The Three Little Pigs and The Big Bad Wolf

Once Upon a Time, before it was Christmastime, Gosh-You’re-Really-Not-That-Small-Anymore’s Teacher asked The ProlificProjectStarter if she would make a spider costume for the nativity play.

While they were talking about costumes, the teacher mentioned that she would really like to have the time to make a ladybird costume for the children to wear as they had been looking at the book What The Ladybird Heard (and surprisingly it turns out that primary school teachers don’t have very much time on their hands these days).

Gosh, thought ProlificProjectStarter, that sounds a lot more interesting than doing all the things I’m meant to be doing and before she realised what was happening she was planning to make a ladybird costume as well as the two king costumes and a spiders costume for the nativity play. Except she thought she’d make the spider costume first to try out an idea, but in the mean time she could make some of the other animals from the book, a pig, a cow, a sheep, two cats, a dog……

Well, time passed (often in a blur with some screaming about being served vegetables and the like thrown in) and one day ProlificProjectStarter thought “I really ought to finish off those costumes I started”, which were just a white badly blind hemmed rectangle and a pink badly blind hemmed rectangle (she’d been using the costumes to practise her curtain making technique at the time) that were going to be a cow and a pig costume, oh and there were also a bunch of idea’s whizzing around her head.  But then she realised that her daughters class weren’t looking at What The Ladybird Heard anymore, now they were looking at the story of The Three Little Pigs.

So the ProlificProjectStarter dug out the pink rectangle, and the rest of the bargin piece of pink fabric that cost a £1 from the scrapstore and some pink felt from the scrapstore and some garden wire and she made Three Little Pigs costumes, with neckholes finished with bias tape (as she is learning all the time) that was cut from her horribly pink Tova muslin, elastic tabs at the sides from her stash (but don’t tell anyone that some of the elastic that came from her grandmother in laws stash looked suspicously like recycled bra straps) to help keep them on and make them easy to take on and off, pink curly tales that were tapered rectangles of felt sewn around garden wire (with folded over ends to prevent injury) and twisted, and pink felt noses with zig zag nostrils and elastic to keep them on.

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She showed them to her children but instead of saying thank you they said “but where is the Big Bad Wolf”?

So she went back to her stash and found some mysterious black hemmed cottonish fabric that she had Never Seen Before and some black Fake Fur from the Scrapstore that sheds like crazy when you cut it and she looked in her Sew Chic Kids pattern book and nicked traced the hood of the parka and the neckline to make a hooded tabbard, held together at the sides with the waistband that was cut off the old leggins used for the spiders legs, and she made an ever so slightly tapered fake fur tail and some wolf ears made from triangles of fake fur with slightly smaller triangles of felt to be the inner ear and she tried many times to sew them on so they didn’t look like rabbit ears but she didn’t quite manage it so she added a wierd hanging down fake fur muzzle type thing with a felt nose on the end and decided she’d done all she could and went to bed.

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But in the morning “But why is the wolf black not grey” said the children “and where is the Mummy pig outfit”?

“Oh s*d this” thought the ProlificProjectStarter “I can’t be bothered any more, there is no grey fabric in my stash and there isn’t enough pink left for another pig and how would such a simple costume differentiate between mother pigs and little pigs anyway” and she sent the costumes in to school where they were played with and the Harrassed Teacher with a Large Workload seemed to appreciate them and then the ProlificProjectStarter decided to do some sewing for herself as she would appreciate all the effort she made.

And what did she make?  Well, that is a story for another day……

Presido Purse no 2/1 aka Blue Birthday Bag

So, when I first saw Erin’s Presido Purse pattern I was interested, but I wasn’t going to buy it. After all, I quite happily make different bags at the drop of a hat.

But the pattern picture with the large polka dot insert kept calling to me, “look, you could make me, in the large polka dot fabric to match your skirt” it said. Except I had no more of that fabric and there is no Ikea near here to get more.

Then my brother, who does live vaguely near an Ikea, invited himself down for the weekend. So I asked him if he would mind going and buying me some fabric and he obliged. Hurrah!

But what lining to choose? I remembered some red fabric with white stars on, that I thought would be similar yet different to the polka dots. That was until I took my polka dot fabric to the shop and found that the reds clashed horribly.

In the end I chose two fabrics that I couldn’t choose between, at that time I was thinking of making two polka dot bags (one for a present I hasten to add). But then the present one turned into a present for a different old friend who has a birthday in January and loves all things blue. So I planned to use some of the blue uphostery remnants from my bag making stash with the bluer of the two lining fabrics.

First I made the lining for what will be my polka dot bag from Erin’s instructions, and very nicely it came out too. But the bag is not finished yet – I’m following the sewalong for a couple of details and I’m having to be patient. Next I made the lining for the birthday present bag and went on to finish it as I had a deadline, hence the 2nd/1st thing.

So, wanna see? First you make the secret pocket with a zipper pocket over the top…

zipped pocket with secret pocket peeking out

zipped pocket with secret pocket peeking out

I used a reclaimed zippers from a destroyed childs coat for the bag. The one for the pocket had attatched the coat hood to the coat (why do they make them like that?!) which meant that I had a matching one from the front of the coat to use for the main bag zip. They’re both green, which tones with blue, right? Plus the lovely owl lining fabric is a tealy blue, so there are definitely green tones there. I added blue ribbon tags from my stash (seriously, if it’s blue, the birthday girl generally likes it, so I planned lots of blue) with judicious dobs of clear nail varnish to stop the ends unravelling and the knots coming undone. The zipper insertion didn’t go in as smoothly as the zipper on my first lining, I think because it was a chunkier zipper. But it looked pretty good. However the fabric at the end of my pocket zipper is narrower than the pieces above and below. It is on the other bag too. Other people seem to have mastered this step fine so I’m pretty sure the error is in my excecution not the instructions.

Zippers with ribbon tags

Zippers with ribbon tags to distract from the way the pockets sides step in where the zip is

Then I found the blue and green and purple upholstery remnants from my stash to choose a combination of fabric for the outer from. Hubby helped. In the end we went for a blue square print fabric for the front and back panels and a matching blue for the bottom, sides and strap (I didn’t have enough of the squares to do it all). We considered inserts but, umm, how can I put this, with the inserts in the main panel the front piece reminded us of a pair of pants. Don’t tell Erin! It’s clearly our dirty minds, but once we’d seen knickers we saw them in all the bags the testers had made with inserts. So we went for no inserts.

the "outside" fabric

the “outside” fabric

The main part came together quite quickly as it’s the same construction as the lining but without any fiddly pockets. I had to “finger press” the seams though because when I ironed it it made a horrible smell that I could ‘t stand. Presumably the fabric is treated with some fire retartand stuff or summat. I was mainly pleased with it. Although a little disappointed. The photo above is a bit misleading, the squares don’t stand out that well in real life, and it was just a little bland. I felt it was letting the lining down. Maybe I should’ve put my foot down and had green side panels. Hmmm.

Next to join the main bag and lining, which you do along the zipper seam. I had never inserted a zipper on a bag before and never sewed a zipper in between a main fabric and an lining. Luckily the instructions were nice and clear. Well, it would have been lucky if I’d read them more carefully. The instruction said to pin the zipper “to the top curved part of the bag with the teeth facing down”, I glanced at the photo, the zipper teeth were pointing down the bag away from the opening, easy peasy. I finished following the instructions painlessy, turned my bag the right way around, had a brief moment of pride at my wonderfully inserted zipper before I realised that I had sewn it in upside down. Ah, that “teeth facing down” instruction must mean, face down, right side of zip to right side of fabric, as is fairly usual in sewing (although they also clearly needed to face down the bag). Never mind, how bad can an upside down zipper be I thought. I zipped it shut. Not too bad, definitely livable with. Then I tried to open it. That was quite hard. Not livable with. Arghh. It clearly needed unpicking. But could I do it without the upholstery fabric that liked to fray coming apart too much for me to reassemble it afterwards. And how would the zip be, I’d already had to “mend” part of the zip tape with nail varnish as it was starting to unravel after getting snared when being unpicked from the coat.

I put it on oneside. And sulked…

Then I had a brainwave. Why unpick and reinsert a zipper so that the exciting fabric can be hidden on the inside. Why not keep the bag the way it was. OK, so the lining fabric was a fairly thin (poly?)cotton, but it would still have the strength of the upholstery fabric on the inside.

Decision made, I fudged the handle construction (I couldn’t get the instructions to work somehow) and attatched the end to the outer lining fabric before sewing the lining and main main and lining fabric together at the top of the sides. This means that the end of the strap is hidden inside the bag.

And job done….

Finished Blue Birthday Bag

Finished Blue Birthday Bag

Inside Out

The Inside Out Bag

zipper tag

funky zipper tag

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what it was going to look like

When I finally got my act together, wrapped it, parcelled it, took it to the post office, realised I didn’t have her address, found out her address, took it back to the post office and posted it and it made it’s way (less than a week late) to her, it was a hit. Especially the owls. Which match her owl top and owl slippers. So, once again a sewing disaster that turned into a triumph.

Quick refashions

The other thing that I finally got around to doing in November but then couldn’t get the pictures online was a couple of refashions for my daughter that had been waiting around for a while. First up, take a very shiny sequinned boob tube (what a horrible name but what else can I call it) that was unsold in a shop sale so donated to a charity shop where they sold it for £2 plus some elastic from stash seamed to waistband size….

raw materials

raw materials

Stretch elastic as much as you can and sew to sequinned fabric
quick and dirty sewing

quick and dirty sewing

and get a ridiculously shiny quick skirt (so why did it take me months to get around to it?). Not the best waistband ever but I was unsure how to deal with the sequinned fabric and wanted to handle and sew it as little as possible. Plus this one is just for the dressing up box.
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Next up, the age 3 summer dress I bought in the end of summer sales when she was age 2. I don’t normally buy strapped tops (too much sunscreen needed for one thing) but I was won over by the colours and the twirlyness and the bow at the waist with dingle dangle beads.

Take one inaproprite dress

Take one inaproprite dress


Well, next summer when she was age 3 it got worn only once. Because I realised that the purple bodice bit is shaped. It sticks out slightly, like a training bra, but this is for a 3 year old. I found this deeply inappropriate. It got put on oneside to turn into a skirt, but I was a little unsure what to do. Then I found it again and thought I better adapt it before it was way too small for her.
cut off offending parts

cut off offending parts


First step cut off the horrid shaped purple crochet bit, leaving some to fold over and make chanel for elastic. The channel doesn’t meet at the sides due to the shaping, I think that is what put me off before, but I decided to go for it anyway this time.
much better

much better


Turns out it fits her without elastic added (there is already some in the back that was to pull it in). Not sure how long for! I might add some elastic when it needs to get passed on. In the mean time she appreciates the colours and the swirlyness and the dingle dangle beads just as I thought she would. And I like it so much better this way.

On the last day of Christmas

Twelve night today, surely my last chance to finally add the pictures to and blog a Christmas related post that I wrote back in November….

(Not so) New toy and new projects…

So, I did it, I bought a new machine, a Janome 7025 from John Lewis, I even splashed out on a taxi home (I don’t have a car and the taxi rank was on the way to the bus stop. Those machines are too heavy to carry any distance!).

I’ve been trying it out and so far I’m very happy. The zig zag and straight stitch work well, it sewed through 4 layers of curtain fabric without me noticing (I was only trying to sew through 2), it winds bobbins much more evenly than my old machine and I like the measurement markings accross the front. I haven’t tried many of the features yet, including buttonholes, but it has one amazing feature that I never knew I wanted, an automatic needle threader. Even my husband was amazed. I haven’t compared it to other machines so there may be others out there that are better, but I’m happy with my choice. Now I just have to work out what to do with the old one.

So, have I been steaming through my overdue to do pile? Or finishing the last couple of sashes? No, I’ve started something new…

The teachers in my daughters school year put out a plea for help with some new nativity costumes (apologies to anyone who feels that it’s too early to mention, I guess they have to be organised and I didn’t use the C word). I’ve agreed to make 2 king costumes and something a little unusual…

So far I’ve made one king costume. I found a piece of gold damask curtain fabric approx 1m45 by 1m75 for £1 at the wonderful Exeter Scrapstore that I thought would make a great cloak, but someone else had already agreed to make a blue tunic with a gold cloak and they wanted 3 distinct costumes, so I decided to make it into a tunic and pair it with something from my stash that I had in mind and it came out pretty well in the end if I say so myself.

I ended up making 2 tunics (more on that later), the first in giddy excitement to try out my new machine, with no models to measure, but I knew that I had enough fabric to start again if need be. I tried looking for blogs on making costumes, I’m sure there must be loads, but I just found costumes to buy or costumes to put together (use a red dress and a belt for a king, cut a hole in a pillowcase, that kind of thing), maybe I was a weensey bit impatient to get started. Anyway, I made it up, as usual.

I used a dress of my daughters as a guide to cut out a rectangle of fabric a tunic width and twice the length, plus approximate seam allowances. Then I turned the raw edges over twice and straight stitched it to make a hem all the way around.

How big is a kings tunic?

How big is a kings tunic?

Then I folded the fabric an half width and lengthways (so I had 4 layers of fabric) and folded the dress in half lengthways to guestimate a cut for a neck opening. I didn’t want to bother with fastenings, so it has to easily go over a 5 or 6 year olds head bearing in mind there is no stretch to the fabric.

Guestimation

Guestimation

Glad my scissors could manage 4 layers

Glad my scissors could manage 4 layers

Ta Da

Ta Da

I cut a larger oval than the neck to make a yoke and finished the edge with zig zag (as it would be on the inside), then sewed it to the main piece right sides together, cut out the neck hole in the yoke and turned it inside to topstitch. At this point I decided that the neck hole might not be big enough so I extended it with a V at the front before topstitching. I actually prefer it this way.

1st attempt at yoke

1st attempt at yoke

Enlarged yoke

Enlarged yoke

I forgot to open the tunic out before sewing the V and accidently sewed through the back too, duh. Unpick and start again. But all credit to the machine, I didn’t realise that I was sewing through 4 layers of curtain fabric.

Finally I made 4 belt loops by sewing a tube and turning it in on itself. The first ones I tried (from the oval scrap pieces from the neck hole) were too thin to turn with this fabric. The second lot worked but were a bit fat and ungainly. I sewed 2 on the front and 2 on the back and made a sash to hold it all together. I was pleased with my simple tunic, it looked quite stylish.

Tunic mark 1, which is going to come in useful for their castles topic

Tunic mark 1, which they have kept and apparently it’s going to come in useful for their castles topic

The problem was, I’d made a tunic to go over trousers and the school wanted one that could be worn onn its own and was long enough to cover underwear when sitting on the stage! So tunic mark two was made, pretty much the same way, including the neckline, but much longer and with sideseams and a split at the bottom each side (to aid walking, small boys not being used to wearing sheath dresses!) This time I made the belt loops by finishing the edges of a rectangle twice as wide as I wanted my belt loop to be and folding the long sides into the middle on the back and topstitching and it worked much better.

The cloak was fun. I have a large amount of home dyed purple calico from a never made project and I cut a semi circle the width the fabric would allow by folding it in half and half again and guestimating both the hem and neckline curves.

4 laters of fabric, hemline just cut, neckline next.

4 laters of fabric, hemline just cut, neckline next.

I folded the raw side edges over twice and sewed them down. I had also found a vaguely collar shaped piece of fake fur at the scrap store. I placed it right side to wrong side of cloak and sewed the next seam, then turned it over so it lay on the outside and topstitched. The fur had a kind of knit back that didn’t seem to fray so once in place I trimmed it to shape.

Finally I sewed a straight gold strip (pre hemmed) to the bottom edge of the cloak partly as a trim, partly to add length and partly to help weighh the lighter calico (which I’d originally intended as tunic fabric) down. I finished the seam on the inside with zig zag then topstitched it so it lay flat, For a fastening I found an oddlarge button in my stash and sewed a loop of elastic on the other side to make help make the costume easy to use, fit more sizes and reduce risk of strangulation!

And voila, one smart new king outfit. Cost in new materials £1.

Tunic mark 2 plus "fur" collared cloak

Tunic mark 2 plus “fur” collared cloak

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So that’s what I wrote back in November. After that I made a second king outfit in the same way, from some cream scrapstore find fabric and a curtain donated to the school for making costumes from that was a pig to work with and a little more fake fur (added to the hem of the cloak this time, I thought if it looked too similar to the other one it would be glaringly obvious that the other king costume had been made by someone else).

Cream and red version (the tunic is a little off the shoulder on this one but no one will notice under the cloak)

Cream and red version (the tunic is a little off the shoulder on this one but no one will notice under the cloak)

Then I just had the spider costume to make. Yes, that’s right, a spider. (Still, I guess stables in Jerusalem probably had spiders in). The brief was for nothing too complicated, just two sets of tights stuffed sewn to a t shirt. I was even given a new t shirt and pair of leggings to use as a base and two old pairs of leggings to use as extra legs. Then they went and cast my biggest critic in the role of spider. Arrghh. She had idea’s of her own too “It needs to have a hat mummy”. I think I managed to rise to the challenge…

spider

The spider costume was a bit last minute so no photo at home before it was delivered. This is an action shot from the Nativity Play. I attatched the top set of “spare” legs to the t shirt arms with elastic.

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The hood (which was fairly bodged) had an extra 6 eyes appliqued on and there was a partially stuffed carapace (?) on her back (I ran out of stuffing).

Rainy Day Skirt

Yay, I finished my polka dot red skirt made especially to brighten up a rainy grey January day. What do you think? Image

  • Inspiration I thought was my own when impulse buying fabric in Ikea, but later I realised it was a blatant copy of Jennifer’s polka dot ikea fabric version of her moss skirt pattern
  • Fabric polka dot cotton (?) that I presume is supposed to be for cushion covers and things but it came up quite soft once washed (I was good and prewashed and ironed this time). I bought a metre (it’s 54″ wide, sorry about the mixed measurements) which looked loads but I only just squeezed all the pieces out. Oh and I cut up a ripped pair of hubby’s pajama’s to make the pocket lining.
  • Ease of pattern matching Come back checks/plaids all is forgiven! I think the giant polka dots would be so obvious if badly matched, but unlike the stripes of a check fabric they’re not always visible at the edge of the pattern piece. Cutting each piece on a single layer really helped rather than cutting 2 pieces at a time on the fold. I’ll give myself 7/10 as there aren’t any glaring errors but I know where I could’ve done better…
  • Pattern Moss Skirt Pattern from Grainline
  • Customer service Excellent. Jennifer forwarded the pattern after I ordered it to be sent to an old email address that I’m locked out of and answered a question about how to lengthen it.
  • Pattern instructions These were very clear, with diagrams (I find these clearer to follow than photo’s, especially when printed out) and written instructions that covered everything. They felt quite grown up too. “Finish seam as desired” caused a momentary panic. What do I desire? What are my options? Then I calmed down and realised that with fabric that was clearly going to fray, the seam already sewn and no access to pinking shears or an overlocker (serger) and no urge to learn how to make and use bias binding to finish seams (and then make some bias binding), the only viable optionI knew about was my trusty overlocker foot on my sewing maching. And breathe. Hey, I can do this grown up sewing instruction thingy.
  • new sewing vocabulary learntGrade Seam – which via internet search and the diagram I worked out meant trim in half the seam allowance of one layer of fabric. And Understitch which I found a good tutorial for here.
  • Alterations As I was a little scared of the shortness of the skirt I lengthened my skirt pieces by the width of the band that is on view B, which was very straightforward as there is a lengthen/shorten here line marked on the pattern. I didn’t want to add a band, as I thought that would look weird with the polka dots. In the end I turned up 2 1/2″ when hemming though to avoid having part of a row of a polka dots on the hem (obviously hadn’t thought that through properly when cutting out) and I may shorten it further. I also added belt loops, as per the Coletterie belt loop tutorial.
  • Ease of make pretty straight forward actually. Even the zipper. I carefully followed the tutorial, even though I wasn’t sure why I was doing some of the steps, and it turned out really nicely. The only hairy moment was the waistband. Which was at least an inch shorter than it needed to be. No idea why, it was midnight at this stage and I was pressing on so I didn’t investigate. I got an extra half inch out of repining it, took half and inch out of the top of the centre back yoke seam (graded down to meet the rest of the seam), had tiny seam allowance on the end, crossed my fingers and winged it.
  • Finish I used some gold thread I had lying around to topstitch the fly, the pocket openings, the hem, the belt loops and I topstitched the yoke to skirt back seams down too. I found a funky gold star button for the waistband.
  • Fit It’s a bit baggy. I measured myself to be between 16 and 18 and more the latter than the former so I made an 18, which is larger than my usual size of 16 in trousers and 14 in skirts. But on reflection I’m not sure how well I measured myself, or if I did it at the best possible time of the month. Or maybe my seam allowances were on the small side, which might explain the small waistband.
  • Cost £5 for fabric, £5.30 for pattern, £1.95 for zip (the one in my stash was a jeans zip that couldn’t be cut to size as needed), £1 to replenish my red thread supplies (loads left now), about 80p for button (was being helped by a small girl, can’t quite remember that one), lining fabric and scraps of interfacing from my stash.
  • Most unexpected comment “That’s a nice skirt. You look like a dalek.”
  • Make again? Possibly. I’m not much of a skirt wearer so I’ll see how this much use this one gets. If I do I might be brave and make it View A length, plus I’ll remeasure myself and make a smaller size. I think patch pockets at the back would look good, if they didn’t interfere with the yoke. I might make the waistband half an inch wider and if I added belt loops again I’d baste them to the skirt to make sure they were in the right place rather than to the waistband, before sewing the waistband on (and then baste the other end of the loops to the waistband before sewing it to the facing).
  • pockets and belt loops

    pockets and belt loops

    fly and button (slightly crumpled after a days wearing)

    fly and button (slightly crumpled after a days wearing)

    painlessly inserted zipper (and secret pyjama recycle)

    painlessly inserted zipper (and secret pyjama recycle)

    and the back view

    and the back view

    Sew Chic Kids Shirt ‘t’ and Simplicity 4760 Mash Up

    To celebrate my new laptop actually talking to my proper camera (thereby solving my hardware issues) I thought I’d tell you a little more about my Christmas shirt make.

    When I decided to make a party dress for my daughter, I wanted to make something for my son too. Now he’s a very dapper young man who likes wearing shirts, so I thought I’d make him a new one. After I made his pirate shirt I’d contemplated making another in some red checked seersucker I’d seen in a local fabric shop, but when I went back to buy it, it was gone and the shopkeeper told me there was none left.

    Several months later it was there again, so I bought some and then left it on “the pile” so this is what I used. But what pattern to make? The Sew Chic Kids book has a shirt with a proper collar that could be worn with a tie (a certain young man is quite keen on ties), but the sleeves are short and turning short cuffless sleeves into long cuffed ones is beyond my capabilities.

    (This is the shirt shown on the cover. I should point out that the other boys shirt in the book, also shorted sleeved but with a granddad style collar, does have different pattern pieces from this one (I’d assumed not before, I was wrong).)

    On the other hand Simplicity shirt that I’d made before has a long sleeved option with cuffs, but not a proper collar. So I decided to mix and match, brave or what?

    The shirt fronts, back, yoke, collar stand and collar are from Sew Chic Kids, but with 2 inches length added to the shirt fronts and back as he always grows out of things upwards way before they’re too tight. For the sleeve pattern I traced around the head of the sleeve pattern from Sew Chic Kids, guestimated the right length from an existing shirt that fits and traced the medium sleeve end from the Simplicity pattern (not the large, as the shirt in the summer was a bit on the baggy side) and then drew a straight line in between. This took a couple of goes as I had to remember to add seam allowance to the Japanese pattern but not the other and also I had to get the head and the cuff end of the sleeve the same way around (which took some working out as I didn’t know if the sleeve opening went at the front or the back not having made one before and being at my mum’s flat at the time which has no men’s shirts in. Also the Japanese pattern had front and back marked on it but only one notch each side on the sleeve head, whereas the simplicity pattern used two notches at the back on the seam head and one at the front but I needed to check the rest of the pattern to work out which notch went where). Finally I cut the medium cuff of the simplicity pattern and two of their pockets.

    So, apart from exciting pattern merging alterations, how was the make?  Well, basically ok, apart from some stupid errors.  First up, what’s wrong with these two pictures?

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    Somebody put their first collar and stand together perfectly following the oh so clear Sew Chic Kids instructions only to realise that they had not added seam allowance when tracing these two pattern pieces, so they were a little on the narrow side.  I basted it on anyway, to cheer myself up, note how well the pattern matches at the back.

    Which brings me on to silly error number two.  I thought really hard about my pattern matching.  I wanted to line up the pattern at the side seams.  I got a 50 % success, see…

    Check out my meticulous pattern matching

    Check out my meticulous pattern matching…

    The shirt is shown sideways, top on the left, bottom on the right and the side seam is matched at that blue stripe, nice yes. However, the other side is not so pretty….

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    …or maybe not

    I couldn’t understand where I’d gone wrong as I’d thought about it so carefully and it was so out on one side but perfect on the other. I thought I’d have to cut a new front left piece and replace it, which meant undoing the yoke I was so pleased that I’d done. Luckily I first took the part made shirt to the shop to buy some buttons (it definitely needed yellow buttons and there were none in my stash) and the assistant pointed out that the pattern matched at the centre front. The problem was not the front piece at all, but the fact that despite my best efforts the back piece wasn’t quite cut straight. I cut it on the fold and the top half was straight but the bottom section was off a little. I should’ve read Jennifer’s tutorial for cutting plaid fabric which recommends always cutting plaid/check in a single layer. (I should also have at least ironed the fabric pre cutting if not pre washed it as well, but shush don’t tell). Anyway, I left the shirt as it was, redoing the back was too much effort at that stage and small boys don’t keep still long enough for you to examine the seam under their arm.

    The rest of the pattern matching went ok. I placed the strong yellow and blue lines in the centre back. I decided not to cut the yoke on the diagonal in case it stretched, but I did match the yellow and blue lines in the centre pretty well. If I was doing that again I’d cut the yoke at 90 degrees to the grain, like I now realise one of my husbands checked shirts is. And I wasn’t sure how to pattern match the sleeves so just went for a yellow line down the centre. Again I should’ve read Jennifer’s hints. I did cut the pockets on the diagonal and thought carefully about the yellow line placement and which way they faced and it worked out pretty well. All in all I give myself 7/10 for pattern matching, it certainly looks ok on.

    My final niggle was the cuffs. I cut 4 cuff pieces, two for each side. Then when I came to make them up I realised that I only needed one piece for each cuff as it’s folded double, so I obviously wasn’t paying attention too well when cutting. However, once I had made the cuffs up they looked silly, far too narrow. I wondered if I should’ve used a smaller seam allowance (the seam allowance on the cuffs was the larger Simplicity 5/8″ / 1.5cm seam allowance rather than the 3/8″ / 1cm Japanese one), but there was nothing in the simplicity instructions about this. Then I checked it against my guide sleeve length shirt and realised that the narrow cuffs meant the sleeves were too short. So I undid them and made them as I had assumed they should be made, with 2 pieces for each one, maybe I had had my head screwed on right when cutting after all. They looked much better this way and the overall sleeve length was better too.

    DSCF4533

    that doesn’t look right

    aahh, the redone one is soo much better

    eek, too short as well

    DSCF4538

    phew, the redone one is sooo much better

    see, better length too

    see, better length too

    So, I make that two mistakes of my own making and one strange cuff design. Apart from that it was pretty straight forward. I still love the clear and simple Japanese diagrammatic instructions (but I could see that they wouldn’t be for everyone). Mixing the two patterns worked pretty well, but I had only just remembered as I was sewing that the bottom of my sleeve had a different seam allowance to the top so I kind of started off at one seam allowance and merged ad hoc into the other as I went.

    Apart from cutting better and matching the checks differently the only thing I would do different if I made it again is to increase the seam allowance on the button/buttonhole bands. These are just folded over, with the interface on the behind portion, leaving a raw edge. It doesn’t fray, due to the interfacing, but it doesn’t look good either. I’d add an extra half an inch and fold that inside so the edge doesn’t show.

    All in all a pretty successful make. I realised half way through just how far I’d come in just over half a year. I hadn’t wanted to make him the first shirt, it seemed too difficult, and I went for short sleeves as managing cuffs seemed to scary. Now I was making long sleeves, mixing patterns and tackling checks (although I hadn’t really thought about the implications of the latter when choosing the fabric).

    So did he like it? Well, he wasn’t as enthusiastic as I might have liked, but then he did have a stomach bug on Christmas day poor mite and was pacing himself. But it fits and he’s worn it several times and I think it suits him. So now for the gratuitous shots of cute people…..

    Gorgeous boy
    Gorgeous boy

    posing

    Don't forget me!

    Don’t forget me!