Toddler T’s

I have never sewn myself a t-shirt. What’s the point when you can get them for so cheap in most stores?

tshirts1I have, however, now dabbled in sewing toddler t-shirts. I don’t know why this is different, exactly. It’s not like my toddler needs more t-shirts or that they are expensive. Perhaps it’s just a challenge worth taking on a small scale.

The fabric is from the Knitting and Stitching Show and depicts 2 things almost every toddler loves – cats and dinosaurs. I did a 3rd test version that was way too big and stretched out and is relegated to the bottom of her ‘spare clothes’ drawer at nursery. These 2, however, get sufficient wear and were each whipped up in about 2 hours.

Will I make more? Perhaps if I run across more cute fabric like this, but to be honest, she has so many t-shirts as it is, there isn’t much point.

Something like a Sencha

fullSenchaI finally got round to trying Colette Patterns and made myself a Sencha blouse. Verdict? I can see why the patterns are popular – nicely presented, well written, interesting designs. The only bit I struggled with was the placement of the buttonholes and buttons. I wasn’t paying attention and they ended up too close to the edge. Not sure if that’s just my problem or if newbies might struggle with that as well.

backSenchaThis shirt was made out of some leftover blouse material, purchased many years ago in Malaysia. It was previously used on a 1940’s dress, which was a huge mistake – it didn’t have the necessary weight to pull off the design and the dress was rarely worn. It went to the charity shop in the last clear out. This blouse is more successful though – comfy and cool – I just wish I’d paid more attention to the length as it’s almost too short. I modified it by taking out the bottom darts. When they were in, the middle ballooned out in a very unattractive way (not necessarily a fault of the pattern – more of the type of fabric I chose).

So, overall, happy to finally have made something wearable out of this bit of fabric that came halfway around the world.


Neckline dart details – my favourite feature

Who? Who? Whose cute owl dress is this?

OwlDressFrontThis adorable little jumper dress is for my daughter, based on a 1970’s Style 2263 pattern gifted me by a fellow mum.

The fabric is a lightweight small-wale cotton cord, which was purchased at the Knitting and Stitching Show last October. It wasn’t cheap at £16 a metre, but it’s just so cute, it was totally worth the money.

OwlDressBackI didn’t match up the pattern on the back seam, but I’m really ok about that. It seemed random enough to get away with it, and the gathering on the back means that when the dress is worn and in motion, it’s not too noticeable.


The 5-minute silk shirt

OK, I admit, that title is a bit misleading. This shirt didn’t take 5 minutes, in total, to make. But it is the first output of my new approach to sewing – the not very imaginatively titled ‘5 minutes a day’ approach.

Pre-baby, I did all my sewing on the weekend. I’d hole up in the bedroom for a few hours with some tea and some music and sew, sew, sew. There is no way my toddler allows that these days, even if I was comfortable with her being only half-supervised in the same room as the hot iron. The problem is, there are only so many free hours after the baby has gone to sleep for partaking of chores, hobbies and relaxing. I couldn’t see myself giving up a large chunk of my evening hours to sewing, as that meant less time for knitting, eating, watching telly, etc etc. And thus the 5-minutes a day commitment was born. I could commit to 5 minutes a day. And those little chunks of sewing time would eventually accumulate to produce a garment. And here’s the proof!

Now, I will admit this took months to finish. Some days I did up to 20 minutes, some days I didn’t do anything. But the principle of regular, small commitments to sewing really worked and I made a shirt I wouldn’t otherwise have made. As other bloggers have noted elsewhere, slowing down also has advantages in terms of quality – I can concentrate and do things right for 5-10 minutes at a time. When I was sewing in large chunks of time, I would gradually accept more mistakes and a lowering of quality in my work.
BlackSilkShirt-CloseupSo some of the sewing on this is really high quality. The fitting – maybe not so much. I did a muslin and an FBA but the arms were just too tight. And rather than cutting completely new ones, I tried to guess and patch bits together and then translate those random adjustments to the pattern and the real fabric. So, the arms are still a bit tight.  I tell myself I’ve only worn it once because it’s winter and a lightweight silk shirt just isn’t warm enough. But I think the fit is also putting me off, because let’s face it, I wear a cardigan for warmth pretty much every day anyways.

The pattern is Vogue, but I’ve packed the envelope away in a box and can’t seem to locate the number on the website so it must be out of print. It has lovely princess seams for shaping and very lovely, proper cuffs with a bound vent and two soft pleats. I made it out of some rather inexpensive black silk I picked up several years ago at the Knitting and Stitching Show. I did think this would be a practice shirt that would lead to many  more, but I’m not in any hurry to take on that amount of work again, especially as the pattern still doesn’t fit right.

Still, I’m pleased with my new approach and pleased that I made a proper, grown up shirt.


Baby’s first birthday dress

dressFrontKristy over at Lower Your Presser Foot has a lovely tradition of making her children a new item of clothing each birthday. I have followed suit, making the dress view of Simplicity 4054 out of fabric leftover from the Puerto Vallarta dress. I made the one year old size, but it has turned out too big for my daughter to wear now. Perhaps in a few months, when she’s grown a bit taller and wider. Not entirely sure why they size kids’ clothes by age, rather than height and/or width – I haven’t found age to be a particularly reliable measurement past the 3 month stage…

dressBackBut I digress. The fabric is thin, so I lined the dress with some lightweight cotton leftover from some other project I can’t even remember. I just cut out all the pieces again, and sewed the skirt to the bodice on both. Then I attached the lining to the main fabric alone the neck edge, straps and armhole and back edges. Then turned the lining to the inside, hemmed both lining and skirt (making sure the hem on the lining was deeper, so it wouldn’t peek beneath the bottom end of the skirt). I fastened it at the back with snaps rather than buttons. We’ll see how sturdy that is – I may have to do buttonholes and buttons if the dress straps don’t stay snapped as they should.

So there you have it – the first of (hopefully) many birthday garments!


It’s curtains for you, my dear

When we moved a few years ago, we inherited the curtains in the new place. The second bedroom sported a small, odd shaped window cover with heavy dark blue curtains. The curtains kept the light out and weren’t too ugly, so we left them alone.

When my daughter was born and the room became her nursery, the heavy dark blue curtains had to go. But it took me nearly 8 months to finally change them.

IMG_20130124_112219Fabric for the new curtains is from John Lewis and I followed an online tutorial which has since disappeared. (Any tutorial for tab top curtains should do, but here is one such tutorial) They are lined in a heavy muslin. The most difficult aspect was matching up the pattern repeat.

The fabric doesn’t block out all the light but we have a black out blind we can attach to the window frame for nap and bedtimes.

This is my first real foray into home dec sewing and it’s a success. It’s made the room look lighter, brighter and more kid-friendly.

Baby’s first Halloween costume

I have fond memories of my mom making our Halloween costumes when we were little. I have especially fond memories of a Tinkerbell costume, complete with wings. Although Halloween has gotten more popular in the UK over the years, it remains a particularly American holiday, and the homemade costumes are a part of that.

So I was very keen to make my daughter’s first Halloween costume, even if she wouldn’t really appreciate (or possibly even like) it. I looked at all the typical Halloween costume patterns, and searched online for the store bought ones that I might be able to do myself. My sister-in-law shared an adorable photo of her first daughter’s first costume, where she dressed up as two peas in a pod. I thought about making her a ninja but then Ken pointed out that would really just mean dressing her in black and most people probably wouldn’t get it. Her suggested an animal theme, so I ran with that.

In the end, the inspiration came not from sewing, but knitting. A trawl through Ravelry threw up the Woodland Fox Baby pattern which was just too cute for words. And it was pretty practical, as the baby could lie down or sit up in the costume, and the hat could be reused. Who doesn’t love a baby in a hat with ears on it?

I found the perfect shade of wool in an aran weight, rather than the recommended bulky weight. So I just doubled the number of stitches in the pattern to get the correct gauge. Finding the right colour leggings was proving to be more difficult, however. After many trips to various baby shops and checking every site I could find online, I decided to sew something. Luckily, a high school friend had just sent me a couple of sewing patterns for babies. The overalls/dungarees in Simplicity 4054 seemed like a pretty straight forward project. I found velour of the perfect foxy shade at the local fabric store and set about making the outfit.

I’d never sewn with velour before and, given I was in a hurry, perhaps didn’t give it the care and attention required to do a good job. It was slippery and I found that the overlocker wasn’t catching enough fabric to make a solid seam. In the end, I sewed the seams on the machine with a stretch stitch, then overlocked the seam allowances to finish it. This last bit was probably unnecessary but at the time, I still though I might use these overalls after Halloween. I quickly decided against that, however, when I realised I would need to carefully apply snap tape along the inside legs, to allow for diaper changing. No thank you. The project became a one-off costume project immediately. So instead of adding buttons and buttonholes on the back, I sewed on snaps and was done with it.

I’m glad I didn’t take the extra time with the snap tape. At the costume party for babies that we attended, we quickly discovered that the overalls rode up her body very quickly, due to the smooth wrong side of the fabric. This made it difficult to hold, carry or pick her up. And about halfway through the party, we took them off and she finished the rest of the party in her white sleepsuit. I guess at that point, she was dressed as a ghost!

On the plus side, the tail (which is pinned on to the costume, so you can easily remove or just move it as needed) has become a favourite toy of hers. And we still have the hat. And I’ve successfully continued the tradition of homemade Halloween costumes. Maybe next year she can be a ninja…

I didn’t make this: beautiful baby quilt

This beautiful quilt was a gift to my daughter from a family friend. Isn’t it wonderful?

I’ve never quilted and must admit it seems a bit daunting to me – matching the colours and patterns, measuring and piecing together the squares and shapes – I’m not at all certain I have the keen eyes, steady hands and patience to do it.

Apologies that the photos aren’t as sharp as they could be – I was getting used to a new phone camera and didn’t focus well. I would take new ones, but we’ve currently got this quilt packed away for safe keeping until the baby is old enough to appreciate it and/or not spit up all over it.

Any keen quilters out there? Is it as hard as it seems?

I’m back… or will be soon…

I’ve been off the radar for several months as we settle in to life as parents of our lovely little girl. There has been no sewing and very little knitting during this time. We have started cooking more often as things have settled down, but blogging has just been more than I can tackle.

However, I think I’ve almost got the hang of this parenting thing and have a few things to actually blog about. Photos have been taken – now I just need to actually upload them and blog about them.

While I’ve been thinking about a return to blogging, I’ve been pondering whether to include photos of my daughter wearing the things I made for her. On the one hand, it’s nice to see clothing modelled by the person it was made for. And clothes make more sense when on a body.

On the other hand, I am a little cautious about creating an internet footprint for my daughter. Nothing on the internet every truly dies and she has no say over what I’m posting.  If this were a private blog, where I controlled who saw things, it would be different. But as this is public, I’ve decided not to post pictures of her here. I know this might make posts a little less interesting but it’s what I’m most comfortable with.

So, having said that, stay tuned for blog posts on salsa verde, knitted tank tops and ham hock salad in the coming weeks…

A final maternity dress

Back in September, I treated myself to a fabric spending spree on Goldhawk Road to purchase lots of knit fabrics for making maternity clothes. This past week, I finished the final item to be made from that stash.

I originally bought this wool jersey to make a top, but decided a dress would be easier to adjust post-maternity, so I could (hopefully) get more wear out of it. I’ve had the pattern for years and have never been inspired to use it – it was used this time because it was easy to adjust to a knit and didn’t require much fabric.

The hardest part of this whole project was getting the jersey to fold on the grain – it was cut in a very wonky way, so adjusting the layers so I could fold the selvedges in towards each other (thus creating two fold edges on which to cut the front and back peices side by side) too longer than any other part of the process.

So do I love it? It’s a nice fabric but I’m not in love. Not certain if this is because nothing looks that chic at my current size or I don’t like the dress itself. I guess we’ll see what happens when I modify it post maternity. In the meantime, I’m so bored of wearing the same 4 t-shirts, 2 jumpers and/or 2 dresses, this will be a welcome addition.

Finally, this may be a little odd, but I’m dedicating this post to my boss and friend, Amber Miro, who died suddenly this past week. She always showed an interest in what I was sewing and I remember having a long conversation with her about how I was going to sew maternity clothes I could mod for post-maternity wear. I always wrote these posts with her in mind as one of my readers. She’ll be very sorely missed.