Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Quick trick to make shirts smaller

I bring you one cunning trick to make adult shirts smaller for children!

Here's what to do:

1.  Find suitable 100% cotton adult shirt.  I used a men's work shirt with a 15" collar pilfered from Mr B.

2.  Wash on it's own in the washing machine on a 90degC cycle with bicarb and vinegar.  I used 3 tbsp of bicarb, which I put in the drum with the shirt, and 1 cup of spirit vinegar which I put in the soap drawer.  This should cause the shirt to shrink a little.

3.  Tumble dry on the hottest setting to make the shrinkage permanent.

4.  Repeat steps 2 and 3 again until you have reached the desired size.  I did about 5 repeats to make the shirt small enough for toddler - about a size 104cm (age 4-5).

After this, when you come to launder the shirt normally, just use non-bio soap powder and wash at 40degC with the rest of your laundry.  Magic!

Only joking.  Of course I didn't.  I used this.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Purple trousers CAPSLOCK MOMENTS

I made my first pair of proper trousers!  I'm not counting the self-drafted trousers here and their many shorts variation friends.

I made the "Elvis" trousers from the 1/2015 issue of Ottobre magazine, whose model displays them in turquoise thusly:

I had to make these because I love me a good pair of brightly coloured trousers on a little man, and toddler likes them too.  I scored some purple twill for £2/m from St Ives bank holiday market.  Although it has an inexplicable fire-retardant backing, this has softened completely in the wash.  Nevertheless, these pants will only ever be metaphorically on fire.

A red bowl of conkers was just lying around, so I kept it in shot.  I'll admit it doesn't look as arty as I thought.

Sadly the notions cost me more than £2, even when I skipped the zippers on the back pockets.  I'm not going to count the £15 I splurged on 32 sewing machine feet from China, or the cost of the top-stitch needles, or the spotty cotton pocket facings and button from my stash.  However, I ought to count the fly zipper and the red top-stitch thread (of which I used an entire spool).  So maybe the trousers cost me £6 all in.

BOOM!  Spotty cotton!  Also, eagle-eyed viewers will note my top-stitch tension issues, even after unpicking 4 times... ARGH.

I have a thing about red and purple together.  I had SO MUCH FUN making these trousers.  Fabric that doesn't fray. lustrous red thread, new machine feet... ahhhh the good times.

The pattern is lovely, although Mr B takes issue with the style detail where the side seam twists onto the front leg.  Pah!  I love it.  They're also slim enough for Toddler B, although I am waiting on a red belt from eBay to keep them up so he can wear them now and make them last longer.  That's why the bottom of the belt-loops are not stitched down yet (just in case the belt is wider than expected).  Also, I ran out of topstitch thread, so you don't get red bar-tacks at the top and bottom of every belt loop.  I ain't buying another spool for that malarky.

I skipped the exposed metal zippers on the back pockets to save money and my furniture.

I did have a few issues with the top-stitching - my machine wouldn't get the tension right sometimes and made loops of top-stitch thread underneath the fabric, usually when sewing right on the edge of 3+ thicknesses of twill.  I think because the presser-foot had uneven pressure over the bulky seam allowances and the fabric got pulled up and down by the needle.  I managed to partly solve it by using a pad of rolled up twill beside the seam to make the foot press evenly.

Sometimes my machine skipped stitches when trying to top-stitch over e.g. 6 thicknesses of twill in a seam intersection.  Tbh who can blame it?

Ok, so now I fess up to the mistakes.  I don't know what possessed me but I didn't take into account the diagonal twill weave when I cut out.  I just folded the fabric and cut double.  I think.  Or something.  It was dark in my windowless sewing space in the evening.  Anyway, the weave is not doing what I would like across the back seam (or indeed the front).  Don't look too closely.   Also, my top-stitching could be more even, but I'm going to allow myself some leeway on that as it's my first attempt.

My top stitching is not the best, but toddler will move too fast in real life for this to cause anyone visual pain.

I'll be making these again!  IN EVERY COLOUR ST IVES WILL SELL ME.  Did you hear that, man on St Ives market stall?  I WILL BUY ALL YOUR WACKY TWO QUID TWILL.  I will look for new audacious colours of top-stitch thread.  MAD LEGS AHOY!

Note that the shirt is looking a bit small - not to worry, a new one is in the works.

In less capslock-inducing news, I have cut up one of Mr B's old work-shirts and am in the process of transforming it into a toddler sized shirt.  This is quite exciting to me (and toddler).

Friday, 2 October 2015

Doctor, Doctor, I feel like a pair of curtains!

So, I finally finished the last pair of curtains which I was cutting out the two days before baby arrived.

Of course, taking photos toward the window in the daytime in a room that is painted in a dark-ish colour does not yield good results with my camera in idiot mode.

Behold!  The curtains with the irritatingly large pattern repeat are done!  A further 3m of fabric from a different bolt (so slightly different colour) were found and purchased, but I don't think you can tell that one drop is slightly different.

Also: I bring you another top tip of the blindingly obvious variety.  Cheap material is... cheap.  Okay, the feel and print of this fabric are fine, but the fabric had a badly wonky grain and off-grain pattern.  When cutting out I had to choose between cutting perpendicular to the selvedges, cutting along the grain-line, or cutting along the pattern repeat (we chose to take an average of all three, so hopefully it would hang fine and the pattern not be too wonky).  Add to this the 24" pattern repeat and you've got a headache.

Anyways, not much to say here that I didn't already say about these previous curtains of the same design.  They're interlined with blackout lining, and lined with polycotton.  I still love the metal eyelets and you shouldn't mess around with those shonky plastic ones in the highstreet shops.  Just go straight to Hanolex and buy the biggest hammer you'll ever own.

Mr B:  "This hammer is awesome.  It looks like a Thor Hammer, you know?  Like the god Thor?"
Me:  "Yes, that's why it's called a Thor Hammer."
Mr B:  "Oh."

If you're interested, the wall colour is "Soft Cinnebar 3" by Dulux.  For the first time in my life, I copied a "Get the Look!" article in the National Trust Magazine.  Except it's cheaper to get a Dulux colour mixed than go to Fired Wallet or wherever they were suggesting.

I am finally rid of the horrid brown and tan pairs of suede-effect unlined curtains that came with the house!  But, bad news:  Mr B wants them to be re-sewn into covers for his mower and his vice (to protect them from belt sander dust).  I don't know if I can bear to touch them... eugh.