Child’s silver bomber jacket: Burda 133 4/2017

Normally the person wearing silver clothes in this household is me. But not this little jacket. This is for my pre-school aged son. One of his heroes is Andy Day, the lead singer of Andy and the Oddsocks, who wears a silver bomber jacket on stage. My son was rummaging through my fabric box and found a piece of silver foiled lycra exactly like the fabric Andy’s jacket is made from, so it had to be done.

The pattern is Burda 133 04/2017, somewhat simplified. No way was I making welt pockets in stretchy lycra fabric.

Technical drawing of Burda 133 04/2017
Burda 133 04/2017 technical drawing, burdastyle.ru

It’s fully lined in white mesh fabric. Seems like overkill for a costume but the lycra is pretty flimsy. I ended up bagging the lining so no hand sewing required.

Inserting the zip looked like it might be a challenge. I used strips of interfacing along the front opening and sewed really carefully. It’s come out quite well.

But I’m kicking myself for not trimming the seams closely enough around the collar. I could open the lining back up and fix it…but I won’t. And I didn’t top stitch the zip either.

Back view for completeness. I’m pleased with the colour of the ribbing against the silver. The ribbing and the zip had to be bought online and colours are always a bit of a gamble when you do that, but this time it worked out.

Incidentally I think there is a mistake in the pattern for the ribbing pieces. The measurements given in the magazine for the cuff piece are far too small; you’d have to stretch it an amazing amount to get it into the sleeve. Luckily I noticed when tracing, and made them quite a bit longer. Other than that it’s a good pattern. And I swear Burda’s instructions are better than they used to be. I had no problems making this up.

I’m very pleased with how it came out. But despite measuring my son and making a size up from what I thought he needed, it’s still only just big enough. I swear they grow when you’re not looking.

This isn’t our first Andy homage. Previously we made the Gizmo prop from his TV show Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures…and then we made the one from Andy’s Wild Adventures too. I just need Andy to branch out into literature now, as that way I’d have the dreaded World Book Day costume covered well in advance.

Cuddly K9

I am the proud possessor of a copy of the wonderfully 1980s Doctor Who Pattern Book. My mum bought it for me as a bit of a joke because I’ve always been a Doctor Who fan. And now it seems my offspring is following in my footsteps. A couple of months ago he was looking through the book and asked for the cuddly K9 toy. For those who don’t know Doctor Who, K9 is a robot dog who was a regular in the programme in the late 70s and early 80s. He was and is hugely popular with small children.

I didn’t have any fabric of the right weight for the original K9 pattern from the book, but then I found a free fan-made pattern on an old Livejournal post that would work with what I had in stash. And we’ve been very slowly putting K9 together ever since. My son is still too young to use a sewing machine, but he likes to watch the process and helps by passing me things. We only worked on K9 when he was in the mood so it took a while. We started shortly before lockdown and have only just finished.

The main body of K9 is very heavy grey denim left over from my trench coat. The letters are scraps of silver foiled denim (originally a skirt and a pair of jeans). The tail and ears are scraps of the metallic denim I used for my quilted coat. The tail is meant to be black so I used the wrong side of the fabric for that.

I think the face has come out really nicely. The head is perhaps a bit too heavy for the neck and droops slightly but he’s still cute.

I didn’t stuff the body enough. I’ve opened him up a couple of times to try to cram more stuffing in but try as I might it all just seems to vanish inside him! So he’s slightly more squidgy and rounded than he ought to be. The tv screen is more of the silver quilted coat fabric.

I don’t have much of a button stash so his control panel is a bit random; I only just managed to scratch together nine buttons of approximately the right size. It amuses me a great deal that one of them is marked Vivienne Westwood.

The pattern says it’s for advanced beginners. The trickier bits, like the soft sculpting to pull in the sides of the body, are very well explained. That’s a fearsome process involving a six inch long needle and ending with very sore hands.

I had a few problems with making the pleated overlay for the neck sit nicely. The neck is meant to be very curved and that makes the pleats open up. I still haven’t worked out a good way to do it. I resorted to lots of hand sewing and making the neck a straighter shape than the one in the pattern. I think if I ever made another I’d probably just skip the overlay as it’s not very visible and a more curved neck will make his head stand up better.

Anyway we had a lot of fun making him and I think he’s come out quite well. I haven’t got any contact details for the author of the pattern, but if you’re out there Clarice thank you very much!

I haven’t forgotten about the method for making french seamed welt pockets but I’m finding it so hard to explain clearly I may have to make a sample. Which is probably more fun in the current heat wave than working on a boiled wool jacket.

Andy’s gizmo

When I was doing GCSE Creative Textiles many many years ago one of the things the course included was ‘soft sculpture’: using fabric to create facsimiles of objects. I never thought I’d be using those techniques in real life. But last weekend I found myself recreating a prop from my son’s favourite TV programme in fabric and it’s actually a pretty similar process.

The prop is the ‘gizmo’ from Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures. It’s a blue mobile phone-like device that the lead character wears strapped to his arm. The gizmo is quite thick, so I used some scraps of foam heat resistant table covering to stuff it and give it shape. I also used heavy weight iron-on interfacing on the back of the blue felt body fabric.

The gizmo has a screen, which I made with black felt, and some controls which I machine embroidered. It attaches to an arm band with Velcro. Here’s the body fabric with the screen, embroidery and Velcro applied before I sewed it up.

The arm band is a rectangle of sweatshirting fabric. It is wrapped around the arm and is held together with Velcro on the long edges. The gizmo attaches to two smaller strips of Velcro.

And here’s the finished object. It’s already been well loved and the felt fabric is showing the effects. In Creative Textiles we used to use cotton twill fabric and paint it with glue to make our soft sculptures have a bit of body. I don’t think I’ll be going as far as using glue, but I bet denim or gabardine would work for the body fabric and be harder wearing.

I made a proper pattern for this, which turns out to be a good thing because we recently discovered Andy’s Wild Adventures; a very similar series to Dinosaur Adventures but the gizmo in it is red not blue. So this weekend I may be making a red version.

Fitting woes

I had some denim left over from my grey cargo trousers, not enough to make an adult garment, but far too much to throw away. I’ve made simple elastic waisted trousers for my little boy before which were successful, so I set to and cut out Burda 127 03/2018 in what I thought was his size. These are pretty detailed: slash hip pockets, a fly front, welt pockets on the back and one of those useful adjustable waistbands with buttonhole elastic.

Obviously I wasn’t going to do back welt pockets or belt loops in such tiny trousers, and I noticed that my son’s similarly styled ready to wear trousers don’t have a zip inserted in the fly front, so I planned to skip that too. It sounds odd but the fly is so short that it works.

And then life got in the way and the cut pieces sat in the sewing room for a few months. You can probably guess what happened. I finally made them up last week and they don’t fit; he’s obviously grown a lot since I cut them.

They have a strangely short back crotch length even accounting for being a size too small. I think they also run long in the leg which is why they’re rolled up.

So not my most successful piece of sewing. I definitely made the wrong size, but I’m not convinced the pattern is quite right for my son either. So he got new ready to wear trousers instead, and I’m going back to making dresses for me! I’ve finished the black Burda dress with all the gathers, and am well on the way with the project after that. Just need to find time to take photos.