Sunday, March 18, 2018

Pants Maketh the Man

Heading into autumn, my little man needed some cotton pants. It's starting to be cool in the morning but warms up later, so still to soon for trackies or jeans.

I made lots of cotton shorts for summer. They are cute and functional, but a little plain. I wanted to make it a bit more interesting with pants. Plus as he gets a little older, he can make use of pockets!

I went to Pinterest for inspiration and found these

Left is a free pattern from ikat bag. I'd made this once before as a test run, but it doesn't fit my chubba bubba that well becausae there isn't a lot of crotch curve.  So I traced out the crotch from the shorts pattern I'd been using, because I knew it fitted well.  Other than this, I made it as per the pattern, but I didn't have enough of the print to make the waistband so used plain black.  They are meant to be 3/4 length when rolled on up, but on my little shorty, they're almost full length, so they wont be rolled down until he grows some more!

The centre pair was a free pattern from Compagnie M. but it's no longer offered so I just worked out something myself.  I started with Kwiksew 4080 because he's currently wearing a pair of pants I made from this and they fit well.  Which is actually surprising because he's 1" taller and several kg heavier than the 'measurements' for the largest size.  Oh, well, you  make what fits, regardless of the number on it.

I'm not sure what the original version was inside, but my version is a false opening at the front.  It's is a real flap, but underneath the left and right front are joined together, so I just sewed the decorative buttons on through all layers.  This does mean that the pockets are technically one big pocket across the front but my boy is only just working out pockets so I'm not sure he'll realise any time soon.  I used the flat from from the original pattern as my guide for the pockets, but I probably could have put them closer to the centre.

He hasn't worn these yet so I don't have an 'action' shot

The pair on the right appears on the  Made by Rae blog, and inspired me to do the same.  I used the same Kwiksew pattern above and just made it up as a full elastic waist rather than with a flat front.  Then added the side panel, including pockets.  So simple!  And after wearing both these and the black ones, this seems to be the best pocket style for his age.  He had great fun putting "lego" (actually lego style blocks that are erasers) in them.

I think I need to work on my 'action shot' photography skills..... but it's so hard to get an almost 3 year old to stand still and/or do what you want for photography purposes.

With what he already has in his drawers, this should see him through the in-between weather, so now I need to start thinking about warm pants for the cold weather, and apparently winter PJs too because these kids just keep growing...

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A journey in Journey Girls

My daughter got a Journey Girl doll for Christmas a year ago. I was very excited at the prospect of making lots of dolls clothes for her.  Years ago I'd bought my niece a doll and made it some clothes, but hadn't realised at the time that the doll was 16" and the patterns were 18". So now all these patterns that had been useless were finally useful!!

Sadly life is never that simple.

Commercial patterns, and most indie PDFs I've come across, draft for an American Girl doll, which is a different shape to Journey Girls. There are several websites/blogs comparing measurements so I wont go into details but essentially the American Girl dolls are wider through the body so all the clothes end up too big.

Before I realised this, I downloaded this free pattern for an Elsa inspired dress and made it up without fitting. I thought a mock-up wouldn't be necessary for a commercially available doll. I've learnt that lesson the hard way!  Luckily my then 6 year old thought it was amazing.

Following this, an internet search for patterns specifically designed for Journey Girls brought me to Pixie Faire, who offer (among other things) a free t-shirt pattern by Liberty Jane Clothing.  I also got a leggings pattern from Artsy Fartsy Mama; then found a glove pattern from Diane Morello on Pinterest; and boots from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop (which should fit but I used the wrong seam allowance so they are a little big)
Which gave me Batgirl!!
DC Super Hero High inspired Batgirl
For the mask I just googled 'bat mask template' and printed one in a smaller scale to fit, then cut it out of felt.

That t-shirt pattern from Pixie Faire came in handy again recently.  After Christmas just gone, my daughter "needed" an Emma Wiggle skirt and I decided to make a matching outfit for the doll from left overs.  The skirt is just a circle skirt with 'waist' measurement being about 1" larger than her hips and then sewn onto elastic.

(Yes that is a different doll, that is MY doll that I got last year so I can make costumes for it!)

Over the year, I haven't done as much doll sewing as I'd hoped for, because of the effort in trying to mock up a pattern and make it fit, especially when sleeves were involved.

Then, the other week, Craftsy had their free weekend and I watched this How to Make Dolls Clothes video/class by Joan Hinds.  In the video she shows you how to quickly and easily make a sloper for your doll, and then compare it to existing patterns to see where/if you need adjustments.  This has given me a new lease of life on my doll sewing and I have recently sewn up two more garments, which I will blog about shortly.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Playing with Miss Ruby Tuesday

I'd seen several people who have made Miss Ruby Tuesday by 1 Puddle Lane and I loved it. Then Ann had a fundraising sale to help pay for her daughter's cancer treatment so who could resist a message like that telling me to buy the pattern. Plus one of my online sewing groups had a sew-along to help promote the sale.

Headed to the fabric shop hoping the Clearance Table Gods would favour me so I could a make wearable muslin without risking good fabric. They did indeed favour me and everything seemed to fall into place.

I decided on the extended shoulder/cap sleeve bodice option with the half circle peplum.  After printing, I did a FBA because I know that's standard for me now and added a few inches to the bodice length. I'm pretty particular about where I like my waist seams hitting because the wrong spot can really accentuate my belly.

It still felt and looked too tight in the bust but the length seemed good. I just took some off the back length to fit into the curve of my spine better (it's folded up in the pic to where I wanted it to be).

I added more to my FBA but this made it look worse!!

It sat in the "I don't know" pile for a day or two.
I decided to return to my first bodice with the smaller FBA and press on. I attached the peplum and bindings.  It wasn't love.

Attaching the skirt did pull the bodice down a bit so it became too long and the bindings have pulled the neck/armhole too tight. I'm guessing my fabric didn't have enough stretch in that direction.
I tossed it aside and there it sat for a month, until I decided it deserved a re-look.

I realised that when I had done the FBA, I had used the extended shoulder point rather than the actual shoulder point, so this may have affected my results.  Will have to remember that for next time, but before then, it was time to look at the waist seam! That is one of the major factors of the silhouette of this dress. I decided to do some comparisons.

Note, these photos were deliberately taken with the light behind me to show the silhouette rather than the details. And the different waist heights are just roughly pinned up so don't give a smooth line but you get the idea.

Left is my finished product (above) that came out too long after attaching the skirt.  Not a good photo, but you can see the shape.
Centre is when pinned up to my natural waist, and where I believe the pattern is designed to sit. 
Lastly, I let some of the pinned section out, so it's about halfway in between the previous two.  This actually hits me at the largest part of my belly, which is about 1/2" above my belly button. You can see this point in the first photos of this post.

Left looks nice enough, nothing wrong with it as such.
Centre looks quite cute I think, giving nice waist definition and shape.  The 'skirt' is now a bit short and hits in a really bad spot, but could easily be fixed in future versions.  
Right also gives me nice waist shape, the skirt sits a bit flatter/smoother over hips.

Now for side view, which is always what I dread:

Left: doesn't look bad, but it just feels a bit 'meh' to me.
Centre: The higher waist seam really pops the skirt out, giving a more 'maternal' look.
Right: It looks very similar to the centre one, but it's just a subtle difference of where the skirt pops out and how it hangs.  I can still see I have a belly, it doesn't just go away, but it becomes less of a "feature"

Personally I think the last one is the best option, and was probably the length I was going for before the skirt weighed it down.  It doesn't make the belly disappear in side view, but it does give a fairly smooth look. And from front view, there is still some really nice waist shaping.

Of course all these variations make the overall length different, so some skirt length might need to be added to maintain my ideal length for a peplum/top, but that's a separate problem.  And so is the neck/shoulder puckering.  I guess this one is still assigned to the "needs work" pile, but I've got the waist height sorted out!  Next time I'll try a different fabric too.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Stash Tally Update

So, let's see where I'm at!

Total Fabric (incl fabrics on order but not delivered)

1st Jan            441 metres
28th Jan          443 metres
2nd Mar           441 metres

Between 1st Jan and 2nd March, I've added 10 metres bought locally, added another 2.5 metres to my UK pre-order (which has now filled the box so won't be buying any more), and decided that I just HAD to have 1 yard of something else I saw for pre-order (can't show you a picture until it arrives though because the pictures all get taken down once the pre-order closes).

Given how much fabric I've added, I'm impressed that my total is not more, so I'm still happy with my progress, even though I haven't actually reduced my stash.
Although I don't feel like I've done enough sewing to justify it, so I can't shake the feeling that I've missed something somewhere....

Clothes to be upcycled

1st Jan           126
2nd Mar         126

I have used up some of the clothes, but I've obviously added a few, or updated things that were in the box but not on the list.

Unused Patterns

1st Jan           201
2nd Mar         197

Since 1st Jan, I've bought 2 new patterns (Miss Ruby Tuesday, and Slash Tunic), and picked up a couple of free ones, so am glad to see the number drop a little.

Whilst I'm moving in the right direction (or at least not moving in the wrong direction), I think I need to lift my game a little if I want to make significant progress by the end of the year.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

So, that was a fail

Between house guests and not feeling well, it's been a little over a week since I've done any sewing.  I feel a little lost in my room now, not knowing where to start or where to go.

But the other week, after making my Lucky in Love bralette, I wore it for a whole day.  I declared it a success! At 3pm I needed to do a readjust/lift and separate but otherwise it felt comfortable and I hardly noticed it.  Because of this, I decided to have a go at making one with powermesh for more support.

I also decided to use the Lucky Lingerie back and band, rather than the Lovesick parts because the Lucky sits lower and feels a bit more "bra" and a little less "crop top" (in my size at least).

It looked pretty nice and felt good when first on, but I spent all day adjusting it and catching straps from falling down my shoulders.

Back to the sewing table for this one.....

I'm going to compare it to the first model. I might need to tighten and reposition straps, as well as adjust back size/shaping.  I think it also needs top stitching to sit better at the front.  The powermesh is a bit stiff and tends to roll.  But I'm glad I didn't do it on this one now that I need to unpick it and try again!

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Lucky in Love

I'm on the smaller side of "large breasted" which makes it annoying to buy bras because many of them will appear to come in my size (based on their size range) but when I try them on I'm just one cup size out because every brand is a different fit.  This means having to go to a specialist shop, with "specialist prices" to match to get nice bras.  For reference I'm about a 16-18F (Australian) but as I said, it varies with brand.

In the last 12 months, when I really 'discovered' indie PDF pattern designers, I've seen a range of bralette patterns.  These look comfortable and easy to make.  I wasn't looking for the same support as an underwire bra because when I started looking I was still breast feeding and was wearing soft cup bras anyway.  I'm not feeding any more, but still like the idea of a more comfortable bra option when I'm staying home most of the day.

I've tried a few of these patterns without heaps of success.  They do seem to be more suited to the smaller busted, but not impossible for the larger among us.  I couldn't get a level of support I wanted, even considering I was comparing to a soft cup.  Then I tried some with power mesh, and that gave me support but also mono-boob.  The struggle is real ladies.

I had the most success with the George & Ginger Lovesick Bralette (which is free when you join their FB Group. This design incorporates darts which help with support.

I was still getting a bit of mono-boob happening though, which is as much about comfort as about looks.  Also the neckline is a bit higher than I'd like if I was to wear it under clothing as a bra.  Some have tried putting a centre piece in to gather up the front, like I did in my version of the Tank Hack but this didn't help to keep my breasts separated.

Then Rad Patterns brought out their Lucky Lingerie pattern.  This was very cute, and some said that the twist front helped with separation so I thought I'd give that a try.

My first attempted was rather disappointing.  I was just falling out all over! (Tiger print was on the clearance rack that week)

Some advice from Stephanie at Rad Patterns helped but it still wasn't giving me what I wanted, and this didn't have the same support as the Lovesick.  I left them all in a box in the corner for "later".

Finally this week I got around to trying out the idea that had been brewing in my mind over the last few months.

I mashed the cup shaping/darts of the Lovesick with the cute twist of the Lucky, and this is my result

It's basically a Lovesick, with the front neck and twist shaping of the Lucky.  I'd like to try one that has the Lucky back as well, because the back has a cute keyhole to match the front.

I've been wearing it for about an hour so far this evening.  So far I still have ample separation and it doesn't feel too droopy.  Will be interesting to see how it holds up over a whole day.

Overall, it feels great for a bralette made out of only cotton/lycra.  I'm sure I could get mores support if I used power mesh in the cups.... so I guess that's my next adventure in bralette making!

Monday, February 12, 2018


I think I'm pretty close to my perfect fitting t-shirt.

So this is an Agnes body, cut with a Miss Ruby Tuesday scoop neck, and the sleeves are from the Ginger Dress on the front and the Amanda on the back.

It's still a little tight in the bust, but I'm not sure if I'll change it, I don't mind it snug LOL

The sleeve pattern piece looks a bit wonky because of the mashing so I might have to smooth it out a bit but otherwise, I think I have a winner!!!

I might try skimming down the sides to see what that looks like, a bit more like the Everyday Tee.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Lovesick Bralette Tank Hack

I've been ogling Little Ragamuffin's Sweet and Lovely Dress since someone shared their version in a Facebook group.  I haven't tried it though because I have been worried how it would look on my body.

After my recent success with tops though, I finally thought I could do it some justice.

I decided to start with the Bralette Tank Top Hack before I ventured into a whole dress.  This uses the George & Ginger Lovesick Bralette pattern (which is free if you join their FB group), and then you add a bottom piece onto it to make the tank.  I'd already successfully made the bralette so knew I had the right size fitting well.

Jennifer uses the band pattern piece from the bra as a guide to make her 'body' piece, but she has a much slimmer physique than I do!  I decided to mash my trusty Agnes body with my Lovesick top to give me a bit more room around my tummy.  I wanted to do the front centre piece that Jennifer does on the Sweet and Lovely Dress, but I was worried how that might pull up the front of my tank because of my ample cleavage.  To work this all out, I put on my Lovesick Bralette, then my Agnes over the top.  I used pins to mark when the side band hit and where I wanted the centre front of the bralette to meet the body of the tank top.  Taking it off and transferring the markings to my Agnes pattern, I ended up with a curved shape at the top.  I then realised that my body piece was wider than the finished bralette piece.  I decided to add a little width to the bralette, since I wanted to wear it over a bra so it didn't need to be as snug.

On the Centre Front (left), you can see how I've curved the piece up to meet the bralette
My next problem was that I was intending to upcycle a dress, and the skirt wasn't quite wide enough to cut my body pieces out of.  I decided to reshape the sides so they were more in line with my Everyday Tee than the Agnes.  This probably looks better anyway, since I like to wear my tanks closer to my body, often as an under layer.

Pattern all sorted, I cut it out and followed Jennifer's instructions, and here is my upcycled Lovesick tank!

Now I'll just have to add the Sweet and Lovely dress to my ever increasing To-Do list.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Pattern Organisation

Following on from my post the other day, I'd like to share the pattern organisation database I use on my phone.

For those that haven't read the previous post, I use an Android App called Memento Database. Memento is a totally customisable database (library) App, so you can set it up however you would like. I have one library for patterns and one for fabric.

This blog post is about how my pattern database is set up, not specifically about how to use Memento. I've mostly worked it out as I went along or Googled, so if you would like specific instructions for anything, please comment below and I can try to answer your question.

The following screen shots show the fields I have set up:

Photo - this is usually the cover photo of the pattern. There is space for two photos so if the pattern has lots of options I take a photo of the line drawings from the pattern. For PDFs I am currently taking a photo of my computer screen when I have opened the PDF.  It's not ideal but it works for now.  I think if I wanted to go to the websites of the designers and download the images, I could add them into the app but that just sounds like too much work for me on my phone.

Pattern Company - obviously the name of the company/designer.  This field is set up to auto-complete, so when you start typing the first few letters it gives you options to choose from (if you have previously entered data).  You don't have to choose a Name from the list of options as it will create a new entry but doing some means that you run the risk of having two slightly different versions of the same thing if you're not careful

Here is the auto-completed pop-up for the Pattern Company

Pattern Number - This is labelled as 'number' because I started with paper patterns from the Big 4, but since I started entering PDF patterns I use it for the pattern name. It won't let me change the title as I have linked the database to Google Sheets, but you might be able to change it.

PDF - Just a tick box to indicate if the pattern is PDF or not

Sizes -  I enter all the sizes separated buy commas, so "14, 16, 18" or "S, M, L". Again this field is auto complete so as you go you'll build up many entries that you can select from.  If you need to enter something that is similar but not the same as an auto-complete option, you can select that option then edit it to add/remove sizes as needed.

Here is the auto-complete pop-up for sizes.
You end up with lots of entries/options, but it's easier enough to scroll and select what you want.

Photo - This photo field is for the back of the pattern envelope info. The size measurements, fabric requirements etc.  For PDFs I again take a photo of my computer screen whilst displaying the relevant information in the document.  The images come out looking a little funny because of the screen/light but I still find them readable for fabric qty etc.

Recipient - click on the arrow and a list pops up. You can select as many options as you like. This just helps when searching for patterns.

Categories - again a pop up list that you can select multiple options. 

Notes - free text field for any extra information. I sometimes find that PDF patterns don't tell you the fabric type in the same spot as the requirements, so it doesn't appear in the above photos. I just make a note of it here

Woven/Knit - tick boxes for making search easier.  I sometimes use the Group function to separate out patterns which use Knit or use Woven if I have a particular fabric in mind.

Projects - I make a note of what I've used the pattern for. This is what I use to keep track for my stash tally (see below)

Extra Photos - I added this field recently because a PDF pattern came with so many extras that I couldn't fit them all into the main photos.  In the free version, you can only add two photos to each photo field, but you can create as many photo fields as you'd like.

Here is a complete entry for a paper pattern

Here is a complete entry for a PDF pattern.  This is the one that required me to create the "extra photos" field!

Memento also has a pretty handy sorting and filtering ability that makes looking up an item easy. If you swipe left when on the database list, it will reveal the menu on the right side of the screen.  Here you can Sort, Group and Filter.

Whilst I mostly used the Group function for fabric, to search my patterns, I mostly make use of the Filter function to find what I'm looking for.

I have several filters set up to create tabs at the top based on the category of the pattern.  You can gently swipe left to reveal more off the right of the screen.

I then swipe left to access the filter option and select my recipient

And I am shown a list, in this instance, of dress patterns for women

You can also see at the bottom of the screen there is a count of the number of entries.  As you select different tabs at the top, the numbers change so it gives you a count of how many items in that category.  This is what I'm using to keep track of my Stash Tally for the year.  If I select the All tab, with No Filter, then group by Projects, that 'Empty value' group at the top tells me how many patterns I have that I've never used.

It has taken me some time to develop this database to its current state, but it's what I have found most useful for me.  It also took me quite a long time to enter everything.  I would do it in batches, and I still sometimes come across things that have been missed.  But this set-up allows me to sort/filter and group to quickly find patterns for a project, either based on what I want to make (skirt, pants, dress etc) or how I can use up a particular piece of fabric (this is when I group by knit/woven).

If you would like to see how I’ve set it up, I have shared my template, so you can search for it within the App rather than setting it up yourself!!  If you go to 'Add Library', choose 'Online Catalog', then search for 'sewing patterns', I'm there! (pinstripes).  I have not downloaded a template before, but I'm assuming once you do, you can edit the set-up to suit yourself.


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