narrow even for the reduced skirt width that I left marked from my Owl version so I had to piece on the corners. I cut these, as usual, from the selvedge, so that I could leave them unfinished to reduce seam bulk.

I feel like I’ve written ^^that ^^ in almost every blog post recently 🙂

But it’s a good trick and no one has ever pointed out my pieced on skirt-triangles in the 4 or 5 dresses I’ve done this too 😉

Red buttons!

There’s not much else to say, I really want to make another, I just have to wait for the right fabric to pop up again. It’s nice and swishy, maybe a bit too swishy sometimes for the Wellington wind, but mostly I just LOVE the colour.

Was a bit windy…

Harriet says, “Sew more! MOAR!”

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Papercut Patterns La Sylphide dress, straight size S

Skirt lengthened approx 16cms, full width of skirt pattern piece used.

Fabrics – Silk Twill found at Fabric-a-Brac, $15.00 total, bought 2nd May 2015

The lengths we go to for photos…