Sunhats galore

The lovely unexpected sunny weather we were having last weekend (shorts and t shirts in October) reminded me of all the sunhats I made this summer. I was inspired by Toni-Maree from Sew Jereli’s post about making 6 sunhats from the free Oliver and S downloadable bucket hat pattern.

I was only planning on making 3 hats, not 6 (although as they’re reversible you sort of make 2 hats for each one made so that’s kind of 6), but I got a little obsessed…

This was the first time I’d downloaded pattern and I had to go round to my mum’s to use her printer, but other than that it was quite straightforward. Although it had just 3 fairly small pattern pieces. Printing it out at 100% yielded the test 2″ square too small (Possible US to UK conversion issues? I didn’t check if it was set to letter or A4. I probably should’ve delved around in the print option menu), but printing it out at 120% was spot on, and only a little of the corners of the pattern was missing, easy to reconstruct. I printed it out at 140% too, as my son has inherited my big head and part of the reason for making him a hat was that shop bought age 4-6 didn’t fit him and there are less choices in larger sizes.

My main frustration was trying to work out if the pattern included the seam allowance mentioned in the instructions or if I had to add it on. I eventually found out that it was included, maybe that should’ve been obvious to me but it wasn’t and that 1/2 inch both sides of the hat would’ve made for a very different fit, so I wanted to be sure before I started.

I always find it easier to iron on the i terfacing befre cutting.

I always find it easier to iron on the interfacing befre cutting.

Like Toni I used Jessica from A Little Gray’s construction method of making the inner and outer hat and joining them round the brim, leaving a little hole to turn them the right way around, rather than the method in the instructions. Having read several accounts from people who had trouble with fitting the pieces at least one of whom worried it was due to stretched fabric pieces, I stay stitched each piece before construction the first time, but I didn’t do it subsequent times and I don’t think it made any difference.

And how was fitting the curved crown to the straighter sides? Well, it’s not straight forward, but I found it worked just fine for me with patience. I cut triangular notches (just snips like I think Toni did from her photo didn’t work for me). I found they had to be about 1cm apart, that’s a lot of notches. Then I pinned the four points where the pattern indicates to line it up. Then I stretched and pinned between two sets of these points at a time. Often it wasn’t quite right on the first pin, so I unpinned and re did it. Sometimes 2 or 3 times. But it paid off, there were no unsightly folds or bumps in my seams.

Careful sewing

Careful sewing

Be careful if you pin in line with your sewing like me (rather than at right angles) when taking the pins out as you go, not to take them out too soon as the fabric pings out of place. And when you come to do the brim it feels so easy as the curve is flatter. (This is a pattern where the bigger sizes are easier to make as the curve is not so tight.)

Of course, you still need to pay attention or you can make really stupid mistakes….

Attaching the brim the wrong way

Attaching the brim the wrong way

Apart from the pinning of the seam round the crown, this pattern makes up really quickly, and I love the nice crisp effect when you press and topstitch the crown seam.

One girly hat made from scraps...

One girly hat made from scraps…

As the size 4-6 fit my 5 year old, I wanted a bigger size for her getting on for 7 year old brother. So I overlaid the printed too big and printed correctly oval crown pieces to work out the approximatw sizes of my “too big” pieces. The smaller sizes on my “too big” print out fell half way between larger sizes on the correct one and then I guestimated. (I have some inkling of hard the mathematics of ellipses (ovals) is so this seemed by far the easiest solution.) I had to fill in some missing curves where the print didn’t fit on the paper but that was pretty straight forward.

His hat I wanted to make in the pirate fabric, like his shirt, but what to put on the other side? I was inspired by a post by Dana on Dana Made It on customising fabric for boys and decided to make a red lining to match the buttons on his shirt, with a logo on the front. The logo was a circle of denim with a star (traced from a sticker) machine stitched onto it. I didn’t finish the edges of the circle, leaving them to fray. Later when the boy was home from school, he instructed me to topstitch on the brim in a spiral shape (rather than concentric circles) in gold thread. The spiral isn’t noiciably different (but it is quicker) and the gold thread rocks, I wish I’d used it for the star.

Self made logo

Self made logo

In the end we both preferred the red side to the pirate side and it gets worn much more that way. I’m so glad I did this rather than buy another print. I find it easy to pick out patterns when shopping for fabric (or clothes) and to overlook plain things. Must try and remember than plain is good!

Happy hat wearers

Happy hat wearers

The third hat was a present for a 5 year old friend who likes pretty dresses and football and was having a Pirate Princess party (I think she’s pretty cool). I forgot to take a photo but it doesn’t really matter as one side matched the flowerey side of my daughters and the other the pirate side of my sons. My two really liked that it matched both of theirs and I hope it helped her be confident wearing pirate things after she’d taken a pirate umbrella to school and had been told by a friend it was a boys umbrella. Plus I liked the contrast.

So, did I stop at 3? With such a easy pattern that dosn’t take much fabric. Of course not…

One for a tractor fan, his Mum liked the red, makes toddlers easier to spot as they dash towards the horizon.

One for a tractor fan, his Mum liked the red, makes toddlers easier to spot as they dash towards the horizon.

Reverse side in blue, with tractor logo and red topstitching

Reverse side in blue, with tractor logo and red topstitching

Then I was asked to make one for a newborn boy. I wanted to avoid pale blue and light brown that my son’s wardrobe was overwhelmed with at that age. So I searched my stash and put my thinking cap on.

Spidery

Spidery

A small piece of fleece and some basic machine embroidery seemed to work ok….

Hopefully simple but effective

Hopefully simple but effective

Penguin.  The topstitching is suppossed to be reminisent of waves...

Penguin. The topstitching is suppossed to be reminisent of waves…

Finally I wanted to make one for me, after all I struggle to get hats to fit too. I found an old favourite t shirt from when I was about 19! It had brown stains from careless use of photography developing fluid (and a slight odour), but I thought I could try and reuse the print. There wasn’t enough to make a whole hat, just the sides, plus I don’t like to wear a lot of white, so I paired it with a turquoise t shirt that had a kind of mottled body that I used for the crown and swirly arms that looked vaguely wave like that I used for the brim, as water and penguins go together. I just used a regular needle and straight stitch for my fabric, as I didn’t have the right kit for sewing knits and I didn’t think that the seams would work in zig zag. I think the fabric I was upcycling something that I’d forgotten I had gave me the confidence as it didn’t matter if it went wrong. As it was it sewed just fine.

Could I upcycle these two worn out old favourite t shirts?

Could I upcycle these two worn out old favourite t shirts?

Careful placing of pattern pieces.

Careful placing of pattern pieces.

I think it worked, it may be a little quirky but then it’s reversible. I was worried how the black lines from the frame on the original t shirt would look, but as the side pieces are curved they make a cool looking almost triangle on each side which I rather like. I’m pleased with my penguin placement, nearly all of them are whole on the finished hat.

A lunatic covered in  penguins

A lunatic covered in penguins

I didn’t think that knitted t shirt fabric was firm enough on it’s own for a hat, so on the reverse I used a stretchy red denim fabric that I had lying about to add some structure and also because I like it. I think the slight stretchyness helped me match it to the t shirt fabric. This was definitely a slightly harder hat to construct than the ones in polycotton. I emulated his hat by adding a blue circle of t shirt fabric with a spiral logo. Rather than sewing it on around the circumfrence of the circle like before, I zig zagged around the spiral arms and continued it out freehand to the hat. I rather like the effect.

Red stretch denim with swirl

Red stretch denim with swirl

The problem is, with all these spirally brim bits I wasn’t quite sure how to topstitch the brim together, so it’s looking a little baggy and wierd. As summer was nearly over by the time I got around to making mine, I’ve just left it for now and I hope that a solution will come to me by next summer. It is also, amazingly, a little bit big, first time ever!

Phew, that was a lot of hats (and ramblings about them).

Set Backs

So, my secret bepocketed burgandy project has a deadline of Saturday (6 days time). Well, a good portion of it has to be usable by then.  And I wanted to show progress to some interested parties yesterday.  So, Saturday night I set up a production line and my hubby (who is one of the interested parties) volunteered to assist.

I have never seen him do so much ironing as I tasked him with last night and he didn’t complain, although he did do some of it whilst kneeling to prevent a bad back flare up.

Assistant hard at work

Assistant hard at work

(I probably should have shown him this top tip first but I only just found it (and all of Portia’s other fantastic useful hints that I clearly need to read and take notes on) this morning.)

We got a lot done together but I think I should’ve called a halt sooner because towards the end I sewed a pocket on upside down, miswound a bobbin, and broke my sewing machine. It’s got itself out of sink and the needle is trying to go down when the bobbin casing mechanism is in the way, so it’s a trip to the repair shop job.

Needless to say I’m sulking big time. I have kindly been leant a sewing machine by a friend so that I can finish this job but I haven’t tried it yet, partly due to sulking and partly due to having sewed myself out on Saturday.

So, the pile of unfinished sewing is still in the corner of my living room, I’m no closer to making myself some trousers, let alone a trench coat, and I keep thinking of more things to make, I think I may be a lost cause.

Doh

So, you know how I’m trying to go through the most recent to do pile that’s lurking in my dining room so that I can buy a new pattern and fabric and make something for me?  Well, I just got a little carried away and bought some fabric for a new project. Whoops. Not sure I’m allowed to tell you what it’s for yet, but rest assured there will be pockets. Lots of them.

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Plan time

Ok, I’ve been thinking a lot about trousers and trench coats.  And I’ve done myself a deal.  If I get to the bottom of the pile of sewing projects that are in the corner of the dining room (where according to my husband they have no right to be as he envisioned all sewing in the new house would take place in the attic, ha) then I can buy the Colette Juniper pattern (just pausing to swoon over Dixie’s version again whilst I type) and work my way back up my list from there, completing each item before starting the next. (Although, whisper it,  I’m starting to have doubts about the double breastedness of the Robson trench coat, I’m going to go try some on in shops).

So, yesterday at kids bedtime the pile looked like this…

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Last night I managed to tack up the second pair of way too long school trousers that I bought the boy, put away some fabric scraps that were lying around from finished projects and make the threadbare yellow sheet into a terrible self drafted muslin for a top that was supposed to be like one I’d tried on in a shop. I can’t show you how bad it was because it was also see through, so the picture is indecent.  I have an idea of how to improve it, but as it was the muslin that was on the pile, that is officially done and put away (I’m also leaving my subconcious to work on the top problem whilst I do other things).

So, tonight, have I worked on one of the 3 already started projects on the pile?  No, I have done something new! Well, the fabric was only bought last week so it was on the top of the pile…

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Isn’t it lovely? Not my usual thing, but I have a water bottle with camper vans on that my 17 year old niece was eyeing up in the summer as apparently she loves camper vans.  She also mentioned that she doesn’t have a bag big enough to put her traners in to take to school so she has to use an plastic one. Now my niece is pretty cool, so I reckon she could rock the gym bag look.

It probably sprang to mind as I’ve made a couple for presents recently, albeit for slightly younger people. One for a My Little Pony loving girl about to start school

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(quite pleased with the ric rac mane and tail and the button, err, bum decoration) and one for a bus mad boy about to start nursery…

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this one is actually reversible, there’s tractor fabric on the inside and I found a ribbon with vehicles on too.  The bus was reverse appliqued, so the red fabric was behind the blue, I straight stitched round the outlines, then cut away the blue that I didn’t want and finally zig zagged over the top, like this…

Straight stitched bus design, there is a red rectangle of fabric behind...

Straight stitched bus design, there is a red rectangle of fabric behind…

Cutting away the blue fabric to reveal the design before zig zagging edges

Cutting away the blue fabric to reveal the design before zig zagging edges

It definitely looks home made and not professional, but it’s acheived the striking image that I was looking for and I think the birthday boy liked it.

Nothing that complicated today though, just finished the side of the channel where the ribbon would go through

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Pressed over at the top and sewed down my channel.

The contradting red thread matches my ribbon and is also to challenge me to concentrate on my top stitching.

The contradting red thread matches my ribbon and is also to challenge me to concentrate on my top stitching.

Folded it in half, right sides together, channel at the top. Pinned a ribbon loop in place in the bottom corner with 2 raw edges, before pinning my two raw edges together

I put the folded ribbon loop at a 45○ angle

I put the folded ribbon loop at a 45○ angle

Then sewed and zig zag finished my L shaped seam. Then I just had to turn it the right way out, thread some ribbon through the channel with my trusty safety pin, put it through the loop as well, judge the length, sew the ribbon ends together (with raw edges folded in on themselves so they don’t show) and voila, a drawstring bag where the drawstring doubles as a handle

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Dream On

Too much time surfing all the wonderful sewing blogs put in the ether has left me with a ridiculous list of impossible things that I want to make

  • I am in love with Erin from Seamstress Erin’s lined Robson trenchcoat and I have seen some turquoise waterproof fabric, very stylish and practical. I’m sure I could find some nice red fabric to line it with that would look stunning. I got as far as working out where I could buy the sewaholics pattern from here in the UK before realising the pattern envelope says advanced. So, an advanced pattern, in slippy waterproof fabric with additional step of lining. Hmm, maybe not…

I also want to make trousers, not because I’m some kind of masochist, but because I can’t find trousers that fit. Anywhere. Every now and then I try and 2 hours later after trawling every shop I can think of in town, I end up depressed and trouserless, one time I even ended up in tears (note to self, don’t go shopping with PMT). I’m not ready for an elasticated M&S waist yet, in fact I want a proper waistband with fly, pockets and belt loops (a belt is essential as I actually want to be able to put keys in my trouser pockets without them falling down on me). Plus I do want the waistband to sit above my hips, low slung trousers just don’t stay up on me. Also they expose my post 2 kids muffin top, which is just not fair on anyone. And I obviously have some abnormally long crotch depth because if I ever get over that hurdle they invariably give me camel toe. Not a look I’m going for. If a pair of trousers require a mid thigh length top to be decent then I might as well wear the top with leggins.

  • After much frustration searching for blogs about self made trousers I finally realised it might help to call them pants and was pleased to find that sewaholics also have a trouser pattern (Thurlow Trousers) that has some good reviews. They say it sits below the waistline but it doesn’t seem too low slung. This pattern is only intermediate, bonus. Plus I found a helpful looking tutorial on some of the tricky bits on Lauren’s Lladybird site. Hmm, maybe.
  • Then I found these stunning looking wide leg beauties that Dixie from Dixiediy made, with the Colette Juniper Pattern. I can get a paper copy in the UK (thanks for the tip on not downloadung it Dixie) and they are apparently a beginner level pattern. Not aure I quite believe it but it’s encouraging.
  • So, maybe I should try them in reverse order and build up from the Juniper to the Robson? After I’ve finished all my on the go projects of course. And in between my plans to make my husband a tweedy yet not farmery waistcoat for Christmas. Not forgetting my madcap whimsy to make the kids Christmas outfits this year (ha ha). What do you think?

  • P.S. Other helpful looking fly fronted trouser related links I found along the way were…

    http://www.coletterie.com/sewalongs/welcome-to-the-clover-sewalong

    http://thenakedseamstress.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/my-favorite-front-fly-zipper-tutorials.html

    http://portialawrie.blogspot.co.uk/