Mini Stanley Pyjamas

Mini stanley pyjamas

Little Miss Ooobop has been hassling me for a pair of PJs for so long, bless her. So yesterday, we set off for the Goldhawk Road to track down the very specific ‘cats and dogs’ fabric that she wanted. But of course, the shops were shut. It was New Years Day, after all! In order to relieve the disappointment (me more than her), we drove off, instead, to get a burger and watch a movie!

Now as luck would have it, for all that was closed in Chiswick High Road, Cath Kidston was open! Like some shining apparition amidst the rainy gloom! And there was a sale on. So we duly picked out some Mini Stanley fabric. No cats but very cute dogs!

Cath Kidston mini stanley pjs by the window

I used this vintage Maudella pattern. It’s not dated but could be 1950s if not 1960s. What would you say?

maudella_3162

I’m still working on convincing LMO to have the matching top to the bottoms but I don’t think a 9 year old can see past the ‘fogey’ images on the pattern sleeve!

I dutifully traced the one pattern piece. This is something I make a habit of nowadays. Just purely out of the respect for a tissue pattern piece that has happily existed for between 50-70 years. I don’t want to be the one who destroys that amount of history!

So including the careful ironing of the pieces, the tracing, the cutting, the making and the finishing touches, it took all of 2 hours. This is largely down to the magic of my new, though very old, overlocker, which was so generously bestowed upon me just before Christmas. I didn’t realise what the implications of having one were, until all the seams were serged and the hem edges neatly finished in a jiffy!

detail of overlocked seams

I am still going to have to work on the fine tunings of the tensions but it will so totally do me for now!

reading a book in mini stanley pjs

LMO has spent the rest of the afternoon in her new PJs and I’m delighted to have completed my first project on just day 2 of the New Year. Here’s hoping its the first of many more projects to come.

jumping in mini stanley pjs

Happy New Year lovely people x

Photography by DJ Photographic

Shedding some light on a dark subject

Head torch
I am time-starved. Especially when I get home from the office. Even more especially when it’s dark and my energy levels have dropped through the floorboards.

It’s frustrating mostly because I function fully from morning to afternoon, busily beavering away, designing, revising and artworking books like there’s no tomorrow. At lunch, I compose lists on Post-it notes. Lists of what I fully intend to do when I get home. Sewing projects mainly. Finishing off WIPs, drafting new ones and watching YouTube tutorials but then, as I walk through the door, adorned with Sainsbo’s bags, check on the homework, prepare the dinner, feed the masses, wash up and put the children away… someone or something sneaks up behind me and blatently steals my ‘get up and go’!

I find myself making excuses to myself. My best one is: “These damned energy efficient lightbulbs are rubbish. I can’t see a thing!”

I offloaded this woe to a work colleague on Wednesday and she suggested a head torch. Genius! Bhavini always has the best ideas. (Apart from Helen who invented #TuesdayCheeseDay!)

By Thursday I had completely forgotten that my half-circle skirt had already taken 5 evenings. And I had nearly forgotten that I had to unpick the hem already because I stupidly didn’t level it before stitching. Even when I did try to level the hem, apart from the light failing and it being virtually impossible to see where I was marking on a black fabric, the dress-form was slowly sliding downwards every time I twisted it round. So by the time I got back round to the first pin, I was pinning higher and higher! I said nearly forgotten!

Because thanks to Bhavini and her brilliant suggestion, Mr Ooobop’s head torch worked a treat. I could now see what I was doing, without a care that I looked like a complete fool, and that self same evening, my perfectly levelled half-circle skirt was finished.

working with head torch

I’m not sure if you’ve ever had the displeasure of a bias-stretched hem – honestly, two and a half unnecessary inches longer at the front more than the sides! – but I will never ever wing it again.

To get it right, I first measured the length I wanted with a tape measure from the waist, down the side seam to the hem and placed a pin. I then measured up from the bottom to the hemline, using a metal rule and continued pinning the new hemline all round. I rotated the whole dress-form instead of twisting it on the pole this time!

I then marked with tailors chalk, 1.5 cm all round, below the pins and once I’d double checked the markings, I cut off the offending excess.

I used black bias tape to complete the hem. Worked a treat!

I don’t have a shot of the finished skirt to show you as yet – I’m hoping to persuade my trusty photographer to take some at the weekend. But I do have a handy new device in my sewing box… hoorah!

Vintage western shirt #2… the flowery kind

Flowery vintage western shirtAs promised, here is the finished shirt. It is a revisit to the same shirt I made for Mr Ooobop! almost a year ago. On first inspection I thought it must be 70s, given the flappy collars and slim fit. But one reader clocked the hairstyles on the pattern envelope and said it was probably more 1980s. Either way, its another vintage make that has been a valuable learning curve and keeps the old chap happy at the same time… double whammy!

Butterick 5007

I made some brave adjustments to the pattern this time. (Well, brave for me, that is!) Namely to the chest, shoulders and sleeve length. Of course there is a knock on effect for each change, given the many different pieces to this pattern, so I had to keep on my toes!

I have said it before, and I am very conscious of blowing Mr. Ooobop’s trumpet, but he is very good at knowing what fabric suits and especially good at choosing buttons. Check these out…

yellow buttons with black outline

They are little chunky white buttons with a yellow fill and a black outline. They are indeed a trifle camouflaged here but I can’t imagine any other button being better on this shirt. I have mastered buttonholes, which is a good thing seeing as there were 13 of the damned things to make, but I did get a bit over confident and had to unpick two of them because they weren’t perfectly centred in the placket. I really don’t want to be doing that on a regular basis. Took as much time to unpick 2 buttonholes as it did to sew 13 of them AND hand sew on all of the buttons!

I couldn’t resist adding a couple of new features to this one. I underlined the collar, the collar stand and the under flaps of the pockets in a plain red cotton…

collar cuffs and pockets with red contrast lining… and I added some bias trim to the curved shirt hem. Mostly because Mr. Ooobop! wanted to preserve the length. It was an obvious solution but I think it makes for a lovely finish too, highlighting the shirt-tails!

bound hem

I am really happy with the fit on this one.

vintage western shirt back

Mr Oobop! got a fair few comments when he turned up at his last gig.

Mr Ooobop playing double bass

The finishing on this shirt – all the topstitching and flat felled seams –  was the time consuming bit. but imagine how long it took me to match that rose on the shoulder?! (wink, wink, nudge, nudge 😉 )

matching up the pattern on the shoulderSpecial thanks to George, Tom and Cat of The Redfords for the fabulous photography.

Horizontal or vertical buttonholes?

horizontal buttonholes

I’m in the process of making a second version of the 1940s shirt dress I made in May, and I’ve been prompted into wondering (ie arguing with Mr Ooobop!) whether it is usual to make horizontal or vertical buttonholes on a garment. I couldn’t bear the quandary any longer!

So I did a little research and came up with the following…

  • Horizontal ones allow for a little more expansion. The button can slide along the opening without distorting the buttonhole as much as a vertical one.
  • It’s easier to sew buttons in position, following a column of vertical buttonholes as there is a little  more room for manoeuvre, but you have to sew them on more accurately to meet the positions of the end points of horizontal buttonholes.
  • Horizontal buttonholes generally can’t be placed on a shirt placket band as there is not enough room for them to sit comfortably and so vertical ones are used.
  • Exceptions include the collar and cuffs where there is more stress, then you will find a horizontal one. And in the case of more expensive shirts, the bottommost button too!
  • Horizontal buttonholes take a bit longer to create as the foot needs to be repositioned and position measured each time, whereas its easier to shift the position down each time for vertical ones. I’m thinking this is a reason for mass produced garments having vertical ones.
  • Horizontal buttonholes stay buttoned more securely. Any stress across the garment opening, pulls the button into the the end of the buttonhole, where the button stops.
  • It is a little less-fiddly to button up with vertical buttonholes.
  • Most vintage patterns are marked for the buttonholes to be created horizontally.

So there you have it… fascinating, hey?! It doesn’t prove much except that you can seemingly create them however you like… so long as it works for you and your choice of garment!

I’m going with horizontal ones and now feel much happier about doing so. Apart from the fact that it makes me feel a bit rebellious, (and that I won the argument) I like that it’s a little bit of authenticity for this little 40s number.

Which way round do you sew your buttonholes? Any reason different from the above?

I’m hoping to have said dress all finished and blogged by the weekend so bring on the sunshine so Mr Ooobop! can take some sunny shots!

easy peasy spotty top

new look 6753 top

Despite sewing at every available opportunity, my wardrobe is still lacking in basics. Tops mostly. And particularly ones that go with everything. I spotted this pin dot jersey in a remnant box for 99p and imagined it as a top right there and then. I’m still quite scared of sewing with stretchy fabric but only because I don’t do it enough, and that is probably why I have a serious shortage of go-to tops. But I have to say, this pattern: New Look 6753 really was as ‘easy’ as it said on the packet.

new look 6753 sewing pattern

I remembered to use a ball point needle and set the stretch stitch and a couple of hours later it was ready to go. No notions, no sleeves, no lining… just the ticket for a brain addled by a weekend of pure self-indulgence!

The binding on the armholes and neckline looked to be a bit tricky from the instructions, mostly because I hadn’t done this before but it was painless, I can assure you. The binding strips are cut on the cross grain and not on the bias because, hey!… it’s stretchy already! The strips are seamed with right sides together on the short ends to make a loop and then pressed, long edges and wrong sides together. The binding is sewn, raw edges and right sides together and then the seam is pressed down towards the garment and a row of stitching made close to the seam from the right side, to stop the binding from rolling out.

new look 6753 armhole binding

To retain the ‘v’ shape neckline, before the binding is attached a small snip is made at the point of the raw edge of the ‘v’ and opened up to sew the binding on. When seamed and top stitched, a little dart is sewn on the wrong side of the binding to pinch the shape back into the neckline. All clever stuff!

new look 6753 neckline

As you can see from the picture above there is a top and a bottom bodice section. The top is subtly gathered to give some shape and create a bit of detail. This particular jersey fabric is very fine. Not sure of its content but I’m sure the shaping would have worked better on a sturdier stretch fabric. Not complaining at all for 99p though. This was a fabulous outcome for what really was a test drive.

I’m also sure that it is possible to go down 2 sizes in this style. I went down one size and it is still very roomy, though to be fair I haven’t washed it yet and if there is any amount of cotton present it is bound to shrink a bit, I hope!

I wore it today with my shorts which incidentally didn’t coordinate at all! Ironically, it appears I don’t have anything at all to go with this top so I now have some plain skirts to add to the project list. I did however have a snazzy M&S jacket to pick out the red of the shorts. Should have worn the blue shoes too I guess… doh!

new look 6753 top with jacket

A certain night-attire ‘party’ sewalong!

I’m sure most of you will know what I’m talking about but I’m having to be slightly cryptic as my ‘thingies’ are a surprise gift… and I won’t be able to reveal them in all their glory until the end of May.

I wasn’t going to post any progress reports, mainly because I didn’t know how, without giving the game away, but to be honest, if a certain person endeavours to follow these clues I should be impressed that he shares an incredible interest in what I love to do! Either that or he is bloomin’ nosey!

But the main reason for this post, not only to let the lovely Karen know that I found a window to jump on board, but I made another amazing discovery about my sewing machine. It serges! Well, of a fashion, I’m sure! There I was, head cupped in hands, eyebrows raised in awe and jealousness at Karen’s beautiful serged seams when… ping! I remembered a strange mechanical foot among my machines accessories and reference in the manual to a ‘side-cutter’! Oh the joy, the joy!! I WILL have beautiful 5mm seams too!

side cutter foot

Took a bit of getting used to though, as you can imagine! And I’m sure I can get a better-looking, tighter stitch with a bit more fiddling. But the needle kept falling out! I checked and double checked that I had attached the foot properly, mainly because it does’t sit firmly in position. It is such a clumsy attachment and it kind of wobbles around.

needle falling out

But according to the manual, I had, and there was no reference to this problem in the troubleshooting section either. So I just used the little screwdriver to really tighten the needle clamp screw. Perhaps I ought to be doing this anyway, whenever I replace a needle. I just usually tighten it with my fingers but clearly it needs to be tighter when the fork attachment of the side-cutter is hooked over it.

tightening needle clamp

Anyhows… I am as happy as some Larry’s and quietly confident I will make the party on the 28th once I figure out my disguise!

New Year, new Brother!

I’m not really sure how to write this post. For one, I’m still pretty speechless and secondly I’ve been battling with not wanting to be braggy. But it would be a crime not to mention the fact that I got hugely, massively spoilt, by Mr Ooobop! this Christmas… with this little beauty:

Brother Innov-is 1250

The very beautiful Brother Innov-is 1250

I have spent the last few days sweating over the instruction manual, scared to even turn the machine on in case I do something wrong. Its all digital! But yesterday I bit the bullet and decided to make a start and thread it up. Its got a nifty little cover to keep the thread and threading mechanisms dust-free.

innovis1250 thread cover

Nifty thread cover

I never questioned the functions of my trusty Janome Sewist, and I never will. Its a lovely little machine, if not now a little ‘manual’ (ssshhhh)! The bobbin is wound on the Brother at the press of a button with no foot action required! It then gets slotted in its carriage and the thread is wound around the plate and is automatically cut at the end. I just have to remember to insert it the opposite way to my Janome! The upper thread is easy enough to feed through. It also gets cut at the end, just before you pull down the lever to activate the automatic needle threader. This is also a feature on the Janome but seems to function more successfully on the Brother. You don’t have to ‘pick up’ the bobbin thread by winding the needle down. It’s picked up automatically.

innovis1250 bobbin

No picking up bobbin threads for me anymore!

The stitches are selected from the digital display. You are going to have to bear with me because I’ve only practiced with a few basic stitches so far. Stitch style, length, tension etc are all selected via touch screen (see top left, foot J). A little scary at first but then apparently very helpful as on selecting the stitch, the appropriate foot is displayed.

innovis1250 digital display

Touch screen digital display, no less!

Incidentally the feet and the unpicker and the bobbins have a cool little pull down compartment at the front. (Sorry Janome, but it is a much smoother operation in order to get to those accessories!)

innovis 1250

Closed accessory compartment

innovis1250 accessory compartment

Open accessory compartment!

Most importantly, it sewed first time, smooth as you like with but a whisper of a sound. I always wonder if my neighbours are cursing me when I sew late into the night! No worries about that anymore!

I love how the needle resumes a ‘down’ position every time you take your foot off the pedal. I’ve forgotten to ensure the needle is down, when turning corners, a few times, and it is really annoying!!

I also love the little button that you press when you come to the end of your stitching. It raises the needle and cuts the thread automatically, to a perfect length, so you don’t have to pull it through the back before resuming sewing. The number of times I have forgotten to do that and have had to thread the needle again, is not worth mentioning!

innovis1250 buttons

Foot up/down, reinforce, needle up/down and automatic cut thread when finished, -buttons!

So far I have practiced regular stitching, blind-hemming, overcasting and I couldn’t resist a little decorative stitching. I really need to do some more reading before I embark on the clever stuff! At some point I will also attempt a little video tutorial. I tried searching for one on YouTube but to no avail. I feel obliged to post one as I think it would be so helpful for people who have an aversion to manuals…. like me!

So as you can imagine I have had a wonderful start to the new year and have no excuse in not upping my productivity and setting myself some new sewing challenges for 2012. I am normally uber hesitant about making new years resolutions but I think I can safely say that this one might be a pleasurable one to achieve!

Lastly but not leastly, I would like to take this opportunity to wish a happy and healthy new year to all my wonderful bloggers and readers xxxx