Sunday, 13 May 2018

Swimming bags for the wee ones

At the end of last year I got busy making some Christmas presents for the grandchildren. If truth be told I did start them for Xmas 2016 but ran out of time so they got other things instead!

I started with a bag I made probably 20 years ago, a survivor from my children's growing up years. The one below was one of the girls' ones.

I took the basic measurements and then drew up a pattern. Very simple, a rectangle and a circle!

The pattern is above and is folded up at one end because I had just cut the nylon lining which is a bit shorter than the outer layer of fabric.

The base is a simple circle. So the bag is essentially a cylinder with a base.

The part I did get done in 2016 was the detail that I feel made the bags special. I asked what each child's favourite animal or character was and found some free colouring in images online. I bought some fabric markers and used them to make a patch for each bag. The pens worked well.

One thing I would like to make is a light box. It would make tracing images a lot easier. I used the good old-fashioned method of taping the fabric over the drawing on a window and going over the lines in pencil. I then carefully went over them with the marker pens.

I think they turned out pretty well! To add strength I placed a layer of white calico behind the natural coloured calico the pictures are on. I also thought this would block any of the patterns on the outer fabric of the bags showing through the calico.

I used some left over self-made bias binding to create a channel for the cord to go through. The boys ones were all different but the girls binding was the same as there was more of it left over. In the photo above I'm placing the picture mid-front on the bag. I did this on the outer layer only. I hoped this would retain some of the waterproof qualities of the nylon inner.

I basted the two layers of the bases together so they would be easier to manage when pinned and stitched to the main cylinder of the bag.

Stitching Sunshine's picture to her bag.

The loop for the cord to go through. I stitched it to the bag before I joined the base on.

Stitching the base to the bag. Lots of pins. I love these glass head pins. I know I've said it before and no doubt I'll say it again!

The inside of the bag. A bit wrinkled as I didn't think to take a photo at the time and this bag has been used by Mr Magoo as it is his. Here you can see how I made the lining slightly smaller than the outer layer.

Front of Mr Magoo's bag.

Back and cords of the bag

Mr Magoo modelling his bag. The bags are quite big on the wee ones just now but I made them to last a few years. Old habits die hard!

Mr Magoo turned 5 recently and had a pool party with his cousins and friends so I took the opportunity to take a photo of the girls bags, partly as I had none and also to show that they hold quite a bit.

Moneypenny told me she has washed the girls' bags quite a few times. I was very pleased to see the pictures do not look as though they have faded at all.

The grandbabies were all happy with their swim bags and they have come in handy for their school swimming lessons or trips to the pool.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

A Peridot costume

It's been a couple of months since I wrote a post. I've mostly settled into studying and have also been busy with life in general.

Towards the end of 2016 I was asked if I could make a costume for a young girl, Miss J. It was a Peridot costume for her to wear to Armageddon & Comic Con. Never having heard of the character I was intrigued by the images I was provided with and did a bit of searching on google. If you want to know more you can look here. I figured out it is a cosplay costume. 😁

So this is what I had to make, although it was at the beginning of 2017 as Christmas and New Year intervened! The clients wanted it in two pieces as a leotard and tights which is a bit easier than a unitard. I pointed the clients in the direction of Dance Fabrics Direct whose fabrics I have been using for years for costumes.

The fabric arrives! Measurements were taken and then I began the process of figuring out the pieces needed and adapting a pattern. Most likely a Kwik Sew one.

Ready to cut out the tights with my rotary cutter.

The pattern pieces and the fabric pieces cut out.

Attaching the black "vee" piece to the top part of the leotard.

Under-stitching the "vee" so the green won't show. I used a small zig-zag stitch to retain the stretch of the lycra.

It's usually pretty easy to tell the front of a leotard from the back but they were pretty much the same with this one. Since the top and bottom are different colours and both the front and back have the "vee" I took the precaution of labeling the front as you can see.

Unfortunately I forgot to keep taking photos, as I often do when I get in the zone a bit behind with the job in hand! So I don't have any of the completed leotard.  😒

I had great fun working out the diamonds for the front and knees. I used a double layer of the yellow carefully bonding them together with fusible web. Then we had a fitting so I could get them in the right position when the tights were on Miss J. I marked the position with safety pins and then stitched them on with a zig-zag stitch.

Stitching the yellow toes to the green feet was a bit tricky. I basted them first to make it a little easier. It was still a tight wee circle to overlock!

Stitching on the diamonds to the knees was also a bit tricky but with patience and taking it carefully I got there. Again I used a small zig-zag stitch so that the lycra would retain it's stretch. Also I didn't want to have to do any unpicking and re-stitching!

I forgot to take a picture before I delivered the costume to it's owner. I did ask if I could take a photo at the time however Miss J was keen to only have a photo of the whole look. Fair enough as it included a wig which still needed to be purchased. I'm still hoping to get a photo and will post an update if and when I do.

This was a fun project and as usual stretched and added to my knowledge.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

GB Sashes

Yes, I do know it is March already but this is my first post for this year so Happy New Year dear readers!

Life has been busy, but not too frantic, since the end of last year when I last wrote a blog post. I've had a bit of a break from sewing, despite there being quite a lot of things to finish.

One of my aims was to de-junk, sort and organise all my sewing gear, fabric and doodads. Guess what? I got it all done! It didn't happen  😒  But  that's OK. I'll get it done eventually!

Anyway I better get to writing about the sashes. If you really want to know what else I've been doing to fill in my time you can read about it on my other blog A Quiet Life but I assure you it is just your usual everyday stuff. Nothing scintillating at all!

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When my dear Mum was young she joined The Girls' Life Brigade which later became Girls' Brigade, GB for short. It actually began in 1893 in Ireland, before Girl Guides which started in 1908. Girl Guides is larger and more well known but GB is still going strong.

Mum believed passionately in the aims of GB for girls and young women and moved up through the ranks. When she married and moved to Wellington she joined the 18th Wellington Company eventually becoming Captain of the company, a position she held for many years. My sister and I both attended the company and I spent time as Captain myself. Roll on a few years and we had a daughter, Smurfette.

We didn't automatically send her to GB but in the end, for personal reasons, that's where we enrolled her. Frosty and Locket followed along as they became old enough. These days Smurfette is Co-Leader of a company in Wellington.

So now you have the back story  😃

Over the years the uniform has changed as these things do. My Mum had a sash for all her badges. Then they went out of fashion, or just weren't part of the uniform anymore which really annoyed me as I always thought it would be cool to display the badges on it.

Now they have reintroduced them and last year Smurfette asked if it would be possible for me to make some for the girls in her company. A young lass had joined who had a sash and we were able to borrow it so I could make a pattern.

They're quite basic and easy to make and I enjoyed making them as they didn't require too much brain power.  😌  Sometimes it's nice not to have to figure out a complicated make, for me anyway.

Here the sash has been overlocked on all four sides, and the sides turned in ready to hem.

The right side.

Sides stitched down.

Folded in half, the end stitched and the corner clipped ready for it to be turned, which will give a triangular end to the sash.

The two ends, showing the right and wrong sides. They got a bit rumpled with all the handling but a good pressing at the end sorted that out.

They also had to be angled so they would go across the body from the shoulder to the hip. This photo shows the stitching for that.

Pressed and the wide end stitched in the ditch to keep it flat.

The label so I won't muck up which way the velcro goes on each end. There were 21 sashes so I did not want to unpick them all if I got it wrong!

The velcro stitched to the ends. Then they got a good press before I handed them over to Smurfette.

Here are the girls wearing them at the end of the year. Smurfette is the one whose face you can see! The girls were all pretty excited to get their sashes and put their badges on them.

I was given a lovely thank you card from them all which I greatly appreciated  😍

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I will be blogging this year and will try to be regular. I say try as I have made the decision to do a bit of study. Well, formal study as opposed to informal. I'm always researching and learning via books and the internet however there is one area I have always felt I would like more knowledge in. It's the area of art. E.g. drawing, painting, colour, shading . . . all that kind of thing. I didn't study it at school apart from the art we did in primary school, age 5 - 12. I'm great at stick figures and that's about it!

I was given some information by a friend about a course and after much thought and prayer, and attending a free workshop the centre put on, I decided to take the plunge. Student Loan and all! 

I am working towards the New Zealand Certificate in Creativity Level 4 through The Learning Connexion. I am studying as a distance delivery student, part-time, throughout this year, and part of next since I start this coming Monday, 12 March. I finish in February next year.

I'm excited but also a bit nervous. But learning new things will be good and to be stretched out of my comfort zone will challenge me which is what I feel I need in my life at this point.

I may share some of my work here, or on my Quiet Life blog, so if I do and you already possess the skills of drawing, painting etc please be gentle with me. 😁

To those who follow me I want to say a huge THANK YOU to you for still following me despite my sporadic posting! Life has a tendency to get in the way a bit and the last few years have had quite a few family and personal challenges to work through. I find it greatly impacts on my energy levels and combine that with needing to share my computer with Boar in the evenings and on weekends  - *gasp, shock, horror!* - it makes for less available time for me when there isn't something else pressing, which seems to happen a lot during the day. First world problems eh?

Friday, 29 December 2017

Trying a new craft

A couple of years ago (!) I wrote a post about receiving some things from overseas. I had a quick try at one of them around a year ago then put it aside again. Then earlier this year I saw an article in the local paper that caught my eye.

It was about a lace-making course that was coming up in September! It was the first I'd seen advertised and it was local as it was to be held at the Karori Arts and Crafts Centre so I had a good read of the article. It was a two day workshop so I had a chat with 't other 'arf, aka Boar, and he was quite happy for me to go along. He usually is but one needs to consult!  😜

I've been interested in lace-making for years. In fact I think I first became aware of making lace when I read about it in a series of books I read growing up which begins with The School At The Chalet and in which it is called pillow lace. Re-reading the books is like meeting up with old friends. Yes, I collect the books  😁  My interest was re-kindled when I saw a display in Te Papa along with an explanation of the lace.

The course was fun, challenging and I managed to produce a couple of pieces. There are only a couple of stitches but the combinations of them are many and varied. It took a lot of concentration too as I find learning any new activity does! The other ladies were lovely and it was great to see that there was one young (in years!) lady there. The rest of us were young at heart . . . well, I feel that way even if my body belies it!

One thing I did was to make my own lace pillow. I used some polystyrene I had lying around. I got the dimensions from

I also got the instructions on how to cover the pillow from the book.

When I was ready to pin the fabric to the pillow I wanted some sturdy pins and remembered popping some that I found in my Mum's things in a desk drawer. Who knows how old they are, they could even have belonged to one of my grandmothers! They are quite a bit thicker in the shaft than pins are now.

This is my first piece which I finished half-way through the first day. I was pretty happy with it even if it does have a mistake in it! The tutor was kind and had started the bookmark off for us and also had us omit the beads that usually go in the eyes up the top.

This is my second piece which I started the first day and which took me most of the rest of the second day! It was quite a bit more complicated, for me anyway, and at one point I made the same mistake about three times in a row requiring me to undo the strands and re-work it! I found this pretty frustrating as my perfectionist tendencies were rearing their heads . . . i.e. I should be able to do it right the very first time! So I shoved them back in their rightful place and persevered  😎  The piece of paper under the working is a pattern with dots on and every dot has a pin to hold the knot made in the lace. Lots of pins! When you take the pins out the lace holds together - hopefully!

Here it is completed. There are a few mistakes in this one as well, and the tension is a bit all over the place in some spots but I can live with it. I was really happy I attended the course to have a go at it. The tutor showed us some of her work which is beautiful. Some of it is done with silk strands and is very fine work.

I started another bookmark on my own at home intending to practice and give some as Christmas gifts. Then life got rather busy and that didn't happen, so maybe I'll get some done by next Christmas!

There is a weekly craft & quilters meet-up at the Karori centre, plus a lace-making group that meet monthly which I'm going to try and get along to next year.

How about you, dear reader, are you trying any new technique or craft?

Update:- I posted this a few days ago. This morning I had a look at what is the first piece of lace I have tried on my own. Oops . . . It has been moved hither and yon by various family members . . . and . . . those bobbins are not meant to be up there! They should be sitting neatly under the white tape. I shall sort it out and finish it off.

Oh, and I actually managed to do this update on my phone! Shhhh all you young ones who have it sussed  . . . older minds sometimes take a bit longer to suss these things out. Mine does anyway!

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Miss V's Ball Gown

A friend asked me to make her daughter's ball gown for her end of year ball in September. They had looked around but nothing was what Miss V wanted. Miss V had some definite ideas as to design and so M decided to check with me.

Miss V made me a rough sketch, with a description, plus gave me some pictures that showed design aspects she liked. Miss V had chosen a lovely silk chiffon for the outer layer and wanted lace sleeves so went off shopping again with mum to find some, which they did at The Fabric Warehouse. So the design and fabric choices are Miss V's  😊  I did my best to interpret her design ideas.

From there it was measurements, draughting a block and making a toile.

So here is the final one of the draughts I did, possibly the first! At that stage I was thinking myself pretty clever having mostly got the hang of this draughting business! Well!! That thought quickly evaporated at the first fitting  😕  I did another tweak of the draught, fitted that, still some issues . . . another draught. Check the measurements . . . hmmmm that armscye doesn't really match up with the numbers in the book . . . . oops, re-measure armscye which solved most of the problems strangely enough!

These photos are from the second fitting, I think. I had to make a few more tweaks . . .

. . . and did another fitting to make sure the bodice fitted. I did suggest the bodice be quite a bit more close fitting than it is but Miss V was very determined to keep the style she wanted and she is the client so that is what happened.

For the skirt  I looked through my pattern stash to see what I had. I found this pattern that was given to me a while ago. It's a vintage one, by the price and the fact that it has no markings. Someone had previously written on the pattern pieces which was a help!

I've never used a pattern as old as this but I have read about them. They have circles punched out for the markings. And thankfully a guide to tell you what they are although I was able to work most of them out!

I didn't get photos of most of the making but I did take one of the pleating on the front. Miss V wanted a soft look. I showed her examples of pleating and gathers and she went with the pleats. A bit of maths was involved figuring out the width of the pleats and how much fabric needed. Then there was folding, pinning and basting the pleats in place before I stitched the skirt to bodice. To reduce bulk at the waistline the lining waist seam was the same measurement as the bodice waist measurement.

Lots of pins! These are Clover glass head silk pins. I love them and they are great for fine fabrics such as this silk chiffon. I think I am in danger of becoming a pin snob! After using these pins a year or so ago I found the regular thicker ones, which aren't that thick really, seemed so much thicker that I reach for these pins all the time now. They are great and the glass heads are heat resistant so when you are using the iron the heads don't melt. I've done that a lot - melted the sides of pins that is.

Image source

As well as the dress Miss V requested a cape to wear for added warmth. I used this pattern I had in my stash and used view A, E with a centre opening. The cape was lined as well.

I was very happy to receive some photos of Miss V in her ball gown from the night of the ball. I think Miss V looks gorgeous. It was a special day and night for her as she had her hair and make-up done especially for the ball.

A couple more photos which show off the stretch lace sleeves. Being a stretch fabric meant I was able to make the sleeves really fitted. I draughted a new pattern for the sleeves as the measurements for non-stretch and stretch are different.

Miss V was happy with her ball gown, her mum was happy as well. I learned quite a few things from this make - especially to make sure to double check what you see on the tape measure! Oh, and that it really helps to have your glasses on when you look at the tape measure. These days the numbers are a bit blurry without glasses! 😜