Disparate disciplines – the summercrisp skirt

For those following Mari of disparate disciplines, you might have seen the new release of her skirt pattern, the Summercrisp skirt.

20130706-182623.jpgLucky me was given the opportunity to pattern test the wrap skirt, and while I was quite sceptical about how much I would wear this skirt, it turns out to be very wearable (more in summer than winter for this version).  Also, Mari does an amazing job on the tiling of the pdf pattern, so you only have to print out page ranges for your version.  It’s SUPER convenient.

The shaping of the pattern is quite clever with one side veering up interestingly, however it was a little shorter than I was expecting. Being at the side hasn’t limited it’s wearability as much as expected.20130706-182639.jpg

The pattern could be quite simple, so of course I added crazy details, like lining it, using my snazzy rolled hem foot and generally making it from two of the most PITA fabrics of all time.  They were stash gifts, and beautiful, soft and shifty.  Therefore also really annoying to sew.

While trying to photograph the skirt I was repeatedly photobombed, so hence all of the photos I’ve lifted the troublemaker out of the way. It’s becoming a recurring theme.  Also, I realise I should have moved the bin – however it’s winter.  Too bloody freezing to do anything but bolt out the back door, snap and move right back in.

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Fabric

The top layer is a synthetic chiffon or something similar, it definitely a light summer blouse fabric, however being synthetic I was reluctant to use it for a blouse.  I’ve still got a few yard left, so perhaps it’s too early to rule that out.  It washed up lovely, and doesn’t tend to fray.

The lining is a cream satin like fabric, which does tend to fray.  *sigh*.  After washing this skirt, I’ve got to go back and fix some of the lining where it has frayed a little, it doesn’t seem to like the washing machine.

This pattern is suited to lightweight fabrics, and for summertime options I actually think a lightweight linen could be lovely.  It’s really designed for knits, but as a beginner option I feel most beginner might shy away from using a knit.

Fit

As mentioned above, the skirt was a little shorter than I expected at the sides, but it’s still totally wearable to the office.  It swishes around beautifully and I haven’t found it flies up unexpectedly.

Techniques

As a beginner pattern, this really is one that has a bare minimum of techniques.  If you sewed it with a lightweight cotton and pre-made bias tape, it really doesn’t get any easier.  I sewed two, with linings and rolled hems and all sorts of craziness (bias bound seams on a wool version) and it was still a quick and simple make.

Future learnings

While this is a great pattern for beginners, and I enjoyed making it and it looks lovely, it isn’t what jumps to my hand as I’m getting dressed in the morning.  I’ve got to stop sewing so much summer clothing!  As the weather warms up I think it will get much more use, however I really didn’t think about this version, the colours and “layerability”.  It looks a little funny with black tights and boots, and so while very comfortable and wearable, it’s also going to be shelved until the spring.

Also, rolled hems are SUPER EASY with a rolled hem foot.  Why did I not order my sewing machine foot before the sewcietea dress?  WHY??????

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Oliver & S Bedtime story pjs (again)

This is truly turning out to be one of my tried and true patterns. The lovely Bedtime story pjs might be an autumn project each year.  Here’s my previous post/review (also how big has she grown in a year!!!)

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To save time, I cut out 4 of the pattern at once, two in blue and two in pink dots, using up 6 yards of flannel fabric from fabric.com.  It was quite the little construction line, (and I was feeling considerably smug), until the flannel bested the serger.  The poor serger has possibly never seen such a workout before, and in the face of innumerable tiny little seams the blades dulled and the timing disappeared.  It would not sew.

Luckily I didn’t force the issue, as that would have significantly increased the cost from servicing, to full on repair job.  However, all efficiency was lost as the serger sat in the repair shop for two weeks 😦

When finally the serger did return, I played around with a few waistband options, with having the threaded through elastic casing, a stitched down elastic (using fehr trade’s method), and even doing encased elastic at the back, with ribbon ties at the front. This is probably the best method for adjustability, but technically difficult to execute a bow on a tired wiggly toddler.

My biggest problem now is my daughter LOVES these pj’s, and in the morning wraps her arms around herself so I can’t take her pj top off. The levels of subterfuge, bribery and drama to get her dressed in the morning…..

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Sorry for the model and the blurriness, she just wouldn’t sit still, or smile, or generally co-operate.  Look on the bright side, you just have to be frustrated by a picture of the model.  I’ve got to deal with trying to convince this crazy haired monster to eat.

So while I’ve been a bit MIA, it’s due to being busy sewing!  (and pretty much ALL unselfish sewing).

See?  I knew you wouldn’t mind.  The next few projects will come dribbling through in the next few weeks 🙂

FO : Maria Denmark Day to Night top

Over the christmas break I went a little MIA from both the internet and my sewing room.  Finishing up at work on the 21st, I was at home until the 14th of January, so that should have been heaps of time to sew.  Right?

After loving the Kirsten Kimono Tee, I joined forces with the tweeters to pester Maria Denmark to release the Day to Night top after seeing a sneak preview on twitter.

Maria Denmark day to night top

In the week around Christmas, I greedily used every nap time and bed time to cut out all the glorious things I would sew.  And the Maria Denmark day to night top was one of them.  With a little bit of this cotton/rayon blend jersey left, I wondered if I could eek out another Kirsten kimono blouse AND the day to night top.  (The correct answer is yes, and I possibly could have cut out four tops if initially I had cut responsibly).

I spent AGES laying the pattern pieces out to get the four pattern pieces to fit, and then to fold the fabric on the grain.  Right, so picture my fabric folded up all neatly, with all my pattern pieces sitting perfectly on their respective folds on the floor.  I get halfway through cutting out, literally half way through one piece and the baby wakes up.  I duly attend to her needs, and pop her with Daddy so I could just spend 5 minutes to finish cutting out.  AND CAT-TASTROPHE.  This MONSTER has decided to play and roll about on my fabric.

Charlie, destroyer

Anyway, to cut a very long story short, the cat survived, I rescued my fabric and it probably ended up a smidge off grain.  The initial story was how I had the week of cutting out fabric, remember?  My sewing got hijacked by two weeks of DIY.

Tragically, sunflower yellow walls, burgundy trim and green cupboards that were the lovely stylings of our home were not quite our taste.  Variations of white on white on white?  Yesssss please.  In honour of my long arduous hours of sanding, paint stripping, priming and painting (which are still to be completed, there is a whole lot of gloss paint destined for those skirting boards, and doors to be hung), my newly completed day to night top has been photographed in the newly painted hallway and study.

Back view

Fit

Very comfortable.  This top is drafted without any seam allowances, (and I forgot to add them) and it fit beautifully, so for my personal preference for this top, this seems to be the right way to remove a tiny bit of design ease.   I am thinking I need to start doing sway back adjustments on my tops, there always is that pooling sitting there.  It’s an easy adjustment to ignore, as most the time I can’t see it.

The cowl drapes nicely, but can dip a little low at times.  Then again maybe I’m just getting more conservative.  Or, maybe I didn’t read the instructions right and missed something.  I won’t rule that out.  Ever.

Maria Denmark day to night top

Bend safe check

Fabric

This is the same fabric that I used for my Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee (what a mouthful!), blogged about here, managing two kimono tees AND a day to night top out of this.   Not bad for 2.1 metres and a grand total of $8.10.  Jealous much?

lovely soft knit fabric easy to sew

Techniques

The construction of this blouse is quite straight forward, with side seams serged, the back neckline finished with elastic and the hems/arms done with a twin needle.  The twin needling needs a bit of a press in this photo.  The really neat thing about this pattern is how the cowl is folded and sewn into the shoulder seam.  It’s a nice detail and finishes the top well.

maria denmark day to night top

Future lessons

This top needs a fabric that won’t relax so much during the day as the cowl got a little more daring as the day progressed.  By 5pm at work, if the cowl dipped at the right angle it showed a little bra.  Just a little hint.  Which doesn’t bother me at work but a little more at playgroup.   All said, I’m really tempted to try and combine this top with the tiramisu waistband and skirt, a kind of take on SewbusyLizzy’s sewing dare, which is the day to night top as a dress!

FO : Maria Denmark kirsten kimono blouse

The real test of how much you love an item of clothing for me, is if it ever makes it to the wardrobe.  This top get pinched out of the washing basket and worn again before being folded and put away.  Admittedly, my washing does occasionally linger in the washing basket, but who wants to be folding clothes when they can be sewing?

knit fabric

Sewbusylizzy is a big supporter of Maria Denmark patterns, and after hearing about them so much on twitter, I decided to go the low commitment route and try her free pattern, the kimono blouse.  This was a pattern that I expected to never wear, as it’s completely unlike any of my other tops.  It fit perfectly with only a small grading between sizes as a lazy bust adjustment.

I named this one of my top 5 favourite patterns of the year as it goes with everything.  I wear it to work under a suit, with jeans or a skirt for days at home and at playgroup.  It’s amazing with with the heat wave we’ve been having as it just skims over your body.

Maria Denmark Kimono top

Fit

Perfect.  This top is drafted without any seam allowances, (and I forgot to add them) and it fit beautifully, so for my personal preference for this top, this seems to be the right way to remove a tiny bit of design ease.

Fabric

This is a cotton/rayon blend from GJ’s fabrics on Lygon St Melbourne.  It was a quick remnant table find, and was a bargain.  I really shouldn’t tell you where it was from in case there is any more left to buy.  IT’S MINE.  In EVERY COLOURWAY.  I managed to squeeze another two tops out of the remnant.  That’s how much I love it, and the tiny slivers of offcuts are holding my tomatoes to stakes.  So also a great gardening fabric.

lovely soft knit fabric easy to sew

Techniques

Time for a small confession here.  I didn’t follow the instructions at all, I did faux twin needling and was amazingly lazy in every conceivable way.  I serged up the sides, and used steam a seam on the neckline, hemline and sleeves before doing my shocking faux twin needling as my twin needle needed replacing.  At least I used a stretch needle!  The neckline stretches out by the end of the day, so really Maria has it right and I’ll be using stretch elastic next time.  Promise.

Future lessons

The finish on this would have more professional if I had made it as per the instructions.  While I can often sub in techniques, it doesn’t make them better.  A little knowledge can be very dangerous!

You can download this pattern either at Craftsy or at Maria’s website, ShopOnion.  There is a rumour on the internet that Maria will be releasing printed patterns this year… Very excited!

Heidi & Finn Cowl neck dress

Part of learning to sew knits I decided to try the Heidi and Finn Cowl neck dress pattern.  I’d seen some lovely dresses on ModelMumma‘s blog, and was keen to give them a try.  It’s a very basic beginners sewing pattern.  This was my WIP project which I sent a picture of to DidYouMakeThat last week.  It was fun trying to work out what everyone was sewing!

Baby dress sewing pattern knit

As a note to slightly clueless parents like myself – cowl necks catch baby drool.  It’s gross, and very damp.  Maybe more of a pattern for children that can walk and keep their slobber to themselves.  Oh yeah, and dresses are for those that can walk.

It’s pretty cute on, and very fast to sew.  Will be be a favourite?  Probably not.  Will it be a stash-busting childcare outfit?  Definitely.

Fit 

I’m a little underwhelmed by this pattern, it’s very basic, not very interesting and still the instructions to put the cowl neck in are not as clear as they could have been.  The finished result is nice, but the arms were much too long and the neckline was too small (and I cut a larger size than needed) and is difficult to get over her head.  This would be remedied by using a very stretchy knit, but even still I consider it to be too small.   Big disclaimer here, I also had this problem with the Heidi and Finn Hoodie, so either their sizing is a bit off, or my baby has a giant melon head.  Anyone else had similar issues?

Fabric

Nothing too interesting, a pale pink interlock from Darn Cheap fabrics in Heidelberg, $7 per metre and this was made from the offcuts of my renfrew.

Technique

Honestly after making the Hoodie, and the Sewaholic Renfrew this has no revelations.  If you have sewn a renfrew before, it might be worthwhile self-drafting a new collar in a similar shape, as a shaped cowl drapes much better than the rectangle.

Future lessons

I’m not in love with the pattern, but it is quick to cut out and sew which could make it a brilliant stash buster.  The real win here for me is the fact I can cut out a renfrew for me, and a dress for her out of 2m of fabric.  STASH BUSTER.  The finish of sleeves and hems on childrens garments are really important, as kids roll up their sleeve and run about generally exposing more of the internal workings of  garment than an adult.  Next time I’m going to really finish those seams nicely.  Hopefully by then I’ll have my grubby little mitts on my mother’s overlocker…..

Oliver + S Bedtime story Pyjamas

Ages ago I desperately wanted to make some of the gorgeous Oliver + S Bedtime Story Pyjamas, but everywhere had sold out of the pattern. So when Oliver + S started re-releasing their sold out lines as digital patterns, well, here we are.

Constructing the digital pattern (as in taping the paper together) was slightly confusing – but I neglected the instructions as I cavalierly though “How hard could it be?”. Read the instructions. Please.

The Pj’s (For such a simple construction) took longer than I expected to make, but that was purely due to the amazing detail the in the instructions. Every step is broken down and is very clear, a perfect beginners instruction. There was only one point when I was a little puzzled, but when I just stopped trying to understand and laid the fabric out the diagram suddenly made sense.

Fit

The sizing on these might be a little tight if you have a really chubby baby as this is the 12-18 month size and my daughter is 10 months old. There is plenty of room left to grow in the kimono jacket, and the way it ties up it will fit for a very long time. The pants however fit nicely now, but that is over a modern cloth nappy. It really depends how chubby the babies thighs are. Overall, I’m super happy with them.

Fabric**

This lovely flannelette was a gift from a friend, and there was just enough to cut nearly two pairs of PJ’s. What I realised after finishing them is there is a fabric fault that runs right down the leg of the pants, on the front right leg. This photo shows it pretty well. Flannelette is just so easy to sew, however it frays in the wash so all the seams are finished with the zig zag stitch. Might pick up some fray block.

Techniques

This is a beginner pattern, and while no techniques were new, it walked you through “best practice”. The way the ties are inserted on the kimono top is beautiful. Previously I would have folded the bias tape end in on itself, then over the exposed seam, then wiggled the tie in. Oliver & S walks you through perfectly. Sometimes I couldn’t visualise/understand what they were trying to get me to do until I just followed the instructions and did it.
This is definitely the most professional looking item I’ve made, aside from the seam finishes.

Future learnings

Wash your hand before touching white fabric. Everytime. This fabric is fun, but gets grubby very easily. Any pin pricks and you need to get a band-aid immediately. Oliver and S really step things out for you, so some of their more “complex” patterns are going to be on the agenda, as their instructions are such good quality it would be difficult to err. However this assumption is on the basis that all their instructions are this clear.

**Note about scary fire tags in kids PJ’s – Commercially made children’s pyjamas are usually treated with flame retardants for safety. However as my child does not sleep near and open fire, candle, or heater of any kind, I’m happy using cotton fibres. Why? Man made fibres such as polyester melt into the skin. There is a trade off here. Cotton is fairly flammable and if you did catch a sleeve near a candle it would catch fire, but synthetic fibres are crazy melty. Just be aware of this if you do have an open fire your kid sits at. You can probably buy fabric treated with flame retardants, but idk where. Also hippies claim we’re getting sterile/cancer/allergies from the chemicals. I also know nothing about that.

The prudent baby inspired oliver + s up cycled t-shirt dress

Did a little bit of cheating this weekend. Instead of dealing with UFO’s or my beginner sewing plan, there was inspiration from Prudent baby for a upcycled dress. Looking for a little more stability along the chest and back (as bub will still be quite small in summer) I used the Oliver & S popover dress from the magazine SewHip.

The popover dress is marked as intermediate, but in my opinion it’s an amazing beginners pattern. It doesn’t get much easier than this. In cutting it out of a knit I added a little more width at the top and did some gentle gathers which gives it a little interest.

Realizing as a mum some of my old tees make me look like the babysitter, it was time to refashion them.  This black tee had fun pink embroidery of a Unicorn, and even if it makes baby look a little emo I loved that tee.

The binding and neck and back yokes are from an old apron from my bartending days. The sturdy black twill was perfect.  Anything of decent fabric that has outlived it’s use in our house goes into a special drawer of fabric.  The bottom drawer is full of old jeans and dresses.

Now I’m really eyeing everything off to see what I can refashion.  BUT I need to get back on track with my sewing plan.