Make It: Monkey Pyjama Case

So it turns out pyjama cases might not be a thing most people have heard of, but in my family they were (and are) a thing! My brother had one in the shape of Mr Chatterbox from the Mr Men. For my niece’s second birthday I made her one in the shape of a monkey, her favourite animal. I was going to make this as a downloadable thing but it didn’t work well enough!

Here is the finished case (with thanks to my sister for taking the photo!):

I did a search on pinterest for pictures of monkeys for inspiration and I came across this one! The first thing I did was to try to draw this photo in a way that I would be able to recreate in fabric, and I came up with this:

I then drew it a bit bigger on tracing paper (i.e. greaseproof paper), then traced all the smaller bits of the face onto other pieces so I could cut them all out, I also traced the face shape with the mouth cut out. I added a 1cm seam allowance to all the pieces except the eyes and nose (which don’t have seams).

I bought half a metre of brown cotton fabric from my local shop, which was more than enough for the size I made. I also used some cream jersey (which I used to underline my Sallie Maxi Dress) and some black jersey which I already had in my stash. I was going to use felt but I didn’t have enough cream/white felt for the mouth pieces.

Cut 2 each of the back of the head, and the front of the head (face) with the mouth hole cut out in brown cotton.
Cut 4 ears in brown cotton.
Cut 2 of each of the top lip and bottom lip from the cream jersey (or felt).
Cut 2 outer eyes from cream jersey (or felt).
Cut 2 ear inners from cream jersey (or felt).
Cut 2 pupils from black jersey (or felt).
Cut 2 nostrils from black jersey (or felt).
You will also need a zip for the mouth and some stuffing.
Cut wadding for the back of the head, the front of the head (face), and the ears. I cut 2 pieces for each part that needed stiffening as my wadding was quite thin.

The first thing I made was the mouth. The advantage of using jersey is that it is forgiving if it’s not quite perfect. Also it stretched to accommodate the stuffing.

I was using an invisible zip, but I sewed it with a normal zip foot so I think this would work with a normal zip too. I sewed a top lip piece and a bottom lip piece to the zip, with right sides together so the seams (and stitching) are hidden.

I then lined up the other 2 lip pieces, mostly so I would remember which one was the top lip and which one was the bottom lip.

I then repeated the first step with the other 2 lip pieces, with them right sides together with the other side of the zip. It will mean the zip is sandwiched between the 2 top lips and the 2 bottom lips, with the zipper tape hidden between the 2 layers.

This is what it looks like with just the top lip pieces sewn on both sides. It’s like it would look if you sew a lining to a zip on the inside of a dress, but you’re doing it with a machine.

This is what it looks like with both lips sewn on both sides, though you can obvs only see one side!

And yet another picture with the zip zipped up. I could have moved the top lip slightly to the left in the below photo – the monkey’s jaw is a little wonky!

I then sewed (with a zig zag stitch if you’re using jersey) the 2 top lips together, and the 2 bottom lips together, leaving a gap at one edge for stuffing. You can sew these wrong sides together, because the stitching will later be hidden when you sew the mouth into the mouth hole. The stuff both sides, and stitch up the gaps. And you’ll have something that looks like this:

Now you’ll want to attach the inner ear parts to 2 ears pieces, like below. You will also want to sew on the eyes at this point – I left it to a later step and had to fiddle to get them on without going through both face layers. You’ll want to sew the eyes onto only one face piece so you don’t see the stitching on the inside.

Next was to assemble the ears. You put the 2 brown pieces right sides together,

The the 2 pieces of wadding on the top (it doesn’t matter which brown piece you have on the top, it just matters that the wadding is on the outside of the brown pieces and not in between them). Stitch around the long curved edge, leaving a gap on the inside of the ear so you can turn it the right way around – and this part will be hidden when they’re attached to the head. You’ll need to trim the wadding of the seam allowance to reduce bulk.

Now you need to sandwich the 2 head backs with the wadding, and the 2 faces with the wadding. For these you can sandwich them – brown cotton, wadding, brown cotton – and just stitch around the edge because these edges will be sewing into the seams attaching the back of the head and the face. You’ll not want to stitch around the mouth hole, because the inner piece will be used like a facing to hide the stitching attaching the mouth to the face.

The next couple of steps were quite hard to photograph! Pin the top lip, with right sides together, to the top of the mouth hole. I found it quite hard to stitch all the way to the edges of the zip, so you may find you have to sew it in smaller sections. This is where jersey is your friend by the way! You may need to turn the face inside out, via the mouth hole, to be able to get access to the right bits. You will be able to turn it the right way around using the zip opening, so you can completely seal the mouth into the hole. I found this out the hard way, with some unnecessary unpicking!

This is what it should look like on the right side with the top lip sewn. (You can see I hadn’t sewn the pupils into the eyes – I thought I could do it without having to change the thread loads of times, but I should have just sucked it up!

This is kind of what it looked like with the bottom lip pinned. I’m not going to lie, it was fiddley and took a few goes to get it right!

Once you’ve wrestled the mouth into the mouth hole, it’s time to assemble the thing! First I handstitched the nose into place – I don’t think you’ll be able to sew it on before everything is assembled on the face.

Then pin the ears on top of the face, with the inner parts face down. You may also want to baste them in place, which I didn’t do, then I turned it the right way around and one of the ears fell off because it wasn’t attached properly. 😦

If you’re putting hair on your monkey (which I made with pieces of wool which I undid, to make smaller strands) you’ll want to place it a this stage too. The part of the hair that will show is the part on the monkey’s forehead, not the part sticking out the top. I basted these in place. Then you lay the back of the head on top of the face and stitch all the way around. You can, again, turn it the right way around via the zip. Hopefully the ears and hair will all be in place and not falling off! I was going to do french seams, but that felt too fiddley in the end, so I overlocked the seam allowance on the inside to try to neaten it a bit. The last thing to do (which I did really late the night before I was travelling to deliver it so failed to take any photos!) is to hand sew the inside face layer around the edge of the mouth, folding back the seam allowance, just like a facing around a waist seam. I hope this makes sense!

And here is the finished monkey!

I made the mouth with the zip so that it could eat the pyjamas!

And here are the pyjamas inside the monkey’s….head…..

Have you every made a pyjama case? Have you every heard of a pyjama case!? I’m going to make another one for my nephew, who was just 4 (so I’m a terrible aunt and it will be late!), in the shape of a penguin. If anyone has any ideas how I can make it similar in having the pyjamas get in via the beak, do let me know. I’m struggling to think of how to get it to work!

I made trousers!

These are my Simplicity 1696 trousers in navy twill, which I’ve been saying I would make since October!!!! I finally finished them! OMG! It turns out it’s almost as difficult to photograph navy blue as it is black!

I did have to make a few changes to the pattern to get it to this level of fit, which is still not perfect. Any tips on tweaks I can make will be gratefully received! I took about 4cm off each outside leg seam and 2cm from the inside leg seams. I also had to shave a little of fullness of the bum curve and angle in the waistband, but I didn’t note down by much, which is stupid because I’ll have to work it out again if I make these again!

I think the tweaking of the outside seams means that the pockets now stick out a little from the line of the trousers, but I’m not too bothered about it to be honest. The pockets are nice and deep, which I like! Also I wore these to work (exactly like this, with my melilot shirt) and no-one said anything, so clearly they weren’t thinking ‘wow, those trousers look weird.’

I think the fit is a little bit less good across the back. The pattern gives you room to tweak the fitting as you go, but I maybe will count these as a wearable toile and make some more adjustments if I make them again. There are some drag lines across the back of my thighs, so I’ll need to work out how to fix that!

This side view photo is possibly one of the least flattering photos I’ve taken of me wearing something I’ve made. My natural posture (if I’m not thinking about standing up straight) is with a pretty curved back and with my stomach sticking out (and with hunched shoulders too!), which is particularly unfortunately if I’m a bit bloated, as I was when I took these photos! I’m not pregnant, I promise!

I feel like these trousers may not be the most flattering shape on me – they do make my bottom half look quite heavy, but I don’t really mind as they are comfortable. I was conscious not to over-fit the waistband so they’d still be comfortable to sit down in.

Speaking of sitting down, here’s a close up of my arse! The fake welt pockets are definitely not my finest work, but hey ho. I’d almost rather have done real ones to be honest, or left them off as they were a kind of irritating fiddley step, but without the payoff of actual pockets!

And here’s a close-up of the front. I’m pretty happy with how the fly turned out as it did not look like this when I first sewed it, so there was some unpicking and some fiddling to get it looking okay. I also got a bit confused by the pockets, but luckily I had made the moss skirt for my sister, which has a similar pocket/fly arrangement, so I managed to figure it out. I think part of the problem is that it’s so long since I made a big 4 pattern, I was unfamiliar with their instructions – I’m too spoiled by the extra help and sewalongs that indie patterns give you. The button was just one from my stash.

I can’t think of much else to say about these trousers, except I MADE MOTHERF*CKING TROUSERS!!!! I’m pretty please with myself, if you can’t tell!

I’ll leave you with these outtakes from my photoshoot. The boyfriend suggested we take an action shot of me walking in the trousers and this is what happened……

This is me trying to think of other interesting ways to photography navy blue trousers, but it looks like I’m talking to our penguin (which doesn’t have a name, any suggestions?)

Then I gave up trying to think of photos so just posed with the penguin!

Have you tackled trousers yet? Have you been scared like me?

Wardrobe Architect Week 6: Organising Your Palette

I feel like I’ve lost my blogging mojo a little bit recently, but I’m trying to get back into the swing of things, so I’m going to do the next week of the Wardrobe Architect, week 6: Organising Your Colour Palette.

Following on from me identifying the colours I like wearing in my previous Wardrobe Architect post, this week is about sorting the colours into categories, which will hopefully help me make decisions about what to make in which of my colours. I have added a few extra colours to flesh out my palettes.

This was my original palette:

As they say in the original post for this week:

“Neutral colors are basics that go with just about anything. Think browns, grays, black, white, beige, etc.

Generally, neutrals convey an air of sophistication and elegance, though they can become boring if used exclusively or untempered by other kinds of visual interest, like texture, silhouette, or detail.”

 

Colette define ‘nearly neutrals’ as “anything you personally wear like a neutral. You feel confident combining them easily with other colors.”

“Your own definition of nearly neutrals can vary. Think of colors that seem to go well with everything, like burgundy, navy, wine red, very pale blush pink, olive green, gold, etc.”

I don’t have many statement colours, but this is definitely the happiest of my palettes!

“These are the colors that don’t necessarily go with everything, but have a lot of visual impact. For me, these colors elicit some of the strongest feelings. They have a lot more visual weight, and they tend to make clothing more recognizable.

Statement colors can be used in large or small doses. You can have many of them, or just a few.”

They also added metallics to their narrowed down palettes, but they really aren’t colours I wear so it felt like I would be forcing it to add some into mine.

I like how collecting the colours I picked last time into smaller collections will help me focus on creating a wardrobe which will hopefully mean things I make will go with other things I make – and if they don’t, I know they are statement colours so that’s okay!

Fabric shopping in Birmingham

Last Saturday I went with some of the ladies I met at Sew Brizzle to go fabric shopping in Birmingham. I was sad to have missed the bigger meet up the previous week but in a way it was nice to go in a small group as it gave me the chance to chat with everyone (which I didn’t manage to do the time I went to a big London meet-up).

Here we are outside Guthrie and Ghani. Thanks to Sarah from Like Sew Amazing for the photo – she remembered to take pictures when I didn’t! A very kind man took this picture for us 🙂

From left to right: Karen, Amy, Me, Sarah, Ruth and Jen.

Our first stop was Fancy Silk Store. I felt a little overwhelmed when we first went in as it’s deceptively big – and has an upstairs – and I couldn’t take everything in! I did spot that they had reasonably priced denim and after we’d been around some other shops, we circled back and I bought some stretch and non-stretch denim for Ginger and Morgan wearable toiles.

This is the stretch one – it has a nice flecked weave and looks a little like linen, but is thicker. It was £6.99 per metre and I got 1.4m.

And this is the non-stretch. I did want something a bit lighter for my Morgans, but this will do for a practice. It is a little lighter than the stretch one. It was £7.99 per metre and I got 1.6m.

After this first shop we headed into the rag market, where there are loads of fabric stalls, inside and out. I had made the mistake of not taking out any cash as I thought if I did I wouldn’t buy anything! But I did have enough to get some black and some white cotton twill (I think it was twill and not drill, anyone know the difference?!).

I’m planning a 60s style colour blocked Tilly and the Buttons Megan Dress. I bought 2 metres of the black and one of the white, and it came to £12 in total (so £4 per metre). I bought this fairly early on and for some reason it weighs loads, so I got pretty sick of carrying it around by the end of the day – I was glad I waited until the end to get the denim!

After the rag market, we all got on a bus and went to Moseley to visit Guthrie and Ghani. I was not-so-secretly hoping we would go there, and I’m so glad I was with people who knew how to get there! I just followed 🙂 I could easily have spent a small fortune in Guthrie and Ghani – you can tell everything is really good quality. And the shop is so pretty!

I decided to treat myself to a couple of patterns which I wanted – the Ebony Tee and Dress by Closet Case Patterns and the Guise Pants by Papercut Patterns.

They have a really great selection of remnants and I couldn’t help picking up a couple of them. I just loved the pattern on this Robert Kaufman cotton. It’s navy blue, though it looks kind of black in the photo. It seems to be called Storm Drown, and I can’t find it anywhere online so I guess it’s not available. This bolt end was 275cm x 90cm and was £15.50. I’m hoping there will be enough for a Colette Aster blouse.

I also couldn’t resist this gorgeous mustard loopback jersey. The photo doesn’t do the colour justice, nor how soft it is. It’s honestly one of the softest fabrics I’ve ever touched. It was £6.50 and there’s only 155cm x 40cm so I’m not sure what I’ll be able to make, but I had to have it.

The final thing I bought from Guthrie and Ghani was this coral crepe fabric. It has a lovely drape and a slightly mottled texture and I got 1.7m of it at £10.50 per metre. This is one of the more expensive fabrics I’ve bought, but the Anderson Blouse I’m planning to make will still only cost £17.85 which is pretty good for a blouse made of such nice fabric!

The last fabric shop we went to was Barry’s. I would have no idea how to find it on my own, but it’s definitely a hidden treasure!

This is another shop that is very, very full of fabrics and I think you could easily spend 4 hours in there and still not see everything!

I did manage to find one treasure, thanks to Jen (Gingerella). It’s this nice blueish-greyish cotton and I bought 2 metres – I can’t remember how much I paid, though. I think I’ll make a short-sleeved Melilot Shirt for when the weather finally gets warm!

So there we go, that’s my haul for a day’s shopping. Not too bad I think. Have you been fabric shopping in Birmingham? Did we miss anywhere good?

 

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Silver Toaster Sweater

It seems like whenever a pattern goes a bit viral amongst bloggers and on instagram, I’m at least a month (if not longer) behind! So here is my Toaster Sweater. I’m sure you’ve heard of the pattern, but it’s from SewHouse7 and there are 2 versions of the Toaster Sweater – I made version 2. And I really like it.

It’s maybe a tiny bit short to wear with these jeans, so if I make it again I might lengthen it by an inch or two so the top I’ve got underneath doesn’t show so much when I move around!

I do like the funnel neck detail, though I’m not sure it’s supposed to sit exactly like this, but it doesn’t feel strangle-y so I don’t mind it.

The fabric is a lovely silver ponte roma from my local sewing shop, Sew ‘N’ Sew. It has a slightly ribbed texture, which is really nice. I also really like how the sleeves fit – they’re a bit wrinkled here because I’d been wearing it for a whole day.

I like the swingy shape of the back…..

But it does seem to give me a hunchback! Not sure why. I don’t have great posture, but I do stand up straight in my blog photos.

One of my favourite details of this pattern is the topstitching around the slits on the side seams. And I love how the back is slightly longer than the front.

And the corners of the hem look so lovely on the inside because the instructions tell you how to make them perfectly mitred.

This is also the first main thing I’ve made where I’ve used my overlocker to neaten the edges – I’m not quite at a skill level to feel comfortable sewing the seams on it too, especially with a new pattern. And I did have to unpick a couple of bits, so I’m glad I was unpicking sewing machine stitching and not overlocker stitching!

Am I the last person to make this pattern?

Make It: Quilted Cushion

Earlier this year I heard about the Secret Valentine’s Exchange organised by Sanae Ishida and Ute and decided to join in because it sounded fun to make a present for a stranger. Of course once I received my name (Sarah of Northfield Primitives) I was terrified that I would make something that she didn’t like. Everyone who signed up had to fill in a questionnaire of tastes, favourite colours and things, and social media handles and online presence to do a bit of good old-fashioned online stalking! One of the ideas is to use things mostly from your stash too, so I dug through my stash to find fabrics I thought she would like.

Sara listed her favourite colours as blue, mustard yellow, earthy browns and reds, and said she likes old and vintage fabrics, bits of old patchwork and lace. Luckily her colour palette is similar to the colours I like. Since she said she liked patchwork, I thought I’d make a patchwork/quilted cushion cover. I sketched some ideas, working on 6×6 squares, halved into triangles.

I settled on the version on the left and coloured it in to work out which fabrics would go where.

Half the fabrics needed 4 triangles and half needed 8, to make it symmetrical. I then made a key of which fabric matched with which colour on my picture. The corner of the paper is missing because this was my pattern piece for the triangles. I drew a 6cm x 6cm square, then drew a diagonal line down the middle. I then added 1cm to each edge for seam allowance. The total size (36cm x 36cm) was based on a cushion pad I already had in my stash.

I then sewed the triangles into squares. Because it’s symmetrical in all 4 corners, there weren’t that many different combinations in the squares.

I then sewed the squared into strips, making sure each square was facing the right way according to my plan. This hurt my brain a little at various points! Having all the strips made meant I could lay it out to look what it was going to look like. At this point I wasn’t sure it was going to work as I felt some of the fabrics didn’t look great together.

As with so many of my non-clothes makes, I used calico for the back of the cushion and also as the backing for the patchwork/quilting bit. I bought some wadding from my local shop (which was the only thing I bought for this make) and sandwiched 2 layers between the calico (which I had cut down to 38cm x 38cm (with 1cm seam allowance) and the patchwork. I kind of made up the stitching lines and used white thread as I couldn’t decide what other colour would go with so many different colours of fabric. In the end the stitching was pretty much all in the seam lines so it wasn’t too obvious on the front.

Here is the quilting pattern I used (from the back of the front of the cushion):

And here’s the finished cushion!

I didn’t use a zip or anything, I just left a gap to get the pad in and hand stitched it closed. I wonder if I could have added another one or 2 layers of wadding to make the cushion more puffy, but it looks okay. I sent a little package of some fat quarters and other bits and pieces which I thought Sarah would like. I was definitely relieved when she said she liked it!

Did you join in with the Secret Valentine’s Exchange? Or another secret gift exchange? Did you find it nerve-wracking to make something for someone you don’t know?!

February Makes and March Plans

I literally can’t believe we’re already in March. (I’ve been watching a lot of Parks and Recreation recently, so this sentence is my homage to Chris Traeger!) I was moderately successful in completing my makes for February – I made only one thing I planned, but I made 2 extra things I hadn’t planned. I also had a mammoth cutting out session so I still have a few projects ready to go!

In a rare moment of blogging, I’ve actually blogged everything I made in February already (this may come back a bite me on the arse when I run out of things to blog!). First up I made this Colette Mabel skirt, to match the one I made for my sister for Christmas.

my-grey-quilty-mabel-1I also made what I thought would be my entry into the #MonetaParty, which was in the end my first version of the pattern, from the navy-with-white-flecks jersey:

moneta-party-dress-1Then I made my second, way more successful version of the Moneta, which rescued the pattern in my eyes – I felt it was a bit frumpy and not really my style in my first version. It goes to show the importance of fabric choice!

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-6

So my plans for March are pretty much the things I didn’t get around to making in February……including these effing trousers which have been on my to-make list since I started doing these posts back in October! They are at least cut out! I’m planning to tackle them this weekend.

october-planning-simplicity-trousersI do also want to make my Toaster Sweater, which is also already cut out. I think it will be a good top for the still-quite-cold-weather we’re having in Gloucestershire! And I love the silver jersey I’ve got for it. Now if I could only get my overlocker working……

toaster-sweater-fabric

If I have time – which is unlikely to be honest as I’m away for 2 whole weekends in March – I’ll try to make my denim Moss Skirt, which is basically a copy of the one I made for my sister.

I want to try to get some fabric this month to try to make a start on my #2017MakeNine. The Moneta Dress was one of them, so I’ve at least made one. I also have Christine Haynes’s Marianne Dress on there and I do have fabric for that so hopefully that will be made in April.

I also want to get back into refashioning – I have quite a stash of garments to refashion – as that is one of the things I consider to be under the ‘thrift’ part of my blog name! Though as I’m away for some of March, this might have to wait until April!

What are your sewing plans for March?

Definitely my #MonetaParty Dress

jazzy-moneta-party-dressAfter what turned out to be my wearble muslin of the Colette Moneta, I was persuaded by Sarah from Like Sew Amazing (who has a fab new vlog, the first episode of which is about all 6 of her Monetas and features yours truly!) to make another one when she invited me to her house for a irl Moneta Party. It was really fun to sew with someone else – it’s normally such a solitary pursuit, it was a novelty to do it with company!

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-2I feel the main saving grace of this Moneta compared to the other, is the fabric. Eagle-eyed readers may recognise the fabric as the one I used for my Coco Dress. I used the pattern in a different way, centering the space between the diamonds instead of the diamonds themselves as I did for the Coco. I think it works better this way, which is good because to start with I was going to place the diamonds around the bodice in the same was as the Coco. And the diamonds pretty much line up on the side seams. Yay!

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-4The fabric looks even more trippy and like a magic eye picture from the back!

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-7The black fabric is some ponte I bought from my local sewing shop. I had thought they didn’t have that much of a range of dressmaking fabrics, but actually it’s pretty good when I looked closely and ignored the boxes of fat quarters! They have needlecord, lots of patterned cottons and a pretty good range of jerseys for a shop of that size. They also have everything you could possibly want in their massive range of haberdashery items.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-5I really like the ponte as it has a nice structure to it, making it a lot easier to sew with than the thin fabric from my last version! The jazzy fabric is quite thin, but not too difficult to manhandle for just a couple of seams! The only problem with this combination of fabrics is the skirt pulls down the bodice slightly because the jazzy fabric is much more stretchy.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-6I again cut out the straight size xs and this time didn’t need to make any fitting changes under the arms – I guess different jerseys behave in different ways. I also cut out the short sleeves instead of the longer ones because I didn’t think the 3/4 length sleeves would work in the black fabric. I did cut out the sleeves in both fabrics and asked Sarah’s opinion and she thought the black would look better – and she was totally right!

The main change I made, which I hadn’t initially planned, was to add a neckband.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-3I measured the neckline of the bodice – the front neck was 34.5cm and the back neck 31cm. Added together this comes to 65.5cm. I decided to take 4cm off this length, guessing that this would be enough smaller to sit flat but not so much smaller it puckered the neckline. I’m sure there is a science to this, but my guess was okay. I then added 2cm back on for the seam allowance to be able to sew the 2 ends together into a loop. I cut the band to be 5cm wide. After sewing the 2 ends together, I folded the band in half lengthways, wrong sides together and tacked it all the way around. I then lined up the 2 edges of the band with the neckline of the bodice, stretching it slightly to make it fit. I then stitched it with a 1cm seam allowance, flipped it to the inside and topstitched it with my twin needle.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-8If you follow me on instagram you’ll have seen that while at Sarah’s house I played with an overlocker for the first time. She had it all set up ready and it wasn’t as scary to use as I thought it would be – I feared the fabric would run away and cut itself in half before I knew what was happening! But it’s pretty much like a normal sewing machine, of course! Some of the insides (which I had time to do at Sarah’s) look lovely so I’m definitely a convert to overlockers, and I even got mine out the box for the first time, having bought it a couple of months ago! I managed to thread it but the stitches were all loopy and no matter how much I changed the tension, it didn’t fix it. Any ideas? Is it possible I did actually thread it wrong and it kind of works but not properly?

I’ll leave you with this outtake from my photos – this was me testing the camera set up, feeling really cold and wearing my glasses (which I took off for the photos!)

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-9
 

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