The latest accessory in white (and clothes in black)

Sunday 27 April 2014
We've had a whirlwind two weeks around here, hence the blog silence. All the usual things - busyness at work in a new job, school holidays, Easter and then Anna does this to herself:

She slipped from the monkey bars whilst at vacation care and landed awkwardly, completely snapping the humerus bone above her elbow. You know things are going to be bad when you get a phone call at work that begins with "don't panic, Anna's fine but she's gone to hospital in an ambulance...."! She ended up needing surgery to insert wires into her arm to align the bones so that they regrow together correctly.

But kids are pretty resilient, and she's managed it pretty well so far. At the moment it's only a half cast with a bandage around it to allow for swelling to subside and the wound to heal, so it's pretty bulky and difficult to get clothes on with it. Luckily it's her left arm so she can still write and draw with her other hand, but she's quickly finding out how difficult it is to do things one handed!

And sadly a few days before this occurred, my father in law passed away after his condition rapidly deteriorated. It wasn't totally unexpected given how frail and ill he has been these last few months, but when we visited him just a few weeks ago he was doing remarkably well and preparations were being made for him to go home so it still came as a surprise. We've spent the last week with my mother in law doing funeral preparations and going through the Chinese cultural customs associated with death. I'm not particularly religious but I found the Buddhist customs quite comforting - there were monks chanting and praying at the funeral service, and before hand we burned incense money and clothes for his spirit to take with him to his next life.

I also had to quickly make some funeral appropriate clothes for Anna and Toby since their wardrobes are pretty much all brightly coloured and casual. For Anna I refashioned a dress that a friend had given to me that was made from some quality stretch textured fabric but in a horrible design - a wide, mid calf length skirt with an asymmetrical hem, ruched bodice and a bandeau style top. So all I did was shorten the skirt keeping the asymmetrical hemline, made a tube for the bodice and sewed on some gathered straps. I also added a ruffled band to the front neckline, and a gathered elastic belt. Mostly all sewn on the overlocker meant it took less than two hours to finish, and Anna loves it although worryingly she refers to it as her funeral dress.

For Toby I quickly made a pair of pull on pants in black cotton drill from McCalls 6061. There's nothing special to say about these, but a note for my future self (and anyone else thinking about making these) is that this pattern is really wide but really short! It's sized for up to 18 month olds, but the pants are really baggy so they still fit Toby even though he's now two and not a small child either. They are also really high waisted, so I lowered the rise by 4cm, and lengthen the leg by 5cm although looking at these photos I could have made them longer. I added the band around the knees for decoration, copying a pair of RTW pants that are too small for him now. The pockets are just patch pockets and there is a faux fly although you can't really see it in black.

Nearly all of Toby's pants are now too short - he's somehow shot up in the last few months without me noticing at all! Now that the weather is finally starting to get cooler in Sydney  I'll have to pause in all my selfish sewing to make him some more clothes - hopefully the dramas are over around here for now and we can get back to our usual busy but ordinary lives.

Burda 9505: birthday shirt

Thursday 10 April 2014
So as I said last post, it was Toby's second birthday last Saturday. It sort of snuck up on me with all that's been going on lately, but I did manage to make his birthday shirt last Friday night. Luckily I've made this pattern before so it took less than 3 hours which isn't too bad for the fiddliness that little people clothing involves!

I used view B of Burda 9505, which was gifted to me by Steph and I used View A for Toby's first birthday shirt too (here). This will probably be the last time I use it too since it only goes up to 18 months in size and this shirt is rather a slim fit on him. It's actually quite a good pattern, drafting wise, because I have found that kids patterns are usually way too big but this one is spot on. Unfortunately it's now out of print, but if you have this in your stash I can highly recommend you use it if you have a little one in your life.

I chose to use an elephant print cotton poplin that I bought from Spotlight a while ago mainly because I figure he has the rest of his life to wear stripes or plaid or solid colours and when you're two you should wear a really fun print! Plus I wanted to use up the rest of this fabric in case there wasn't another occasion for it in the future and it stayed in the stash forever.

The pattern is pretty straightforward - it's just a normal shirt sewn on a smaller scale. I noticed that the instructions for view B aren't as detailed as the instructions for view A - there aren't any instructions to finish the sleeve or the tab other than doing a narrow hem to the edge. It wasn't difficult to figure out, but it just seemed odd to leave it out given that the other steps are spelled out. I also French seamed the sleeve edge because the seam edge would be visible when the sleeve is rolled up, which the pattern also didn't suggest but looks much better than having a serged edge showing.

I used snaps instead of buttons because they not only took less time than buttons but they also make it easier to get Toby into and out of this shirt because he can be very squirmy sometimes. I left off the back yoke and instead cut the back as one single piece so that I didn't have to match those elephants at the back - pure laziness but it's not really a noticeable feature in this fabric anyway:

And how good is my pattern matching at the front edge! The birthday boy seems pretty happy with his shirt and his birthday presents - he's a bit obsessed with Peppa Pig, dinosaurs and soccer balls at the moment so he was quite easy to satisfy. If only they stayed so innocent and little for longer!

And this is last year's shirt when he turned one - I can't believe how much he's changed!

February Burda of the month: 3/2014 #117 pleated skirt

Friday 4 April 2014
At the very beginning of February I traced off three patterns thinking that I'd get not one but three February Burda projects done. Ha ha wishful thinking! Real life got in the way last month and here we are few days into April and I've only just finished one and it was such a simple skirt that I managed to cut it out and sew it last night and took photos of it today. In the end I made a skirt (3/2014 #117) from the "Pretty Grunge" collection of the March issue - having lived through grunge the first time around I was a bit hesitant but without Burda's crazy styling (socks and high heels, really?) it doesn't look too bad:


I did trace off a double breasted blazer with ginormous lapels in this issue too (3/2014 #101) which I thought looked interesting in a nice way and even made two muslins because it was a size 36 and I knew I needed to grade down a size. But when it came time to making it I discovered the fabric I wanted to use was too small a piece - it was left over from another project and I wanted this jacket to make a matching suit. So I've set it aside until I can decide on another piece of fabric (no shortage of that around here, I just need to wait until inspiration strikes). The other pattern I also traced is just a pair of tracksuit pants (3/2014 #112) which I haven't made yet because it's just so hot here still, and they possibly won't warrant a blog post anyway.

I used a piece of fabric from deep within the stash - literally it was at the very back of the shelf and I had to dig through to piles of other fabrics to get it out. I can't remember it's origin, probably an opshop I'd say. It's a crisp cotton in dark tan with a weird print. I was careful not to place one of those dark pink bits of the print at ahem, crotch level on the front:

but didn't give the same careful print placement consideration for the back view, so now it looks like I have a target on my butt:

And for the side seams I didn't even attempt pattern matching, or the waistband either out of pure laziness:

Ah well, I'm convinced that absolutely no one except for us sewists pay any attention to matching patterns at seams or print placement. Have a look at this lovely lady wearing a jumpsuit with questionable pattern placement that I pinned from just because it made me laugh out loud:

image source here
Obviously this pattern placement was very deliberate but I'm not convinced it's a look. So we should all be a bit easier on ourselves I think!

Overall I found this pattern to be pretty good. It has inseam pockets on both sides seams which are useful, the back is fitted with two darts so it's a sleek fit at the back but the slightly angled pleats on the front don't add an unsightly amount of volume either. I don't think the skirt is as narrow as the one worn by model in the photo suggests but any narrower and you wouldn't be able to walk because the skirt doesn't have a walking vent.  I also lopped about 5cm off the hem but looking at these photos it could probably be a bit shorter. You do need to remember to flare the hem allowance out because the skirt is quite pegged, which I forgot to do and so have made a super narrow hem instead - I've made many skirts like this in the past so I really should have known better.

And speaking of my past creations, can you believe it that Toby is 2 years old tomorrow? The time has just flown by. Tonight I need to put in some hours to make him a birthday shirt, I don't want him to feel neglected as the second child!

I caved in and went to the Fabric Cave sale today - so did a lot of people too judging by how busy the store was! The funniest thing was seeing the fabrics I donated a few weeks ago on the shelves, but I made sure I didn't buy any of them back. Unfortunately Toby fell asleep in my arms just as I arrived in the store so I was rather restricted in what I could get having to lug his 13kg around in one arm and dig through their packed shelves with the other. In the end I picked up these pieces for the bargain price of $15.80:

I do actually have plans for these pieces so I feel no shame in picking up yet more fabrics, especially as the proceeds are going to such a good cause and it's much less than my recent donation to them.