Saturday, March 17, 2018

Playtime Dress, Kitty Shirt, and Happy Birthday Oliver + S!

I'm back with some Maggie makes! Continuing on my stashbusting quest, I have had a one yard piece of this adorable printed corduroy in my stash for a loooooong time. It has a little bit of stretch, and I believe I bought it from Mabel Madison, a great (warning: not inexpensive by any definition) online fabric store that sources those super cool European fabrics you see in Ottobre magazine and the like.

I decided to pull out a long-time favorite pattern I haven't sewn in a while, the Oliver + S Playtime Dress. I didn't have enough fabric to make sleeves, so I decided to make a cap-sleeved jumper.  I drafted facings for the sleeve caps to echo the neckline facing, sort of like the Marilla Walker Maya Top. It made a really cute little jumper that can be layered over a shirt, under a cardigan, or worn alone.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, corduroy is such a pleasure to work with! It is a great fabric for a beginning sewist, because it behaves so well (just make sure to cut all your pieces going the same way and use a pressing cloth), and it has a lovely soft drape.

Maggie loves the soft fabric, the pink flowers, and, of course, THE POCKETS. "These are the best pockets in the world!" she announced on trying this dress on. I'll take that as a win!

I wanted my topstitching to stand out more, so I used two pink threads threaded through a jeans needle to topstich the facings and hem. Because of the busy pattern of the fabric, the topstitching doesn't stand out as much as I had hoped, but it's definitely bolder than it would have been with just one thread.

Did you know that Oliver + S is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary? They've had a series of great blog posts celebrating ten years and 50 patterns! I was first introduced to Oliver + S in 2010, when Joe was just a tot! My first Oliver + S pattern was the Sailboat Pants (check out this ancient blog post! baby Joe!). At that time, the pattern seemed so advanced and intimidating! But they went together so well, and looked so professional! I was so delighted! I went on to make many more pairs, as well as a million pairs of Sketchbook Shorts. It is not exaggerating to say that Oliver + S patterns kickstarted my passion for apparel sewing. Liesl's instructions are so clear that sewing with her patterns feels totally doable, even as you're picking up tons of new skills. Plus, the community that sprung up around Oliver + s, on the blog, the forums, Flickr, and now Facebook, is truly extraordinary. I have met some of my dearest internet friends through Oliver + s patterns! (As I like to say, anyone who thinks internet friends are not "real friends" clearly does not have the amazing internet friends that I do!)

I calculated that I've sewn at least 33 separate Oliver + S styles, counting separates individually, and my blog has 75 some posts tagged "oliver and s." Several Oliver + S patterns are TNTs that I've made over and over and over. Eight years later, I still love sewing Oliver + S patterns. The patterns are reliable and versatile, and although not cheap, they are a great value. My kids have grown up in these patterns, and I love to see them still wearing them.

Happy Birthday Oliver + S! I know the sewing world has changed so much in the past ten years, and the terrain is different now than it was in 2008 (I continue to believe that the great recession was the impetus for so many of us picking up sewing - we could no longer afford our old hobbies!), but I hope we'll continue to see more patterns from Liesl in one way or another for another ten years (and beyond).

The August 2017 issue of Mollie Makes came with a package of pretty vintage-style buttons, which Maggie has been asking me to put on a dress for her since they arrived. This jumper was the perfect opportunity to use them, and the dark pink flower buttons echo the flowers on the fabric perfectly.

(Incidentally, I subscribed to Mollie Makes for a year, and Maggie and I enjoyed perusing the issues, which are full of adorable and colorful projects. I tried a couple of the projects and there are lots more I'd love to make someday. But the international shipping costs are really high, so this year, I discontinued my Mollie Makes subscription and subscribed to Ottobre Family and Women instead, figuring that I would get more use out of sewing patterns than crafty stuff - plus they ship less frequently so the shipping costs aren't as extreme - but we'll see! I definitely enjoy getting some fun sewing-related mail to break up all the bills, but all the good publications seem to come from Europe!)

After I finished the jumper, I realized Maggie needed a long sleeved shirt to go under it, and annoyingly, I didn't have enough of the dark pink fabric I made these leggings from to make a shirt (I made a shirt for her from the same fabric two years ago, but it is basically in shreds now). So I went to Stone Mountain for another couple yards of raspberry cotton lycra (a staple in my sewing for Maggie), which unfortunately led to a hard fall off the no-fabric-buying wagon and I came home with 9 yards of new fabric! ACK! I blame this t-shirt, people.

But seriously, this knit is super nice. Thicker than a Laguna knit, it has a good amount of lycra for stretch and recovery, but a nice beefy feel to it. I bought two yards, which goes a long way for Maggie, and I expect it will make nice sturdy leggings.

My home printer is super slow and tedious to use these days, which has meant that I've been turning more to patterns I just have to trace, rather than ones that have to be printed out. I decided to try a new Ottobre t-shirt pattern for this, and went with the "Black Cat Tee" from Ottobre Kids 6/2016, #11. I chose it because it was a simple and basic long sleeved shirt, but Maggie noticed that the example in the magazine has a cat applique, which, of course, I was planning to skip!

But my kitty-obsessed girl was in love! As she explained, "Everything is better with a kitty on it, mama!" Um, who can say no to that? So I agreed to do it, and we decided to make it a girl cat in a purple dress.

I used fusible web to stick the pieces to the fabric, and then attempted to stabilize the back of the applique with Sulky Sticky + Stabilizer. This did a great job of stabilizing the area while I was sewing the applique on (I used a basic straight stitch), but unfortunately I did not read the instructions and didn't realize I wasn't supposed to apply heat to it. I ironed another piece on my applique with the stabilizer adhered to the back, and this caused it to super bond to my fabric. When it came time to "tear off" the tear-off stabilizer, it wouldn't budge in the areas that had been exposed to heat, i.e., most of the head and torso of the cat! UGH!!! And the stabilizer was pretty thick and stiff, although Maggie was willing to look past it and wore the shirt all day anyway!

I was hoping that a wash would loosen the adhesive, and thankfully, it did. When I pulled it out of the washing machine still damp, the stabilizer peeled off pretty well, and even better after it air dried (I didn't want to risk having the heat of the dryer adhere it even more). Now there are only a few small spots where the stabilizer is bonded on. I'm hoping it will eventually wear off, and I can iron some interfacing/backing over the applique to remove any roughness.

That drama aside, Maggie loves this shirt! I like the relaxed fit of this pattern and will use it again for sure, and she loves kitty!! She's right - everything is better with a kitty on it!

All the leggings shown in post were made by me, from Ottobre 1/2017 - #3, "Baggy." This is a great one-piece legging pattern with a slightly baggy bottom. I've made a million pairs mostly becuase it's so easy and I have the traced pattern sitting out on my sewing area! The largest size in this pattern is Maggie's size (size 98) so I'll have to find a new leggings pattern soon (the Playtime Dress comes with a great one, I just didn't happen to have the tracing sitting around!). 

I'll leave you with some epic hair shots - Maggie bouncing on our new trampoline, which the kids got for Christmas! It's really seeing action now that the weather is warming up. Maggie's hair is still baby fine, but she has a surprising amount of it! (The white blobs flying around are her socks, which she took off to bounce.)

Chances are good that if you comment on this blog, I met you through the Oliver + S online community! Most of all, I am so glad to know and follow all of you! What was your first and last Oliver + S pattern?

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Two tops and two skirts.

Hello! My stash busting and blog catching up continues. I wanted some nice knit tops for chilly days that were work appropriate (business casual) and I have been meaning to try out the Grainline Lark Tee Expansion - this expansion pack includes a dress view and a two different neckline options, a regular turtleneck and a "cowl" neck. I was hoping for something like the Renfrew Cowl neck but without having to purchase another t-shirt pattern when the Lark fits me so well.

You may have noticed that this shirt doesn't actually fit me that well .... Well, both the regular turtleneck and the cowl neck use the crew neck Lark, which I haven't ever made before, so I went ahead and cut that out. Problem being, I forgot my size and cut it out in a size 12 instead of a size 10 like my former Larks - size 12 is definitely a bit large, although still wearable.

Background information: I have a dread of fabric touching the hollow of my neck. I hate it. I like a nice cowl that falls away from the neck, or a loosely wrapped scarf or collar, but no tight turtlenecks for me! Welp, the expansion cowl is very, very tall. Very tall!

When pushed down, it is also very heavy, and quite tight. This is the face of a woman being strangled by her own collar.

Okay, now some people might really love this neckline! I could see it being very warm and cozy in a cold climate and, obviously, not everyone has my weird neck issues. But it wasn't going to work for me!

I cut the cowl off, shortened it by half, and sewed it back on. Ah. Now my neck can breathe! A much better garment for my climate, too.

This change made this top wearable, but I wouldn't say it's my favorite make. It's a bit too large, and the neckline, while better than before, wasn't the cowl neckline of my dreams.

Sidebar: This is a Mabel Skirt I made last year in mustard ponte, which I am only now blogging but wear all the time. I lengthened the skirt to a midi-length and used the plain front version of the pattern. I added wide elastic at the waist, too. This is one of my most sewn patterns, I believe this is my fifth skirt and I would love a few more! I've really personalized this pattern and I love this version.

 I retained my favorite part of the pattern, which is the lovely kick pleat. It's an easy feature to add, and it definitely adds some polish to this basic knit skirt.

Back to my quest for the perfect cowl ... after conferring with Masha, who has sewn the Refrew many times, I decided to try altering the Lark cowl to more closely resemble the Renfrew. I used the scoop neck version of the t-shirt (in size 10) for a much lower neck, and made a much wider, somewhat shorter cowl than the Lark expansion piece. In looking at these pictures, I actually think I could have made the cowl taller and fuller without it becoming claustrophobic at all. I think a larger cowl would balance out my large bust really nicely too. Well, it's a continuing journey! 

Unfortunately, I initially put the sleeves on backwards, and had to redo them! They still look a bit messed up to me, but I have been wearing this top a ton so it's obviously not worrying me too much.

The fabric for both these tops came from the sales that Britex had before its move to a new space. This olive green rayon lycra is really knit perfection - so buttery soft and drapey.

And yes, I made this skirt as well! More precisely, I refashioned it. I found a Gap minidress at the thrift store, and was immediately drawn to the firm, stable fabric! The dress fit me in theory but it was unflattering with a high neck (again!) and mini length. I simply chopped it off below the bust, folded the top down, and added wide elastic to make it a skirt. I didn't change the angle of the skirt, so it's slightly a-line and hits just above my knees now. I have been wearing this skirt to work (on more casual days) frequently, it's comfortable and goes with all my solid colored tops.

All of these fabrics came from the stash (and one came from the pile of "mend or refashion" items).In the month of February, I sewed up about 6.5 yards from the stash, which was pretty good! Unfortunately, I also went to Stonemountain and fell off the wagon pretty hard, buying 9 yards (in my defense, some of that was on sale?). Oof! But I'm still ahead for the year and I'm still trying to make a dent in my stash this year!

I have a few more pieces of fabric that would make great cowl tops if I want to continue on my journey of drafting the perfect cowl for the Lark tee. But at some point, I might switch to spring tops instead, we'll see! (Of course, our Bay Area summers are colder than our winters a lot of the time, so there's that to consider too!)

Are you still sewing for cool weather? Or have you moved on to hot weather sewing? (Realizing my Southern Hemisphere friends are considering the reverse!)