Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Fancy pattern testing a plus size sewing pattern or two?

Update: I've had a really great response to this request, thanks so much to everyone who took the time to fill in the form. I've closed the form for now.

Forward: If you fancy the TL:DR version, I'll just start off with this: I am launching a line of plus-sized PDF sewing patterns, and would love to find some testers. I'll also be contacting some potential candidates, but I want this to be an open process, as there's lots of sewists out there who don't blog, and therefore aren't easy to find. If you would like the opportunity to test a pattern or two, either now or in the future, and you (or someone you sew for) fit somewhere between the measurements posted at the bottom of this post, please fill in this Google form, so that I can get in touch. Thank you, you're the best, and I love you.

Totally related/unrelated photo. It's sewing, and I drafted it, so that counts, right?

The full version:

Hey. So here's the thing. I'm a shit blogger, I know. Let's all just accept this and expect occasional blog posts with little to no regularity. I've come to peace with this.

What have I been doing with myself since I arrived in Australia back at Christmas? Well. Any number of things really. Chilling, catching up with people I haven't seen in the years I was living in London, helping Jay look for jobs and making multiple trips to Perth for job interviews, relocating to Perth once Jay got a job (hooray!), into a house a mere 10 minute walk from Jay's new job (double hooray!). Then there was a settling in period, where I spent days surrounded by boxes. There was a longer period where I had no furniture for my sewing room. I built a cutting table and painted furniture. We also got a kitten.

Even with all that, there's still been 7 months since I arrived in Australia, and I have had a lot of spare time. In some of that spare time, I made a minor attempt to find part time work, but was put off when an interview for a job that was almost identical to a previous role I held (same job title, same company) didn't lead to anything as my more recent experience let me away from the analytical side of market research. I'm also keen to try something that's not market research for a while- I fell into market research after I finished my degrees and desperately needed A Job, and while I'm grateful for the opportunities it's afforded me over the last 8 years, it's hardly my life's calling. 

The other reason I've not been heavily looking for work? I've long been planning to launch a line of plus sized sewing patterns. By "long been planning", I mean I conceived of the idea in at least early 2013, if not earlier. Since then, I've learnt to pattern cut (both independently and through classes), spent time studying various construction techniques to boost my knowledge, and learnt to use Adobe Illustrator (oh boy). 

In the time I've been planning this, any number of independent pattern companies have popped up. That's awesome, in so many ways- it increases our access to a variety of patterns, it employs more people in creative positions that didn't exist even 5 years ago, it strengthens the online sewing community.  There's a pattern company out there for everything from lingerie, to activewear, to vintage inspired patterns, to fashion forward patterns, to name a few. 

One thing a lot of indie pattern companies have in common though, is that they often don't cater to plus sizes, for a variety of reasons, particularly costs of production involved in producing a wide range of sizes. I don't hold with the idea that designers just don't care about plus sized sewists, that they put it in the "too hard" basket, or they don't want to see their designs on bigger bodies. It's just not true in most cases. Regardless, there's still a sizeable gap in the plus sized indie pattern market. When I conceived of my pattern line, I could count on one hand the number of indie companies producing patterns I could wear. The situation has improved slightly since then, but there's certainly room for more, with varied design aesthetics.

Which brings me to this: I've wasted a lot of time over the past few months. I could (and should) have had this up and running already. A lot of indie pattern companies are kept completely under wraps until they launch, however I think that keeping everything under my hat (online- everyone who's spoken to me in person in the last year knows all about this!) has just made me lazy, while I still have some savings. So I've decided to go public, and I have 2 patterns very close to complete, and need a range of pattern testers to make sure I haven't missed anything along the way, and to provide thoughtful feedback. The patterns are PDF, drafted and tested by me, and edited and graded by an industry professional with not just extensive pattern and grading experience, but plus-sized pattern cutting experience as well. My patterns will range in difficulty, so please don't feel that you're too inexperienced. You don't need to have a blog or internet presence, although the ability to take a few photos so I can check the fit of your garments would be awesome. In return, you'll receive a free pattern, and a first look at what I hope will be an exciting new addition to the pattern market.

Do you fit somewhere on this size chart? Want to sign up? Please fill in this Google Form. I am looking for a tester or two for each of the sizes on my size chart, and even if spots fill up for the first patterns, there'll be more coming soon behind, so please do sign up as soon as you can.

If you don't fit the size chart above, don't sew, or just don't have the time or inclination to pattern test right now, that's cool. Please do share this post with anyone you know who might be interested, and stay tuned for more info soon. Like the name (no, it won't be marketed under "Apples and Green", it will have a shiny new name). 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Avocado Hoodie with cuddle pockets

Avocado hoodie from Seamster Sewing Patterns, plus the face my mum likes to refer to as my fake smile. Faces are hard.
I just discovered I had posts in draft that were never published. That was unintentional. Let's play catch-up!

I wore compression tights for this photo session to make me seem more sporty. Did it work?
Excuse the bra hardware apparently trying to get in on the action. I swear, that's just how I'm standing, it fits!
I finished this hoodie back in April, and I looooove it. Seriously. The pattern is the Avocado hoodie from Seamster Sewing Patterns (previously Disparate Disciplines), made up in the plus-size pattern, 4XL. I used version B with the non-overlapping hood, and included the back pockets (which Jay likes to refer to as cuddling pockets). I made it up in a charcoal ponte de roma knit from fabric.comhttps://www.fabric.com, and a watermelon premium double knit from Spotlight. I live in Australia, and despite the fact that right now it's freezing cold, I don't really need a hoody made up in a heavy fleece, so this was a perfect weight for most of the year. 

The grey was perfect for this pattern, and really nice to work with too, with a lovely soft hand. The watermelon, not so much. It doesn't have as much stretch as the grey, which means it doesn't work as well for the cuffs and hem band as I'd like, and doesn't work perfectly with the grey, either. Next time, I'll be using knits in a similar weight to the charcoal.

I don't even know.
If I make up the version with back pockets again (probably won't), I'll add snaps to the tabs. The back pockets gape a little when I move, although they sit perfectly if I stand up straight.
Thumb holes! Woo!
Some features of this hoodie that you probably won't see on many other patterns - flattering princess seams which lend themselves brilliantly to colour blocking. Mmmm... colour blocking. My favourite. Why use one fabric when you can use two (or ten)? Two different hood options, along with those clever back pockets, designed so your partner can slip their hand in to keep warm while walking arm in arm. Don't forget the extended cuffs and thumb notches, for those amongst us with a habit of pulling our jumpers down over our hands (my dad would have LOVED this feature in my jumpers as a kid, I was forever being told off for stretching out the arms of my jumpers).

Because of the lack of stretch in the cuffs, I've found the cuffs get grubby very easily, as it's difficult to get them to scrunch up my wrists far enough when I wash or do anything that involves my hands. I'd like to make this up again with either shorter cuffs (omitting the thumb holes), or knit ribbing with a better stretch.

Changes I made: not many. The obvious one is cutting the front panel with a seam allowance and adding an open-end zipper. I kind of hate hoodies that pullover hoodies, I like being able to keep the top of the zip open, otherwise the high necks tend to make me feel a little choked. Adding the zipper led me to a bit of a conundrum around how to finish the neckline, adding the facing while keeping everything neat. I think I did... ok. I stitched the facing on (and didn't quite cover up the basting in a couple of places, as you can see in the photo 2 above... I should unpick that basting), then finished it by hand stitching it down to the zipper tape, with the end of the zipper folded over within the facing (as it was a little long, but I was nervous of just cutting it off without something to stop the zipper from sliding off the end).

In retrospect, I could do with grading out a size at the arm hole & sleeve, as there's a little bunching around the sleeve cap. A little more seam trimming and grading could also help with that. I could also go out a little at the hips, but a stretchier fabric would also help with that. Having just googled the pattern to see other sewists' versions, I see I made mine up a little more fitted than many others, but I like that. I can't be dealing with baggy jumpers.

I worked really hard to get the seams matching as well as I could. I was working with a very old Bernina with no speed control, so it took a few goes in some cases- particularly matching the seams across the zipper. I stitched the whole thing up using on a regular sewing machine, using a walking foot (even the zip, I think? I can't remember, but I know the zip was giving me the shits, so I think I may have switched back to the walking foot to try to get the layers to feed through evenly). The benefit of this fabric is it doesn't fray. At all. So we all know what that means: I didn't bother finishing the raw edges. Call it lazy if you like, I call it efficient. The hood was topstitched using a twin needle.

Verdict? This pattern is a winner. It works well made up in a variety of fabrics (check out Winnie's numerous Avocados in a variety of fabrics, and Oanh's in French terry). Putting the pattern pieces together is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle, but once I worked out where everything went, it went together pretty well, helped along by Mari's instructions. It's probably not a pattern for absolute beginners, but if you're confident with seam matching, you'll be absolutely fine. I would like 3 more in different colours, please.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Great Travel Embroidery (2014 edition)

I had this idea- I wanted a visual representation of all the places we've visited over the years. Jay and I have done quite a lot of travelling, both together and individually, and I wanted something to hang on the wall which would reflect that. However I didn't want it to be photographic, for various reasons, so had to come up with another solution.
At the same time, I needed a project to take to Mum's Monday evening sewing group. While it's primarily a quilting group, I don't have any quilting projects on the go right now (I'm more about apparel sewing, and I have a bunch of blue batik quilting fabric in our boxes being shipped from the UK which I have plans for, so didn't want to buy any more). I decided an embroidery project, which I only worked on at sewing group, which could live in a bag and I could just pick up and go each week, would be the perfect solution. The two ideas merged, and voila- an embroidered art piece representing every city or area we've lived or visited.

I embroidered this freehand, without marking the words or placement onto the fabric first. I did draw up a sketch in my sketchbook to give me a starting point, but as I went along, some cities were moved around, made smaller or larger, used different fonts - whatever looked best as I went along. It's not perfectly straight or even everywhere, but it's pretty close- enough that I'm happy with it, at least!

There's 23 place names. Anything in bold/block letters with texturing on each letter is somewhere we've lived, those which are just normal line letters are places we've visited, at least overnight. I had to draw the line somewhere! It also only includes places we've visited together - in the future, I'll eventually do 2 more pieces, one for each of us, representing the places we've lived & visited individually. If I'd tried to put them all on the one piece, I'd have been going forever.
Initially, I planned for this to be a sampler, with each place name written using a different stitch. However I found that a little cumbersome and disjointed. In the end, most of the stitching is done in backstitch, with a few French knots thrown in for good measure.

It's stitched on a white cotton fat quarter, and framed in the hoop, which is a 12"/30.5cm wooden hoop (this is a BIG piece). I used 3 strands of black 100% rayon machine embroidery thread- my reasoning was, it was a big spool and would be more cost effective than DMC thread (I've got a pile of embroidery thread coming from the UK, don't want to go buying more). Also, Textile Traders didn't have any hand embroidery thread, and I couldn't be bothered driving across town to Spotlight. Ha. Problem with the thread was, it's super shiny and doesn't always sit nicely- some of my French knots are pretty wonky, and the back is a total mess, as it tangles easily. 
I wasn't too concerned about the back, as I planned to cover it up. I've covered it with a circle of black felt, embroidered with "J + A -- lived & travelled 05/08-03/14" and my "signature". I've included the dates to give the piece some finality- it helps me to feel like I don't need to go back and add another word every time we visit a new place into the future. Perhaps those places will make their way onto a piece of their own, someday.

The back piece is slip stitched to the front piece, which will make it difficult to remove, should I ever need to, but I'm okay with that- I have no intentions of removing it. I hadn't been too concerned about the back, as it would be covered - but looking at these pictures, I can see the white fabric gathered at the back peeking through (it's the slightly "whiter" ring around the outside of the hoop you can see in the top pics). In retrospect, I should have doubled up the fabric when framing it- adding a layer of calico behind the quilting cotton to minimise the see-throughness (totally a word) of the quilting cotton.

I'm so pleased with the results of this! I can't wait until we finally have our own place again, so that I can hang it on the wall properly. How do you keep track of all the places you've visited?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Somewhere in a forest, not so far away

My mum is doing a quilting workshop next weekend, where they take pictures of forests and convert them into a quilt blueprint - a mixture of piecing, appliqué and embroidery, as far as I can work out, primarily looking at light and colour.
After looking through her own collection of photographs, as well as through the books she owns, she didn't find a picture that took her fancy. I was headed for Perth the next day, and promised to try taking some pictures in the forests of the Perth hills, if I had time.
I'm very lucky that my uncle's house, where we currently stay on trips to Perth, is right on the edge of a national park, with native Australian forest literally right outside the back door. I took a little wander through the trees close to sunset one evening, and these are my favourite shots.
I tried to make the most of the light filtering through the trees. The trees show evidence of fire damage, although I suspect it's quite old, as there's a huge amount of recovery which has happened since the last time fire swept through the area. I was also amused not to see any kangaroos - I know there's tens of them in the bush around the house, as they come out at dusk. They're very good at hiding from me though, they just waited until a little later before they decided to come out for their evening feed.
Mum's not going to use any of my pictures for the workshop, she took some of her own the same weekend, but I'd love to see any of them made up into a wall hanging sized quilt. I think I have enough on my plate right now to not tackle it myself for the time being, though!

Plus! Check out my blue hair! That's what I went with once the pink had faded to ginger. Unfortunately, this colour washes out really fast, and is too high maintenance for me. I loved it at blue, and the slightly lighter grey it went as it washed out, but it was blonde after just a few washes. It's such a shame, as I loved it, but I've now gone back to my normal brunette self (or something close to it).

What natural wonders would you like to see made into a quilt?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Ultra short pyjama shorts

This project is kinda old now. Bad blogger. I knocked it up when I first got back from the UK - early January, I think. I wanted more pyjama shorts to wear through the Australian summer (granted, Albany rarely has crazy hot nights, but it's still warm enough to not warrant full on fleece PJ bottoms).

Totes flattering picture of my butt. 
This was self-drafted, but I used a pair of RTW PJ shorts as a guide. Trouser/shorts drafting is my Achilles heel right now. Even with the guide, there's still a few things about this that need fixing for future pairs - I'll lengthen the front rise a little, it's pulling down from the side seams towards the crotch, and I'll add a little length and flare to the back, as they're a little short in the back. Maybe also a little extra length on the inseam.

If you look closely at the picture above, you might just be able to tell that somehow, despite being ultra careful, I managed to cut one of the back pieces off grain. BOOOO. Luckily they're only PJ shorts that no one other than my immediate family and all of the internet are going to be able to see. 

The legs are finished with bias binding, turned to the outside rather than the inside. This means that if you were to inspect the side and inseam seams closely, you'd see the seam allowance just peaking through where the bias binding stops on the bottom of the hem. I don't care. Again: just PJ shorts, plus I wanted the bias on the outside as a design feature.

It wasn't all fun and games in the sewing department, either. The first time I attached the binding, I a) attempted to apply it like double fold binding, and b) forgot to lengthen my stitch length. Not only did it look shit, I also didn't do a very good job of stitching straight. The machine I'm using at the moment has a shot foot, and there's no speed control. Hopefully my Janome will arrive from the UK soon!

That's about it on this one! Hardly the most technical or creative of projects I've ever done, but certainly practical. No, I don't normally wear leggings under PJs, but my legs were ultra pale at the time (who am I kidding - still are), and I decided not to blind you. I'm so thoughtful like that. The fabric is a printed cotton poplin from the Lisette range at Spotlight (designed by Liesl Gibson from Oliver and S), and wrinkles pretty hard - I swear I ironed the shorts before these pics were taken.

Finally, a gratuitous puppy shot of the best dog in the world (who wanted to play during our photo shoot).

Friday, March 21, 2014

Care Bear Romper Part 2: The details

I promised more details from my pink Cheer Bear costume. I totally drafted this baby from scratch, which didn't come without it's challenges.

I'm annoyed I didn't think to get pictures as I went through the muslin stage of this- some of the initial results were pretty funny - plus the final muslin with the bodice and shorts together looked like a boiler suit. The first major issue I ran into was a massively too short bodice at centre front- I had to add 6cm to the CF and curve out to the side seams before it looked anything like hitting my natural waist. Damn boobs, eating up fabric like it's going out of fashion (never! Fabric will never go out of fashion!). First draft of the hood was also hilariously square at the back. One thing that did go right was the dart placement - perfect first time round, yeeha!!

Once I'd sorted those dilemmas, I had to work out how I was going to join the bodice and culottes/shorts. I knew I wanted an elasticated waist for ease of wearing (it's a Care Bear costume for goodness sake, not a high fashion silk playsuit), but didn't want to lose the structure in the front, or interfere with the belly badge by running elastic smack bang through the middle. In the end, I added a waistband, and elasticated just the back of the waistband with 3cm (I think!) ribbed elastic, secured with 3 rows of stitching. The elastic takes the place of the darts in both the back bodice and back culottes to provide a bit of shaping. In retrospect, I wish I'd made the whole waistband elasticated, as the ends of the elastic pull a little at the spot where the elastic joins the side seams, and I suspect will tear with wear. I could have then stitched the belly badge over the top of the elasticated waistband, somehow.

Details were stitched using a combination of hand embroidery and both hand and machine appliqué. I think I mentioned in my last post, but my machine didn't like appliquéing two layers of flannelette together. There's some waviness in the facial features where the two layers didn't feed evenly (especially around the muzzle). In future, I'll switch to a walking foot, and interface both layers (like I did for the heart on the bum). 

Another awkward point? Getting this thing on and off. I designed it with a zipper down the front, as I was adding a hood. This made it very difficult to get in and out of - I tore the centre back seam more times than I care to admit. Every time I tried to fix it, it tore again. Boooooooooooooooooo. Flimsy flannelette is apparently not designed for the stress of being pulled off my shoulders, who knew? In the end, I fixed it by adding a faux yoke, cut as one piece across the CB, interfaced all the way across. I finished the yoke with fake flat felled stitching, using a twin needle (my new favourite thing ever). In the future, if for some reason I needed to make a romper with a front opening again, I'd eliminate the CB bodice seam all together- I had it in this because I wanted it to flow through from the culottes CB seam, but in retrospect, I could have saved myself a lot of hassle by cutting on the fold. Alternatively, a lower back neckline and back opening would work even better.

Final detail - the belly badge (which definitely needs ironing in these pictures!). I probably went about this a little awkwardly- stitching each of the rainbow pieces to each other, clipping curves and pressing as I went. An appliquéd rainbow would have been easier. Also! You can't really tell anymore, but I ended up with 2 left sides of a rainbow, thanks to the lack of obvious right-side to the quilting cotton I used! Oh boy. Some creative trimming allowed me to fake it back together, as I really didn't want to  have to start again from scratch to fix the problem. The rainbow was then machine appliquéd to one layer of white flannelette, which was then stitched to a second layer and flipped right side out to give clean edges. I marked which parts I wanted open for pockets, then stitched between the top and bottom of the pockets with a twin needle, before stitching the rest of the outer edge of the flannelette to the belly of the romper itself. Only exception is where the rainbow butts up to the zipper- I hand stitched that down so that I didn't twin needle over the rainbow. 

The holes where the hood drawstring comes through are stitched like the outside part of teeny tiny bound button holes, then topstitched. I wish I'd made them a bit bigger, but love the overall look I got here (rather than using just regular buttonholes). Armholes and leg hems were finished with bias binding and twin needled from the inside- so the outside is actually sort of zig-zagged if you look carefully enough. Final finishing was by hand- stitching the hood lining to the neckline seam, and the waistband facing down. 

All up, this probably took me 3 or 4 days of solid work, but that includes the drafting and muslin stages, which took up a lot of time. Plus the details took quite a bit of work, as did trying to fix that damn CB problem. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sculptures by the Sea 2014: Cottesloe

"Once Removed" by Robert Barnstone
It's Sculptures by the Sea time again in Perth. Every year, a host of sculptures are set-up along Cottesloe  beach and the terraces - now in it's 10th year in Cottesloe. Some travel as part of the exhibition (which also visits Bondi in Sydney, and Aarhus in Denmark [country, not south-west Australian town]), while others are specific to the Cottesloe exhibit. 

"Overconsumption" by Kerrie Argent
"Overconsumption" by Kerrie Argent
We were lucky enough to be in Perth for the first weekend of the exhibition a couple of weeks ago, and even managed to snag a (relatively) cool day to visit - the day before had been a gross 39C, so we were pleased to be able to enjoy the sculptures without  passing out with heat stroke.

"Permanent Sunset" by Alejandro Propato
The exhibition is really well curated, with a huge range of sculptures- something to please even the fussiest of visitors (you know the ones- the ones who say "I could do that…" to most modern art). "Permanent Sunset" by Alejandro Propato seemed to be a crowd pleaser - although the best view was from the terrace or carpark, rather than beach level. I didn't realise it was depicting a sunset until I saw it from above (or maybe I'm just super slow to grasp these things!).

"Gift of the rhinoceros" by Mikaela Castledine
"Gift of the rhinoceros" by Mikaela Castledine 
As perhaps is to be expected from an exhibit on the beach, environmentally friendly sculptures were a feature. "Overconsumption", the colourful fish shaped sculptures above were made of empty milk bottles and covered with coloured bottle tops, while the rhino (my favourite!!) was crocheted (WOW!) out of black plastic bags. That baby was life sized, and so cool!

"Rescheduling permanence" by Helen Seiver
More crocheted plastic bags! This time coloured ones in "Rescheduling permanence" by Helen Seiver, crocheted into the shape of coral- but attached to a house shaped form, as the artist was focused on domestic waste, rather than commercial.

"Bulk Carrier" by Norton Flavel
Who could walk past a giant goon bag (wine cask bladder, to those more sophisticated, non-Australian types out there)? Officially called "Bulk Carrier", by Norton Flavel, it felt like a giant bouncy castle, but you'd definitely fall off if you tried to jump on it, I think. 

"Bulk Carrier" by ____
Here's me, for scale! It's seriously huge.

"Fetch" by The Winged Collective
I also loved "Fetch", by The Winged Collective. A series of dogs playing on the beach, cut from mirrored alucobond, it's a highly reflective piece - initially it tricks the eye a little, as you try to work out whether it's transparent or actually reflective.

"Fetch" by The Winged Collective
"Wave 1" by Annette Thas
What exhibit is complete without a surreal and somewhat creepy piece? In this case, a wave made entirely of Barbie dolls (as one junior beach goer exclaimed, "Oh my god! They're all naked!"). Speaking to a world of conformity and body pressures, the piece seemed to fascinate a whole range of people. You had to get right up to it before you could tell it was made of Barbies- standing back, I thought it was seaweed or something similar. 

Unfortunately, my camera battery died before I got any snaps of the sculptures away from the beach, so this is just a taster of the beach-side pieces. If you're in Perth, you have until the end of this weekend to check out this year's Scultpures by the Sea while you still can!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Care Bear Romper: Cheer Bear costume

Cheer Bear playsuit: because what's not to love about a nearly 30 year old dressed as an 80s cartoon character?
Meet Cheer Bear! She is an original Care Bear, has a rainbow on her belly, a heart on her bum, and just loves to make people happy. She also happens to be my completely self-drafted costume for a "Kids" themed 30th birthday party I went to a couple of weeks ago (complete with bouncy castle and fairy bread*)!

All clothing must have pockets, this is non-negotiable.
This costume has so many great features. It's a romper/playsuit, which helps to preserve modesty when jumping on bouncy castles (a dress version this short would have the potential to be a little more scandalous). It's got a hood, complete with bear ears and face, and the belly badge doubles as patch pockets either side of the zipper. The back waistband is elasticated, and the arm holes and hems were finished in pink bias tape. Yes, I did dye my hair pink for the costume, although it's faded quite a bit in the last couple of weeks, so it looks a little more ginger than pink these days (although not nearly as ginger as it went the first time I dyed it pink, a week before the party. It took 2 attempts at lightening it to get a decent pink happening).

Ain't no care bear romper like a care bear romper with a FACE.
The whole thing is made of 100% cotton flannelette. I had a serious crisis on my hands when I came to deciding on fabric- this was going to be worn in Perth, in February, where it could easily be in the high 20s or even low 30s well into the evening (celsius, obviously!).  That ruled out anything fleecy or synthetic, unless I wanted to be a boiling, sweaty mess who no one wanted to talk to. But I still wanted it to be soft and bear like. Truth be told, I wanted to make it out of stretch terry towelling, but for some reason, Spotlight's not big on terry towelling these days. Apparently that's not so fashionable anymore, I can't imagine why! I'm sure given enough time, I could have rustled up some baby pink terry towelling online, but I didn't really have enough time for that, so settled on flannelette instead, in the hope that being cotton it wouldn't be too awful if the party ended up in the middle of a heatwave. As it turned out, the evening was actually relatively cool, and this costume was perfect!

Care Bear bums: best with a bit of heart
I wanted to get as many Care Bear details in as I could. The face is a combination of hand embroidery and both hand and machine appliqué, and the belly badge rainbow was machine appliquéd from quilting cotton. I realised way too late in the game just how unstable the flannelette was - there's a bit of rippling around the face where I machine appliquéd it on. If I appliqué on flannelette again, I'll a) switch to my walking foot, and b) stabilise the area with interfacing first. I did both for the heart on the bum, and it turned out a lot better. 

My inspiration for this costume was multi-faceted. I'd planned to make a Care Bear costume for an 80s party last year, using a hoody and track pants, but it never happened. Then earlier this year, I came across a terry towelling playsuit in a book on vintage fashion, and decided it would be awesome to have one for the beach (I'm not crazy enough to want to wear terry towelling as an everyday casual outfit, although if that's your thing, PLEASE send me a photo because you are awesome!). Finally, there was the playsuit I came across in a vintage Handmade magazine. When the party invitation came through, I knew instantly that this was my opportunity to fulfil my Care Bear costume dreams while also trying out a playsuit. The fashion police would tell you fat girls shouldn't wear playsuits, to which I say the fashion police can fuck right of (mind my language). 

Left: From "100 Years of Fashion: 20th Century in Pictures". Right: From Handmade magazine, Spring 1991.
After starting on my playsuit, I discovered I wasn't the first person to think of a Care Bear romper - check out the awesome rompers from this Etsy store! Who knew there was a market for Care Bear rompers (and that I wasn't the first to think of it!)?!

As I mentioned above, this baby is 100% self-drafted. I started off with my personal easy-fitting bodice and straight skirt blocks, and eventually ended up with this (technically, the shorts half were a culottes pattern). Rather than boring anyone not interested in the technical challenges I went through to pull this together, I've got another post coming up with some of the ins and outs of drafting this costume (including the multiple muslins I went through). 

Here's some of the things I love (beyond the obvious- hello, it's a Care Bear costume!): the shape of the hood, the fit around the bodice, the armscye darts (if you look really closely, you might just be able to make them out), the rainbow ribbon zipper pull, pockets!

Should I make this again, here's a few things I change: that CF zipper has to go. It's nearly impossible to get this baby on and off (especially off), without doing structural damage to the CB, or dislocating my shoulders. I'll be moving the closure to centre back, which will be much easier to get on and off. The crotch length could do with being a little shorter (it hangs a little low right now), and the bodice a little longer to balance out my bottom half a little more. I'd also add a little to the shorts length- the front is okay, but the back is a little roomy around the hems, and flashes my knickers if I bend over. It's because the culottes are A-line- a little extra length, or taking out some of the fullness, would make all the difference there. I wore leggings underneath for the party, so everyone was spared the horror of my knickers!

Final, gratuitous Care Bear playsuit shot.
What do you think? Don't you feel the need to run out and get started on your own crazy playsuit now?

* I can't believe there's actually recipes on the web for fairy bread! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Back online! Finally!

Real talk: iPhone photo in my bedroom.
Just a quick post to say my domain is (finally!) back online. I messed it up around Christmas/New Year, and haven't been able to figure out how to fix it. As it turns out, in the end it was super easy to fix, for which I'm extremely thankful. Moral of the story, kids: don't mess with deep internet things after midnight. Much like feeding Mogwai (critter, not band) after midnight, it can only turn out badly. 

Hopefully there's still a few people hanging around. I have some fun posts coming up for you, including a Care Bear romper. Now who wouldn't want to see me in a Care Bear romper? Also- I dyed my hair pink in honour of the costume, so that explains what's going on with my head up there.