Thursday 23 April 2020

A new Tudor Kirtle

For my birthday last year I was lucky enough to receive a generous Spotlight gift voucher from my dad, and not long after that Spotlight had a sale that included 50% wool fabrics. As I was in need of new medieval garb (as my pre-baby stuff is all a bit snug) to attend more events now that my son is getting a bit older and easier to take along. I realised a lot of my garb so far has been brown, not intentionally, it was just what I had found at op shops that could work for the era, and I am really more of a bright colour person. The range of wool at Spotlight is a bit dismal, so the brightest I could find was this lovely red wool melton. Unfortunately is is a blend 50% wool and 50% polyester, but I think it passes ok. To go with it, I also bought some black cotton velvet and a few meters of off white linen for a new chemise (which I still haven't finished). I bought the remaining 2.8 meters of the red melton, with the intention of making a Tudor kirtle, but it does seem to have turned out more Flemish than English due to the guards on the skirt. Good thing I am not too picky about that.

To begin, I prewashed the fabric, in case of shrinkage and colour run. I didn't notice any shrinkage, but there was definitely colour run, in fact, if I were to buy this fabric again, I might even wash it several times before sewing.

After my last garb attempt didn't work out as I had planned, I decided, to hell with period accurate patterns, and just used a princess seam bodice pattern that I had previously used for my brown kirtle. I was too lazy to go find the pattern in my super messy sewing room, so I just traced the pattern directly off my brown kirtle, adding a little extra width for recent weight gain, and then seam allowances. I cut the skirt portion out along the full 2.8 meters, long enough for a hem as well as a fold of fabric underneath the pleats to give them more body, then cut the bodice pieces from the remaining piece, as well as a lining from calico.

The dress went together fairly easily, and I didn't really take any progress photos at this point. The faux cartridge pleats were acheieved through very large, regular gathering stitches

At this point I realised I had actually made it too large to be able to lace it tight enough to support my bust. As I did not want to undo all the hand stitching on the black velvet trim, I simply unpicked the skirt at the side seams, carefully took it in about 1.5 inches on each side, then redistributed the gathers/pleats of the skirt and sewed it back to the bodice in those sections.

I had intended to sew a matching chemise in linen for this dress,, but have not managed that yet, however it looks pretty good with one of my existing chemises anyway. The dress was finished in time to wear to an event last September called Spring War. I even hand sewed a faux french hood to go with it, after purchasing some lovely beads from a stall at the event.

All in all, I am pretty happy with the result, and have already worn it to other events since (although not recently with the Covid-19 restrictions, obviously).


Friday 11 October 2019

Log Cabin Quilt from fat quarters

So back around the beginning of May 2019, Aldi stores Australia had their sewing specials that they have every once in a while (yearly I think?) After finally finishing my sons quilt last year before Christmas, I had been thinking of making one for myself as well, and not just my giant scrap patchwork one that I am planning to make from my dressmaking scraps (as I am going to need to make a few more dresses before I'll have enough fabric for that one) I fell in love with 2 of the fat quarter bundles on offer at Aldi that week, and purchased myself 2 of each (so 4 packs of 6, equalling 24 fat quarters in total) as well as a 45mm rotary cutter and a few other bits and pieces. The designs feature florals, stripes and dots in coral, light green, light blue and light mustard yellow. Since then I have discovered the Pantone colour of the year for 2019 is "Living Coral" so it seems the choice is on trend, not that I particularly care....

I looked on pinterest to find a tutorial for a quilt block which would use most of the fabric of my fat quarters with minimal wastage. I found this tutorial for a basic log cabin block, where each fat quarter provides enough pieces for 2 blocks (excluding the centre square) and just cut up all my fabric and sewed them together randomly. I found an extra fat quarter in my stash, as well as a small scrap, that coordinated with the fabrics, to make the 48 3 inch squares I needed for the blocks. I constructed the blocks using the chain stitch method, just grabbing random pieces for the first few pieces, but when I got up to the 4th piece and above, I went through and matched each partial block with a piece to sew on, in a neat stack, to make sure I didn't end up with doubles, and to keep things a little bit neater. I didn't take any progress photos, as this was all happening late at night after my son had gone to bed, and the thought didn't really occur to me....

The blocks all went together very quickly, but then I was faced with the problem of finding the space to lay out 48 blocks to work out how I wanted the layout. Although all of the blocks are made of random pieces, some still have more lighter colour or darker colours, so I wanted to make sure they looked balanced once laid out next to each other. My house is far too cluttered to find enough space, so after completing the blocks, I sewed them together in strips of 6, then I put them aside until the next time I went to visit my brother and his wife at their lovely home they purchased earlier in the year.

At the time my older brother and his girlfriend were staying at my younger brothers house, so his girlfriend helped me to lay my strips of blocks out on the office floor, trying to find an arrangement that had none of the same prints touching. Unfortunately we couldn't manage that perfectly, but still came up with a fairly balanced, pleasing layout. At this point, I sewed the top together, and put it aside until I had the chance to go shopping for backing, wadding and binding. 

My mother helped me pick out an orange backing fabric and a perfect floral for the binding one day at spotlight, so I began laying out the backing, wadding and quilt top when I got home and cleared enough space on my dining room floor. At this point I actually decided to unpick and remove 1 row and 1 column of squares, as the blanket just looked too big compared to my single size duvet. Once I had removed those squares, it felt like the perfect size.

Once I had all the layers laid out and weighed down (with big cans of baked beans) I decided to hand baste the quilt together, instead of using safety pins, as I had pins rust in a previous project, and really did not want to risk that with this one. It was a bit of a tedious job. and my back was killing me after, but I think it was worth it to ensure I wouldn't get any rust marks damaging my beautiful quilt. 

I then did some basic free motion quilting using my Brother Innovis, removed the hand basting, then sewed on one side of the binding, using a tutorial which I cannot locate anymore, in order to achieve the nice mitred corners. Then all that was left to do was to hand sew the opposite side of the binding, which was quite enjoyable to do while sitting under the quilt watching some TV.

I took the quilt once again to my little brother's house to take completed photos, and as soon as I put it down, my son tried to help by rearranging it.

Absolutely love how it has turned out.

Admittedly, I actually finished this some weeks ago, and only just now got around to finishing writing the post. I have been using the quilt most nights, and even took it away with me this past long weekend. Again, with more help from my son..

How would I ever get anything done without his help?

I think I have been enjoying this quilting kick lately, as it is a project I can achieve in small increments, plus I don't have to face the reality of my larger post-partum body.

Any other dressmakers experimenting with quilting lately?


Tuesday 14 May 2019

Talia Tank from Rebecca Page

So I am running a little late on this one, as the pattern was released a few days ago, however, between car troubles, several trips to the emergency department, an overnight stay at the hospital as well as a university exam, I just didn't have the time to be doing any blogging

Long time readers will know I have been lucky enough to test a few Rebecca Page patterns in the past (as well as Mummykins and me, before the name change) but here is a brand new one!

Introducing the Talia Tank from Rebecca Page!

I had been searching for a quick sew for a comfy singlet top for a while.Although I sport a dress most days, some times a gal just wants to throw on jeans and a top and go casual. This pattern is absolutely perfect for that. It has flattering bust gathers and is loose fitting so doesn't cling to the tummy rolls. Best of all, if you piece together the strap piece, you can squeeze a top out of only 1m of fabric. So far I have struggled finding decently priced knit fabrics, so when I do buy them, I only get 1 or 2 meters. In fact, mere days before this test, I had been to spotlight and purchased a few knit fabrics from the sale table, so I was well prepared to make this top.

I cut the pieces out one night after my son went to bed, and then sewed it together the next night, and finished it, while also watching Netflix and eating dinner, in less than 2 hours total.

For this version I used 1m of a blue bow printed organic cotton purchased from Spotlight, for about $4 p/m. You can buy the same fabric from Etsy. I have made a 3xl, graded to 5xl at the hips (for my post natal 49 inch bust figure)

I have already worn the Talia to University, the day I managed to blow 2 tyres on the car, and was thankful not to be wearing a dress (like I usually am) while trying to change them.

I have also sewn a second version in a colourful dotted knit, as well as started on a dress length version in a floral mustard coloured woven rayon, which I am hoping turns out OK. Pretty sure this pattern is going to become a staple in my sewing room


Thursday 28 February 2019

French Seamed Cotton Pyjamas

One area that is slightly lacking in my me-made wardrobe is pyjamas. I mean, over the past few years I have made 1 set of pyjamas and 2 nighties(here and here), but those don't all fit anymore, and even when they did, didn't see a lot of use, usually due to the fabric choice. So, for the week 5 fancy seams challenge of the 52 Week Sewing Challenge, I decided to make myself a set of fully french seamed cotton pyjamas, using this delicate floral print with birds. 

For the shorts I used Burda 7109 (previously used here) adding pockets and leaving off the leg elastics, and for the top I used Kwik Sew 3395 (used here for a slip) adapted so that the midriff and skirt pieces were cut as one piece (the same changes I made when making the slip previously). I was difficult to cut all the pieces I needed from the just over 2m length of fabric I had, which is why I had to add pockets to my shorts, as I couldn't fit the whole pieces on, so arranged them to have cut outs on the top, front sides, which I then made into pockets.

I cut the pieces out after my son went to bed one night, then managed all the sewing during his naps over 2 days, amongst other things I had to get done. As these were both patterns I had used before, they were quick and easy to put together, even with the additional pockets and french seaming. I managed to only partially sew one seam the wrong way, before realising and having to unpick. For an entire french seamed set, that's not bad at all.

After I finished them and tried them on it seemed that they had ended up a little too small for me, which bummed me out. However, after a couple of days I decided to wear them to bed anyway, and after a bit of wear, the weave of the fabric loosened up a bit and allowed the bias to give. After a couple of washes, the fit improved even more.

I have now fallen a few weeks behind in my 52 week sewing challenge (although I did get this one done in time, I am just last blogging about it) mostly due to being busy with my son and his first birthday, but I have also been seriously struggling with motivation and my own mental health. I had hoped that getting back to sewing would help with that, but it has been difficult to find the time with an active baby, and with university just begun for the year, that is probably going to get even harder.

Anyone else already behind in their plans for the year?


Sunday 3 February 2019

Week 4: Sew something Red (ish)

Although the challenge for week 4 was to sew something Red, and it is a colour I love to wear, I actually decided to use the challenge to work on something for my son's upcoming first birthday. As I am attempting to create less waste, especially plastic, in my life, I knew I wanted to create some decorations as an alternative to balloons. I have made bunting before, and have an abundance of fabric and binding, so that seemed like the natural choice.

We are going with a Sesame Street theme, so I found cottons in colours to represent some of the main characters, Cookie monster, Big Bird, Oscar the grouch and Elmo. After cutting these out, I actually found a lighter blue for Cookie monster, but kept the darker one for Grover.

These colours also work well as a generic colourful banner, but more importantly, can also be used for wiggles (which my son loves) using the dark blue as purple for Lachy and the green for Dorothy. I hope this bunting will get plenty of use for future children's parties. The lace bunting that I made previously for my wedding has been used a few times since, even being borrowed by friends for their events, which is the best way to increase use of special occasion items and lessen their effect on the environment.

Anyone else been doing any party sewing lately?


Monday 28 January 2019

Feeling good in McCall's 6920

Yay! New Dress!

It has been a while since I have sewn a dress that both shows off my figure AND makes me feel good about it, but here it is! The week 3 challenge of the 52 week sewing challenge is to use a pattern you own but have not made before, and I have had McCall's 6920 sitting, paired with 2m of a large floral cotton sateen, since I bought it last year some time, just waiting to be sewn up.

The pattern goes up to a 24w, and has convenient shortening lines for those of us who are a little bit petite in the height department. I cut the largest size, shortening at the petite lines, grading out about 1/2 inch at the hips on most of the pieces, and shortened the hem by 7cm. I probably could have left the length at the hem, but I was worried I wouldn't be able to get all the pieces from only 2m of fabric. I also did not bother with pattern matching or placement, due to the limit of fabric, but really with such a large print, I would've had to waste a hell of a lot of fabric to do so.

Construction was super simple, I didn't fuss about with much fitting, as the fabric had stretch which would hide some flaws. I found the perfect green zip already sitting on top of my zip box waiting, and all in all this dress went together very quickly, during a few moments I could sneak away into my sewing room while my son was napping, or after he had gone to bed.

I probably needed to cut a smaller size for the bust and chest area, so it is a little roomy there, but I am very happy with the fit at the waist and the hips, which is usually my problem area. While this is far from one of my best sews, I love how quick it was to put together, and I think it looks great on me (and so does hubby!)

I did go to wear it out last weekend, but realised the split at the back very nearly shows off my bum, so have out this back in the sewing room for a quick alteration before it gets worn out of the house, which is why this post is so late (woops) but rest assured I have still been keeping up with the weekly challenges from the 52 Week Sewing Challenge. I will update this post with modelled photos of this dress when I get a chance.


Sunday 13 January 2019

Underwear from Kwik Sew 2325 and 2101

The theme for Week 2 of the 52 Week Sewing Challenge was to sew a UFO. No that doesn't mean I had to sew a flying saucer (although if you wanted to you could) in sewing terms, as well as other crafting hobbies, UFO simply means Un-Finished Object. I tend to have a lot of these, as I am easily distracted by shiny new projects, and if a project isn't turning out like I hoped, I usually prefer to just stop working on it, rather than fix it or push through and finish something I don't like. For this challenge, I decided on this underwear set that I started making some time ago. I really have no idea how long ago, but it is somewhere in the ballpark of 2-5 years ago.

Here is what I had stashed away in a bag under a chair:

I had cut the pieces out from some nude power mesh type stuff, and a small bit of floral fabric of unknown content (probably polyester) that has a tiny bit of stretch, both sourced from op shops. I also had underwear elastic, bra straps, bra closure and suspender clasps. I had finished sewing the panties, and had the suspender belt half done. I think the reason I stopped working on it was that the panties ended up  a little too big and much more high cut in the leg holes than I would have liked (very 80's) and I wasn't sure if the picot underwear elastic I was using would have enough stretch to make the suspender belt fit well. Although I have put on weight and am a different shape than I was due to pregnancy, I hoped that I could still make this set fit.

I began working on the bra by french seaming the upper and lower cup pieces together, and then attaching the 2 cups together via the small front piece. Picot elastic was then sewn to the back pieces, which I was pleased to find I had cut a little longer than the original pattern piece, so I am optimistic that I will be able to get it to fit. The rest went together fairly easily following the pattern directions. I added more elastic to the top of the cups instead of using the suggested cup stabiliser, and the bra was done before I knew it!

The fit is surprisingly good considering I cut it out pre-baby, although the cups do have the sort of pointy 80's look to them. Luckily that also works with 50's styles, so I don't really mind. I have not quite managed to complete the suspender belt, but am considering it a win anyway, as the bra and panties can be considered as a complete set without it. Some of the construction is a little rough, and not quite as pretty as I would like, but they are still completely functional, and I think a little cute. At the very least I can consider these a wearable toile for the next time I want to use these patterns and extend my collection of me-made underwear.

Anyone been working on any UFO's or underwear sewing lately?