Sewing during isolation

For us in Melbourne, Australia the shutdown started gently in early March, then became more onerous by the end of March. For most of that time I was struggling to get my online work setup going OK. Eventually March merged into April and the need to fill my spare hours with – somethingcreativityconcrete and tangible things. I made:

Miss 20’s pyjama’s

  1. Leggings for Miss 15 – Melbourne safety black (of course).
  2. Hoodie for Miss 15.
  3. Long pyjama bottoms for Miss 15.
  4. Two short pyjama bottoms for the husband.
  5. Hoodie for Mr 19 – also in Melbourne safety black.
  6. Long pyjama bottoms for Miss 20.
  7. Non-hood hoodie for my husband (red this time).
  8. Two pairs of oven mitts.
  9. A new coat for whippet.
  10. Two dog beds.
  11. Two pairs of undies for me.
  12. One pair of boxers for me.

Am I the only one hearing “12 Days of Christmas”? It is the carol I dislike the most.

Miss 15’s hoodie

The non-hoodie

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also almost made some trousers for me. They were binned as they were just terrible.

Miss 15’s long pyjamas

About half of this list is easy-peasy stuff. Minimal pattern pieces with minimal fitting stress. And either a great deal of joy from the recipient (Miss 15) or a tentative acceptance of the new (Penny the dog).

Mr 19 displayed his joy silently, by wearing his hoodie everyday for a week. Then admitting he wouldn’t mind another one, but in navy this time.

Oven mitts

Some was fiddly – looking at the oven mitts here. The hoodies were fun. The collar on my husband’s non-hoodie was interesting but also satisfying. I wondered why so much was achieved and realised it was because my sewing machine stayed out and I could sneak in 30 minutes or more sewing at a time.

Penny – who is wondering why her walk has been delayed for so long.

My micro-business has survived, initially having a large drop in income. That has changed and I am almost back to pre-lockdown times. Sadly there has been a secondary surge in infection numbers. The restrictions that had eased a little have had to be reinstated (sigh).

Stay safe everyone!

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Pyjamas for the lasses

My younger is 15 and wanted a new pair of woven joggers. A style that frankly baffles me, but I am not the client. Miss 20 wanted warm pyjama bottoms. Both were happy with an elastic waisted loose pant pattern and both asked for pockets.

Out came McCalls 2376 and I traced off a size 10. For Miss 15 I added some length while cutting out. For Miss 20 I trimmed the outer leg seams a bit. Yes, Miss 15 is taller than Miss 20. Almost everyone is.

Both lasses looked through the fabric stash. The elder claimed the dachshund fabric, the younger claimed the teal/red border print. The dachshund fabric is a flannelette from Peter Alexander and was $2.00 a metre from a fabric jobber. The teal fabric was a gift from a friend. It is a beautiful cotton lawn.

 

I drafted an in-seam pocket:

Both have “It has pockets” labels:

The details

Pattern – used many times – free

Teal fabric – a gift

Dachshund fabric – 3 metres at $2.00 = $6.00

Elastic – approximately $4.00

Labels – $1.00 each = $2.00

Totals – $12.00

Do it again?  That’s a given!

Miss 15 decided to not bother with elastic in the hems. Miss 20 agreed to a picture – of the pyjamas.

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Hoodie for the youngest

My younger lass is now 15 and in year 10 at school. This year she spent second term at home, accessing school via online learning. Sitting still and staring at a computer for hours on end. She got chilled and wore her only hoodie constantly. Rather than turn on the heating she requested another hoodie. We went shopping during one of the many Spotlight sales (and turned on the heating).

The lass adores her light grey hoodie and didn’t want to mess with perfection. We therefore bought more light grey fleece. And pale blue ribbing for a contrast inside the hood, cuffs and hem. I really wasn’t sure about the combination but now that it is made up it looks good. I should always trust her in the future.

I used McCalls 6614, which is now out of print. It is a lovely pattern with the required hood and front pocket. It also has princess seaming that adds a little shaping. The younger liked that too. I used view C and levelled off the rounded hem.

Ribbing tends to grow so I cut the hood lining several sizes smaller and eased it into the outer hood. The younger requested variegated grey thread as top-stitching. I added the “made with love and swearwords” label, much to her exasperation.

 

This hoodie sewed up very easily. Everything worked and fitted and I so appreciate that in a pattern. Managing all the layers of fabric in the hood was interesting. My overlocker just powered through.

I prewash all fabrics and trim before sewing. The minute this was finished the lass put it on. I wasn’t allowed to steam out the pin marks on the pocket. Almost three weeks later and I had to beg for it so that I could take some photos. And possibly wash it.

Costs and details

Fabric – Grey fleece and blue ribbing, from Spotlight                                               $30.00

Pattern – McCalls 6614                                                                                                        $8.00

Thread – all from stash, effectively free                                                         Totals = $38.00

Annoyance factor – Low to minimal. Construction was easy, the hood went in easily. The client is happy so this had an excellent outcome.

Do it again? Very likely, there are two more family members that need a hoodie.

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Iso-sewing – the non-hoodie

Please note – this post was written and scheduled long before May 25th, 2020. I have no words to describe my feelings since then. Or the frustration I feel that I am unlikely to ever see true equality.

I’ve made a few jumpers for my husband. He likes a cosy collar, but doesn’t like any kind of head covering. A jumper I’d made two years ago was not being worn. I got it out and altered it – tapering the side seams in towards the hem and removing almost 15cm in width. I also added decorative elastic to the sleeves and hem as it appears my husband likes tighter cuffs and hem.

He wore this jumper a lot after the alterations. Excellent I thought – I don’t have to battle that collar again. Then he asked for another one. In bright red fleece with royal blue cuffs and hem bands. Of course I obliged.

I deliberately sewed this jumper over a few shorter sessions rather than one long one. Altered the pattern so that there was less width in the sleeves and in the lover hem. I took my time with the collar. I used the steam iron to assist in easing it into the neck opening.

Then I tacked it! I rarely use a hand needle. Hand is a four letter word! I am pleased with this collar, so I guess hand stitching was a good idea.

My husband decided on black topstitching. My coverstitch machine was already threaded black, which probably helped my husband’s decision. The stitching sinks into the fleece on the outside, it is not so obvious. This collar is neat on the inside too.

Once the collar was in the rest of the jumper went together very quickly. Apart from the front pocket. Bizarrely I sewed it off centre and didn’t notice until I was putting the hem ban on. Some unpicking and re-stitching happened. It’s now in the right spot.

My husband is very happy with this jumper. He describes it as “very warm”. And has given me another jumper to repair with the decorative elastic hem bands.

Costs

Fabric – Red polar fleece and blue ribbing, from Spotlight                     $50.00

Pattern – Thread Theory Finlayson, third use, effectively free               $00.00

Thread – all from stash, also effectively free                                               $00.00

Totals = $50.00

Annoyance factor – Construction was OK, the collar requires a bit of finagling. Outcome was excellent.

Do it again? Very likely, but not for a while.

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Secret Sewist Iso Sewing

Try saying that title several times over…

And – before I am distracted – the responses to my previous post made me realise how much love there is for jam-setting fails. Many thanks!

Caz from The Useful Box organised a secret sewist isolation swap through Elfster. I signed up. The patterns were selected because they were easy projects, freebie patterns and used minimal fabric that was likely to be in our stash or remnants pile. We could choose between oven mitts, a small zippered pouch or a cloth pot.

My giftee didn’t give me any clues about colours or what she wanted. I had the materials for oven mitts so made oven mitts.

The pattern is the bombazine oven mitts. I lengthened the lower cuff a bit as I like more arm coverage in an oven mitt. The mitts are lined and decorated with leftover quilting cottons from various other bag or pyjama projects.

These ones were the trial ones made for me. They are lined with two layers of wool batting and a layer of insulating fleece wadding. This made five layers for each side: Denim, wool, wool, insulating fleece, cotton lining. I graded the seams where possible but they were still very thick. My sewing machine did not like that!

The trial ones were tested by my husband during his sourdough bread baking over a few days. They worked so I made a pair for my giftee. The elephant print went inside with the pretty quilting fabric on the outside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I photographed only three of the four sides of the pair. Weird.

What did I get? I asked for a fabric pot and received this beauty. I love it and really appreciate the time that went into making it.

The details  

Wadding – Insul-Fleece from Spotlight – one metre

Pattern, fabrics and threads – all from stash, free

Postage – small package, parcel post in Australia

Do it again? Yes, looking forward to the next one.

 

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Not Kibbe trousers – Style Arc Teddy

Style Arc are based in my home town – Melbourne. They’re a terrific bunch of women who also design awesome clothing and draft superbly. I really liked the look of these trousers – fitted yoke waist, pockets, tapered but loose fit. And the added style feature of the very eye catching front full leg pleat.

From the SA website

As I traced off the pattern I altered the pockets to be slant pockets with a pocket stay. I did my usual waist adjustment to remove excess, tapering in from the upper hip on each pattern piece.

Sewing up was interesting to say the least. Style Arc have a minimalist approach to sewing  instructions. Consequently I folded and stitched the pleat the wrong way. Instead of the outside in, mine is inside out. Style Arc have some instructions on their website – craftily hidden under blog posts, I managed the fly zip anyway.

Then I put them on. They were awful. Nicely stitched together but just so horribly wrong for me. When I walk the pleat opens and refuses to close again. They are going in the naughty corner until I can be bothered to toss them out. There is no way to salvage this mess.

Costs

Fabric – Tan or Beige drill, from a fabric swap a few years ago – free

Pattern – Style Arc Teddy – bought during a Frocktails shopping visit – $5.00

Zip, lining fabric, thread – all from stash                                            free

Totals = $5.00

Annoyance factor – Construction = fine, outcome = NOOOO!

Do it again? No, this is just not me. I finished this the same weekend I made strawberry jam that did not set. I used pectin, lemon juice and special sugar. My jam never sets, even when I make plum jam. At least it is tasty – unlike these trousers.

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More Kibbe sewing – another Melody top

My favourite Grainline Scout top is a pastel blue linen one. I altered it to include a collar. It has been worn to destruction. I wanted another but prefer the shaping of my Style Arc Melody. It’s already been sewn up once and about to get a second outing.

 

I cut this out at a social sewing day along with two other tops.  The first time I altered the pattern to be short sleeves. This time I went with the drafted 3/4 sleeves and added elastic to the cuffs.

 

I took in the width of the lower hem quite a lot, to minimise how much it pops out at the front. Again, I squared off the curvy hem and used a box pleat instead of gathers at the back.

 

 

 

Also again, I used silk organza as the interfacing for the both the collar and facing.

Previously I’d used the burrito method for doing the yoke but that meant the front facing was floating until I hand stitched it down. I did a lot of thinking about how to enclose all the seams in the yoke or under the facing. I needed to focus on something really complicated. Eventually I needed to do and not think. And totally stuffed up! After lots of hand basting, sewing and unpicking I finally cobbled together an enclosed collar stand, facing and yoke. I cannot remember what steps I took, or even what order they were. It’s not perfect but it is good enough. I’m not doing any collars with stands for a while.

I started to sew this top as a way of processing the first few weeks of January. Australia was burning, every state except the Northern Territory. I volunteer for two organisations, one of them is the Red Cross. I had been helping out in their head office: arranging crews of volunteers to go to the fire affected areas, processing the displaced people forms, and answering enquiries about displaced people.

This is a shirt for me to wear to work in my micro-business. It took until the middle of March for me to finish it. A lot happened between starting and finishing it. We had an exchange student come from France for several weeks – she was lovely – and while she was with us COVID-19 hit the world. She went home just as we were told that our daughter would not be able to travel. And then finally, the incident centre at the Red Cross was closed – after over 70 days.

Ironically or terribly – due to the Australian community shut down – I’ve lost about 80% of my income. I have some savings, and am trying to be positive. And sew a lot more.

Details & Costs

Fabric – sky blue linen cotton blend from Pitt Trading, 1.5 metres at $14.00 per metre.                                                                                                                                      $21.00

Notions – Silk organza from Pitt Trading, other stuff from my stash                          $3.00

Pattern – Style Arc Melody – bought in a sale, second use so effectively free

Total = $24.00

Annoyance factor? = Really high, the collar & yoke & facing totally did my head in. Using a plain fabric (not compulsively matching stripes) helped a lot.

Do it again? Probably not. The next collared top will have a revere collar for a change.

 

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A dressing gown

The elder lass was invited to a themed 21st birthday. A pyjama theme. She decided that she needed a robe of some sort. Cue McCalls 2476, purchased some years ago and routinely pulled out for the pyjama bottoms.

Instead we traced off a size small and shortened it a bit in both sleeves and lower hem. The elder is petite in everything except brains and personality. Just as well, this pattern suggests 3.4 metres for the dressing gown and we did not have enough fabric.

 

I used some fabric from stash that came from a good friend in Indonesia. It is a beautiful quality printed lawn cotton. The fabric was 120cm wide and 2.5 metres long. The yellow section is a border print which the elder decided should go on the hem.

Some seriously good ninja pattern placement was required to get all the pieces on the fabric. The neck band had to be pieced together but the join is at the centre back and not noticeable. There was not enough fabric to fit the pockets, the waist tie or even carriers for the waist tie. Instead we bought a dark blue ribbon and stitched it down at centre back.

 

This was a collaborative effort. The elder traced off the pattern and altered it to fit. She stitched the shoulder seams, sleeves and side seams. She even braved the overlocker for neatening the edges.

 

The elder had selected a label and decided it should go into the neck. I attached the neckband (and label) and top stitched it, then turned up a small hem on the sleeves and lower edge.

The details

Fabric – A gift from a friend

Ribbon – Dark blue, 2 metres @2.40 per meter              $4.80

Pattern -McCalls 2476, several years old, effectively free

Label – “You can’t buy this” from KATM                          $1.00

Totals = $5.80

Annoyance factor – Low

All up this was a fun and simple make. The elder enjoyed the process saying “sewing is really fun and relaxing”. Her friends at the party were all deeply impressed.

 

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Christmas waistcoat

I work in several residential aged care facilities and Christmas is a big deal. Increasingly staff are encouraged to wear silly or crazy Christmas themed T-shirts throughout December. A variation on the ugly Christmas sweater idea, but for hot climates.

I can’t bring myself to do that. Christmas tshirts are cheap and nasty. I thought about making my own – but – no.  Instead I made a Christmas waistcoat. I can wear normal clothes and be Christmassy when needed. After all – while I celebrate Christmas, not all my clients do.

 

 

The fabric came from Spotlight. It is really difficult to get fabric that reflects a hot Australian Christmas. I think this fabric was released in 2019. I love the Australian animals in the print. So much that I bought enough fabric to make a reversible waistcoat. Koalas on one side.

Echidna’s on the other side. The pattern was from Bootstrap Patterns and ostensibly to my measurements. It came with facings, lining and little pocket patterns. I just wanted the front and back pieces. There was a centre back seam but it was straight so I left it out. Pattern matching this across a seam?  No way!

 

 

 

There are side bust darts. There should have been waist bust darts too but I didn’t want the waistcoat to be that fitted. I wanted it to fit loosely over my usual work clothes. It is certainly loose! I put in a “You can’t buy this” label. I ignored the Bootstrap instructions as I wasn’t using all their pieces. Instead I used the instructions from the Thread Theory Belvedere waistcoat.

 

I didn’t spend a lot of time on making this. So little that I forgot to topstitch the armholes. I neglected buttons and buttonholes too. This is not a waistcoat that needs to be done up!

 

The waistcoat was in constant use throughout December, and garnered many compliments.

It has since been washed, armhole top stitching completed and stored for December 2020.

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Timbau! – the bag

Timbau – a membranaphone instrument, conical in shape, used for samba-reggae music. Originated in Salvador, capital of Bahia, a state in Brazil.

*This blog post is long, with a lot of images*

Moving on from the first post.

I started by checking if I had enough batting. I bought this stuff over 20 years ago!

Next came piecing the batting and sandwiching it between the cotton layers. I made the drum skin cushion and the circle for the base of the bag.

I pinned the bag – a conical shape and tried it on my fit model.  This fit model was delightfully compliant and open to being moved around. My family could learn from this (they won’t).

Next came the actual stitching of the side seams then adding the base. This was tricky! I eventually got it pinned in. I hand basted it and finally stitched in.

 

Next – checking the length all around, checking that the cushion works well.

I attached a deep collar section to the top of the bag. It is large enough to cover the additional height of the second drum, but collapses enough for just one drum. It has a drawstring to keep it closed.

I put a tab on the ends of the cord instead of knotting them. This photo’s depth of field is messed up.

I added a carry handle and put it horizontally so that it could slip over my Zuca. I use the Zuca to carry all my equipment and sheet music.

Happy drumming all round!

 

 

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