Sunday, 26 July 2015

A Birthday Dress

I couldn't let July run out without sharing this dress with you. Things are always busy round here this month what with school drawing to a close, end of year assemblies or plays, birthdays and our anniversary thrown in for good measure. 

I managed to get Boo's birthday dress completed ahead of time and she was hopping mad to wear it before her big day.

I chose the pattern, the Hanami Dress by Straightgrain. There are so many pretty versions of this on the web and despite owning the pattern for a while, I had never got round to sewing it up. So it felt a bit special to choose it for a party dress, and that meant making it as posh as possible.

Together we decided on this floral lawn. Ever since Queen Elsa, she has been all about the blue dresses, but I rather like the colour red on her. It suits her. So I was happy when she spotted this on my shelf. There was just enough left over from a previous project to cut out this Hanami with a full circle skirt.

Beautiful details like the flutter sleeves make this dress uber girly. I was a tad worried they would be too flouncy for me but she loves them and so I am happy.

I wanted to break up the mid-section and ummed & ahhed about using piping, but in the end discovered the perfect ribbon in my stash. Knowing it would end up a tangled and threaded mess in the washing machine, I sewed on thread chains around the waist to hold the ribbon in place, and make it removable for washing.

I sealed the ends of the ribbon with a match flame so they wouldn't unravel.

I liked the look of the crossover back version of the bodice. It adds an interesting twist to the dress. I won't lie, the buttons are a bit fiddly and so she has to ask for help in getting them done up and I also had to add a couple of snaps along the edge to stop the opening from gaping. 

If I made this again, I would have to add another inch to the outward edge of the bodice piece to get the edge to line up with the side seam. I had to bring it back a touch from where it was supposed to sit. But that is purely because I am squeezing her into the largest size her and it would have been too restrictive otherwise.

The circle skirt was a massive hit!

Girls love to twirl don't they?!

She wore this on her birthday and I am happy to report that it survived a trip to the zoo!

There may be a few more little girl dresses coming up soon. Little sister has just inherited all the hand-me-downs in the next size up and there are rather a lot of dresses in the wardrobe on her side now. Boo stood in front of them yesterday and (hands on hips) remarked how many dresses L had while she only had about 4. Then looked at me. Pouting.

I actually haven't sewn anything for a couple of weeks. My machine has been gathering dust. So I fired it up last night and got started on a new dress for little madam. I have my orders......

Monday, 6 July 2015

Run run as fast as you can....

L's nursery requested a Fox costume for the end of year play. My little girl is cast as the sly red fox from the story of the Gingerbread Man. The call came in for orange trousers and top. Well I am sorry, but that wasn't going to happen! 
For starters, orange is not a colour we tend to buy and it seems, not a lot of shops sell orange trousers anyway. I looked.

Then I remembered a tutorial on the Oliver and S blog from my good pal Brittney, and I went fabric shopping! 

I found just the right shade of orange-brown in the twill section and with the Bubble Dress in mind I bought the offcut for only £3.71. Bargain!

I took my little fox to the local farmyard, where we went hunting for chickens....

We looked in the stable....

We looked in the hen house.....

When suddenly.... cheep cheep!

Ah Ha! 'Come here little chickies, I only want to talk to you'.

(Mrs Chicken was sceptical)

But she flashed her sweetest smile...

After mummy had scurried away to hide her chicks in the straw, L saw another target cute feathered friend to chase after.

He just about escaped with all his plumage intact.... nearly.

But I have to confess, the gingerbread man didn't fare nearly as well. 

Thank you to everyone on Instagram and Flickr who helped me decide on the placement of the eyes. I couldn't make my mind up whether to put them on the brown or white parts. Honestly, this was one of the hardest decisions of my life. You would think naming two children was difficult enough, but this eye dilemma totally had me in a twist.

In the end, I waited until it was sewn up and on her before I could see where to put them. I hand stitched them on because of the bodice lining. A little extra work, but worth the peace of mind.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

My Kids Clothes Week: The Badminton Set!

I took part in this Kids Clothes Week with no plans in mind. I got as far as 'What does she need?' More shorts, a few light summer tops, a couple of skirts, and new nightgowns.

I have a sound pattern that I use for nightgowns and have it traced off. But something different perhaps. It occurred to me that I had never sewn up the dress from the Oliver + S Badminton pattern, or the top. And the shorts from the skort look great on their own. Decision made. Lets make all the pieces from the set!

I used a Liberty lawn for the top paired with a pale purple poplin. The navy shorts seemed like a good colour match, plus she can wear them for PE at school.

I increased the back pieces of the shorts to give a little more room around the bottom, which is becoming my standard adjustment for her. The top was lengthened by 2" which may have been a smidge too much but will last her a while longer for having done it.

The shorts are made from a stretch cotton with a lovely sheen, making them feel quite luxurious. I am really happy with how they turned out. 

I really enjoyed making the top. The yoke is quite fiddly and time consuming to put together. It was with the patience and concentration of a Bake Off contestant plaiting a batch of bread dough, I smoothed and re-smoothed the yoke and sewed it in place. I love how clever the pattern is! Everything looks so complicated yet a couple of flips and folds later, it looks perfect!

While she likes the top, she wasn't keen on the shoulder ruffles. This surprised me because she loves pretty things but for some reason they didn't float her boat. So for the nightgown, I left them off. I like either look, but maybe she is right, the clean and simple shape of the yoke does look refreshingly modern without the ruffles. 

One of the details I love about the Badminton pattern is the scalloping on the bottom edge of the skort and dress. Worth every ounce of concentration to get those lines stitched precisely.

I couldn't put the pattern away without making the skort too.

Beige stretch twill with shorts underneath made from a lighter beige polycotton. I did this because the twill was quite thick and I didn't want to add bulk and make it too hot to wear. This will be worn over the upcoming summer months.

There are lots of places to sneak extra detail in on this pattern....

Skort, Top, Shorts and Nightie, all from one pattern. Never say you don't get your monies worth from an Oliver and S pattern!

I still haven't caught up with everybody else's KCW makes and am hoping to settle myself down with a cuppa tomorrow to have a look. 
Hope you all enjoyed the challenge if you took part!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

First Day Family Reunion

This is the beautiful Family Reunion pattern by Oliver and S. 

This is one of the earliest O+S patterns I sewed up and the dress version was an instant favourite with my eldest. So much so, that even though the purple dress made here is still in perfect condition, it has faded with constant washes and is a shadow of it's former self. As all well loved handmades should be, in the end. 

My youngest daughter is starting school this year and her transition days started this week. Yesterday actually. I stood in the playground with lots of other nervously excited parents ready to send my little one through the doors of the brightly coloured reception classrooms. L is more than ready to start school and she was very eager to get in there. 

So much so, she only gave me the briefest of goodbye's and was through the gates and in the room before I had even had the teacher tick her name off the list!

She had a great time and was very happy to explore new surroundings with cool new toys. 

The previous day I managed to get these lovely shots of her in the blouse I made to mark the occasion. This was a special sew for me. When Boo had her first trial day I sent her in a Family Reunion blouse (here), so I wanted L to have her own.

I opted to put snaps on the back placket of this one. It was a good decision and my husband thanks me for not putting fiddly buttons on. 

She is wearing her Puppet Show shorts here which are from last year and they still fit! She doesn't grow out much anyway, only up. I love the combination of these two patterns, they are comfy and cool for her and have the advantage of looking really smart.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Putting some basics in the drawer

One thing on each persons list over here is more t-shirts. Over the last few months I collected a pattern or two for each of us and set to work with the knits I already had in my stash.

First up I made all the girls a Bento/Lunchbox Tee. It is short sleeve weather for the moment and having already tested out the Lunchbox Tee on both of them, I knew that all I needed was a bit extra length and the pattern would be perfect.

I used a polkadot interlock for L's version which is nice and snuggly, Boo's is made from single jersey. Both fabrics are from Tissu Fabrics and I am happy with the quality of them. The yellow jersey is especially nice and washes really well.

A long sleeved Bento Tee for me. The fabric was from the lucky bin so I don't know the content. I am guessing viscose jersey as it is nice and light and drapey. A long sleeved white tee is always a good place to start. Big tick for me!

And a short sleeved version too. This was the first go at the Bento pattern and it came up a bit short. Fine for wearing with a tank underneath, but it rises up too high whenever I move my arms. So on the long sleeved top, I added 4" extra length and it was much better.

I didn't bother adding the front pockets. I just wanted a simple line and am not too sure if I would put things into a t-shirt pocket anyway. Certainly nothing too heavy if it is made from a drapey knit. It would end up lopsided!

Back to the Bento Tee again here, but a modified version. Knit dresses are always popular with the girls as they are so easy to wear. 

I didn't make a note about how much length I added when I was making it, which is ever so frustrating. I do know that I added 5" to the upper front and back pieces and about 2" to the lower panel (there was one panel, that I had to trim the excess back off again, sorry for being vague but I should have written it all down and didn't). I will be making it again for her as she really likes it so (for my own sanity!) I will have to write all the alterations down again.

This interlock fabric was a surprise delight to use. I bought it on a whim from here and it turned out to be really nice quality and great value. Please don't go and buy it all, I want to get some more in the future!

The last of the bunch is a School Bus Tee. What a great pattern this is! I didn't alter it at all and the length was fine on my tall girl. I will have to buy more fabric to make up a few more of these, for sleeping and daywear. 

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Grainline Archer with Lisette Portfolio Pants

I am happy to report that I have been carrying on from my Negroni Shirt with some more adult sewing. This time for me!

I finally took the plunge and sewed up the much raved about Grainline Archer Shirt. I have been stocking up on potential fabrics for this shirt but not wanting to cut into any of them until I did a test run. I have a really nice ex Paul Smith brushed check fabric and some Robert Kaufman Chambray sitting on the shelf but was terrified of making a balls up and wasting good fabric. I picked up enough of this cotton lawn to try it out. At £4.99 a meter it was too good to miss!

I went with the size 14 as I was in between sizes and think the fit is pretty spot on. I will need to take an inch off the length of the sleeves next time as the cuffs sit quite low on my wrist. Otherwise I am really happy with it.

A while back I dyed a length of white linen a lovely red colour to make up a dress with. As I was looking for a contrast fabric for the under collar it caught my eye and surprise surprise, it was the perfect shade to match the flowers. What a happy coincidence! 

When I bought this pattern I thought I would make view A first. Something about the drape of the lawn made me go for view B though and I am glad I did. I like the dipped hem at the back, it looks really pretty, and it is something different. 

Moving on to my second item, the Lisette Portfolio Pants. I have seen lots of these that I like in the flickr pool. I was a bit more apprehensive about the fit on these but with some alterations I think I have got it right!

I made up a muslin with no modifications and after a quick assessment with the help of this Colette Patterns pants cheat sheet, I figured out what I need to do.

I did a large waist adjustment and added on 3/4" to the waistband and trouser pieces just like they instructed. I wasn't sure it was going to make much difference, it didn't seem to alter the pieces by much, but the difference between the muslin and the first fitting was incredible. They suddenly fit just right. Where they were pulling and tight before, they sat perfectly. Hurrah!

I used the same navy linen as hubby's Negroni shirt as it has become my go-to first test fabric. It creases like a beast but is so nice to wear and will be cool in the hot weather. I can live with a few wrinkles!

The pants have some beautiful details. There are two tabs to the front waistband which you fix down with buttons. You are supposed to add 3 to each one but I went with 2 because that is what I had.

I am about 80% happy with my zip. It seems to pucker out at the bottom and while I am sure that is down to my insertion skills, I would like to use an invisible zip next time. I just think it would look cleaner and keep the line over my hips smoother.

There was some Liberty fabric left over from Boo's Ice Cream top to use for the facings. It makes me smile to know it is there.

The pants have cuffs to the bottom which finish it all off nicely. I like the shorter ankle length for a casual trouser but would prefer another inch (maybe inch and a half) on the bottom to make them more wearable for my height.