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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#2017makenine

For a bit more accountability I thought I’d elaborate a little on my Instagram #2017makenine montage 😉

I have five completed makes from 2016 waiting for photographs and blog posts. It’s currently raining so I was stalking everyone’s exciting #2017makenine montages instead.

Hello bandwagon! 🙃

I’m cheating a little and including some fabrics I want to use (one of them is from the precious stash shelf!), two items already cut out for too long, a pattern high in the queue, my first Lekala pattern, and two that will challenge my normal (i.e. comfortable) silhouette!

So, from the top left:

Decades of Style #3007 1930s Button Dress

The first of the silhouette challenges. I really love this pattern and I ummed and ahhed for ages before finally buying it. I love Lauren’s and Amy’s versions and this pattern has sat in the stash for too long…

Pauline Alice Quart Coat

The first “cheat” pattern because this is already cut out and has been for some time while I worked up the energy to start on the bound button holes that I don’t currently have buttons for. The sad thing is that I need a new wool coat for winter…actually I really needed a new wool coat LAST winter!

Vogue 1499 – Anna Klein

A recent addition to the stash, this will be an easy one, interesting seaming and pleats on a silhouette I know I love to wear, there’s not much else to say 🙂

Fabric!

Ok now this is properly cheating. I’ve snuck in some fabric because why should patterns have all the fun? 😉 I’ll cover all three selections together:

First up, 1.5 meters from the “precious” shelf of my stash: Some ridiculously expensive DKNY polyester (yeah I know but it is fabulous, trust me!). It’s quite stiff and I bought enough for a skirt. Maybe the Named Eleonora or McCall’s 7166 (to help you get past the hideous McCall’s styling check out this version on the Tessuti blog).

The next two are cottons from two of my favourite designers: Atlas in Tourmaline from Eden by Tula Pink. One of the Five Unblogged is also in an Eden fabric. And lastly, 2013-21 in Shibuya Violet from Tokyo Train Ride by Sarah Watts for Cotton and Steel. I pre-washed these some time ago so it’s time they got cut up!

Lekala 4282

I have a few Lekala patterns but I’ve never sewn any of them. This is one of my favourites so it’s in the list. I’m really interested in how the fit will turn out using custom measurements and I’m already planning a quick muslin of the bodice.

The Curious Corset Experiment

Hey remember this post? Yeah, apparently me neither! 😉

Named Kielo Wrap Dress

The second silhouette challenge. There are lots of great Kielo dresses out there but I think Lizzie’s was the first short version I saw blogged. I’ll definitely be making a short version but I also love it in a stripe like Katy’s and since I have the same fabric as fellow Wellingtonian Sandra I might just copy her for a guaranteed success. I know she won’t mind, right Sandra? 😉

Ok, so that’s probably enough procrastinating writing, happy new year and all that, see you on the other side…of the sewing machine 😉

M. 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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Honeymoon Vogue 1353

Recently, Finished Items have been far and few between, as have blog posts about them. A little while ago I tried to concentrate on Works In Progress but two in a row turned into big fails so one weekend I exclaimed “harumpfh!” and clean slated my cutting table.

Then I picked out a new dress pattern, paired it with the fabric I bought with my Sewing Indie Month prize and got to work.

Crappy night-time cellphone photo, sorry

I still have WIPs but most of them can wait. I’ll just pick them up when the mood strikes and there is no guilt.

#SewingJoy

So, my new dress: I love it so much I immediately cut out a second one in a fabric I’m calling “hidden tigers“. I can’t wait to wear it and see if anyone notices.

Grrrr!

This is a Vogue 1353 Kay Unger in Cotton and Steel Honeymoon by Sarah Watts – Morning Dew (black) that I bought it from Blackbird Fabrics.

I love Cotton and Steel fabric.

The dress pattern features a scooped neckline with small pleats in the front, a princess seamed bodice, pleated skirt, invisible back zipper and is fully lined with a deep hem facing.

I have an extensive collection of “Big 4” patterns but it’s been a while since I’ve shuffled through them. I actually grabbed this out of the drawers after seeing Nikki’s and both of Sandra’s versions (1 and 2).

I underlined in a black cotton/silk blend.

My only regret is that I intended to ignore the instructions, which leave you hand stitching the lining at the shoulder seam, and use the “burrito” method to attach the lining. It’s a neat sewing magic trick I learnt courtesy of Colette Patterns while I was making my Birthday Rooibos. Google it 😉

Unfortunately after I tried the dress on for the first time I was so excited about how great it made me feel after a couple of sewing bombs that I just zoomed ahead until it was too late to turn back. Next time…

What I love most about this pattern is the deep hem facing, it’s about 14cm deep when finished.

This is the first time I’ve hemmed this way and it’s great! It adds weight extra and body to the bottom of this dress which really helps flare the skirt out below the pleats.

You are supposed to hand stitch the top of the hem facing with fancy thread but…bahahahahaha!

Nope.

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Vogue 1353 Kay Unger, size 14 graded to 16 at the waist

Fabric – Cotton and Steel Honeymoon by Sarah Watts – Morning Dew (black) from Blackbird Fabrics and black cotton/silk blend from The Fabric Store, Wellington

Other notions – Invisible zipper, interfacing

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Shiny sharp scissors, snick, snick, snick! (and a giveaway)

I’m excited to share with you guys that I am going to be working with Singer Sewing Company, blogging on their Australian/New Zealand website.

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I’m being joined by Christina of Little Pickers who is based in Tasmania. We’ll both be blogging about our sewing over on the Singer site with a new post every three months so I hope you’ll pop over and see what we’re up to.

To kick things off here on my blog I’ve got a little goodie to share with you all and two more to give away, one each to a lucky Kiwi and Aussie follower 🙂

New scissors!

Singer scissors (of course!) in a beautiful heritage tin.

We’ll get to the scissors in a moment because initially I was more excited about the tin! It came protected in a cardboard sleeve and it matches all my vintage Singer accessory boxes 🙂

Squee! Clever packaging makes me super happy.

But we are here to talk about scissors. Here is my current fabric cutting arsenal, it consists of a pair of Mundial scissors and a 28mm rotary cutter which I use with pattern weights and various rulers.

Rotary cutting is a fairly new revelation for me. I use it for all the naughty fabrics. You know the ones. They’re slinky and/or stretchy and just looking a them moves them off-grain. Rotary cutters on a big cutting mat are perfect for zipping around naughty fabrics without disturbing them.

For fabrics that behave, stable ones such as cotton, I still prefer the satisfying snick snick of a nice heavy pair of sharp, all-metal scissors.

The Singer scissors are similar in size to my Mundials with nice sharp tips and maybe the teensiest bit heavier. I like the weight, I think it gives you more control.

So to give these shiny new scissors a thorough review I used them to cut out the project that I’ll be sewing up for my first Singer blog post – it’s the Pauline Alice Cami Dress in the Spoonflower Hot Air Balloons that I mentioned in my last post.

I wasn’t entirely sure how to make scissor action shots sexy but I set up my tripod and got to work.

The dress pattern includes only the bodice, collar and sleeve pieces. The skirt piece is drafted from the instructions. It’s basically a drindl, a rectangle that you gather to fit the bodice width. There are measurements included in the instructions including where to place your notches for center front, zipper and pocket placement.

I actually really like that there isn’t a huge waste of paper just for a rectangle. It also makes me feel like Pauline Alice takes me seriously as a home sewist. I can work out a little bit of maths (or in this case, follow simple directions) and mark straight onto my fabric.

I think the suggested skirt length will be a little short on me plus I always need a bit more over my bottom so I pinned all my pieces in place and then just divided my left over fabric length in half. I ended up with two 70cm tall rectangles instead of the suggested 55cm. After I hem this dress I’ll make a note of how tall my rectangles need to be for next time.Cutting out is one of the sewing tasks I find most tiresome. That’s why I usually cut out 3 or 4 projects in one go but only having to cut out the bodice pieces and with shiny new scissors made this feel really quick.

As you would expect, the scissors were super sharp and made that satisfying snick snick I love. My only complaint would be that they were a little stiff at first but I cut out two more projects after this and they have loosened up.

They are a great pair of scissors and if you’re looking for a decent pair for your fabric cutting needs I highly recommend them. Good quality sewing scissors are an investment and if you look after them (read: they don’t go near a piece of paper. Ever.) all-metal scissors last practically forever.

Oh hey, do you need some new scissors? 😉 Would you like to win your own pair of sharp and shiny Singer scissors?

Yeah you would…so here’s what we’re going to do:

  • Share a photo of yourself using your sad sewing scissors on Instagram – maybe they are blunt, maybe they are cheap, or maybe they don’t exist at all!
  • Hashtag #ineedsingerscissors and tell us in a few words why you need your own pair of Singer sewing scissors
  • Tag @thecuriouskiwi and @singer_sewing_aus_nz
  • Don’t forget to mention where you live (Australia/New Zealand)

You have until 4th July then we’ll pick one Kiwi and one Aussie to win their own pair and then we can snick snick away together and sew. All. The. Things.

Sorry this competition is only open to New Zealand and Australian readers.

Happy cutting

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* I was given the set of Singer Dressmaking Scissors you see me using in this post to review as part of my work with Singer Sewing Company Australia New Zealand. All opinions expressed is this post are honest and my own. I freely chose to review this product because I genuinely believe it is a good product, I enjoyed using it and will continue to use it in the future.