The Placket of Doom

(On the Sorry You’re Feeling Ill T-Shirt with Get Better Faster Stripes)

So, the Boy got a tummy bug and got sent home from school. My children have a combined age of approx 20, so needless to say I have dealt with a few tummy bugs in my time. Never have I seen someone laid so low with one though. It wasn’t the typical symptoms so much that were extreme, more his general demeanor, listlessness, staring into space-ness, asking for help to sit up, not reading and barely talking. On Day 5, when he still wasn’t eating at all or showing any signs of improvement, I consulted our GP, which led to him being sent to the hospital to rule out appendicitis. It wasn’t appendicitis (the official diagnosis in the end was viral gastroenteritis), but he did end up getting admitted for 3 nights and put on a drip to counteract the dehydration.

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It was a busy week. Sitting around doing nothing at the hospital is surprisingly exhausting. Taking my turn being the parent at home with The Girl was surprisingly stressful too. So I decided to make the Boy a t shirt. Ostentatiously that was to cheer him up in the hospital, but really, it was to take my mind of things, which is good, as I didn’t finish it until several days after he got home from the hospital.

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Being unwell brings out the Aspergers side in my son, and as well as being the exact opposite of his normal chatty self at the hospital (one member of staff commented on how shy he was and I had to explain that he’s actually very outgoing usually, which is one of the reasons I knew he felt so ill), it also seemed to ramp up his sensory sensitivity and he kept complaining that his t shirt was too restrictive around his throat. By the time he was admitted to the ward, he’d stripped of his t shirt and covered himself up in a blanket instead and after that he couldn’t have put a tshirt on if he wanted as by then he had a line in his arm. We took some shirts in to the hospital so that he could wear them as unbuttoned as he liked, but mainly he rocked the bare chested “look you can see even more of my ribs than normal” look.

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Hence I chose to make no 37 from Ottobre 03/2016 , a raglan Henly style t shirt with stripes up the side, because I thought he could undo the placket and it would feel less restrictive.  Great plan. The downside of the plan turned out to be that I had to make a placket.

Tracing and cutting went well. I made it in a size I was pretty sure had some growing room (as he wasn’t there to measure), but cut it to the length of the pattern 2 sizes up, for my string bean. At this point I was still delusional that I would finish it in an evening and take it with me to the hospital the next day. Ha.

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Mistake no 1: The t shirt was made on a whim so I used scrap fabric that I had in. The grey knots was the only thing really suitable that I had to hand, and I decided to brighten it up a bit with the red (after all what is the point of a faffing around with an extra pattern piece for a side stripe if you never notice it). This was my first mistake as I think the red is a 4 way stretch and it shifted like billy o when I tried to wrangle it into shape and sew it down. Particularly troublesome on that placket. Which brings me to….

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Mistake no 2: I tried to follow the Ottobre Minimalist Diagrams Are For Wimps Instructions when inserting the placket. This didn’t go well and I ended up with the hot mess you see above. After sleeping on it I decided to recut the front and try again.

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Second time around I used the Thread Theory placket tutorial for their Strathcona henly t shirt. To make this work I cut the placket piece on the fold, rather than as two separate pieces. I didn’t quite follow the instructions to the word, but it went sooo much better this time again. Definitely still room for improvement but liveable with.  The sharp eyed may notice that this placket is the “wrong” way around, that’s because despite tacking the other side, it stretched as I was sewing it and has little tucks in. Grr.

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Mistake no 3:  Prym poppers. Past experience shows that no matter how many times I reread the instructions or do trial runs on scrap fabric (ok, actually I did 0 trial runs this time), at least one of them always screws up on the real garment. I’ve never had the inserty applicator thingy jam onto the popper before though. Turned out it was due to the popper front and back being misalinged. Another sleep on it moment, before then taking apart with pliers and carefully lining up the replacement popper through the holes it’s predecessor left behind before attaching it.

Mistake no 4: I then sewed the original front with the awful placket to the rest of the t shirt and had to unpick the triple stretch lightening stitch raglan seems. Urgh.

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The neckband isn’t technically a mistake, but I did follow the Strathcona instructions and tried the slanty edge look and it’s not entirely successful. In particular I’m not happy with the scruffy insides showing when it’s worn open.  However I am now officially past caring.

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Because tis done now.  And it looks ok, although I wouldn’t want to subject it to close inspection from someone who knows how to sew. I think it has a bit of a cycling top vibe to it.  But most importantly The Boy is now home and on the mend. He hasn’t really passed comment on the new t shirt, but he did chose to wear it.

 

Give thanks for jeans!

I am in need of new jeans. Desperate need. The last pair I made are starting to wear through all across the top of the thigh at the back. Sniff. Unfortunately the pair I started after that have achieved the dreaded WIP status, mainly due to the metallic denim I chose being a pig to work with, and I’m struggling to find the sewjo to get back to them.

But never fear, I have hatched a plan with my online sewing buddy Amy to sew jeans together, group motivation and all that. We’re planning to share lots of moral support, fitting trials and tribulations, tips and all that over on the Sew Alongs and Sewing Contests facebook group with an informal sew a long from Oct 14th – Nov 24th (which is when they celebrate Thanksgiving in the USA, seemed like as good a time as any to try and finish jeans for).  This is quite an ad hoc, informal sew along, so unlike some of the sew alongs there, the only prize on offer is a finished pair of jeans, but if that sounds like motivation enough you’re welcome to join us!

We’ve given ourselves nearly 3 weeks to work up to the idea, so if you musing about joining in, here are some ideas for patterns that have been suggested by group members already…

Liana Stretch Jeans Save the DayFirst up, the Liana jeans from Itch to Stitch, which have a previously featured as a sew  along on the face book page you can still see all the blog posts that Kennis wrote.  I didn’t join in first time around, but I was so impressed by the great jeans I saw made then that I have since made my own pair.  This pattern recommends 25% stretch denim, which I’ve been struggling to buy. I did find some, but clearly the quality wasn’t that great as it’s wearing through, so I’m contemplating using a different pattern this time. But rest assured, as soon as I get a decent source of stretchy enough denim I’m making this pattern again.

Morgan Boyfriend Jeans pattern // by Closet Case Files

One pattern I’m considering is the Morgan jeans, from closet case files as they’re designed for non stretchy denim (and I have some really nice denim I bought online which turned out to not be as stretchy as I thought from the description).

Ginger Jeans pattern // Skinny jeans sewing pattern

Of course, we also need to mention Morgan’s older, skinnier, stretchier sister  Ginger for which there is also a series of handy  sew a long posts written up.

Simplicity 8222 Sewing Pattern

Then again, I’ve been recommended the Mimi G Simpicity jeans pattern which  has slim/average/curvy fit options provided in the pattern and a you tube sew a long, as long as I can find that elusive 25% stretch denim.

Jamie Jeans

Fancy something a little different, how about the Named Jamie Jeans with their vertical seam up the trouser front and the cute pockets.  Indiesew have sew a long posts on their blog to help you out too.

Or how about the Cake Endevour Trousers made up in denim, like here?

Thurlow Trousers and Shorts sewing pattern by Sewaholic Patterns ...

After all, jeans are just trousers made from denim. So I maybe I could finally use the Sewaholic Thurlow trouser pattern I bought a while ago.

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After all, I made these Juniper’s from Colette in a mad stripey denim from ikea (still going srong but looking a little shabby from where the cat stropped them).

Or maybe I could make another iteration of Ottobre pattern, shown here in their foxy iteration.

Bootstrapfashion.com - Designer Sewing Patterns, Free Trend Reports ...

Then again, I could get a copy of the Vado jeans patern custom made to my measurements at Boot strap fashion and follow Kelly’s sew a long posts.

Decisions decisions. It’s going to be hard to pick a pattern. Which is a shame as the sooner I start the process the more organised I’m likely to be and if I get really organised I might try and hack a pair to be more suitable for cycling like Melissa at fehrtrade has done here.

So, to recap, you can join in if you’ve always wanted to make jeans but were too scared, have made them 30 times before, or anywhere in between. You can make them from scratch or finish a WIP. You can use a brand new pattern you’ve never tried before or an old favourite.Use a”proper” jeans pattern, or a normal trouser/pants pattern, or even something you’ve drated yourself. You can use stretch denim, or non stretch denim, or even not denim at all. We aim to start on 14 Oct but eager beavers are welcome to get going before then and we will always tolerate stragglers. Fitting advice, design dilema’s and general encouragement on the facebook group (I’m no expert, I have made about 5 pairs of jeans before, but I generally find there’s someone there who will know the answer to your questions), however you don’t need to be a member to take part.  Hopefully we will all have new jeans to wear at Thanksgiving (even if you, like me, don’t live in the states and will be the only person on your street to realise it even is Thanksgiving). Or the day after thanksgiving, if you like to look a little smarter on the day itself.

So, happy jeans planning. And if your favourite pattern isn’t on the list do let me know in the comments.

PS

Most of the photo’s in this post are the official pattern photo’s, which I’m assuming designers will be happy for me to share as it’s basically free advertising for them (if not, and they’re yours, let me know and I’ll take them down). The rest of the photo’s are my own. It should be fairly obvious which is which.

Babygowns

There are a lot of weird things that parents-to-be get told are “essential” for life with their new one. Actually, very few things are essential for babies (something to wear to keep them warm enough, somewhere safe to sleep, such as a cardboard box, something to drink, and nappies, oh boy are nappies essential, whatever type you choose), however there are things that make your life easier. Of course, what those things will be depends upon you, on your parenting style and on your baby. For such small people, babies can have quite strong opinions about things.

Anyway, one of the things on our not-exactly-essential-but-really-made-life-a-little-easier list back in the day was an elasticated sleep gown. Sooo much easier for blurry eyed middle of the night nappy changes. No poppers to have to get lined up and snapped together, just pull it up, change that nappy, and pull it down again. Especially good if your new baby screams for the entire time whenever it is undressed. Or dressed. Or having it’s nappy changed. (Yes, I am thinking of a particular not-so-small-any-more person here).

So my go to new baby present of choice has since then been an elasticated sleep gown. Not so cute as some presents, but a helluva lot more practical in my humble opinion, and practical is what all sleep deprived new parents need. So when I found out that someone in my family was expecting, I went to buy one from my favourite suppliers, only to find that they had gone out of business. All I could find was a very lovely, extremely expensive, plain white organic cotton gown (seriously, I get that white is cute, and unisex, but boy does it stain, and you know, cute as they are, baby’s excel at making stains right from the getgo).

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So, what’s a woman to do. Well, you probably guessed it by now, I found myself an elasticated gown pattern for a newborn nonetheless, with growing room included, generously provided for free. Only one problem, it didn’t have the fold over scratch mitts included, and I seem to remember they can be useful too. (Certainly more useful than the little mitts you can buy which Just Fall Off. And break your washing machine. I had a washing repair engineer once tell me that in his experience the major cause of washing machine failure was baby socks. Hmm, maybe one of those mesh wash bags needs to get added to the list).

Luckily my friend tipped me off about this envelope cuff tutorial. It’s in German, but I’m forever about to practice my (pretty basic) German and never quite get around to it so I had a stab at it. Much head scratching, dictionary consulting (both my old one from school and online ones), and badgering of anyone I know who might understand obscure German sewing terminolgy via social media later, staring at the photo’s later I finally decided to give it a go, and whatdya know, it worked!

First off a slinky yellow number covered in black flowers. I’m slightly worried about the flowers, not for gender reasons as the baby is predicted to be female, but black isn’t traditionally featured heavily on baby clothes. Still, it’s nightwear. It made up pretty quickly, I sewed the front over the back at the shoulders (rather than visa versa) due to my kids running off with the laptop so I didn’t have any instructions to hand, but I figure it’ll still work the same. As there isn’t a label in the back to tell which is the right way around, I sewed a small flower button on the front. Really well. Just in case. (Although newborns aren’t really up to grabbing things yet).

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It made up really quickly and looked very cute, so I ran up another one in some of the leftovers from my leggings. This pattern doesn’t take a lot of fabric but you do need some quite long pieces, so I couldn’t use leftovers from The Girl’s dress (not without piecing them, and I couldn’t be bothered to fuss about with that).

So, if you want to make envelope cuffs / inbuilt scratch mitts yourself and you don’t speak enough German to easily read the tutorial above, here’s what I did…

First off, envelope cuffs are made in two pieces, unlike normal cuffs, which are usually one piece with one seam to make a continuous loop. So you need two pattern pieces, more on the size of them later once I’ve explained what you do with them, but for now, one will be longer than the other (so it can be folded over to make the envelope bit), see pic top left.

Then you cut your pattern pieces out with one of the short edges on the fold, one short piece and and one long for each cuff you want (so almost certainly 2 of each then).

Lie the pieces next to each other, right side of the fabric outermost (I’m using the grey reverse of my kitty fabric to be the outside of my cuffs here to avoid mutilated cats) and line them up so that the short side with the raw edges are level with each other, second pic.

Now fold the longer one over so that it’s now the same height as the shorter one (pic number 3). You need to be a bit careful doing this as the inermost part of the fabric might want to roll down as you fold it over, be firm with it!  Once you’re happy with your double folded piece, put the shorter one on top of it (lining up those raw edges on the short edge). You now have a sandwich that is 4 pieces of fabric thick at the bottom and a whopping 6 pieces thick at the top. Pin and carefully sew up your side seams, taking care to match those folds up at one end of the line, I found it best to start my seam there otherwise one inevitably rolled off the other as I was sewing and they ended up mismatched.

Then trim your seam allowance to about 2-3mm.  At this point your cuff is made, if inside out, you may want to turn in the right way out to check that you do indeed have an envelope cuff (pic 7) that folds over to make a scratch mitt (pic 8), but you will need to turn it wrong side out again in order to attach it to your  cuff.

When attaching it to the sleeve, I made sure my envelope bits were at the back of the garment, as that made more sense to me, but they would work either way.

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On the left, using the sample measurements from the tutorial and a 1cm seam allowance, came out a bit narrow and not enough to turn over (luckily it was only basted in on a normal straight stitch). On the right, the new improved version, with added length and smaller seam allowances.

So, the $100 question, what size should your pattern pieces be?  Well, that will obviously depend on the size of your sleeve, if you’re using jersey or ribbing and how thick your fabric is. The original tutorial suggested using the cuff pieces from your garment pattern as a guide and adding 1/2 – 1cm width to allow for the fact that it needs to be wide enough to cover the hand, not just the wrist  (presumably you’d need too add on extra seam allowance too as your standard cuff will almost certainly only have one seam). She also suggests making the longer piece 1 1/2 times the length of the smaller one. Well, I didn’t have a pattern piece to start with as the gown pattern I was using has no cuffs. So I tried using her sample measurements (for an outfit for a 56cm baby, which I reckon is about newborn size) of an 8 x 8cm and a 8 x 12cm pattern piece. I found that in the jersey, the width seemed ok if I used the 1/4″ seam allowance form the gown pattern (more mixed measurements here), but I seem to have too much unenveloped cuff and not enough to fold over, so in the end I used an 8 x 8 cm pattern piece and an 8 x 13cm pattern piece (so the actual pieces will be twice that long as it’s cut on the fold) and that worked for me. Top tip, if you’re not sure, make one up (it doesn’t take much fabric) but sew it on to your sleeve with a standard straight stitch at first in case you want to unpick it!

Phew, that was a bit of a mouthful and I’m now acutely aware of how hard to read this might be to a non native English speaker!  Cudos to all the sewers out their reading tutorials in foreign languages, you are amazing!

Cool Dude

When you see the fabric you bought full price on sale, it’s annoying. When you’ve had that fabric sat in your cupboard, for, your not even sure how long any more (over a year?), it’s probably a sign that it’s long overdue that you got cracking on the project you bought it for.

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A long sleeved tee shirt for The Boy. Still, at least things loitering in the stash far too long is a different problem to not having enough fabric.

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Unless you also don’t have enough fabric.

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Luckily I’m getting good at eeking and piecing, must be all the practice.

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This is a Semper, option A (without side panels and pockets), no hood, so slightly altered neckline (just cut a bit higher, make sure that you’re cut is at at right angles when you hit the fold in the fabric), neckband instead (quite wide to account for the fact that I decided at trying on stage I’d’ve preferred it cut higher still), no sleeve bands or bottom band, the pattern pieces were just extended instead, and the front and back were extended a bit extra too, as he’s a bean pole. (Are you still awake at the back there?).

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After fiddling around with alterations and pattern matching at the cutting stage (Good marks for centering the patterns, getting things straight, pattern matching at side seam and underarms, could do better on raglan sleeve), it was a quick make.

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And now I have a happy boy.  (Also modelling a circular scarf he just acquired).

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Why is it the gorgeous fabric I don’t buy straight away always seems to sell out, and the stuff I do get ends up on sale?  Is this just me?

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.

Still seeing red

When I made myself a top recently, I made the leftover fabric into some shorts for The Girl. So, when I then had some more of the same fabric, but in red, left over from making The Boy a Semper Top it seemed only natural to make The Girl some more shorts.

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I realised that if I didn’t cut the waistband out of the red fabric, then I would have enough of it left to make a theraputic neck pillow for The Boy (who is jealous of his sisters and has requested a red one with black elastic handles). I figured I could get away with using this knit fabric as it’s quite thick and stable.

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So, the waistband for the shorts is made from some grey ribbing which ties in with the grey bias binding edging the pockets (originally bought to finish the hood of his Semper). I wish I’d got the edging sewn down as neatly as I did last time, as red on grey shows up much more than navy on dark purples, but them’s the breaks.

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They’re a hit!

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As it the pillow/punchbag.

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Now I just need to find the purple shorts, which went AWOL less than a week after I made them. Sigh.

 

 

 

 

RED-y to go

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My model was not being terribly helpful

Pattern: Semper Sweater from Sofilantjes patterns.

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Fabric: Thick spongey mystery knit from my local fabric shop (probably containing some synthetic fabric) with slightly shiny right side and a stripey reverse (used here for contrasts). The same stuff (in a different colour) to my top.

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Size: Age 11, chosen after comparing the finished garment measurements to an existing top. (Tops are more compliant when you want to measure them than boys can be). It has come out wearable with growing room for my lanky 10 year old. Perfect.

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Modifications: The hood is unlined. I thought about binding the edge in knit bias tape but in the end I just turned the seam allowance over and topstitched it down with a fake coverstitch. (A bit of fudging was required where the hood piece turns a sharp corner as the front cowl-y bit starts).

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Additions: Lots of topstitching in my favourite stretch “coverstitch” stitch (including sewing down the trimmed seam allowance where the two hood pieces meet).

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Well drafted? Yes, everything came together perfectly.  Even attaching the made up sleeve to the scary looking U shaped underam hole. (Topstitching that seam however, was not so easy, I managed to catch the neckline and had to unpick it. That however is a mess entirely of my own making due to my current topstitching addiction.)

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Most confusing bit? Trying to use the table provided to work out how much fabric to buy (it’s designed with colour blocking in mind, showing you how much you need of a given fabric for different elements of the different views in different sizes, less helpful if you just want to make it all in one fabric like me.)  In the end I just bought an overly cautious 2 m.  After washing the fabric and cutting out I still had 80cm left of 1m60 wide fabric (plus extra wibbly bits), so I could’ve got away with buying 1m20.

Review? It got a thumbs up. Literally that was all the comment I got.