Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Quick Sew - A Witches Hat

We hosted a small Halloween party last night. Sprog and Widget chose whatever they wanted from the dress up box, but both chose the PJ Masks costumes I finished last week. Husband went as Donald Trump which was easy, a suit, a pillow, and bronzer, completed with an offcut from Widget's Ewok costume for a wig.

My costume was a last minute through together. I pulled my Academic robe out of the cupboard, my favourite, but dying stripey socks from the drawer and slapped green face paint over bared skin. To cap it off I popped on a hat made fresh that afternoon.

This was a super quick sew. If I hadn't been sewing a Mummy-ing simultaneously it would have taken 15 minutes from go to woah.

For this hat I used the Oliver+S bucket Hat pattern as a base. I made it in the largest size, ostensibly size 6-8. It was a smidge on the small size, but having tried Sprog's Paddington Hat and having it fit OK, I figured a size that worked for the boys dress-up box would ensure the most use.

For this one I used black felt. I cut the brim as normal. the crown I did away with completely. For the pointy part of the hat I lined the pattern piece for the side of the hat up against the fold then drew a straight line from the other end of the pattern piece on the same angle all the way up to where it met the edge.

Then it was cut, sew down the straight line, attach the brim as per the instructions and wear.
One last minute witch costume.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

PJ Masks costumes - Catboy and Gekko

Sprog was invited to yet another birthday. Birthday Boy loves the show PJ Masks so that was the theme. We didn't know the show when the invitation arrived but YouTube soon solved that problem. When asked Sprog wanted to be Catboy, and for Widget to be Gekko.
I went with Lycra for the costumes, 'cause that's what superheroes costumes are made of. I reused the Scuba Hood pattern from Brindelle and Twig that I used for the Ewok costume for the top and hood, with a few additions. For the leggings I found this free pattern on Craftsy. Given I only have boys who don't really wear leggings in their day to day ensembles I didn't want to buy a leggings pattern. I also bought maskerade masks in blue and green. 

I bought the right shades of blue and green for the main fabric. I got electric blue and green for the accents, but it turns out the characters only have the electric colours for a piece or two, and they are are a darker shade for the accents. Oops. 

I mostly followed the patterns with a few tweaks. For Catboy in blue I easily had enough fabric using 1.5m of a 1.5m wide bolt. I had to be a little careful with the pattern placement, but still had enough for Gekko from 1m of the 1.5m wide bolt. However I did stuff up with my Gekko costume, as I folded the material the wrong way before cutting. There was enough stretch that it was a not-disastrous mistake that required the buyng more fabric.  


Customisation for Catboy:

An appliqued mask on the front, backed with double-sided interfacing before stitching. 

Once I had made the outer of the hood I tried it on Sprog, then placed a piece of paper across his forehead and traced the edge. This was the basis for a little piece over the forehead to cover the difference between the hood and the masks. I layered this into place before sewing the inner and outer of the hood.

Ears. I cut triangles, stitched the edges on two sides, turned them right side out and top-stiched a little under a cm from the edges. To attach the I cut slits in the outer layer of the hood, tucked the ears into place and pinned them. I topstitched as best I could, but don't look too closely. It was tricky and a bit messy. 

The other factor was the stripes. These I painted on with fabric paint, which needed to be set with ironing. To start with I did it freehand, then I realised that masking tape was the key to crisp lines. To paint the lines on the hood I filled it with a ball to keep the shape, before painting. 

A tail. this was a long tube with a rounded end. I stuffed it with the insides of a pillow that cat had attacked and hand sewed it. The end was sewed around edges in a circle rather than sewed flat into the seam. 

Customisation for Gekko:

An appliqued mask on the front. I did it upside down the first time. Oops. I cut it off the front and recut a front piece and sewed the whole piece on as one rather than redo all the little applique. 
Oops upside down Gekko!

The other distinguishing features of Gekko were the tail and fins on the head. The tail was shorter and a bit pointy, but otherwise done the same as Catboy's. 

The hood had the same forehead covering, but before assembling the outer layer I added fins. To make the fins I sewed triangles into the bright green fabric, then added interfacing to each side and trimmed the excess before turning it inside out. I stuffed it with some more pillow inner, then closed the seam. The completed fins I then pinned into the hood before sewing the assembly seam.

The final addition was padding. Gekko crawls up the sides of buildings and has grip on his hands, shoulders, elbows, and knees. I cut that from fleece from a previous project, and hand stitched it on. 

The boys were very pleased with the final product and wore them all day, though the masks came off within an hour or two. For the final touches I put blue or green tape over their shoes. 

Sewing a hat for Paddington Bear

This week was book week at preschool. The last day was dress up as a book character day. It's something of a family tradition to go to book day as Paddington Bear. When my sister was fairly small, about 6 or 7 she saw a coat and fell in love with it. It is a blue wool coat with tartan lining and a hood, very similar to Paddington Bear's duffel coat. I remember wearing it to be Paddington Bear when I had dress up day at primary school. It is such a good quality coat, and so good for Paddington dress ups, that my mother never got rid of it. My sisters kids have all outgrown it, so it has been passed onto me for my boys. Last year Sprog had a Paddington Bear party, but only wore it a few minutes as it was a warm day. Now it's time for the coat to come into it's own on book day, but to complete the look he needed a hat. A great big floppy red hat.

I have been meaning to try the Reversible bucket hat from Oliver+S for a while now and this was my chance,  albeit with a few modifications.

After a quick poll of facebook friends to confirm my instinct I went with felt in a bright red. The pattern calls for two layers of each section, giving the hat it's reversible quality, but since this was specifically for Paddington, and felt is a bit stiffer than the cotton it would usually be made of, I went with a single layer.

I cut the crown to the pattern. The sides I extended by tracing the bottom edge then moved the tracing paper over two inches before tracing the top edge, and ruling the sides anew. Doing it this way rather than just extending the sides two inches ensured that the crown would still match. The brim I also extended, this time I measured an extra two inches out in a number pf places then redrew the edge around those 2 inch points.

Then it was just a matter of following the instructions to put it all together. I trimmed the seam allowance in the crown, and sewed the brim/side seam flat to help the shape. The extra two inches make the brim super floppy, but Sprog is happy with his new hat.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A first project - Sewing a dress with my niece.

My one and only niece came to stay with me in the school holidays. Since I've been sewing so much of late, I suggested I teach her to sew. She wears a lot of knit T-shirt dresses, and since I've been meaning to sew the Rivage Raglan from Blank Slate Patterns, I suggested it to her. The pattern is classed as an intermediate, but it is a straight forward sew with very little in the way of fiddly-bits. Most of all it was a style that she liked, and with Grandma to stay as well, someone with many years sewing experience, albeit not a lot lately (she's taken to knitting and crocheting) we took the plunge.

First up was a trip to the fabric stores in town. It took a lot of umming and ahhing to find the right combination. Blue and white stripes for the bodice and a bright orange for the sleeves. When Sprog and Widget went to bed that night we started tracing the patter while the fabric was being washed. Once the pattern was ready I introduced Niece to the sewing machine. Starting with threading the machine and inserting the bobbin. She sewed one piece of fabric first, then followed patterns on a scrap, before starting to put two pieces together.

Most of our sewing was done while little boys were sleeping either in Widget's nap times, or after both boys were asleep in the evening. The second night we cut the fabric. Niece did half or more of every piece of the dress. I would show her what to do with the piece from one side and she would do the second. 


Grandma's experience came in handy when we were fitting the bodice. To get the right fit we angled  in a little from the midpoint of each of the shoulder seams narrowing them so they would be about 2cm narrower at the neckline. Both Niece and I prefer a smaller neckline. 

Niece finished the dress just in time to wear it home. The sleeves were left unhemmed, out of choice, and the dress length was turned over and hand basted to allow plenty of additional length should she have a growth spurt. 

Niece and Grandma will be continuing the sewing in their home town. Yay! A convert!

Capes to the rescue - A superhero and a girly cape

Sprog was invited to yet another party. Should anyone be reading all of this blog they will have started to notice a theme. This time was for a girl turning 4, and her little brother turning 2. Widget came along too as he knows birthday boy.

I didn't know anything about either kid. Sprog says he doesn't play with birthday girl, but the teachers at preschool assured me she was a girly-girl so I went for my fallback of something pink and sparkly. I used the same pattern as the last time I made a cape, but this time the fabric was both pink and sparkly, rather than pink with a sparkly overlay. I finished the seams by flat felling them, then trimmed with inch-wide ribbon. The ribbon was laid around the edge of the cape first. I then used a separate piece around the hood, with about 30cm/12in excess on each end to use as the tie.


Birthday Girl opened it, put it on, said she loved it, then dashed away to play dragging Sprog with her. 

Little brother Birthday Boy is another kid I know very little of, but having two little boys I was at less of a loss. Superheroes are always popular, so another cape was planned. I left my options open and went fabric shopping. I ended up with some plain black cotton, and a red velour with spiderwebs all over it. With some yellow fabric I had already, I planned a reversible Spiderman/Batman cape.

I used the Superkid cape pattern from Peekaboo patterns as my base, first cutting out the cape, then using the scraps for the bat shape. Using a Bat Signal image I found using Google,  I traced the bat onto double sided interfacing and ironed it on, then cut, ironing the shape onto yellow before stitching round the edges with a black zig-zag. 

If you look closely you can see a yellow bat shape.

I backed the yellow with single sided interfacing to strengthen it,  cut the oval about 15mm from the edge of the bat, pinned it in place, then used yellow thread to zigzag the outer curve. You could use double sided interfacing again, but I was running low, and it was an easy shape to sew in place anyway. 

Before assembling the two sides I put a little interfacing in the ends of the straps to stabilise where the popper was going to go. 

Then it was just a matter of sew it all together, turn, topstich the edges and attach the popper. Sprog modelled it for me and it was ready to go.

I bought way too much fabric, so I think Sprog's Batman mad bestie might be getting something similar for his birthday next month.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

A Quick Sew: A cat pillow

For a few years we have had a couple of super cheap duvets in our house. We bought them when we were brand-spanking-newly married to provide a bedcovering for each of  Husbands brothers when they stayed. Since then they have been on spare beds. One of them was left without a cover for a while and the cat took a liking to it. It must be a cozy spot for feline sleep, with the added bonus of being a spot where Widget and Sprog won't bother him. Cat has padded and pawed and clawed the cheap duvet to the point it was having bunches of polyester stuffing pull away. It was time to do something about it.

For the cover I used and old but in very good nick sheet. When I say old I mean "bought in the 70's" old. When I say "in good nick" I mean it was only taken out of the plastic packaging about 7 years ago and only used very sporadically since then. The pattern is very 70's though so I'm unlikely to use it. It's one of the reasons it has only been used sporadically.

The first step was to fold over the sheet and sew down the end edge. I then sewed about 1/3 of the way up the long open edge. I measured it against the folded duvet and cut to size. Then I sewed about 1/4-1/2 inch from the edge up the fold, to make all the edges be defined. I sewed the fourth edge completely, and on the still partially open side sewed about a third from the other end.  This meant it was completely closed on three sides and the ends of the fourth side were also sewn, with an opening in the middle.

I stuffed the duvet in, I had it folded over into a half, then that half into thirds before stuffing. The last step was to close the opening. I used three white snaps to make the gaps between the snaps small enough the cat wouldn't slip inside the cover.

The pens mark the end of the sewn portions, and if you look closely you can see the snaps

 Cat not using pillow. 

ETA: Cat using pillow!