Sunday, 1 May 2016

A Gift for Baby

When a new baby arrives for family or friends, what better way to say welcome than with a handmade gift?

These baby shoes are a bit fiddly to make but so cute they’re worth the effort. I found the pattern in this 1991 edition of Handmade a specialty Australian Women’s Weekly craft book.

The bias binding on my version is handmade from seersucker. The shoe is lined with iron-on vilene to hold the shape and has a soft innersole of polyester fleece and a self lining. The body of the shoe can be sewn together on the machine but I found that the binding had to be hand-stitched in place. The bib is backed with lightweight towelling and fixed with a snap.

For presentation as a gift, I covered a piece of stiff card with the seersucker to sit the bib and shoes on then wrapped the gift in cellophane.

The girl-baby version is pictured here wrapped and ready for presentation.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Skirting the Issue

I've been wearing pants for so long that I've almost forgotten about skirts. When I found Butterick No 3672 at the charity shop it reminded of how attractive a plain straight skirt showing an inch or two of knee can be. I think I've avoided skirts because I can't wear high heels these days. Fashion now decrees that high heels are not a prerequisite for the wearing of a skirt. Hooray. Looking back to the ’50s, Audrey Hepburn always looked fab in flats and a skirt. Well, let's face it, she looked amazing in anything.

Rummaging through the fabric pile I came across the material I bought back in August, featured in FabricFind of the Week. I planned to make summer pants to go with the BluePeter Shirt as the fabric is an exact match for the mulberry coloured buttons. But why not a skirt? In fact there's enough fabric in the piece for both skirt and pants. A good buy for $6.

You know the gods are smiling on you when a pattern needs no alteration: cut it out, sew it up. Well that's not quite true, I did have to shorten it by an inch or two.

I should have followed the 'shorten here' directions, but I didn't know until I sewed it up how long or short I wanted it to be. The result was that the kick pleat at the back (actually just a split on the pattern, but I prefer a pleat) became shorter than it should be. I originally had the stitching to hold the pleat in place on a nice 45 degree angle but had to resort to this straight 90 degree when the hemline went north.

Looking at this photo I'm not too worried about that pleat. It's probably one of those faults you only notice yourself.

I had some pink satin that seemed perfect for the lining. The pattern didn't provide for one but I think it makes a big difference to the wearability of a skirt. It's a loose lining, just hand-stitched at the waist.

I made the skirt with this shirt in mind, but a plain colour goes with lots of things so I flipped through the wardrobe for take two.

I have a very comfortable and versatile black top that I bought on line from the Shortlist Shop, a small business supporting Indonesian women artisans. 

My scarf featured in this post also works well with this combo.

Because this pattern is such a good fit I'm encouraged to give the slacks a go too, but that will not be until AFTER Christmas.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Hat Parade

Can't say I've ever thought of sewing a hat before. Why that should be I don't know because my mother was an amateur milliner. But she worked with felt hoods and styled them into fashion hats using wooden hat blocks and lots of steam.

I, on the other hand, am always searching for the perfect sun hat. I buy one that seems to look fine in the shop but when I get it home the brim is too big or too small or too floppy or too stiff. Or, the crown is too shallow, too deep, too wide …

I found this Lincraft pattern No 1003 for fifty cents at the charity shop and decided to have a go at making my own. The hat in the photo on the pattern cover looks much larger than it is in reality. I think the model they used is ten years old!

There are only three pattern pieces (the tie is my addition) and a choice of three sizes. I made the large but should have settled on the medium. My head measurement fell between the two so I figured I could gather up the extra should it end up too large, but nothing could be done if it were too small. It was quite simple to make and I'm not unhappy with the result, although I would like to make another with a larger brim, which will be an easy enough adjustment.

The fabric was leftover from a previous project and, as it happens, goes quite well with the seersucker and lace top featured in this post.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

The Kimono With a Difference

I'm pleased to announce the completion of the cover-up made from my 'fabric find' mentioned here.

In that post I described the fabric as being 'a sheer material, opaque rather than see-through, with a slight crepe texture, very drapey but not slippery at all'. The pattern used for this top wasn't really a pattern as such. I went along with a friend to Geelong's newest sewing school and work-space, The Sewing Room Geelong, to participate in a kimono jacket class for beginner sewers. We started with a piece of fabric the the required length of the finished garment (plus a hem allowance). We cut the fabric in half crosswise then one of the two pieces in half lengthwise. The larger piece being the back and the two smaller pieces being the front.

From there it was a simple matter of joining the two front pieces to the back with a french seam to form the shoulder seams, then finishing all the raw edges with a double fold hem on the machine. The side seam was achieved by stitching front to back leaving armholes, not unlike my Lazy Summer Days Top described here.

For beginner sewers this was a straightforward project incorporating some useful sewing skills. Being a little further up the evolutionary sewing ladder, I felt a bit of tweaking would benefit my finished garment.

The tartan style check in the fabric lent itself to some additions cut on the cross. My first deviation from the original was to cut the back panel in half lengthwise, resulting in four pieces of equal size. I cut a strip of fabric on the cross and stay stitched on the seam line to eliminate stretching then, using french seams, I stitched this panel into the centre back as seen in the photo above.

I had enough fabric for a band cut, once again, on the cross to edge the front panels and finish the neckline.

The result was pleasing but I felt the side seams needed refining. This I did by running a double row of gathering stitches on either side of the seam and pulling up the gathers to form the ruching at the side. 

Almost finished.

To complete the project I made a rosette of the same fabric plus some creamy-white organza and finished it with a button in the centre.

I thought it best to have the rosette removable in case the top needs laundering at some stage. Because the fabric is light in weight I made up two small squares and hand stitched them to the garment (one on the right side and one on the wrong side) before sewing on snap fasteners.

I'm very happy with the overall result, it being the ideal cover-up for this Chemise of a previous post.

It might be the perfect outfit to wear on Christmas Day when warm, even hot weather can be expected here in the southern regions of Australia.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Bear With Me

Some would have it that dressmaking and crafting is an expensive hobby, my blogging mission is aimed at dispelling that myth. Sure, you can spend mega-bucks if you put your mind to it: sewing machines that do everything except dispense coffee, purpose-built sewing-room furniture, ironing presses, gadgets galore (most of which are fantastic but not essential), and fabrics costing a king's ransom. The good thing is that, with a basic sewing machine, a pair of scissors, a tape measure and some pins, you can sew up a storm.

This little bear, Bernard I've called him, is a case in point. He's made from a piece leftover after making the chemise top. The fabric cost 50 cents. So a top and a bear for 50 cents. He's now on his way to add to 'Geelong Mums' Handmade Crusade Christmas collection for distribution to kids in need of a cuddly friend. Check their Facebook page here.  

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Fabric Find of the Week

It beats me how I always seem to find just the fabric I'm looking for when I wander into my local charity shops. This week I was hoping to find something suitable to make cover-up to go over the chemise of the previous post.

Lo and behold, the perfect fabric was waiting for me. It's a sheer material, opaque rather than see-through, with a slight crepe texture, very drapey but not slippery at all. As you can see, it's black with a cream tartan pattern. The almost three metre piece was a bargain at $3. Just what style this cover-up will take shall be revealed in the next post.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

The Chemise

What is a chemise, anyway? The dictionary says it's: a dress hanging straight from the shoulders, popular in the 1920s; a women's loose-fitting undergarment or nightdress; a priest's alb or surplice. Hmm.

Do any of those descriptions cover Vogue 7607, which calls itself a chemise? I picture a chemise as a pretty silk vest, View D being closest to that image, I guess.

So, for want of a better name, here's my version of Vogue's chemise.

My last post featured the fifty cent fabric find destined to become this useful little top. It's a jersey knit, nice and firm, and worked well in spite of the pattern not being designed for knits.

The pattern is a size 10, I'm a size 12 in these old patterns, so I cut out View C just a shade bigger than the pattern, also gaining some extra width because I was eliminating the pin tucks. The button front had to go as well. View B would have been more useful but this charity-shop pattern was missing views A and B. For the band across the bodice top and the shoulder straps I used black satin (leftover from lining the handbags mentioned here).

There were no bust darts included which may have worked in a light fabric, but not with the heavier jersey. I inserted darts which are not quite in the right spot but as I plan to wear a loose wrap (up-coming post) over it, I'm not stressing.

As shoulder straps have an annoying habit of slipping off, I angled them in where they meet the back band.

The satin band is sewn into the side seam and the back finishing is a turned under and hand-stitched edge. There is enough ease in the fabric that no zips or buttons were required.

This is a comfortable top which lends itself to evening wear because of the satin trim. Pity I don't go to many evening affairs, but with Christmas getting alarmingly close there's bound to be the odd party to attend.