Saturday, February 07, 2009

pajama party

Last but certainly not least (cos they are for me) is the pajamas. These are made from a cool Jalie pattern 2686 in cotton flannel. These have more details than basic pajamas like those James gets :-) . For example, the jacket has piping detail which was fun to make (from cotton broadcloth strips cut on the bias with cord inside) and install. The waist band of the trousers has an elasticated back and a cord tie at the front. These took a long time to cut out because I squeezed in an extra pair of trousers, since they seem to wear out so much more quickly than the jackets, and I ended up cutting out mostly on a single layer of fabric. I lined up some bits properly with the fabric stripes, but failed to realise quite how the cuffs worked so they are not lined up at all.

After 2 pairs of trousers and a jacket there was about 30cm left plus other scraps. Just enough to make full pajamas plus dressing gown for Simon . These patterns were traced off some original sasha doll PJs, that came on wee James, a 1969 Sasha I found for sale on the web. Oh no - a vintage dolly addiction! I am a pensioner before my time! Anyway, I added a fun detail to these, using some of the selvage to make a fringe applied in a similar way to the piping in the Jalie pattern, using it to finish the fronts of the dressing down and also on the pockets and the cuffs of the pajama jacket.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

James in winter

James has always had a pair of winter walking breeches. Very nice they are too, in tweed. Of course they are supposed to be plus 2s (meaning 2" spare in length), but on James they were minus 2s. Apart from that, though they were great, so there was no need to make some new ones until they started to get rather thin.

I made these new plus 2s without destroying the originals, by pinning tracing paper onto the originals and drawing on the stitching lines. I then made a mock up in some super cheap corduroy, and then adjusted the pattern, and made sure that the pattern pieces lined up with each other. At least that was the idea. I forgot to transfer one of the adjustments (taking some extra out of the back crotch curve) to the pattern before cutting it out again. It is quite irritating, since it causes the trousers to "pooch out" at the back in most positions. It is not so bad in these picture,s where James has things in his pockets and is striding up the hill. What I should have done is double check by tacking together the final version after it was cut out - then I could easily have adjusted it. But in the overall complexity of all the different parts of the construction I forgot to do this. Major surgery would be required to adjust it now, so I wont bother, especially since James says the comfort is good.

These are made from Polartec PowerShield (from Malden Mills Direct). This is a stretch fabric, 1 layer with a hopefully very hardwearing outer and fleece inner, whereas the originals and my mock up fabric are both non stretch woven. The back pocket is very clever. It creates a double thickness seat which is good for durability and warmth sitting on rocks and sliding down moutains and the like. The belt loops are about 10cm long, and they fold into the waistband, which meant dealing with enormous thicknesses of fabric at the waistband. There are all sorts of clever willy guards inside the fly, while the bottom of the legs are finished with a little gusset and velcro tabs.

As you can see from the photos, there was not much snow around when we went for a little walk the other week, so these have not been tested in real winter conditions yet. But it was the first time on any winter walk that the bottom of the legs of James' breeches have not come undone nor his socks fallen down!

Penny Frocks

My nice niece (called Penny) has her birthday on Christmas Day. A year ago I bought her toys, but the shops were all so segregated into boys things (fun, interactive) and girls things (domestic-ish, pink, useless) that I warned my brother well in advance that next time I would make things, and got measurements of niecey in about October. So, having planned well in advance I managed to fit in making two things even though the wimmin's conference organising was getting a bit of an obsession by then.

First of all the Penny frock. It was a choice between a Simplicity pattern and a New Look Project Runway pattern. I actually bought both patterns and then dithered about which to choose. The Project Runway patterns don't look that appealing to me. Maybe it is because the pictures are always so small on the pattern cover, and they look weirdly "trendy", and unpractical. I decided on the Simplicity and even traced the pattern. Then I compared it to the New Look P.R. pattern and realised that it had a huge amount of ease (about 6") so was going to look rather style-less on a four year old, and that the Project Runway pattern was a lot cuter! So I switched. It turned out to be a lot of fun. These P.R. patterns have lots of optional extras, that are quite easy to add. I made the frock as a sleeveless version from a rather thin cotton, and lined it with a red silk (both from my stash), and then made a silk sash for the waist. I don't know how hard it will wear, but kids clothes only need to last a year, right? I haven't seen a picture of her wearing it yet, but I understand she has done so, so perhaps it fits.

To encourage the inner tomboy in Penny-niece, I also made her a hoodie. The was made from left over sweatshirt fabric. So that's 3 hoodies this piece of fabric has made - one for James, one for Simon and one for Penny! This is the Jalie hooded jacket pattern. I also intend to make this one for myself and I have already bought some windpro fleece from Malden Mills. The pattern was great. It was easy to make (no easing - just stitching pieces together and top stitching), but with lots of pieces and top stitching it looks quite cool (I think). I haven't had any feedback on whether the jacket fits or not (or whether niecey is allowed to be a hoodie-girl!).

A week after posting it all off, I was thinking about how impoverished a present of stuff stitched from spare fabric was, when I spotted a local shop that sells moderately nice kiddiwink clothes. I couldn't believe how expensive they were, for things not as nice (IMO) and certainly in less nice fabric. Kiddies clothes are also fun to make. Not quite as fast as dolly clothes but things like cutting out are much easier, and the clothes come together quite quickly.

Dolly clothes

This is the easiest one to start with. I made a wee set of clothes for Simon: some black jeans, a striped t-shirt and a sweatshirt hoodie, all from spare fabric left over after making similar pieces for James. Here are the two of them working at their computers.

And here are some close-ups. They were based on commercial patterns (Simplicity), which I think are designed for 18" dolls. Simon is only 16" tall and quite a lot smaller all round, so the patterns had to be reduced in size quite a bit. The jeans were quite different from the pattern in the packet since I added real pockets including a coin pocket, silver top stitching and a velcro fly. They fasten with a press-stud. The fun part is how quick and easy it is to knock dolls clothes up - and it reduces the piles of <1mx<1m pieces of fabric.

I also have some tartan fabric, so cut off a bit to make a great kilt for Simon. I actually ironed and hand stitched in the pleats, which isn't the way a real great kilt is constructed - you are supposed to fold it into rough pleats each time you put it on. This isn't really finished. Needs a shirt to go underneath it. I also have since bought some shoes and boots for the dollies. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of James in his great kilt for comparison.

Back from the "real" world

It isn't that I have given up stitchin', although I have done a bit less over the last few months, but I got very busy helping to organise the Japan Wimmin's Conference. Anyway, the Conference was last weekend so now, perhaps I have time for some quick reports on some of the things I have stitched recently.

Since August, I made a jacket and a frock for my niece, some winter walking trousers for James, some PJs for me and used up some bits of spare fabric on dolly clothes...