Monday, July 28, 2008

The bird shirt

Another Ottobre Design pattern. This one is 04/2008 #11. I made it in a size 104, but think Ruby would have been better with the size 110. The size 104 is exposing quite a bit of tummy if she lifts her arms up, plus it is quite snug in the tummy.

I'm not that happy with the fabric I used for the bird. The pink on the bird blends a bit too much with the shirt. However, the intention is to self-draft a skirt in the same fabric as the bird. I hope to do that over the next week or so.

Ruby has given it a big thumbs up by wearing it for 3 days in a row and refusing offers of other clothing. I'm going to have to sneak it into the washing machine tonight.

The shirt introduced a number of new skills for me. This is the first time I've:
- machine embroidered
- done applique
- self-bound a neckline.

The applique/embroidery went pretty well. The only change I'd made would be to baste the stabiliser and soluble stuff rather than attaching them to the shirt with pins.

I've now made 3 Ottobre things and I have to say I love the magazine and patterns. The tracing off is relatively easy to do. I've been adding seam allowances as I cut out the pattern using my Olfa cutter and 'seam gauge thingy', which lets you cut a certain distance from the pattern edge. I am preferring this way of cutting over using scissors. The instructions aren't too sketchy either ... although you do need to read all of the instructions before you make up the garment.
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Monday, July 21, 2008

Knit Gauge

I've been organising my fabric stash by creating an index card for each fabric, attaching a swatch of fabric to the card, noting meterage. I also want to note percentage of stretch for knit fabrics, and wasn't sure how to calculate the stretch. Previously I've used the 'Pick a Knit' ruler to assess fabric suitability, however that only helps me with a specific pattern.

I've found a great explanation on how to calculate the percentage of stretch here: on The Sewing Divas blog. What a great site - lots of helpful information.

Ottobre 3/2008 #18 "China Grass Dress"

This is my version of the "China Grass Dress" from Ottober Design Issue 3/2008. I think it is design #18. The original design included a yoke (which would have been sewn in white), however I merged the yoke with the bodice.

It was pretty quick and easy to make. The bodice is fully lined and it has an invisible zipper in the back. I did find the bodice insturctions a little sketcy. After the bodice and lining are turned right-side out, you must then complete the seam from the notch to the hem.

This is the first invisible zip I have completed. Once I got my head around it, it wasn't too bad. The plastic Invisible Zipper Foot I found would not fit my 40-year-old Elna Supermatic. However, I found another foot in my Elna stash which had two grooves on the front of it and it guided the zipper perfectly and did a wonderful job. The only error was not aligning the top of the zipper with the top of the dress. Consequently I've also had to sew on a hook and eye at the top CB.

Ruby is delighted and immediately went into 'twirl and bounce' mode.

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Leggo mayhem

As a couple of very special rewards the two bigger kids each earned a tiny leggo kit on the weekend. As you can see ... Dad had a huge amount of fun too. Since construction they've been rebuilt a couple of times and Ruby has started to refer to the insturctions to try and work out where to put things.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Completed Jeans

As you can see, I've completed B's jeans. Overall I'm pretty happy with them. I did have some trouble with my machine with the bar-tacks and topstitching tension, but I think I've worked out how to improve things for future projects.
As to the fit: The are a bit big and the style is very baggy with huge pockets. I didn't put on the belt loops as B never wears belts. The smallest size available was a 98, which I made and then shortened the legs by about 11cm. (B is really a size 92 with extra short legs). I modified the waistband to make the waist adjustable. (Added two button hole openings to the inside waistband and inserted 'maternity elastic' type stuff.) Next time I make them I think I'll redraft the pockets and make them smaller.
B's reaction to the jeans wasn't favourable. He wanted to take them off right away and put something else on. Hopefully he will grow to like them!

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Zip is in!

Tonight I finished inserting the zip.

I'm not that happy with my topstitching of the back pockets. I should have ripped it out and redone it, however I decided not to as I've put his entire project down to a 'learning experience'. I also had an issue with the tension for the topstitching. I've resolved that now and the most recent topstitching is looking a lot better.

The pockets have some odd detailing, which I'd overlooked when I selected the pattern. There are four tucks on each back pocket. The tucks near the CB seam open upwards and the tucks on the sideseams open downwards. Initially I didn't like the look, however it is growing on me.

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Black Jeans

The Ottobre Desing jeans (Issue 3/2008 "Black Jeans") that I am making for B are going to test me. a) I haven't sewed trousers/pockets/zips in living memory and the Ottobre directions aren't very wordy and don't have pictures illustrating what is required. b) I've never used Ottobre before and I think it will take a couple of projects to become familiar with 'how they do things. I think I've selected a rather challenging project to begin with. Perhaps I should put the "Black Jeans" to one side and select a simpler Ottober item as my first project.

The process I have worked through so far:
1) trace off pattern pieces
2) add seam allowances (see below for lessons learned)
3) cut out fabric

Adding seam allowances was my first learning curve. a) Initially I tried using a compass ... run the point of the compass along the stitching line and have the compass' pencil draw in the seam allowance. Great theory, however the pencil wasn't dark enough on my pattern (made from interfacing). b) I contemplated using my seam gauge to measure and mark the seam allowance, and decided there had to be a quicker way to do it. c) Finally I used the low-tech approach and joined two pencils together with an elastic band. This has given me a narrow seam allowance, but I think it will be fine. It certainly was a fast way to add the seam allowance. However, one must be careful to hold the pencils at the same angle otherwise the distance between the stitching line and seam allowance line vary. I may try this method again - but at the initial tracing stage, so that I both trace the pattern and add seam allowance at the same time.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ottobre & Pattern Tracing

Yesterday was very exciting as my first Ottobre magazine arrived. It is issue 3/2008 (see I've been awaiting its arrival, hoping that there would be a suitable trendy trousers pattern for B. I've decided to attempt the "Black Jeans" (design #32) and tonight I have been tracing off the pattern.

Tracing off the pattern isn't an easy thing. On each pattern sheet, there are many patterns overlaying each other. Each pattern is in a different colour. There are lines everywhere ... and writing in lots of different languages. Great care is needed to ensure all pattern markings are traced. In addition, after you trace the pattern you need to add seam allowances. Not a big problem - just something to be remembered.

To complicate things further, some larger pattern pieces (eg trouser front) are split into two. Eg the Trouser Front is made up of pattern piece 2 and 2A. You must trace both and then join them together before cutting out the fabric. I wasn't expecting this to be a problem, however I now see that the instructions on joining the pieces is a little scant. It isn't clear if an overlap is Incorporated into each piece, or if the two pieces simply butt up against each other.

Now I am wondering if I should put the "Black Jeans" to one side and attempt a more simple Ottobre pattern, just to get a feel for how they do things.


Today Robert went to his 3-year-old Kindy dressed up as a Dragonfly, an outfit which I created. The requirement was to 'dress as something you would find in the garden'. I'm really happy with how the outfit turned out. The only problem is that the elastic is a little tight and consequently a bit uncomfortable. Ruby and Laura got into the spirit of things and dressed as faries.

Shocking picture ... I should have moved the kids away from the rubbish bin!
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