Sewing the seeds of a good life.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Meet the Bad Piggies!

Yep. Long-time, no post.

There has been sewing going on -- though not as much as when Mitchell was tiny.

But here's some stitching of a different kind.

Angry Birds are really big in our house, right now - and have been for the past year. And Mr M. was really keen to have an Angry Birds party for his 6th birthday.

Google is my friend.  So searched out some cool ideas for party invitations, table-ware and games.

I had an idea for collecting together cardboard boxes and making piggies for the kids to kick balls at and knock down.  And then I came across this site.

Great pattern, but I needed them to be bigger. So I enlarged the pattern, and made a few alterations in the method. But the basic pattern is taken from Obsessively Stitching.

Found some lovely pale green minky at Spotlight (though couldn't find two separate shades, so piggies are all one colour). And used green felt for nostrils, ears and eyebrows.

First the snouts. I used the appliqué method to add the nostrils.  First transferring the markings from the pattern onto the reverse of the shout.

Then positioning a small piece of felt on the right side and stitching along the nostril lines from the back.  Make sure your piece of felt is large enough - it tends to slip on the Minky.  


Finally cutting away just outside the stitching lines.

  Next I stitched a strip of material all the way round the snout -- beginning and ending at the bottom centre; using my standard method of pin-the-heck-out-of-it, and stitching over the top of the pins.


Then stitching the two strip ends together; turning right side out, and there is the snout. 

I used the same appliqué method to make the ears.


I used the production-line method - as I had needed to make multiple piggies - here is a basketfull of snouts and ears awaiting the next stage.  [They seem to have fluoresced rather, in the camera-flash - they're not really lime green]

The next step was to cut out and stitch the bodies.
I altered the original pattern instructions, to have the centre seam down the middle of the face.
I didn't find the football shape the easiest to sew accurately. And I'm not entirely happy with the resulting body shape.

 I changed the method again when applying the snouts.  I wanted to machine-stitch them in place, rather than hand stitching.  Both for robustness (going to be kicked around by kids) and for speed of production (I didn't really want to be hand-stitching anything unless I had to).
 First I positioned the snout pattern halfway over the centre-front stitching line, and drew around it. And cut away the hole for the snout.
Then pinned the snout into the hole, right-sides-together. It took a bit of finesse to get it just right - stretching to fit, but the Minky was quite forgiving and I was able to ease it without gathers.


Finally I added a mouth (just a double crescent stitched together) and pinned in-between the snout and face, just before stitching.




Helpful assistant trying on the partially completed Bad Piggy-mask.
 Next I pinned and sewed the ears in place.


 And stitched the front and back together -- remembering to leave an opening for stuffing!

 I used three different types of filler to stuff the Piggies. First I stuffed the snouts with fibre-fill, since I wanted them to remain firm, no matter how they were bounced around. 
 I wanted them to be squishy - so they would sit in place on the boxes; so I stuffed them with beanbag beans.

 I also needed them to be bottom-heavy - so they wouldn't blow away; so I added a plastic baggie of sand for stability.
Adding a layer of beans, the sandbag, and then filling up the rest of the Piggy with beans.
Needed to pack them in tightly, and then handstitch the opening.

The eyes and eyebrows are cut out of felt and glued in place -- the quickest and most secure option.

 I made multiple sizes - including a baby pig. And added a felt crown to one of the biggest as the King Pig.

They're not perfect.  The pattern shape doesn't give a perfect 'piggy' shape. And I can see ways that I could have improved the design and the process.

They were a huge it at the party.  Kids kicking balls, throwing them, at each other, and at the Dads who got involved in the game.  Great fun had by all.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Quick Cape

Sometimes you just need to do something quickly, with the minimum of fuss.

I'd been given a bag of material to sew up for the kids at Mitchell's Playcentre.
In the stash was a lovely transparent black gauze, sprinkled with silver stars - just perfect for a cape - it could be anything from a superhero to a wizard to a fairy princess.

The fabric was lovely, but it frayed like the dickens, and I didn't want big hems, as they just catch and get pulled.

So, I cut off a rectangle 70 cm long, retaining the selvages as the edges - so I didn't have to hem them; and worked out how to do a narrow rolled hem using the overlocker. Big sucess - I'll certainly do this again.

For the collar, I cut a rectangle of gold satin (silver would have been better, but I was using what I had to hand), and marked out the centre 38 cm. to attach the cloak (I did a rough and ready measurement, using a very unco-operative Mitchell as a model).
I didn't want it to come too far over the shoulders, as I find that full
get in the way of all the other activities the kids are doing
(paint, climbing, etc.)

Then I broke out the ruffler foot - haven't used this since I was making square dancing petticoats, more years ago than I care to remember. Had to rip out the first attempt, as the gather was too tight, and the seaming off centre. But the second attempt was pretty darn good. I could have gathered a little less closely to the edge, but not worth re-doing.
The edges frayed while I was working. Next time, I'd do the rolled hem on the to-be-gathered hem as well, just to stabilize it.

I folded the collar right sides together, and stitched the ends and bottom along to the gathered cloak. Then clipped, turned and pressed. Because the gauze was so hard to handle, I hand stitched the collar over the gathered cloak. Then top-stitched all around the collar. Finally I stitched velcro to the overlapping edges of the collar (I use double sided tape to stick the velcro in place, then stitch).

I didn't want to over-think - just get something made quickly for the kids to play with; and I think this has really worked well. Just like cooking. Simple materials, made up quickly, with no fuss - though it does help to have the equipment to hand.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sewing for ME

Well. Yes.
I'm desperate for clothes -- none of my pre-baby wardrobe fits (and when the baby in question is nearly 3, then I can't blame the situation on pregnancy!)
So, I decided to make a shift dress, to wear over leggings.
I found some (cheap) fabric that I liked -- from Nicks Fabrics -- a loosely woven black with threads of cerise, purple and metallic silver running through.

I adapted a New Look pattern which I've had for 5 years or so (I made it for a 60s party in a black/white/grey psychadelic swirl pattern)
But adapted for the new use.
I cut it a size larger than the max on the pattern - largest was 16; but I added the same increments used in the smaller sizing, by eye as I cut the fabric. I also added a bit more to the width of the hemline -- hoping that it would 'swing' a bit more.
I eliminated the centre front seam (which has no useful shaping purpose.
And I added pockets.
Later, I eliminated the zip and re-cut the neckline.

The fabric was a demon to sew. The metallic threads kept trapping the needle and altering the tension, causing the thread to snap. And it frayed like anything.
If I were sewing it again, I'd overlock the raw seam edges before I started, rather than at the end. But I wanted to wait until I'd checked the fit, before finishing the seams (in case I had to adjust them)

After I'd put the zipper in, I wasn't happy with the finish, and was about to rip it out and re-do; when I thought about pulling it on with the zipper closed. Yep, it fit. So rip out the zip and stitch up the seam.

I skipped making facings, and just overlocked the raw edges, folded them under and stitched.

I adjusted the hemline a bit higher than the pattern, as I plan to wear leggings underneath.

I sized the pockets based on my hand size and length, then made them wider at the top - trapezium shape - to get that baggy gaping look. I am happy with the pockets, and would do them again.

Once it was finished, and I tried it on, I decided I didn't like the neckline; so re-cut it to be more of a scoop look.

Overall. I can't say I'm wildly excited with the finished look. But that may say more about the shape of the person underneath than the garment itself. It will be useful, and I guess I'll have to be grateful for small mercies.
I had thought about adding some neckline detail. A few fabulous pink or black buttons, or some fabric roses. But I'm not so excited about the finished look, that I want to put in any more effort.
Maybe a black trim around the neck and arm edges would have been more slimming?

Not a great photo - it's hard to take a photo of yourself, even with the camera on delay. The neckline is actually straight (the joggle is just wear). And the silver and cerise have come out much more boldly than the real fabric.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

More Merino Magic

Winter is certainly here, with a vengeance.

Not that it's actually freezing, (we haven't been close to zero) it just feels that way to those of us who think we live in a subtropical paradise!

But the temperature has been dropping to 4 and 5 degrees overnight, and rising to the early teens during the afternoon.

I've more merino bodysuits cut out for Mitchell (bright yellow and burnt orange this time), but my most recent sewing has been a petticoat for my Mum. Just a half slip, for her to wear under her winter skirts.

Totally simple in construction. Just a rectangle, seamed up the side with an elastic casing at the top and a hem at the bottom.

I used the same olive green merino that I've used for Mitchell in the past. Lightweight and warm, it'll be comfortable to wear.

I used the over-locker to hem the seams, then zig-zag stitched them together (or down in the case of the casing and hem).

Totally easy and quick -- took about an hour all up (including measuring the hem length -- which took the most time!)

Doesn't seem worthwhile to post a photo -- but if anyone's interested, I will.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Merino Magic

Well, the winter is certainly on our doorstep. Despite the Indian summer we've been enjoying, the temperature has started to drop at night.

Time to think about snuggly winter pyjamas for Mitchell.
Over the last 2 winters, I've made him bodysuits out of fine merino jersey knit, using this Ottobre pattern.
He just lived in them over winter. He wore them at night inside his sleeping bag, and during the day as a base layer.
I always knew he was cosy warm with the fine soft merino next to his skin. And I had great fun mixing and matching exciting colours.

But, the pattern only goes up to size 86 cm. & he's at 92 now. What to do?

I tried looking for a similar pattern in a larger size, but no luck. They were all too lose fitting; I really wanted a bodysuit style - something that fit like thermal underwear!
Finally, I tried one of last year's bodysuits on him, and the fit wasn't too bad in the chest area -- even though his rib cage is larger, he's not as chubby. Of course, it was much too short, but that's easily fixed.
So I hacked the pattern. I added an extra seam allowance to increase the size (NB that worked for this pattern, as the increase in size is consistent across the whole pattern)
I don't really want to have the snaps at the crotch anymore, so I just cut the pattern off at the top of the hip opening, and hemmed it instead of doing a binding.

I've made the first one in a very fine rib merino (on sale at the fabulous Global Fabrics) for $10 a metre. It's a lovely olive green colour (though it's come out as grey in the photos for some reason); and the binding is black merino jersey knit.

Not the most exciting looking sewing in the world, but super practical and useful. I'll be making a whole lot more of these in a more exciting range of colours. I wanted to try the rib first, to see how different it was to jersey when made up (not much, it appears)

Next, I'll be making leggings to match!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Last of the Summer...Tomatoes

Not much sewing going on here -- have to talk about the rest of my life instead.

I planted tomatoes this year

More to give Mitchell a taste of where food comes from, than as a serious gardening exercise.
I planted 4 different varieties, three heirloom ones, (including the black ones in the picture) and one modern heavy cropping one. Needless to say, we got most tomatoes from the modern version.

Mitchell loved them!

After an early experience, where he pulled off the first 20 green tomatoes and laid them out in a row for me to admire, I quickly bought some netting to keep him (and the birds) at a distance.
I had endless conversations with him, where we talked about waiting for the tomatoes to turn red & that green ones didn't taste good. [We'd had the same conversation about the strawberries, but to no effect]

Finally, we had our first red tomatoes! Great excitement!

Watched intently, I carefully reached behind the netting and picked the first tomato for Mitchell to eat.

As the season continued, Mitchell worked out how to get through the netting, and happily gobbled up uncounted numbers of red ripe tomatoes (and took bites out of a few green ones).
I took a bowl out in the evenings, to pick some of the crop for our dinner. And Mitchell quickly decided his job was to put the tomatoes in the bowl after I'd picked them.
Soon, he'd come and say "Matos" "Bowl" as he wanted me to come and pick with him.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a final glorious harvest of the last of the tomatoes & then Mitchell watched as I made tomato pasta sauce with them.

So, now we have jars of lovely sauce, eaten with everything from pizza to meatballs, as a reminder of our tomato summer.

What to grow next?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Mending is sewing too

I don't feel that I can justify making Mitchell new outfits, when I have clothes for him waiting in the mending pile. He grows so quickly, that if I don't fix them now, I might as well throw them out. I'm pretty picky over what I mend, it has to be 'worth my time' so I sort out: good quality fabrics/designs; things he looks extra cute in; things he's been given by special people in our lives; oh, and also anything that only needs a tiny stitch to make it good as new.
So that's why an extra cute and comfortable pair of denim trousers given to him by his aunt, had new knee patches added (where he wore out the knees crawling); while other pairs of trousers have gone straight in the rag bag.

I looked at the mending pile today, and regretfully put the sewing aside (even though there's only the waistband to do....) and spent the 45 minutes [and that's a whole nother story] of his nap time today, mending.

I started with a lovely green outfit that my sister gave him with appliqued monkey motifs. So far as Mitchell is concerned, "iron on" means "pull off", and those monkeys had just about given up any attachment to their parent garment. But it is cute, and he's certainly getting the wear out of it in this hot weather. If I'm going to spend my time mending something, it's darned well going to stay mended. So out came the invisible thread, and I whip-stitched the monkeys firmly in place, right round the edge of the applique.

Then the buttons. It seems that whatever automatic button-stitcher-on-er they have in garment factories, hasn't been put to the toddler-test. Just about every button Mitchell owns gets removed or comes loose within the first couple of wears. I've learned to re-sew all the buttons on a garment, when the first one comes loose. I suppose that I really should stitch them in place before he wears them for the first time -- but, I feel daunted at the thought....

And finally darning. Now this one really is crunch time for a garment -- it has to be really worth it for me to darn. Though there are plenty of candidates.... Only one set of trousers made the cut this time.... lovely microfibre board shorts in shades of blue. He'd got at my dressmaking scissors and made little snips through the fabric (before I spotted him and wrested them away). Three tiny darns, and they're wearable again

There's something sort of satisfying about folding up mended clothes to put away in his drawers, and seeing his mending basket empty (mine on the other hand, threatens to topple over it's so full).

But it's not nearly so much fun as sewing....