Patterns from SewCranky

Valerie from SewCranky kindly for her birthday gave away a present to someone else..and luckily for me, it was me!  In this lovely birthday package was the Singer sewing guide, vintage buttons and some lovely vintage patterns.

In a strange turn, I very much have fallen in love with the kaftan pattern.  While it won’t be as flattering on me as the pattern envelope suggests, it sure will be comfortable!  It’s quite trendy these days for kids to have towelling hooded gowns JUST LIKE THIS KAFTAN.  I’m now on the lookout for some well priced towelling as this baby takes about 5 metres of fabric. The beautiful gem here is the 1963 Mc’Calls Misses’ suits and blouse.  Isn’t it gorgeous? 1963 sewing pattern suit To ensure I’m still sticking to my sewing plan so only the skirt will get made at this stage.  The  skirt is a nicely shaped simple pencil skirt, which could take place of the Burda Jenny skirt.  I’ve drafted up a muslin already but unfortunately one of the pieces didn’t fit on the fabric, so one piece had to be cut out on cross grain instead of the straight grain. The detail on this pattern is lovely, the lining of the jacket matches the blouse and the pattern layout implies you will be making all three items.  This is an ensemble people.

What has been really fun is trying new ways to pattern trace.  Previously I’ve always traced from a pattern onto a 10m roll of tracing paper from Tessuti in Melbourne, but I’m going to try out tracing onto muslin with dressmakers carbon paper, and also sewing using swedish tracing paper.

Does anyone have an aussie supplier of giant sheets of dressmakers carbon paper?

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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?

Sewaholic Renfrew

**Total disclaimer, I sell sewaholic patterns on http://www.sewsquirrel.com.au so am completely biased.  On an interesting note this is the pattern that made me start selling sewing patterns online.  I HATE having to order things from overseas and wait, and sometimes trying to source independent patterns in Australia is painful.**

This week I sewed (finally) my first Renfrew, using the cowl neck 3/4 sleeve versions.  And I loved it.  This pattern was fast to construct, so fast that I think I’ll go and buy a few metres of different colour knits and sew up a storm in an afternoon and have a half a new wardrobe.  Or at least 3 Renfrews.  What took the longest amount of time while sewing was deciding how to finish the seams.  Actually what took the longest was unpicking the stupid stitching with a twin needle I did around the arm and then unpicking the arm as I sewed it while tired and stretched the seams.

I followed the Lladybird method of grading between sizes to get a full bust adjustment, but it’s just not enough.  Looking at the front the sleeves are really pulled out of shape and there are folds of fabric running from the sleeve to the bust apex. The bust is a size 12, with the rest of the top a size 10 as being a knit there is enough give for the top to be comfortable, and it fits like a knit RTW.  I’m just sick of the trade off between enough boob room and loose everywhere else or really stretched over my chest and hips to have any fitting around my middle.

Fit

The fit aside from the bust is great.  It looks like the fabric pools under the bust as it’s taut only there with the rest of the pattern loose fit.  That little bit of extra space around the hips is welcome, and the waistband helps stop the riding up.  I will lengthen the pattern next time for my long torso, to ensure no back gap between my pants and top.  This pattern is listed as intermediate, however a beginner confident with knit fabric would be able to do a great job.

Fabric

Sewaholic Renfrew Pattern This is a medium weight interlock from Darn Cheap Fabrics in Heidelberg which was $7 a metre.  According to the pattern you need 2.1 metres (2 1/4 yards) for this version, but I bought 2 metres and had enough leftover to cut out a cowl neck dress for my daughter.    Darn Cheap fabrics does sell online, but if they do fabric samples get them first as the fabric quality tends to be either excellent or poor.  The colour looked wrong when I bought it, but I’m pleased with the end result.  Finally managed to buy fabric in a colour I wear, so it was quite amusing how uninspired the colour felt when buying it.

In trying to learn about the types/varieties of knits, it’s well worth buying (or going to the library) and looking at a fabric reference guide.  I used the Fabrics A to Z to work out what would work rather than tugging on every bit of fabric in the store.

Techniques

After practising sewing with knits on 4 baby hoodies I’ve found the combination if techniques that work for my sewing machine.  After reading a wide variety of advice on how to sew knits, the general conclusion is use ballpoint needles, a zigzag stitch (or other stretch stitch) and the rest depends on your sewing machine.  My machine also enjoys having the pressure on the presser foot reduced to 0, twin needle stitching and a hot cup of tea while sewing.   There is still a great deal of improvement to be had in my sewing of knits, but my renfrew was finished well.  If you had an overlocker this would be half an hour of sewing.

It’s worth being pleased with the time it took to sew and the final result if your husband doesn’t realise you made it.  WIN.

Future lessons

A stable knit really works well for this pattern.  I know some people love the super stretchy knits but this has enough give to be comfortable and loose and still look nice.  Any more stretch and I would cut a much smaller size as the pattern is soft around your frame with a stable knit.  The next one I sew will have a FBA adjustment like VickiKateMakes rotating out from the arm, just to get the fit better around the arm.  Will I make more of these?  Of course!

 

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.

DINORAUUUUUURRR

Thanks for the suggestions – a glass of wine was indeed had and everything is back in order – so here is the Heidi and Finn Hoodie version 3 – (a.k.a. the baby dinosaur!).  I’d have liked to model this on the baby, however as I’ve run out of black thread the front is pinned together, which is high risk for babies.  The baby isn’t mobile anyway, so “action shots” consist of variations of sitting.  And by variations I mean changes in flooring.  The sitting is pretty standardised.  Here we go!


This is a combination of the Heidi and Finn hoodie and the dinosaur tutorial circling the interwebs (and it’s so awesome how could it not) from here, here and then here.  Adding the little scales was super easy, and used up some red felt that is usually just used for tongues on stuffed animals.  Toy tongues are tiny, so there was shedloads left just dying to be used up.  If you’re wondering how much felt I needed for this, it was about half an A4 sheet and it’s a size 0 hoodie.

The hoodie just needs topstitching along the seams and down the front and a button sewn in, however I’ve run out of black thread.  Seriously.  I ran out of neutral thread earlier this week, swapped projects, walked 2km in the rain with the baby to get more, and then get home to realise I need more of the black.  *sigh*  It wouldn’t be a problem except, as you may very well know it’s rude to go to a fabric store and not buy fabric.  TRAGEDY.

This being the third in the series of baby hoodies, I’ve finally jigged the fabric and the techniques to get the desired results.  It’s not quite RTW quality, but that’s more due to not having an overlocker and some of the internal seams not as pretty as I’d like.  Some of the seams look a little wobbly at the moment but they just need a press and to be topstitched and they’ll look great.    The fabric is a jersey with approx. 50% stretch from Darn Cheap Fabrics in Heidelberg, with the lining being an interlock with approx 25%, with the waistband and sleeve bands also being the jersey.  In theory it shouldn’t work very well mixing the two fabrics, but so far the interlock gives it a bit of stability and holds a nice shape.  It might not wash up very well depending on how slack the jersey may go in the wash.  The only reason I mixed the two was I had interlock offcuts, and I was curious.  The fourth hoodie (yes, there is a fourth planned – kiddo is going to childcare a few days a week soon) is jersey outer and inner.  The comparison between the two will be interesting.

The ways I’ve altered the assembly of the hoodie

Sewing the lining and outer together (with right sides facing), flipping it inside out then attaching the waistband makes for a very bulky seam, that then needs to be topstitched down.  Instead I sewed the side seams together, then flipped it inside out.  Then on the right side I topstitched down one seam, changed to a long basting stitch along the bottom (sewing the outer and the lining wrong sides together) then as I hit the corner changed back to topstitching up the other side seam.  Once the front is then topstitched creating the overlap of the front panels I added the waistband.

I also changed the waistband and armband widths.  When you look at a normal jumper with waistbands and armbands they are slightly smaller than the arms/torso of the jumper.  By cutting them 10% shorter and gently stretching the arm band as you sew it to the jumper this gives you the narrower bands around your wrist.  It’s funny how you never think about why jumpers have arm bands and waistbands until you sew one.  This only really works with knits with a reasonable amount of stretch.  It wouldn’t work with the fleece unless you used a co-ordinating rib knit.

Interfacing where the buttonhole will be, just for a little extra stability in the buttonhole.  I cut a small piece about 3″x1.5″ and applied it to the wrong side of the lining.

The topstitching was done with a twin needle, which if you haven’t tried one is actually super easy.  Or is on my sewing machine.  It gives a little stretch as the bobbin does a zigzag pattern on the underside, but best of all the double lines is a bit visually deceptive and your stitching looks straighter.  As you subconsciously compare a line of stitching to the closest parallel line the twin needle is a winner.

Is it wrong to want one of these for yourself?

The Heidi and Finn hoodie (v.1 and v.2)

One of the items I want more of for myself, which is hoodies! Yes, very couture, but it’s winter here in Melbourne and warm is good. Unfortunately the hoodie pattern is still elluding me, but in the meantime the practice garment is the cute Heidi and Finn hoodie!  So far two hoodies have been made, one in size 6m to 12m, and one 18m  (the one with the pink lining).

The pattern isn’t the most professional looking, however for a beginners pattern it’s a good thing. The directions have colour photos, and for an absolute beginner the lack of technical terms would make this simple. The grainlines aren’t marked, you cut it out in the direction of the ‘stretch’.  I would absolutely recommend this as a learn to sew item.

Heidi and Finn hoodie (image from Heidi and Finn Etsy shop)

However, there are a couple of things I would change. From the picture it looks like a fleece hoodie right? It’s t-shirt material, so if you want to use something with limited stretch you need to cut it a size larger. Which it does say in the instructions, but then you need to omit the cuffs as the arms won’t fit, so really you need a larger size bodice and hood, but to use the smaller lengths. After cutting both sizes, the one that now fits around R’s body is too long and the collar hits her in the face.

While I wouldn’t think a fit issue that’s my fault (for fabric choice) would be worth mentioning- however as it’s a jumper so I expected to use jumper material for warmth.

The only other issue is how you attach the binding down the bottom of the hoodie. The pattern has you sew the lining and fabric together, turn right side, topstitch out THEN attach the band. You end up attaching the band to a bulky enclosed top stitched seam. Why?  The next one (version 3) that I make, we will be skipping some of that. It makes little sense especially if you had an overlocker to use.

My Heidi and Finn hoodie version 1

Side view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is version 1 of the hoodie, which is a fleece cut in size 6-12m. Little podgy bubba doesn’t fit in it with the limited stretch, so I’ve taken the bottom band off completely and unstitched the topstitching below the buttons. It’s more like a fleece coat now, but it fits.

This is version 2 of the hoodie, same fleece but cut a size larger.

Fit
The fit is fine for fabrics with lots of stretch, but a little snug for a fleece. The instructions recommend just cutting a size larger, but the sleeves are then HORRIFICALLY long.
Fabric
Fleece is lovely and easy to sew. A little bulky on some seams, but the old singer handled it fine. It’s also beautifully easy to cut the pattern on grain correctly if you cut on the right side.
Techniques
Ahhh, practicing topstitching was a key feature of this pattern and buttonholing. I’ve been using the completely machine method as per the 1980’s Readers digest guide to sewing (pre-fancy pants automatic buttonhole attachments). They came out ok however for the next hoodie I’ll stabilise the buttonholes.
Future learnings
There is a few. Let’s make a list shall we?
1.  I love Heidi and Finn patterns and would love to see these done up a bit more professionally (tech drawings etc) and being available as a paper pattern.
2.  The next one I make will have more stretch and probably fit better.  Fingers crossed!
3.   I’ll rearrange some of the construction steps (I.E. putting the buttonholes in before topstitching is easier).
4.  Small babies don’t like having jumpers being pulled over their heads.  Or maybe just mine.  When she can put her own jumper on there will be 20 of these made.

Five tips for beginner garment sewing

Going back and relearning the basics, it’s interesting the things that I do now that make sewing easier and faster compared to my first attempts at sewing.  Want to know what they are?  Got better tips and tricks?

1.  Cutting out your fabric.

Pinning your patterns pieces and using scizzors to cut them meant my first garments had odd seams.  What do I mean by odd? Slightly wavvy, never matching up exactly and very imprecise.  The best way (and admittedly, having done quilting I already had the supplies which made this simple to try) is using weights on the pattern pieces and using my rotary cutter and quilting mat to cut out the pieces.  That way the fabric never moves, it’s much faster and accuracy is guaranteed!  The only downside for this is making sure you have a mat big enough to cut your pieces without having to move the fabric.

***Hint to husband if you’re reading this – Lincraft has a giant mat on sale and it’s only $99.  AND my birthday is soon.  Just saying.***

2.  Cutting out your pattern pieces.

DON’T CUT YOUR ORIGINAL PATTERN!  Trace it.  Yes, it is a total pain in the a**e to do, but odds are you will not cut the right size, or years later you want to make another item from your original pattern and you’ve changed a dress size.  If you want to make any pattern alterations as well this means you can cut/stickytape/draw all over your traced item.  I also hang my traced pieces up in my sewing cupboard which means if they do still fit and I want to make another, it’s already out, flat and ready to go.  If you have the option, buy proper tracing paper.  I bought mine from Tessuti in Melbourne and it was maybe $15 for 10 metres?  It’s on a wide roll and it’s taken me two years to use all of it.

3.  Use a basting stitch if you’re not quite sure about a seam

Sometimes if you’re sewing a tricky thing, maybe a zip, a sleeve, a pocket.  Something you’re struggling with and a little worried about the final result, pin it, then sew the seam with a long straight stitch length like 4 just inside the seam allowance.  For example if your seam allowance is 5/8, sew at 1/2.    This way you can see if it’s puckered or wavvy and unpick it quickly if you’re not happy.  If it looks good then sew the proper seam again at 5/8 and it’s a perfect job.  The other benefit, is sometimes using pins the fabric can shift and move a little.  With a long basting stitch you can massage the fabric a little and then sew.  I prefer to do this on inset sleeves and I get less puckering.   Did I mention I hate unpicking?

4.  If you’re doing lots of sewing, get your bobbins prepared.

You’re halfway down a long seam and BAM.  Bobbin has run out.  Don’t waste time then unthreading, winding your bobbin, rethreading.  Be organised and BEFORE you start fill up two bobbins with your thread, and maybe even more if it is a colour you will sew with most of the time.  This is a procrastination eliminator.

5.  Change your sewing needle

This is by far the stupidest mistake I made when I was a novice.  I’d chuck in the towel halfway through sewing as my machine was awful..my stitches were skipping, the thread was breaking…  Anytime now I have a problem with the sewing, I rethread my machine.  Still a problem?  I change the needle.  99% of the time this fixes my problem.  Have you ever seen the IT crowd?  This is the sewing equivalent to turning it off and on again.

Change your needle before you start a new project.  ALWAYS.  A blunt needle only leads to sewing rage.

Do you have any silly mistakes you learnt from?