Sewing for the tropics

Back of Soph's Liberty Jumpsuit

I love saying “the tropics”.  Puts me in mind of Joseph Conrad novels and Frederic Church paintings.

As usual, I went into a frenzy of sewing clothes for the kids just prior to our recent trip to Bali. I don’t know what possesses me but it happens in the lead up to nearly every single one of our annual holidays.

Soph in jumpsuit seated

This time the urge bit me even harder than usual and I wonder whether the meditative qualities of sewing were a way for me to calm my mind in anticipation of our return after so long. Well whatever the motivation, it worked and everyone won: I felt calm (ish) and the kids got some new duds. Which, because they’re still tiny poppets, they wore not only without complaint but with some excitement. Making the most of that window.

I made countless pairs of simple shorts but the slightly more involved items this year were this jumpsuit (or romper):

Close-up Soph's Liberty jumpsuit

and these linen pants.

Soph in flat fronted white linen pants

I bought this beautiful Liberty fabric from the Liberty department store when I was in London in July. From the moment I saw it on the bolt in that venerable establishment, I envisaged a jumpsuit.

Liberty tana lawn fabric

So its fate was sealed and, luckily for me, there was an excellent tutorial for just such a suit.

This was a slightly more complicated project than I usually commit to (pleats at the front etc) but the tutorial is so good that there was only minimal swearing involved. I wish I could tell you it was under my breath.

Profanities aside, Sophia and I were delighted with the outcome.

Soph in Liberty jumpsuit

Of course, as you all probably already know, it is actually illegal to travel to the tropics without a pair of white linen pants and far be it from me to flout the immutable laws of the land.

I used a pattern for shorts that I bought from here (and highly recommend – it’s simple to make your own but this saves time and has some really gorgeous variations) to make the pants, just extending the legs myself, hoping for the best. Turned out okay, thank Gaga, as the linen was $30 per metre.

I also used this very useful tutorial to insert simple pockets into the pants, the addition of which  I found ridiculously exciting. As did my model.

Flat front white linen pants

Check out the modelling face on this one will you?

Soph in white linen pants

And here she is strutting the moss-covered catwalk.

Sophia gif 2

I do truly love a linen pant. Almost as much I love saying “pant” in the singular.

Clothes I’ve made for my girls (or sewing like the Lone Ranger)

When I sew twirling betty orders, I basically inspect every stitch and the ones that aren’t up to scratch are made to stand in the corner, sometimes for hours. That might sound harsh, but I am a perfectionist and if I’m doing my best, then I expect my stitches to be on board with me.

This does not, however, apply to the clothes I sew for my kids. Nope, the sewing I do for them I refer to as “cowboy sewing”. That is, it’s so rough and ready it’s practically wearing spurs.

I kind of love it. I get to sew without worrying about the perfection I insist on for my paid orders. So, in the next few shots of clothes I’ve made for the girls this summer will you see straight lines? Nah. Finished seams? Nope. Seriously, if you turned some of these garments inside out you might faint clear away from the sheer horror of tangled elastic threads and hastily sewn straps. I mean look at this (if you dare):

I know. Practically illegal.

But I LOVE making these things. And, more importantly, the girls love wearing them and that gives me a great sense of satisfaction. If I aimed for perfection with their stuff too, I’d never sew for them because I simply just don’t have the time. Because I am EXTREMELY busy and important.

So saddle up pardners. We’re in for a rough ride.

This black and white polka dot sunsuit was a nightmare to make. I actually started it 12 months ago and then abandoned it when my sewing machine, for no apparent reason, suddenly refused to shir. For those of you non-sewing types out there, shirring is when you put elastic thread in your machine and sew lines to make a stretchy panel.

I had to order a new bobbin case from Brother, then break the tension paint seal and re-set it at a tension that let me shirr. It shirr was a pain in the arse.

But it all came together beautifully in the end despite the fact I drew up the pattern for the bottom half myself. The striped neck strap was a last-minute addition when I couldn’t be fagged to make matching straps. It’s actually ready-made quilt binding.

I made this dress for Sophia

using this pattern, only instead of straps I went with the halter neck look again.

It’s very cute seeing those big bows at the back of the neck.

I used a tutorial I found on this magical interwebs for the blue dress in the photos at the start of the post but can’t for the life of me find it again now. Despite having bookmarked it. Sigh. But that’s probably just as well given the dress ended up looking like a flowery sack of potatoes.  So I did a bit of John Wayne-ing on the side seams.

The red is the original seam and the green my cavalier attempt to correct. I didn’t measure or mark (because I don’t go in for that kind of thing when I’m in the saddle) and it worked beautifully nonetheless. The lesson: eyeball it and then be brave. You can always unpick it.

And did I clean up the inside, ie snip out the excess fabric? Well that wouldn’t be very wild west now would it?

But guess what? You can’t tell.

Finally, this gorgeous fabric was a gift from my friend Dorothy. When her mother passed away, she gave me lots of fabric from her mother’s stash which I absolutely treasure. When Dorothy and John came by recently I told her I had trouble using any of her mother’s fabric because it was so very special. But in her inimitable way she told me to stop being ridiculous and just use it. So I did.