Monday, 11 September 2017

Back to School Sewing

How can it be that we are in the second week of September already? In my mind, it is still Summer and we should be planning days out and eating ice-cream. Instead I find that school is back and the familiar routines are taking precedent over fun, lazy days.

I hope you all had a great break from school and your little ones went skipping back into the playground as happily as mine did. They were excited to see their friends and teachers again. 

The last couple of weeks of August were filled with checklists and shopping trips for us. I managed to plan ahead so that I could sew some of the items. The weather wasn't great so the girls didn't mind stopping inside while I got stuck into my sewing patterns!


Instead of a regular pencil case, we decided to make something with a bit more capacity for pens, pencils, highlighters, crayons, felt tips, rubbers, rulers, glue stick, and all those other trinkets you collect during a term.

I used the Dopp Kit from the Portside Travel Set by Grainline Studio. It is essentially a wash bag, but the room inside makes it the ideal size. The zippered pocket on the outside will come in useful (I actually stuffed some hair bobbles in there for her) and the side handle means it is easy to pull out of her bag.


Red is her favourite colour and we settled on some cross-weave canvas as the main fabric. It is nice and sturdy and holds up well. I did interface the pieces as directed to give extra structure to the bag. 

The pattern is well written and I would certainly recomend it. I can see me making these as Christmas presents for my husband and father as I never know what to get them. My dad loves a good wash bag!


A last minute addition to the school sewing was an art apron. 

I once borrowed a book from the library containing a selection of aprons/bib patterns for adults and children. I traced a couple of them off and among them was this simple apron. Perfect for a quick sewing project and thank goodness I had a supply of bias binding to hand. I managed to make this without having to run to the shops for anything. The fabric is by Riley Blake and is a quilting cotton. I cut another piece out of plain white cotton and sandwiched the two together to make it thicker.
The next time I see it, it will be plastered in paint so for now here is a photo of it looking pristine!


My practice run with a school shirt pattern gave me the insight I needed to add some extra length to this blouse pattern. I ended up adding 1 1/4" to the body. It might not have been enough but I was mindful of keeping the nice curve and if she has to tuck it into her trousers, I didn't want a puddle of fabric around her bottom.

The blouse pattern is McCalls 6951 and I used white polycotton.

The skirt is a Simplicity pattern (4264) and is really simple to put together. There are basically two rectangles and the waist elastic is looped and secured into the foldline of the waist yoke before the bottom skirt is added.


As a surprise for this term, my eldest got to dress up for the first day back as a Hogwarts pupil. I believe they are reading Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone this year plus they have a trip to the HP museum coming up. (This may be why she was so eager to go back to school!)


She asked if I could make some robes for her as she wanted to dress up as Moaning Myrtle. "She's in Ravenclaw you know, so the robes have to be lined with blue" (my girl knows I like a sewing challenge...)

I did a bit of searching online and thanks to the magic of Pinterest I discovered a pattern for Hogwarts robes that somebody had self-drafted and loaded onto the Burda Style website. I only had line drawings to go off but the methods for measuring out the lines were well explained and I got there in the end. The only thing I struggled with were the angles of the sleeves. There was no guideline so I had to draw them in by eye. I did have to fudge them into the armsyce and I suspect my drafting wasn't perfect. But looking at it you would never know.

I wasn't the only one who contributed to this outfit. I would just like to add that my husband stood in the kitchen colouring in a chopstick with a black Sharpie marker so that the outfit would be complete! Good man!



Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Badminton Nightie


Pattern: Oliver and S Badminton Dress
Size Made: 7
Fabric: Oh so soft flannel

I haven't sewn much recently, a few things here and there but I wanted to get stuck into a new project. Far from losing my sewing mojo, I have actually used up most of my fabric stash. Really! So I feel quite limited at the moment. I want to make, but can't.

One or two large pieces remain and upon assessment of my rather small tub of various types of fabric, I pulled out this polkadot flannel. 

We don't seem to have had much of a summer this year. 
It has been rainy and about 18 degrees most of the time so a flannel nightgown didn't seem so ridiculous.
I have used this Badminton pattern as nightwear before and my eldest loved it. I made the whole set in one go, top, dress, shorts and skort! (see here)


Now this girl is all about the ruffles. The more the merrier.
My eldest made me leave them off last time, but heck no, they were excitedly requested by this little girl!


As far as the size is concerned, I could have made her a six. 
It would have fit her fine, but then it wouldn't have fit her come Christmas time. So size 7 it was.


We are both so happy with this. 
I got to use up some more fabric (which obviously needs replacing at some point) and she got a brand new, not handed down, nightie.



Saturday, 12 August 2017

Prepping for School: McCall's 6951


Pattern: McCalls 6951
Views made: B (shirt) and D (shorts)
Fabric used: Chambray for the shirt and twill for the shorts
Size made: 10.5 for both.

Patterns I am always on the hunt for are ones that would pass for school uniform. This McCall's pattern caught my eye as it has 3 pieces that could easily be sewn up in our school grey and white. My daughter pulled her face at the front tie option (which I actually really like - I probably had one when I was younger!) so I promised not to make that view.


This is a size 10.5. The pattern does come in regular whole sizes as well, but the halves fit my girl better. I didn't make any alterations on this one and from assessing it on her, the only thing I will have to do is add length. School shirts have to be tucked in so it would need another 1.5 - 2" to keep it snug in her waistband.


The cap sleeves are finished on the inside with bias binding and sewn down to secure them around the sleeve opening. I sewed one of them down (the left side in the photos) but didn't like how it looked on the right side. It may well be this chambray because it is a looser weave than the shirt fabric will be. As a result I hand stitched the other side and the outcome is much neater. I will go back and take out the stitches on the left side and hand sew those too.


The hemline dips at the back, which looks lovely on her. I want to add as little length as possible really to avoid lots of pooling of fabric at the back when it is tucked in. I will be reluctant to loose that nice curve.


The shorts are view D from the pattern and have sewn up really nicely too. I did insert some elastic in the back waistband for her because it was gaping a little. The elastic serves to keep it snug and she prefers the feel of it.


I used some Mother of Pearl buttons from my never-ending Ebay supply (thank you husband...) and sewed them on by hand seeing as they are varying thicknesses and I thought they might smash under my presser foot.

We both like this pattern a lot as school wear. I have yet to try the trousers and skirt but have the fabric washed and ready to cut. How many weeks is it until September? I'm sure I have plenty of time!


Sunday, 23 July 2017

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse


I nearly left July off my blogging list! Always a busy month for our family, this year has been no exception. Now that the school term has drawn to a close I feel like I can finally relax and share my recent sewing projects.


I sewed up this Datura Blouse at the end of June and used the last piece of my Liberty lawn that I bought in London a few years back when I took Boo to the National History Museum.


In timely fashion, this post from Deer & Doe popped up in my blog feed this morning, detailing the beauty and versatility of the Datura Blouse pattern. 

I have made this pattern once before and love the cut of the neckline. 
I have made a few tops/dresses recently where the neckline has been too wide on me and have had to make adjustments. 
I always seem to have an excess of fabric at the center front
Then I remembered how perfectly this top went together and pulled the pattern out. 


I wanted to try the triangle cut-out neckline this time. I rather like it, although I don't think it is going to be the top I pick out all the time. It feel a bit fancy for everyday. I also went up a size from my first version. Which in hindsight I didn't need to do. It feels a bit loose.


The lawn does feel lovely though. What do you expect, it is Liberty!

No matter which version of this blouse you make, the details are beautiful. The instructions however, are little bit brief. Even having made it before, I still found it useful to refer to the sew along hosted by The Drapery. If you find yourself baffled by those yoke instructions, this is the place to go!


This is a fantastic pattern for a summer vest top with a twist. 
The triangle version takes a little more time to put together than the others but is totally worth it!

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Melilot Shirt by Deer & Doe


Pattern: Melilot by Deer and Doe
Fabric used: Lightweight Chambray Shirting from Minerva Crafts 
and some Liberty of London trims.
Size Made: 46

For a very long time now I have been putting this pattern in my basket and taking it out again all with the thought that I didn't need it. Well Me Made May practically killed all my resolve and I eventually bought it! 

The one thing about making an effort to wear all your handmade wardrobe is that all the gaps suddenly jump out at you. I really did need a short sleeved shirt. Something casual yet with nice tailored lines. This fit the bill.


It has a dropped shoulder, so no seams around that area, making it extra comfortable to wear. The cuffs add a polished touch and because of the curve of the underarm, they tuck in nicely to the side seams. I noticed that my Deer and Doe Arum dress has this same short underarm curve and I like it.


The darts hit at just the right place for me, no adjustments necessary. I went for the larger bust size of 41" rather than the 39.5" that I could have traced off, purely because I didn't want it to be too tight. A couple of my bras have foam cups and thinking about that I decided to go for the extra ease.


The pockets are lined! I know, it took me by surprise too! And while they are finished beautifully inside, I wasn't careful enough to avoid a little peek of it showing as you look at it side on. But I did use some Liberty Lawn so all's well that ends well. 


I used my Liberty fabric on the collar stand facing and the under collar too. My daughter chose the buttons seeing as I have a terrible crisis every time I come to choose buttons for a shirt. She chose these smokey grey coloured ones which I love the look of. Good girl!


A few years ago, I really didn't like collared shirts. I used to go for the mandarin collars every time because I think the full collars reminded me of school/work uniform. However, since then I have had a change of heart and now enjoy wearing them. This collar went on smoothly. I seem to be getting better at wearing them and sewing them!

This pattern turned out to be very economical. I ordered a meter of fabric alongside my pattern. It was a 58" wide piece and so I hoped that I could squeeze the whole thing onto my meter. (The pattern specs recommend 1.20m for a 60" wide fabric) I knew my facings were to be cut out of something else. Keeping my fingers crossed paid off...


Phew! Bear in mind that this is the largest size as well. It only just fit! The only other bits I needed to cut were the pocket linings, collar stand facing and under collar. All which came out of my Liberty piece. 

The construction went very smoothly. All the seams are French seams and the bottom hems are completed before you stitch the side seams. The curve is quite sharp at the side edges and a narrow 1/4" hem is required. Bearing this in mind, I overlocked my raw edges first.


This gave me a nice flexible line for turning up the narrow hem. You fold it up twice and stitch it down. I found that overlocking it first meant that it was less fiddly and I didn't burn my fingers with the steam from the iron!


I adore this shirt. I just want to make more of them. The lines of the pattern are beautiful and my husband said it was a great cut on me. So that means it is a winner!





Thursday, 1 June 2017

Me Made May 2017

So, this year I joined the selfie frenzy that is Me Made May. This is a challenge to wear something handmade every day for the duration of May. More details can be found here on the So, Zo blog.

My initial thoughts were that I would struggle to fill an entire month with items from my wardrobe that were crafted my me. I mean, for my children, that would be no biggie. They nearly always wear something mummy-made. I have only made a scattering of clothes for me over the years. But I was determined to join in!

Here is how I got on, in a handy little collage....


Seeing everything I wore over a month in one place is like some fascinating social experiment for me! Some things are immediately obvious. I like wearing blue, for example. Lets be honest, if I ever browse the colourways of a selection of fabrics, I will nearly always go for the blues, greens, greys and whites. It's just my thing.

I made some discoveries along the way, which are going to be really useful in my future sewing plans. There are items I don't have. Items I wish were handmade. 

I drew up a list:
  • Jeans
  • Cardigans
  • Leggings
  • Basic Tanks in solid colours
  • Joggers
  • Everyday pants, capri length or ankle length

If I concentrate on the above list, I would stretch my handmade wardrobe further and enjoy wearing it. I found I got frustrated at the lack of something to wear over my dresses. Or not having something nicer to put on other than my crappy old jeans (which don't fit nicely anyway).

A lot of my clothes are from Grainline Studio, Liesl & Co, Lisette, Colette Patterns. There is a scattering of the big 4 and some Jalie and Ottobre Design in the mix too. I have a lot of patterns in my stash that I have never used and ones that get made repeatedly.

I discovered new Instagram accounts, people who make the most beautiful things. Thank you to everyone who used the #mmmay17 tag and who filled my feed with the most inspirational creations. Thank you to all those who liked or commented on my photos. Apologies for the awkward selfies. One thing I didn't enjoy about the challenge!

To reflect, I am so glad I joined in. I have watched from the sidelines for a couple of years, but actually pushing myself to join in has been very rewarding.

Now today I turn my attention to my non handmades and rebel today by kitting myself out in things made in a factory! Just because...




Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Grainline Archer in White


Pattern: Grainline Studio 'Archer'
Fabric: White spotted French Cotton Pique from Higgs & Higgs
Size made: 14


With summer approaching I felt the need for a casual white shirt. So with fabric intended for a dress (which I bottled out of making because I suddenly realized I would probably never wear a white dress), I grabbed my tried and tested Archer pattern.


This fabric has a subtle sprinkling of pink dots over it and is very very soft. I think it will soften with repeated washing, making it one of those items I will choose over everything else. It smartens up a pair of jeans without making me feel as if I am trying too hard.


This is my third Archer and so I confidently sailed through the construction with no real issues. There is a great sew-a-long on the Grainline blog if you need it. It gives some clarity to attaching the collar if you can't get your head around it.

The one area of my other shirts that always start to wear after a while is the sleeve placket. So where I made the slit for the placket I reinforced it with a small strip of interfacing before stitching and cutting. Hopefully this will make it a bit stronger.


I chose plain white buttons over any of the other possiblites. I played around with some pink and red buttons but really I wanted to keep it nice and simple.

This view has the box pleat at the back, which I really love. 


I do always tend to wear my shirts with the sleeves rolled up. Everything stays cleaner that way! I like how roomy the sleeve is once it is rolled back, not tight and constricting around my elbow. You do miss out on seeing those lovely pleats around the cuff though. (I forgot a photo - sorry!)


Saturday, 29 April 2017

Denim Shirtdress (New Look 6487)


One of the patterns I purchased in the tween range from New Look was this shirtdress. It is pattern 6487


It has 4 different views varying between sleeveless with tie belt, dipped hem, short or long sleeved and straight cut or with a waist seam.

Boo really liked the look of view D. She described the dress she wanted; denim, tabs on the sleeve, shirt collar. It just so happened that I had the perfect fabric to hand thanks to Nicole (thank you so much!). 


I found the instructions nice and clear, which is reassuring because I think she may want more of these in the future. I can't seem to launder it fast enough! 
I didn't make any alterations and it all worked out fine. The chambray is a good weight for gathering without any issues and I like seeing the wrong side of the fabric when the sleeves are turned up.


She does like wearing a dress and leggings much more than wearing jeans so it is a relief to be building a pattern collection which can accommodate that. I have got some new patterns to make for her which I can't wait to crack open. I will have to invest in some new fabric once I have worked everything out, but that is the easy part. Factoring in sewing time however, is another matter entirely! She needs quite a few new things....




Friday, 14 April 2017

Oliver + S Rollerskate Pattern



I didn't mean to leave it so long to put up another blog post. I have been making a few things and my projects feel rather scattered at the moment. So I have tried to tie up a few loose ends, photograph the clothes I have made for the girls and tackle a few outstanding projects in my wip basket.

The pattern here is the Rollerskate dress/top from Oliver and S. I haven't used it an awful lot since buying it, mainly because Boo was at the top end of the sizing scale for the pattern and L wasn't there yet. Now that I can sew up a size 6 I remembered about this one.



I made a straight size 6 in the top and while it fit her well, I felt that the elastic casing was a bit too high on her chest. When she raises her arms, the elastic stays stuck and makes the fabric bunch. So for the dress I lowered it about an inch and it sits much better.


The top is make from a quilting cotton, lined with some plain white poplin. The fact that it is fully lined means that all those itchy seams are hidden away, perfect for this girl who won't wear anything uncomfortable.


I just love the dress version on her. The style of the bodice suits her and it is easy for her to get on and off. I only altered the position of the casing, everything else, length etc, was perfect.


L chose the robot fabric herself out of my stash. It is a pinwale corduroy that was earmarked for some cargo pants but works really well with this pattern. She loves her robot dress!


Leaving off the ribbon feature wasn't done by design but after it was worn hot off my machine I never got around to sewing the ribbon on. 
I think it should be left as it is, not too girly.


Isn't the print cute though? The robots are really fun to look at!


I think there will be a few more of these dresses and tops in her future!