Thursday, 11 January 2018

Pajama time!

There are times when I feel as if my children grow several centimetres overnight. It's most obvious when I realise that the clothes they've been wearing day in and day out suddenly look ridiculously short or small. Maybe I'm just not very observant and actually pay attention to what they're wearing after too long! Either way, it was around November when I noticed how small ALL of my son's pajamas were for him, particularly the shorts/pants. I asked him what he'd like, and of course, he wanted the Oliver+S Sleepover Pajamas. Clearly he didn't ask for them by name, just, "You know, those pajamas with the buttons, with long sleeves and long pants?"

One of my many trips to a favourite fabric store while my mother was visiting, we found some lovely seersucker with a small boat print. My son had only specified that he wanted blue pajamas, so I hoped this would suit his tastes. I got some of the same print on a white background for the facings and cuffs. Luckily he was quite pleased, especially when he realised he could ask for buttons in both blue and red!

Despite having sewn this pattern on at least 3 previous occasions, I still managed to make what some might call 'rookie' mistakes. I chalk this up to cutting the pieces out on a day when I cut out 4 other patterns. It's probably also because I wasn't paying enough attention (sigh). There was a recent post on the Oliver + S blog about these very pajamas (read it here), with some beautiful pictures of perfect pattern matching for the patch pockets. The ones I made recently were, *ahem*, perfectly unmatched. You'll notice that the front facing was also upside down (oops). And I somehow managed to cut 2 of the same leg, which meant I had to make an unexpected trip to the fabric store to get more fabric to cut out another leg. And believe me, I quadruple-checked that I was cutting it out the right way!!

My son was very sweet about the upside down parts. He told me that it looked like the reflection in the water, which was great because there were boats on the pajamas! Thank goodness for children who see the positive side to our mistakes.






But I am particularly proud of my homemade piping, which I think is a nice addition. This was also a special request from my son (who initially wanted rickrack like his sister's pajamas have, but I managed to talk him into piping instead!). My son is tall and slim, so I made the pajamas in a size 6, but with the length of size 7. They are a tad on the long side, but hopefully this means more wear!

Not to be left out, my daughter wanted new pajamas from a knit fabric she saw with an owl print. I used the Oliver+S Raglan t-shirt for the top and the Sleepover Pajama pattern for the bottom (not sure that was the best plan, but it seemed to work). I'm still learning how to hem knit fabrics properly, and am not thrilled with how the hems turned out on these pieces, but luckily they're not visible on the outside! The raglan t-shirt pattern is GREAT! So fast to sew and by all reports, very comfortable to wear. Smiles all around!




Monday, 8 January 2018

After a long absence...

It would seem, at least for me, that going back to paid employment and being productive in the sewing department is a tricky balance. I am still trying to find a way to stay on top of all the 'required' things, and still keep my sanity by sewing or knitting once in a while. Hence the lack of blog posts, and overall lack of activity in my sewing room.

Yes, there have been a few projects here and there (a tree skirt for the Christmas tree, some dumpling pouches for gifts, and couple of gift bags), but unfortunately the bigger projects didn't get photographed before they were given away. There was a quillow for my son's friend who moved away from Singapore - nine of his friends each drew a personalised square using fabric markers on a square of cotton fabric, all of which were then incorporated into the quillow. It turned out really well, and was a nice goodbye gift for a dear friend. I have it on good authority that he is making good use of it this winter, but sadly I didn't get any pictures of the finished product.

However, a new year brings with it a resolution to try to sew as much as I can to take a break from work and housework (occasionally this does mean forgoing sleep!). So, with that in mind, I spent the better part of an afternoon recently cutting out 2 pairs of pajamas (1 for each of my children), a top for my daughter and a skirt for her as well. The sewing...well, let's just say that last week, I spent more time with my seam ripper in my hand than my foot on the sewing machine pedal. But I'm happy to report that all's well that (mostly) ends well, and I just have the skirt to finish.

First up, the Puppet Show shorts from Oliver + S and a top from the Japanese sewing book Sew Chic Kids. The shorts are a favourite in our house, and this is the 4th or 5th pair my daughter has worn. I used a great Robert Kaufman Indikon Indigo for the shorts, and a Japanese lawn for the top. The instructions for the top were minimal (par for the course with this book), and I admit being quite confused about how to do their front placket. I muddled my way through, and know it's not quite right, but my daughter LOVES the shirt (flowers! long sleeves!), so in my books, it's a win.



The shirt is supposed to have buttons but for some reason, my machine decided that making buttonholes in cotton lawn was not going to happen that day. So it has snaps, which oddly also made my daughter very happy.

So that's project 1 of 4. Next up...two pairs of pajamas, one with homemade piping! Stay tuned...

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Sew Over It Lulu Dress (version 1)

Shortly after coming back from summer holidays, my favourite fabric store in Singapore (Sing Mui Heng) had a big sale...this coincided perfectly with my fingers itching to get back to sewing, and a friend who asked if I'd sew a few things for her. So off we went...and came back a little lighter in our wallets and weighed down with MUCH more than we intended to get. Isn't that always the way?!

My first finished item from this spree was the Sew Over It Lulu Dress.


It was a fun and relatively straightforward project, taking about 2 hours of sewing time in total (maybe less). I made a size 10 at the bust, moving out to a 12 at the waist and hips. Overall the fit is fine, but there's a strange 'bubble' just above my bust, below the neck notch. I can't quite determine why I have this bubble, but will keep trying to solve the problem before my next one. The sleeves are also a tiny bit snug just at the top of the armhole, so I might reduce the seam allowance a bit around the sleeves to see if that solves the issues. Otherwise, it's really comfortable to wear and looks great with a belt. 

My next Lulu top is for a friend. I should make a muslin, but I think I'll forge ahead with the first top and keep my fingers crossed that there aren't any major fit issues!

Pattern: Sew Over It Lulu Dress
Size: 10-12
Fabric: Art Gallery Fabrics (cotton)

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Colette Sorbetto tank with pin tucks

Last summer, while drooling over sale fabrics in Liberty of London, I picked up a three 1-metre pieces of tana lawn. Two were used for my Grainline Studio Lakeside Pajamas, and one sat in my stash, waiting for inspiration.

Inspiration hit about 3 days before we left for our summer holidays. I had just enough to make the Colette Sorbetto tank, and decided to add pin tucks down the centre. I liked the look of the sleeveless top on the Guthrie & Ghani website. Instead of modifying the basic pattern, as she suggests, I decided to sew the pin tucks into the fabric first, and then cut the top from the pin-tucked fabric. This works well if you want the pin tucks to go all the way down to the hem.



Colette patterns has re-issued the Sorbetto tank pattern with modified sizing, but I used the original pattern since it fits me pretty well. It doesn't appear that the original Sorbetto is still available online (it's a free download), but maybe I haven't looked hard enough. 

The only modification I made was to add 1/4" to the shoulders at the neckline (and remove a corresponding 1/4" at the armhole side) - I find all Colette and Seamwork patterns are too wide on my shoulders. 

I love sewing with cotton lawn. It's the perfect weight for clothing in Singapore, and doesn't wrinkle nearly as badly as linen. It's hard to find nice lawn in Singapore, so the few pieces I bought in London were treasured!

Pattern: original Colette Sorbetto tank with pin tucks
Size: 6, with adjustments at shoulders
Fabric: Liberty Tana Lawn (1 metre piece)*

*For some mysterious reason, Liberty of London puts giant stickers on their 1m remnant pieces in the sale bins. The glue on the stickers is REALLY hard to get off fabric, even with washing. 

Oliver + S Hopscotch Top v.2

In the midst of packing for our 4-week summer vacation in Canada, I decided to 'quickly' sew up a t-shirt for my niece (as you do when you should be packing!!). My sister-in-law and niece visited us in Singapore in May, and she bought some fabric so I could make a few things for her daughter. First up, a Hopscotch t-shirt.


Based on a previous version, I know this fits a bit small (particularly in length), so I made a size 2 with size 3 length. L is petite, but hopefully this will fit for a while. I had about 1/2 a yard, and just managed to squeeze out the long-sleeved version in this size.

I also used twill tape at the shoulders and the yoke seam, instead of interfacing. The tape was probably a bit wide, but otherwise worked well.

Pattern: Oliver + S Hopscotch t-shirt, size 2 (with size 3 length)
Fabric: not sure! A light-medium weight 95% cotton knit

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

A bit of block printing

One course in screen printing (with a bit of block printing)

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An unexpected trip to India where lovely teak wood blocks are available relatively easily (and for good prices)

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The decision to give emigrating friends a handmade gifts by which to remember us

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2 table runners and 2 sets of 6 coasters

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2 happy friends (we hope!)

Blocks from Block Beauty in Bangalore, India (they do accept online orders, and I think they ship overseas)
Paint - Speedball fabric paint

Friday, 5 May 2017

Made by Rae Bianca Dress

Here's how my sewing sometimes works:
1) Find some amazing fabric. Cannot resist buying it, but not sure what it'll be used for. Buy some (between 1m and 2.5m), hoping it'll be enough for something.
2) Wash it, and put it in stash. Gaze at it every so often, wondering what to do...
3) Spend far too long on the internet, independent pattern sites and Pinterest, looking for inspiration.
4) Several months (or years) later, find the PERFECT pattern, and the rest is history.

This dress has a similar history, except the fabric was a gift from a good friend who had the opportunity to spend a morning in the Mangaldas Market in Mumbai (so jealous!) and brought it back for me after I told her about my latest obsession with indigo dyes. And it only spent a few months in my stash, not years.

I have also spent a LOT of time checking out Made by Rae patterns, looking at other people's makes online (the researcher in me can't help it - all decisions need evidence behind them!), and wondering if the style would suit me. I took the plunge with the Bianca pattern:



I managed to squeeze the dress length out of the fabric I had. I also did the external facing, and cut the facing piece on the bias. The contrast isn't quite as dramatic as I'd hoped, but if you look closely, you can see the difference. Okay, maybe only I can! I made it in an afternoon and part of the evening (with significant interruptions from children, making dinner, etc. etc.). So not only is it fun to make, it's a quick sew too!

I was worried the style would be too 'maternity-like' on me, but I think this fabric has enough drape that it doesn't tent out too much under the elastic. It's a fairly thin cotton, so I did interface the facing pieces. I also used the elastic casing, rather than attempting shirring for the first time. 

Having worn it for a few hours, I can attest to the comfort and ease of wearing. And it's a perfect weight for the hot and humid days we're having. (Wait...that would be how it always is!)

My only issue was with the dye coming off on my fingers as I sewed (despite having pre-washed it). Hopefully this will become less of an issue after a few more washes. 

I'm inspired to make more tops with this pattern, and already have a request from a friend to make it with long sleeves. Maybe I'll even try the Washi dress/top next!

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Sew Over It Doris Dress

I have spent a very long time checking out the patterns by Sew Over It. Trying to decide if the style is really me. Can I pull of the retro look? Will it suit me? I almost bought the Vintage Shirt Dress pattern, and then decided to think some more. Ultimately, on our Christmas trip to London, I decided to leave the kids at home and venture out to Clapham ALONE (yay!) to visit Sew Over It in person. And...I walked away with not one, but 2 pieces of fabric, and the pattern for the Doris Dress. I fell in love with the cotton lawn first, and then had to find a pattern for it (not really a hardship!).


I made a muslin while my mother was visiting so I could get her to help with fitting issues. The dress has pleats on the front and back bodice, not darts. This was fine for the front, but I have a small back, and if I had used the ties to pull the dress as tight as I needed it, it wouldn't have looked great. So I re-drafted the pleats to make them darts and also re-drew the cutting lines very slightly for the back skirt pieces to fit the modified bodice.

The picture doesn't really do the fabric or the dress justice - I'll try to get a decent picture of the dress being worn! I cheated and didn't put buttonholes - just sewed the buttons on the front. The bodice doesn't have to open to get the dress on anyway.

This was my first Sew Over It pattern, and overall, I'm very pleased with the construction and the instructions. I would probably modify the way the invisible zip is added, but otherwise the instructions were clear and detailed.

So now I have my eye on the Vintage Shirt Dress again (having decided that it's a style I quite like, and I think suits me), and the gorgeous Atelier Brunette cotton lawn that is on the Sew Over It website. I'm trying to decide if it would be too indulgent to order some fabric and ask my sister-in-law to bring it with her when she visits us in a couple of weeks. It's really a good thing that shipping costs to Singapore are so high - it's the only thing that stops me from doing a lot more online fabric shopping!

Birthday Party Dress (the first)

I realised I completely forgot to blog about this dress when I first made it way back in October for A's 3rd birthday. She specifically requested an orange dress, and I was waiting for an occasion to make the Oliver + S Birthday Party Dress - perfect timing! And it was for a birthday party too!



I love this dress - the actual sewing was as fun as it was to see it on A for the first time. I also lucked out and got a lovely orange fabric. It's quilting cotton (I think it's Moda, although I can't actually remember). If I had a small quibble, it would be that the dress comes out a bit short, and it's hard to lengthen because it's finished with a hem facing. After 6 months of frequent wear, it is getting quite short, but A could wear it as a tunic with leggings.

I've made 2 of these dresses so far, and will definitely make more!