Bunny pyjamas – Simplicity 9329

I always thought life was too short to make a quilt or sew pyjamas, and here I am, guilty of doing both. This grey bunny print flannelette just called to me. You know how it is.

front

I sewed these up at the Fabric Hoarders retreat a few weeks ago, and took them to Japan. These photos are on the phone, in a hotel room. Lucky pyjamas getting to go overseas!

back

The pattern is Simplicity 9329. I only had the XS-M version, so sized up. Flannelette is pretty narrow and pyjamas use a lot – these used five metres.

9329

(For my own records: I sized the trousers up to the shape I guessed a L would be. Added 5cm depth to the rise, lengthened the legs by 3cm. For the top, cut the M pattern piece with an extra 1cm at the waist and 2cm at the hips, and lengthened the sleeves 4cm)

I pattern matched the front, using Maryanne’s technique. Pretty proud of how it looks:

pattern matching

They have a drawstring waist and some flat piping around the pocket, which didn’t quite work out but I’m too lazy to unpick it.

I’ve totally changed my mind about handmade pyjamas. They’re such a luxury item,  because they’re so personal. Making pyjamas for yourself is like being your own friend. Mine have french seams along the sides and flat-felled seams around the sleeves, and I did those things just for me.

Shopping in Japan

I’m still in a whirl of excitement about my trip to Japan earlier this month. So, so good. I knew it was going to be good, but it was even better. I only had 10 days, and half of that was work-related, but we managed to squeeze quite a lot into the remainder.

Including fabric, of course.

I’d read the Cashmerette guide, but didn’t manage to cover nearly as much ground as she did (see work-related factors, above). In Tokyo I did get to the Shinjuku Takashimaya department store, and can confirm that if you’re looking for Hello Kitty Liberty prints, that’s your place.

The other fabric shopping I did in Tokyo was (of course) Nippori Fabric Town. It’s only a 15 minute train ride north of the city, on the very convenient Yamanote Line. Take the north exit from the train station, and there are the signs.

nippori fabric town sign

This is the street you’re looking for.

nippori street

Think it looks unremarkable? Wrong, it’s fabric mecca. Keep walking past the little statue….

nippori statue

Closer…

nippori street 2

There you are.

tomato outside.JPG

Tomato is five shops, the largest (on the left of the street) with five storeys. I was there on a Saturday, and the bottom floor was basically a mosh pit of people trying to get to the 100-yen shelves.

tomato Y100.JPG

tomato rush hour.JPG

Afterwards I found out that there’s another 100-yen shelf in the smaller Tomato next door, which was much less crowded. Each of the five floors has a particular theme, and you pay separately on each floor. These were the coated fabrics for wet weather gear. I didn’t buy any, but just look at them.

tomato raincoat fabric.JPG

And of course the weird and wonderful. For instance, banana print sweatshirting.

tomato banana fabric

To avoid total anarchy, in the mosh pit there are separate queues to have the fabrics cut, and to pay for them.

I looked around lots of other shops on the street, but only bought from two others. At this one (which I think is called Pakira, it’s one of the closer shops to the station) I bought two gorgeous textured cottons, to make little dresses for the nieces. There’s lots of Liberty here as well, including pre-cuts.

shop 1.JPG

And at this one, Mihama, the Fashion Critic bought some awesome printed cotton for a shirt. The man at this shop was a delight. The fabric here is pre-cut and already bagged, which is a bit of an unusual way to buy it (no fondling). But the range is wonderful.

shop 2.JPG

We also visited Kyoto. (Side note: Kyoto is amazing). The only fabric shopping I did there was at Nomura Tailor. I love the way they have their fabric set out, with neatly displayed samples along the walls. When you find what you want, a helpful young guy pulls out the bolts for you and takes them to the counter to be cut. No lugging bolts of fabric round the shop, and no fear of missing out, since everything they have is on display.

nomura tailor

nomura tailor 2

I would highly recommend arriving in Kyoto late in the day, because the main shopping streets around the Kawaramachi area are illuminated and it looks gorgeous. In one of the arcades there’s a little shop that sells Japanese-made knives and scissors, and I bought some very special thread snips.

thread snips

thread snips 2

They were packaged beautifully, like everything in Japan.

sushi

This is my haul.
From Tokyo:

tomato purchases

From Kyoto:

nomura tailor purchases

And these are my plans:

  • Mustard cotton blazer with grey trim
  • Grey checked jacket with three-quarter sleeves
  • Raspberry linen blouse
  • Blue linen scarf
  • Two shirts for the Fashion Critic
  • Grey work blouses for my sisters
  • Trousers and t-shirts for the nieces

In non-sewing-related news, we were smack in the middle of cherry blossom season. They really are beautiful.

cherry blossoms at night

garden

cherry blossom temple

cherry blossom canal

And the locals truly lose the plot over them. This was a park with picnickers on every free inch of ground.

cherry blossom picnics

I’m really glad we were there in April.

We also visited the snow monkeys near Nagano. It was great to get away from the city.

monkey

There wasn’t any snow left, but one little guy had a dip.

monkey swimming

And the hot springs were capital-A Amazing.

Oh Japan. I love you. I don’t know what took me so long.

Gemma vs the Goldstream peacoat

I’ve borrowed the format of the title from Amanda because – hoo boy – this one was a doozy.

front 1

Once again, it’s a coat in the middle of summer. The Fashion Critic and I spent this afternoon sitting outside a bar on the waterfront, enjoying the sun and drinking cider. Then we took photos of him in a winter coat, poor guy. Between this and the constant threat of standing on a pin, I’m not sure why he sticks around.

sleeve buttons

I can’t decide which part of the coat to tell you about first. There were so many new things to learn, and so many improvised steps that worked out OK in the end, and so many things that went wrong that you never have to know about!

The pattern is the Thread Theory Goldstream peacoat. I muslined it first, but then was too nervous to make any changes, so it’s a straight size L.  The shell is a grey wool blend from the Fabric Warehouse. The whole thing’s interlined with some flannelette from the stash to make it extra snuggly. Want to see the flannelette?

flannel

It’s almost a secret but I put a little patch inside the inner breast pocket, as a reminder.

pocket flannel

Interlining was a new technique to me. I didn’t decide to do it until I’d already cut out the pieces for the shell. So I laid out my flannel and put each piece of shell on top, wrong side to the flannel. Then I basted the shell to the flannel before cutting round each piece. This is pretty time consuming, so you’ll want to drop a few hints to the future owner of the coat, about restaurants you might be wanting to go to, or maybe some part of the house that needs a clean. In fact you’ve probably got enough time to drop hints about both.

Then I was impressed by the non-wrinkliness of this guy’s version, and decided to use horsehair canvas on the front pieces (is there anything that Made on Marion doesn’t have tucked away? I have yet to find out. They certainly had horsehair canvas. I was hitherto unaware of the existence of such a thing).

hair canvas

I pretty much used the Thread Theory tutorial to attach it, first basting it and catch-stitching it along the top edge, then taping the roll line (did I really write that sentence? This coat makes me feel like I’ve been moved up a grade at school).

Construction was pretty straightforward. I used Gertie’s easy way of setting in tailored sleeves.

It’s lined with some snazzy striped silk. Ooh yeah this stuff feels good.

lining

Last stop, buttons. I think these are part of the reason the coat looks a bit special. I did Spanish snap buttonholes (ideally followed by a glass of sangria, I guess, otherwise they may as well be regular snap buttonholes). I learnt the hard way that it’s really important to cut the oval backing bits on the bias, otherwise they don’t “snap” into place at all (they just pretend not to notice you, while you’re pulling at them madly trying to turn them to the inside). After a bit of swearing, and lots of unpicking and re-cutting, the ovals turned inside as directed, but tended to pop out again, so I used iron on hemming tape to get them to stay put.

shank button

The buttons came specially from As Cute As A Button, a specialty store in San Diego. Mighty expensive, but I think worth it. But I discovered the horrors of the shanked button! This double-breasted coat has two rows of buttons, one row that go through the buttonholes and one that’s just there for effect. The former need a shank, but the latter don’t, and just dangle looking silly and sad without a buttonhole to go through. Not to be defeated I enlisted the help of a jewellery-making friend, who sawed off the shank and made a new hole closer to the body of the button. Dangly buttons begone! (Heaven forbid any fall off, now that they are truly limited edition buttons).

This was my Big Project of 2015. I’m really glad I took it on. And the Fashion Critic will be nice and warm all winter, even when I’m not around to snuggle him.

 

 

 

Bag lady

One of my bucket-list items was selling something handmade at a Christmas market. Check! Now I’ve done it.

pack

I made these little fruit-and-veggie bags out of some mesh curtains from Spotlight, and some cotton cord. There were three sizes, and each pack had one biggie, two middle-sized ones, and one littlie.

big

big

middle

middle

small

little

I’m pleased to report that all 20 sets sold out by midday. It’s kind of boring sewing, but all the same I love that they’re out in the world preventing plastic bag usage. I haven’t spotted any at the farmers’ markets yet, but I’m keeping a look out…

set

We’re lucky in Wellington to have several weekend farmers’ markets, with great seasonal produce at a bargain price. Lately I’ve been eating so much corn that I’m expecting to turn into a giant corn cob at any moment. Or possibly a giant cherry, it could go either way.

Anyway my next bucket list item is staying in an over-water bungalow on a tropical island. Bring it on!

Here comes another one – New Look 6968

new look 6968 3

And this one wasn’t made in a day. It’s version A this time, but without sleeves.

6968

The fabric is a cotton sateen from the Fabric Warehouse, which I bought when Penny (from Dressesandme) was in town.  Actually I think she’s now better known as Penny (formerly from Dressesandme) – I’m not sure where else she’s found these days. Anyway for me this fabric has a memory attached to it, which is the best kind of fabric really.

pattern

I just love the neck detail, and obviously with this print I had to sew it VERY VERY carefully so the darts were symmetrical.

pleats

I wasn’t sure if it’d end up looking like a Magic Eye print, causing passers-by to gaze at me crosseyed and shout “I’ve got it!”. But no-one has (yet), so I think it’s OK. Did Magic Eye even make it out of 1993? Let’s move on, quickly.

You may have noticed the zip at the top there – I attached some ribbon to either side of it, and it’s the loveliest way to make it a bit special. I machine-stitched it to the facing and lining on one side (right side of facing to wrong side of ribbon), and slip-stitched the other side to the zip by hand.

tape

There’s a blind hem, and a kick-pleat at the back (or a vent? I always wonder if kick-pleat is the right term. It isn’t a pleat).

new look 6968 2

And you’ll be seeing this one again, I’m afraid. In fact, I already have fabric purchased for iteration 3. I really need to branch out and make some new patterns.

new look 6968 6

A slightly out of season jacket – Simplicity 2209

Only slightly out of season… today is summer but it’s officially “gloomy” according to the Met Service. Gloomy is not something Wellington does very often, so I had to look it up in the dictionary. One of the definitions was “a good day for blogging”*, so I got right into it.

Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 9.50.13 pm

Here’s a jacket I made a little while ago, with fabric from last year’s Fabric-a-brac.

simplicity 2209 a

The pattern is Simplicity 2209.

Simplicity 2209

It’s a sweet little jacket, with three quarter sleeves and a single button closure. The collar can be ruffled or flat.

I had a few fitting dramas with this one, but I think I got close enough in the end. I also made a few alterations as you can see – full length sleeves, added lining, and made regular buttonholes. All of these were done because my fabric was winter-weight and I wanted the jacket to be a bit more weather-proof.

simplicity 2209 d

Next time I’ll make the original version, maybe in a heavy cotton if I can find a good one. I do like the single-button closure and shorter sleeves; it would be great for the warmer parts of the year.**

simplicity 2209 e

*Results not guaranteed in all dictionaries.
** By which I mean January to March.

Vintage sheet quilt

“Oh Pinterest,” I cried at 11pm the week before Christmas, “Pinterest, you are a tease and a heartbreaker. Year after year I am lured in by a pixellated promise of a stylish frock, a delicious meal or a piece of homeware that will take no more than a single hour to construct! Yet every year I am left toiling into the wee hours. How short our memories and fickle our desires.”

I give you, a quilt.

sheet quilt 1

The inspiration for this was this gorgeous thing, as seen on Pinterest. All year I’ve been collecting old cotton sheets from op-shops (and honestly, I don’t think I’ll be able to stop, I love them so).

sheet quilt 3

The batting is an old woollen blanket, also from an op shop. And the backing is a stripy sheet which must be like one my grandmother had, because it sure seems familiar.

sheet quilt 5

sheet quilt 6

The only new materials are the mouse-coloured squares used for contrast, and the thread used to quilt it. (Maryanne told me it was important to use cotton thread, so I did).

I pieced the binding from leftover bits of sheets, and used this method to machine bind it (because it’s a lot quicker than nearly nine metres of hand stitching, it looks perfectly good, and honestly, it was nearly midnight). If you are using this method, I do think it’s worth using an edge-stitch foot to get the line of stitching perfectly even.

sheet quilt 7

 

sheet quilt 2