Pretty little birds

Sunday, 30 December 2012

I called into Spotlight yesterday to pick up a few supplies in the hope of finishing up several projects before the start of the new year.  The required supplies were unavailable but Georgia fell for a pretty bird print and I picked up a bright and cheery knit so the trip wasn't a total loss.

The pile of projects on the go were pushed aside to make a little top for Georgia.  She has a sheer shirt that she loves and we used that as a starting point for this tank top.  Even after a quick muslin the armholes have turned out a little tight, but she hasn't taken it off so I think it's ok.  The arms and neckline have been finished with self fabric bias strips and the bottom has been narrow hemmed (the back is even but doesn't look like it because the wind blew it around).

I'm planning on clearing the decks a little bit before the start of the new year, having so many projects on the go is a bit frustrating.  I'd hoped that having multiple projects ready would make life easier, but seeing the piles of fabric cut out actually makes me feel really restricted - I feel like I have to sew those projects next and because of that they lose their appeal.  Hmmm - that's a bit perverse isn't it?  Anyway, it was fantastic to have fabric come in and get sewn up so quickly but now it's back into the sewing room to keep working on some of those other projects.

A little Christmas spirit

Monday, 24 December 2012

In my ever expanding fabric stash is a very small selection of Christmas fabrics - pretty little pieces that I just couldn't resist.  

To assuage my guilt for stockpiling fabric I had no plans to use I made the girls some Christmas pyjama pants using the Little Nighty Night Favorite Things pattern.  I then promptly added to my general fabric stash during a flying visit to Spotlight.

It's nearly time for me to pop the cork on a bottle of bubbly, put my feet up and enjoy the general craziness of Christmas.  From my family to yours, Merry Christmas.

White hot - Butterick 5672

Friday, 14 December 2012

Work has absolutely fried my brain so I'm struggling to put words together tonight.  It's going to be short and sweet.

I've used this pattern twice before - the first time I made the dress and the second time I made a slightly different peplum top.  All three items have been made using ponte knit.

I didn't want a full peplum this time so I drafted a new one (basically a rectangle with curved ends).  Hopefully you can also see the darts that I've added to the front neckline (there are also two smaller ones in the back).  Both times I've previously made this pattern the neckline has gaped a little but it didn't bother me enough to fix it - pretty lazy hey :-)  This time the gaping was driving me crazy so I added the darts and I've got to say that I really like the way they look.  I also left off the sleeves (well duh!) and finished the neckline and armholes with self made cotton bias tape.

Summer has certainly hit in Melbourne and I loved adding this to my wardrobe.  I felt cool and comfortable but still put together.  When I look in my wardrobe I feel like I have nothing seasonally appropriate to wear, maybe last summer was pretty mild.  I had a bit of a cutting session last Sunday so hopefully, life permitting, I'll have plenty of new things to show you soon.

Battle of the Banksia

Thursday, 29 November 2012

This top came very close to being binned and I'm still feeling a little bit ambivalent about it.  It has received a lot of blog love and I let its simple design fool me into thinking it wouldn't require much fitting.

According to my measurements I'm between a medium and a small.  I cut out a medium with the length of an extra large.  The other change I made was to alter the collar shape following this information (Megan has a long list of possibilities for the pattern that she demonstrated on the recent Banksia sew-a-long)

I really like the new shape of the collar and that it's not a fussy top, but for me the fit is all over the place.  I don't think the top fits me well through the bust - maybe the darts aren't long enough?  If I fold out the placket so the collar meets at centre front then the top fits much better through the bust. 

Everything really went to pieces when I sewed in the sleeves.  After looking in the mirror I pulled the top straight off and threw it on the floor.  There were huge fabric bulges poking up at the back of the sleeve and the back was a wrinkly mess.  

My first thought was that I must have sewn the sleeves in backwards.  I went back and checked the pattern - the front and back of the sleeve are identical so I couldn't have sewn it in backwards.   On a related note there are very few pattern matching notches and none at all on the sleeves.  I usually have a problem with shirts being too broad across the shoulders but this one was too narrow and the arm holes were uncomfortably high.  I also think my rayon fabric stretched while I was sewing and pressing the collar adding to all the awful wrinkles on the back.  A sway back adjustment might have helped too.

In the end I took Wade's advice and cut off the sleeves - this had the added benefit of lowering the arm holes to a more comfortable height and the back doesn't look as bad as it did.  If I was going to sew another sleeveless version I'd probably reshape the front armhole.

I don't think this is a bad pattern, lots of other people have made it and loved it but it's just not right for me.  I recently made the Sewaholic Alma top and the finished product ended up enormous.  These two not quite right projects have been major blows to my mojo, I need a couple of quick winners to get things cranking again.

Getting Shirty - Simplicity 2246

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

I've always admired shirt dresses on others and when I saw Simplicity 2246 (a lisette pattern) I thought maybe I should give it a go and I'm really glad I did.  I really like this dress.

I've had this fabric kicking around in my stash for a couple of years.  It was labelled as a poplin but it's a bit heavier that normal, yet not quite heavy enough to be considered a bottom weight fabric, pretty much perfect for a shirt dress. 

I cut out a straight size 14 with a few adjustments due to a lack of fabric (shortened the sleeves and had to piece the button band facings).  This pattern goes together beautifully but I would say that it's long through the body - perfect for me :)  Depending on the pattern company I usually have to add anywhere between 1 and 2 inches to get the waistline to line up with my waist, but not this time.  This is also the first time I've come across a pattern where the collar and collar band are one piece and while it worked nicely, I think I prefer them separate.

Our neighbour's chickens even came out to say hello.

Hula Hoop-ing

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

This very cute Oliver + S Hula Hoop skirt was made during my weekend of bliss.  I didn't think Paige would go for it, she's really not that fussed about me making things for her, so I was pretty happy when she said she wanted one.  What's a weekend of bliss?  Well for me it was my husband and three kids going away camping for two nights leaving me home alone for the first time in my life!  I had some quality time with my sewing machine and have a few finished items to show you.

I made a size 8 using two coordinating fabrics from the Sarah Jane Out to Sea collection (chosen by Paige).  This was so easy to make and I love how neat and clean the reversible finish is.  

The skirt is not as short as it looks, Paige has hiked the waistband up because she likes short skirts, I didn't think that was supposed to start until she was a teenager!  I highly recommend this skirt - it would make a great gift too.

Goody goody gum drops

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Our home is considerably bigger than our previous house, which is both good and bad (good = sewing room, bad = more cleaning), but it does mean there are a few rooms lacking in the furniture department :)  

These Amy Butler gum drop pillows are perfect for the kids to sit on, lean against and generally muck around with.

They're simple to make and go together really quickly but the layout/cutting instructions could be better.  It's unnecessarily fiddly.  It was so much easier to trace it out as one piece rather than taping pieces together, tracing around one half, flipping the pattern piece over and then tracing the other half before you could finally cut it out.

The worst part of making these was stuffing them.  They take a massive amount of stuffing, a task I happily delegated to the kids! The pattern recommends using a mid-weight fabric or mid-weight home dec fabric.  I used some mid-weight striped cotton canvas from Ikea and some colourful Prints Charming cotton drill from Spotlight and in my opinion the cotton canvas has worked better (and I love the way the stripes look on top).  There is also a totally decorative top panel which I left off - I can see it looking really effective with some fabrics but the kids didn't want it.  I think this would also be really cool made in leather.

And yes, there are only two pillows for three children - I will have to make another once I find the right fabric.  I better find it fast because the arguments have already started :-/

Bird Love - McCall's 6519

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

I thought I'd use McCall's 6519 again, but I didn't think it would be this soon.  I was trying to decide what I'd wear to a weekend wedding.  The dress code said 'smart casual' and nothing in my wardrobe felt right so I headed for the sewing room.  I started pulling out bits of fabric and different patterns and I had just about settled on the Banksia top when I grabbed this fabric.  I bought this border print silk from Spotlight when I decided that I needed to add more prints to my wardrobe.  I think it's so cool the way the birds change colour; they start out grey, morph into black and then go white.   

I've got nothing new to add, I made this up exactly the same as last time, I even paired it with the same pants (different heels though)! Actually that's not quite true, I did do something new, I used French seams for the first time ever.  My overlocker doesn't particularly like delicate fabrics and with so few seams I thought this would be the perfect time to give it  go.

It cracks me up that the best photo of the top also has a bin and one of my kids in the background :)

The wedding was lovely - although I probably should have worn a skirt - and I really enjoyed getting to spend just a little bit of time with my sewing machine.

So darn tired

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Sorry - nothing to at the moment but I wanted to drop in and say hi.  Work is kicking my butt and family life seems to be running at warp speed.  Strangely for me I've actually got several projects on the go - Vogue 1285 is in progress, but I'm not happy with how the lapels look so I need to unpick and redo them.  I'm muslining Butterick 5786 for Caitlyn, two gumdrop pillows are just about complete and I've just started a quilt for my nephew.  On top of that I've been madly pre-washing fabric and matching it up with patterns but I need to get a spring/summer tab set up to get my thoughts organised!

Pictures of completed projects coming soon :)  And because no post is complete without a photo here's picture of the fabric I'm using for Caitlyn's shirt.

Funky PJs and other bits and pieces

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The kids picked out some funky flannel at Spotlight a little while back and I finally got the chance to make them up - just as the weather starts to warm up :)

There's really not much to say - I used Butterick 5853 for the two animal print pairs and Simplicity 3577 for the white pair.  The all had over an inch taken off the top of the waist and I had to add bands to the bottom of the Simplicity pair because the stated finished length was significantly shorter than the actual finished length!  I did laugh when I was reading How good is that and saw that she'd used the same fabric for her pj pants.

While I was on a bit of a roll in the sewing room I finally made myself a cushion for my chair.  Nothing too fancy - just a simple envelope with a little piping but I love the bright yellow scissor print.

And my final piece of miscellaneous sewing?  A giant bag, a tent bag to be exact.  The bag our tent was stored in disintegrated so Wade asked me to make him a new one.  It never hurts to have a few brownie points in the bank so I used some old fabric that we found at his parents house and made a simple drawstring bag.

Not the most glamorous sewing, but definitely very handy.  Hopefully I'll have a new dress to show you very soon.

Simple tops - McCall's 6519

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

I couldn't resist this splotchy coloured silk when I saw it on eBay (and it's even better in real life) but I'm still finding my way with patterned fabrics so I thought I'd try this really simple top from McCall's 6519.

For the first time ever I cut out a pattern in a single layer - I couldn't risk one of the black circles falling in wrong spot!  With only 4 seams this is a really quick make but it need a couple of adjustments.  I raised the armhole by 1 1/4 inch and added an extra inch of length through the body.  The neckline and armholes are finished with bias strips and I finished the bottom with a narrow hem.  The top was fairly straight through the body so I cut a size 12 and the blended to a 14 from the waist down flaring out about 1/4 inch at the bottom.  

I can't believe how much I've already worn this top - it's going to get a lot of wear this summer.  I was hunting through my fabric stash and came across this really soft grey knit and thought I'd give it a try too. Turns out this pattern works just as well in a knit! 

I've got plans for another couple of these tops and the dress on this pattern too.  You'll be seeing more of McCall's 6519.

Bleach Boys - Vogue 8742

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Little by little I've been gently nudging myself outside of my comfort zone.  If you were to peek inside my wardrobe you'd find plenty of black, grey and a healthy sprinkle of colour (and probably shoes all over the place).  What you wouldn't see is much pattern.  If you count my recent dotty top then this dress brings the total to five patterned items!

This bleach boys ponti from Tessuti was one of my purchases at the recent meet up.  At the time I wasn't certain what I would make - there were plenty of great suggestions including using it for a jacket, but I had a vague idea that I wanted a dress.  I flicked through all my patterns and came up with Vogue 8742, it had the simple lines I was after but I knew I'd have to eliminate the gathers.  The ponti is quite thick and would be too bulky all gathered up.

This pattern is rated as very easy and it really is.  The princess seams make fitting adjustments really simple.  As well as leaving out the gathers I also omitted the back zipper and scooped out the neck (it was way too high for my comfort).

I didn't read the instructions so I'm not sure how they suggest you finish the neckline but I used some black spotty bias tape (no idea why I bought it but I love it).  I couldn't quite fit the full length sleeves on my fabric so I just cut it where the fabric ended and I quite like the length they ended up at.

I really love the way this dress looks - I think it's very flattering and it wears really well too.

No Charger = No Photos

Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Melbourne meet up well and truly got my mojo going again and I've got a few finished projects to show you, but I can't.  We left the camera charger at my in-laws so no camera charger = no photos = no project posts.  Hopefully it will arrive in the post very soon.

I know we've just moved into spring but I have a couple of projects on my Autumn/Winter list that I want to make before I start planning for Spring/Summer.  It's not warm enough to wear summer dresses yet and I hate making something and then not being able to wear it!

Do you plan for the new season or do you just sew what you please?  I've loved having my Autumn/Winter list to refer to.  There are so many things that I want to do that sometimes I get completely overwhelmed and I'm not sure where to start - being able to look at my list is great.  And because I love posts with photos, here's one from our most recent trip to my in-laws - we all loved the green lantern coaster at Movie World.

Gone Dotty

Monday, 27 August 2012

In the recent (online) Tessuti sale I bought this black dotty jersey I didn't know what I wanted to make, but I knew I had to have it.  Then driving home from the Melbourne meet up (more on that in a minute) I realised it would make a perfect balloon top.  

I love this pattern - the round neckline at the front, the gentle V at the back, the shape of the sleeves.  It just really does it for me and I think this version might be my new favourite (previous versions here, here and here)  

I already mentioned that I went to the Melbourne meet up.  I was nervous as all get out (I absolutely dread walking into a room full of strangers) but everyone was great and it was pretty cool to see some of things I'd really admired in person.  I had a really lovely afternoon and came home so inspired - it was a great kick start to my mojo.  I don't have any photos, but there are lots of great posts that do - here's the full list of attendees if you'd like to check out some inspiring ladies:

Rachel :My messings
Kirsty: Rocket Sews
Lara: Thornberry
Melanie: PoppyKettle
Christy: Little Betty
Sarah: Sewsquirrell

Special mention to the lovely blog-less ladies AnnaCatherine, Heather and Sue A. 

Finally - I'll leave you with a little sneak peak of another finished item - I just need to get some photos of me wearing it.


Sunday, 12 August 2012

I am so disappointed.  After tracing the pattern, adding seam allowances and very carefully sewing up the lining I found that my BWOF jacket was way too big so I have to start all over again. It nags at me every time I think about starting something else.  I've had the fabric and pattern sitting in my stash for so long that I just want it done, but I don't want to mess it up by rushing or forcing it.  Does this happen to anyone else?  I've bought some more lining fabric and I will finish it within the next couple of weeks before the cold weather is gone.

To try and ease my disappointment I made another mission maxi (previous version here), this time I used the version with the godet in the back.   I love it.  Wade loves it, especially the back.  This pattern is such a winner - I don't think I've seen a bad version.  This is a straight size 14 with an extra 5 inches added to the (unfinished) hem.  I need to get Wade to help me trim the hem of the godet so that it's even with the rest of the dress - the slight train effect is nice, but I'll trip over it all the time so it needs to go.

The worst thing about this dress is the fabric.  It just won't take any pressing and I'm worried that if I turn up the temperature I'll melt it.  This dress should be photographed on a beach somewhere warm and sunny but it's cold and wet in Melbourne so indoor pictures are the best I can do.  

I've got a couple of new tops to show you too - I needed a simple project to get my mojo running again.

Slowly, slowly

Saturday, 21 July 2012

I've made a start on my Burda jacket (09-2008-105) but progress is v.e.r.y slow.  I'm trying to complete all the things I need to do which doesn't leave much time for the things I want to do, like sewing.

I've traced the pattern and I'm constructing the lining first to check the fit.  It's no surprise that Burda's instructions for lining the jacket suck, so I'm doing my own thing.  We'll see how well that goes :)  I've just pinned the back lining to Ruby below, it's not actually how it will sit, but it gives you an idea of the colour.

I'm planning on finishing the lining tonight and then if the fit is good I'll cut out the wool and start assembling it tomorrow.

I need your advice.  I can't get the Megan Nielsen Banskia top out of my mind.  Several times I've put it in my shopping basket and then cancelled at the last minute.  Has anyone sewed this top or any of her other patterns?  Are they ok, good, great?  Including postage it will cost me $26, which seems like a lot of money for a single top.  But then she is an independent designer and it's always nice to support a fellow Aussie too.  Your advice would be much appreciated!

Awful to awesome

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Have you ever procrastinated over doing something and then you finally do it and wonder what took you so long?  That's basically the story for my new ironing board cover.

I'd been on the hunt for an ironing board cover for a very long time and I couldn't find anything that was both functional and attractive (and reasonably priced).  So mine was in quite an embarrassing state - it had multiple layers of decrepitude topped with a layer of ugly - photographic evidence below!

Longish story short, I was reading this weekly wrap up at Coletterie and clicked through the link to Sunnni's ironing board cover tutorial.  And now I have this.

When this one needs replacing I'll make the sides a bit deeper as they only just reach over the edges and I ended up adding velcro strips to ensure a nice secure fit.  

This adds a splash on colour to my otherwise monochromatic sewing room and will hopefully inspire me to conquer my ironing pile :)