Friday, January 31, 2014

KCW Part 5: Back to the beginning

Having finished part 4 of KCW (the pull on jeans) quicker than anticipated it was back to pattern tracing and fabric cutting tonight.  I asked Mr A if he wanted shorts or trousers and he chose shorts, and not just shorts but "those shorts that were in your book with all the pockets Mummy".  So out came Otto 3/2008 (possibly my most used issue ever if the stack of traced patterns in it is anything to go by) and out came the tracing interfacing, pen and scissors.
Some time later out came the fabric.  Of course Mr A had to choose the shorts with 11 pattern pieces!!
These wee beauties also have a proper zip fly, along with their millions of pockets and top stitching, feeling a wee bit of apprehension about getting stuck into these tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

KCW Part 4: Pull on Jeans

Firstly yes that is Part 4 not part 3.  Part 3 will come when the item is out of the wash so I can take some semi decent photos of it, maybe tomorrow.
So skipping swiftly on from the chocolate covered part 3 we come to part 4, a pair of pull on skinny jeans for Mr A.  I find it next to impossible to buy trousers of any sort for Mr A because he is about 2 sizes smaller around than he is tall, so trousers are either way too short or pretty much fall off him.  This year i thought I would get onto things earlier than in the past (i.e when it got cold and I realised he had no clothes), so together we chose a pattern for some pull on trousers.  No fly button was a specific request because "they are a pain", and who am I to argue if it means a mock fly instead of a real one :-)
So the pattern he chose was from Ottobre 3/2013, number 22, I wasn't originally going to make skinny jeans but he does like them and look good in them.  Once again stash diving threw up some nice weight navy cotton drill type stuff that I probably stole from Mum at some point.  I also dug out some topstitching thread I bought as a bulk lot aaaagggggeees ago and decided to go the whole hog and do contrasting top stitching on these.  

So the verdict.  Contrast topstitching is a pain in the behind.  Each seam consisted of stitching, then overlocking and then changing the cotton on the machine (including tension in this case for the thicker thread), and finally changing back to standard thread for the next seam.  That said even with all the faffing about I got these together in two evenings which I was really surprised about.  I am pleased with how they went together and had no issues with the pattern or piecing of it at all.  

I actually remeasured Mr A before cutting these and his measurement were pretty much spot on for size 104 with 116 length (and 116 length in the rise as well).  In fact if anything his waist and hip measurement were slightly smaller than the measurements.  That said the fit is pretty perfect on Mr A and they are a wee bit of a struggle to get on, although apparently they are comfy once on (I think he just needs to wiggle a bit to get into them).  
And a couple of daft photos of the boy.

Overall Mr A loves them so I'm happy.  They went together pretty quickly and I would make them again, although I think I'll make a couple of more straight leg pairs for winter as well.  I would say that if your child is close to the measurements on the size chart or at all above them I would size up (unless I somehow stuffed something up when tracing or cutting).  A winner this time round though.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

KCW Part 2: Banyan Tee

This project started with seeing a cute wee top in Pumpkin Patch one day with a handkerchief hemline and flutter sleeves.  It also had a picture on the front that I wasn't keen on so I decided to try and hunt out a pattern and make my own.  After much searching I came across Banyan Tee by Figgy's patterns, not only was this pattern exactly what I wanted but it also had a boys version on the same pattern - bonus I can use one pattern for both kids, that doesn't happen very often!  And what is more it introduced me to the gorgeous patterns by Figgy (one or two more may have fallen into my cart when I bought this one).  
Having sourced the pattern I just had to find fabric.  Keeping with my theme of sewing from stash I went down to the garage to look through the boxes (yes boxes) of knit fabrics.  Amongst the first box I found this gorgeous almost coraly pink (although it doesn't look it in the photo) broderie anglaise style knit.  Fabric chosen!

 So here's the top when it was almost finished (still had the hem to do).  The pattern went together really well.  I made Miss M the size 2-3T tee length version of the pattern and left off the pocket.  I loved that I managed to sew nearly the whole top on the overlocker, woohoo, and the only issue I had was with the hem.  I followed the instructions for sewing across the corners of the handkerchief hemline but then made the mistake of trying to hem with a twin needle which of course was never going to work.  So I ripped that back, overlocked the bottom and did a simple narrow hem instead (perfect).  There is no stress on this hemline so no need for the added 'give' of a twin needle hem anyway.

And the overall verdict is I love it!  The fit is perfect on Miss M and she likes that it is 'twirly'.  I love how nicely the neckline sits and the shape of the curve at the front, it just seems right.  I can see more of these in the future especially now I have come across instructions for making a long sleeved version :-)

KCW Part 1: Riviera Leggings

This is my first time taking part in Kid's Clothes Week which is an online sewing event that challenges participants to sew (or prepare patterns, cut fabric etc) for 1 hour each day for a week.  There are no prizes or anything just a nice wee online community where you can share your creations.  Since both the kids have grown and needed clothes I felt like this might be just the motivation I needed to find m sewing mojo once again.
I went into the week semi organised with an outfit cut out for each of the kidlets.  I will blog about each piece separately.

First up is a simple pair of leggings for Miss M.  Leggings are so versatile and comfy that I thought she can never have too many pairs.  First up I needed to choose a pattern so I decided to use this opportunity to break into my copy of "Sewing Clothes Kids Love" which I have been flicking through and dreaming about using since I got it nearly a year ago.  There is a nice standard leggings pattern in there called Riviera Leggings.
I checked Miss M's measurements against the size charts and she was actually slightly smaller around than the smallest size (18m-2T) but the length of a 3T-4T so that's what I went with when tracing the pattern, 18m-2T in width and 3T-4T in length and length of rise.
The fabric I chose primarily to go with the top I wanted to make her, it's a grey/pink stripe cotton lycra which came from Mum's stash a while back.  I'm pretty sure she would have sourced it from Levana textiles many years ago.
As far as the sewing went these went together very well.  As with all leggings they are a quick and easy sew.  The only thing I changed from the instructions in the book was the way the elastic was done as I'm not a fan of overlocking the elastic onto the to (just a personal preference).

And the verdict on fit?  I'm actually a little disappointed to be honest.  They are pretty much bang on for length but they seem to be really baggy through the top, especially at the front.  I thought maybe I had added too much rise, and this may partly be the case as they ended up sitting under her tummy, but they also seem really wide in general.  I don't think I'll be reusing this pattern until Miss M is a big bigger.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

FO: My New Favourite Top

So Kids Clothes Week starts tomorrow and to say I am organised for it would be, well, a lie.  I do have a few patterns traced and things cut and I should be doing more now but instead I thought I would catch up on here with my new favourite top.  I actually made this a couple of weeks ago now and I still haven't managed to get any decent photos so I have given up waiting.

When I received my copy of Ottobre Women 2/2013 last year I immediately fell in love with this yellow top.  To be honest I'm not sure what drew me to it, I love the way it drapes nicely but isn't huge and balloonish, and the soft gathers at the neckline.  I actually made another design from this mag last year (which never made it to the blog) but when I had a hankering for a new top in my wardrobe I knew I wanted to use this pattern.

Thankfully I also had the perfect fabric.  Last year I went to a big fabric market with a friend and while there one of my finds was a slightly mottled purple soft knit for $7.  I wasn't sure how much I had but when I went and measured I had exactly the amount needed for the pattern, fate!  Now the construction of this top is quite intriguing, probably another drawcard for me.  The front and back are cut as one piece on the fold and the whole thing is cut on the bias (confused yet?).  The upside of this is that it's cool to have a funky construction, the downside is it takes quite a lot of fabric, I made the size 34 and it took nearly all of my 1.5m piece of fabric.
Once I had it all cut out the piecing together was really simple and I had the top made in less than an hour (including interruptions from small people).  And the result I love, it's so comfy and easy to wear.
Here is the shape of the finished top, I told you the construction was strange.  The angle on teh bottom right is the fold and the shaped section on the bottom left is what becomes the hem.
And here it is on, a very bad bathroom photo.

Usually when  make a size 34 I need to take the seam at the top of the sleeve in a bit but I didn't have to this time, I'm not sure if that is because of the bias cut or not.  One thing I would suggest though is that you make sure you prewash your fabric as is suggested in the pattern.  I thought they mentioned this as they used a bamboo blend and I know bamboo often shrinks a LOT, and since I don't usually prewash my knits I just forged on.  While I don't think my knit has shrunk as such I have noticed when wearing it after a few times through the wash that one of the shoulder seams sits a bit further forward than the other, I can only put this down to the bias cut of the pattern and the laziness of the maker when it came to prewashing.  The other thing to note about fabric choice is that it suggests a 30% stretch and recover for the knit fabric.  While for this drapey style I would usually think this wouldn't be necessary I think because of the shape of the hem on this top a certain amount of stretch is really needed in the fabric.

When I come across other suitable knits in my stash I will definitely be making more of these.

FO: Stripwork Skirt

Recently I was very lucky to be chosen to test a lovely new sewing pattern from Little Kiwis Closet.  This is a gorgeous wee pattern with lots of different options available, add to that the possibilities of different fabric combos and the options are endless.
I chose to do the basic skirt using three different offcuts of fabric I had on hand (I'm trying to sew from stash this year as much as possible).  I made a size 3 for Miss M and the fit is perfect.
As well as the option shown there is a version with pleats instead of gathers and you can add a bottom band, do a standard hem, or the bias binding hem which I chose.  I haven't done a bias hem before and I found the tutorial instructions clear and easy to follow.  Even doing this for the first time I would say I got this skirt done from cutting to finished in under 2h, and would be quicker next time.  Basically if you are looking for a good versatile skirt pattern in a good range of sizes (nb-12y) then give the Stripwork Skirt a go.
Here are a few modeled pics.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Free Holiday Fun!

Anyone who knows me will know how much I LOVE our local library.  We go there at least once a week to get books and dvds for the small people in the house, and often a few of the same for the grown-ups as well.  I love that everything in the kids section is free to borrow, as are most of the standard fiction and non-fiction books.  Although the DVDs are rental the prices are amazing and I would far rather give my rental money to the library than the local video store.
Anyway not only are they fantastic but they run amazing activities for kids, especially during the school holidays (and once again it is all free).  This summer Mr A has taken part in the Reading Reboot programme, where he has collected stamps for reading books and doing activities associated with them.  He is an avid reader anyway but it is nice for him to feel the sense of achievement of completing his card.  We have also been several time to their holiday daily storytime sessions and last week we went to an activity session called "Construct-a-bot".  Initially there were some stories about robots and then the children all worked together to create and name a robot.  After that the real fun began when they were allowed to take their pick from a mountain of boxes and craft supplies to make their very own robot to bring home.  It was so much fun seeing all the different robots taking shape.  Mr A and Miss M decided to work together and build one robot and I must admit at times their imaginations were slightly beyond my abilities to help create with only tape and the items at hand :-)
Introducing busybot:

Some of it's many features:
* Three eyes
* Hover DVD feet
* Side boxes for storage
* Straw Antennae
* Brushes in both 'hands' for painting
* Rear rocket booster
* It's own cup and straw for refueling

Not a bad effort I'd say.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Chemistry Summer School

For christmas Mr A was given a really cool volcano kit by his Aunt, Uncle and cousins.  Mr A actually received something similar for his birthday last year but it took a lot of building and then there was very little excitement when it came to making the actual eruption, this kit however I was really impressed with.  It came with a wee collection of bottles chemicals and tools as well as gloves and safety goggles. Mr A was keen to get into it so on a cloudy, windy day we got stuck in.

Safety first, all ready to go.

 The first thing we were asked to do was mix and mould some 'lava bombs'.  The instructions were all clearly written with warnings where necessary and lots of great pictures and explanations of what was going on.
The red lava bomb  mix:

This was then moulded into shape, turned out to dry and a yellow one prepared.
Time for an eruption, red first!
Then yellow as well.
The eruptions take place in a pre-moulded plastic base so you are all set to go straight away which is great and it can be easily washed and reused.  There is also space as the back for 'pools' and a series of experiments you can do with pH paper to investigate the different pH of the chemicals used and what happens when you mix them. 

We still have at least one, if not two, sets of experiments to go from the instruction book so there is a lot more fun to be had.  And I was amazed by how much Mr A could work out about what was happening just by watching, like deciding that a gas was being given off when you mixed the chemicals etc.  I haven't gone into reactions of acids and bases with him yet although we touched on it when looking at the coloured indicator paper.  This is a fantastic and informative kit that both my kids loved.  I'll be looking at it for gifts in the future (but then I am a science geek).

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Family Times

I know I said I wouldn't try and catch up with last year but at the end of 2013 we had some very special people come to visit us ally he way from Scotland.  Miss M and Mr A loved spending time with their cousins and really getting to know them (Miss M had never met them and Mr A was only 2 the last time we saw them).  On the whole it was a fantastic couple of weeks with memories we will treasure for a long time.  Here is a quick photo story of our time together.