Monday, April 28, 2014

A T-Shirt for L and my MMM '14 Pledge

Pattern: Oliver + S Schoolbus T-Shirt
Fabric:  An old 100% white cotton jersey t-shirt, size L, and leftover scraps from L's Elephant set
Sewing needles: Ballpoint needle, Stretch twin needle
Notions: coordinating thread, clear elastic, fusible interfacing (for elephants)
Size: 2T

Hello, hello! What a great weekend. It was my birthday and my husband planned a whole day of lovely surprises for me, including a visit to a museum that specializes in the preservation of traditional breeds of farm animals in Brittany. There were many different kinds of animals: cows, horses, sheep, goats, chickens, geese, many of which had little ones. L was absolutely over the moon and nuts for all of them. He also learned to say 'donkey'. For a fiber-lover like me, it was heaven. Although, from what I've heard, the wool that comes from moutons d'Ouessant is quite harsh.

As a quick weekend sewing project, after finishing my cardi (pictures to come, hopefully), I made the Oliver + S Schoolbus T-shirt. I chose to use one of my grandfather's old t-shirts. It was a basic shirt with a 100 % cotton jersey for the main fabric and a white rib knit crew neck. My grandfather hangs on to things for ages but each time he visits, he brings me old clothes to refashion. I decided to liven it up by adding the little elephants from little scraps left from L's elephant set.

My plan was to save the rib knit to use for the new neckline and to save the hems. Upon inspection, I realized the fabric on the original shirt wasn't on the straightgrain at all, so I scrapped the idea of saving the hems. I proceeded to carefully pin along the straightgrain since this fabric was a bit clingy and hard to straighten out. I traced the pieces onto the fabric and used a rotary cutter to improve the accuracy and to avoid stretching it out of shape.

The first thing I did was to apply the elephants (interlock knit) which I had interfaced  to prevent them stretching out as I stitched them onto the main shirt. I zig-zagged around the edge. I then proceeded to sew all seams with a zig-zag stitch (I don't have a serger. My machine is a basic Singer, Singer 8280.)

Here, they used a contrasting fabric
Now, I looked at a lot of t-shirts before making this to get an idea of the different stabilizers used for the neck and shoulders. Most used a long piece of the main fabric cut along the grain, which was then applied to the shirt for extra stability across the back neck. Does anybody have a good link on that neckline stabilizer with self-fabric? So far, I haven't found anything. For shoulders, the most common thing I found was clear elastic sewn into the shoulder seam. A few had nothing, and one even had a thick non-stretch string sewn into the seam to prevent stretching. I chose to use a clear elastic for the first time for stabilizing my shoulder seam. Mine is called 'Framilastic T6' by a German brand called 'Vlieseline'. I had read in many places that clear elastics are really hard to work with but this went in like a dream. Even on the practice piece. I experienced no sticking to my presser foot. Perhaps it's the elastic. It does seem to have a little bit of texture on it.  My machine had no trouble with it and I sewed it in with a zig zag stitch on a 1:1 ratio with the main fabric so as not to create any gathers. (Colette has a nice post on sewing with elastics) I pressed it to the back with the elastic facing up to touch the wrong side of the shirt back and not my baby boy's skin.

Everything went really smoothly. I enjoyed putting in the rib knit neckband, which I then finished with a twin needle. Because of the precautionary steps I took at first with cutting, my sleeves matched up perfectly. I finished the sleeve hems and body hem with a twin needle. I didn't end up with any ripples along the hems and nothing seemed stretched out! Youpee! I have a feeling I'm going to make a lot more of these shirts (and I do have a few more t-shirts to refashion.) I think it fits L really well and I bet my grandfather is going to be pretty pleased to see his old t-shirt fashioned into something new for his great grandson!


 I really wanted to participate this year in the Me-Made-May garment challenge and I've decided to do it! The beauty of it is that each participant tailors the challenge to suit their needs. As I don't have many me-made garments yet, I wanted to challenge myself to wear them as much as possible. I think this challenge will also help me realize which garments I should make for myself. I can think of one right off the bat. Dresses! I've never made a dress and during the warmer months I wear them almost exclusively.

My Me-Made-May '14 pledge:

'I, Alexandra  of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '14. I will endeavour to wear at least four handmade garments each week for the duration of May 2014' 


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Who made your clothes?: Fashion Revolution

Many thoughts are bouncing around in my head and truth be told, I am finding it quite difficult to formulate them into a coherent piece of writing. One year ago, over a thousand people lost their lives in the Rana Plaza factory collapse, and many more were injured.  A year later, today, April 24th, Fashion Revolution Day is raising awareness about the fashion industry, where our garments come from and the issue of transparency. It is also encouraging us to ASK "who made it?' In the very clear words of the Fashion Revolution mission: "We believe in a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity, and profit in equal measure." 

 Here I am, wearing my clothes inside out, and it's a bit of a half and half. I made my top (Wiksten Tank). My pants are store bought (Comptoir des Cotonniers). We don't buy ready to wear clothing anymore but my husband and I still have a majority of store-bought clothes and it will probably stay that way for a while as we try to stretch out the lifespan of each garment by mending when needed and replacing when no longer wearable. As I sew and knit more and more, I still find myself asking the same questions as I would with store-bought clothing. Who is behind the production? Who made the cloth? Who made this thread, yarn? And in many cases, I know very little. As in the spirit of Fashion Revolution, I can always ask.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sewing for L: Little Elephants

Pattern: Oliver + S Fieldtrip Raglan T-Shirt and Nature Walk Pants
Fabric: Jay Cyn Designs for Birch Organic Fabrics, Just For Fun KNITS, Ellie Fam Pool, about a yard
Notions: Coordinating thread, 3/4" elastic band for pants
Size: 2T

After a lovely weekend celebrating my husband's birthday with his dearest childhood friend and grandparents, some serious cooking and baking (think fresh bread, quiche, apple pie, blanquette de veau), mending a small pile of clothing, and getting some serious headway on my Praline cardigan, (sleeves joined!), I decided to venture once again into the land of knits.                                                                              I chose this lovely little interlock elephant print that, like L's chevron shirt and bicycle set, I purchased during my last visit to the US. I again was looking for a fast PJ project and I must admit to the fact that I am becoming more and more intrigued by knits. My past three knit projects have been with interlocks which are so lovely for their stable qualities and have made sewing very smooth without fears of puckers and bubbly hems. However, I've been wondering about the recovery ability of the fabric. It stretches well but I found that it seemed to stretch out when ironed and not recover so well. 

So, with this project I somewhat tested out different ideas on the fabric. Instead of ironing my hems before sewing I just pinned in place carefully and sewed. And then I ironed. I felt like that gave a better, much less overstretched result. The neckline seems a bit looser due to perhaps a bit of overstretching but it's pretty minor. And it does seem to shrink back a bit after washing and drying.

Otherwise, making the set was just as easy as last time and this time I knew exactly what to expect in terms of the pattern. Everything was pretty easy to do. I left the sleeve and legs a bit longer to leave him room to grow because that boy has grown, again! He's pretty thrilled with it and seems to really like the color which I also find to be very pretty on him. 

As you can guess, I've been reading up even more on sewing knits and all the different stages from cutting to hemming. I have a feeling that a couple old shirts, current members of the 'to be refashioned' club, are soon going to be picked apart and transformed and experimented with using the information I have found. I'm hoping to document my process a bit and share it here. I would also like to try out different patterns and I'm hesitating between the Oliver + S Schoolbus T-Shirt and Made-by-Rae's Flashback Skinny Tee.

 And here is my darling putting all possible stretchiness to the test!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Options, options and some knitting

Friday, already. The week is nearly over and I've gotten most of my mending done. Just three more garments to repair and then I'm done! I've also been steadily working on Gudrun Johnston's Praline Cardigan. The calm that followed all the excitement and flurry of sewing during KCW has been quite restful but I find my heart yearning to get back to my sewing machine. I find its hum so appeasing!

I pulled out my big box of fabric and pored over its contents, selecting different fabrics based on color, material, texture, and weight. But there are so many options for what I could make next! Shorts or pants for L? I had such a blast making those Fieldtrip Cargo Pants that a second pair is definitely in order. T-shirts? I found some clear elastic at my local fabric shop that I want to try out to help stabilize shoulder seams. And then Colette Patterns just released two new knit patterns. I don't think I'll be able to resist making myself a "Moneta" dress very long! Oh, gosh, the possibilities seem endless.

And it's the Spring Top Sewalong running all the way into mid-May. And then it's Me-Made-May. I'm reflecting on what my pledge should be. I want it to be sufficiently challenging but not impossible. I've yet to sign-up but I think I will in the coming days, once I figure out my pledge!

 Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, April 14, 2014

KCW Spring 2014 Round-up

What a fantastic week of sewing! And now that it's over, I can take the time to share what I made in more depth and look at what everyone has made. I'm always amazed by people's talent and boundless creativity.
Day 1 - Day 3: Just like Papa
Pattern: Oliver + S Sketchbook Shirt
Fabric: Leftover cotton from my husband's Negroni Shirt
Notions: Coordinating thread, interfacing, 9 buttons
Size: 2T
I love how this turned out and it was so funny and cute to see the boys dressed in the same way. My husband was quite flattered and thought it was adorable. (I've never done mini-me before)
I added to the seam allowances to make them 5/8". I used flat fell seams for the shoulders and the side seams and I also added a little flap to the pocket to make the shirt look a little more like his daddy's shirt. I left the central pleat in the back rather than making small pleats on each side as in the Negroni Shirt.
I'm super happy with the collar and the cuffs. I feel like my fabric handling skills have greatly improved. Youpee!
Day 3 - Day 5: Chamray Pullover
Pattern: Oliver + S Nature Walk Pullover
Fabric: (Possibly) Robert Kaufman, Chambray, about a yard
Notions: Thread (I picked darker so it would highlight the construction), interfacing, topstitching thread for running stitch detail, 1 starry button, thread for thread chain loop
Size: 2T
I was really really looking forward to making this project with this particular fabric. And I adore the result. And it seems so comfy. L has definitely approved this pullover and is a fan of the big central pocket.
The fabric was a dream to work with. The supple quality was fantastic for the flat fell seams, for which I made my seam allowance 5/8".  Even though the pullover was perfect as it was and the opening was sitting quite nicely, I knew my boy would be sticking his hands into the opening and pulling at it. To stop him doing that, I added a little button and loop. I used this tutorial from Oliver + S. Problem solved and a pretty starry button added!
I did a bit of handstitching with a contrasting golden yellow thread on the V of the opening, the collar and the pockets. It's really discrete and it's only as you get closer that you see it. I love those kind of d├ętails.

Day 5 - Day 7: Cargo Pants for a pocket-loving boy
 Pattern: Oliver + S Fieldtrip Cargo Pants
Fabric: 100% Organic Cotton twill, less than a meter
Notions: Coordinating thread, topstitching thread (next time I'll buy 2 of each), 1 button, 3/4 " elastic
Size: 2T
I was a little dubious as to how much I would like this project and the finished result, especially if I put the cargo pockets in. I mostly wanted to make it because my son is just such a pocket fan. It was also going to be a lot of work! Now that it's done, I can say that this is probably my favorite project of the week along with the chambray Nature Walk Pullover, and I actually loved every minute of it. No pain! It was so much fun!
My machine delt with the thick layers of fabric beautifully and it topstitched like a dream. What more could I ask of it!? I did bring out the hammer for the very first time in a sewing project and it did seem to help render the fabric more supple in the very thick parts. Yes, I flat felled nearly every seam, for which I had increased seam allowances, again, to 5/8 ".
The fabric was really nice to work with and it held it's shape really well without stretching. I feel like it makes the pants look like, for lack of a better expresson, like the 'real deal'.I used every last centimeter of thread from both the regular thread and the topstitching thread, so next time I'll buy two of each!
I'm flabbergasted by the end result. I can't believe  I made these pants. And L's reaction? "Pantalon" ("Pants"), trying to put them on, and grabbing a few legos to store them in his cargo pockets! (As an afterthought, I might add some sort of fastening to the cargo pockets to help keep the flaps down and flat.)
Day 7: Mustard Chevron Raglan-T
Pattern; Oliver + S Fieldtrip Raglan T-Shirt
Fabric: Jay-Cyn Designs for Birch Organic Fabrics, Elk Grove KNIT, Skinny Chevron Sun, 1/2 yard
Notions: Coordinating thread
Size: 2T
I really didn't think I would get to work with knits during this challenge. I was pleasantly surprised!
This was a really easy and straightforward project and came together in practically no time at all. Well, especially if you're going to compare with my previous KCW projects. I also did a better job on the neckline than on my first Raglan T.
I'm pretty pleased with it. I think it's very cute although more summery than springy, but that's ok. I'm so happy that I got the chevrons to match at the side seams. I don't have a walking foot so I pinned it like crazy. I should have counted the pins! 
The chevron pattern is centered through the middle of the shirt so when L wears his chambray pullover over it, it looks smashing! The V's are smack-dab in the middle of the V of the pullover! Yay! I also made the shirt short sleeved.
Wow! What a week. And I feel so good about these projects. No feelings whatsoever of "Oh, I wish I had done this better" or "I really don't like this". I spent an enormous amount of time on seam finishes because I wanted these garments to be durable and to grow with L, as he's not quite 2 and they're understandably a bit roomy. He adores them all!
I have a slow paced week planned. I'll be doing some mending of old clothes and starting work again on my knit cardigan that I had put down for all this sewing!
P.S. Sorry for this enormous post but I wanted to get it all in!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

KCW Spring 2014: Day 7

And that's it! Day 7! I'm  little sad that it's over but I suppose it'll only make me look forward to the next KCW even more.
I really surprised myself today, or rather the whole week to be accurate. I thought I would finish the day and the week with L's cargo pants but I completed them early, button and all. With the extra time in the evening, I was able to pull out and work with some knit fabric. (The same knit fabric I so much doubted I would get to.)
I made a short sleeved Fieldtrip Raglan T-shirt by Oliver + S with a mustard chevron knit. It came together smoothly and I must say that I find that the four garments I made this week look quite nice all together. I still can't believe I made four!
More tomorrow and hopefully many picures if I can catch L between wiggles.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

KCW Spring 2014: Day 6

Only tomorrow left for KCW! I'm hard at work on the cargo pants and they could very well get finished tomorrow if I don't run out of thread! Oh please, oh please! I'm having such a great time making these pants.

L went out today with his brand new Nature Walk Pullover and he was quite smitten with the big central pocket. More pictures and details to follow. I think I'll do a big round-up post of my KCW projects in the coming days.

Only one more day left. Enjoy! Happy sewing!

Friday, April 11, 2014

KCW Spring 2014: Day 5

Goodness, the weekend is almost here and that means that KCW will be over soon. I can't help feeling a little sad about that! I also can't believe how much I've been enjoying myself making these garments. And no stress either. Just relaxed and fun. 

As of today, I now have two completed garments: the Sketchbook shirt and the Nature Walk Pullover. A third project is in the works: cargo pants. I'm still debating whether I actually want to put in the cargo pockets. I'm leaning toward putting them in since L is crazy for pockets. He just loves trying to put toys in them but unfortunately, the pockets are always a bit small. I'm pretty sure these cargo pockets would be his dream pockets! 

I'm very happy with how the project is progressing even if it means a lot of thread changes between regular thread and topstitching thread. Patience, patience.

Another day of sewing awaits tomorrow! Happy sewing, everyone!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

KCW Spring 2014: Day 4

A late little post. I expected to have a more extensive post ready for today but between running to the fabric store for supplies (pins, and another fabric marker other than blue!), sewing, and preparing a nice little dinner for a visiting cousin, the day just flew by!

But I did make some progress on L's Nature Walk Pullover beyond that in the picture. I attached the collar. Between making the bread and preparing soup I was able to attach a sleeve and before I knew it, I had both sleeves attached and flat felled. I'm now ready to finish the side seams and then all that's left is hemming!

I really like this project but even so, I'm very much looking forward to finishing it so I can get started on my next project, a pair of Fieldtrip Cargo Pants!

Day 4 and almost day 5, already! Wishing you all some very happy sewing!