Little One Yard Wonders book (and giveaway)

You might have been hearing about the newest book in the series of the One Yard Wonders series, Little One Yard Wonders.  It’s a whole book of projects for you and your children, but also a handy resource for a range of home crafted baby gifts.

I’m hosting a little giveaway here to celebrate the launch of the book, as I have two projects featuring in the book.   To participate, just leave a comment below telling me what your tried and true USEFUL gift for a little one is by June 30, 2014.  Absolutely leave a link to any blogged make as well if you have one.  Make sure to leave an email address or way to contact you, and a winner will be selected at Random. Storey Publishing will then send you a copy of the book directly!

Little One Yard Wonders book cover

Little One Yard Wonders book cover

These are two tried and tested projects, as my own pram liner is still on my pram nearly three years later (and in dire need of a wash), and I’ve given many a nursing cover to new Mums that want a little privacy while still working out this breastfeeding caper (after sussing out if this is something they would want and use).

Having kids really spurred on my creative sewing as I had the time to think about sewing, construction and buying fabric (fabric.com emails come in the middle of the night…many boxes of fabric were ordered in the wee hours of the night).  Primarily I was irritated and motivated that simple, useful things like a nursing cover cost $50 in a store here.   Time to DIY like a boss.

Have a sneak peek at the lovely professional pics of my projects from the book, with the photos taken by Julie Toy.

Stroller Liner Nursing Cover Nursing Cover close up

FO: Lekala 4261 Top

Why hello Lekala 4261!  This coral blouse was actually a less fussy version of Lekala 4261, a wearable muslin if you will.

lekala 4261

Fit

Hard to tell as I’ve made it too small for the intended recipient.  It’s becoming a recurring theme here!  I’m going to make various people at social sewing try it on I think to see what the problem was.  I think it could be my use of 7 french seams, it could be the way I eased the french seams.  Maybe it was a typo when I entered it into Lekala.  In some way, it’s going to be my stupid brain.

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Fabric

This top (and the binding) was made out of 1 metre of a silk cotton blend from Darn Cheap Fabrics.  It is BEAUTIFUL to sew.  In fact, although I promised myself to not buy any more fabric I’m in love with silk cotton.  It’s tempting to make lots of silk cotton underwear out of it as it’s just so luxurious and also well priced.  This was $13.95 AUD per metre, which is very reasonable.

Techniques

I’m really pleased with the way this blouse turned out, even though it doesn’t fit the intended recipient.  That’s ok, maybe it will eventually fit me, or there will always be someone skinnier at social sewing that may benefit from my sewing sizing mishaps!

The seams are all french seams (except the side seam with the inserted zipper), with handmade matching bias tape using this method.  While it does give you more seams than cutting long strips and then joining them, it’s easier to cut the bias tape after laying out your pattern if you leave a decent sized square.  It does take me a few moments of thinking to cut it out right, but if you take your time it turns out beautifully.

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I usually don’t use invisible zips (as I find them finicky and liable to break), but it was the best option for this blouse.

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Future learnings

*ahem* it would be wise to check the seam allowances BEFORE doing french seams.  The seam allowances (if you add them) on Lekala patterns are 1 cm (1/2″) , and I did french seams with something wider than that, and with 7 seams shaping the blouse…it slowly shrank.

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The Oliver and S Sailboat skirt

The Oliver and S sailboat skirt is now a Tried and True pattern.  To check the elastic required for the back band, I made little miss R try on the skirt….she then refused to leave my sewing room without the skirt on.  She actually stood by my sewing machine while I stitched in the elastic, and basted down the front where the buttons and buttonholes should go, all the while chanting “mine”.   No higher commendation can be awarded.

Oliver and S sailboat pattern

You can just see one basted buttonhole on the left…

And thus all day she wore the skirt, and I had to wait until after it was out of the wash (and she was out of the house) to photograph the details.

Fit

Oliver and S patterns with elastic generally fit her pretty perfectly if they don’t have too much ease designed in.  The length is perfect on the skirt, so it doesn’t get in the way of climbing, jumping, riding on bikes etc.  The back is very gathered, as it always takes significantly less elastic than the pattern recommends, but she’s a skinny mini.

oliver and s sailboat skirt elastic back

 

Fabric

The main fabric on this is a black cotton drill from lincraft, and the inside of the skirt flaps should also be black cotton drill but I can’t remember where I tidied it to.  Somewhere very safe obviously.

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Future learnings

Pro tip – I usually have a piece of bias tape pinned up on a board which shows her waist circumference.  Wish I’d kept all of the old ones!  It’s a good way to use up old scraps, and then I can just lay it out over some elastic (and then shorten it).

For the next few years, R doesn’t need buttons to get in and out of this skirt, so I’ll continue eliminating the buttonholes and just have the buttons sewn on decoratively.  Also, I might modify the front to turn the front panels into pockets, but really that just invites snotty tissues into the wash.  What does a toddler really need pockets for anyway?

oliver and s sailboat skirt button detail

Techniques

Every time you sew an oliver and s pattern you learn something new and clever.  Liesl is a genius, and the order of construction and techniques used always give such a professional finish.  I’m putting together my collection of beautiful basics from the Oliver and S patterns, which will get hauled out as nice quality basics for the kids.  The back elastic is just lovely, and so easy to insert.  The order of construction and the way the back is drafted is impeccable.

The kick pleat at the back is also very well explained, and is a lovely detail (and makes it much easier to play in).

oliver and s kick pleat

Summary

Shortly after sewing this, I listened to the ThreadCult podcast with Liesel and I would highly recommend listening to it if you sew kids patterns.  Actually, I would recommend the whole series as it’s just fascinating some of the interviewees explaining how they got in the industry and their perception of sewing etc.  Did you know Susan Khalje used to be a concert pianist?  Anyway, let’s get back on track.

This is now my favourite ‘not fussy’ skirt for R.  Do you have any recommendations for great basic kids patterns?  I’m looking for the perfect shorts for her next….

Oliver and S Sailboat top – version 2

sailboat top girlyHere, come sit.  Let’s talk.  This is a little bit of a sneaky cheater post, as I’ve already posted about this cute little pattern here, but there is something to draw your attention to about this fabric.

oliver and s final top

Also known as “why you should fussy cut”.  Can you see it in the photo below?

oliver and s sailboat top pattern repeat

It’s even more obvious if you extend that little arm out :(

oliver and s sailboat top extended arm

This fabric is from lincraft, and is a fairly loose weave.  It’s not a linen, but I can’t remember exactly what the fabric style is.  I’ve still got some left, and I’m keen to make some loose summer dresses for next year.  The only problem with this fabric is the print repeat isn’t done very well, and you can clearly see the “blocks” of print on larger pieces.  Some clever cutting might be required if i want to make this into a dress, to either hide it or incorporate it into a design detail.   The break between the patterns is probably a good 1/2″ which make it fairly conspicuous.

oliver and s sailboat shirt lounging about

At the end of the day though, it doesn’t change the comfort factor for the little lady.

My other new arrival – a vintage Bernina 730 Record.

See this?  This is from stalking the gumtree.

Bernina 730At the December social sewing we had a discussion about Bernina’s and their quality, as there have been a few posts floating around the blogosphere about Bernina’s.

After a little online lurking, I found an older one listed for a good price on the Gumtree, which had already been up for a week or two.  Generally, this to me would indicate it probably wasn’t available anymore so I sent off an enquiry email just in case.

It was little like when you leave a store thinking about buying something, and then when you go back it’s gone and you have massive regret.  After sending the email, I kept checking for a response…..I really WANTED that machine.  It’s had one owner since the 70’s, was recently serviced and in good working order.  The only reason they were selling was it was time to downsize their home, and the owner had subsequently bought ANOTHER bernina.

Obviously, it was available so I snaffled it up!  I arranged to pick it up between Christmas and New Year, and then it killed me not being able to try it out until 2014.  Longest wait EVER.

Was it worth it?  OH YES.  It’s true LOVE.  Even the sewing machine manual is very impressive.

Here’s my love list.

  • It self regulates the upper thread tension.
  • It has twenty different stitches.
  • The buttonholes are lovely and regular, even without having an automatic buttonhole option
  • It has a beautiful stitch quality
  • It has an automatic knee life
  • It has crazy things like a tailors tack foot.

I’ve still got to try out many of it’s features, but so far it has sewn beautifully everything I have put near it.  My poor singer is sitting getting a little neglected at the moment, but I might set them up for different projects, so I don’t have to swap needles and thread when working on multiple projects.  Sometimes I like to have my quick makes and then also the slow attention to detail projects at the same time, and find myself constantly swapping between threads, bobbins and needles.

I’ve also started the process of giving away my first sewing machine to a sewing newbie.  It’s a Toyota quiltmaster, and if you’re in Melbourne, new to sewing or want to start drop me a line.  If it’s still available, it could be yours :)

Baby and shop announcement

Hi Everyone!

If you’re reading this, then it means the newest member of our family has arrived happy and healthy!

It’s a little lady – Weight : 9 pounds 6 and 55 cm tall

While we’re adjusting, shipping is going to be delayed until Monday, then Mr SewSquirrel will do the post office run. Yes, it might seem a little crazy to only have one week off, but it might be longer between re-ordering new stock and bringing in new items. Funnily enough, the shipping is the least time consuming part! We’ll see how it goes.

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Oliver and S – Sailboat pattern top

I am a total sucker for Oliver and S Digital patterns.  Why?  As the kids grow I can just print and cut out new copies of the patterns for their sizes, rather than tracing them.  A little lazy? Yes.  The pattern pieces are all so small that it doesn’t take that long to tape up the PDF.

Oliver & S sailboat shirt

The top was so cute I cut out two before actually testing if they fit.  High risk?  A little.

Fabric

The first fabric is a quilting cotton, which I couldn’t resist with all the animals.  I think it was from Lincraft as I had a gift voucher, and very few fabrics took my eye in that particular store.  Rarely do I make clothes out of quilting cotton, but R is all about the animals at the moment.  In fact, today I learnt that Camels raaaaw! and elephants like eating strawberries.  Toddlers are a wealth of information.

Oliver and S rawwwr

Fit

I think this was a straight size two without any alterations.  It fits really well, even as she’s a skinny kid with a large melon, the buttons on both sides of the neckline make it easy to get over her head, and the fit is designed to be fairly slim which is nice.

Oliver and S Sailboat top back detail

Techniques

Top stitching the facing wasn’t as tricky as I expected, and this top was actually a much quicker make than I expected. The thing that made it so easy? A measuring gauge.   The tricky thing about Oliver and S patterns is they have so much detail, and if hems and top stitching are a little wonky, due to the tiny size of the garments it really shows up and can make them look homemade.  Using a seam measuring gauge ensures that I am pressing half inch and one inch seams, and it makes a big difference.

The only deviation from the instructions is they will have you sew up the sleeve, then press the sleeve hem in and then sew.  I find it quite a pernickity job on such tiny sleeves, so I press the sleeve hem in while the sleeve is flat, then pin together, sew the sleeve length and overlock it.  I then press the seam allowance to one side and do a small amount of top stitiching to keep the seam allowance flat.  It’s a detail often seen in RTW clothes, and it’s just easier in my opinion.  Probably wouldn’t do it on adult clothes, but for kids it’s perfect.

oliver and s sailboat top

Seam detail inside the sleeve

Oliver and s sailboat top

Topstitching on sleeve

Future learnings

The instructions are comprehensive, but even still I find that the concept of this being a beginner pattern a little baffling.  Many beginner sewers really have not used interfacing, done buttonholes or done topstitching.  This would be an advanced beginner pattern in my opinion, as the skill set of beginners now is very low, as opposed to the 1960’s when textiles was still taught thoroughly at school.

I always take Oliver and S their scizzor rating of patterns with a little bit of scepticism, as I doubt I would bother with a three or four scizzor difficulty rating for something that will be grown out of quickly.  With the exception of the coat.  That’s still good value to sew, as coats are so horrifically expensive to buy.

Will I sew it again?  Well, the pattern came with three variations, and I’ve got three blog posts for this pattern*.

*In theory.  Only the tops have so far been finished – so it might be 2015 before you see the rest.