Oliver and S Sailboat top – version 2

sailboat top girlyHere, come sit.  Let’s talk.  This is a little bit of a sneaky cheater post, as I’ve already posted about this cute little pattern here, but there is something to draw your attention to about this fabric.

oliver and s final top

Also known as “why you should fussy cut”.  Can you see it in the photo below?

oliver and s sailboat top pattern repeat

It’s even more obvious if you extend that little arm out 😦

oliver and s sailboat top extended arm

This fabric is from lincraft, and is a fairly loose weave.  It’s not a linen, but I can’t remember exactly what the fabric style is.  I’ve still got some left, and I’m keen to make some loose summer dresses for next year.  The only problem with this fabric is the print repeat isn’t done very well, and you can clearly see the “blocks” of print on larger pieces.  Some clever cutting might be required if i want to make this into a dress, to either hide it or incorporate it into a design detail.   The break between the patterns is probably a good 1/2″ which make it fairly conspicuous.

oliver and s sailboat shirt lounging about

At the end of the day though, it doesn’t change the comfort factor for the little lady.


Oliver and S – Sailboat pattern top

I am a total sucker for Oliver and S Digital patterns.  Why?  As the kids grow I can just print and cut out new copies of the patterns for their sizes, rather than tracing them.  A little lazy? Yes.  The pattern pieces are all so small that it doesn’t take that long to tape up the PDF.

Oliver & S sailboat shirt

The top was so cute I cut out two before actually testing if they fit.  High risk?  A little.


The first fabric is a quilting cotton, which I couldn’t resist with all the animals.  I think it was from Lincraft as I had a gift voucher, and very few fabrics took my eye in that particular store.  Rarely do I make clothes out of quilting cotton, but R is all about the animals at the moment.  In fact, today I learnt that Camels raaaaw! and elephants like eating strawberries.  Toddlers are a wealth of information.

Oliver and S rawwwr


I think this was a straight size two without any alterations.  It fits really well, even as she’s a skinny kid with a large melon, the buttons on both sides of the neckline make it easy to get over her head, and the fit is designed to be fairly slim which is nice.

Oliver and S Sailboat top back detail


Top stitching the facing wasn’t as tricky as I expected, and this top was actually a much quicker make than I expected. The thing that made it so easy? A measuring gauge.   The tricky thing about Oliver and S patterns is they have so much detail, and if hems and top stitching are a little wonky, due to the tiny size of the garments it really shows up and can make them look homemade.  Using a seam measuring gauge ensures that I am pressing half inch and one inch seams, and it makes a big difference.

The only deviation from the instructions is they will have you sew up the sleeve, then press the sleeve hem in and then sew.  I find it quite a pernickity job on such tiny sleeves, so I press the sleeve hem in while the sleeve is flat, then pin together, sew the sleeve length and overlock it.  I then press the seam allowance to one side and do a small amount of top stitiching to keep the seam allowance flat.  It’s a detail often seen in RTW clothes, and it’s just easier in my opinion.  Probably wouldn’t do it on adult clothes, but for kids it’s perfect.

oliver and s sailboat top

Seam detail inside the sleeve

Oliver and s sailboat top

Topstitching on sleeve

Future learnings

The instructions are comprehensive, but even still I find that the concept of this being a beginner pattern a little baffling.  Many beginner sewers really have not used interfacing, done buttonholes or done topstitching.  This would be an advanced beginner pattern in my opinion, as the skill set of beginners now is very low, as opposed to the 1960’s when textiles was still taught thoroughly at school.

I always take Oliver and S their scizzor rating of patterns with a little bit of scepticism, as I doubt I would bother with a three or four scizzor difficulty rating for something that will be grown out of quickly.  With the exception of the coat.  That’s still good value to sew, as coats are so horrifically expensive to buy.

Will I sew it again?  Well, the pattern came with three variations, and I’ve got three blog posts for this pattern*.

*In theory.  Only the tops have so far been finished – so it might be 2015 before you see the rest.

Oliver & S lazy days skirt

If you haven’t seen the photo bombing baby, you might not have seen my photo bombing dogs. If you’re lucky, sometimes I get all three in one photo!

The baby LOVES dogs. So much so, she often insists on wearing her doggy t-shirt in cold weather.

To ease some of the wear on her tshirt, I decided to please the little mite with some more puppy based clothing.

This is a quilting cotton I picked up for GJs discount fabric after social sewing one week, with some black ribbon and waistband elastic we were good to go.20130817-195823.jpg

This is seriously one of my fastest makes ever. Using the free lazy days skirt pattern from Oliver & S, the most difficult part was getting the toddler to stand still to measure her waist.

The only change I made to construction was to hem the skirt first with the ribbon, prior to any waist or side seam shenanigans. I tried to get some action shots, however little miss was a little too busy raiding the drawers. Apparently tea cosy’s closely resemble hats. Who knew?



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!!!)


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…..




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 🙂

Oliver and S Patterns

Anyone else in love with the new patterns released by Oliver and S? I’m in love with the Field trip cargo pants, and think they will be great stash busters as they have quilting cottons in mind for the pants.  While I didn’t take part in kids clothing week, I did finish up 5 little frog raglan tops.  I initially just bought the pattern for the pants, BUT GOSH I LOVE THIS TEE.  Seriously, if Oliver and S packaged up the tee in sizes 12m to 8yrs (instead of two size ranges for the top and pants combo) I would pay the $15 for the tee pattern alone.


Ages ago I mentioned how there weren’t many ‘everyday’ patterns but this certainly fits this profile. Unisex and simple to sew, these are the best kids pants, also as with the separate knee areas you can reinforce that section of the pants, without the bulk.  I’ve omitted the pocket on all the t-shirts, as to be honest it’s a cute detail but a time consuming one.  It’s all about the production line around here at the moment.  Cutting and sewing 5 at a time is much faster.

Oliver and S Field trip raglan top and pants

These are sized 12-18m for our best bud B, and are suitably manly.  I bought the pattern with the intention of bulk sewing lots of new clothes for his birthday, and while I’ve been a bit naughty and only made the t-shirt so far I do have 3 pairs of pants cut out ready to sew.  Any day now.  So B has 4 froggy shirts, and R has the one where I accidentally snipped a notch too deep around the neckline.  One day, I’ll get a picture of them all matchy matchy.  These two are a week apart, and they most certainly have an arranged marriage.


Oliver and S Field trip cargo pants and raglan t-shirt.  I love Oliver and S patterns, and they are worth every dollar.  The t-shirt is super fast to cut and whip up, and I’ll be making lots of these in the future.  As an electronic pattern, it’s great as I’ll just re-print each time I need to cut out a new bigger size as the kids grow.  For the time it takes, I can make B and R lots of matching tops probably faster than going and shopping for them (for those sans kids – it can take ages to go anywhere let along achieve anything).  I’m tempted to try a raglan tee pattern for me now!


The frog knit is from the local op shop, it’s quite good quality as far as I can tell and was $4 for 2 metres.  I’ve only used about half of it so far, so I’ll probably whip up another 5 as they will be great shirts for daycare.  The sleeves are a japanese knit from Spotlight, at $15 a metre it was disappointing to see the edges curling up after a wash.  Still, it was beautiful to sew.


These were cut out using a rotary cutter and mat, which makes cutting out knits a breeze.  The key is having a new sharp blade, as any snags will pull the fabric out off grain.  All the seams were done on the overlockers, which again made it SO FAST.  I sewed all 5 up in a after work quick session.  The sleeves and waist finish were done with a twin needle on my sewing machine.  It’s interesting how daunting these concepts were to me a few short months ago, and now I can’t imagine ever not using it.  Twin needles are SO easy.  If you aren’t sure people, buy a twin needle off the internet, and just TRY.  I might do a complete post about this at a later stage.


Right, I have accepted the fact my bag has a large melon and skinny little limbs. Next time on all patterns, I’m cutting at least the next size up for the neckline, and maybe grade down a size for her skinny little arms and belly.  Funny shaped baby.  I’ll have to see what the fit is like for B, he looks like model size.

Any suggestions on how to get better photos of wriggly babies by the way?


Beginner sewing plan – everything but the pants

It’s been three months now, so how is my beginner sewing plan going?  I set out to make 9 specific patterns to practise my beginner sewing skills, through a range of patterns and fabrics.


Heidi and Finn hoodie
Heidi and Finn Cowl Dress

Still to go

Stretch top ( I made one but it was rubbish…..)
New Look skirt (In progress)
Jenny skirt (did make a similar style pencil skirt…yet to be blogged)
McCalls Dress

What else have I made?

4 Oliver and S sets of Pyjamas
Oliver and S popover dress
McCalls skirt 
McCalls Blouse muslin

What have I learnt from all this?  The biggest obstacle to my sewing was my not understanding the full capabilities of my sewing machine, and the variation of settings, and remembering to change them all back again when I’m done….  Sewing with Knits was much easier than previous attempts as I learnt how my machine responded to a variety of knits.  By forcing myself to try a range of knits close together, I’ve found that I could quickly troubleshoot when things went askew.

Interestingly, the biggest thing I have learnt is not to rely on the sewing pattern (for most brands) for helping me achieve the best finish of the garment.  Sure, it might be assembled correctly, but really sitting and making decisions about how to do my seam finishes and other details before I started cutting/sewing makes a huge different.  Not waiting until I get to the line “and now finish your seams” to make a decision.  By thinking about the fabric first, and then the pattern instructions I’ve got a clear idea of what seam finishes might look best, whether I need to change anything before cutting out, if I should do extra stay-stitching, understitching..do I want to line the garment?  Underline, interline, there are just SO many choices.  Should I hand stitch the hem, machine stitch, stitch to the underlining, or maybe even finish the seam with bias binding?  It seems I make so many versions of the same pattern until I’m really happy with the final result.

So really, beginner patterns can become intermediate patterns as there are so many ways you can improve/change them to suit your preferences and skill level.  I think I have a long way to go, and I’m going to keep practising my skills of sewing before I even get to big fitting issues.  No more quick fixes here, these are going to be quality garments!

Now, I realise that there aren’t any pants in the beginner sewing plan.  Obviously the Thurlow pants were not out by then!  I’m sure I might sneak in a pair….But after a cambie, I’m dying for some new pants…

Oliver and S Bedtime Story PJ’s (v.2)

Also known as the version there wasn’t quite enough fabric for the sleeves.  Or binding.

Sometimes don’t you find a pattern that is just so easy and has such a satisfying result that you make it over and over again?  After slowly putting one together, this one was a cinch and was done in easily 1/3 of the time.  With the price of flannelette being so low ($4.99 at spotlight) last weekend I bought another 2 metres.  Which turned into versions 3 and 4.

It’s interesting however when you don’t have enough fabric how creative you can get.  There was an article in the weekend Age newspaper about a couple who renovated their house, but outside their new sliding back door was… a swimming pool.  Instead of pulling out the swimming pool, they built a bridge from the house to the backgarden over their pool, creating an amazing feature and talking point for the house.  That and technically the house has a moat, which is cool in it’s own right.  The point of all this is sometimes being forced into a bind can make something more gorgeous.  Now this is no bridge over a pool, but the shortage of fabric meant I had to twist and turn the pattern pieces to get them all on the remaining handprint fabric.

The result?  The neckband is three pieces of fabric pieced together, the ties and leg bindings match, and in proper kimono style the lower part of the sleeves is a contrasting fabric.  Wouldn’t it be amazing some of the things we could make if we tried this more often?