Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mr. Hippopotamus, if you please

I did get my hippopotamus fabric in Friday's mail, but I haven't been able to bring myself to sew this weekend.  It rained. A lot.  Even these hippo's are wading up to their tummies.

The hippo's are actually a lot bigger on this fabric than I thought they would be.  Perhaps I should wait until the size of clothing I am making is a touch bigger to really get the full hippopotamus effect?  In any case, I think for sure I'll be hanging a slice of this on my little one's bedroom wall.  It's such happy fabric, how could I resist?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rockin' the t-shirt make over

Just the other day I was sewing in plain red.  Well today I came over all anti-plain.  A plain cream long sleeved t-shirt was one item I recently pulled out of the little kids clothing I have had in storage.  It's so totally boring, don't you agree?  It needs some jazz, it needs some pizazz.

It has now undergone quite the makeover with a few bits of fabric from the deep dark depths of my fabric stash.

First it got a panel of colourful electric guitar knit fabric splashed across the front.  I used double sided interfacing to stick it to the shirt, and then did a quick row of stitching around the perimeter just to make sure it stays put through wearing and washing.

Next I wanted to put red cuffs on the sleeves.  I was simply going to sandwich the ends of the sleeves between a folded piece of rib knit fabric but I very quickly realised I was never going to get a tiny sleeve opening under my sewing machine needle - mission impossible!  So, not to be beaten, I unpicked the sleeve ends to the point where I could just lay the sleeve fabric flat, and then sandwiched it between the rib fabric.

I sewed it on to the sleeve with a double row of stitching, then re-stitched the sleeve closed again. I trimmed the seam allowance back and did a zig-zag stitch over the raw edges (both sides separately) and then opened up the seam and did a little horizontal stitch across the sleeve end to keep the inside of the sleeve openings nice and neat and comfy.

In a perfect world I would have sewed the sleeve openings just a little bit tighter, but I'm very happy with the results!

Sorry for the overload of pictures of the babe lately, I am exploiting having use of an unwitting model.

Rock out baby!

Possibly that brings to a close my contribution to the Kids Clothes Week Challenge, I've done way more than my one hour a day requirement and three new garments is pretty good going for one week around at my place.  My house is a mess, the meal planning has collapsed, the floors need a vacuum, laundry needs doing, things just generally need cleaning and its time to reduce down the ever growing pile of sewing paraphernalia on the dining table.  Unless I get a little delivery of hippopotamus fabric tomorrow I think I'm pretty much done.

And, as if this post wasn't long enough already, I've linked up today over at Our Creative Spaces.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Elephant trunks

Well I know that trunks are really defined as shorts for swimming or sports, but I couldn't resist the link between pants and an elephants nose for the title of this post.

Another pair of Big Butt Baby Pants were finished today - I am so in love with these!

I would actually wear such a pair of pants myself. OK, OK, maybe minus the butt panel.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Little red pants

Sometimes you just need something plain - plain red that is.

Red corduroy pants for the babe are my first finished item for Kids Clothes Week

Just to mix it up a bit I cut the back panel so the cord ribs go horizontal.

The pattern is of course the Big Butt Baby Pants pattern from Made by Rae - if you sew for your kids and don't have this pattern in your arsenal, well you should, you really should.  They're super easy and as I love the baggy look I just make them up in the size on the pattern, I don't bother making any adjustments for cloth vs. disposable nappies or do any fiddling with the leg length.

I was just gifted this new blue tee with red combi van on the front, couldn't have been a more perfect match for the new pants - sweet!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Game changer

Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between navy and black.  When I bought this fabric I thought the elephants were marching across a black background. Then when I cut out the black fabric I was going to match it with I realised the elephants were on the darkest of navy blues.  Meh, I didn't like the combination.  What I was doing came to a screeching halt, my plans needed changing.

Well, the silver lining was that I conceded that the black broadcloth I had in the fabric stash was cheap, nasty and scratchy and no good at all for garments.  I'm bundled it up and stashed it in case I need some "spare" black fabric one day - something for a quick applique or for a spot of impromptu costume making, etc.

I swapped over to using some nice light denim cotton.  I'm making a pair of pants for Kids Clothes Week here - one of a few pairs I am planning to make this week.

First I've just got to get a few measurements from the dribbling, wriggling, semi-crawling eight month old scooting around on the floor...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Skeletons in my closet

I've recently done a clean out of my wardrobe, got down a box of winter tops that were packed away due me being pregnant this time last year, and post second pregnancy there's still a bit of a changed body shape, and some stuff I've just had for too long and it needs to go so I can feel a bit refreshed. Most of it will go to the op-shop, but it can be dangerous to be an unused garment in my wardrobe - you might find yourself picked apart and cut up and turned into something else.

As was the case with this Indian cotton top/dress.  I bought it five or six years ago with my first pregnancy, it had a lot of gathers under the bust line so it floated down over a pregnant belly with ease. It's length was such that for me it was an indeterminate style - too short for me to be a dress, too long for a top - so back then I hand hemmed it very lightly to a top length, probably took up a good 10cm.  It had a nice bit of sequin and metallic stitching detail around the bust and neckline.

Post pregnancy all that gathering and extra fabric was too much and it made me look like I was still pregnant - not a good thing - so it has languished in my wardrobe ever since.  I do like the fabric though and I eyeballed it and estimated that there was enough fabric there to re-fashion another top out of it.

I pulled out my trusty New Look 6705 pattern again and got to work.  I snipped off the bodice (sadly bye-bye sequins) and unpicked the darts and cut the front and back yoke pieces from the back bodice fabric, picked out the hem and used the main piece of the fabric to cut a new front and back, and got the yoke linings out of it too by cutting them on the vertical (hey, they're on the inside so I figured what did it matter).  I even salvaged the bias binding around the armholes and used the original hem - what shortcuts!

Et voila!

I know you can see the hem folds here but after a few wears, washes and irons these have all but disappeared.  Loving wearing this top with dark denim jeans and if I can find a nice cardi to go with it I'll be wearing it through the autumn too, it's a perfect autumn colour I think.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sewing for kids - I'm in

Easter and the school holidays has seen me finally take a break from the sewing machine.  Phew, for a while there I thought I might have been using it to death!  Its actually been nice to sit back for a week or two without a hundred sewing ideas racing around in my brain on a daily basis.

In the meantime I have become rather addicted to crochet, but some things are telling me to stop and have a break from that too - a reoccurring wrist problem seems be aggravated by the action of moving my crochet hook back and forth, and my latest trip to stock up on wool was met with nearly empty shelves at Spotlight.

In order to get the love flowing again for my sewing machine I have just signed up to the Kids Clothing Week Challenge at Elsie Marley.  I did the Spring (Northern hemisphere) challenge last year for my then four year old.  I might dedicate this one to my nearly eight month old baby.

Nothing like jumping in totally unprepared - I don't even have any fabric ideas in mind yet!  I've got a few days to do some preparations and get ideas ticking around in that brain of mine.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter table

Our Easter weekend revolved around the table on the back deck.  Breakfast outside every morning in the sunshine and lovely lunches to break our daily activities.

Hot cross buns, chocolate bunnies, freshly squeezed orange juice, boiled eggs and warm handmade bread with butter and jam were some of our culinary indulgences this weekend.

Relaxed, with the family and with good food, just the way a long weekend should be.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Peg Apron: a tutorial

A good friend of mine asked me to make her a peg apron.  I admit I had never heard of a peg apron but I said, "Sure!  Send me some pictures and measurements and I'll see what I can do".

Well this is the result:

Much better than my shabby arrangement in an old plastic basket!

Whether you are a domestic goddess doing the laundry or the housework, or a market type of person who needs a pen, small change and business cards easily at hand, you might like to make one of these aprons for yourself - so read on, dear reader.

You will need:
  • 70cm of 112cm wide cotton drill fabric - drill fabric gives the apron a little bit of body, but you could use quilting cotton if you wanted. 
  • If you want to make your apron using two different fabrics like I have then you will need 2 x 70cm worth of the fabrics of your choice.
  • 1m of 2.5cm wide single fold bias binding

Cut two rectangles from your fabric - each 53cm wide x 43cm long.  Make sure you cut these from the bottom edge of your fabric piece, you are going to need the remaining strip of fabric for the waist ties (we'll get to them later on).  Your plan for cutting out your fabric will look something like the diagram below.  Of course if you are using a second contrasting fabric then you will be cutting some of the pieces from that instead.  Obviously, decide on your combination before you start to cut!

Print out the pocket pattern here.

Take the fabric rectangle that will be the front of your apron and pin the pocket pattern to the top left hand corner.  Cut around the pattern piece at this corner, i.e. you are actually cutting off the corner in a curved shape.  Unpin the pattern piece from your corner of fabric, flip it over and pin it to the top right corner of your rectangle.  Cut the corner off as before, now you have the pocket openings shaped for the front of the apron.

You are going to finish the raw edges of the pockets with bias binding.  You need about a metre, I found some in my scrap bag of bindings.  Taking your front of apron piece, pin the right side of the binding to the wrong side of the fabric along the raw curved pocket edge.

Sew this down following the fold of the bias binding.  Then fold the bias binding over to the right side of your fabric.  It should just cover the stitch line of the seam you just sewed.  Pin the bias binding in place and topstitch it in place on the right side of the fabric.

Your seam will catch the bias binding on the wrong side of the fabric.  Neat!

Next we are going to finish the sides of the front of apron piece.  Fold over 1cm of the raw edge towards the wrong side of the fabric, then fold 1cm over again.  Pressing with your iron is the best way to do this neatly.

Sew this down and repeat for the other side of the front of apron piece, and then repeat for both sides of the backing piece, folding in all cases towards the wrong side of the fabric.

Now we can finish the bottom edge of the apron.  Using the front pocket piece, fold under 1cm towards the wrong side, then another 1cm.  Press and pin in place.  Before you sew this seam it is a good time to make sure everything is fitting together nicely.  Lay the pocket piece on top of the backing piece, matching the top raw edge and the hemmed side edges.  Technically everything should be matching up fine, but if you tend to eyeball your measurements like me then you want to make sure everything is looking good.

Here you might like to also baste the top edge of the pocket piece to the top edge of the backing piece, but that's not essential.  The last step of this stage is to hem the bottom edge of the backing fabric, making sure that the front pocket piece and the backing piece line up nicely.  When all the edges are finished it will look something like the picture below.  Remember, the top edge is still raw.

Now pin the pocket piece to the backing piece around the sides and bottom edge.  I sewed quite close to the edge here.  Use the markings on the sewing plate on your sewing machine to guide you to get a nice straight line.  Turn at the corners by stopping sewing with your needle down in the fabric, lifting the presser foot, turning your apron 90 degrees, lowering the presser foot, and continuing on sewing.

The inner seam here is the hem, the outer seam is joining the back piece to the front piece.

The last step before we do the waist ties is to make a centre seam.  This gives you a left and a right pocket and makes it easy to get the pegs out rather than them sliding all around to the far corners of your apron.  Fold the apron in half and press with your iron, then simply sew a straight seam down the fold.  Stitch in the ditch, as they say.

OK, now for the waist ties.  Take your left over fabric and cut two 8cm long strips from the entire width of the fabric (i.e you are cutting selvege to selvege).  I used my rotary cutter to do this, but you can always use your scissors if you don't have one.

This picture is of me neatening up the edges before I cut my strips of fabric. That skinny bit is not a waist tie piece!

Sew your two strips of fabric together at the short edge, matching the pattern if you want to, and press the seam open. You'll now have a strip of fabric about 2.25cm wide (2 x 112cm...ish).   

Here you are going to make a kind of "bias binding" as the waist tie.  Press the long fabric strip in half along the entire width, and then fold under 1cm along each edge, pressing with your iron as you go.  When you fold the tie together down the centre fold, make sure the edges are matching nicely.

Take your apron and line up the mid point of the apron (where the mid-line seam is that you made) and the mid point of the waist tie so that you have equal length waist ties from each side of the apron.  Place the raw upper edge of the apron right up into the centre fold of your waist tie.

Fold the tie over the raw edge and pin down the entire length of the waist tie, folding in the ends so you don't have any raw edges showing.

Almost there!  To finish it off sew the waist tie to the apron by topstitching along the waist tie.

Stop at the end corner and turn your work around and sew down that last little edge.  

And you're done! 

Go hang washing...

...or bring it in.  Feel good about your domesticity at least.


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