Seeing triple

This is what happens when I get dressed BEFORE my girls in the morning. Thankfully, we were mostly inside the house today, braving the hottest October day in history!


Seeing triple in some simple Ralph Lauren floral cotton. I made my dress about a year ago but only used up the little leftover bits recently. I had a bit of trouble keeping the lions still for a photo shoot.

 
 

The surprise pyjamas

A few months ago I purchased some novelty fabric from Tessuti Fabrics. It normally isn’t my style to purchase fabric speckled with pictures of animals and trees, but then I don’t usually see a lot of novelty fabric at my favourite shop either. And this fabric was particularly soft and sweet, just crying out to be made into some fun Christmas PJs or tops.

Now, I also have a middle sized ‘ballerina’ that that wears out my negotiation skills at bath time. Every single evening, she gets upset at having to take off her daytime dress in order to put on her pyjamas (shorts and t-shirt). Some nights I can’t be bothered battling and let her put a skirt back on over her pyjamas anyway. So last night, after yet another battle and everyone was finally snuggled into bed, I set to work whipping up a nightie for my girliest of girls. To be honest, having recently done a few bigger projects, I also just wanted to make something quick and easy that I could get a bit of immediate satisfaction from. 

And this is it! It is a little big for her but I definitely didn’t want it to be too small and I needed it to be long since she never stays covered by her sheets at night. This is also one little girl who is not bothered by extra swish or ruffles. I left the edges unfinished because the fabric is so soft and pretty rolling up.

 
 
When I finished the nightie, I snuck upstairs and put it on her while she was sleeping. She smiled with her eyes closed but didn’t wake up.

 
Someone was pretty chuffed coming down the stairs this morning (with her handbag of course!).

 
She loves her new nightie and was super excited about the surprise of waking up in a princess dress! Lucky hubby is away. This Mummy gets way too much delight from spoiling her girls.

Spring frock dyeing project

So this is it. I modified a pattern I drafted for a little linen top last summer and turned it into a swishy floaty summer frock with a graduated hem. It feels beautiful on…and my little middle chickee loves it so much that she has put in an order for a hi-lo hem on her next dress. 

It is possibly a little sheer on the bottom as I didn’t want to line the skirt with anything less than silk for fear of affecting its floatiness. However, I figure I can get away with nude underwear on a normal day and a light slip if I ever planned on attending a dressy daytime function. The silk crepe de chine is beautifully cool and swirls with funnels of air when I walk. I am pretty happy with the way the dye job turned out ,but I will still be interested to see how it will wash and wear.

This style of bodice was actually a bit fiddly to make with such a light and slippery fabric. As always, there is the matter of front access for me to consider (I am still feeding my not-so-bubby chick. Not that I am encouraging all day access, but those strong little fists manage to destroy any neckline in her way). Hence, the ever present invisible zip down the front of my dress. Buttons down the back or an invisible side zip would have looked so much better. I am dreaming of the day I can make myself a boat neck button back tank top!

In any case, I am looking forward to some hot days at the end of the week. You will most likely find me swishing elegantly around the backyard with my smallest peeps. Once again, thank you Sallieoh for the fabulous dyeing inspiration!




The completed birthday shirt

 
I finally finished the birthday shirt. My ever present assistant was not entirely pleased with my handiwork. It could have been the lack of ruffles, big buttons, or tulle that failed to meet her expectations.

I was pleased with the way the contrasting floral Liberty of London looked on the inner collar stand and plackets. It may be my best collar yet in terms of neatness, but on comparing with the other shirts in hubby’s cupboard, I did notice that this collar is a little narrower. I may have to draft my own collar next time.

 
I am especially pleased with my button choice and in the way I was able to line up the stripes perfectly down the front. I always feel rather chuffed if the patterns end up matching as planned. I purchased these little buttons from the Button shop on King Street in Newtown. I wasn’t sure about them at the time as they have a slight grey/mauve tint (not at all like the standard pearlescent white buttons you see on absolutely every business shirt). But I bought them just in case and in the end they looked perfect!

 

I am not super happy with my buttonholes or edge stitching. Because of the dark contrasting fabric on the underside of the shirt, I decided to use a dark thread in my bobbin and it showed through to the top stitching slightly. I am not sure if this is a tension/stitching problem with my machine or just something that happens. Next time I would stick to all white thread and just deal with seeing the stitching on the underside.

Here’s to the completion of another shirt for hubby. I might not get excited about sewing him shirts anymore, but it is always so satisfying to complete such a technical project well, and the joy it gives my hubby to receive them is well worth every minute spent lining up stripes. My next challenge is going to be holding out until December to hand over the shirt!

Birthday shirt cuff comparison

The birthday shirt is coming along pretty well, although I am going to reserve my judgement on this project until the very end. I made a modification to the front placket, switching it to the inside so I could use a floral contrast instead of self-fabric. But, I now realise that the width of my modified placket won’t match perfectly with the other front side. At the moment, I am still hopeful that this mistake won’t be too noticeable (at least by hubby).

What has worked out nicely so far is the cuff plackets. I am using a nice white shirting to contrast with the stripes for the collar and cuffs. And check out the difference between the cuff plackets in this pattern compared to the vintage shirt pattern I had been using before. The vintage piece is on the left.

So, to make the cuff placket, I first made a slit, then stitched a narrow hem on one side of the slit, before stitching the placket piece to the other side.

I then folded it through to the right side (folding all the raw edges under neatly with the use of my iron), and stitched around the edges. Super simple and not fiddly at all.

I know the inside doesn’t look as professional (to me anyway!), but how can I not be happy with these results on the outside!


Christmas bags for my girls

To cut a long story short, the last house we rented was bereft of curtains when me moved in. But it was only a short term lease and I didn’t want to spend a fortune on something simply to block out the light and heat. So off to Ikea I went with my three year old style advisor in hand, to purchase some cheap and cheerful heavy weight fabric that we could whip into some simple curtains. In the end, we were out of that dodgy old house quicker than anticipated and I was left with several metres of colourful, near new fabric that had been chosen by a pre-schooler. I was not at all in love with this fabric, but I hate waste so I decided to upcycle it into little ‘Bento Bags’ for my girls as part of their Christmas present. 

You can check out the tutorial for making these great little bags here. I omitted the waterproof fabric lining as these will just be play handbags for my girls. But I agree that they would make fabulous little lunchbags with the right fabric.

Ayumi from Pink Penguin guides you through the construction of these little bags so clearly that you really can’t go wrong. I actually discovered this tutorial last year and had a wonderful time making them for all my nieces birthdays in 2012, albeit in slightly prettier quilting fabric. Despite the fabric combinations not being totally to my liking, I am still super happy with how they turned out and I know my girls will absolutely love them. I highly recommend giving this tutorial a shot. It is the perfect project for beginners!

To dye for

A while back, I happened across this inspiring blog post about dyeing fabric.  And then a few months later, I happened across this post on fabric painting from The Fabric Store (you will have to scroll down to past halfway to see their beautiful work). Needless to say, I took it as an omen that I had to have a go!

Sallie from the blog site Sallioh has been wonderful enough to provide some beautifully detailed instructions on how to dye your own fabrics. She sets a high bar with her creative designs on silk, so I am not ashamed to say that I shamelessly copied one of her prints.

Now, I have never done anything like this before, but I was lucky enough to have quite a large piece of ivory/white silk crepe de chine in my stash. I ordered my chemicals and dyes online from Kraftkolour using Sallie’s ingredients list. As I live in Australia, I found it a bit difficult to find Blue Dawn/Synthanpol, so I took a stab in the dark and purchased Dynazol Washof instead.

The chemical list was all a bit foreign to me so I probably made a few mistakes. My thickener was a solid alginate which I probably should have dissolved in the warm chemical water at the start. I found it a bit difficult to stir it into the dye water since it separated into lumps instead of making a nice thick dye that I could paint on my fabric a bit easier. So my finished dye was a bit more runny than I liked, making my designs bleed a little more into the fabric.

One of the best tips on the Sallioh blog was to tape two layers of plastic to the floor so you can roll up your finished fabric in the top layer for storage until the dye is washed out. Not only does this keep your floor spotless, but trying to move or roll the freshly dyed fabric is a recipe for disaster. One end of my fabric was a bit longer than my top layer of plastic and moving this at the end resulted in smudged dye and runs on my fabric. Elsewhere, the dyed fabric just stuck to the underlayer of plastic and I rolled it up carefully, then folded it away to wash out the next day. Perfect! I simply used my surplus of plastic double/single mattress covers you can easily obtain from most storage warehouses for a few dollars. (Don’t ask!)

So this is what I ended up creating. I am pretty pleased with the results and have a bit of an idea on how to use the fabric. But I also think I can do a lot better next time. It has certainly broadened my knowledge on use of textiles. I know I will never look the same at a plain white remnant of fabric when I next go shopping!

The birthday shirt

It makes perfect sense that my first sewing blog post is in someway connected to my ever supportive (and tolerant) husband. I am pretty lucky. He lets me set up my sewing table in our living room, holds his tongue when I rev the machine while he is watching TV. He even sent me out to buy a new (much more expensive machine) when my first budget one had some problems…possibly from the 24hr use it was getting. I think perhaps he was also hoping a better machine would come with some kind of noise filter.

A few years ago, he started suggesting I make him a business shirt. But I shied away from this project for at least a year. I know my husband quite well and I know how fussy he is with his business attire. He likes quality. The fabric quality was never going to be an issue as Tessutis (in Surry Hills – my second home!) has the most beautiful selection of Italian shirting fabrics. But I did doubt my skills to sew the perfect shirt. I still feel that sewing a business shirt is quite technical. You really have to take your time to line up all the stripes and keep the edges and collar perfect. In any case, I bit the bullet about a year ago and sewed him his first business shirt. He was delighted. It worked out great. I used a vintage shirt pattern which fit him nicely, but the collar shape ,being vintage, was probably not quite his style.

 

Butterick 3364 – I just lengthened the arms a few inches for him.

 

 

 
 
So since this first shirt, I have made him another two which have been better each time, since I have learnt more about interfacing and experimented with French cuffs and a slightly different collar shape. Hubby has suggested I put a project management board above my sewing table so he can add his project requests (read shirts, shorts, jacket) to my job list and then he will know how his order is progressing in my queue.
 
As much as I love sewing all things and anything, I am actually now a bit bored of this pattern. I’d also like to see if I can learn some different construction techniques from a different pattern. So for his upcoming birthday this year, I thought I would try a new pattern. I have selected some lovely stripes from Tessuti Fabrics and I was thinking I might put a tiny bit of hidden colour behind the collar and cuffs, using a bit of Liberty of London floral. I wasn’t sure when I purchased the floral, but it is growing on me and I am starting to think that it might actually make a great men’s shirt on its own…too loud?
 
 

 
 
Not totally sold on the look of the Kwik Sew pattern pieces as they look a bit wider in the back than the vintage Butterick and I loved the fitted look of the other shirts I made Nick. I am toying with the idea of adding some back darts anyway but will cross that bridge later.