Sunday, 5 July 2015

Sailboat Blouse, Plus: B*inspired Magazine Giveaway


Agh! I may love this little garment too much. Cute little retro style? Check. Nautical vibes? Check. Worn by my naughty little scamp? Check again. I have a couple of people to thank for the materials that allowed me to make this, and a giveaway as well so you may want to stick around til the end for that. 


Pattern:

A bunch of months ago, I was lucky enough to receive two copies of children's sewing pattern magazine B*inspired's 4th edition. One was for me to get my grubby mitts on, and a second copy it to be given away. This edition is full of sewable Spring/Summer styles, but there was one that I had to make. This little tie-front blouse has a retro 1950's bowling vibe that almost demands a novelty print and sweet buttons. Who am I to deny it?! 

(image source: B*inpired magazine)

B*inspired is created by the same Dutch team who make My Image womenswear pattern magazine (that I wrote about here). I would say that all the pluses and minuses that I found with My Image also apply here. Speaking positively, from what I can tell from making one pattern from each, the patterns seem well drafted, with some very wearable styles, IMO. The magazines themselves are beautiful and printed on lovely paper. The pattern sheets (from which you trace off the pieces required) are nice and clear, and not overcrowded like the Burdastyle magazines' pattern sheets are. They feature photo shoots that show the garments off well and definitely made me want to sew a good number of them. With all those lovely patterns included, the magazine is excellent value at only €5.95.

However, the negatives are also true: the instructions translated into English were confusing at times, and seemed pretty sparse generally. I felt confident in choosing this blouse pattern to try because it was one of only two patterns included that showed some step-by-step photography. However, even with this additional assistance, it wasn't enough to prevent me fluffing up and having to crack out the quick-unpick (AKA seam ripper). Plus there was some potentially-useful information missing, like any indication of where to position the buttons/buttonholes, or how long to cut the elastic for the gathered sleeve hems, which made the project a bit more taxing than this bleary-eyed sewing mama felt really comfortably with. I can imagine that it would be a frustrating experience to try making this blouse without having made any blouses or shirts before (and in my case, that apparently still wasn't enough to help me through without mistakes!). Despite all it's awesome points, unfortunately it would be hard for me to recommend this magazine to anyone who didn't have a number of years of sewing experience and quite a few completed sewing projects, under their belts. 


My one other small gripe is with the sizing. I traced off and made the smallest size (92), which is a full two sizes bigger than Dolores is currently wearing (according to other sewing pattern magazine sizing and most mass-produced second-hand stuff she has). I expected this to fit her summer 2016 but when I got her to try it on, I was really surprised to find that it is almost the perfect size right now. 

But I have to say, this project was FUN to make! A fiddly little woven garment that will probably only get a few wears (unless we luck out and it ends up spanning two summers), may not feel like the best use of limited sewing time, but it really was enjoyable to make something small and crisp and perfect. I'd definitely make this pattern again, and have lots of fun picking different cute fabric and button combos. I'd like to make a sleeveless version too at some point. 


Fabric:

I was sent a small piece of sailboat printed poly/cotton from the very lovely Catherine of Clothes and Sewing a couple of months ago. At first I wasn't sure what to do with it exactly, and I feared that it would languish in my stash. But the stars alined and this pattern presented itself at the right time. The fabric washes easily and presses well, and was the perfect weight for this little summer blouse. The only thing I regret was not choosing a plain white fabric for the facing rather than using the same printed fabric because the facing sailboats are slightly visible through the front. But then, when is a toddler ever still for long enough to really notice such things?!  

The buttons were from my stash, having originally been given to me by my blog sponsor Maggie from Textile Garden. They are navy blue plastic with tiny white stars printed on them. The navy blue of the buttons is a bit darker than the blue in the fabric print, but I think it is close enough to look nice. 


So, on to the giveaway bit. This giveaway is open internationally. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post which must include your email address, unless I can access your email address within two clicks of my mouse. No email address, no way to contact you to send you the magazine. If you aren't positive that it can be accessed within two clicks, then leave it in the comment itself. Your email address will not be used for any purpose other than contacting you if you are the winner. Leave your comment by midnight GMT Sunday 12th July 2015. I will pick a winner by random number generator the following day. Good luck!

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Please HELP! Trouser Fitting Knowledge Required...

(slinky red capris: from Stop Staring)

So I kind of ear-marked the second half of 2015 for nailing trouser making and fitting. I can't help but notice that June is on it's way out, so it's time to get schooled. The thing is, I don't just want to make a couple of passable/wearable pairs for myself; ideally I'd like to go deep so I can really understand them to help other people with fit and figure issues that may be different to my own. Sewing bloggers of the world, PUH-LEASE can you direct me towards some knowledge?! I want to know everything, but in the meantime these are my specific areas of confusion:

(sailor skinnies: from La Redoute)

The Long and Short of it 

When making for myself, I've realised that there's one pattern alterations I will definitely need to make. My main fit issue seems to be my shortwaisted-ness (my natural waist line is a bit higher up than 'average'). To accommodate that I know I need to slash and spread the front and back trouser pattern pieces like this, but how much to spread? Presumably I'd need to know my rise measurement, however an evening (well, hour or so, I don't get much time to myself these days!) spent on Google and YouTube failed to unearth an accurate method to do so. Any ideas?

(epic 70's style denim flares: image source)

All Rise

Also, how do you know what rise shape you need? There seems to be such a variety of rise curves, in sewing patterns, particularly the back rise, surely they won't all fit your specific figure straight out the packet? I've read a couple of times on blogs and Instagram about sewers 'scooping out' more from the rise and things like that. WHY are they doing that?! How do they how much to scoop out? Plus, I've seen some jeans patterns that have a back rise that is not very curved at all, more a diagonal line than a classic 'J' shape. What's that all about? Is it related to how wide the legs are? Are the rise shapes of skinny-legged jeans and trousers different to the rise shapes of wide-legged trousers? Agh! My mind is close to explosion.

(galloon print slim legged trousers: from Orla Kiely)

Resourcefulness 

That Coletterie 'Pant Fitting Cheat Sheet' and enclosed links are a nice opener, but they don't really have the depth of explanation or detailed illustrations that I'm looking for. The cheat sheet post does recommend three books for further reading: 'Fitting and Pattern Alteration''Pants for Real People' and 'Perfect Fit: The Classic Guide to Altering Patterns'. Do you own any of these, or any other fit/pattern alteration book, and could you recommend it for trousers? Or have you found a particularly useful blog post, YouTube clip or something else that you think could start shedding some light on the baffling world of making well fitting trousers? Enormo-thanks in advance.

(why don't I own red sailor flares yet? image source)

Thursday, 25 June 2015

African Wax Print Geranium Dress: Plus, I'm Tapping Out


Here it is peops, my second and final garment for this summer's 'Traveling' themed KCW. And I give up. But let's talk about the garment first. Oh, and if you don't like pictures of cute toddlers, or the colour orange, or eyes, then you may want to skip this post entirely. 


Pattern:

This is my second go using the Made By Rae's Geranium pattern for Dolores, and my forth go at it in total. I wrote pretty thoroughly about it in the Liberty print version blog post if you want to know my thoughts on it. But you can probably guess how I feel about it simply by the fact that I've made it four times now. 


This time round I used the plain armholes like the Liberty print one, but opted for the V-notch neckline and gathered skirt options. I'm not sure why, but I feel a bold print (and let's face it, you don't get much bolder than this one!) suits the gathered skirt style, and plain or very subtle/small prints look better with the pleated style. I think the formulae of crazy fabric + traditional style OR traditional/subtle fabric + more interesting design works well for children's wear.


Fabric and Notions:

If you've been following my blog for a couple of years, this fabric may look familiar; it once took the form of a big fat horrendous FAIL of a maternity garment. Once I had finally stopped laughing about that dress, I put it away with the intention of reusing the fabric, even though I still have metres and metres of it left uncut. I just couldn't waste the fabric, like I'd wasted my time and energy.


If you've made it this far into the post, it's probably already seared your retinas, however let me tell you a bit more about it. It's a medium weight African wax cotton fabric printed with an insane design of eyes and abstract Aztec-y diamonds. It feels and behaves like quilting cotton, and kind of makes the skirt stick out a little bit. I worked hard to achieve a linear pattern match at the seams, but through absolutely no effort on my part, I seem to have nailed an almost exact pattern match on the skirt's back seam and one of the side seams. Like, the eyes are complete. I don't think I couldn't have done that if I'd tried. 



The bodice is lined in a scrap of cream silk habotai from my stash, and despite intense amounts of clipping into the bodice seam allowances before turning it through and very careful pressing, you get slight glimpses of it peeking out. I'm not about to attempt to source bright orange lining fabric and then try to buy only 15 cms of it though, so I'll have to get over it. 


To extend the African theme further still, I used these little zebra buttons for the back closure. They were a gift from the lovely Maggie from Textile Garden (my sponsors, FYI). You can find the zebra ones, plus many many more amazing novelty buttons here. My initial button choice was some giraffes (also given to me by Maggie), but they required vertical button holes which really wouldn't have worked for this dress. No matter, African savannah theme remains intact. (Please don't leave a comment if you happen to know that African wax fabric is from an entirely different part of Africa than where zebras live or something!)


Thoughts on the Dress:

Aside from nearly making my eyes bleed when I look at it, I think this is a pretty awesome garment. The only thing I'd criticise, aside from the aforementioned comment on the lining peeking out, it that the scale of the V-notch is a little small for my liking. If I use this pattern again (which I probably will) and use the V-notch option (which I probably will), I'll make it bigger so it stands out more, even if I'm using more subtle fabric.

The only other thing that could have improved the final look is if I'd found the time and energy to make a matching sun hat. However, I really don't think this dress will get that much wear that it warrants its own special hat! 


Thoughts on This Season's KCW:

So that's me done. I've only completed two garments this time, and I probably didn't sew for a total of seven hours (although I've definitely stopped trying to complete the required seven hours within the specified week). The truth is, I've been ill all week and struggling to entertain Dolores at the same time. She's been sick too and neither of us have had much sleep for agessssss. I was hoping to complete the two projects that I had had brewing anyway, and then bust out something fresh (to me) inspired by the Traveling theme. But it wasn't meant to be.

And, not that anyone should notice this, but I've been blogging way more frequently for the last couple of months than has been my usual routine. I've still got a bit of a backlog of projects to share and topics to discuss in blog post form, but I need to slow up a bit again because I'm heaping pressure and stress onto myself for no good reason. Hmm, starting to realise why I might be ill at the moment! I'm going house-sitting tomorrow for a five days, so that's drawn a line under the challenge, as well as running out of steam. Anyway, this wasn't meant to be a pity party, I just wanted to explain why I'm sadly tapping out of this awesome sewing challenge early. On the plus side, I have to say that sewing (and children's wear sewing in particular) is a regular activity for me at the moment, so if one of the motivations behind the KCW challenges is to kick start someone's flagging sewjo, then I'm pleased to say that I don't feel I need to gain that from it. If you are taking part, I really hope you are having a super fun week!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

'Hola' Batwing Sweatshirt


My first make for the summer Kid's Clothes Week challenge! I must admit that, even though the challenge officially started just yesterday (22nd June), I actually made this at the weekend. This is because I'll be working all next weekend so won't get a chance to sew at all, so I was 'making time'. Not that this was a particularly time consuming garment, it could have easily been completed in a day if there were no cheeky toddler about requiring entertaining, feeding, changing etc.  


Pattern and Construction:

The names of the garment patterns in Ottobre magazine usually relates to the fabric they have used in the version photographed. I say this in the hope that it won't be odd when stating that I used the Meow Meow sweatshirt pattern for this project! The spring 1/2015 edition of Ottobre magazine (pictured above) has been well worth the tenner it cost as this is the second or third pattern I've used from it with many more that I plan to try in the future.  


The Meow Meow sweatshirt is a simple batwing style comprising of just one piece for the front, one for the back and a neck band. Dolores currently fits about a Size 80, but seeing as we are coming into summer, I chose to make the Size 86 so hopefully it'll fit her during the Autumn or even next Spring. Having said that, it's come out massive, but I'm sure it'll fit at some point! I may trace out the Size 80 for this Autumn after all...

I knew that I would be making a self neck binding rather than ribbing as recommended by the pattern, so I applied the lesson I learnt from the Lightning Flash raglan sweatshirt and cut the neck binding piece 2 cm longer than the pattern piece suggests. After faffing about with the appliqué, the actual garment construction was super quick, as I'm sure you can imagine from a pattern that consists of just two pieces plus binding. I couldn't even be bothered to switch back and forth between my sewing machine and overlocker, so I stitched it all on my regular sewing machine using a narrow lightning stitch for the seams.  


I hemmed the bottom and the sleeves with my newly befriended twin needle, as well as topstitching down the neck binding seam allowance. I took it slowly, particularly round the neckline, as my twin needle is realistically too fine to be forced through all those layers. We won though. 

Fabric and Applique: 

Instead of using sweatshirting as recommend by the pattern, I used yet more of the synthetic maroon double knit from my stash that, apparently, will never run out. I previously used it to make myself Hudson pants/jogging bottoms (which, despite all my moaning about the fit, I've worn HEAPS about the house) and countless pairs of toddler leggings. I'm not sure if this double knit is quite stretchy enough for this pattern, time will tell when Dolores is big enough to wear it, so I'm kind of treating this as an experiment and am not too emotionally attached to this garment. 


Back in the day (well, about ten years ago) I used to make a lot of appliquéd bags and I've really got back into appliqué to embellish clothes for Dolores (see aforementioned Lightning flash sweatshirt and Fawn pinafore dress). Running with the KCW theme of Traveling, I took it in the direction of languages that you may encounter when traveling around the world. I used a scrap of star print denim/chambray that was recently and kindly donated to me by Gill from Vintage Rock Chick which I fused with bondaweb before cutting the letters out. I also applied some fusible interfacing on the back of the front piece covering the area that would be appliquéd. I then used a satin stitch (basically a zigzag stitch with the stitch length cranked down to 0.2) and a fancy appliqué machine foot (blog post coming soon...) to stitch round the edges of each letter. 


Thoughts:

The ideas for this top, or at least something similar, had been floating round my brain for a while. I'm glad that this top now exists so that bit of brain-space can now be filled with new project ideas. However, I'm not sure if the reality has been as successful as I pictured it to be. I can't decide if it's a poor fabric choice for this type of garment, a poor fabric choice in general, a poor colour combination, a poor choice of appliqué thread colour, or what.

As I say, I wasn't overly attached to this project and am ok with winning some and losing others. I'll put it away now and pull it back out when Dolores is big enough to wear it. Hopefully then I will gain some insight about what is wrong with it, or if in fact it isn't that bad after all. As Marilla Walker wisely commented on a previous blog post of mine, 'Time is an excellent healer, especially when everything else is in the wash!!!'. Amen to that.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Kid's Clothes Week Sewalong June 2015: Traveling!

kid's clothes week

I don't know how they do it, but the organisers of the Kid's Clothes Week challenge have come up with ANOTHER awesome and inspiring theme for this summer. Although following the theme of KCW is entirely optional (the only stipulation is to sew for at least one hour per day for a week), 'Traveling' can be taken in soooo many directions that it'd be hard to not come up with a project plan that could be even vaguely linked to it. 

(tourist T-shirt image source: Boden)

This season's challenge starts really soon: like, TOMORROW! And as ever they have had some really great blog posts packed with interesting suggestions of how to interpret the theme, if you wish to. There are some lovely ideas linked to transportation, holidaying at the seaside and different parts of the world.  Personally, I'm really into the idea of road trips, which could be a fun direction to take the traveling theme. That said, I'm pretty sure of what I'm going to make now and the two ideas I'm currently rolling with don't really link to that. 

(airplane applique inspiration image source: hilemanhouse on Etsy)

One of the things I love about KCW, particularly when the theme is as open to interpretation as this one, is that it can be a kick up the bum to simply push forward with some ideas that have been brewing away anyhow. So that is what I am going to do. However, I have included a few other potential points of inspiration for the Traveling theme that have been lurking on my Pinterest boards. 

(skyline dress image source: nanamar on flickr)

So, what about you? Are you going to take part this season? If you are, or even if you aren't, what direction will/would you take this particular theme? 

(mini messenger bag image source: crazylittleprojects.com

Friday, 19 June 2015

Refashion Friday: Remade Leopard Print Agnes Top


After the success of my first TATB Agnes top, I knew that it wouldn't be long before another sprang forth from my machine! This time round, I've really explored this pattern's trashier, Rockabilly possibilities. 


Pattern:

I used the same pattern as my previous version, which graded from the Size 3 at the shoulders and bust out the Size 4 for the waist and hips. The only change I did make was to implement what I learnt from the stripy version: that I needed to grade out to a Size 4 around the upper arm part of the sleeves. I fannied about applying, unpicking and the re-applying elastic for the front neckline gathering detail. However, I ended up unpicking it for good as the print is so busy on this fabric that the gathering kind of got lost. 


Fabric:

I bought this humungous, nasty-synthetic leopard print top (pictured above) from a charity a few months ago. Amusingly, the garment label tried to claim a hefty cotton content in the fibre composition. If that is the case, then I can legitimately claim to be 75% inuit. I intended to make some baby trousers from it but ended up finding something else instead which was more suitable. So this top had been knocking about in my sewing corner clogging up the place for months, until inspiration struck.  


Refashion/Remake:

I cut along the original top's seam lines to harvest as much fabric from it as possible. When laying down the Agnes top pattern pieces on to the fabric, I positioned the bottom edges 2 cm lower (see above) so I could use the original top's existing hem on the front, back and sleeve pieces. By eliminating the need to hem, this became a really quick make. I used my overlocker for everything except for topstitching down the neck seam allowance. I did that with the twin needle that came with my regular sewing machine (see below). It's my most successful attempt to use a twin needle so far! 


Thoughts:

This top is awesome, in a trashy diva kind of way. I'm wearing it in these pictures with my denim high waist bow skirt, but I'd love to make some stretchy black capri pants to wear it with. Although I don't like to think what I'd smell like after a day in that synthetic substance! 

I have plans for one more Agnes top project in the near future, then that's my Agnes-appropriate stash busted and I'll have to move on. I'm going to try the poofy sleeve version next, I'm excited to give that feature a try. Have you sewn the Agnes top pattern yet? Or do you have plans to? Which is your favourite combo of features? 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Liberty Print Geranium Dress


A couple of Saturday's ago I taught a class at the Village Haberdashery on how to make the Geranium dress pattern by Made By Rae. Getting to and from the VH from where I live usually takes at least 3.5 hours door to door, so when I finally got home I was exhausted. When I arrived home, I got changed and poured myself a glass of wine, but instead of watching some TV or some other equally relaxing/brain-numbing activity, I got some fabric out and started making this dress. We have been invited to a baptism party the following day (not my family's usual habitat), and I realised Dolores didn't have anything suitably pretty to wear. Super-tired? Check. Imminent deadline? Check. Not ideal circumstances for a sewing project!  However I couldn't be more happy with the outcome.


Pattern:

I've waxed lyrical about the Geranium dress pattern before, and now that I have made it a few times I can confirm that it really is a very well drafted pattern with many awesome design options. You could make a squillion variations from the same pattern, the results of which would all look like very different garments. For this dress I used the U-shaped cut out neckline, plain armholes, pleated skirt and dress length options (phew!). I did, however, avoid the in-seam pockets which are part of the pleated skirt option. I don't think Dolores would know what to do with in-seam pockets just yet, plus I can imagine that her running around with her hands in some pockets would result in lots more falling over than happens already!


Having taught how to sew the pattern earlier that day, the construction method was firmly imprinted in my brain so I didn't need to spend time referring back to the instructions. Therefore, I managed to cut out and make this dress in about two hours total (I left the buttonholes to do in the daylight the following day before the party!). I used the 18-24 months pieces, Dolores is 20 months now and the fit is spot on. 


Fabric:

I've admitted to this before, but I keep most of my fabric stash in Dolores's bedroom! It's all folded neatly and a set of shelves, and personally I think it looks quite pretty. Whilst I'm rocking her before putting her down to sleep, the fabric is in my sightline and I'm reminded of what I have stashed away. I was so pleased to finally use this beautiful fabric that had been on those shelves for a couple of years! It was a gift from the very lovely Susan who runs Sewbox.co.uk who sent me this and another Liberty print cotton whilst I was pregnant. At the time I obviously didn't know that Dolores would end up with such bright blue eyes, and I LOVE dressing her in blue garments because they accentuate that feature. This Liberty cotton is from the Bloomsbury collection, the print design called is Charles. Sewbox no longer seems to have this exact print, but there are three other colour-ways you can find here.  


This Liberty cotton has a bit more body than the other Liberty Bloomsbury fabric she sent, which is great because it helped to make the pleats and U-shaped cutout detail really nice and crisp. I used the same fabric to line the bodice, and in total the pattern used under a metre. If I get round to it, I'll going to see if I can squeeze a pair of shorts for Dolores out of what is left over. 


Thoughts:

I can't tell you how much I love this little dress. Dolores rarely seems to acknowledge the clothes that she's wearing, but when we first put this dress on her she, too, seemed pretty pleased with herself! I'm so happy with the pairing of fabric and pattern, and the fit is really good. I want to make the most of having traced the pattern pieces, so I plan to make another for this summer, although I'm very aware that woven garments have a much shorter lifespan in terms of fit than all the knit garments that I usually make for her have.  

What about you? What pattern have you been thoroughly impressed by recently? What fabric and pattern combo have you used that turned out to be spot on?
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