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Three Maternity Summer Tops

31 Jan

It’s been a super hot week. It  was 42 degrees Celsius today, about the same yesterday, but will go down to 33 degrees tomorrow. I’ve been itching to sew, and thought it would be a good time to make some summer tops to go over the burgeorning bump.

I ran through some designs in my head, and remembered this Vogue Patterns Anna Sui V2850 top which I fell in love with some time ago and decided that it would be perfect converted into a maternity top.

I love the version with the neck flounce. I had a black, loose weave, chiffon-like polyester material in my stash that I bought from Spotlight just for it.

As usual, I drafted my own pattern. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any drafting or construction pictures (it was too hot and I was lazy…) The pattern had to be quick and easy, with lots of room for the baby bump. I didn’t want any darts or closures, so it had to fit over my head easily, but not gape at the neckline. I didn’t really follow the technical stylelines of the Vogue pattern. It was primarily the neck flounce that I wanted to copy.

When I got to work with the fabric, I decided to take it slow, and handsew. It was extremely unstable, stretching everywhere because of its loose weave. The fabric had to be underlined with something, but I didn’t have anything suitable, since the fabric had a bit of stretch. The only thing I had on hand was a red tricot, so I used that. I quite like the effect of the black on the red. The tricot is a bit shiny, but is toned down under the black chiffon, so it looks rather sneakingly snazzy.

It was a good thing I decided to handsew the tricot underlining to the chiffon. It stabilised it, so I was able to eliminate facings on the neckline and armhole. After all the seams were handsewn, I overlocked the edges with a 4-thread overlock. And neck flounce and hemlines are roll hemmed.

This top came together very quickly because there was no darts, no facings, no closures. I’m really pleased with this top. Here’s a couple more views.

I like it with or without the belt. And it looks quite like the Vogue one I think.

Because this one came so easily together, I decided to use up some other fabric in my stash on this same patter, but with different sleeves. My mum had brought over some nice summery fabrics from Malaysia, and I thought they’d be perfect.

I sketched some designs with the same bodice pattern, but with different sleeves, and decided to cut out two garments at once to save time. I made one with a circular sleeve flounce, and one with a triple cap sleeve.

This one is a very light polyester print with a raised texture, similar to a seersucker. I love how the sleeves came out.

The sleeve flounce was roll-hemmed, and the neckline bias-bound.

I used the Banded V-Neck on Woven Fabric technique described in Lynda Maynard’s The Dressmaker’s Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques. I’ve fallen in love with bias bound finishes. I used to think that it was really hard to cut bias strips out without a rotary cutter and mat, but I actually do them quite well just with scissors. And I also used to think that it was fiddly to bind an opening, compared to sewing in a facing, but I have to say that bias bound finishes are so much neater than a facing, doesn’t flip up, and they just look so good. I’ve been using them on everything lately.

This is the third top I made.

I really like this one too. I’ve been wanting to try out the triple sleeve effect on something. Looks pretty cute. Without the belt, it’s quite casual, but I love both looks. Again, I used self-bias binding on the neckline, and the the lower armhole.

Three tops in a week is my best sewing record to date. I love quick projects! (Ones that turn out all right.)

I’m probably going to make more maternity tops with this pattern, since it’s so easy, and quite the TNT (tried and true) pattern. I’ll just have to think up some different neckline and sleeve treatments to make them all distinctive.

I’m not sure which is my favourite top-Wyld Man can’t decide either. Which one do you like best?

Incidentally, I didn’t finished roll-hemming my black top till after the two others were done. When I did the neck flounce, my overlocker needle broke, and now my overlocker won’t sew properly anymore. Boohoo….I’ll have to send it away for a lookover. Hopefully that won’t take too long and I can get some more tops done soon!

Also, I’m moving blogs soon to www.allthewyldthings.blogspot.com. WordPress is good, but they do restrict Java-based widgets, which I find limiting. Blogger gives you more freedom. I’ll be double-posting here in the mean time while I get the new blog up and moving. It’s not complete yet, but do tell me what you think of the new blog.

Edited on 1/12/2014: I’ve published maternity and nursing patterns on Craftsy! Be sure to check them out!

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Black And White Smock/Maternity Top

23 Dec

My, it’s been a while. And 2 days till Christmas! I’ve been busy busy busy-tidying up house, getting rid of unused things, doing some spring cleaning, running after my Little Wyld Man, who isn’t so little anymore. And also, I’m pregnant again! In between getting all of these done, I managed to pull together a simple smock from a Burda magazine, using some left over material from my maternity/nursing cocktail dress.

I was itching to sew something, but was too lazy to draft from scratch, so I decided I must make something quick and simple. I had some Burda magazines from the library and this little number caught my eye.

I love the simple lines, the yoke, and the pleats, which will allow for a growing belly. This is how it was made up in the magazine-in plaid.

I wasn’t too big on it, but I really liked the stylelines, and decided to make it.

This is the pattern sheet. You have to find the correct colour codes for the  pattern which can get confusing. In this case, I’m using the patterns outlined in blue. Burda patterns come without seam allowances, so you have to add them yourself.

I traced out the pattern using some tracing paper, and added a 5/8 of an inch seam allowance. You can use anything see through that is big enough, such as cheap sew-in interfacing, or even freezer paper taped together.

I’ve cut out my pattern pieces. This is a simple pattern, so only 6 pieces altogether.  Should come together pretty quickly. I’ve labelled each piece so that you’ll know what I’m referring to below.

The pattern markings must be marked onto the fabric at this point. I used to use tailor’s tacks, but now I just make a 3/5 inch snip into the seam allowance to mark centre points, pleating points, etc.

I’ve also cut out fusible interfacing for the facing front and back pieces, as well as the yoke. The fusible interfacing I’m using is a tricot knit, which is suitable for most light and medium weight materials. The interfacing serves to stabilise the area, and by this I mean that it will stop the fabric from stretching as you sew and handle it. It also prevents wrinkles and gives a bit more body to the fabric, although you don’t want to use interfacing that is too heavy, as this will change the hand/feel of the fabric undesirably. The interfacing should be cut using the same pattern piece, or slightly smaller.

To fuse, press with an up-down motion on a steam and wool setting till it fuses to the fabric. Wait till cool before moving.

Before stitching anything together, I finish the edges with my overlocker. Or you can use a zigzag stitch with a normal sewing machine.

Here, I’ve stitched the pleats in the front first. My order of construction is always to finish the details on the front garment, piece all front pieces together, then finish back details such as the zipper, and joint the front to the back at the shoulder seams and side seams. The sleeves  and hem are last.

In stitching the pleats, the pattern markings and centre points guide me and I don’t struggle to measure the pleating afterwards. I stitch vertically at each pleat to keep the pleats together, then horizontally across the pleats and the whole neckline.

The front yoke is joined to the main front, matching the centre points in the middle. The seam allowance is pressed upwards at the back.

Here’s I’m stitching the side seams. The shoulder seams are next. When this is done, test for fit. As this was a loose smock, the fit aside from the shoulders, weren’t essential. This top was drafted with a zipper in the back. When I tried it on, I found that it slipped easily over my head and shoulders, so I decided to omit the zipper.

Press the seams open and flat.

Here, I’m stitching the back neck facings together at the centre back seam. Next the back neck facing is joined to the front neck facing at the shoulder seams.

This is what it looks like. Press the seams open and flat. Remember, sew and press as you go.

Join the facing to the main garment at the neck edge, lining shoulder seams on both facing and main garment together. Make sure the centre points of the facing matches the centre point on the main garment. Sew with 5/8 inch seam allowance.

When this is done, turn the facing underneath and this finishes the neckline edge. However, you will find that it flips upwards very inconveniently. To remedy, you’ll need to understitch.

Open up the facing, and use your fingers to press the seam allowance towards the facing. Position your needle so that it is close to the seam line, but not on it, towards the facing. Sew the seam allowances to the facing. This is called understitching. This keeps the facing from flipping up a certain extent. However, you’ll need to clip the seam allowance as per below.

Clip at 1 inch intervals, or less where there is a sharper curve. This releases the fabric and lets it lie flat when you turn the facing under. Be careful to clip close to, but not onto the stitching line.

Next, we finish the hem on the sleeve.

I’m doing a double rolled hem by hand-you can do it by a narrow hemming foot, but I wanted to try this technique instead. Turn the edge wrong sides together around 1/4 inch and sew close to the edge. Using the tailor’s awl helps immensely as the sharp point guides the hem under the presser foot.

Now turn over the second time and do the same. Press the hem flat.

Before sewing the sleeve into the armhole, you have to prepare the sleeve for ‘easing’. The sleeve cap is drafted with extra length, usually about 1-2 cm longer than the armhole. The extra fabric must be eased into the armhole without puckering. This can be a challenge, but with practice comes perfection. To prepare the sleeve, sew a gathering stitch (I use the longest stitch length) inside the seam allowance.

The pattern will have a dot/mark where easing begins. Sew from this point with big stitches. Do not backstitch. Leave a long thread length at each end.

Pull the gathering threads and gather the sleeve cap evenly. The gathers must be ‘gentle’ rather than ‘hard’.

Pin the sleeve cap onto the armhole wtih as many pins as you need. As this is a cap sleeve, and not a full sleeve, find the markings on the armhole where the sleep cap begins and ends. The 1/3 of the lower armhole will be finished with a bias binding. Stitch sleeve to armhole at 5/8 inch seam allowance.

For the bias binding, I cut 1 inch strips on the bias, 16cm in length. These need to be folded in half and pressed. As this is on the bias, it is stretchy and can be shaped into a curve by pressing, as per below.

To attach the binding to the lower armhole, pin the so that the folded edge sits 2.7cm from the armhole edge.

Why 2.7cm? Because it is 5/8 inch plus 1cm. And when you stitch it in 5/8 inch from the armhole edge,and turn the bias binding under, it will match the finished edge of the cap sleeve perfectly. Magic!

Sew 5/8 inch from the edge of the armhole, catching the middle of the bias binding.

Trim aways the ends of the binding, and the seam allowance so that only 1/4 of the bias binding remains.

Turn under and edgestitch close to the edge, making sure the stitching catches and holds the bias binding underneath. Press flat.

Hem the bottom with a double rolled hem.

Finito!

Front view.

Back view.

Closeup of the front.

I’m rather pleased with this top. However, the neckline does gape a bit. So the next time I use this pattern, I’ll do a slight gaposis adjustment. But for now, Merry Christmas everyone!

Edited on 1/12/2014: I’ve published maternity and nursing patterns on Craftsy! Be sure to check them out!

Motherhood

30 Mar

I’ve had my little prince for over 5 weeks now and I still can’t get over him. Everyday I wake up and remind myself that I’m a mother now and that there’s a little person utterly dependant on me. It is a wonderful but heavy responsibility. His every smile and sound and movement is a little miracle for me. I can’t believe that he is the little baby I carried in the womb for 9 months! He’s getting so big now, growing an average of 2 cm a week-at 5 1/2 weeks he is 60cm long, from 50cm when he was born.

He loves having his bath, and he loves being held. He likes listening to music – it calms him down and makes him sleep. He loves curling up on my chest and sleeping. Everyday I discover something new about him. He is starting to look around him and taking an interest in things. He has a wonderful personality and everyday is made more beautiful because of him.

Being a stay-at-home mum is wonderful. I can’t imagine being away from my little prince for any length of time. I love being around my little man and just watching him sleep, or listen to him gurgling and playing. People and told me that everything will change after the little one is born. No social life, sleepless nights, nappies and and crying. Yes, things have changed. But only for the better. What are dirty nappies and sleepless nights when there are beautiful smiles and beaming eyes looking at you? Who needs parties and late nights out when my little prince fills all of my days with joy? Our lives have definitely changed for the better.

Being a mother makes you appreciate all the emotions and feelings that other mothers go through. Love, anxiety, joy, fear, delight. The pain of labour. The satisfaction of giving birth to a healthy baby. Exhilaration and exhaustion.  All of the above and everything in between. It makes you appreciate my own mother and what she went through giving birth to me and bringing me up. Who did fly all the way here to look after me for three weeks after the birth.  Thank you Mi.

Motherhood is such a beautiful thing.

And as I write this, he is curled up on my chest, snoring and sleeping peacefully.

Deo Gratias!

White Maternity Top

14 Feb

I had quite a lot of material left over from the white maternity skirt I finished 3 days ago, and decided to make a top to go with it. I also had Wyld Man’s grandma’s 80th birthday party to go to on Saturday, I thought to quickly whip a top up. I started with a sketch.

A sketch of my maternity outfit

Deciding on the style lines of the top

I had to draft this pattern from scratch.  So out came my Aldrich block.

My Winifred Alrich Close Fitting Bodice Block in size 12

I needed to trace off a block on newspaper which I could cut out and move around to determine the style lines.

If you look closely, you will see an orange line above the waist line and below the armhole line-that’s my maternity/empire waistline,  under which I extend the pattern to accomodate a baby bump. Any pattern can be modified to become a maternity pattern. Just determine where the bump starts, and draw a line across-normally 2-3 inches below the bustline.

Getting ready to trace a block. Here, I layer carbon sheets on the bottom facing up, a large piece of newspaper, and the block which I want to trace off.

Laying out my trusty pattern weights.

Here you can just see the faint outline of the bodice I've traced. I'm going to cut it out.

These are the top part of the pattern above the maternity line, cut with princess seams, without seam allowances.

Here I've closed the bust dart with tape and drawn the style lines in red, which I will cut out.

Cutting out the style lines

Here I am determining the length of the back shoulder seam, and drawing the back neckline.

After cutting the style lines, I trace off the pattern pieces on a separate piece of newspaper with seam allowances.

Pattern pieces with seam allowances outlined in red.

Next, the sleeves.

This is my one-piece sleeve block from my Aldrich book without seam allowances. Single noth denotes the front, double notch denotes the back.

I wanted a slightly flared sleeve so…

I slashed the sleeve block to make a flared sleeve, and traced around the sleeve with seam allowances.

I made facings for the front and back neckline-not shown here.

The bottom front and back panels were easy-not much manipulation involved, except for the fact that I extended the front centre line by about 5 inches to gathers. However, I later found that I had made a mistake and only extended the front by 1 inch-AFTER the material had been cut-don’t know how that happened. So instead of gathers like in the sketch, I made an inverted pleat by cutting down the front centre line, and adding in a square of material into it.

Final pattern pieces all cut out.

I decided to make a muslin (test garment) to try out the fit. I only needed to try the top of the blouse, so I cut out the top part of the pattern from an old bedsheet I picked up at an opshop. In hindsight, I should have made a muslin of the whole top, in order to catch the mistake on the front bottom panels where the gathers were supposed to be.

Laying out the pattern on the op shop bedsheet for my muslin.

The cut pattern pieces for the muslin.

I tacked all the important joining points for the muslin-princess seamlines are hard to put together without them.

The finished muslin.

I tried it on and was quite happy with the fit, so I proceeded to cut it out of the white linen.

Laying out pattern pieces on the linen for cutting.

The linen material all cut out.

Tailor tacking all the points and notches to ease of joining all the pieces together EXACTLY.

Now I need to finish the edges of all the cut material.

Overlocking all the edges of the material.

I overlock all edges except the sleeve cap and the necklines on the main garment and the necklines of the facings. This is because the later seams will be enclosed, and the former will have the seam allowances trimmed off and reserged/re-overlocked.

I don’t know what I’d do without my overlocker. For one, I wouldn’t be sewing clothes at all-I’d still be stuck just sewing things like cloth nappies. I hate the look of raw unfinished edges on garments-didn’t see any point attempting to make one at all if I couldn’t finish the insides properly. And I don’t suscribe to the pink and stitch school of things.

Here I've matched tailor tacks between the front top panel with the side panel.

Tailor’s tacks makes joining princess seams sooooo easy. I used to spend ages trying to get the two opposing curves on princess seams to match. This was a cinch.

I've also made little notches on the curves of the princess seams to ease it into the opposing seam.

This is how the front top panel looks pin basted together.

Ironing out the curved seam on a rolled up nappy.

Here I've joined the armhole piece to the front top panel.

At this point, I started joining the bottom extended panel to the top, but realised that there was only 2 inches of excess material for the gathers I had intended. I decided to make an inverted pleat instead of gathers by cutting down the centre front line of the bottom panel, and adding in 10 inches of fabric for an inverted pleat. However, before I did that, I finished making up the back panel pieces.

The back panel pieces.

The 10 inch square of fabric I cut out for the inverted pleat. Had to overlock the edges of that.

This is the finished front piece with the inverted pleat at the bottom

Next, I joined the shoulder seams and the side and back seams together.

Then, the facings.

I joined the neck facings together

Joining the facings to the neckline

Trimming the seam allowances under the facings to reduce bulk-also called grading.

Here, I understitch the facing to the seam allowances to prevent the facings from turning upwards

Next up, the sleeves. Sleeve caps are normally 1-2 cms longer than the armhole length. This requires the excess fabric to be eased into the armhole. This has to be done without puckering, which is easy to do if unfamiliar with the technique outlined below.

Here I make a long running stitch between the notches on my sleeve cap and pull the threads to make a slight gather. This allows me to ease the sleeve into the armhole.

Insert the sleeve into the armhole right sides together. Pin baste from the side seams up and distribute the gathers at the sleeve cap evenly. Pin in small intervals to ensure even easing of the sleeve into the armhole and to prevent puckering.

Sew with the sleeve facing upwards and away from the needle plate.

This prevents puckers from appearing, which is easy to do if the sleeve was facing downwards while you sew it into the armhole.

I’m almost finished!

Pinning up my hem

I’m making a blind hem, which require me to fold the hem twice, once unto the wrong side 5/8 inch up, and then back onto the opposing side, just enough for the overlocked edge to show, just like in the picture.

I use my adjustable blind hem foot and set the machine to do a blindhem stitch.

I give the top a through press.

And I’m finished!

I’ve put both my maternity skirt and the top together for pictures.

Front view

Back view.

My whole outfit

I decided that I needed a belt to break up the white-it looked a bit boring without it. But the top and the skirt are great separates for a mix and match look.

White Maternity Skirt

11 Feb

I have been needing a white skirt to wear with some tops that won’t go with anything but. Last night I sewed up a 7-gored, 7 godet skirt out of a white jacquard weave linen.

This was what I wanted it to look like.

It would have a stretch waistband with a maternity panel in from to accomodate my belly. No closures.

I got out my file with all my drafted blocks and patterns.

My skirt block drafted from Winifred Aldrich's Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear

Laying the skirt block out.

I've drawn a maternity line-the curved line follows the baby bump all around. Everything else will fit as per pre pregnancy.

I draw out the stylelines for my skirt. You can see the godet I drew in between one of the gore panels.

I already have a pattern for a 7 gored and flared skirt from a few months before, so I only needed to draft the godet. I made it  6inches long, and 3 inches wide on each side of the red middle line.

My trusty carbon sheets. This is just 8 sheets of A4 carbon paper stuck on a broadsheet newspaper.

Laid a sheet of newspaper on top

Layed the block on top

And used my double Clover tracing wheel to trace the seamlines of the godet onto the newspaper

Turn the newspaper over-and tada! A perfectly traced godet pattern piece.

These are the pattern pieces i made a few months back for a flared, 7-godet skirt, plus my godet.

I wanted my new skirt to be an inch longer though, so I made a note on all my pattern pieces that it be cut an inch longer with 5/8 inch seam allowance.

These were the materials I used. The white linen jacquard and a white Lycra I bought for AUD1.99 from an opshop at 1.5m.

I laid out the pattern pieces on the material and pinned and cut.

Laying out the rest of the pattern pieces

This is the Lycra piece I cut for the waistband

I wanted it 3 inches wide

Here is the maternity waistband all cut out.

All the pattern pieces cut out.

I used tailors tacks on all the points where the seams join, especially for the godets, which saved me heaps of time.

I made sure I marked the centre back, centre front, the right and wrong side of the material.

Overlocking all the raw edges of the material

Here I overlock the centre back seam of the waistband into a tube and pinned all the edges together.

And overlocked all the seams

Next, I laid out all the front panel pieces together.

Matching tailor's tacks between the gore panels.

Matching the tailors tacks for the godets and the panels.

I realised that I had to sew the godet onto one panel first, before joining two gore panels together.

That little tailor tack X was very important.

I had to make sure to start the stitch at that point on both sides of the gore panels, being careful not to catch the fabric underneath, which would have resulted in a pucker.

Sewing the two gore panels together from the top down to the godet point X.

I repeated all the steps for joining the godet and panels for the front.

This was what the front looked like.

And the back

I always make a point of making the front and back panels separately, and then joining the side seams last with a basting stitch to check the fit. At this point, I realise that it was too tight, so I reduced the 5/8 inch seam allowance to 1/4 inch at the sides. But that wasn’t enough either, so I had to rip out the stitchs at the centre back seam and resew that at 1/4 inch seam allowance.

This is what the whole skirt looked like after I joined the front and back panels together.

Ironing the seams flat. Very important.

Next, the waistband.

Joining the waistband to the skirt

I had marked the centre of the skirt and the waistband with tailors tack, so matching them up was a breeze.

I separated the waistband into quarterly intervals, and pinned it to the skirt, stretching the lycra to ease in the skirt fabric.

Tada!

It needs an iron again.

But this is what it looks like on me.

Front Side view

Back side view

Me in my new skirt.

I hemmed the skirt up, but wasn’t satisfied with the way it fell stiffly, so I unpicked the blindhem stitching, and will use a rolled hem on my overlocker to finish it.

I love the versatility of a white skirt, and especially a maternity one with an wide stretchy waistband.

Op Shop Bargains!

10 Feb

Last Saturday my mother-in-law stumbled into a Baptish Church opshop. Knowing my love for bargains, she went in and saw clothes, fabrics, baby things, and she hurried home to tell me about it. And both rushed back there a half hour before it closed. There were racks of clothes being sold at 50cents a piece, as well as rooms devoted to women’s wear, baby wear, menswear and odd bric-a-brac.

The first thing that caught my eye were 2 pairs of Jeanswest Maternity jeans-50 cents each!

Jeanswest Maternity Jeans

They were practically brand new and in my size!  I wouldn’t wear them in summer, but I’ll wear them in winter for a winter baby. Wink!

I was excited when I saw that they had a cupboardful of fabrics. Here’s what I picked out for a dollar a bundle.

My op shop fabric.

The top fabric is a large yardage of blue-green linen.

Pink polyester tricot.

A pretty light green checked cotton blend.

Would probably make a nice boy’s shirt.

A beautiful silver grey material.

Can’t figure out what it is. It’s wonderfully soft and silky, but I think it’s probably a synthetic blend.

A really pretty vintage print cotton

A mustard-brown linen.

And last but not least…

A really interesting heavy weight cotton print

I also browsed through they sewing notions and found this.

A shoebox full of zippers

And they weren’t old vintage ones either.

Some of the zippers were new.

The lady said there were some sewing books-but somebody had already made off with them. Darn!

But the prize of the day was this.

An almost brand new bassinet

It came in about 10 minutes after we did. And I just fell in love with it. Even though we already had one given to us…this on was just so hard to resist. It was absolutely beautiful. Retail it would be at least AUD150 or more. This one was AUD 25.  It was probably a spare one from the grandparents when they babysat the little one. But it really looks new. And the cream-coloured frills! To die for.

I also got this.

It's not a golf bag.

Take off the cover and you get this.

It's not a shopping trolley.

It unfolds to.....

A Portacot!

Really handy for travelling. Or even as a playpen! Got this one knocked down from AUD40 to AUD 20.

It was a wonderful day.

Baby Sling Tutorial

31 Jan

I’ve been looking online at baby slings, and I’ve decided that they would come in very handy for carrying baby around with me and keeping my hands free. However, commercial baby carriers cost upwards of AUD60-and I’ve seen some really nice handmade ones for about AUD40 too-also more than I’ve willing to spend for something which I can make myself. So I made one this arvo (Aussie slang for ‘afternoon’) out of a red cotton print given to me from that nice church lady this morning. I had thought to make one with adjustable straps, but I wanted something quick today, so I only made a fitted sling, non-adjustable, and to my measurements. So Wyld Man probably won’t be able to use it.

The red fabric that I had was of a 45 inch width, which was perfect folded in half for the project, since you’d need the sling to be reversible and double sided. In total, I used about 1.5 metres of fabric.

Red cotton print

First, I loop a measuring tape over one shoulder and under the opposite arm loosely, maybe adding about 3-4 inches of wearing ease into that measurement.  Imagine that the tape measure is a sling, and decide how loose or tight you want it to be.  Mine came to 47 inches in length.

I drew a pattern on the newspaper.

It looks like a misshapen kite.

On the left end is a gentle curve-that’s where you want the baby’s bum to sit. The width of the widest end is 45 inches divided by two-just fold your 45-inch fabric lengthwise.  On the right is the strap that will go over your shoulder-that straight line is cut on a fold-and can be any width-I made mine about 7-8 inches wide. And the length of the pattern is that measurement over the shoulder and under the arm divided in half-mine was 47 x 1/2 inches=23.5 inches.

I added a seam allowance of about 5/8 inch all around the pattern except for the shortest line on the right-that line is cut on the fold.

My pattern all cut out with seam allowances

I pressed the fabric before cutting

I folded the fabric lengthwise once, and then again in half crosswise, so that I had 4 layers of fabric. I laid the pattern onto the fabric, with the “CUT ON FOLD” line placed directly on the fold of the cloth.

Pinning my fabric onto the pattern before cutting out

And then my scissors came out. Snip snip.

The fabric all cut out

Here, I have 2 pieces of fabric folded on the left end, and with curved raw edges on the right end. Time to sew!

I separate the 2 pieces of fabric, put them right sides together, and pin all alongside the long edge.

Right sides together and pin

I sew a seam down the 2 long edges of the sling, but not the curved edges.

This is because we want to turn it inside out later.

Here, I’m pressing the seams flat and open

I turn the sling inside out, and press the outside edges flat

Time to sew the curved edges together.

Here, I pin fold the sling, and bring to two curved edges together and pin

Sew a seam down the curved edge.

Press the curved seam open with a folded towel underneath.

I find that a folded thick towel is an excellent substitute for a tailor’s ham.

Just put your fist under the towel to form a curved surface to iron a curved seam, like a princess seam

Enclose the first curved seam with another seam from the opposite side.

Stitch the standing seam down to one side.

This is called a flat-felled seam, whereby a seam is sewn on one side, then turned over, with another seam sewn on the opposite side to enclose the first seam, and then the standing seam is stitched to one side. This forms a very strong seam.

The finished baby sling

A one-hour project.

That’s the rhino-in-a-nappy in the sling. Front view.

Back view

Edited on 1/12/2014: I’ve published maternity and nursing patterns on Craftsy! Be sure to check them out!

Baby Rocker Makeover

30 Jan

Somebody at my mother-in-law’s workplace gave her an old baby rocker to give to me. I liked that you could put a baby in there and rock it to sleep, as well as set it up so that it stays stationary. However, this is what it looked like-

It looked rather old and stained.

The fabric was sewn into the frame of the rocker, so couldn’t be taken out and washed.

I wasn't crazy about the dirty teddy bears

But it was a good brand-Mother’s Choice, and a freebie is a freebie. So I decided to give it a facelift.

I had some really soft cotton that I picked up at the opshop that I decide would look really good as a cover.

Some blue cotton fabric from the op shop

I also went to Spotlight today and picked up a metre of prepacked polyester wadding.

Polyester Wadding

But before I did anything, I wanted to make sure that the fabric would look right on the rocker.

A mock up of what the final product will look like.

Looks just fine. So, I proceeded to make a pattern with newspaper.

Using newspaper to make a pattern.

Marking all the spots on the newspaper

Cutting out the fabric with the newspaper as a guide and adding seam allowances.

Laying the wadding on newspaper.

Cutting the wadding without seam allowances

Pressing the fabric flat to prevent puckers when sewing.

I planned to sew the wadding onto the wrong side of the fabric, and then turning it inside out. So-I pinned the fabric rights sides together, with the wadding on top of the wrong side.

Pinning the wadding on the wrong side of the fabric

I sewed directly onto the wadding all around the sides.

However, I left a hole in one of the short sides for turning the cover inside out.

The Hole

I anchored the four ends of the wadding unto the fabric before turning inside out

Then I proceed to pull the fabric and wadding through the hole.

This is what it looks like the right way up. See that little hole?

I’m going to close it up with iron-on hemming tape.

Inserting hemming tape into the hole

Iron-on hemming tape is a fusible adhesive which bonds 2 pieces of fabric together when heat is applied. It is usually used for making invisible hems. I only discovered it in Adelaide-I’m not sure if I’ve come across it in Malaysia.

Ironing the hole with the fusible hemming tape in it.

The original rocker seat has a strap sewn unto it to hold the baby in. I wanted to transfer it to the new cover. So I cut it off. Snip snip.

Cutting off the safety strap

I wanted the cover to have a quilted look, so…

Here I transfer all the markings from the newspaper to the cover.

I sewed along those markings to define the seat of the cover

I sewed a curvy line down the length of the cover

Here I used the quilting bar to guide the second line of stitching

The quilted look

Sewing the safety strap on with a bartack stith

I handsewed snaps on black tape on all four corners to anchor the cover into position.

Tadaa!

I also made a little padded holder for the straps.

This was a very quick and rewarding project-no precision needed, yet the finished product looked quite professional.

Here’s a before and after picture.

BIG improvement!

I Have a Plan for a Maternity Top Part 2

28 Jan

Read Part 1 here.

I've cut out my material using my pattern and laid them out.

Here I've used tailor's tacks to mark all the important points.

I’ve only recently discovered tailor’s tacks-and I loved them! (For those new to sewing, tailor’s tacks is a method of marking fabric using double unknotted thread, which is pushed through and back again through the fabric at a marking point, leaving a loop and a tail at opposite sides of the fabric. You then separate the fabric layers which have been tacked, and gently cut the tacking thread in between the fabric layers. This leaves a tail of thread on two or more layers of fabric, at the exact same spot.) I’ve read about them before, but was too lazy to implement it-however, I’ve tried it with my last two projects, taking pains to mark all the points where seams are supposed to join, the centre mark of a pattern, the darts, points where the facing is supposed to join the main garment pieces etc-and I’ve discovered that the time you save not fiddling around in the middle of your sewing time looking for that centre mark or wondering whether the seamlines join exactly on that spot or not is very significant. I just about whizzed through the making of that top because all the points where tacked and I knew immediately where to join it to.

At this point, I serged all the edges of the garment pieces except for the armhole, and sewed the dart on the back and front pieces. I normally make it a point to join all the pieces that make up the whoe front panel, before I do the back panel, leaving out the sleeves. And only then do I join the front panel to the back panel.

Here, I am joining the front belt piece to the front top piece, matching tailor’s tacks.

Joining tailor tack on the front belt piece to the tailor tack on the front top piece

This is what the front top looks like.

Next, I prepare to make gathers on the bottom front panel piece.

Running a long tacking stitch along the bottom front panel for gathering.

Making my gathers.

I wanted the gathers to start and stop between the two dart lines, and had marked the spots where they start with tailor’s tacks to make it easier. You can see above that the gathers are only at the tummy area, and not on the sides.

Joining the bottom gathered panel to the top.

This is what it looks like on the back.

Next came the denim neckband. This was a little challenging. Again, thanks to the work I put in with the tailor’s tacks, doing this became so much easier because I could match the dots on the yellow fabric to the denim without much trouble. I had to clip and notch the inner square corners in the neckline of the yellow fabric to ease in the denim band onto it.

Joining the neck band to the front panel.

Thats all the front panel done. Now I went on to do the back panel.

This is what the back panels look like.

I cut the back panels with a centre back seam, but with a one-piece neckline, planning to put in a zipper at the lower half of the back.

The zipper I planned to use was an invisible zipper I picked up for 50cents from an op shop. I didn’t realize that it was made by YKK, the same company that supplies zippers to Coach-the best.

YKK zipper

I’ve inserted invisble zippers before-but never successfully, because I didn’t realize till later that I needed an invisible zipper foot. So I went and got one last weekend.

My new invisible zipper foot.

I sewed the centre back seam with a regulation stitch length till about 1/3 the length of the back,  and used a long running stitch for the rest of the seam. I pressed that seam open to in order to establish the seam line folds. I removed that running stich, and then pin-basted my zipper onto the the folds of the seamline.

Inserting an invisible zip

I sewed the zipper in with my invisble foot, and was very impressed with the way the zipper just disappeared into the seam. However, after all that work, I realised later that the top was roomy enough to pull my head through without a zipper, so I ripped it out for another project, and just sewing the back centre seam shut.

Next, I joined the back neckband to the centre panel-again, matching the tailor tacks.

Joining the back neckband to the back panel.

Here, I joined the front and back panel pieces at the shoulder seams.

The front and back panel pieces joined at the shoulder seams.

The  next step was to prepare the facings. I joined the front and back neck facings, matching the tacks.

Joining the front and back neck facing

Right sides together, joining the facings to the main garment pieces at the neckline.

Because there were two layers of denim, the neckline was very bulky. I proceeded to grade the seam allowances within the neckline. Grading is a technique of trimming down a seam allowance to a smaller width in order to reduce bulk, especially in facings and collars. I’ve also clipped and notched the inner square corners of the denim neckband to release the excess fabric. This allows it to be turned right side out without bunching up.

Grading the seam allowances. Here you can see the smaller width of the seam allowance which has been trimmed/graded down.

So help the neckline seam allowance to stay under the facing neatly, instead of rolling over, I understitched the facing to the seam allowance.

Understitching the neckline facing to the seam allowance below.

However, neckline facings have a way of misbehaving, in that they are prone to turning up on the right side of the garment instead of staying down. In order to anchor it, I used a stitch-in-the-ditch technique on the neckband-meaning to sew in between seamlines of two pieces of fabric stretched in opposite directions.

Stitching in the ditch. Here, I'm stitchin in between the seam lines of the neckband, catching the facing underneath. This anchors the facing into position.

That’s the front and back panels joined and done. Now for the sleeves.

My sleeve pieces.

Note the tacks on the sleeve cap-2 tacks means the back of the sleeve, 1 tack means the front of the sleeve. It is very important never to mix the two up-or you’ll get a sleeve that doesn’t sit properly, or doesn’t give you enough movement. Also, I’ve tacked spots on the denim cuffs where I’ll insert pleats into the yellow fabric.

Making pleats in my sleeve.

I joined the yellow cotton and the denim rights sides together, and turned the denim cuff under and sewed it together.

Tadaa!!

My two finished sleeves. They look like best friends!

I showed them to the Wyld Man-he thought they were mini caps!

The typical sleeve cap is always 1-2cm longer than the length of the armhole. This is to allow room for the outward curve of the shoulder. However, in order to join the sleeve to the armhole, that 1-2 cm excess fabric has to be EASED into the armhole WITHOUT puckers.  To do that, I make a long running stitch inside the seam allowance of the sleeve cap (between the 2 tailor tacks), and make a slight gather.

Ease stitching the sleeve cap.

Then, right sides together,  I pin baste the sleeve to the armhole.

Pin basting the sleeve to the armhole. The more pins, the better, the less puckers.

Always sew onto the sleeve side, not on the side of the main garment. Although the position of the needle on the main garment is easier, you are more prone to getting puckers if the sleeve is downmost layer on the needle plate.

I do this for both sleeves, and that finishes the garment. Except for the hem.

For the hem, I use my newly discovered adjustable blind hem foot which had lived in my Janome MyStyle 20 all this time, but had never mad an appearance because I only figured out last weekend what it was for!

Adjustable Blind Hem Foot

I love this little foot! It’s a lot better than the regular blind hem foot which has a set width for blind hems. This one however has a screw which adjusts to whatever width you want, making it perfect for topstitching, or close-precision-edgestithing. And I did one of the best blind hems I’ve ever done with this little foot.

And with that done, and with my top pressed, this is what it looks like now.

Front

Back

My maternity outfit!

The Wyld 2009 Maternity Collection

24 Jan

When I started sewing in October 2009, I was 5 months pregnant. And I had just bought my overlocker. It was coming to warm weather and I had nothing to wear to suit my expanding belly-not that I showed much then. I was bored and looking for a hobby to occupy my time. I discovered  that Spotlight was just a 10 minute walk away and haunted it a few times a week, building up a stash of fabric from the bargain table. And I sewed and sewed. I was went crazy sewing up maternity dresses-being disappointed with the offerings in retail stores. I made mostly dresses with empire waistlines and an inverted pleat in the front to accommodate a growing baby bump. And then I made maternity skirts with stretch panels.

I present to you the Wyld Spring/Summer Maternity Collection 2009.

White marine weave cotton drill dress with gold buttons and inverted pleat.

This was my first attempt at making a dress. I had NEVER sewn a dress before. Never taken classes, only watched my mum sew her wardrobe for the first 15 years of my life. I had no pattern, but wanted a princess seamed dress with an inverted pleat under the empire waistline. I used an old denim princess seam dress and traced the seamlines to get my pattern- I was doubtful at first whether I got it right, having NEVER done it before, but I did a muslin (test garment) and miraculously-it fit! It was also my first attempt at making buttonholes, and I was quite nervous, measuring everything twice and practicing on scraps before I dared but the buttonhole presser foot down on my material. It turned out pretty all right, don’t you think? The lines are slimming, and I can wear it for after the baby comes and nurse in it.

Navy polka dot dress

This was my second attempt at a dress. I love polka dots and just had to have this material-even though it was selling retail. (I generally never buy fabric at retail prices). I used the New Look 6751 Misses Dress size 12 pattern for the top, and modified the waist, adding about 10 inches of material in the inverted pleat.

New Look 6751

I made it sleeveless, not being confident enough then to insert set-in sleeves.The white band in the neckline, waist and pleat are the leftovers from my white sleeveless dress above. I used an invisible zipper at the back, but had to rip it out three times because the waistline seam did not match at the back. AND, I used a regular zipper foot, so I’m still not satisfied with the zipper.

This modified pattern became one of my favourite patterns for materntiy. I love the fit and the style, and I made my third dress with this geogeous pink floral gerogette in the same pattern.

Pink Floral Georgette Maternity Dress

It’s one of my favourite dresses, and this time, I tried setting in the sleeves. Very happy with the result. And I learnt from my blue polka dot dress to match the waistline seams at the back before inserting my zipper. I still need to get an invisible zipper foot though.

Red Heavy-weight georgette suiting dress.

This was the fourth dress I made. I loved the fit and style of my first dress, and decided to make another in the exact same pattern. I loved the red material, but was a bit careless about putting in my button placements. I only learned later that buttons should be places on the bustline to prevent gaping-this one gapes because I didn’t know of that rule, and it had fewer buttons than my white dress.

Plaid Maternity Dress

This plaid dress was another step up the learning curve-learning how to match plaids. It took me more than an hour just to figure out how to cut the material so that the plaids match at the seams. I cut it in single thicknesses and double checked the position of the plaids at the seamlines, not at the cutting lines.  And it was worth the time and effort because all my plaid lines match! Wyld Man likes it, although he thought it looked a bit like a school uniform. The white neckband and waistband are again leftovers from the white marine weave cotton drill from my first white dress.

Green and blue rayon polyester maternity dress

I made this dress on the fly and rather in a hurry, but it’s again one of my favourites. Wyld Man thought the colours of the dress a bit hippy, but then grew to really like it. It elicits quite a few compliments whenever I wear it. I wear it with a strip of velvet ribbon with an overlocked rolled hem. The fir of the pattern is loosely based on the New Look 6751 from above, but with none of the detailing. I decided that the fabric looked busy enough without any more detail added to it.

I made all the above dresses within a span of 3 weeks-and then realised that I needed separates for mixing and matching with my existing wardrobe. I decided to make a skirt and a top. At this point in time, I had bought a pattern drafting book called Metric Pattern Cutting for Womens Wear by Winifred Aldrich and drafted my own bodice and skirt block in size 12. I decided to make a 7 panel, slightly flared skirt in white, again in the white marine weave cotton drill. For the top, I made a simple loose top with double sleeves in the leftover floral pink georgette, and lined it.

My pink georgette top with double sleeves and white panel skirt.

I drafted and designed the skirt with a round maternity panel at the waist in stretch t-shirt knit for the baby bump. However, I made the hips a tiny bit too small, and I outgrew it a few weeks later. A bit sad about that-but I will be able to wear it again soon-I hope!

By the way, I bought that hat in an op shop. Love it!

Flounced, 7 panel maternity skirt in upholstery material

I bought the material for this skirt at an op shop. It’s meant to be made into curtains, but I thought it would be lovely as a skirt-being a heavy weight fabric with a lovely sheen and body. This pattern was self drafted and designed, and I also cut a length of ribbon from that material to use as an embellishment for a top. That top by the way is also an opshop find-a lovely broderie anglaise smock from Salvos at Goodwood Road.

Pink Luxe Satin Top with double sleeves

I made this top from a 1 metre remnant from Spotlight. I like it, but being a bit flashy haven’t worn it out yet.

Denim maternity flounced skirt

This denim maternity skirt is my all time favourite item to wear with practically any top. The denim is quite substantial, and holds the shape well. I love the way the flounce swings around my legs as I walk. Despite the fact that it is denim, it looks tailored enough to wear to church and goes with more formal tops as well. It is in the same design as the brown skirt above, but a bit looser since I made this for late pregnancy wear. However, I should think that I’d be able to wear it post pregnancy since the stretch maternity panel should be able to hold it up on a flat belly.

Except for the pink satin top, I’ve worn everything multiple times, and have always gotten lots of compliments-a great incentive to sew more!

So there you have it, my maternity collection fro 2009. Stay tuned for more!