Happy Birthday Kylie!

About 3 years ago, I picked up a big pile of patchwork/craft fabric at an Op Shop. Part of the haul was these two gorgeous pieces of tie-dye flannelette. (I won’t say how much they cost me, cos they ended up as a birthday present, but it was not much!) At the time I thought I would end up using it to back a cot quilt or something similar. But there comes a time in every sewist’s life that you just say to yourself, MAKE PYJAMAS.

And Kylie’s birthday was coming up.

The hardest part was deciding which colour she would like…. so I made two pairs and let Kylie  choose for herself! 20150809_182046[1] Which means I got a pair as well! Hurrah! Kylie picked the bluey-green ones so I got the orange ones –  orange being my favourite colour, I was pretty happy. 20150809_182224[1] They are the softest, fuzziest flannelette I have ever laid my hands on. Soooo warm and cosy (it’s still winter here in the southern hemisphere, by the way :-) I did have to use my knowledge of dye techniques, though. While sewing the blue ones, I noticed these tiny white flecks of stuff sort of stuck all over the fabric. I couldn’t pick it off. What was it??? Then I realised – they were batik-dyed. It was wax!! So out came a warm iron and some baking paper, it came off no worries at all.

So I snuck over to her house while she was out running the City 2 Surf and put dinner in the slow cooker :-P Then I went home and made a coconut cheesecake with a macadamia-nut crust. 20150809_191021_Richtone(HDR)[1] I used this recipe, although I have a bit of a mental block when it comes to artificial sweeteners so I subbed in golden castor sugar and coconut sugar. That’s toasted coconut flakes on top there – yum!

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Yeah, I used a filter.

It was a fantastic cheesecake. I think I overcooked it a smidge, cos it sunk in the middle, and the outside was a bit dark, but the crust did this amazing caramelized thing which I could have eaten all night.  And the whole chicken in the slow cooker – messy, but delicious!

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So. There was this challenge. On The Monthly Stitch. The challenge was ‘Check It Out’. No worries, I thought. I’ve got this big old orange plaid skirt I paid $5 for, never worn, been wasting away in the refashion pile.

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Also, I thought, ideal time to try out one of the free patterns from SpitUp&Stilettos. (Yeah sorry, I really don’t like that blog name. But that’s what they’re called.) I like a boxy top and I thought I might be able to squeeze the Atalia Top out of this skirt, with a little help from some leftover bits of a terrifyingly 80’s power dress:

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Wearing it with flipflops really works, doesn’t it??

I had previously turned the top half of this horror into a cute cropped jacket, but never managed to take any decent pictures. So I was left with most of the skirt to work with, and the colour matched perfectly with the orange plaid.

Meanwhile, back at Lauraville, other challenges were underway: namely, a karate seminar and tournament, for which I travelled interstate. (Oh, woe is me, I had to go to sunny central QLD where it’s practically still tropical. It was snowing in parts of NSW, that same week. I was certainly not complaining about the heat :-)

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Anyway, I won that particular challenge and have been selected for the National Team. Go me.

To round out the month I then had a week’s holiday up at the home place.

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Now, I took a sewing kit with me. I had a week of absolutely nothing but hanging out in the bush, miles from town, with my Mum & my sister, but do you think I even looked at the sewing? Nope. My mum has pay tv. And that means an endless supply of Stargate, Doctor Who and Antiques Roadshow. No sewing. I was a total couch potato.

Needless to say, I got back from my holiday, got back to work, got back to training, started the plaid shirt but didn’t finish it before the end of the challenge month. Le sigh. I’ll share it with you anyway.

So last Friday I cued up a couple of episodes of Arrow and spread my fabric all over the loungeroom floor.

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Not really all that bothered with the grainlines, am I? Not when I’m refashioning, no, I’m not. If it makes you feel better, I lined the yoke. The orange fabric was a bit lighter than the wool-blend plaid so I used some of the skirt lining to stabilise the yoke.I used the sausage roll technique.

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Makes it look nice and tidy on the inside, too.

The top was pretty simple. I had some trouble with the placket – the instructions I found a little confusing and the diagrams were not much help. (Searching for tutorials did lead me to some interesting discoveries about the SU&S patterns, though.)

And then I messed up the button placements. I wanted to use five buttons, because mine were smaller than the ones recommended, so I re-measured the spacings and did the buttonholes before putting the rest of the shirt together, following the instructions. But I missed the bit that said ‘now cut off 5/8″ from around the neckline edge’. Whaaaat? Why would you do that? Why isn’t the pattern, the pattern? Why am I cutting bits off my garment at this point? Shouldn’t the pattern JUST HAVE THAT NECKLINE ALREADY????

Okay. I’m okay now. Luckily I hadn’t cut the buttonholes, just stitched them. So I was able to unpick a couple of buttonholes and reposition them, and I only ended up with four buttons. It still looks a bit wonky, and my necklines don’t match at the top either. The pattern instructions (which by this point were getting the stinkeye, bigtime) called for bias binding, but I didn’t have enough material to make bias. I was able to squeeze out a narrow facing though, so I did that.

How cute are my plaid buttons??

How cute are my plaid buttons??

After all of that, though, I quite like the end result!

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So what do you think? Is the plaid bad? Or is the plaid rad? (I just had about twelve terrible rhymes run through my mind, but I won’t torture you with them. Bwahahahahaaaa.)

Hi folks!

So it looks like I’m capable of doing one post per month. Clearly I am not destined for the successful blogger’s award (if there is such a thing). Truthfully, I do a fair amount of making, but the normal amount of ‘fail’ and an inability to take a decent photo is besmirching my blogging record.

But enough of that – let’s talk raglans!

IPM 2015 One Pattern Four Takes

No idea why, but I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to make raglan t-shirts. I have a favourite one that recently got a huge rip in the sleeve, which made me sad; but what’s a sewing room for if not to fill holes in wardrobes?

I started out with New Look 6054.

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Looks like a normal raglan tee on the pattern, right? Well, yes and no. The sleeve is cut in two pieces, front and back, so you have a seam down the top of the arm. While I didn’t love the idea of that seam, I realised that it would create a more curved profile for the shoulder, so I gave it a go. Being thrifty, though, I made it up out of some recycled tee’s from my refashion stash.

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I quite like the colour combo actually! And there are little sequins on the top left shoulder there. Cute.

Now, while the seam over the top of the arm is shapely, I don’t think it’s worth the extra cutting & sewing time for a t-shirt! And despite taking a bit of excess fabric out at the head of the shoulder there, it doesn’t fit well. So the extra cutting & sewing is not really worth any advantages in fitting.

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So I went trawling around the internet looking for raglan tee patterns. It was a toss-up between Liola’s Zoe Raglan and Hey June’s Lane Raglan. In the end I went for the Zoe, because I really dug the pleated sleeves. For my first muslin, I hit the refashion stash again and used an old martial arts tee I’d picked up at the op shop, plus some black cotton lycra & scraps of animal-print jersey for the neck band.

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To get the bodice pattern on the tee, I had to turn it upside-down, so the kanji & text are upside-down! I don’t really care.

For this muslin I folded out the sleeve pleats on the pattern (just for ease of making a muslin, really) and made the sleeves shorter, and put bands on instead of hemming the sleeves – you can see it looks slightly ‘shiny’ which is the animal print jersey. I made the large, according to my measurements, but It’s a bit longer than I like my t-shirts. However I’ve worn it several times already, and got a few laughs at the dojo for my upside-down text :-)

Muslin number two got the same old-t-shirt treatment. This time I graded to a medium around the armhole and took 3cm out of the length.

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Yes, it’s another martial arts t-shirt.

As you can see the neck band didn’t sit well at all, I think I overstretched it as I was putting it on. Not to worry; this tee was in the refashion pile due to colour-run stains and was always destined to be a pyjama shirt anyway!

Finally it was time to make a real version using proper fabric. I found this nice cottony jersey, with a touch of lycra I think, in a sort of maroon marle at my local cheap fabric store. This time I made a straight medium, but still took the 3cm of length out of the body.

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I LOVE IT!

The pleats worked perfectly!…. Well, they would have, if I hadn’t sewn half of one sleeve inside out and spent the next episode of Doctor Who unpicking triple stitch….

It went together really well. As mentioned I used triple-stitch (lightning-bolt stitch) to do the pleats, but the rest of the seams I did on the overlocker. The neck band (which I topstitched with the double needle) sits nice and flat which I am very pleased with. The hems I serged and then folded under and used my regular machine with a double needle. I can’t seem to get the tension right with the double needle, it always seems to create a little ridge. It’s not too noticeable though, and it could pass for deliberate.

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And then, because you can’t have too much of a good thing, I made a ‘sport’ version, because I liked the designer’s example so much.

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I probably could have gone down to a small, to get a more sporty fit, but mostly I like a loose-fit shirt for exercise so I stayed with the medium. The fabric is a polyester lycra, and the contrast some scraps of nylon lycra (also used here!)

Not wanting to spend an hour triple-stitching the pleats again (seriously, on the red shirt it took FOREVER), I hit on the idea of using the twin needle with a contrast thread. I played with the tension some more – it’s still not right but it smoothed out a bit after I pressed it.

I made a bit of a hash of the contrast piping – you can see the back left is substantially wider than the right!! This is what happens when you are too lazy to tack the piping in first, before serging.

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I finished the hems by overlocking, then turning and stitching down with a zig-zag; the same for the neckband topstitching. The neckband gave me some issues, as my overlocker didn’t really love the bulk at the seams created by the piping, so stretching the neckband to fit got a bit out of whack. I don’t believe it’s too noticeable though.

So – three wearable muslins and two excellent shirts! Total cost of fabric was $12, and the pattern itself was US$7 – what great value, as I’m definitely going to be using it again. It’s such an easy top to make and turned out to be a great fit. Plus the pattern has plenty of versatility – I’m thinking of versions with only some of the pleats, or short sleeves, and maybe I can figure out how to add a thumbhole/handwarmer to the end of the sleeve.

Did you participate in IPM 2015? Was it a challenge? Did you discover new designers, new blogs, new sewing friends?

Hello gentle readers.

Well it’s been Me-Made-May this month, a sewing challenge presented by So, Zo…..

As usual I wasn’t organised enough to really participate and generate daily posts, with photos of my fabulous creations…um…. that is, some things I made. Also, I forgot to actually make the pledge!! Here’s what I had in mind at the start of the month:

 ‘I, Laura of makebakesisters.wordpress.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15. I endeavour to wear two me-made garments (or refashions) each week for the duration of May 2015’

I started off well at the beginning of the month, really making an effort to wear me-made garments. Towards the end of the second week though I realized that the season was turning and most of my handmade items aren’t cold-weather-friendly!

Which was what prompted this horrible-dress-to-sweet-top:

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The cooler weather reminded me of this cute floral number I made using a retro pattern and some vintage brushed cotton/flannelette fabric from the op shop. I made this top last winter and actually wear it quite a bit.

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And also the thermal top I originally purchased at a real, honest-to-goodness thrift store (Thrift Town in San Francisco, actually!!) and creatively mended has had a few wears this month.

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Last week I dragged the winter clothes suitcase out of the garage and found this cardigan, which was also a refashion-and-mend:

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And of course I have been actively, haha, wearing the tights and tops I made whilst doing the Burdastyle Activewear course. I have had a couple of desperate fails in the activewear department, and I’m really not going to share them here. These ones here were a success, though!

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Yep, matching running tops for me and my flatmate, for the Mother’s Day Classic fun run which raises awareness (and funds!) for Breast Cancer and related research. Everyone wears pink for this run:-)  I also whipped up the little matching armband using Fehrtrade’s free pattern. Even my bandanna, in fact, was me-made, a couple of years ago for the same race.

Last weekend I spent a few hours wrestling with Fehrtrade’s PBJam leggings. It did not go so well. I may or may not explain this at some later date. So to make up for the fail I did this:

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These are made from the legging pattern I drafted during the Burdastyle course. It is a double-knit with four-way stretch that I picked up at one of the many cheap fabric shops in my area. I thought it would be good for early morning runs in winter. I used a little bit of orange lycra for the diagonal flash to give them a bit of interest. I wore them running this morning! They were indeed cosy, although I need to make the waist elastic a little tighter as they rode down a little in the thigh department.

All in all, although I didn’t wear me-made on a daily basis this month, I probably averaged two items a week, so I’m pretty happy with that. Now that I think about it, some of my pyjamas are also handmade – so that’s some me-made nights as well!

Did you pledge or participate in Me-Made-May? Did you have fun, and would you do it again?

Self-imposed refashion challenge:

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Aaargh aaargh make it stop!! What is that THING??

It is a square-necked, puffy-sleeved, drop-waisted, pintucked nightmare in pale maroon. Ye gods. It has a button-up back, too. Here’s a closeup of the bodice:

DSCF9162It had a clothing label, but was made on a domestic machine (zig-zagged seam finishes are always a giveaway there!). No fabric identification label though. It’s crisp and lightweight, irons beautifully, crushes easily and has that almost ‘crunchy’ feel that silk gets after being handwashed a bit too much. I did a burn test and the results seemed to match silk, but I guess we believe what we want to believe.

Anyway, I’d had this monstrosity in my refashion pile for some time. Yesterday afternoon I’d been vacillating between projects, unable to settle on what I wanted to make, pulling out patterns and fabric and generally creating additional chaos in my tiny sewing room. Eventually I gave myself a mental slap and yelled (with my inside voice, of course) ‘JUST CHOP IT UP FOR GOODNESS SAKE’.

So I did.

The fullness of the skirt is created by the bodice tucks, um, stopping, and there’s some gathers at the sides too. I cut the skirt off at that line, and cut the sleeves off as well. There were these big under-puff puffer thingies designed to keep the puffy sleeves from loosing their puffiness. Needless to say they are now in the bin. No puff required in this refashion.

DSCF9165New sleeves were cut from the skirt offcut, using the existing hemline as the sleeve hems, because I’m lazy, and this is a refashion. You know, one of the things I love about refashioning is it allows me to be pretty relaxed about finishes and construction. The thing cost me $3; I’m so not worried about the curved bit of hem which created a little ruck on the inside. It’s on the INSIDE!!! No-one can see it!! Press that sucker from the outside – looks the ticket – job done!

Also not too worried about the sleeve fitting, which was a gamble from the start. I just used a basic sleeve pattern, there was no way I was going to spend time drafting a sleeve head to match this armhole. So the fit at the back of the sleeve is a little wonky. Don’t look to hard.

DSCF9166My goal at the moment is to make a few shirts for work now that that weather is getting cooler. I want to have a go at the 2-hour-top by SewDifferent but as usual can’t decide what fabric I want to use. I also caved in and hit StyleArc during their Etsy shop sale and bought the Elita top, which I have fabric for but am dreading tiling the pattern together. I like the slightly boxy-shaped tops that are trending at the moment, and I think I have managed that with this top.

Do you enjoy refashioning? How do you find it compares with from-scratch garment making?

The Activewear course is now over, and I must say that although it kept me rather busy for the last 6 weeks, it was certainly a fun and rewarding experience.

I now have slopers for activewear and enough pattern-drafting know-how to create all sorts of wacky workout wear!

For example, here’s my effort for the Sports Bra.

Sports bra front & back

Don’t judge me on the outer finishes. This is, essentially, a muslin.

I used a printed lycra that had had a previous life as a failed pair of leggings, elastic at the lower edge and plain black lycra for the upper binding and straps. The strap configuration was kind of organic, as in I put the unfinished bra onto Suzanne (that’s the dressmaker’s model, not a real person) and did a bit of ad-hoc draping with the straps.

The course had us sewing in bra cups, but a) I didn’t have any in my stash and b) I’ve never found them to be either comfortable or useful. So instead, I just lined the entire bra with powernet:

sports bra lining

Again, don’t judge me on the finishes.

Anyhoo, I gave this sucker a test run during the week. The compression factor was excellent, but I will have to adjust the front armscye as it was a little too high for comfortable movement. You can actually see that in the first photo.

The course also included shorts and yoga pants, both of which I didn’t make (but may yet return to). However, I used the shorts waistband instructions and drafted a pair of leggings of my very own!

Side stripe leggings

Here’s what my draft looked like.

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It’s all made of the standard slightly-shiny lycra. Here’s a couple of truly terribly pictures of the leggings on me:

side stripe leggings ON

In hindsight (or possibly thighsight) those green panels at the hip hit me at exactly the most unflattering point. “Look world, here’s my widest bit!” Still, I love my sidestripes. This lycra is stretchy-er than the the gray one I used for the previous pair, so the tights aren’t as close-fitting as I would have liked; also the reduction on the waistband wasn’t quite enough to create a nice tight fit.

I solved the waistband problem with some elastic zig-zagged to the upper edge. Things got a little tricky around the in-seam pocket, but I managed. I actually haven’t given these a test run yet – I’ll let you know how they travel!

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So yesterday, all inspired I went and haunted the fabric consignment shops in Marrickville. There’s a lot of truly horrible nasty stuff in those shops, but there’s also some bargains to be had. I got these fabulously raucous printed lycra’s for $12/m.

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I adore that spacy rainbow one on the right. I think that just gets made into a plain pair of leggings with no extra embellishments, and just let the print speak for itself!! These are all nylon/lycra blends (I quizzed the shop guy fairly heavily on fabric content). From what I understand, nylon lycra takes colour a lot better than polyester. Polyester is apparently better for workout wear though, due to it’s hydrophobic qualities (meaning it takes up no water at all, as opposed to nylon which is hydrophilic and will take up a small amount of moisture – hence why it takes colour better!). Then there’s wicking, which is a combination of fibre type, fibre shape and the actual construction of the knit. It’s all terribly complicated. Have a look at this article.

Have you tried making any activewear? What patterns and fabrics have you used?

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Today’s loaf is brought to you by … hmm, that should be despite. Today’s loaf is brought to you despite the challenges  of buying a new phone half way through the breadmaking process and finding it trickier than expected to get pics out of an old phone that no longer has a connection and a new one that didn’t have email set up. Well, it does now, and here we are…

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A few weeks ago I spend a wonderful afternoon making bread on an apple farm south of Sydney. Spending five hours or so making bread is always always going to be fun for me, but this was extra special. I was attending a breadmaking class run by the lovely Tara Mills of Mill Lane Workshops.  The workshops are held at Glenbernie Orchard, a farm run by the Fahey family, with a lovely rustic shop selling apples from the farm, potatoes, eggs, honey and more.  You can read more about how Tara found the right place to realise her workshops dream here.

The classes are held in a tin shed just a very short stroll from the farm shop – very handy for wandering across and picking up some fresh produce during a break in the breadmaking! There are hay bales with padded hessian seat-tops around a wooden table in one corner; apple crates along the walls; long wooden tables for work benches; boxes of preserving jars for sale; and flowers and herbs from Tara’s garden tucked here and there.

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We were welcomed with a cup of tea and a slice of cider fruit cake – a recipe I tried to wangle from Tara as it was superb, just the sort of old-fashioned, hearty fruit cake, not dry, not too moist but just right that I love. It’s an old family recipe apparently, and I hope that if Tara ever writes a book, she’ll share it there!

 Tara – a self-taught cook who previously ran a micro-bakery for a year – teaches breadkmaking and pastry classes, as well as a one-day workshop on creating an edible garden. She’s planning to add others later in the year. She’s an excellent teacher, reassuring to the beginners in the class, full of good advice, funny and knowledgeable.

I was there for the a class in making French breads. Essentially, a dough made using a poolish (a pre-ferment, where some flour, fresh yeast and water is mixed up and allowed to ferment for 12-18 hours; the rest of the flour, water, yeast and salt is then added, before kneading, rising, shaping and proving). We turned two batches of dough into fougasse (that’s Tara showing us how to do it, below), epi and an eight-roll loaf. There was kneading instruction, tips from Tara on fitting breadmaking into your day by using the fridge and freezer, shaping, baking, chatting and eating (more tea, more cake).

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The day ended, while the last of our loaves baked, with a cheese platter, bread Tara had baked earlier in the day and glasses of bubbly or cider (made using apples from the farm). And we were sent on our way with a bag with class notes, flour (in a lovely little branded calico sack – you can see that above, ready to be put to use in my own kitchen), some fresh yeast, a dough scraper and all the bread we’d made during the day. Those are my loaves below.

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So today I used Tara’s recipe to make a plaited tin loaf – started the preferment last night, made up the dough this morning, let it rise while I went shopping for the new phone (which took a lot longer than expected – a good thing it was a coolish day and the dough didn’t hurry along too much!) and shaped it when I got back.

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Above you can see the preferment at the top, and then the dough mixed up the next day, before kneading.

Tara taught a method of kneading I haven’t used before, a kind of grabbing and slapping down on the bench. It’s very satisfying, and effective, although I’d best not test the neighbours by using it if I’m making bread late at night or early in the morning! This is the dough, below, after several minutes of slapping, and then several more minutes of stretch-and-fold kneading.

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After the longer-than-planned rise, it was actually at just the right stage for shaping – divided into three, rolled into three long pieces and plaited, then tucked into a tin.

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And there we have it – a loaf created either side of a shopping expedition and posted here despite camera tech challenges! I thoroughly recommend Tara’s bread class if you’d like to learn how to make bread, or if you love breadmaking and would like to pick up some new tips and tricks. If you’d like to see more of Tara’s baking, you can also find her on instagram as @mysouthcoastkitchengarden

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