Sewing · Tops

Project 24 – A Luxury Fur Coat

I bought some white faux fur last year for the Tinkerbelle costume I made for Little Miss for Disneyland, and although I used some up making her a fur vest, I had plenty left over. I was thinking about what to do with it when I realised that for our trip to Japan, I had bought her a faux fur jacket from Old Navy, which I loved, but which she obviously wouldn’t be squeezing into next winter. It was a real lightbulb moment. So I was envisioning a super simple coat that fastened with just a couple of buttons. I don’t know the name of the silhouette, and frankly, Google wasn’t much help on this one, but I think I was looking for a swing coat without yokes (A-line, perhaps?) The design I was envisioning was so simple that I knew I could draft it myself from some existing patterns… but I thought I would just check out The Internet before I started to see if someone had already done the work.

And they had! And it was free! A chance to make a gorgeous coat for my girl without having to spend a single cent? It was a good day in my house (even if it did mean I had to deal with fluff everywhere, including in my mouth, again). So, Stef over at girl.inspired. made this gorgeous free coat with pattern for sized 2,4,6 and 8. Little Miss will be 3 next winter so I decided to make her a size 4 so she can get a decent wear out of it. (Spoiler, it currently fits Master 6 so I suspect I will be making it again in size 2 so she is covered for many years to come). As always, Stef’s instructions are excellent.

 

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The fur gets caught in the seam, so I used a seam ripper to gently pull it free. You can see the seam on the left hasn’t been fluffed; the right side has been

 

I quickly discovered that I didn’t quite have enough faux fur to line the jacket front and back in fur, to give it that truly luxe feel, but I had enough for the exterior and I had some pretty…I don’t know what, but silky feeling stuff, to line the whole jacket. Fabrics here are rather inadequately labelled in terms of content or fabric type, so a lot of the time you just have to go ahead and guess. So, I went ahead and cut out all of my pieces. Stef uses her overlocker to sew her whole garment, but my fur was, after all, on the cheap side, and it curled up at the edges, so I found it easier to machine sew. However, it was also very thin, and as I wanted this to serve as a winter jacket for little miss, I first used my overlocker to back each piece of fur with a medium weigh batting for warmth. Then, I constructed as per her instructions, except that I split the front lining into two so there was a fur facing at the front of each side. My favourite part was sewing the sleeve to the sleeve lining! I always find this step rather challenging to wrap my mind around, but Stef’s instructions made me see it in a whole new way, and I got it right first time!

 

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Here you can see the collar piece fused to the batting

 

I finished the jacket off with 2 gold buttons. I bought some 4-hole ones back from my last trip to Australia, but once they were on they got lost in the fur, so I went and bought some el cheapo shank ones from my local haby store. And she’s done! Little Miss loves the jacket and will wear it for hours in Malaysian heat.

 

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The new buttons are the definition of cheap and cheerful, and I, for one, really like them!

 

Oh- a small disaster struck when, after the first wash, a small tear appeared in the collar seam, but fortunately I was able to hand stitch it back. I think for future uses, I will simply hand wash it to avoid rips. The fabric for this was so cheap, and the jacket is so comically large, that I’m thinking of buying a little more fabric (maybe black this time? Can’t decide) to make her a size 2 so she can actually wear it next year. All in all, this took me maybe 2.5 hours to whip up, and only cost me AU20c for buttons, so really, a win. Plus, 2 more fabrics gone from my stash!

 

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Catastrophe! Luckily it was an easy save

 

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When you try to bribe a food loving child with food for a nice photo…

 

 

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Dresses

Project 23 – Birthday Set For a Special Girl

The school kids, Masters 3, 5 and 6, attend a Montessori school, where the curriculum is taught in English, but the kids are almost all Malay, so speak Bahasa to each other. My boys have done a pretty good job at making friends with the other kids, but they really love their Aunties (their teachers). Master 6 is a particularly sensitive boy, whose best friend at school was one of the Aunties, and her almost 3 year old daughter. In fact, all of the boys love to play with Miss 3, (who doesn’t speak a lot of English, for the record). This particular teacher announced last Monday that she would be finishing at the school on Friday, and moving out of the area the following week, and that Miss 3 would be having her birthday party and farewell on Saturday.

The Aunties always love the clothes I make for Little Miss, so it had long been my intention to make Miss 3 a dress for her birthday, but I did think I would have more than 5 days for it! Anyway, we came straight home from the school drop off, and I asked Little Miss to peruse my fabric collection and choose something for Miss 3’s dress. She landed on the leftover fabric from the birthday dress I made for her, so I had to get a little creative for the design to make sure I had enough fabric.

As usual, I used the Tadah Patterns Tea Party Dress as a starting point. I loved the curve on the bottom of the sleeves from the Rose Dress by Violette Field Threads that I made recently, but didn’t want the top pleats. So, I took the gathered sleeve from the TPD pattern, and traced over the curved hem from the Rose pattern. Next, I wanted the dress to be fancy, so I decided to have the skirt layered with many ruffles, peeping out from under a top layer of the birthday fabric (which, in case you were wondering, I got from the Laura Blythman collection at Spotlight). To make the top layer sit nicely, I borrowed the tie-up idea from the VFT Scarlett Skirt, which you’ll remember I made into a Beauty and the Beast skirt here.

 

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I just love how this little tie-up detail turned out on the skirt. It gives it a real princess-y look

 

So, I started by working out that I wanted my top layer to be about 14cm long once hemmed and cut that appropriately. Then, I knew I wanted 4 layers underneath, and that each ruffle should overlap by about 3cm. Once I’d worked out the length for each ruffle, making the top one shorter as there was nothing to underlap it with, I sewed 2 strip of 90cm together for each of the ruffles, then overlocked the long edges. The bottom edge I then turned up, pressed, turned and pressed again, then hemmed. I overlocked it so I could easily fold a consistent hem, and it saved me a lot of time measuring it. Kind of a necessity, with over 10m of hem in this dress and only 5 days to complete it!

 

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The ruffled portion of the skirt…it’s very fluffy!

 

Next, I made a tube for the skirt. This was a little bit wider than the bodice, so would be gathered a little bit, and was the length of the finished skirt, minus the length of the last ruffle. The first step was to sew the bottom ruffle to the bottom of the skirt, then topstitch it to keep the seam allowance in place. Next, I marked where each of the ruffles should sit on the skirt, and then marked a line 1cm below this. Now, I matched the side seams, and pinned the gathered ruffle right sides together, along the bottom line, but with the bottom of the ruffle pointing up toward the top of the skirt. I attached it with a 1cm hem, then pressed the ruffle down, and topstitched over it. I repeated this for the next ruffle, then added the top ruffle as normal, basting it to the skirt.

 

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Attaching the second ruffle. You can see the bottom ruffle on the right, and this is the upside down ruffle, which will be flipped once attached, and topstitched

 

At this point, I pinned on the first of the skirt ties, which I cut at about 3cm by 25cm, and double folded then sewed, to the centre of the skirt. Over this, I added the already hemmed top skirt layer, gathering and matching the side seams. Finally, I pinned on the top tie, and the skirt was ready for attachment.

 

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The many, many layers of skirt

 

The bodice was pretty easy, and apart from the slight modification in the sleeves, was a regular construct. Once that was all together, I attached the skirt as usual, and sat back to admire my work!

I made a matching bow hair clip to go with it, using this tutorial, which I scaled down and hot-glued to the back of a plain alligator clip (I bought a bag of 50 from Alibaba when Little Miss was born). FYI, I don’t bother with interfacing since they’re so small, but that’s a combo of laziness and stinginess… I mean, a design element. The birthday girl, and her Mama, loved the dress, which I was very pleased with. We will miss them a lot! Little Miss also got a kick out of wearing her matching dress to the birthday party as a teaser.

 

The finished dress

 

Small Projects · Tops

Project 22 – Fur Vest

Today’s post is a pretty short post, because the project was a very quick one! A couple of weeks ago, my machine started making a horrible clunking sound, so I had to postpone all of my sewing until I could get it to a service centre (there is only one in this country). It was a terribly trying two week wait, but I used the time to pre-cut a bunch of stuff to sew, and thus cutting out the most dreaded part of any project.

Now that we know we need to prepare for winter next year, because, you know, winter is coming, I’ve been trying to motivate myself for some cold weather clothes. Since I’m still avoiding stretch fabrics, it’s a bit tricky. But, there’s been this fabulous hack floating around for a fur vest, and as I happen to have a large amount of faux fur hanging around, I thought Little Miss might enjoy this.

To make this, I pretty much followed the directions by Horris and Deedle, which you can find here, and used the Gypsy Shrug pattern by Tadah Patterns.

I personally hate working with faux fur. I find it easy enough, and I quite like the finish this cheapo one gave… but ugh… the fur went everywhere. I used some of the leftover fabric from Little Miss’ Gisele Kimono, because I thought it was a lovely subtle colour to go with everything. The only thing I did differently from the tutorial, was to add bias ties, although if I’m honest, they weren’t cut on the bias, merely folded like bias tape. I made a size 3, to fit her for next winter, and I cut the ties about 23cm long, losing about a centimetre at either end with the hemming and seams.

 

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This took me less than an hour to whip up, even with a multitude of children popping in for celebrity visits. After more than 2 years without winter, and as a lover of summer, I’m actually a little bit excited about winter coming next year!

 

 

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I can’t wait to see her wear this over cute little dresses and tops

 

Harry Potter bedroom · Sewing · Small Projects

Project 21 – Cornish Pixies

The next project off the bat for the Harry Potter bedroom was Cornish Pixies. Happily, I did not have to draft a pattern for these as a quick internet search led me to Mieljolie’s Cornish Pixie pattern on Etsy. Not having to draft this pattern made it totally worth every cent that the pattern cost, plus I have another idea of what I may be making very soon, also using this pattern.

I went to my local shop and found the perfect fabric for 22 Malaysian Ringgit (about AU$7) per metre. I am not very familiar with knits as I find them very scary, so I couldn’t tell you what it is…. except that it’s shiny on one side, and only has a little bit of stretch, which was perfect for me. I would guess that it’s maybe a thick lycra? I know I should have used a ballpoint needle for this, but I didn’t have one handy and besides, it won’t need to actually stretch at all. This was my first time making a jointed doll and I learned the hard way that you really need to pull the thread tight so that the joints are stiff enough. Two of the poor pixies have very relaxed legs and can only sit down! I wasn’t able to get safety eyes, so I had to make do with shank-buttons for eyes.

 

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One loose-legged pixie complete

 

For the wings, I had to “wing” it a bit myself. I couldn’t get access to a laser printer, nor could I get the brooch backings. So instead, I got some clear plastic sheets (like you used to use on overhead projectors at school) and traced the design on with a fine permanent marker. Then I used a large needle to punch four holes in the wings and sewed them to the body with black thread. Now I just need to get a cage for them! (This is a lot harder than it might seem!)

Something very sad happened as I was finishing the third pixie. My machine started making a horrible clunking noise, and it wasn’t fixed by any regular fixes! And the nearest service centre is 3 hours away so I’ve been patiently waiting for almost 2 weeks to take it to get repaired. I’ve almost gone out of my mind, but instead I’ve channelled my energy into the worst sewing job of all, cutting out. Now I have 3 projects that I don’t have to do any more cutting for. It should be some compensation for 2 weeks with no sewing… I hope!

 

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Wing details close up

 

 

 

Harry Potter bedroom · Sewing · Small Projects

Project 20 – The Grindylow

The day I have been waiting for since my children were born has finally arrive…. My kids are Potterheads. For about 8 months now, we have been reading “big boy” stories to Master 6, and Masters 5 and 3 when they feel like it. We started with Roald Dahl and then, at Master 6’s request, Harry Potter. And he loves it. We are about to finish Prisoner of Azkaban and his love for the stories and characters is only growing. We have received our posting home for January and we will be moving into a fairly small house, which means all 4 kids  will share a room with 2 sets of bunk beds. Like a Harry Potter dormitory. So, to get them excited for it, I offered to make their room Harry Potter themed, and the suggestion was met with epic enthusiasm. Since then, they’ve each chosen a house, and thought of ridiculous (and largely unachievable) decorations they’d like. I do have an ulterior motive here, and it is that I plan to make some of the elements their Christmas presents. See, Christmas with 4 kids and one paycheck can get a bit stressful, not to mention that kids get stuff they never use and it clogs up your house. So, we decided to give them things they would love, that we were going to give them anyway and kill two birds with one stone. So watch this space for a lot more Harry Potter themed sewing!

The very first thing I decided to make was a grindylow. To be honest, it wasn’t the first thing I decided to make, but it was the first thing I actually made. We had an old fishbowl floating around and I thought it would make a cool little decoration for the room. I looked high and low for a pattern but to my dismay, none seemed to exist, so I had to wing it. I started by searching the amazing internet for pictures, and found these horrors:

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Picture credit for both pictures: http://www.harrypotter.wikia.com

Using this, and the fishbowl for size guiding, I made a pattern by first drafting the shape I thought I needed, then cutting it out of paper, and taping together to check the 3 dimensional shape was what I wanted. Then I added seam allowance and got to constructing my critter.

I didn’t want to buy any new supplies for this project, so I decided to use some olive “dupioni silk” (I use this term loosely as that’s what it was labelled in my local shop, but I’m 99.95% certain it was not- it was very cheap and nasty) for the body, and some pale pink cotton for the tentacles on the head, and the arm and leg tentacles. Because of the very fragile nature of the “silk”, and the very small seam allowance I was working with, thanks to the small parts, I used fusible interfacing on the back of every piece, sewing pieces together, and then trimming off excess fabric so that the seams were still interfaced.

 

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Tentacle fabric ready to go, eyes embroidered on the head, and interfaced head and arm pieces ready to go

 

To make the “tentacles”, I used my free-motion foot and sewed hundreds of little circles onto the fabric along lines drawn with water-erasable marker. To be honest, having used interfacing, I mistakenly thought there would be no need to hoop the fabric, as I thought it would be sufficiently stiff. It wasn’t, but by not hooping it, it puckered in the most fantastic way that really gave the “suckers” the perfect texture. It’s all about the details, right? I also used my free-motion foot to embroider on some shadowy looking eye sockets with little black eyes in them, then I pieced together the head, which I won’t pretend wasn’t a fiddly job.  Actually, this whole creature was fiddly.I added felt teeth to the mouth so that I didn’t need to worry about finishing the edges. Once the head was complete, I stuffed it, ready to attach to the body.

 

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Here you can see the slight puckering of the fabric, which gives the effect of raised tentacles. I actually found this quite relaxing to do and I loved the effect! It’s almost enough to get me sewing quilt-y things, except I hate having to match things perfectly

 

Next I made the arms, put a pipe cleaner through them so they could be posed, and then began the mammoth task of doing the tentacles. These were very narrow tubes, and were very difficult to turn. If I was ever to make this again (too fiddly! But I’ve said that before and repeated so…) I’d use either a slippery fabric, or something with a slight stretch, for ease of turning. I started by sewing the tentacle tops and bottoms together, then sewing up the sides of the body, with the arms pinned between the side seams. I had to leave one seam open above the arm as there was too much bulk with 2 stuffed arms and 6 empty tentacles to turn. I turned each tentacle individually, inserting pipe cleaner and then stuffing as each was turned (a straw, chopstick and a lot of patience helped with this) Once all the tentacles were turned, I twisted the pipe cleaner ends together to ancho them and enable the tentacles to be posed, sewed the body side seam above the arm, then stuffed the body. Finally, (and very happily), I sewed the head onto the body, and he was complete!

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I now have 3 very happy little boys and one happy girl!

 

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Arm pieces ready to be sandwiched into the body

 

 

Dresses

Project 19 – Rose Dress

Back in January, I found myself kid-less and husband-less for a few days and spent approximately 75% of that time browser-shopping new patterns and fabrics. In my searches, I came across the Violette Field Threads pattern, the Rose dress. It appears to have been removed from their site now, which is a shame. It was on sale, and so pretty! The dress features options of a peplum pencil skirt or three tiered skirt, sleeveless or with small pleated sleeves, and optional ruffle around the bodice and neckline.

 

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I opted not to run the piping all the way around the neckline as I preferred the lie of it this way

 

I bought some gorgeous mint coloured cotton a while ago, and some beautiful lace I had intended to use down the centre of the bodice, but when I laid it on the fabric, the fabric was too pale to show the detail of the lace. So, I went to my lace drawer and after some hunting, found some interesting lace, buttons, and cream fabric (ok, calico) to make flat piping from.

 

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My sleeve pleats weren’t perfect, but they were symmetrical, so I called it a win and refused to obsess

 

Assembly was pretty straight forward for the bodice and sleeves; the only challenge was positioning the sleeve pleat so that the edges met at the seam line. The skirt was similar to so many I have made before, but with the addition of a placket. I really liked the finish it gave, although the dress did gape a little below the bottom button due to the bulk of the skirt, so I hand stitched in a hook and eye closure low down to keep the bodice edges together. Next time I make this dress I will use a zip to close instead. Usually I gather multiple skirt layers individually but this time I was feeling a bit lazy – plus the pattern suggested using topstitching thread, so I tried it and it worked well! It might be my go-to method for similar dresses in the future.

 

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I loved using this white quilt blender (white print on white) for the lining. It adds a subtle detail and didn’t drain my plain white stocks, which always seem to be low

 

As with many VFT patterns, I found this one a little small for sizing. I made this in a 3 for my 2-year-old-tomorrow, and it hasn’t got much room at all in the bodice. There is plenty of length on it though! If she grows out of it too quickly I think I will remove the buttons at the back, sew the back placket shut, and put buttonholes where the buttons were and lace it up to get extra wear from it. For a dress I wasn’t keen on to start with, I love it now!

 

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This is a bit blurry, but you can see the important part: the gape. with the hook and eye, the gape is gone

 

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So hard to get a non-blurry photo of Little-Miss-Always-On-The-Go! You can see how lovely and puffy the skirt is here…and it probably would be even puffier if I’d gathered the layers seperately

 

 

Bottoms

Project 18 – Belle Skirt and Pettiskirt

For about 5 months now, I’ve had this idea in my mind about a skirt I’d like to make for Little Miss, honouring the new Beauty and the Beast. To my total joy, she adores the new movie. Any time she is upset, she wants to watch the first big song of the movie, and she will happily sing along to all of the songs. After the strain of the monster wallets, this was the sort of pick-me-up that I needed for my sewjo. So my vision for this was a yellow skirt, that ties up on one side, to reveal a pettiskirt underneath with Mrs Potts and Chip (original movie, not 2017 version) peeping out.

I bought a plain yellow cotton ages ago when I first conceived this idea. I used the Violette Field Threads Scarlett Skirt pattern for this project. This is a beautiful little pattern with a couple of different options for outer skirt and pettiskirt. For this skirt, I made the pleated outer skirt with tie up option. I want Little Miss to be able to get a lot of wear out of it, so I made the size 3 skirt with a size 4 waistband, but I used the elastic for size 3. Little Miss has a big tummy, and I often find the VFT sizes on the small side, but this way she has plenty of room to grow. And when the skirt is too tight, I can simply replace the elastic with a longer piece! So, I assembled this and then got on with the more challenging component, the pettiskirt.

 

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The outer skirt, untied

 

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Little Miss couldn’t wait for her pettiskirt to be finished. It’s a bit risqué but still so cute!

 

 

For the pettiskirt, I used the width measurements for the ruffled skirt. This is not as full as the “full pettiskirt”, and since I wanted Mrs Potts and Chip to be peeping out, I didn’t want too much fabric to get in the way. Once the skirt was constructed, I layered it underneath the yellow skirt, to see where Mrs Potts needed to be positioned to let her show. Now, using a picture I found on the internet, I traced and cut interfacing and fabric for the pieces of Mrs Potts and Chip. Then, slowly, I pieced them together, first attaching each piece to the skirt with a small zigzag stitch, then, once all the pieces were in place, by using my free-motion foot to sew around the outlines and add details, such as the eyes. This whole process probably took me about 5 hours, but thankfully it was much more enjoyable than the hours spent on the monster wallets.

 

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I had to space Mrs Potts and Chip fairly far apart but when the skirt is on, they look close together

 

Little Miss absolutely loves her new skirts, and so do I!

 

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Who needs a shirt when you have 2 skirts?