Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Sketchbook shirt

My favourite pattern company, Oliver + S, put out three new patterns recently, the ice-cream dress (I have made and blogged the blouse version), the music class blouse and skirt, and the sketchbook shirt and shorts. I was most excited about the ice-cream dress and thought the Sketchbook pattern was 'nice', but on the whole I find boys' patterns a little dull.

However I've just made up the sketchbook shirt and I am in love! In fact I think it may be my new favourite pattern. The resulting shirt is certainly the garment I am most proud of. It just looks so professional and I am still a little bit amazed that I sewed it. I never would have imagined I was capable of it when I started sewing last year.

A great thing about this pattern is that you can mix and match options. I chose a short-sleeve, pocket and regular collar (there is also a variation with a Chinese collar). I think it's the most casual combination.

The construction was straightforward but I did get to spend some quality time with my unpicker, making sure the collar attachment and set-in sleeves were perfect - well as perfect as possible for me.

The finish is great. It's so neat that it could be worn inside out. I've never made a shirt before so don't know if all shirts are like that, but I suspect it has something to do with the Oliver + S clever construction techniques. I added the optional top-stitching to the yoke and collar. I love top-stitch :-)

I finished the shirt with varnished wood buttons. I like them but worry they are a little big. I may change them tomorrow... The fabric is quite heavy so the interfaced placket is pretty thick and looks a bit clunky with the buttons.

Speaking of the fabric, it's 85% cotton and 15% linen by Trefle from Kokka. If you read this blog regularly you'll know I'm a big fan of novelty prints, but I have never before made a whole garment out of one. I think (hope!) this is successful because the colours are quite muted and the basecloth is natural.

The shirt is sz 12-18 months and is currently a little big for my son. I really hope he grows into it soon as I intend for him to wear it to his first birthday party in September, and then over Summer.

I am already eyeing off other fabrics to make a few more of these shirts for him.

The front. Photo taken in artificial light, making it a bit yellow.

The back. Love the little pleat.

Varnished wood buttons. Love the buttons but wondering if they are too clunky on the shirt.

I love the inside as much as the outside. As with all O+S patterns the construction leaves a beautifully clean finish.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Something for my little boy

I've been feeling horribly guilty that most of the things I sew are for Sweetpea and my little boy misses out. But that's all about to change as he gets older and outgrows the baby onesie/lycra stage. There are also some fabulous patterns and fabrics around at the moment that are very boyish.

I was lucky enough to get the Oliver + S Sandbox pants pattern for mother's day, and already had some corduroy in the cupboard so started on a pair of pants for my wee boy right away.

As usual for an O+S pattern, the construction was a piece of cake and the pants were lovely to sew. To be honest I didn't think I'd learn anything new with such a relatively basic pattern, but I did! When constructing pants I normally pin and sew with the wrong side facing out on both legs, it's a bit cumbersome with so much fabric to get in the way. This pattern called for one pants leg to be turned right way out and slipped inside the other for sewing and it was so much easier and neater than the way I used to do it. Brilliant!

I used a brown cord for the pants and some of Kokka's cotton canvas novelty print 'Animal Boogie' in brown, orange and lime for the trim. Have I mentioned before how much I love novelty prints?! Lucky I have a 2 year old and 8 month old...

I only made one small amendment to the pattern: I reversed the pattern pieces on the back pockets so that some of the gorgeous lining would show on the outside of the pants.

As usual I'm a very happy O+S customer. My son has worn these pants twice this week and both times we have had people comment on how cute they are. That's a winner in my book!

Front view. Sorry this is so washed out, the waistband is blending in with the background.

Back view.

Back pocket detail, am loving this fabric!

Back pockets again. These are my favourite feature.

My son taking them for a spin. Pants are size 6-12 months and he is a large 8 month old. There's still some growing room though with the tie-front waist. Plenty of nappy room too!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Uptown Girl Jacket

Well Winter has well and truly arrived. It's been freezing here this last week so I'm pleased to have finished my daughter's new Winter jacket.

It's the Uptown Girl Jacket by Make It Perfect. I have a real soft spot for this as I bought the pattern when it was released a year ago and at the time, had never used a sewing machine or sewn anything more complicated than a softie (by hand). I remember telling my mum 'I am going to learn to sew and will make it for Sweetpea next Winter'. And here I am!

The pattern is deceptively simple. The construction is pretty straightforward and it actually takes longer to cut out all the fabric than it does to sew it up. It has a few lovely design details that really add to the overall look, like the gathers.

As it gets pretty cold here I made a few amendments to make the jacket more practical. Firstly, I used a wool/cotton blend batting instead of the recommended adhesive pellon (thanks Jen for the tip) and secondly, I included fastenings all down the front instead of just one button at the top, to keep Sweetpea extra snug.

I had intended to used buttons and buttonholes as the fastenings but my machine would not cooperate - the jacket was too thick with the batting - very dense - and the cotton canvas fabric I used (more on that later). So after MUCH to-ing and fro-ing, I decided to use magnetic snaps, with fabric covered buttons on the outside of the jacket for decoration only.

The snaps worked really well. They were simple to put in (although they would have been simpler had I decided to use them when constructing the jacket, rather than afterwards, I got to know my unpicker pretty well), they're strong, and they're simple enough for my two year old to do up and undo.

I used fabric from Japanese designer Hokkoh's Market Fresh collection: Market Flowers in Pink for the outer and Playful Dots in morning for the lining. It took me ages to decide whether or not to buy these fabrics. I loved them online, but was worried the pink would be too bright and that the cotton canvas would be too stiff and heavy for such a small jacket. I was really delighted when the fabric arrived. The colours were more muted than expected (in a good way!) and the fabric was really soft, but durable. It washed up beautifully too.

I really love this jacket... So much that I've gone out and bought Sweetpea a parka to wear to daycare, as I can't stand the thought of this jacket getting covered in paint, as her daycare clothes invariably do!

The finished jacket. The covered buttons are decorative only.

I used magnetic snaps (intended for bag making) as the fastenings.

Detail of the snaps.

Love the lining!

Sweetpea trying it on for size.

A gift for a new baby

Our mothers' group welcomed its 16th baby last week! We have 11 two year olds and now five babies 10 months and younger.

Little Arabella was the first girl after a string of boys, in fact until she was born all of the 'second' babies have been boys.

We usually give the new babies a cot linen set or sleeping bag made by one of the very talented mums in our group. But as she is heavily pregnant with her own 'baby #2', I put my hand up to make Arabella's gift.

I decided on a little dress - the O+S birthday party dress. Yes, I have made it before (three times, in fact) but I think it is just so beautiful and a bit special. I'm also so familiar with the construction now that it is very fast to make up, I didn't need to refer to the directions. I also made a pair of matching bloomers using Lotta Jansdotter's pattern, and some matching button snap clips. The dress and bloomers are both in size 6-12 months.

As I mentioned above, this is the fourth time I've made this dress so I decided to do a few things differently to relieve the boredom.

First of all, I used French seams rather than overlocking. I only learnt how to make French seams on my last project, so these and still a bit of a novelty to me and I love them! Seriously, they look so neat and I really like that I'm able to finish the seams as I sew. The pattern is pretty well suited to this method of finishing, although I did have to improvise a little when attaching the top facing, which calls for the seams to be opened out.

The second thing I did differently was to use a different/coordinating fabric for the facings. I really love this look and to be honest it never would have occurred to me to do it when I first started sewing last year. The fabric is from Lila Tueller's Soiree range. I used Meadow Paisley in Aqua for the dress and Leaf Confetti in Sun for the facings and bloomers. Both were fabrics I already had in my stash. I was worried they'd be a little busy but think they look pretty good.

Finally, I sewed the pleats in this time round (using a narrow line of stitching at the inner edge of each pleat) and really love the result, it's so crisp and will be much easier to iron. I have no idea why I haven't done this in the past, but will certainly do it from now on.

The finished gift: dress, bloomers and matching snap clips.

The bloomers match the dress's facings.

I secured the pleats with an edgestitch on the inside of each pleat. Really love the crisp finish.

The inside of the dress. My overlocker may gather dust now that I have discovered the beauty of French seams. It makes the dress look so neat and professional.