super Saturday

Sunday 29 May 2011
I had a very rare Saturday to myself, so I made the most of it by ignoring the housework and spending most of the day in my sewing room.  My new overlocker is such a joy to use - it takes no time at all to thread (in fact it is so quick it's a bit scary!) and the tension is perfect no matter what fabric or thread I use.  It seems to have inspired a new found enthusiasm in me because I managed to make a dress, a dressing gown, two pairs of pants, finish off some UFOs and repair two blouses that had been sitting in the two do pile for at least the last year.  And I also cleaned up my sewing room - phew, what a day!

First up I made this very cute little dress for Anna from a fine wale corduroy in soft grey with bright red flowers.  I used Simplicity 2320, which is a Project Runway pattern, but I had far more success with this pattern than the last PR pattern I tried to make for myself.  It's just a simple pleated front, yoked dress with puffy sleeves and is unlined so it didn't take too long to make at all.  I used a size two for the width but a size 3 length, but apart from that the sizing was pretty spot on surprisingly.  And best of all Anna seemed to like it, even if she does excel at pulling cranky faces in photos:

Then I tested the machine on some knit fabrics, because that has been sewing Achilles heel to date but I think my new BFF may have solved that for me.  I sewed two pairs of little tracksuit pants for Anna from some French terry in a daggy doggy print (that Anna loves) solely using the overlocker - no sewing machine at all.  This is the first time I've done that because my previous overlocker didn't produce stitches tight enough for seams but oh my! this is such a quick way to sew.  I don't usually bother with making things like tracksuit pants since they only cost $6 a pair to buy, but since I had the fabric in the stash and these two pairs of tracksuit pants only took about 45 minutes it wasn't a waste of time at all.

Next I made Anna a dressing gown from some super soft polar fleece I had bought this time last year to make her a sleeping bag.  Anna's favourite phrase at the moment seems to be "it's bery bery cold mummy", so I think this snuggly gown should do the trick.

I used Simplicity 5815 which is a vintage sewing pattern and it would have looked so cute in a quilted satin fabric with lace details around the pocket and collar just like the pattern illustration, but I didn't have anything like that in the stash and I went with function over form on this one.  I also sewed this entirely on my new overlocker and I used snaps instead of buttons so that was another short cut but overall I think I spent more time vacuuming the fluff that distributed everywhere in my sewing room when I was handling this cut fabric than actually sewing it.   

So by this stage it was getting late in the day and my sewing room was clean so I was a bit reluctant to start a new project.  But I still had an hour or so to myself, so I fixed some small tears in two blouses that have been sitting in my fixing pile for way too long, and then finished off this stack of bibs that I discovered I had cut out last year and never finished:

Not that Anna wears bibs all that often anymore (she needs to but refuses to do so), but I figure it's one less UFO to deal with and its baby steps in tackling my large box of UFOs....

So I have to say the new overlocker is totally fantastic and now I'm inspired to get on with making some new things for me.  The old saying goes that a good crafts(wo)man doesn't blame their tools, but I certainly think that good tools help alot in creating some great craft.

I hope you all had equally peaceful and productive weekends too!

yippee! One denim jacket, finally done!

Wednesday 25 May 2011
I am so happy that I've finally finished sewing my denim jacket - it was becoming such an obstacle for me due to my self imposed no more UFOs rule and a major drain of sewing mojo to boot.  It really shouldn't have taken so long to make, it's just that life got in the way and then I procrastinated a fair bit too.  It was totally frustrating sewing this - not that the pattern was difficult, but it was fiddly, but I sure am glad it's done 'cos I've already worn it twice since finishing it last Saturday - success!.

To recap, I made jacket 116 from Burda issue 4/2009 which isn't actually designed for denim but rather 'lightweight jacket fabrics'.  It wasn't a problem sewing this pattern in denim, but it sure takes a lot of physical exertion wrangling a heavy and thick fabric. But it also meant I could leave out the lining and instead just overlock the inner seams and use bias binding on the facing edge, which in theory should have made this quicker to sew.
I fixed the collar issue I had previously by ignoring the notches I had made and instead matching the centre back seams of the jacket and the collar which seemed to work.  I also did sew from the centre back seam outwards to the sides - I usually do this for stretchy fabrics but thought I could get away with it in a firm fabric like denim.  I don't know what I did wrong in the first place, because when I checked the reviews over on pattern review no one else encountered that problem so it was clearly me tracing the pattern notches wrongly.  But there is still a fair distance from the edge of the collar to the edge of the jacket front, which I assume is a design feature:

You can also see there all the topstitching I did, which was the cause of most of my frustration.  My sewing machine did not like stitching over those bulky seam intersections at all, and there were a lot of skipped stitches no matter how slowly I stitched.  And sewing those button holes were a complete nightmare because the plastic buttonhole foot just refused to move the fabric along so I had to a bit of pushing and pulling.  But I think it looks pretty awesome with those hammered on metal buttons, even if it looks like the front is one button short:

Luckily I had read on the pattern reviews that the turned up cuffs were drafted too narrowly to turn up without wrinkles, so I fixed the pattern before I cut them out.  The turned up cuffs make this a 3/4 length sleeve which is a bit daft for winter but it is a look I like so I guess I'll wear with my shirt sleeves hanging out the bottom.

I must admit that when I first put this on I was rather unimpressed with the jacket, mainly because I wanted to wear it open but the front of the jacket naturally sits overlapped.  But when I saw the photos I got over myself because I see it doesn't look too badly worn open either:

And best of all I've finally got something casual but smart to wear with my refashioned skirt.  I bought this skirt a few years ago in an op shop because it's made from a caramel coloured wool jersey and I intended on pressing out the pleats and making something else from it.  But since I've seen several sunray pleated skirts in a similar colour around in the shops instead I lopped 20cm off the bottom to take it from mid calf to knee length, and repressed those pleats to make an 'on trend' skirt:

And now I've finally given myself permission to go and use my new overlocker. I have cleaned up my sewing table and set it up so it's about time I powered it up and got sewing.

a new addition to my family

Wednesday 18 May 2011
All of you that have been advocating a little brother or sister for Anna can just calm down, not yet my friends, not yet! But I do have a new addition to my sewing family, which was a lot less painful to procure but I'm sure will bring me lots of happiness:

Ever since Carolyn mentioned that her new overlocker not only threaded itself but set its own tension too, I haven't been able to get such a magical machine out of my mind.  But when I looked into it, it turns out the Babylocks retail for about $3000 here in Australia, which is a lot of moola or a lot of fabric that I could purchase instead, so I thought about whether I really needed it. 

After struggling with fixing the tension on my crappy Toyota overlocker for at least an hour the last time I switched threads, and choosing my projects based solely on what colour thread was in the overlocker I decided it was definitely time.  I did leave the brochure hanging around the house before mother's day, but when that didn't work I just went and bought it for myself instead!

I went with the Enlighten model because I really like its features.  Not only does it thread itself with a whoosh and not require any fiddling with the tension, it also changes between overlocking and rolled hem with a flick of a lever instead of having to change the footplate and presser foot like my other machine, it also does flatlocking, a funky wave stitch as well as having some really bright LED lights so I don't further ruin my eyesight sewing at nighttime. 

 Sadly though I have been too busy and a little bit sick with a manky cold this week to get it out of its box and use it yet.  Plus I haven't quite finished that annoying denim jacket yet, so I'm forcing myself to finish that first before I get to use my new BFF.  The good news is that I only have buttonholes and topstitching left to do on the jacket, so hopefully I can get it finished sooner rather than later.


Wednesday 11 May 2011
Sooooo, the denim jacket and I are still not seeing eye to eye.  Actually, it's still sitting on my dressform sleeveless, hemless and with a wonky collar. I put it aside momentarily while I waited for some buttons I ordered online to arrive, and while the buttons have since arrived at my house my inlaws have too so my time in the sewing room has been extremely limited lately.  Thankfully they're off to China this Friday, so I hope I can get to the bottom of my wonky collar problem soon and finish this project.  I am determined not to let it become another UFO.

But I did manage to slip in a teensy bit of sewing before the inlaws arrived last weekend, and made a simple denim skirt for Anna since I still had blue thread and denim needles in my overlocker.  This is from the fabric leftover from the jacket - gotta love being able to use up those larger fabric scraps instead of stashing them for years!

I used Simplicity 3040, which is a 1970s pattern that I've made before in a bright yellow cotton with back topstitching.  What I like about this skirt pattern is that it is a quick and simple sew, but it's also appropriately modest for a little girl's skirt.  I don't want to sound preachy, but it disturbs me a little (ok a lot) all the toddler clothes that are short, tight or just tacky. 

This skirt is so simple, just an a-line skirt with an elastic waist and it was also good practice for my top stitching - between this and my nearly finished denim jacket I've become quite the pro at it! The skirt front has patch pockets:

I used a decorative stitch across the back patch pockets and added a little bias ribbon tab to the pocket to give it a bit of RTW look:

Here's the finished product on my budding model who is becoming much better at smiling for the camera:

It seems this skirt is good for practising one's tai chi moves:

And for just being a cheeky little monkey too:

the best thing I've ever made

Monday 2 May 2011
It's funny how that despite all the beautiful fabric and sewing patterns I have, a simple dress made from a vintage pillowcase may just be my most favourite thing I've ever made:

Although it could just be the model, she's one of my better creations too!