Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Dalmatian Dress

As I did my Disney research, I read about Disney Bounding. My first thought was, “How fun!” (My second thought was, “That is terrible grammar!”) Disney Bounding is the practice of dressing for your favourite Disney character, without being in costume, which adult visitors are not permitted to do at Disney.

The girls favourite Disney movie is 101 Dalmatians and Big Sis wears her Dalmatian onesie almost daily. Since I wouldn’t let her wear the onesie to Disneyland, it seemed only fair to make her a polka dot dress so that she could Disney Bound too. 

Then I looked in Little Sis’ cupboard and found a polka dot dress the same! I was really looking forward to seeing my two dalmatians in the park. We were planning to meet Cruella de Ville and I was going to say, "Cruella, darling! What do you think of my two dalmatians? Aren't their coats divine?"

But, sadly, Cruella was not in town that day, and Little Sis' dress got left at home in London, when she didn't go and fetch it for packing. oops. We had a cute meet and greet with Mickey instead.

The fabric is polycotton, and I lined the bodice with white cotton. It’s a shame to see the reverse of the polka dots in the seam allowances, but I trimmed them down a bit, and it is not too distracting. The skirt is 3 widths of fabric, so the amount of gathering means I could get away with leaving it unlined. I love the black sash. The bodice is way too short for my big girl (Cottage Mama Party Dress, again, in size 8), so I had to add a sash. This is black cotton, but has some stretch. I gathered it at the side seams, and sewed the tucks down to take the weight of the skirt. I made a black bow, but left it off, thinking it too fragile to last for long.

I couldn’t get Disney patches for the dogs faces, so we had to make do with generic Dalmatian faces. The back is fastened with some polka dot buttons that I got in Canada a few years ago and I faced the hem with white cotton. She likes dressing as an animal, so this dress is fine for normal wear too.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Making a Minnie Mouse Purse

A small, cross body purse is one of my essential pieces of Mum-kit. I like having my phone handy (especially as a camera) and my wallet on me, separate from another bag with everyone's stuff in it. As part of our our Disneyland preparations, I decided I could easily make a simple Minnie purse to carry my tickets and phone.

I worked out the correct proportions of ears to head (ratio of 3:5), and that the ears are slightly elliptical. I traced off some pattern pieces and added seam allowances. I used some scraps of black knit fabric from my Karen Dress, because it has a nice texture, and I wanted it to be a bit more interesting than quilting cotton. I used quilting cotton for the reverse of the ears and the inside lining of the purse. 

I interfaced all the pieces with two layers of interfacing, and they held up well. The ears turned out beautifully and I had to attach them by hand. I made up a bow, and the loops that the strap clips attach to. I had to clip and baste the seam allowance of the bag to get the folded edge to sew all of these to. 

I kind of lost my way after that and didn't get quite the result I wanted with the main body of the bag. I joined the back of the bag to the front by machine and the zip edge by hand. At this point, the bag was too small to hold my phone. I had measured, but I think the hand sewing ran too small. I unpicked the bottom and added a wedge of fabric. This gave it the size I needed, but destroyed the circular shape it was supposed to be. I decided to live with it and attached the inside lining pieces to each other, and to the inside of the zip.

There was a large amount of hand sewing, which I did while the girls and I caught up on old Disney movies. It wasn't a total disaster, but I was disappointed that it started so promisingly and ended up so far from my original vision.

I also thought about adding an inside pocket for smaller items. This would have been useful, and I should have interfaced the bow strongly. It drooped completely with wear and spoiled the look. I used a strap from an existing bag I own. I didn't want a me-made strap to stand up to the wear it was going to get. 

I used it sporadically by the end. The zip didn't run smoothly and my phone didn't fit perfectly, so if my shorts had pockets, I preferred to use those for tickets and camera. But it was a cute accessory and I'm glad I made it. 

Monday, 4 September 2017

Disney Bleached Silhouette T-shirts

Preparing clothing for our Disneyland trip, I found quite a few of these bleached silhouette shirts during my Googling of “make Disney t-shirts”. My efforts didn’t quite turn out as well as those on the interwebs, but I think I got pretty close, and would be near perfect if I had another go.

I wanted four different shades of blue for the different family members, but turquoise wasn’t on offer for the eldest, so she and I chose the same colour. If I did it again, I would get this one for everyone. The blue is different from other t-shirts that you see in the park, so it is easy to spot your family members. I got Fruit of the Loom shirts from eBay, with a ladies cut, v neck style for me. 

I made a template by tracing a silhouette from my computer screen. I sized down a bit for the children’s shirts. No exact sizing. I cut the template from paper, and then cardboard (lesson learned: the bleach soaks under a paper template, cardboard needed).

We took the shirts outside and laid a baking tray or large plate face down inside each one, we weighed down the templates with garden pebbles and gave the shirts a few squirts with a spray bottle filled with a 50/50 mixture of bleach and water. There is a bit of a fine line to walk here: too many squirts and the bleach soaks the shirt so that the outline isn’t as sharp. My shirt has very few squirts, just enough to catch each edge of the outline.

We needed to take the templates off straight away and rinse the shirts in cold water. I then threw them in a 30 degree wash – alone – to get the last of the bleach out.

The colour of the shirt makes a difference to how the finished shirt will look. The navy came out orange and the two other shades of blue bleached to white.  This is another reason why I would choose all the same colour if I did it again. Little one really wanted navy, even though I tried to tell her how much hotter she would be in a dark colour.

We wore these together on Day 2. The Dad shirt didn’t work so well, we did that one first and the bleach was too wet, making the outline terrible. The patches are where the pebbles held the bleach to the shirt too. He had already categorically stated that he was not going to wear matching outfits, so I wasn’t going to re-do it with a new shirt. I thought, at best, he might wear it for pyjamas. The power of Disney was so strong that he was looking forward to his matching shirt, but it was too small for him, so I wore it for pyjamas. In other outtakes: little one had to have her shirt re-done. How about listening when your mother and big sister are both yelling “Stop! Stop spraying!”, but instead you keep on spraying, soaking the whole front of the shirt with bleach. Then you cry because your Mickey silhouette looks like a cat's bum and your mother has to order you a new one from eBay so you can try again. Thank goodness we were making these more than a week before we left so we had time. Big sis was a bit jealous, because the final shirt came out the best. But she is a sweet girl and didn't fuss for a new one.

One final special touch went into my shirt. When I was a toddler, my father went to Disneyland and brought me back this name patch. I have never used it, and considering how ruthless I am about clearing things out, it is a bit of a miracle that it survived. Almost 40 years later, the patch returned to Disneyland on my sleeve.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Disneyland Dressing

I can’t believe that we were in California just one week ago!

We took the kids to Disneyland – M finally talked me into it. While I have wanted to go my whole life, we were not being pestered, and the Disney brand is not, shall we say, beloved here in Europe.  But it was a great age to go, and we had a good time, so I am very glad that we did it.

To get ourselves properly Disney-fied, and to ward off the consumer onslaught I was expecting in the parks, the girls and I prepared some Disney outfits for each day of the trip. It was fun to do, and helped us get in the mood long before our trip started.

We were glad to have the clothes to wear once we were there. The shops were not calling us (easy, if you don’t go in!), but because every single other person  is sporting nothing but Disney. It’s an alternative universe man! Corny, but fun. I loved the family groups wearing matching shirts, especially extended families who seemed to be managing to navigate the parks in a party of at least 8 people. Without tears or tantrums.

I have some other posts, covering the more detailed me made items, so this post covers the main part of dressing ourselves over the 4 days of our visit.

Embroidered Patches

The quickest, cheapest, most sustainable way to wear Disney clothing is to sew a patch on to your existing clothing. I endeavoured to do this for some of my outfits, knowing I’m not into wearing Disney in real life.

There is a huge choice from eBay sellers, you can get almost any character you like and they only cost around £1.50 per patch, including shipping.

I wore the red vest with the vintage Mickey on the first day. I did buy the vest new, I have a similar red top I could have used, but it is a fine fabric and I didn’t want to spoil it by stitching something onto it. I really like the vintage Mickey patch and I’m happy to keep the vest. I might even wear it.

The Thumper patch was not totally necessary, but it was too cute not to get. I hand sewed it over a torn part of my denim shorts, which I wore on 3 out of the 4 days. But I should probably take it off now.

I should have donated the Minnie patch to Little Sis, whose red dress we had to press into service when we forgot to pack one of the planned outfits (oops!). She had said she had so many outfits that we ought to stay another two days! My top is the Sorbetto that I made years ago. At the time, I didn’t like it much. “Too Minnie Mouse” I thought. It was hanging in the cupboard as a way of stashing the fabric until it was needed for other projects. Who knew I would ever want something Minnie Mouse? And Mouse-ify it further! The patch only fitted properly if I placed it under the ruffle. It was too large for the front panel.

I should have got some extra patches to sew onto our baseball caps. I put my ‘First Visit’ badge over my hat logo, but Disney would have been more fun. Mickey’s face or silhouette would have been my choice.

Minnie Ears

Talk about an alternative universe! In no other place would it be completely normal, nay desirable, for almost all females, especially grown women, to wear mouse ears all day, every day. But they sure are cute!

The ears in the parks are extremely seductive, with a huge variety - usually sequinned - but luckily the girls really liked theirs, which I bought in advance from an eBay seller. The “Disneyland Fairy” delivered them on the first night. While simple, these are smaller in size and weight than those sold in the parks - I couldn’t have worn the park ones for more than a couple of hours - and they stashed easily in my backpack. Not to mention the complete lack of sun protection. For an Aussie, it was shocking to witness how 90% of women appeared to be wearing ears or nothing. Certainly not a hat. My girls were only allowed to wear their ears on a shady ride, or in the evening. Mean Mama! I snuck a wear or two on the odd occasion one of the girls was not with me.

Minnie Bows

I planned these bows as something the girls could sew themselves, thinking we might wear them on a ponytail, at the back of a hat.

Big sis decided that she wanted a much smaller bow than I had planned, and it turns out she was right.

The two larger ones didn’t get worn very much/at all, but I did enjoy wearing the smaller one, in lieu of ears.

But they needed more batting and/or strong interfacing. The two larger ones have one layer of batting, running through the centre knot. The wear and tear on the smaller one showed up in a droopy bow by Day 3. If I did it again, I would interface both surfaces with medium weight interfacing and add a layer of batting. Maybe two. I would also not machine gather the centre, but instead run hand stitches loosely through the centre, and finally, I would secure the knot to the bow by hand. This version can be pulled clean out of the centre of the knot, meaning it can be pulled off centre too easily.

Final thoughts

The clothing on sale in the parks was really cute, but honestly, the Disney brand is so tainted by over-licensing to dollar stores everywhere that it sticks in my mind as cheap tat. I did see good quality kids clothes at Gap in Canada (at Disney prices), so perhaps they are working on coming back from the crap they have been allowing. I was pleased to get our few t-shirts from H&M, Primark and Amazon in the UK (two of them found with the sleepwear!) and much prefer the more subtle repeating silhouette to the vinyl graphics.

We equipped ourselves with lanyards and pins, but found no opportunities for trading. One sighting in four days of a “Cast Member” wearing a lanyard, and he was talking on the phone. The girls have given away some of their pins to their friends as souvenirs, but it makes you a bit more picky about those trading grab bags when you know you’ll be going home with the same pins you came with. Skip. They are too heavy and hot to wear in the parks anyway.

I had also arrived armed with glow bracelets for the evening festivities. We had fun with them, and they are a great way to pass the time while you are waiting for a show to start, but I didn’t see anyone else with any. I like the extra visibility it gives my kids, so I’d probably do it again.

The girls hadn't packed a pair of socks for each day but with all the walking we did, the really needed those socks. It was fun to choose some souvenir socks for the fourth day. 

Disneyland itself was both what I expected it to be, and not entirely what I expected. If I listed the bad and the good, I would find far more to complain about than praise, but the good created so many good memories that it was a wonderful trip. (Once every 10-40 years or so!)

The Old Man of Disneyland's house

Monday, 24 July 2017

Cashmere Baby Cardigan

Because every new mother wants a hand wash only cardigan, right?

This cashmere yarn was too lovely not to use though. I got it from the Johnsons of Elgin shop, in Elgin. They bundle up some odds and ends into yarn packs and sell them off in their factory shop. I chose this one because the largest ball was of a size to make something useful. Most of the others had three balls of the same size.

This is the third time I have made this pattern, the Sunnyside Cardigan. I keep coming back to it because I love the one piece knitting of it, and the cable/lace pattern is very effective at showing off some stitches, while keeping the pattern quite simple. I made the smallest size, because I didn't know how much yarn I would have, and it is very small. I have enough yarn left to make a stripe pattern using this blue plus the cream, in a larger size. I just have to think about the stripe placement. And I would probably skip the cables and keep the design plain.

I forgot to reduce the stitches through the sleeves, so they have come out too bell shaped. Sorry.

Cardigan is now blocked and ready to post back to Scotland as a baby gift. (Hand wash only!)

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Summer Doll Outfit

A very simple circle skirt, pieced from scraps from the children's skirts. Paired with my go-to top for dolls, a crochet cardigan. I added a covered button, mainly to hide all the mistakes on the neckline of the cardigan.

Ravelry pattern linked from my notes here. I don't know why I made so many mistakes. I have made this pattern twice before. I mis-counted the v-stitches and it ended up too small too. I added a row of spaced double crochet as button bands.

I am going to try to lengthen this into a dress one day.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

SOI Alex Shirt, White

Another make from Sew Over It's ebook, My Capsule Wardrobe, City Break. I was actually planning to make the Erin Skirt first, but instead have made the Molly Top and now the Alex Shirt, and Erin is still languishing in my queue.

Please excuse the weird picture angle. I struggled to find a location with enough light for the shirt to show up and no nasty background mess. In the end, these shots looking downward with the lawn as the background were the only thing that worked. I hope it is obvious that these are looking down, and not that my legs are half the length they should be!

This shirt jumped up the sewing queue because the weather got nice, prompting me to think about some Liberty Poplin that I have stashed, intending to make this pattern. I decided to make a wearable toile of this first, using an old white sheet, and this is the result.

I cut out size 10 with no changes to the paper pattern. The style has a lot of ease, so I didn't bother with my usual short waist adjustment. I did cut a 1/2 inch sway back adjustment out of the fabric piece, at the centre of the back pattern piece (below the yoke).

This is a great shirt pattern if you want to make a shirt, but skip a lot of the complicated steps. Of course, some people love tailoring and shirtmaking, but if you're like me and want shortcuts, this one has them in spades: one piece collar, one piece sleeves, no sleeve cuffs, no button bands, no lapel points. But it still has a nice yoke, good looking collar, pleat in the back and a shaped hem.

I really like the way the yoke comes together to enclose the seams, but it took me a bit of figuring out to get the twist right. And a bit of unpicking. The photos in the instructions are not that clear. Stay stiching is not mentioned, but would probably be a good idea. Of course, I didn't.
I didn't particularly like the finish for the top of the pocket. Folding over the top edge twice leaves a raw edge at the top, once the sides are folded in. I folded that inside, but the notches created another raw edge. For future, mark the notches with chalk, or an outside notch. In future, I would make the top of the pocket completely differently by sewing right sides together and turning to outside, with a point at the top. I would also remove 1cm from the bottom pocket edge. I think they are a bit too long for me and are giving me a saggy boob effect. It's amazing how much pocket size and placement can change the appearance of your body. (Learned that from jeans pocket discussion on Closet Case.) I also didn't manage to effect the rounded corners on the bottom pocket. Mine are straight sided slants, which is fine.
I put the collar on upside down. But only realised this after I had topstitched it closed. It would look worse to unpick and re-do, so I have left it as is. I attached right sides together, it actually goes on to the wrong side of the shirt to top collar piece. Instead of slip stitching down by hand, I topstitched it down. It fitted well - hooray! The collar pieces come right to the edge of the lapel, so not matching up would be very obvious. So much so, that it would be wise to stitch each side separately, working from the outside to meet in the centre. My fabric stretched out slightly on sewing, so I have a tiny pleat on the inside collar seam at the back.
It is also worth remembering to make the fold over button bands as neat as possible. I love the simplicity of the pattern in that the button bands are not separate pieces and not interfaced. Just hem the front pieces and you're done. But they are visible on the outside as they form the top lapels. Mine are neat, but not symmetrical. One has a deeper hem than the other. If I'd thought it through properly, I would have stitched the hem side up and controlled better for the distance from the edge.
I tried flat felled seams for sewing up the side seams. Hilariously, I managed to do two different versions, one with the right sides together, the other correctly with the wrong sides together. I carried on and flat felled the right sides one, and what do you know? I like that finish better. The edge is on the inside and is a much neater finish.
This shirt pattern would not work for making a sleeveless version. I didn't realise earlier, but it has a dropped shoulder seam. It makes the shirt more casual and it is quite cute, but definitely not suitable for hacking off the sleeves. I was glad I did French seams for the sleeves as they are visible when they are rolled up. Which they always are. I really like the sleeve tabs, but the lack of any kind of finishing at the cuff, means that it looks like a lab coat with the sleeves unrolled. The line drawing is a bit misleading, it looks like the sleeves gather into a cuff band. They don't, just hemmed. A gathered cuff band would need a button closure to enable them to roll up. Cute, but not suitable for the simplicity of this shirt pattern. I'm thinking about putting an extra button higher up the sleeve, so that I can roll the sleeves to above the elbow, as well as below. I placed my existing button much higher than the pattern calls for, and it is not re-inforced. I hope it holds without anything to anchor it on. In a future make, I might put a little square piece with a cross, same as the sleeve tab, but higher up, for a second button. Or just attach the tab higher.
The hem instructions should be a little better. The pattern says overlock, then turn up once and sew. I wanted a better finish than that, so I turned up twice, without overlocking. I kept it as narrow as possible, and it has come out perfectly. Probably better than I could manage with a bias facing. If someone sews enough to have invested in an overlocker, they can probably manage a tiny twin, or rolled hem.

The buttons are my favourite feature and actually saved the shirt for me in the end. The shirt is so large and shapeless, that it was looking extremely like a lab coat. I have a large supply of mens shirt buttons, but they looked way to shirt-like on this. I wanted a casual, summer shirt, not a quasi-business shirt. So I decided to do completely the opposite of corporate, and use non-matching blue/turquoise buttons. This part was actually pretty fun, choosing all the little blue orphan buttons from my button jar. They are different sizes and shapes too. I have absolutely no idea where any of them came from. I love how they instantly make the shirt look super-casual, and more nautical. I had two the same so these went on the pockets and sleeve tabs. But mixed up, of course! If I couldn't have anchor print fabric, I have blue buttons.
I used Lisa's trick and didn't sew buttonholes for the buttons, I sewed them through the two layers of lapel and fastened the shirt shut. It is so large that it easily pulls over my head.  But... I might go back and change them to buttonholes. A white summer shirt is a great layering piece, and no buttonholes means I can't wear it open as a beach cover up, or half open over a vest or t-shirt.
Finally, the fabric: it is an old sheet, a woven cotton sateen. It has a lovely checked waffle weave, and after the centre of the sheet wore out, there was still lots of usable fabric around the edges. So much for soft sheets, my crappy ones last over 10 years and the expensive high thread count ones wear out super fast.

I used this for a toile of the pattern, but it may be my only version of this. I'm definitely not using the Liberty for it. On the plus side, the lack of shaping means the fabric is not spoiled by seams or darts, but on the minus side, it is so large and billowy, that a busy print will be way too much of a good thing. Liberty is going to be a sleeveless shirt, or shirt dress. Got to have some skin to break up all that ditsy floral.

The final verdict is mixed. With no shaping at all, this has come up very big. I've drawn in some shaping through the side seams for next time. It takes in some of the blousiness of the shirt. But I do like the shirt and I am glad it is in my wardrobe. It has some lovely design details, and it looks a lot more tailored than it is. It might even become a summer staple for me.

 Fabric: upcycled sheet, £0
 Pattern: £4.67 (1 of 3 in book)
 Thread: stash, £0
 Buttons: stash, £0
Total: £4.67



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