Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More Singlets!

I have managed to use up all the rib knit I had on hand, to sew Husband a total of 4 singlets (5 if you include the utterly rubbish first attempt, which got chucked!).

For the final two, I also decided to get my Coverpro1000CP out. I had some difficulty using binders with it a few months ago, and since then, one of my kids got to it where it is stored in my Horn cabinet, and fiddled with the dials and tension knobs. As a result, when I tried to use it the other day, it screeched to a halt, and frightened, I put it away to use another day.

I took it out today, encouraged by a member on PRDU, and spent an hour rethreading the whole machine, and resetting all dials and tensions to original settings. And finished hemming the final two singlets. For the armholes and necklines this time, I still handbasted, but used the overlocker, instead of a narrow zigzag, with acceptable results. I am getting a bit bored of sewing singlets now!

Neckline and armholes

Not as nice looking as with the narrow zigzag, as compared to using the overlocker, but does the job! How lazy is that?

Coverstitched hems. I did them as triple stitch, because I was still trying to figure them out, and the undersides turned out pretty well for the most part too, which I am pretty pleased with!

Husband wants more singlets, (I think I have created a monster!!) but he'll be content with his current 4-5, and I'll move on to the next project, I think; a dress and skirt for me, and some bodysuits/ rompers for my 18 month old son, who is running out of clothes, and maybe the baby too.

I might even try and have a go at using the binder again, for the bodysuits! Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chesty Bonds Men's Singlet Knockoff and Finally - Success with a knit!

I did not post about my lack of success to date sewing with knits in general.

About 2 months ago, I tried sewing Kwik Sew 2334, men's tank top and underpants/ briefs. Husband was wearing out his Chesty Bonds singlets, an Aussie icon, and he really wanted me to sew him some more singlets, to his exact specifications.

I made KS 2334 in size M, using an expensive rib knit, and while I did not take photos, it was a disaster. The seams were puckered, the hems mismatched because the fabric was not feeding properly for some reason through my machine or went on and on, and I was so disheartened, I did not touch knits again until now.

I sought advice about sewing with knits on Pattern Review, and was given much useful advice, but it has taken this long to get back on the horse. Husband's singlets are all worn, and in order to "nudge" me to sew him more, he REFUSED to buy more singlets! They got to the point that they were threadbare, and tattered, and then in the last week or two, he stopped wearing them altogether, because you could see the worn singlets through his work shirts, so I finally decided to try again.

I traced out his existing Bonds singlet, sans tatters, using sew-in interfacing, which is my pattern tracing material, and made a muslin out of a light grey interlock yesterday; it was a bit too tight, and more importantly, the neck and armholes were still puckered, though much better than the first try.

I pin fitted the interfacing on him, and made the modifications he wanted - dropped the neckline at the front by 2.5cm (1 inch), so that it would not show when his work shirt was unbuttoned. I also dropped the armholes by 2.5cm, for comfort, and added 5 cm (2 inches) to the hem so that he can tuck the singlet into his pants and not have it ride up when he bends over etc.

It was my first time modifying patterns, and not as hard as I thought it would be.

This morning, I cut out the modified pattern on cotton rib knit again, and handbasted the neckline and armholes, before sewing on the SM with a narrow zigzag. Much less puckering, and seam mismatch. Pretty good actually, if I do say so myself.

The seams are also a lot more neat, though still far from perfect.

Ditto the armholes.

Overall though, I am pretty pleased, and mostly relieved that I CAN sew with knits, with some practice, and patience, since I intend on sewing some knit bodysuits/ onesies for my son as well as the baby if I can, more singlets for Husband, as well as the maternity skirt and dress I referred to a couple of posts ago.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Simplicity 2815 again

Doing a bit of sewing at night after the kids are in bed seems to be working again. I am no less tired, but strangely, I find I often feel refreshed, for the most part, if I make myself sit and sew, after the first 20 minutes or so of ennui/ lethargy.

We are well and truly into summer here in Australia, and the days are frequently hot (though also unusually wet the last week), and the summers still warm, requiring little to no cover at night.

I made my girls the KS 3105 nighties, which they love, but being young, and being used to wearing pants most of the time with tees, they have not yet learnt to sit a dignified way. As a result, they have been asking me to sew them some pants/ shorts to wear under their nighties. So I got out Simplicity 2815 again, which I last made last winter, for my husband's son. It is an OOP pattern, but has recently been reprinted under a new number, S2326.

I made a pair of summer PJ pants in size S,  bottle green gingham cotton fabric for my husband's son. He is due to visit this weekend, so I'll test the fit on him then, but the size S was a bit baggy on him last winter, and looks like it is a good fit now, so fingers crossed the pants will be fine, worn with a singlet or a tee. I did not really have any 8 year old boy fabric on hand, and don't really want to buy licensed fabric, so I went with a dependable, "boy" friendly fabric instead. If nothing else, it was good practice in trying (not so successfully) match the checks. 

For my girls, I chose the smallest size they have, XS, which is apparently for 4-5 year olds, and ought to have fit perfectly. 

I have only made the pants thus far, and will need to shorten these even further than the 8cm I lopped off, to make them capri length, or a bit shorter for shorts length, but the sizing runs HUGE on my girls. I'm not surprised, as I have heard this complaint about the Big4 patterns for kids. Still, they were so excited, they wanted to go to bed in them tonight, and I had to convince them to leave them for me to alter. 

I've cut out a total of 5 pairs for the girls, tops and bottoms, so I'll shorten these 2 pairs to capri length, and cut the remaining two pairs of pants to shorts length, or just at the knees, perhaps, to wear under their nighties. The capri length pants they can wear with the tops, as summer PJs. 

After that, I really want to tackle a knit again, and I might try this Kwik Sew 3513 next: 

It is meant to be good for maternity, and will go nicely with the Jalie tops, if and when I get around to making them (as you noted, Sue, I can only do so much, with the unpredictability of young children!). 

Still, it feels great to be sewing on a regular basis, and I am enjoying it quite a bit, and making a dent in my stash! All good things to be achieving, surely! 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sewing Project Wishlist...

Into 31 weeks of my pregnancy, and it is so much harder this time around than I can ever recall! The warm weather does not help either, nor does having 3 young kids underfoot to cart around to extracurricular activities almost daily.

Still, having made time for some sewing the last few days has meant that after the kids are in bed, I have actually had some fun, and had something to show for it the next morning, when the girls woke up.

I am hoping to try to do this on a semi-regular basis until the baby is due in February, because schedules will be interrupted again, and I won't get much done for a long time...

So here is my wishlist of traced/ cut/ planned projects. Let's see how much/ little I get done by February:

1. Simplicity 2815 (OOP) again, for woven PJs for the girls, and a pair of PJ pants for my husband's son.
2. Kwik Sew 3730 , overalls and shirt for my son, who is 18 months old and fast running out of clothes to wear. A romper or two will be good for him to wear most places, as will a shirt or two, in summer weight fabric. And it will be good practice for me to learn collars etc.
3. Kwik Sew 3703, and A line knit dress with a racerback for myself, if I get around to it. I need something cool to wear these last few weeks, and afterwards, and this looks like it would be perfect.

There are also a couple of Jalie tops I have traced out in my size, Jalie 2787- Criss Cross Nursing Top as well as Jalie 2788 and if possible, Jalie 2804, which Morzel successfully converted into a nursing top also.

But as with all best laid plans, it remains to be seen how busy/ tired/ overwhelmed I become, especially since I am still working night shifts on a weekly basis until January 8th, and it takes its toll.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Kwik Sew 3105 - Summer Nighties

I cut this pattern out a couple of weeks ago, around the same time I made the boxers for husband. Kwik Sew 3105 , girls' woven nightgowns, size XS (4-5 years) to XL (12-14). I made the XS for my girls, who are now, almost 5 years and 3.5 years, and measure 106cm and 94cm respectively.

The weather is really warming up here, and I wanted cool nighties for them to wear in bed, since they both still insist on covering themselves up with the coverlets at night, with the fan on full blast!

Like most KS patterns, it is well drafted, and well written, with instructions that are easy to follow. I chose this pattern, with the gathered front and back yokes, and (optional) ruffle at the hem after the last disaster with the Butterick 'eid dress, which my daughter still loves ("it's my FAVOURITE dress Mum!"). I wanted to practice gathering the yokes and ruffle again, and to improve my skill in this area, figuring that wonky gathering would not be the end of the world in nightwear.

I was also in the process of tidying up the spare room that doubles as guest room and sewing room, and so my overlocker was unavailable, so that I ended up sewing these entirely on the sewing machine, at the dining table. End result, the insides are not as neat as I normally like, but still functional.

What I learnt:
1. Gathering - front and back yokes, x 2. Ruffle x 1, since the nightie was long enough without the ruffle on the 3.5 year old. The almost 5 year old insisted on a ruffle because she wanted a long nightie. I loosened the tension on the bobbin thread this time, and made the stitches as long as I could, and kept the basting/ gathering stitches within the seam allowances, with much better results.

 I still need more experience with gathering at the hem for the ruffle, presumably because it is a much longer stretch of material, with the end result that I am not as happy with the gathering for the ruffle, but my daughter could not be happier, and loves it, so I guess it is still a win.

Overall, I think the construction is improving, though nowhere near as much as I wish/ would like, but I guess Rome was not built in a day, and I need to be patient.

2. Making my own bias binding, and making do without an overlocker/ serger. The pattern calls for lace at the necklines and armholes, and since I didn't have any on hand, and didn't want to waste time dragging 3 kids to the store when I could be sewing, I improvised. I used spare fabric, made bias binding, and used that at the necklines. At the armholes, because I did not have enough spare fabric to make binding, I overcasted the edges with a zigzag stitch, and then turned and stitched, still with the zigzag stitch.

Not  as neat as overlocking and or bias binding, but functional, especially since the girls will grow out of these in 4 months or so, in time for winter wear.

3. Modifying, albeit on a very small scale! The main problem I ran into, with this pattern, was the neck opening. I traced and cut out the size XS, which is for a 4-5 year old (107cm tall), but found, on constructing the bodice for the 3.5 year old, that it would not fit the almost 5 year old. Not having the skills to add extra fabric/ put in zips etc without changing the original draft, I decided to leave one of the shoulder seams open, and to add snaps to this shoulder instead for the older girl. It was all fine in theory, and I even managed to get the first snap on without issue, but then proceeded to waste another 5 snaps trying to get the next one on, with no luck. Husband had a go too, to no avail. In the end, we dragged out the KAM snap press he bought me when I was planning to make cloth nappies for DS, but it didn't really work.

So...she's ended up with a functional but not-so-pretty snap closure/ opening.

Overall, however, they LOVE their new nighties, and have been posing in them, bed hair and all. And as the 3.5 year old noted, since they have been used to PJs to date, she loves her nightie even though "it was crawling up my bottom". :-)