Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Ridiculous Pirate Franken-Portfolio trousers

Warning - this is a long post, you may want to go and get a cup of tea and a biscuit before reading.

I had Sew Lisette Portfolio trousers (Simplicity 2245) on my summer essentials list. Here is the pattern drawing to show you what they look like. They are supposed to be three quarter length trousers. I started them back in May. The instructions are clear, the pattern is straightforward to follow. I worked away and they came together quickly. Too good to be true? Well, my mistakes are all my own and not down to the pattern design at all, but I tried them on before putting in the zip, they fit fine. Once I had put the zip in, uh-oh, I couldn't actually wear them and breathe out at the same time. Do you see there could be a slight problem here? They fitted fine around the hips, thighs etc , just the waistband was too tight.

So I did the mature and sensible thing...I left them screwed up in a heap down the back of the radiator for a few weeks. Then, deciding I wasn't going to let my work so far go to waste, I fished them out and tried them on again and the top picture. As you can see they are very creased from their sojourn down the back of the radiator. They also have the rough turn up before the nice neat cuff is made. I decided to lower the waist as they were too tight only at the higher part of the waist. So, off came the tabs (which I really really liked), out came the zip (which I had ironically sewn in very neatly for once), off came the waistband. I sewed up the seam where the zip had been. I made the cuffs at the trousers legs and added the tabs that had come from the waist with some nautical buttons from my stash. I liked the tabs too much to lose them.
Nautical button and tab details

Then I made a simple casing at the waist and inserted elastic. But uh-oh, now the waist was just a tiny bit too low. I wore the trousers for half a day but it was no good, too too low. Like builder's derriere low. I could have kept them like that if I wanted to spend my days pulling and twisting up my trousers.

So, taking a deep breath, I unpicked the casing, and ironed it flat. I dug though my fabric stash and found the remains of the blue fabric I had cut the trousers from. I used this to make a new waistband which was basically a long rectangle. I folded it over and inserted elastic. I know elastic waisted trousers are kind of "old lady on a coach trip to Llandudno" but it does mean I can now wear the trousers. And my shirts cover the elastic style faux pas. So maybe sadly higher waisted trousers are not for me, I see many other sewing bloggers looking fabulous in high waisted styles, but think I am going to let them pass me by for now.
Slanted front pocket

So, back to the trouser making, fed up having no pockets in many of my me-made clothes I added a slanted patch pocket to the front, using the pattern shape from the Sew U book by Wendy Mullins. This book is such a great resource as it has different pattern pieces for different pocket shapes and styles so you can quickly pick out what you want to add to an existing project. By this stage I only had a few strips of blue fabric left so I joined two with a centre seam to create enough width for the pocket. (I am hoping the centre pocket seam looks like a deliberate detail, not a make-do measure.) Then I lined the pocket with a lovely pink fabric patterned with sailing ships.
I only have a small piece of this ship fabric from the bin bags of fabric I was given back in February, I loved it so much that I saved it for a lining project like this one. I also cut out a little ship and sewed it into the pocket side seam as a little badge detail. (This is still making me smile!) I am going to try and see if I have enough fabric left to make the pocket for the other side. But for today I wore them with one pocket only - just for testing out purposes of course (nothing to do with impatience).

I think the laborious, drawn out process and seam ripping within this project makes it qualify for Jessica's Ridiculous Challenge. Plus the fact that I have finished with a pair of trousers that make my daughter shout "Ahoy there me hearties" every time she sees the buttons. ("Why you got pirate trousers?" she asked me) And plus the decidedly unstylish elastic waist, something I know my sister will despair of when she sees it.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Yay - finished objects or New/Old School Style

I have been sewing in small pockets of time for the last month, based on my Summer Essentials Sewalong Plan. And finally I have two finished objects to share. Yippeee - it is so nice to have actually been able to finish some things. I don't know what you will think but think both these items have a vintage air to them. Like many other Me-Made Month participants, I identified the need for plain tops in my me-made wardrobe. The top is Simplicity 2259 (again, sorry about that, really must try and find another pattern). It is made from some not-very nice white fabric I found in my bin bags stash. Seriously, it isn't very nice fabric, maybe it is some kind of cotton/poly blend but it is a little stiff and creases quite a lot. I would love to be able to make this top in a nice cotton lawn or cotton pique, but I am trying not to buy new fabrics and to use up the stash, so the not-very-nice fabric it is.

Lace detail

I started making the top back in May hoping to have it finished to wear in Me Made June but other things got in the way. First of all I made a peter pan collar to go on this but I made it wonky and the fabric was so thin it showed all the seams. So that went into the scrap bag. Then, I had a plan to make it with a small box pleat down the front. Then, when I rolled the neck edge and hemmed it, it looked a little clumsy so I covered it up with lace instead.

This was about the only white lace I had in my stash, most of the lace I have is creamy or coffee coloured. I have looked at this piece of lace for ages now (only about three years), wondering how to use it. I like it on this top, and think it gives it a bit of a retro look.
A view without cardigan

The skirt I made from a piece of fabric I also found in my bin bag stash. I love this fabric. It has a barkcloth texture and I am guessing it is 1960s or 50s. Despite washing and hanging out on the line over several days it still has a faint eau-de-musty to it. I kept the skirt really simple, just a rectangle with a casing and elastic for the waist because I was so reluctant to cut into this fabric! I also lined it with a very lightweight leaf patterned fabric a friend passed on to me. This may sound nice but really, believe me, the leaf pattern is old-lady blouse and not in a good way. It does make good lining fabric though.

I had hesitated over making the skirt because I liked the fabric so much. But I rationalised that it is better to give it a new lease of life than be stuck in a cupboard.

The only thing I spent money on in making these two items was the elastic and at some time I would have bought the thread. Plus two pieces of fabric rescued from being hidden away in the cupboard.

Friday, 15 July 2011

A house in house - work in progress

Sometimes I wonder if I am doing things more for my benefit or for Little I's. We have started this ongoing project of making her a wendy house from a large cardboard box. Really it is more of a screen with the front and sides only. Placed in front of her toy kitchen it created a little house. She chose to paint the front pink and purple. She drew the window shapes and I cut them out with my craft knife. She then asked for flowers by the door. Next up, she has asked for a letter box. On sunday we wallpapered the inside of the house. On tuesday we hung a calendar. Next up? Some pictures for the walls.
Oh and some days I have to pass her meals in through the door (after knocking and announcing "It's the Food Lady" of course).
Back with a sewing post soon, I've just got a load of hemming to do. And it has been a busy time with school recently, I added up: two school music concerts, one open afternoon, one sports day, one art exhibition, one open morning. Phew....I will be as relieved as T when the term finishes next week.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Do try this at home

Some kitchen sink type science. I found this here

All you need is:

white vinegar,

washing up liquid,

food colouring,

bicarbonate of soda.

See through containers/glasses are best and if you are as messy as us you need some newspaper. Half fill the glass with vinegar, add a few drops of washing up liquid and food colouring. Then get your little one to add a teaspoon of bicarb, and watch. This kept my eight year old and four year old amused for quite a while. I have been asked to go and buy more supplies today so they can do it again.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Car Booty

Last sunday Little I and I went to a car boot sale held once a month in a very picturesque village near us. We got lots of bargains and if I had been on my own I would have got even more, but once Little I had bought a fairy doll with pink hair she was ready to leave. I haven't photoed the doll or the bag of school uniform I bought for Little Ibut here is the rest of my haul:

A fake leather bag, (£1) I am so fed up with carrying my things in a rucksack! I have plans to make a bag one day.
A light up globe (and it works)

A set of play scales with weights. T and I have wanted one of these for ages, so when the lady selling them said "£2" I was jumping up and down with glee inside.

Embroidery threads - how many lovely colours?

Yellow buttons

A danish dress for Little I (it's age 6 years so is a bit big for now, when I showed it to Mr Minnado he had a confused but nervous look on his face as he said "Is that for you?" . He was probably thinking "How am I going to tell her it is miles to small for her?")

More buttons. Little I dragged me past the lady selling odd zips and trimmings, the 1960s playing card sets, the stall full of coloured glassware, but maybe that is just as well as I would have spent all the grocery money quite happily.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Presents and a finished object

Some time ago, well in May I think, I was lucky enough to get a parcel from Ms Scruffybadger. Not only is she am amazing sewer (her blog is having technical problems at the moment so,see her recent flickr) but she also happens to be a lovely person too! She had traced three japanese patterns for me. They are beautifully traced and labelled. There are two dresses and one top. Both dresses are so cute I can't decide which to make first. So I opted for the top!

This one (no.13) is an A line shift dress with raglan sleeves and two front patch pockets. It has a zip fastening at the back.

No. 12 is a sleeveless top with front gathers and bias binding on the neck and armholes.

I used this sunflowers cotton lawn. This is quite a bold and big pattern for me. I have to say if I had more money to spend, then I would use this fabric to make a beautiful summer dress. It was so fine I had to line the top in the interests of public decency! Looking around for some lining type fabric in my stash, I found two old muslin cloths which we used to use to mop up baby sick when the children were babies. They are clean now honestly. They are light enough to make a lining that doesn't change the way the top hangs. Each cloth was just big enough to form one piece of the lining. When finished the top was a bit too short for my liking so I sewed an extra band of unlined fabric on to the front and back. I left it open at the side seams (but hemmed) I am not sure what you call that...vents? The finished top is quite A line but I think it could be nice on a hot day. I was also considering its layering potential in the autumn. Thank you ScruffyB.

Monday, 4 July 2011

New Look 6907

Things that are probably not sensible to say to a four year old - at 8am on Sunday morning with a party due to start at 10.30am..." Yes, I will finish sewing your new dress for the party". Cue me in pyjamas and an hour of sewing, followed by trimming threads, pulling out the tacking. Finished with half an hour to spare!

I used New Look 6907, and mostly followed view A, the large photo. I didn't use contrast fabric for the lowest piece (because I had run out of scraps of the polka dot fabric) and used contrasting polka dot bias binding for the neck and pockets. I used some pink and white floral fabric that had come out of my mum's friend's collection. The pattern was really easy to put together. You bind the neck so there are no facings. I liked the sleeves with their slight puff-ness, they were a bit fiddly and I would recommend hemming them before inserting the sleeve.

You are supposed to put in a zipper at the back but I cheated and used snap fasteners. I traced and cut age four but it is a bit big around the neck and chest, although I am happy with the length - still at least it gives her room for growth.
Little I liked the pinkness and the pockets.

I don't often buy children's patterns but I liked the versatility and options that I get from this pattern. I was thinking the dress could also be made as a tunic to wear in the winter and I plan to make the shorts too.

The good thing about reckless promises to finish a dress and frantic finishing is that the dress which had languished half made for weeks is finally done and being worn. Oh and the other good thing was the gasp of delight that she gave when presented with the finished dress.

Sewing it up at the last minute brought back memories of last minute essay writing at uni. So, do you sew better under pressure, with deadlines, or in a relaxed way?

Saturday, 2 July 2011

MMJ at the end

Day 26: Amy Butler sundress from Anna tunic pattern
Day 27: Nautical skirt made using Built by Wendy Sew U book skirt block. Fabric from my mum's stash. I hardly ever wear this skirt, partly due to lack of suitable tops to go with it.

Day 28: Simplicity 2259, Tate denim skirt

Day 29: Self drafted skirt from tea cup upholstery fabric. My friend Emma's cast off t shirt.
Day 30:

Refashioned tunic from an old dress shirt of my dad's. It has great pintuck detailing at the front which unfortunately you can't see here! Believe me it is there. Me Made bag from a cushion cover and a belt.

So, Me Made June is over. I found this month a bit of a slog in terms of daily photos as I haven't been well for much of the month and some days it has been a case of smile for the camera, then go and lie down! Lots of other blogs have posted their thoughts and conclusions. I don't have many except:

1. I need a couple of plain tops, in white and in black. I was making a white 2259 top but have lost momentum on it. I am often don't wear my patterned skirts due to a lack of suitable tops to go with them.

2. I realised I don't like the look of myself in teeshirts. As in cotton stretch knits. This is strange as I always used to wear them so much - did they always look so bad I wonder? From the photos I would say they don't suit me. So this re-emphasises point number 1.

3. And I need to make a half slip ....I did make one last summer but lost it!

4. I have discovered some great new sewing blogs from other MMJ-ers. Always good to "meet" new people. Especially as in my real life I meet so few people interested in sewing.