Friday, 13 May 2016

Vlisco Crocs for Angus's Birthday Negroni

Hello there!

Here's my second in a row of unselfish sews. It's Angus's second birthday shirt, and I have to say it was a lot more painless to put together than last time. While there may not be the joy of creating another new look for myself in sewing gifts for Angus up, there is pleasure in making something up that fits its intended body straight out of the envelope! Straight size M, no fussing with darts and FBAs and the like for this fella.

I treated myself to a printed copy of Colette's Negroni shirt, although in reality it's not hugely different from the Great British Sewing Bee one that I made before – and in fact there are even a few design elements that I like better on the GBSB one, like the separate button band. However, it does have an option for long sleeves which may come in handy if I feel inclined to make a Christmas present!

This fabric is a lovely lot from our local Vlisco wholesaler, dangerously positioned next to the supermarket so it's very tempting to casually drop in when doing the weekly shop. This was one of the more expensive designs, and what with having to buy 6 yards at a go ended up costing £50. Not bad for such a beautiful print, but a shame I couldn't buy just the amount I needed as I have plenty spare and it wouldn't really be the done thing to transform into a garment for me!

Last year's shirt was shaped through purely my own design whims plus having the GBSB book already so the pattern to hand. This year Angus had a bit more of a say about what he was after – which was something with a pale background and more of a Hawaiian vibe. We've been watching Vinyl recently and he was quite taken with the shirt Zak wears on their California/Vegas adventure and was after something similar. Angus also has this incredible coffee table book My Free Damn vol 7 which is a collectors' geekout showcasing the wide variety of beautiful Hawaiian shirts that have been produced over the years. I think the Negroni definitely has a similar vintage casual look, but with the slim fit that Angus also likes. 

Unfortunately with all these images in mind neither my usual go-to for nice shirtings Simply Fabrics nor even the wealth of Goldhawk Road could deliver. Happily this Vlisco design really fit and the bill and was picked up while on another errand!

You may notice this isn't made up exactly like the pattern's samples. I made up the short-sleeved version but decided to have just one pocket so as not to break up the print too much, and for this to be a plain patch pocket. It's barely visible here but I think I have shifted the positioning perhaps a little too far into the armpit! Whoops. Anyway, at least it doesn't really show. Because of this I was a bit stumped as to why I had bought seven buttons as called for when I could only find five button placement marks down the shirt front. Eventually I realised this was because the original pockets have buttons too! I decided to alter the button placement a little, copying from another shirt he has so that I was using six, and leaving off the optional one for the button loop as I wasn't sure where to position it, especially as this shirt doesn't seem designed to be worn buttoned all the way up.

All in all, quite a painless make even though I had to take my time over cutting and getting the button placement just right to try and pattern match as best I could! I didn't do a perfect job but it's not bad, although perhaps the lower croc is grinning a little wider than he really should.

Wax prints don't have a very obvious right and wrong side either, so I had to mark up the wrong sides with chalk to prevent confusion. Luckily this does also mean you can have fun reversing prints when the fancy takes you with collars and yokes etc.

With such a large-scale print this shirt could have looked really different if I'd cut from another section of the cloth, I was just trying to get as many croc faces in one view as I could, but I think this has affected the overall balance of colour, as it's definitely darker on the left side where the crocodiles are more concentrated.

I would definitely make this again, and I'd been keen to try the long sleeves next time. Maybe in a few months though, once I've had time to restock on all my personal projects!

Hopefully I'll have a nice sundress to share with you soon, if this lovely weather holds up. Or perhaps a nice shirtdress, now that I've experienced the neatly turned out collar results with the point turner I treated myself to for this pattern!

NorseOtter xxx

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Sweet Safari Outfit for a Wee One

Hello there! How is everyone?

I've been working on some unselfish sewing, which means slower than usual progress as I don't have that urge to put the garment on speeding me to its conclusion! Having said that however, this is quite a sweet little set and I have been thinking about bringing some peter pan collars into my life...

Anyway this is the Baby Dress and Knickers from 'Sew Your Own Wardrobe' – the Great British Sewing Bee's second book. It's down as an easy make and is supposed to be pretty quick, but I did run into a couple of snags... as I've come to expect from this book by now. On a side note I saw that the Fold Line were giving away the full batch of Sewing Bee books to celebrate the start of the new series (coming this week, and I can't deny that I'm looking forward to it!) and to be honest after my experiences with this book I was not tempted to enter, and felt that maybe I should share a warning!

As an example, here are the basic instructions to draft a one-size-fits all simple skirt which I thought might be an easy project to start with for a friend that's keen to get into sewing. If you squint closely at the measurements given in Step One's diagram, do you notice how the smaller edge at the top of the wedge has a bigger measurement than the long edge at the bottom? There's no other info anywhere in the instructions to cross-reference what the measurements should be, so it's basically a goner from the start. NOT a good way to kick off when it's supposed to be one of the easiest patterns and aimed at complete beginners. This book could really have benefitted from a proofreader, and judging by the way the patterns I've used so far have been drafted I'm not sure if they've been through a pattern testing process....

Despite this I did go ahead with the Baby Dress and Knickers. I had three issues with this pattern, which I'll sum up as quickly as I'm able:

1. The instructions on how to attach and finish the collar are incomplete. Luckily I caught this in time and instead of leaving the short straight edge open as closed it up just after the curved edges and before basting to the neckline. I did this with a 3/8” seam allowance though as with a 5/8” (which I'd done for the rest of the collar) it wouldn't have reached the shoulder seam. I then topstitched the short straight edge to the shoulder seam. If I'd seen that this step was missing earlier I might have basted in the collar before attaching the dress front and back together and caught the raw edge of the collar in the shoulders for a neater finish – or even better, redrafted the collar for it to go all the way to the back closure.


2. The knickers look simple enough – until they ask you to turn up the legs and waist seam 3cm to make the elastic channel. The waist, as a straight line, is fine, but trying to turn up the legs 3cm neatly was a nightmare. I decided to do 2cm instead for the legs and although this still meant a bit of puckering along the seam, once it's gathered with elastic it doesn't show too much. There isn't even a warning about puckering and how to avoid it. Again, a bit of a pain for me and would be extremely offputting for a total beginner. Also, turning the waist 3cm looks like a much deeper waist channel that on the sample they have pictured.

3. There's no guidance on how much elastic to actually use on the knickers! I was making this for a gift, for a baby that's not yet born, so casually measuring the baby's leg circumference wasn't going to be an option. I really think there should have been suggested lengths – people can always adjust to preference if they do have the required baby at their disposal, but having no info given at all leaves you a bit stuck!

Luckily the internet is a wonderful and powerful tool, and there are several charts out there that do give you average baby sizes. In fact, there are also plenty of free patterns and tutorials for baby knickers just like these that give you exact guidance on how much elastic to cut. Although I can't remember which free pattern I gleaned this info from I was kind of kicking myself that I didn't use it as it seemed better drafted so that the finish on the leg elastic channels was a lot neater. Oh well!

Other than these small grievances slowly me down a little this came together quite quickly and I think has turned out well, all things considered. I decided not to add the heart patches as I didn't want to cover up the cute safari print, and I left off the decorative buttons that are supposed to cover the poppers at the back because it seemed like an unnecessary choking hazard (and I was very careful to sew those poppers on super securely!). My bias binding is a fair bit narrower than what's suggested- that's purely because I only have a 12mm bias binding maker and it was my first time using it. It looks fine but in terms of functionality is a little scant at the back, and there is a tiny bit of edge-of-popper showage and a tiny bit of pulling. 

The safari print is from Classic Textiles on Goldhawk Road (so glad the fabric shops are still open there!) and the contrast blue is quite a nice hefty cotton from Ray Stitch. I have a fair bit left over from both so made a matching bag to put the set in using a basic tutorial from my Overlocker Manual and am kind of tempted to use the rest of the blue cotton to make myself a shirt if I have enough...

I've been admiring the Me Made May pledges popping up. I've still not dipped my toe in yet, May is a bit tricky for me to think about my wardrobe as I'm usually busy making something for my boyfriend whose birthday is this month. I do pretty much wear my me-mades every day too, and finding another angle for MMM without making it too challenging has stumped me a little. To be honest while I love the sense of community these pledges bring – I've taken part in the Vintage Pattern Pledge two years in a row but haven't committed to anything this year either. I think it's because I'm still a relatively new sewist with a lot of things on my to-make list, and adding to that and putting deadlines on it actually makes sewing less fun for me. I'd much rather go at my own pace and make things in a more considered way – but equally with some room for the odd impulse make when inspiration grabs me!

Hope your projects are going well! I'll have another unselfish sew to share soon.

NorseOtter xxx