Sunday, 28 February 2016

Something Special

Miss no-longer 4 (from now on I guess she's Miss 5) had a rather special birthday present earlier this year. She went on a special outing to the ballet with her grandma.  The performance was put together especially for a young audience, and she had a great time.

I'd purchased The Blake Dress by Mingo & Grace during Black Friday sales last year, and had been looking for a special occasion to sew it up. So it was decided that she needed a new dress to wear to the ballet.

The original version that I fell in love with was made in neoprene (check it out here). My version was made using scuba knit, as it was easy to source at the local Spotlight, and I've heard is a tad easier to sew (it's sometimes referred to as an apparel version of neoprene).

I was pretty excited to be able to use use my new invisible zipper foot. I still had to press the coil open (was a bit to gentle doing this at one end and managed to catch the zipper), but it made inserting the zipper a lot easier.

The bodice isn't lined, but bound at the arms and neck.  At first I tried to handstitch the binding at the armholes and neckline, catching only one layer of the fabric. But it really didn't look too good (I need to work on my handstitching evenness and patience), so I stitched the binding down with the machine. The hem was handstitched (the blind hem on the machine wasn't that blind in this fabric). Did I mention I need to work on my handstitching? It took a lot longer than I anticipated and I was literally securing the last stitch as the doorbell rang. 

  The binding fabric was rescued from the remnants bin at spotlight. While I was unpacking the bag, I held the scuba and the quilters cotton together, and found a beautiful match.

It was such lovely match that I decided to make a little bolero to go with the dress.

The pattern is the Ditty - part of Flosstyle's Jukebox collection. It was a quick little sew, and a good way to dip my toe into this amazing pattern - the options are just staggering.

I really love the idea of a cute little bolero to top off a dress.  Even in summer we're surprised by cool night, or the random day of grey skies and rain.  This is perfect for those times, when you just need something little to cover your shoulders. 

The bolero is reversible. I had the perfect fabric picked out for the other side. But little girls have their own ideas on these things, and she was quite insistent that she choose her own fabric. It's hard let to her grow up and make her own decisions. But it's got to happen at some time. 

Thursday, 18 February 2016


I had been on a bit of a quick sew streak, when I came up against this beauty.  The Mackinaw Jacket by Designs by Call Ajaire.  This was one of those sews where you can feel yourself becoming a better sewist as you go. The pattern is beautifully put together with so much attention to detail.

This is a standard width collar and straight style with a buttoned belt in a canvas print. There are also options for a dramatic collar, pleated style and tied sash.

The print design makes it rather difficult to see the actual jacket, but that's what you get when you let him choose the fabric he wants. The lining is black polar fleece in the collar, and black sheeting for the rest of the lining. I'd love to have a go at a flanelette lining, but it just doesn't really get cold enough here to justify it.

I went with the bound buttonholes option (you can do standard if you want). The process was a little tricky, but it's a similar approach to welt pockets. And the pattern instructions are so great, they hold your hand through the whole process.

The lining is fully bagged, so the main fabric on the sleeves and bottom hem turns up to form part of the lining. There's even little details like the pleat at the bottom of the lining, another pleat across the back of the lining for ease of movement, two piece sleeves and sneaky pockets. This jacket has all the features you'd expect to find on a 'proper jacket' you bought from a store. There's a real sense of accomplishment as you realise what you've just sewn.

I used a rather heavy interfacing on the collar, so there have been a few comments about the collar being irritating (have lighter weight planned for version 2). Nevertheless, while he had it on for photos (and during fit checks), I certainly busted him rubbing his cheek across the fleece of the collar. So the tactile nature of the collar is a definite win.

I have the fabric cut for version 2. Same style, but in a relatively heavy denim, with faux fur (the proper stuff that's normally $60/m -don't panic it was on special, and I only needed 1/2 a metre), and cotton lining (with a rocket ship print).

While I was hoping to have had #2 finished by now, it's turned out pretty well, as  Ajaire is running a sew along in the Facebook group starting February 23

The pattern is available via the Designs by Call Ajaire Etsy shop. Use the code MACK15 for a 15% discount (good until Feb 21st).

And if you're looking for another reason to join the Facebook group, there is a code for a special release extra discount.

Sunday, 14 February 2016


The sewing I have planned in my head regularly exceeds the amount that is practically able to be accomplished with all of life to deal with as well. Which is why I have piles and piles of fabric just waiting to be converted to new and wonderful items.  There is fabric in there that I purchased over 2 years ago for the express purpose of making myself a comfy t-shirt for summer. There's also fabric cut and ready to sew into a really cute top .... just as soon as the next lot of deadlines (many of which are self imposed) stop rushing by.

So it was a strange moment the other night when I got up from the machine, and realised that I had just sewed myself a new t-shirt.  It was a muslin for a pattern I was testing for Little Finch Patterns (The Easy Tee). So I was thrilled when I tried it on. It was a perfect comfy fit. Even better, although it was (and still is) wearable, it was just the muslin. Meaning that there was another top in the works.

So now I have two new t-shirts. We're having a run of hot humid weather at the moment, and these are PERFECT! The panel across the back makes them just that bit more dressy, but the fit is relaxed and comfortable - just right for warm weather.

The lace panel in this one was taken from a dress my grandmother had given me. Don't panic, she was partway through turning it into a skirt, and thought I might like it. The lace is taken from and overlay on the bodice, so I'll still end up with a skirt one day (did I mention how long it takes for me to sew for myself).  The pink and purple snakeskin fabric is a knit rayon I picked up at spotlight a while ago (when it was on sale). It was going to be a dress for my daughter, but I think it's adjusted to it's new role quite nicely.

So what about the pattern???  This is a SERIOUSLY quick sew. The back panel can be knit, chiffon, lace or whatever your want. There's plenty of ease in the pattern, so I wasn't too worried about using a non-stretchy accent.  This neckline is just folded over, but there is an option for a neckband. I'd normally go for the added neckband, but figured a folded neckline would look neater with the lace panel. There are also three different bottom hem/length options: standard (as you see here), high-low and tunic length - I have plans for all of those. And finally, there is the option for 3/4 sleeves (unfortunately my arms would even allow me to contemplate that given the current temperature).

So if you're feeling like you never sew yourself anything, or a looking for a tshirt that's comfy, but with a little bit of something special, this could be just right for you. Available from Little Finch Patterns - The Easy Tee.

PS. Little Finch Patterns have a Facebook group too.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Brandt Shirt

More sewing for my boy. I'm thrilled he's still willing to wear clothes that his mum makes. I'm making the most of that.

This time round, the Brandt T-shirt by Kelly J Designs.

First version in some stripy double knit and super stretchy cotton lycra. The double knit is kind of layered. You can see the two layers joined every couple of rows when you cut through it. Hopefully nice and warm for winter time.

Next up .... lime green aliens

I found this fabric at Hobby Sew, prepackaged in a 1m cut. It's amazingly soft and nicely stretchy with a lovely drape and good recovery.

Unfortunately, as is often the case with a printed pattern, the print was a little off the grain - especially when coupled with knit's tendency to twist. I could get the aliens to line up horizontally or vertically, but not both.  In the end I fudged it as much as I could, trying the get the grain sorted most of all.  I figure kids are generally moving around so much it's hard to tell if a print's a bit wonky.

This is a wonderfully quick sew. There are options for hemmed sleeves and bottom, or banded. Or you can mix it up, and have a bit of both.

The neckband crosses over at the front, giving you the warmth of a turtleneck without the 'chokingness' (chokyness?)

I can see a lot of these being made this winter. I have plans for kitting out miss not-quite-five in some suitable for under her winter school uniform tunic.

The pattern's available via etsy or craftsy, in sizes 3 months to 10 years. The size shown is a 7. And Kelly has set up a facebook group over here

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Sewing for Men

I recently tested Pickle Toe's Pattern's Men's Taylor Tee.  And I must say sewing for a grown man was a bit of an adjustment.

1. Men's clothes use A LOT more fabric than children's (and even women's). To make this one t-shirt, I used 3 extra large shirts.

2. The seams on men's clothes are LONG. Usually I'm a bit cautious tackling the curves of the armscye, so stitch first, then overlock. Those days are gone! The stretch fabric stitch is soooooooo slow I've now bitten the bullet, and started overlocking straight up. It's so much faster.

3. Grown ups have their own taste, and (generally) don't wear what their mum (or wife) tells them to.  Coupled with this is that most knit fabric ready to hand is either plain, striped, floral or a kid's print.  Which is why I turned to old t-shirts for fabric.

Despite all these hurdles, I did enjoy sewing for a grownup, even if he wasn't too keen on posing for pictures.
On the up-side, the taking of photos was a remarkably simple process.

A matter of
"Stand there"
"Look over there"  "Put your hands on your hips"
"Turn around so I can see the back"
"And we're done"

This was a pretty quick sew (even quicker if you ditch the colour-block). The most frustrating part was having to rethread my machine for the twin needle stitching. But that could be avoided with some forward thinking and use of the overlocker (serger).

There's so much more to this pattern than just this shirt. You can go for a solid tee, rather than colour-blocked. And there's also options for long sleeves, a hood, cuffed sleeves and a waistband. If you have smaller people to sew for, don't forget there are kids sizes (including boy's husky sizes) in the Etsy store.

The pattern is available via etsy here And more tester pics are in an album in the Pickle Toes Patterns group on Facebook.