Sep 28, 2012

Shorts Stories

I've been seeing floral printed denim everywhere lately, and while I wouldn't wear it myself - I'm too old for that, right? - I thought I might make the girls some new shorts for summer.  This sort of thing was my inspiration. 
Floral shorts $32.99 from Pumpkin Patch

I found some floral denim at Spotlight.  It was about $6 for 1/2 a metre but that was all I needed to make these shorts - plus I still have some left over.  

I didn't have a pattern so I used a pair of shorts from last year that still fit around the waist but are a bit short in the leg.  I just traced around them to make a pattern, and then took some measurements from Katherine to make sure I was on the right track. 

I decided to make a flat front with an elastic casing in the back.  I put some pockets on the front as well, but not on the back.  The ones on the back are just for decoration anyway, right?  I deliberated over putting a yoke in the back, but in the end I left it out and just ran the seam all the way up to the waistband.  Katherine has no bottom anyway, so it sits fine the way it is.

I put a zip in the front, although I shouldn't have bothered.  She doesn't have hips, so she can get them on and off without undoing the button anyway, because of the elastic.  It was just more busy work that I didn't really need.  And there was plenty of busy work with these!   So much unpicking!  I unpicked until my hands cramped up.  I finished them late at night and then the next morning when Katherine tried them on - I already knew they were going to be far too big - they were massive on her.  So I unpicked the waistband stitching.  I unpicked the elastic stitched in at the sides to shorten that.  I unpicked the topstitching down the sides of the legs, and then I had to bring in the sides a good inch or so on each side, and stitch the whole thing back together.  

Oh noes, my child is way cooler than I am!  

I'm still not happy with the fit.  They look ok, but not fantastic.  

The shirt is McCalls M6156, which was another late night project.  Hubby has been working nights, so there's been plenty of late night sewing going on!  I have already made this once before, but this time I really wanted to do it with pintucks.  The pintucks didn't show up very well on the gingham so I ended up getting a little bit creative and making a wave pattern with them by running a stitch across them in opposite directions. I love the way this turned out!

Katherine seems to like the outfit too.  I can always tell by the way she poses for photos.  She's so much more enthusiastic about being photographed when she is wearing something she likes! 

I played around with the shorts pattern a bit and decided to make another pair.  This pair I made out of  some cherry print fabric - it is a stretch sateen that I bought to make one of my Nanna's vintage dresses with (I've made the dress by the way, and worn it!  I will get around to blogging it once I find someone to take a decent photo of me in it!).  I had some scraps left over - just enough to make a pair of shorts.  The fit on these is so much better.  There is still room to grow a bit in them though, which is good.

I left the zip off this pair and did a mock fly instead.  So much easier!  I even fooled Katherine - I caught her trying to undo the button (which is firmly stitched on).  Haha, gotcha!

I took them in at the top but left them sort of flared around the leg.  Plus I had a bit more length to work with, so I just did a rolled cuff on these ones.  The denim ones had a separate cuff attached because I was worried about the length.  

They sit nicer at the back too, I think, because there isn't so much bulk cinched in at the top.  So happy with these - I might make a few more pairs yet!  

Sep 17, 2012

Puppet show: The encore performance

In my quest to put together a few little outfits for Katherine's summer wardrobe, I pulled out the Oliver + S Puppet show shorts pattern again. This pair I made out of some chambray scraps I had leftover from this dress I made earlier in the year. I paired them with a top from a Japanese pattern book I bought a while ago (from this Etsy seller, if anyone is interested). It was my first attempt at a project from this book, and went better than I expected, really, considering I can't read a word of Japanese!

The fabric I used for the top is from the Out to Sea range and originally I had it in mind for a little collared shirt from the same pattern book, but I just didn't have enough (even if I was to cut it slightly off-grain... which I wouldn't have... but well, I did check!  I really wanted to make that shirt!)

Instead I settled for this one with a pretty yoke and flutter sleeves.  It is actually a dress but I shortened it to turn it into a tunic-length top.  The original pattern also seemed very full in the bodice so I took an inch or two of the fullness out, and there is still plenty of room for my skinny minnie.  She's looking particularly gaunt here as she's just got over a bout of gastro.  I swear, I really do feed my children!

I wanted to add piping under the yoke but had run out of piping cord, so I stitched a piece of ribbon into the seam there instead, and added a little matching ribbon bow to pretty it up a bit too.

I put a button closure on the back as I was worried about room for her head.  The original pattern was just a pop-over style, which I couldn't see working.  Maybe it was supposed to be made out of knit - if only I could read Japanese!  I had a quick look at the step-by-step diagrams and then went ahead and assembled it in a very similar fashion to the Oliver + S Icecream dress.  It's not how it was done in the book, but to me it made the most sense to do it that way.

I used leftovers for the pocket trim and leg binding on the shorts, as I didn't have enough chambray to go around.  This is one thrifty pair of shorts!  I won't tell you how I pieced the waistband together... notice there are no shots of it.  Hmm...

She's almost set for summer.

Sep 15, 2012

Handy Hair Clip Holder

A hair clip holder for my girls is something I've been wanting to make for a while now. Today I finally made not one, but two! A quick Google or Pinterest search will turn up endless styles of hair clip holders, but I'm going to share how I made mine today.

Handy Hair Clip Holder Tutorial

First, you'll need to get your materials ready.

Artists canvas (I just used a cheap one from the $2 shop) - choose whatever size you want your finished board to be.
Rectangle of fabric about 3 inches (7-8cm) bigger than your canvas all the way around
Staple gun
Rectangle of felt slightly smaller than your canvas 

Now, take your canvas and lay it on your fabric, face down.

Fold up the bottom edge of your fabric by about 1/2 inch, then fold again so that your folded edge meets the inside edge of your frame. Staple it down onto the frame close to each inside corner. Repeat with top edge, making sure fabric is pulled firmly across the front of the canvas (you don't want wrinkles in the finished product).

Fold in the corners as shown in the photo, then repeat the process of folding the fabric edge 1/2 inch, then folding again right up to the inside edge of the frame, for the two sides. Staple and pull fabric tight as you go.

Don't worry if the fabric seems a bit funny at the back - you're going to cover this up at the end anyway, with your felt.

Attach the ribbon by stapling onto each side at the back. Use as many rows as you like - I used three strips of ribbon as this seemed like a good number of rows for the sized frame I was using. Measure an appropriate distance between each row and mark this on the back of the frame before stapling in place.

Turn your frame over and check that the front is neat - now is the time to pull out any staples if your ribbons are crooked, or if your fabric is wrinkled.

At the back, staple a length of ribbon to the top of the frame if you are going to be hanging your hair clip holder on a wall.

Put your piece of felt over the back of the frame and staple around the edges. I also thought of getting my glue gun out for this step, but since I had my staple gun handy anyway, I just continued using that. You could glue if you wanted a staple-free finish as this will hide all the stapling you've done underneath.

Now you've got a handy way to display and store your little girls hair clips!

Sep 9, 2012

Nautical but nice

I've been eyeing the Sail away school dress tute off for a while, and last night I finally sat down with my just-arrived Sarah Jane Out to Sea fabric and got to work!

I didn't have any old shirts to upcycle, so I made my own shirt - using the same basic method of cutting around a tee.  I just made sure to add an extra couple of inches to the center of the front panels so that I could make a placket there.

She told me she was doing some sort of pirate dance here!  
Apparently the striped shirt is a "pirate shirt."
I also did a couple of little things differently.  I added some darts at the back of the shirt as little miss has her mother's sway back (poor thing, welcome to a lifetime of ill-fitting shirts!), and I attached the shirt bindings and skirt waistband a little differently to give a neater finish as I wasn't keen on the exposed seams.

The buttons on the skirt are some cute little metallic shank buttons that I was recently given from my Grandma's stash.  I remember fossicking through Grandma's button tin when I was my girls age.  I love that I can use these on their clothes now.

Sep 7, 2012

Buckets of fun

A while ago, Oliver + S released a free pdf version of their their bucket hat pattern (you can get it here).  I downloaded the pattern straight away but hadn't gotten around to making it.  Anyway, with the days getting sunnier, and last summer's hats getting a bit snug on the girls, I decided to make a couple of new hats for them.

The pattern comes together super quickly - I think it took me about an hour to make both, after I was finished cutting.  I found it a bit tricky sewing the top and side pieces together - you've really got to snip into the side pieces a fair bit to get it to fit the curve - but other than that it is a pretty simple process to put it all together.  I also used this "cheat" (from a little grey) to avoid the hand stitching!

I added extra topstitching to the seams, because I like the look of it and because my girls are pretty rough on their clothing.  Don't let their sweet faces fool you!  

This hat is great for scrap busting.  I used "leftovers" for both hats, which is great because it means there is less scraps in my scrap basket and they now have nice hats to coordinate with existing outfits.

Ellie scored a yellow/green hat.

Katherine scored the pink version - of course.

I probably should have used red thread for the topstitching (and in the bobbin when doing the brim) on this one but I was lazy.  I don't think it looks too bad with the contrasting topstitching though.  I thought I would be a bit decorative and only do a few rows on the very outermost edge of the brim, but I might still go back and add some more rows of stitching in.  I haven't decided yet.

Sep 2, 2012

Time for a Puppet Show

Have I mentioned how much I love Oliver + S patterns?  I was so happy when they re-released a bunch of their discontinued patterns as PDFs.  I bought the Puppet show tunic/dress and shorts pattern, mainly for the shorts as I'd seen so many cute versions online.  With the warm weather coming up (any time now...) I finally had a reason to give this pattern a go, and as I've resolved to make more outfits and sets, I thought that I'd give the tunic a go as well.

Katherine chose some seersucker fabric from my fabric cupboard (we got it from Spotlight).  I actually had this fabric in mind for a less fussy summer shirt but 4 year old's can't be reasoned with, haha.  For the shorts I used what I think is a poly-cotton blend drill fabric, from my Nanna's stash that I recently raided on a trip to my mum's house!  This set is a 3T.  I thought about using the 4T length for the tunic but I was happy for it to be a shorter-length top rather than a tunic length for this time.

As with all Oliver + S patterns, it's the little details that really make them special.  I love these little sleeve cuffs on this top.  I didn't make a buttonhole with these like you are supposed to though, I just stitched the button straight on.  I used fabric covered buttons I made up in the same fabric as the top.

You can see on the shorts photo up top that I also trimmed the pockets with some piping and popped some fabric covered buttons on there as well.

The pattern didn't call for buttons at the front, but I thought some fabric covered buttons would be a nice touch here too.  The edges of the collar look puckered here, but honestly, they aren't (I had a panic and checked them after seeing this photo!).  I think it's just the texture of the fabric that makes them look a bit wrinkly on the edges.

To top it all off, I made a little twisted fabric flower hair clip out of some scraps.  I think this is a really cute little set and I can't wait until it's warm enough to be worn!

Sep 1, 2012

Spot the obsession...

So this is the third and last spotty dress I will make for Katherine this year... I think.  She actually chose this fabric on a recent trip to Spotlight, and I knew it was going to be a Summer dress of some description, but I wasn't sure what I was actually going to do with it.  Well, I've been seeing all these Peter Pan collars around the place and then I came across this super sweet tutorial on Craftiness is Not Optional that shows you how to draft your own collar using the neckline of the top.  Oh yeah, that dress is totally on my to-do list now as well, I just won't be making it out of spots!

So I used the Rosy Posy dress pattern again - you really can't go past it for a fitted bodice and lovely full skirt.  I made the bodice a little leaner and the neckline a little higher at the front.  I also left off the sleeves, but as the bodice is fully lined in my version I didn't need to worry about bias binding or anything fiddly like that.  I used the method outlined in the tutorial to create and attach the collar.

Am I the only one who buys those cheap bags of "craft buttons" which are all mismatched singles and factory seconds? Sometimes buttons can be so expensive so I try and use up my mismatched buttons wherever I can! This dress was perfect to use mismatched buttons on, because of the different coloured pink circles. Even my husband said, when I showed him the dress, "I like how you've done different coloured buttons to match the spots on the dress." You can tell he has been spending too much time with me!

I have been trying to take a bit more care with my sewing and really concentrate on matching patterns up - I think I almost managed to get it right here too.