The Conneticut Beach Party Dress

Its been a while since I posted about any sewing, so I thought I should tell you a story about the dress I made recently. Is everyone sitting comfortably?  Good, then I’ll begin…

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Once upon a time, a few years ago, everyone in the sewing world seemed to be blogging about making double gauze dresses, like this one and Prolific Project Starter got swept along in the tide and bought some of that same Nana Iro Double Gauze and when it arrived all the way from Japan it was beautiful and she loved it and petted it and put it safely in the cupboard. Every now and again she would take it out and pet it again and consider what the Perfect Pattern was to make with it, but one pattern would have too many seam lines that would cut into the large pebbles and the next would be too tent like, so she would put the fabric back in the cupboard whilst she thought some more and she never actually got around to actually doing anything with it.

 

Then one day she saw that Kelly Hogaboom was running a sew a long for the Bootstrap fit and flare dress in double gauze including this lovely version in a similar sort of colour for someone with a similar sort of body shape and she thought “maybe this is the dress for me” and so she bought some test fabric (normal cotton fabric, not double gauze) and in a fit of enthusiasm she bought lots of turquoise bias binding for seam finishes and she bought the pattern and she started printing it out and some of it came out the wrong scale and the printer played up and she got distracted and the next thing you new it had been sitting in a pile in the sewing room for nearly two years a little while.

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Then in April there was a UFO sew a long on the Sew Along group and as part of that she was sorting through her fabric and UFO’s and found the “dress” (aka a pile of fabric) and the seeds of inspiration started to grow.

 

And in May she finally started it, starting out with reprinting the pattern, cutting the fabric, discovering some irritating white lines after she cut the fabric (which she had enough fabric to avoid if she’d seen them earlier) , sewing it up (which came together pretty easily as it’s actually fairly simple and the sew a long is great), binding the seams as she went, inserting her 3rd(?) ever invisible zipper (which went pretty well) and working out how to Hong Kong finish that too, frustrating herself by not quite lining things up and by the fabric puckering when she pressed it and then making herself get over it because it was a freaking test garment for pity’s sake.

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Soon she was excitingly trying it on and dreaming about how good the double gauze version was going to be (even if she wasn’t sure quite what she was going to do with two such similar dresses in her wardrobe).

 

 

Then she sewed up the side seams and tried it on again only to find out that it DID NOT FIT. See, that horizontal panel is suppose to fit close to your body around your midrift and the gathers on the bodice are suppose to fit under your boobs, rather than framing your nipples and then the panel hanging down below empire line stylee.

Suffice to say that much pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth followed. This was not an easy fix, the entire front bodice needed to be longer, which meant it needed recutting, and even if she could work out what adjustments to make that would mean upicking all those beautifully finished seams and starting again. She really wasn’t sure that she could face it.

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But then again she really didn’t want to throw away all her hard work either. So after a bit of sulking and pouting she asked her friend, of a fairly similar but slightly smaller build, if she wanted a dress and lo and behold she did, and with a bit of adjusting (a pair of darts got added to the bodice/waist panel seam to take it in some more, and the side seams got taken in) it was finished and it fit.

And her friend declared it to be the perfect dress to pack when visiting her in laws in Connecticut and hanging out on posh beaches with them. Hurrah!

And so the dress wasn’t wasted. But then she thought on in and realised that it wasn’t wasted anyway because not only had she learnt new skills (Hong Kong seam finish), and practiced other skills (invisible zips) also the toile had done its job description of stopping her ruining her precious fabric, so rather than a failure it was a resounding success. Furthermore, seeing the dress  on her friend, she realised it was more her sort of thing than her own, whereupon she realised that the reason she couldn’t find the perfect dress pattern is that she didn’t actually wear dresses, so what she actually needed to do was make something else with her precious fabric that she might actually wear.

But that, dear reader, is a tale for another day (or quite possibly, at the speed she works, year, it’s currently draped over the banister waiting to be put away).

Also she did manage to make the leftovers into some City Gym Shorts part 4 for The Girl.

So, win win win win then.

All that remains is the mystery of how a dress that was drafted to fit her measurements (as all Bootstrap patterns are) came out so wrong.

 

 

Another shorts hack

Anyone spot the deliberate error?  My short posts went 1, 2, 4  and that was not because I’m into doubling, but rather because I missed a pair out.  When we went looking for shorts inspiration last summer, whilst the Girls favourite were the scalloped hem ones, I rather liked these ones with a gathered hem and tulip pockets from Ottobre 03/2017.

They also didn’t go up to her size, so I hacked these too.

I used some red linen left over from trousers I made myself and I reckon I did a pretty good job, right?

I had the benefit of having the Ottobre pattern piece to hand and I used this when hacking the shorts. I started with the City Gym Shorts pattern again, which is the white paper on top, the pattern I ended up with is the brown underneath. This first pic is trying to show you that the crotch seams are the same on both patterns. Also there is a little extra wedge on the inseam at the front (left hand pic). I was following the lines of the Ottobre pattern.

Then I kind of swung the pattern out a bit so that the waistband line of the city gym shorts matched the angle of the waistband on the Ottobre ones and used the width of the City Gym Shorts waistband and traced down the side seam from there. This creates extra fullness which is then gathered in by sewing a casing and threading a drawstring through I was just kind of making it up as I went along. Also, like on the scalloped shorts I straightened the edge and lengthened them slightly. The extra length is to allow for the casing.

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As on the scalloped shorts, the order of construction needs changing around, sewing up the side seams first so that you have a nice flat surface to attach the pocket too. For the pocket I just used the template from the actual pattern. You cut two for each pocket, sew them right sides together leaving a gap, then turn them. The top zig zag portion is topstitched before they’re sewn on.  The elasticated waistband is just done like the City Gym shorts

City Gym Shorts part 4

So, after failing to make my daughter some scalloped edged shorts last year, this year I finally got around to it.  I traced the next size up of the City Gym pattern, cos whilst last years pairs still fit her, she does still keep growing and had pointed out to me herself that they wouldn’t fit forever. Whilst I was at it I added 2″ to the pattern length at the lengthen line (on both front and back pieces, obviously) and straightened the edges to lose the signature curve at the bottom. I also added pockets as before.

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Construction wise, I started with those front hip pockets, except this time around I sewed the opening right sides together before grading my seam allowance, understitching and topstitching, as I wasn’t using bias binding.

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Then I sewed the fronts to the backs along the side seam. I chose to use a 1/4″ seam allowance, like the pattern suggests for the crotch seam, and figures that way I didn’t have to add any extra seam allowance (when constructed as per instructions, that side seam is made by overlapping the bias bound front and back edges).  It was even narrower than my usual 1cm default. I finished by zig zagging with my overlocker foot on my sewing machine and topstitching the seam allowance down.

Next up I drafted a facing piece the width of the bottom of the short leg and about two inches deep and cut two of these out. Then I folded over the pattern piece paper doll style (after folding over the seam allowance) and cut out an arch.

That gave me a scallop template to trace onto my facing. I hemmed the other side of my facing before pining it to my shorts and stitching along the scalloped line. Then I trimmed, turned the facing and hand tacked everything in place so I could give it a good press.

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Finally I unpicked my tacking and topsitched the edge of the scallops. Then  I added a second line of scalloped stitching, mainly to hold the top of the facing in place as I wasn’t liking the other options I could think of to do that (either a straight line of machine stitching going across, or hand finishing on the inside). I’m rather pleased with how they turned out.

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After that the shorts finished up pretty quickly, sewing the crotch seams, inside leg and adding a waistband.

 

I’m pretty pleased with the result, which definitely has some growing room, and I don’t think you’d guess what pattern I’d used, they look so different from the original.  She is more reticent with her feedback, but as she’s wearing them the day after they’re finished I’m taking that as a win. She even was persuaded (just) to read standing up for a minute so that I could photograph them.

 

Cape Mark II

The Princess Anna cape that I made The Girl has to be one of my favourite ever makes. But it’s now nearly 3 years old (eek) and getting a bit small for her, plus it’s far too pink for the more sophisticated tastes of a nearly 10 year old.

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So for Christmas I made her  a new cape, in her current favourite colour, green, in  random cheap wool blend that I picked up locally.  (There was better quality wool available, but it was either too dark or too light for her tastes.)

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Having been ill for large parts of December I ended up cutting it out on the 23d and sewing it on Christmas Eve, only realising too late that I’d never bought any buttons. So it was given buttonless and we went button shopping together after Christmas.  She chose these floral patterned ones that I think might be coconut shell. I finally got around to sewing the buttonholes and attaching the buttons earlier this week (Bad Mummy) using some find some vintage button thread that I’d inherited.

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The trim was a last minute decision to add on. It’s been lying in my ribbon box for a while, having been bought it on a trip to Birmingham.  They’re not actually mirrors, but plasticised foil sewn in.

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I toyed with having the trim along the bottom of the back and up around the arms, but that meant turning corners (tricky in this wide trim) and there wasn’t enough to meet at the front.

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So in the end I settled upon a stripe near the bottom, front and back, which gave me some left over. Adding some to the collar too was The Boy’s idea (he is not a silent model) and for once it wasn’t actually really complicated.  Well not since I’d already decided to add a collar to the pattern again ‘cos I think it looks so much better this way (I used the same tutorial as last time).

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The lining is gold “polo” (a polyester fabric) and I snuck a welt pocket on the inside (using this tutorial), which she calls her secret pocket.  Hopefully it’s futureproof as I made sure it fit a smart phone inside, just in case.   It also has a hanging loop added to the neck facing as I did before.

Lets hope this cape lasts as long as the last one, and if she wants another one after that I might have to buy the sister adult version of the pattern, the Woodland Stroll pattern as this is the largest size (age 12) of the Forest Path pattern with 2″ added to the length to boot!  (Did I mention that she’s nearly 10?)

 

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.

 

Last Minute Shenanigans II

S0011201.JPGThe apron for my friends vertically challenged mother in law that I made 2 years ago was such a big hit that this year she asked for another one, in olive green. My friend gave me a bag with some lovely fabric that she’d bought and co-ordinating green webbing. (I no some people never sew for others but I have no qualms sewing for this particular friend as she does so much for me and others, for instance she just looked  after our dog for 2 days so we could all go cuddle a baby).

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So the morning of Christmas Eve I set to work (before it was too late!). With grey thread because I had nothing appropriate in green and my non-sewing friend hadn’t thought to buy any. I made the neckband adjustable again, like before, and I was a little worried there wasn’t quite enough webbing left for the straps, so I raided my box of bits salvaged from defunct rucksacks and added an adjustable clip there too (takes less strap as you don’t need to tie a bow).

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I mainly followed this tutorial to make a slightly fancier pocket on the front, it all got a bit rushed at this point so I may not have followed it exactly. It’s lined in some pinkish fabric from my scrapbox.

All safely delivered to my friend after lunch on Christmas Eve, I have yet to hear if her Mother in Law approves.

 

Hello Goodbye

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This week the wonderful Jewel is hosting a pop up sew a long over on the Sew Alongs & Sewing Contests Facebook Page to encourage us to finish up some UFO’s (Un Finished Objects, aka abandoned projects). Her enthusiasm is infectious and my 3rd finished UFO this week is this Jalie 3132 .

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Scuse the wet hair, this was a rather rushed “while you’re on your way to work could you just take a pic of this” photo shoot this morning, the reason being so that I could take it with me to a coffee date to donate to a friend.

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This top is just too tight for my liking (see concertina effect on my inner elbow). Yes, I can wear it, but I don’t find it comfy or flattering and rather than keeping it in the hope it’ll fit better at some stage in the future, or to wear as a base layer, I’m liberating it so that it can find a forever home where it is loved and appreciated.

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I got this fabric about 2 and a half years ago on a tourist visit to Guthrie and Ghani thinking I’d make something for my then 6 year old with it, but when I got the pattern from Katrin in a CSC sewing swap I decided to use it for that instead. I got as far as tracing the pattern and doing a FBA but only cut out the back. The reason being that this fabric is thin and shifty and I was struggling to match the stripes up. Well, this week I commenced Operation Lower Your Standards and Get On With It and the top was duly cut out. The make itself was fairly straight forward, I even managed the binding on the V neck as per the instructions without any tears.

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With such a big gap between tracing the pattern and doing most of the cutting out and sewing up, I can’t really comment on if the sizing issue was my fault in choosing the wrong size, the pattern drafting, or my shape changing in the meantime. The pattern came together nicely and had a sensible amount of notches for matching up. It’s drafted with a 2″ hem, wider than the markings on my sewing machine, so I had to use masking tape to help me line it up for sewing! The sleeve is cut on the fold, which is slightly unusual and I must admit as someone used to asymmetric sleeves I’m a little skeptical that this is the best way to go. My main conclusion about this top is that pretty as it is, I don’t like working with this fabric. It’s a bit see through and not that fun to work with. However, I think it’s made up into a lovely top and I hope it gets lots of wear with my friend.

Hello Goodbye it is then.