It was the third one that nearly killed me

OK, so that’s an exageration, but by the time I was finishing the third and final last minute Christmas make I was feeling pretty rough. That’s what coming down with a stomach bug does to you.

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Still, if you will leave taping and cutting out the pdf until first thing Christmas Eve morning (the house was blissfully quiet as I was the only one up) and cutting and sewing until after the kids are in bed and you’ve walked your mum home (I’m thinking it was about 9pm, it’s a bit of a blur now), then you don’t have a lot of choice if you need to get it done in time. Let this be a lesson to you me.

I was fairly confident as I knew a tshirt dress, with only 5 pieces (front, back, 2 sleeves, neckband) would be a pretty quick make, but I hadn’t counted on how rough I would feel. I even switched the pedal over to slow mode to help me cope (usually only used when kids are on the machine).

But, I did it, well almost, it didn’t get hemmed until a  couple of days later but it did get worn on Christmas day. And I decided to skip the planned step of adding in some side pockets.

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So, this is Nivalis number 2, sized up 2 sizes from last time, one size because the last one is quite slim fitting with not much growing room and the second size because this fabric was a bit thicker and not quite so stretchy as last time (I think it might be ponte). Probably I should’ve only sized up one size as now it’s really quite long, but never mind, she’ll grow.  Also, I left off the tabs this time (that was planned, not just because I ran out of time).

Nivalis

Recently I saw a 10% off code for Sofilantjes. It lasted 1 day.  So I quickly told my friend who I knew was considering getting the Domi pattern and she dully bought them. The next day I remembered that I was planning to get the Nivalis tunic and dress pattern, doh. Needless to say I bought it anyway as I had two lots of remnants with this pattern in mind. First up, use the colour block dress version to make a minuture copy of this black and pink dress to give to The Girls friend who’d admired the original (The Girl won’t touch that fabric with a bargepole). I didn’t have enough fabric, not even for a tunic, so I made myself commiseratory pants instead.  Never mind, I had plans to make the leftover of my floral mustard leggings into a tunic for the girl. Guess what, not enough of that either. (I think I’ve found something else to do with it though, so watch this space). When Will I Learn?

Now I had the pattern though, I had to do something with it. So I broke out my secret “this was going to be a Christmas present dress (in 2015, I ran out of time)” blue/teal/purple/pink/yellow peacock/rainbow/shell fabric and got to work. Directional print, limited fabric, I only just squeezed it out without having to have the back upside down or cut it in two pieces. I think I refolded it about 6 times before I managed it. Still Learning.

I used the layer printing option for the first time to reduce the number of sizes printed (several designers do this) and guess what, it makes life easier! This came together quick and easy (one evening to finish the last bits of pdf taping, cut it out and sew it), the most time was spent fiddling with the (optional) tabs (although I lost the mark of where to attach them on the pattern piece somehow and had to work it out based on the button placement mark) and the (self drafted) pocket (less said about that the better, it’s a bit wobbly). I didn’t do the hood (which she wouldn’t use) or the collar (not my style), so if you went for one of those options it’d take a bit longer. I got a bit confused as to how to finish the cap sleeves, the inside of the underarms are a bit messy, maybe I was supposed to hem them before doing the side seam? Anyway, that might well be me as I wasn’t having my best sewing day yesterday and there a couple of things on this that weren’t my best work. But the overall result is lovely, and she’s happily wearing it today. It’s slimmer fit that I’m used to seeing her wear, this pattern range seems to be drafted that way, so when I make it again (and I plan to, I want to try a long sleeve tunic top), I think I’ll size up a bit.

But overall, the Nivalis is a stylish, slender, quick win.

On the 6th Day of Christmas

I’m not sure any sewing will get done today. I’m coming down with a cold and catching up on sleep after having a bad dose of insomnia last night. Plus it is very wet here, which doesn’t technically stop an indoor activity like sewing, but does mean that most of us have been inside for nearly all of the day and sewing is harder with tired bored kids under your feet. (It’s now temporarily quiet as I had the cunning idea of getting them to round up all their books that were scattered around the living room to take upstairs and put them away in their rooms. Methinks at least one of them might have started reading said books, how totally unforeseen.) This part of the UK has had it relatively dry recently, I’m aware that further north where the ground is already saturated and many areas have already been badly flooded (such as where several of our friends live) today’s rain may be more than a minor inconvenience.

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Anyway, sewing wise, I can show you two dresses I made for Christmas presents that were under wraps before. In fact these two dresses were within knot bag wrapping, can you tell which way round they went?  The first is this pink and black number for my neice. IMG_3024

I decided to remake the super hero comino cap dress that went down so well this summer as the first was such a quick and satisfying make. Except this time I chose the sweatheart seamed bodice option, so it wasn’t so quick, as I had to reprint and retape the pdf, retrace 4 new pattern pieces (front and back bodice and yokes) and resize 2 of them before I could cut them out. Pattern placement for such a bold obvious pattern which isn’t actually straight was a bit of a headache too. (Those stars aren’t all the same shape and the grid they’re on is decidedly wobbly. This is all deliberate and adds to the charm of the print, but isn’t so fun when you want your lines of stars to flow from the bodice to the skirt and also from the front to the back.)

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Then I discovered that I’d used the t shirt bodice pattern for one of my pieces, so had to do the whole procedure again for that piece. Luckily I had enough fabric left. Then I had to sew the sweetheart seam, which while not the fiddliest piece of sewing ever wasn’t completely straightforward. I think it’s ok in the end and I like the spider placement. The observant amongst you will notice I pressed the seam allowance up at the front not down, which took some pressure off on the topstitching!

The pink ribbing doesn’t quite match the fabric, but they don’t actually touch so I think I got away with it.

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I also made a sidekick dress, for her sidekick, with some fabric that I’d bought with my daughter in mind but she’d rejected. The leftovers of the main fabric got used on a t shirt for the boy. The other co-ordinating fabric I only had half a metre of, annoyingly that half a metre started and ended half way through the panel design so my leftovers of this aren’t much use.

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I cut myself some slack and did the simpler variation, but I needed to trace a different size, reduce the length, and cut the skirts in two pieces so I could have the girl catching the coins falling from heaven a the bottom.

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I think the orange ribbing really makes this dress, so glad I went with that and not boring navy.

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There was a whopping 9″ difference between the finished dresses, which rather alarmed me, but that’s just how this crime fighting duo rock. I’ve seen photo’s of them wearing them and they both fit, hooray.

So watch out evil masterminds of Scotland, your plans to take over the world are doomed…..

Baby Cthulu Dress

Oh sorry, didn’t see you there, you been there long? Come in, I’ll put the kettle on, move that pile of stuff on the sofa and have a seat.

Things have been a little busy around here, what with ill children and really very tired children and visitors galore and the whole lack of daylight thing. I’ll pop on an episode of The Bridge in a moment – shh, don’t say a word about the plot, I’m not up to date. Anyway, once The Ever Patient Man who currently has Favoured Parent Status (lucky him, apparently I smell today so cannot dish out the regulation bedtime hugs) has put the kiddlings to bed we can all watch it together.

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Ta Da

In the mean time, let me show you this dress that I made. Sorry you can’t see it amazingly well in this light, but it’s hidden away in the daytime as it’s a Christmas present for the girl. I hope she likes it, I’m a bit worried about the octopi, but hopefully the colour and the flowers and hearts will win her over. When I went to buy the fabric that I knew she’d like I discovered that they’d sold out, so I got this instead. When it arrived I wondered if I’d done the right thing. Someone tried to reassure me that they look like baby Cthulu. Now I know a few people who like to rock that kind of look, but she is not one of them.  Luckily I don’t think she’s heard of Cthulu so maybe I’ll get away with it. Fingers crossed.

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New Neckline

The pattern is the Banana Sweet dress from good old Ottobre 4/2014. The observant amongst you will notice that I missed the hood off, because hoods are not her style.  While I was at it  I decided to save myself some potential sewing headaches and miss the placket* off too, so when cutting out I simply extended the line of the neckline curve to the centre front. When I made it up I was worried it looked a bit small for her head so I widened the neckline at the shoulders slightly and dropped it a bit at the front in an entirely unscientific way. Then I bound it with ribbing, I cut mine 3.5cm wide and 70% of the neck circumference (plus seam allowance) long. Amazingly the neck looks ok despite all my random messing. I will have to see how it looks on (assuming she’ll wear it). Oh and for some reason I decided to apply the ribbing like bias binding, but hand stitching it down on the inside. Not sure why. Not sure I know how to handstich stretchily either. Oh well, I used this finish for pockets, neckline and the cuffs. Obviously I’m a glutton for punishment this week (or just really dissatisfied with the options I know of for applying rib with a standard sewing machine).

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Cuffs

Other than altering the neckline, I made it up in the “wrong” fabric (jersey not sweatshirt fabric, a fairly safe swap), added a couple of inches to the length and extended the cuffs too (it was the biggest size for this pattern and I was worried it wouldn’t be long enough, I’m pretty sure it’s wide enough by comparing it to other dresses though, presumably there’s extra ease for added for the intended sweatshirt fabric). I just managed to squeeze it out of my metre of fabric – even after realising I couldn’t place my back and front oppisite ways up to each other (there are clearly upside down hearts, so I assumed the fabric worked either way up, but on close inspection only 1 column in 4 is upside down, so it would look strange if cut the other way around).

 

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So, why choose this pattern then if I was going to change it so much. Well, for the gathers at the sides (front and back). But boy did those gathers befuddle me at times. Here’s the pattern, as traced from the magazine, on my fabric. See the slits going in?  Well, as this is an Ottobre pattern, I still have to add my seam allowance, but I had no idea how to do it to those slits. I reread the instructions several times but could find nothing to help. Just that I needed to add 1cm seam allowance to most edges. (There were exceptions but this wasn’t listed as one).

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So I bumbled my way through and as the seam allowances on the slip overlap it ended up like this, sort of like a pinafore dress. Which was fine, until I tried to make the gathers. See those blue arrows pointing in, you have to gather between those. When I tried that, it gathered the top fabric that I’m supposed to be stitching to up too. Unsurprising really when you think about it. The instructions are to sew “darts” (but they’re not marked like darts) by sewing “rows of gathering stitches along lower edges of darts as marked on pattern” (that’ll be between those arrows then) “and gather edges to fit upper edges. Stitch darts; as you approach dip of dart, stitch with gradually narrower seam allowance”. Rereading this several times didn’t help. I could only think that I needed to cut into my seam allowances but that seemed scary without more information.

 

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So I emailed Ottobre and 2 hours later I got a reply, which I think is pretty amazing customer service, especially as my email was in English as was the reply and they’re based in Finland. And what did the reply say you ask? “You need to add 10 mm seam allowance only to the beginning of darts, on the sides. Then you add gradually smaller 9..8..7..6..mm seam allowances as you approach the tip of the dart. It`s a bit tricky without having 10 mm seam allowances all the way but I`m sure you`ll get it done right. Hopefully this will help you to continue with your project!”

So, confidence bolstered, I drew a line that bisected my angle (please forgive me if I’m straying into geeky maths talk, I really cannot think of another way of putting it that’s clear). Then I cut along my new line just as far as the gathers have to go and no further.

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So then, fabric cut, gathers now just gathering the bottom half of the fabric, I sewed it together like a dart best I could, tapering to a point and tying off the ends.

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Once pressed it looked ok from the outside. Then I just did the same with the other three. So, I don’t know if that was the right way to do it, but it seemed to work.

After the gathers, it was plain sailing to make. Sew the shoulder seams, attach arms, join arms and side seams in one fell swoop, hem, cuffs, bind neckline. The pockets were a little fiddly as they have curved edges so you’re instructed to gather them around a template to press the sides under, but it was straight forward enough.

Now I just have to wait and see if she likes it.

I’m curious, what’s your favourite way of applying ribbing to a neckline (that doesn’t involve expensive machinery, trying to keep things simple here)? But tell me in a bit, after we’ve watched Saga doing some more investigating in her inimitable style.

 

 

*My friend who lectures in English once told me that placket used to be considered a rude word and now I struggle to type it without sniggering.  However I can’t bring myself to explain what it’s a euphemism for, you’ll just have to use your imagination.

 

 

Super Hero Niece

Once upon another time, in a place that isn’t here, I had quite a collection of frankly daft dresses that I loved. The floorlength grey knitted one, the red fake fur mini dress, the orange and gold crochet one to name but a few. These days, I have neither the figure nor the occasion to have such items in my wardrobe, but I do still have a love for statement clothing and I’m starting to be able to make them too.

Luckily for me I have a niece whose just finished her first year at uni, studying art no less, so it is surely de riguer for her to have something a little wacky in her wardrobe? So when I came across some pop art stylee superhero skiing themed cartoon print jersey online and was instantly smitten yet couldn’t imagine wearing it myself, she sprang to mind. And she was foolish enough to furnish me with her measurements. Mwa ha ha.

Ta Da

Ta Da

So lo and behold the red-jump-suited-skiing-“super hero to succor”-evil-cuthulu-snowboarding-fighting-camino-cap dress was born (and breathe).

topstitching a the shoulder

topstitching a the shoulder

Yup, I splashed out on a pattern rather than winging a dress from a t shirt pattern as I wanted to do things properly. Based on her measurements I added 4″ to the bodice and 1″ to the skirt, which is less alarming when you realise she’s considerably taller than the 5’5″ the pattern is drafted for.

hemline

twin needle hemline

Other than that, my only change to the pattern was to use clear elastic in the shoulder and waist seams to stop it stretching out. (Although I did seriously consider adding pockets).

teal rib binding

teal rib binding

I cut into some unused teal knit from my stash for the bindings, it was by far my favourite from the choices available.

barrie briefs

barrie briefs

Oh and when I’d finished I squeezed out a pair of matching Barrie Briefs because superhero’s have to have the right pants don’t they?

modelled

modelled

I didn’t ask her to model those, but I did have another volunteer!

See how she's so tall she towers over sheep

Patient niece stands in cold for more photo’s for mad aunties blog

Now, teenager’s don’t talk much so I’m taking a verdict of “comfy” on the dress (that was literally, her entire comment) as a good sign. And I heard she wore it out over jeans (Scotland doesn’t always have t shirt dress weather) which is a good sign.

So I’m counting this as a success. And it was so easy to make that if she’s not careful she’ll get another one.

Stripes to the max

I used to buy my (really quite small back then) kids clothes from an online store called Nordic Kids. Well, I occasionally did, when they had a sale on. Lovely, bright, unisex, kids clothes (from Scandanavia). And then the store went bust 😦

Well, these days, I’m sewing some of their clothes. And I get my bright and cheery fix from splurging on fabric from Kitschy Coo (click on that link at your own risk). But it does mean that my kids can have bright cheery clothes again 🙂

She practised this pose in the mirror before coming outside for her photo shoot

She practised this pose in the mirror before coming outside for her photo shoot

The stripey t shirt dress I made her before has been getting a lot of use, so I thought she could use another one. Luckily for my bank balance the whole dress came out of a metre of fabric, phew.

yes, the colours are that vibrant in real life. (Looking at the selvage, they're woven not printed)

yes, the colours are that vibrant in real life. (Looking at the selvage, they’re woven not printed)

Without any white in this time (cos, you know, kids, mud, food, felt tip, etc).

Couldn't resist adding the obligatory tissue pocket "upside down"

Couldn’t resist adding the obligatory tissue pocket “upside down”

The main difference is no ribbing this time. Because the pink I had was close, but no cigar (in a so almost right that it was very wrong kind of way). So the neck is a little slouchy. But then, the rate she’s growing, I figure I can live with that.

Twin needle finish (look mum, no serger/coverstitch/fancy expensive machine in sight)

Twin needle finish (look mum, no serger/coverstitch/fancy expensive machine in sight)

Also I interfaced the pocket. Because it Was Not Playing Fair. So I’m extra annoyed at the wonky stitching caused by her brother running into the room and thrusting something into my face while I was sewing. Sigh.

Anyway, I’m pretty pleased with this one. Easy, quick, stylish, practical, bright, no major mishaps, the stripes match at the side. 9/10 I reckon.

This time, I have the eyes on the leftovers for myself…..

Summer Stripes

Recently I let The Girl loose on my knit stash to pick out her favourite. She surprised me with her choice, a navy and white stripe, normal t shirt weight, a bit slinky and drapey, nice quality. I’d bought a metre from my local fabric shop thinking of a t shirt for me.

Well, she wanted a t shirt. Then I said I could make a matching one for her friend with the leftovers. Then they decided they want dresses.

So, I started with my standard kids t shirt pattern (Simplicity 1571), age 7, extended it , flared it to an A line from the waist down, and added Kimono sleeves inspired by this tutorial (but guesstimated rather than measured) and generally hacked it into a two piece dress pattern.

High wire act

High wire act

The girl chose some turquoise ribbing for the neck binding and I ended up adding some to the sleeves too to finish them (they came out a bit narrow, so I cut the opening diagonally to increase room, and then they didn’t want to hem). She also chose a scrap of one of my old t shirts for a pocket (I didn’t think the main fabric would hold up to the weight of proper pockets but I wanted her to be able to keep a tissue about her person).

Finally I added 3 rows of shirring to the waist to give it a bit of shape. As I made the dress with growing room I put them a little lower than needed so that the top half is a bit baggy now and will grow with her.

A dress for having adventures in

A dress for having adventures in

Then, ta da, dress done. Onto the second one. Except I made a faux pas, I only had enough fabric for 1 1/2 dresses. Whoops. No problem, I went to buy some more fabric, except they sold out of this stuff really quickly apparently and there was none left. (Which is a shame as I was going to by extra for me too). We found some similar blue and white stripes in a slightly less drapey jersey though and with the same trim and a pocket from the same old t shirt it looks very similar.

spot the difference

spot the difference

Right, now to work out what to do with half a dress worth of fabric….
And also to figure out what to do about having used up all my storage on WordPress which means I can’t upload any more pictures. Eek.