Thursday, 21 July 2016

Christmas in July

Welcome to my post as part of Everything Your Mama Made and More's (EYMM) Christmas in July Blog tour.

Christmas in July can be quite a big thing in Australia. It's a chance to do the wintry Christmas things we don't get time for when we're busy at the BBQs, pool and beach (the important Aussie Christmas traditions), eating cherries, stone fruit and seafood.

One of the traditions I've seen other bloggers and sewists do is the set of Christmas Pyjamas.  Each year I have great plans of joining in, but summer jammies just don't seem quite right (and I normally run out of time, to be honest).

So this Christmas in July, it's time to make the most of the tradition with a pair of Christmas Pyjamas for my eldest.

I used the Riley's Night Shirt and Dress pattern to make this PJ top.  The red fabric is a rather light-weight cotton lycra. There is a lot of difference between the width of the neckline and the neckband that is attached. The pattern suggests stay-stitching the neckline to prevent stretching it while attaching the neckband.  I decided to skip this step. I won't do that again.  The light weight of the fabric, means that it looks a bit gathered around the neck.  I didn't get the band stretched out enough, and managed to pucker the fabric - whoops. Of course I was overlocking it straight on, so unpicking would have been a bit of an exercise.  Considering that this was sleep wear, I decided to roll with it. But next time (actually, keep reading to find out about 'next time') there will be some changes - a sturdier main fabric, staystitching and a bit less of a laissez-faire attitude to the overlocking.

The bottom band/facing is in a blue jersey I chose to to pick up on the blue in the plain pants. Not quite your traditional Christmas colours, but a homage to the red and green.

When I think of Christmas in July, I think of fireplaces and hot chocolates with marshmallows. Well we don't have a fireplace (and curling up under the aircon unit isn't quite so poetic). But I can produce a hot chocolate and marshmallow. And look at the size of that one! It's not often this boy has trouble finding something he can't quite fit in his mouth.

Of course he had to make sure he showed his sister just how big that marshmallow was.

Having walked you through all the problems and mistakes with this first version. It's time to show you number two ....

This time I staystitched the neckline, and took it slowly attaching the neckband.  I'm a big fan of the staystitching. The main fabric here is a jersey, so not too stretchy, but it was a lot easier it sew it up with the statystitching in place.  This is the nightgown length - cause she loves a nighty (so much so that she's been wearing one underneath her winter jammies (don't ask, it's not a good look).

So have you noticed the text I added???? (stupid question, of course you have).  I wanted something 'Christmassy' but not too 'Christmassy' -  seeing as these wouldn't be worn at actual Christmas time (it would be waaaaaayyyy too hot).  I'm pretty happy with these (although would love to be able to reposition some of the words on the gown - I'm not happy with the spacing).

The text is cut from heat transfer vinyl using my (rather underutilised) Silhouette Cameo.  It's pretty quick to do, and easy to apply. I think the most frustrating part is getting the Cameo out and plugging it in etc.  The text was just using fonts installed on the computer, and the snowflake was added from a file I probably grabbed while free at some point.

So that's my contribution to Christmas in July. I recommend the Riley's Nightgown and Sleepshirt pattern. Both my kids love their new jammies. The pattern is clearly written with all the information you need to make sleep wear for your kids in a HUGE range of sizes (from newborn to 18 ).  One feature that I particularly like is that measurements are included for shoulder to wrist and shoulder to knee. So you can make sure to get a good fit, and no cold wrists at night (provided you don't decide to start once the kids are in bed, and you don't have a measurement),

Don't miss any of the stops on the EYMM Christmas in July Tour! (Note: the direct links below will not work until their specified date, but feel free to click through and check out other posts on their blogs at any time.)
July 21 - Needles to Say
July 23 - Inspinration and Sewing by Ti
There are only 22 weekends left until Christmas. Start your holiday sewing projects now so you can spend more time with your family during the season! Use code 22WEEKEND to save 22% off ALL patterns in the EYMM shop now through 7/25/16 at 11:59pm PST.

Sunday, 17 July 2016


Flosstyle are currently running a sewing bee challenge via the Facebook group Flossyle Fair.  The second of the three challenges is to upcycle an item of clothing (or something else made from fabric), turning it into a new garment (ie no t-shirts to t-shirts), and using one or more of the features of the original item.

Well it just so happened that I was cleaning out my t-shirt drawer the other day.  I struggle to do that, because there are some shirts in there that I don't really wear (either the style, length, or even size), but struggle to let go. Why? Because there's something special about them ... they were bought for me by someone else, or are from a time that was important etc etc.

Here are a few of those shirts. A Colorado University tee bought for me by my brother while he was studying there. A Spamalot shirt that I bought when I surprised my husband with the show for Christmas one year. And a Whistler Blackcomb tee that my parents bought for me one visit.

Well it just so happens that I have a relatively new niece (living all the way over in Europe), and what better chance to use these shirts than to make some clothes for her. They're extra special because the shirts remind me of her dad (my brother). He bought me the CU shirt, and we've grown up watching Monty Python.

First to get the upcycle treatment was the CU t-shirt. I unpicked the side and armscye seams, giving me two small sleeves, and a front-back piece attached at the shoulders.  I cut the sleeves keeping the black binding. The front and back of the dress were cut preserving the bottom hem line.  And I unpicked the neckband to reuse for the (now smaller) neckband of the dress.

All up, I'm pretty sure I meant more time unpicking the original tee than sewing up the dress!

Then on to the Spamalot tee.  This was a little tricky as the print on the front and back was wider than the piece for the onesie. And with a straight up placement of the main pattern piece, would have cut off the top of the grail.  I had the same issue on the back, trying to incorporate all of the image.  So I re-positioned the pattern pieces, angling the top neckline away from the fold, so I could bring the pattern up as high as possible, and catch all the logo.  To restore the fabric to the right kind of size for the neckband, I ran a row of gathering stitches across the front and back neclines, and pulled until it matched back up to the pattern piece. I then knotted the ends of the gathering thread, to hold it in place while I attached the neckband.

The rest of the sew was as per usual. Using the existing sleeve hems on the cap sleeves.  The neck and leg binding is some cotton lycra I had on hand (which is allowable under the rules).

It was really lovely sewing these items up. Thinking of my brother, my niece and all the memories associated with the clothes I was using.  They may be a long way away, but they are in my thoughts often.

So what of the Whistler Blackcomb tee? Well that's probably going to end up as a tee for my nephew (so he doesn't miss out). That's not yet done, but it will be another quick sew (and not eligible for the challenge as it won't change garment type).  As I was sewing, my head was filled with the other clothes in my (and my husband's) drawer that don't get worn often, and what they could be refashioned as .... A pair of Tooshies, a pair of Twigs or Twiggies - so many possibilities, I can't wait.

Monday, 11 July 2016

A Pencil Skirt for Me

I must admit, that since making this skirt it has just about kicked my comfy jeans out of top spot for most worn clothing (work uniform doesn't count of course).

The Ruffled Stitch has just released the Button Up Pencil Skirt and it is a wardrobe staple.  Aside from my very wearable muslin (in canvas and duck), I have two versions in high rotation. One in a heavyweight indigo stretch denim, and one in a stretch damask-type fabric I found at the Op Shop.

So what do I love about this skirt????

First of all, there's the classic styling & silhouette. There's nothing like this shape for some classy skirt action. I am usually 'on the move' and my steps are more akin to a stride. But I do love the wiggle factor when walking in a pencil skirt (although with the height of the first button, and the stretch of the fabric, there is some potential in there for longer steps - if the situation requires).

It's just the right length.  This is one of the things I love about being able to sew my own clothes. They are the way I want them.  Realistically, it's nice to have a shorter skirt every now and then, but my days are busy. I want to be able to sit down outside the ballet class, and not have to worry about where my skirt's sitting while I'm trying to concentrate on my knitting (really should take some photos of that, it's super cute ...).

It's designed for stretch material - I love a skirt with a bit of give around the hips. I know that this is where I store my 'energy reserves', so some stretch around there is always a good thing.  The stretch is also good for the whole not so good at remembering to take small steps thing.

You get to use a hammer. Yep that's right, I was able to use a hammer more than once making this skirt (and a piece of decking timber I might add).  Giving the seams a good pound with the hammer helps to flatten them when you have multiple layers of thick fabric. I also used my 'clapper' - offcut of decking timber from Bunnings to help get hems and seams to lay flat.  I also used a hammer to install the jeans (metal shank) buttons - heaps of fun!

The pattern is beautifully written.  It seems that all the important thinking is done for you: which way to press the seams; does it need finishing; how to do the topstitching; how to have the back seam topstitching centred, and all the other things that make a pattern just a bit more professional.  With plenty of clear illustrations, and help along the way, this is a great sew.

The pattern has options. I sewed up view 1 for both of these. But there's also another version with a placket at the front, and no piecing at the back. The two backs and fronts mix and match for 4 basic versions, and by changing out the fabric, you can have a whole new look (I really want to mess about with contrasting pockets and plackets).

The pattern is available through UpCraft for the moment.

It will be available straight from the Ruffled Stitch a little later.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Classic Maillot (AKA cossies for winter ???!!!)

The world of pattern testing has resulted in a few out of season sews - like a super warm jacket in the middle of February.  So a swimsuit (know locally as a cossie) sewn in winter didn't seem like such an odd idea.  We keep the kids in swimming lessons over Winter, and an extra cossie in the drawer is always handy - especially as the one from Spring last year is getting a little baggy at the back.

So when Ajaire (of Call Ajaire) posted a testing call for the Classic Maillot, I was up for it.  Having tested for Ajaire before, and loving her patterns was another factor.  I'm not sure if I had fully anticipated just how much the temperature would drop as Winter finally arrived, and the degree of  persuasion needed to convince the lovey Miss M model for photos.

But I think the finished cossie is most definitely worth it.  This is one of 8 (official) views that the pattern provides - a colour-blocked top of the suit with a ruffle at the front (this is actually an unintended mash of two views - view C front with view B back.

To start I made up a straight one piece  - a good chance to check fit, and have a practice sewing with Lycra and stretching the elastic.  My last run at swim wear (this Tankini), I used clear plastic elastic, and while I found it quite good, it needed a bit more force to stretch than the woven 3/8" (10mm) elastic I used for this pattern).  The pattern includes lots of measurements (including torso girth) to help choose the right size and adjust the pattern for a perfect fit - no-one likes straps falling of shoulders mid-swim.

After my practice run (no photos of this, she really needs to grow a little - it will be perfect for summer), I broke out the Lycra I found the weekend before at the Op Shop (a rather fortunate fabric find), for this pink and purple masterpiece.

The look on Miss M's face when I showed her the finished suit was perfect. The open-mouthed look of rapture followed by her delighted grin demonstrated that this was a winner.

I mentioned earlier the 8 views, these include a ruched top, a bandeau add-on with rear ties, and tankinis that incorporate the bodice options. I can see a lot of these in her future. It passed the swimming lesson test, and I can see a lot of beach and pool visits come Summertime.

The photo shoot was one afternoon (after ballet), it had been pretty warm during the day (when the sun was out), but by the time we got down the beach, the sun was no longer visible, and the temperature was starting to drop.  She was just like a real model - dressing gown and slippers on, take a few snaps, then back on again to warm up. It made it so much fun she didn't even complain about the cold.

All up, another great pattern by Ajaire. Available in sizes 12 months to 12 years. You can grab a copy via her shop here.