Saturday, 22 August 2015

A Coat for Winter

Winter sewing plans are being put down early this year. Both girls need warm coats which are the main projects, so I thought I would tackle them first and get them out of the way.

A couple of weeks ago, we went up to Mostyn in North Wales where the HQ of Abakhan fabrics is located and I bought everything I needed for the coats.

Boo already has her school coat sorted, I managed to pick a woollen duffle up in the January sales but she needed a play coat. I had a Farbenmix pattern that was very well received when I first made it 2 years ago and pulling the pattern out, I saw that I only needed the next size up. This pattern goes a long way!

The pattern can be found here. It is a fully lined, A-line jacket that can be made to look very funky or plain depending on personal taste and the fabric used. I used baby cord on my first one and a cotton canvas on this one. 

There are three different pocket options; a large kangaroo pocket for the front, a small pleated pocket for the chest and a smaller accent pocket which could go anywhere. I was tempted to pop it on the sleeve but in the end just left it off altogether.

We spotted the rainbow appliques in a local shop and I couldn't resist, they break the coat up nicely and since I have made it up quite plain, they add some interest.

The lining is a slippery poly-satin in cream. She loves how the coat just slides on. 

The hood is lined in a cotton poplin with little russian dolls. It was a scrap piece that just happened to go nicely with the blue canvas. Although you can't see it, the kangaroo pocket is lined with some blue flannel. It feels so lovely to slip your hands into!

The little neck tab, fixed with a snap and the cuff ribbing ensures that chill winds don't find their way into the coat. I also chose to interline the entire coat, even the hood. I was worried that the canvas would be too thin if we have a cold snap. I used fusible fleece (Vilene H630) which is low volume and works beautifully on clothing.

The hood is really deep too. I forgot to ask her to slip it on but believe me, it really does come down low over her head. Great for keeping her snug.

I knew the sleeves would be long on her from holding the pattern pieces against her, but seeing as it is August and this coat is to see her through till February at least, I wasn't too worried.

She won't need to wear it for a while yet, but it is ready!

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Getting back into the sewing thing...

I feel like my sewing mojo is back after a brief holiday. I had a few weeks where life took over and I didn't feel much like starting a new project because I would only be able to snatch a few minutes at a time. I was doing a bit of knitting, but that is a story for another day....

After the birthday and end of term activities were done and dusted I sat down and assessed my sewing basket. Dragging my feet I tackled the UFO pile first, knowing it would make me feel better in the long run.

I started a school uniform Jump Rope dress back in early June but it seemed a bit snug on Boo, so I put it to one side knowing I would have to come back and finish it off so it could be put away for L.

I have made a fair few of these dresses in gingham now and they make the perfect summer dress for school. So smart and pretty. It is hard not to love the pattern even though it takes a little while to complete.

I am trying to top up Boo's dresses as she has just outgrown most of them. I tried a Simplicity pattern aimed for Tweens as I have noticed they have quite a good selection of patterns in that age range. Her measurements are taking her beyond some of the regular patterns that go up to age 8 and she is between a 10 and a 12 in the Oliver + S ones. I am entering  bleak territory....

This is Simplicity 6360 and it is a dress with princess seams, godets in the skirt, and a zipper down the back. The pattern itself was simple to follow and I didn't have any problems with the construction.

The fabric is a medium weight denim with punched holes and as with most things, was supposed to be for me. Oh well!

It is a smidge too big. The armholes are the big give away there, far too low for her at the moment. So I will come down a size and check the circumference of the armholes with a tissue fit before cutting anything out. Those godets though... they gave the full twirl factor when she tried the dress on!

So now that I am fully back in the swing of things I dug out my Hopscotch pattern. I have had this beautiful denim sitting on my shelf for a while now and when I bought it, I had this skirt in mind.

The thing I love about this skirt is the pockets. So unique and once you get your head around the folding and pressing directions, they are easy peasy!

I also made the tee from the pattern in good old white jersey. I am disappointed in the quality of the knit fabric though. I can't remember where it came from.... ebay maybe..... it hasn't coped with the seams very well, after washing it is peppered with tiny holes around the bodice and arms. I used fresh needles so know that isn't the problem. Sigh. 

Back to the skirt and this time I actually made the buttonholes. Since you don't need to undo them to get the skirt on and off, I have always skipped that step in the past and sewn the buttons on through both plackets. This time I just fancied doing it the proper way. My machine behaved itself too! No chewing up of fabric or stubborn refusal to complete the buttonhole.

The length was perfect no alterations needed.

This is one of her favourite jobs in the garden. Picking blueberries for tomorrows breakfast! We have a very healthy plant this year and they are starting to turn dark purple.

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.