Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Lemon Drop

Over here, we're starting to say goodbye to Summer. We've had 2-3 weeks on constant rainy weather, it's getting darker in the mornings and the doona's back on the end of the bed (although usually pushed down to the bottom).

But the Lemon Drop Dress is like a drop of sunshine that has been keeping winter at bay.

The pattern has options for a dress or tunic length, with or without a ruffle at the bottom.

And the gathered pockets are just gorgeous.

There is an amazing technique for getting the binding on the pockets just right.  I must confess that I often have to go back and add a little hand stitching her or there to catch binding I might miss. But my stitching was spot on with these pockets.

Tie Dye Diva patterns were some of the first pdf sewing patterns I tried, so it's pretty special to be able to test a pattern.

As usual the pattern is well written, with a good level of words and pictures. There are plenty of tips to help you get a great finish, and a beautiful garment.

This dress is a size 5 that has been lengthened to a size 6 (for my slender girl). There are instructions on how to do this included in the pattern. The fit is meant to be a little loose and flowing. Perfect for warm summer days, or for allowing room to pop a t-shirt underneath.

I dare say this dress will be still on high rotation come the cooler months, with a long sleeve tee and a pair of leggings. It's very versatile, and great for twirling.

For this version I used a vintage sheet for the main skirt, a fat quarter for the bodice and pockets, and some random broadcloth from my stash for the straps and pocket binding. I really struggle to combine two or more patterned fabrics, so I'm pretty pleased with how the purples pinks and oranges work together in this dress.

Can we just take a moment to reflect on the fussy cut placement for the front bodice .....

.... and behold the wonder of snaps covered in matching fabric (how close are the oranges in those fabrics!). I read about it in the latest issue of One Thimble (affiliate link), and now I can't get enough of fabric covered snaps.

The pattern is also available for American Girl and Wellie Wisher dolls. We have an Australian Girl doll that I have yet to sew for. Unfortunately, she has had a hair cut, and a sharpie tattoo on her calf, so no pattern testing for Annabelle. But I think a matching dress is on the cards.

The pattern is reduced to $7.50 (US) for release, and can be found here.

As an extra bonus for making it all the way to the end of this post, here's one more photo of a dress made with an earlier version of the pattern. This one has a ruffle (included in the final pattern), and the final version is a little looser in fit.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

A Gingerbread Birthday

Miss 6 has never been particularly fond of cake (although, give her some cheese, crackers and sauerkraut and she's happy). So she came up with a fantastic idea for her birthday cake.

A gingerbread house! We had finally found a 'cake' that she would happily eat.

Following in that theme, we had a gingerbread party.  We decorated gingerbread men, pinned the bow tie on the gingerbread man, and had a gingerbread pinata (rather over-engineered).

I was pretty pleased that I managed to bake and assemble a gingerbread house (rather than put together the easy Aldi version).  I was very brave, and handed over the undecorated house to be decorated by the guests.

The inspiration for Miss 6's Birthday Dress was a Pinterest search for "Gingerbread Dress". I remembered I had a large piece of brown shirting that was just the right colour. I added in some red buttons, extra large white ric rac, some red spotty ribbon and some red gingham (reclaimed from a shirt that was destined for the op shop).  Altogether I'm pretty happy with the look, and think I managed to fill the brief.  Given the weight and lower breathability of the shirting, I lined it in red cotton lawn. I'm a big fan of a contrast lining.

The pattern used as the Sis Boom Gabriella Fae. I wanted something with a high bodice, and puffed sleeves.  The pattern has a great number of options for sleeve and skirt lengths, and Miss 6 was particularly taken with the bow on the waistband.

For a puffier skirt, I used the width measurements for the Latona Dress. The bodices were similar sizes so I knew they would work.

Last time I made this dress I realised that it uses a standard dress zip. I generally prefer invisible zippers (I'd argue that they're actually easier to install). It wasn't until I got to the point of inserting the zipper that I realised that the bodice construction meant that I couldn't bag the lining.  So I ended up just sewing it in, then tacking down the zipper tape and seam allowance so they were kept out of the way.

The bow was a little different to the pattern instructions, being two pieces of ribbon rather than shaped sections of fabric. After some prodding and stitching I ended up with a shape I liked, and sewed it on. The ribbon I had was slightly too narrow to use as the waistband, so it was stitched on over the top. The bottom of the ribbon overhangs the top of the skirt slightly.

All was ready and set for the party. But half an hour before the start .... the zipper broke.  The section of the bodice with the ribbon is really stiff (the ribbom doesn't bend much), and caused the zipper not to 'zip together' properly.  So in 17 minutes I managed to removed the old zipper, and insert the new. We zipped up the dress as the doorbell rang. And so, I have a white (not so) invisible zipper in a brown dress - but it zips up nicely and no more trouble.

So far I've not managed to take 'beautiful' photos at a party. There's usually so much to be done that getting a photo of the cake is about as much as we manage.  These photos were taken recently, at a local reserve. I'll have to remember this spot for photos, it worked out pretty well (until the camera battery went flat).

So that's her last big birthday bash for a while. There will still be cake next year, and maybe even a new dress, but no lollybags, parties and the rest of the shebang.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

The PenUltimate Pencil Case

So this pencil case idea is pretty cool. But there is always the possibility that there are better ones out there - so we have the PenUltimate Pencil Case!!!!!

Basically, it's your standard lined zipper pouch, with added elastic loop thingies to hold your special pencils in place for easy access.

The design was my son's idea.  Before we went on holidays I made both kids a new pencil case, and filled it with brand new pencils. An important piece of preparation when you're about to spend over 24 hrs each way on the plane, and countless hours driving all over the place (and thoroughly enjoying it too I might add). When we got home, he asked me to add some pieces of elastic to the inside, to keep his lead pencils nice and handy.

It was a pretty good idea, so I did. Of course, by that stage, the whole pencil case was already sewn up, so any stitching on the inside was visible on the outside (except if I had handsewed it, but I wanted that elastic to stay put, so that wasn't an option). And the ends of the elastic were rather visible too.  All up it was a little messy. But he was happy with it, and my daughter requested the same mods.

So when I offered a new pencil case as a birthday present for one of Miss 6's friends, I decided to add the elastic sections, but 'properly this time'.

I adapted Noodlehead's Open Wide Zippered Pouch tutorial (medium size) to have the lining cut in 3 pieces. That way the ends of the elastic could be sandwiched neatly between the seam allowances, and no extra stitching would be visible on the outside of the pencil case.

It's a pretty neat hack, and if you read on, I'll walk you through it.

What you need:

  • material for outer and liner
  • standard dress zip (longer than the pouch you're making)
  • rulers (I use my quilting ruler & a metal ruler)
  • marker (washaway or similar)
  • needles, thread, pins, scissors
  • hair elastic (like the ones below - they are cheap, have good elasticity and are flat & wide making them good to secure in place)

First off is a little bit of maths. I have found elastic secured 1.5" at each end, with stitching in the middle is a good size for a standard pencil. The elastics are positioned 1.5" from the top of the case (where the zipper is).

The measurements below are for a starting rectangle size of 9"x 12" (the middle size Open Wide Zippered Pouch), but you can adapt them for whatever size you want.

Here is a diagram of how it should look when it's all together. (the thick black lines are the elastic)

But we need to add seam allowance (1/2") for the middle section. So for a piece 12" wide, we need to cut the following:

  • 6.5" x 12" (bottom section)
  • 2.5" x 12" (middle section)
  • 2" x 12" (top section)
You can cut the other side the same (for two sets of loops), or as a straight 9"x 12"piece. And don't forget to cut two pieces for the outside of your pouch.

Fold the middle section in half, then press with an iron, then in half the other way, and press. This will give you a centre point, and straight centre lines to work from.

Use a removable marking implement  (I will use chalk, washaway marker, washaway pencil or heat disappearing pens depending on on what I'm marking) to indicate where your elastic will sit. I marked two lines 2" away from the centre line (orange lines), and then marked 1/2" in along each end of those lines, as well as the centre line, (pink lines)

Pin your elastic in place along the orange lines (and centre line if you want a bit more stability). Stitch the elastic in place just inside the seam allowance. I went back and forth with a tight zig zag. And stitch again at the centre of the elastic to make two pencil sections.

Here are my machine settings for the zig zag

And here's my trusty tool for making sure the elastic goes under the presser foot nicely.  Sometimes it gets a little stuck, so I help it along with my seam ripper (keeps my fingers away from that needle). I find this also helps keep the elastic square as I'm sewing.

When you've stitched on your elastic it should look something like this. I stuck a pencil in there to check the fit.

Once you're happy with your elastic placement, stitch the middle section of fabric to the top and bottom lining pieces (1/2" seam allowance). Then carefully press, with the seam allowance away from the middle.  I will generally use a pressing cloth for this step, as the elastic can melt with too much heat.

Then topstitch along those two seams. The elastic is now held secure with 3 lots of stitching, and no exposed ends. Here it is all neatly sewn in place. (this was taken after the pouch was completed - so the zipper is visible)

Complete the rest of the pouch according to the tutorial directions (here's the one I generally use Noodlehead's Open Wide Zippered Pouch).

And then enjoy your super cute pencil case, with spots to keep special pens or pencils easy to hand! (or make one for a friend, relative or random stranger).