Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013: Sewing Review

Is it really 31st December already?! Wow this year has gone fast. When you have little ones I suppose it always does. 

I have had a bit of an up and down 2013 and won't be sorry to put this year to bed. I love the appeal of a fresh new year and we as a family are hoping for great things over the next 12 months. We have two gorgeous girls who are growing fast and developing into two of the funniest people I have ever met. I hope we get to spoil them rotten and see them flourish.

I have put together my collages of sewing projects and to be frank, it took me ages. Not that there were many more than last year, just that each finished item means a lot of personal achievement to me and I got lost in browsing my albums.

I have had so much fun sewing for my girls. New patterns and old patterns have been brought to life and I am glad to say, most of them have been worn constantly!

Seeing as I have a gorgeous girl who loves dresses I thought it only right to showcase all of them together. They have all been O+S dresses this year (with only one exception). 

My favourite, if I had to own up, would be the Jump Rope in the bottom right. I love it on her. It is my first JRD and it will take a lot of beating. The Puppet Show dress I made for World Book Day is also fondly regarded as I remember how happy it made her to wear.

It is not all dresses though! I carried on my Oliver and S love affair with some Hopscotch Skirts (maybe my favourite skirt pattern ever?) and a couple of tops and dresses from the same pattern. This year saw me sew my first Sailboat top in a knit fabric and I quickly became hooked. The striped version below was upcycled from a Boden jumper, she is actually wearing it today. 

For KCW I revisited an old skirt pattern, the Flutter Skirt by Sew Sweet Patterns and although there was a LOT of gathers to deal with I made a very cute and girly skirt. My Ottobre Design subscription was under-used by a country mile but I did manage to make the red box pleat skirt above from one of the issues, which will become a future school skirt pattern. 

I ticked off a couple of pattern busts from my list in the form of the Figgy's Sunki (green dress in the centre), and the Farbenmix Izzy Coat (bottom right corner). They both felt good to make and will be made again next year. 

Clever Charlotte Finch Shorts how I love thee! I hope I make many many more in the future. (top row second in and bottom row second in - both versions worn to death!)

Moving on to the sewing I did for my younger daughter, the selection before me seems pitiful. This is what happens when you are brought up on hand-me-downs. You don't need anything new! Saying that I did manage to produce some cute gingham Puppet Show Shorts (whether she needs shorts or not, that Puppet show pattern is going to get made while I still have a child eligible!). Also the Heidi and Finn Pocket Pinafore is one of the cutest things I have ever made and come summer I hope to see a few more of these in the wash basket.

I made up my first vintage pattern this year in the form of Simplicity 9830. The red dungarees (or overalls - depending where you are from). My version was made from red cord and the size 2 is still being worn now. If I get another chance to make this pattern again I will be happy.

The next selection is of my gifted items, those that got away. For this group of items, the Little Things to Sew book came in very handy. I made the Teddy Bear carrier for my niece, the Tea Party Dolls dress for my daughter (ok, we kept that one), the Bucket Hat for a school friend, Juggling Balls and Bag for a school friend, and the Winter Hood for a school friend to wear in the Christmas play. Phew! So glad I got that book! Enough contributions to the LTTS challenge for this year!

As for me, I made a few things for myself. Not many. My most treasured item by far is my Washi dress. I will try not to dwell on the fact it got snagged by a door handle and ripped down the side. I will make it again. I love it.


Reflections on 2013 aside, I hope to carry on into next year with the same passion, and the same lovely group of Flickr friends spurring me on and being bad influences on pattern purchases (Nicole, Justine - you know who you are!!)

Hope you all have a fabulous 2014, lots of love!

Katy xx

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Oliver and S: Playtime Dress

It feels like forever since I sewed up a new children's pattern and despite buying this when it was released, I had a few other things to complete first before indulging myself.

This is the Playtime pattern from Oliver and S. The options are dress, tunic and leggings so all in all it is a great value pattern. There have been some lovely versions appearing in the flickr pool and so I asked Little Miss what she would like and followed her instructions.

A long sleeved dress is becoming more appropriate as the days grow colder and this can be made dressy or casual depending on the fabric. Also it can be sewn in a knit fabric or a woven. How great is that?!
My daughter chose the fabric, I don't like it but I won't dwell on it. 
She loves it and you have to pick your battles. She got a dress she wanted and I got to give the pattern a dry run. Everyone's a winner.

It does have a Christmas vibe to it with its sprinkling of gold stars. I added to the festive look by topstitching in gold thread. This was a test of endurance as it kept snapping on me unless I took it really slow. 

The gathers on this dress are beautiful and give it a lovely fullness. The pockets are in the side seam and I have to keep reminding Boo that they are there! They do hide themselves away perfectly. 

I found some white tights with little gold stars over them and snapped them up immediately. Beforehand I was puzzled as to how to style her, the green is a quite a dominating colour (partly why I am not keen) and so it needs to be offset with something subtle.

She chose to wear it today for her school Christmas party and I have to say she looked very pretty. There are a couple of versions in my head now that I need to find fabric for. It is such a versatile pattern that it will be used a lot. I just know it!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Making School Costumes

The school play this year came with the instructions 'Your child is Dalmation number 22, please dress in black and white spots.' Well a big fat YES to that! I knew immediately what I wanted to do. I have been looking for an excuse to make this, the Big Uptown Girl Jacket from Make It Perfect.

I had no idea where I would find a suitable spotty fabric and looked at a few sites before finding this beautiful soft Dalmation print velboa fabric from Minerva Crafts. It is ridiculously soft and actually feels like you are stroking a pet. It is furry but has quite a flat pile, making it easier to work with.

I ordered a meter of 58" wide fabric and had plenty of room to lay out the pieces for the jacket and also for the additional Winter Hood from Little Things to Sew, which is at the bottom end of this post. Without even thinking I have contributed to my tally for the Cover to Cover challenge!
The hood is for a classmate of my daughters. I am glad of the excuse to use up the spare scraps of fabric as I wouldn't have known what to do with them otherwise.

The inside of the jacket is plain black flannel. It gives the inside that snug, soft feeling which I hope to replicate in a jacket for me one day. I am quite envious of my daughter when she snuggles into this!

I followed the pattern faithfully and didn't run into any problems. I chose not to do the topstitching around the jacket edge because I didn't want to distort the pile of the fur. There is topstitching around the hood, but it was all I could bring myself to do. I felt it was important to have a hood that didn't tickle as she will probably have the hood up for the concert performance. I haven't added the ears yet. Actually I don't know whether I will. The ears that I drafted from the Winter Hood pattern looked far too small. I suppose it is fair to say I am undecided as to whether I will make some up. Lets just see what time I have spare!

I was a bit sceptical about my machines ability to sew a buttonhole through this fabric. It has a track record of screwing things up. I sensibly practiced a few times on some scraps. The recommended buttonhole for furry fabric was a keyhole shaped one. I tried that and my machine got stuck and created a big lump of overworked thread in one spot of the fabric. I consulted the manual again and tried a different one. Better but still a bit dangerous to be trying on my finished piece. I lowered the tension and tried again. After a bit of tinkering, I discovered that a very low tension of 2 (I usually have my machine on 5) worked a treat and produced a safe, tidy button hole. Phew!

(yes, by this point in construction I had run out of black thread in my bobbin. Nobody will notice this minor detail though - hopefully)

I chose to handstitch the sleeve edges together as it wouldn't have looked good to have a topstitching line around the wrist edge.

This is my first animal print jacket. I can't help but think it is a bit trashy, but all for a good cause. She loves it! I may or may not let her out of the house in it for a trip to the supermarket. 

That brings me on to item number two. This is for her friend R who is also in the play. I ran out of the black flannel for the lining and so used a (now retired) work fleece of my husbands. This fleece is the thickest fabric known to mankind. I was amazed when I was cutting into it. It must be a good quarter inch thick. Needless to say, it makes for the type of hat you want to burrow into on a cold day.

I had ordered black ribbon to go with it. It was the only thing not to arrive and has been lost in transit somewhere. They say it has been dispatched, I haven't received it. There is a postal claim in process.... yada yada yada... so I had to use the only thing to hand which was white. I don't really like it and may take it off. I will leave the decision to the friend who is wearing it.

Spots are incredibly hard to photograph and I had to remember to hold my breath whilst pressing the shutter button because everything kept blurring. So when worn on a moving model, the odds of getting a decent shot were slim. Teddy up there did a good job but I did manage to get one properly modelled shot that doesn't make you think you are visually impaired. 

Just when you thought the costume theme was over, oh no, there is one more to sneak in. This is for a Circus Day.

My daughter wanted to be a jester. I really liked the idea and thought I would make a basic onesie and go from there. Somewhere along the way it became a clown outfit. I ran out of puff. No other excuse. 

The pattern is a bedtime sleeper from a Simplicity pattern I have used before for pyjamas. Simplicity 9853.

The construction was really quick and simple. There is a zipper down the front and knit rib fabric for the cuffs and neckline. The stars are appliqued on out of a gold fabric that was kindly donated. The red square on the front leg is the patch pocket borrowed from the Oliver and S School Days Coat. It was a perfect size.

I added 3" extra length to the legs and it looks like a great fit.

Funny story: I had it on the dress form like the photo above and had left it in my daughters bedroom. It has been there for a couple of days and I had forgotten about it. My husband had been away for two days and didn't know it was there. We were doing bath time and he walked past our daughters bedroom, which was in darkness and nearly jumped out of his skin! All he saw out of the corner of his eye was a small figure dressed in a clown suit standing in the corner of the room. 

Well, I have apologized for leaving it there, and for my tears of laughter. He has now recovered from his 'I see dead people' moment. The outfit is now in the wardrobe!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Little Things to Sew: Backpack

Have you heard about the Little Things To Sew: Cover to Cover Challenge? If not, head over to Bartacks and Singletracks to get the all important info!

I have had this Backpack earmarked ever since I first flicked through the Little Things to Sew book. Somehow I have never got around to it before. 

My little girl needed a bag to carry her nursery bits and bobs (the nursery supplied one but it just wouldn't do!). I take and collect all her things the same day so it didn't need to be too big, enough for the basics. The size of this bag looked perfect and it turned out to be just right.

I chose a home dec weight blue flowery print with a splash of pink. I pimped up the pink a touch with a matching zip and bright polkadot lining. I made a strip of piping with some of the lining fabric to break up the front panel.

It was so refreshing to make something that wasn't clothing for a change, I really enjoyed this project. It doesn't feel like I am just ticking off something from my wish list, it feels like I have found a new project that will come in handy for many years to come. I can see me making a few of these. My nieces may end up with one each for Christmas!

I found a supplier for the strap adjusters on ebay. They were really quick to fit and look great. They also came in a pack of five so I have some ready for when I make this bag again.

I did make one silly mistake on the lining pieces. One of my back panel pieces is upside down. This does mean that the curves don't quite match as they should. Luckily, being inside, you can't tell. I didn't notice until I came to sew the inner and outer layers together on the seam allowances. I can't imagine how I missed that before, but I have been a bit under the weather (so we will just blame it on that).

I already have everything packed and ready for her nursery day. Even Pirate Monkey has enough space inside!

We had a little test run with the size and weight. She thought she was off out somewhere and kept wandering around the house saying "bye bye mummy!"

Perfectly pint-sized for my little girl!

So that is one project ticked off for the challenge but a new favourite is born!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

In Threes Cardigan: Take Two

Pattern: In Threes: A Baby Cardigan by Kelly Herdrich
Yarn: Sirdar Supersoft Aran (colourway Frigate Grey)
Size made: 2T

My second In Threes Cardigan was less of a triumph than my first. The eagle eyed amongst you will spot my obvious mistake. I got a bit carried away with my garter rows and slipped an extra one in on the middle of the yoke rows. Given that my main grievance about this cardigan is the wool I used, I am not even stressed about my one-row-too-many mistake. 

I thought (or hoped) that this aran wool would be a success as it feels nice and bouncy, is cheaply priced and comes in a tempting range of colours. But having knitted something up in it, I found that it lost all the smoothness and became fluffy. This is how it came off my needles. Some of the stitch definition is lost just from being on my lap as I knitted.

So, a play cardigan it will become. 

This version is also a smaller size than my first. I intended to knit this for little L who is 2.5 years old. The larger size I knitted previously was very generous and will last Boo for a couple of winters at least. Bearing this in mind I made the 2T for my youngest daughter and it drowns her! I was all set to put it away when I decided to try it on my eldest. It doesn't fit badly at all!
I will go down a size next time to accommodate L and perhaps knit a 3T for Boo. That seems crazy seeing as she is 5 years but, it would fit her perfectly with some extra length.

As a bonus, my mum is quite taken with the pattern and has offered to help me knit another one for each of the girls. So mum.... a size 3 for Boo and an 18 month for little L. Thanks!!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Last KCW projects

The last couple of days of KCW were spend experimenting with the Flashback Tee pattern. If you haven't heard of this pattern, where have you been? It is a real staple in the children's sewing pattern pool.

I have been slow to approach sewing with knits and although I have made a couple of successful tops, I have only drifted into this territory briefly.

I made one of these tops earlier in the year but it was a size 6 and too snug for my daughter. This time round I went with a size 7 and the fit is perfect. I did two short sleeved versions with some knit fabric I had lying around at home. 

The first is your traditional short sleeved tee. I love the neckline and arm cuffs on this pattern, it makes the finish look more professional.

It looks so retro it makes me laugh! Boo said it was really comfy so that is high praise indeed. She has a real bugbear about itchy labels and the soft, stretchy knit I used passed the test. I had some red and white spotty fabric cut out for the bindings but they wouldn't stretch enough so I used some from a pair of baby leggings that had a bit of lycra content. Perfect! You really do need something with a good stretch to make it work.

 My second version was in a lightweight wool, viscose, lycra mix. In a former life it was a jumper dress from Gap that happily saw me through my late pregnancy months. It is a bit worn but the worst of it was around the old shoulder seams so it was due to be upcycled or thrown out.

I kept the details of the original dress; a pintuck down the center front and a triangular flap on the middle of the neckline. The flap I parted down the middle and laid flat so it formed a nice little triangle. This was sewn down and secured into the neck binding. I like the look, it is subtle.

This is the first pattern I haven't had to add length to. It comes just below her hipline which is perfect. This woollen version is light enough to layer in the cooler months. I like it with the long sleeved white tee underneath.

So, now I have got my knit mojo working I should expect a few more versions of this pattern will grace my sewing table. 

Friday, 25 October 2013

KCW: Everyday Pocket Pants

The last couple of days have been spent cutting out these trousers for my youngest and tracing off some new projects. These are a firm favourite in our house and this will be my third pair. See versions one and two here.

I used a soft needlecord for this pair. I adore my girl in this colour. She couldn't contrast further from my eldest daughters requested colours of pink and purple. Blue, Green, Grey and White are just lovely on her.

She is now 2 and a half but I didn't trace off a bigger size for the new pair because her older flowery cord pair still fit her (with growing room). I tend to put her in these for nursery days so I know she isn't in anything too restrictive. Little girls are always on the move!

There is no contrast fabric or stitching on these. I just wanted them plain so they would fit in with everything else. The ribbon was necessary to lift my spirits a bit. Plus, she is a big fan of her ribbon edged taggie (which goes everywhere with her) and likes the addition of a comforting ribbon loop to play with.

The cuffs were cut on the opposite grain to add some subtle detail.

 I made one slight alteration to the pattern this time around and that was to make the waistband deeper. I always felt that the width looked a bit mean and so I cut two strips of waistband casing and used both of them to make up the inside and outside casing. You are only meant to cut out one and then fold it over. I much prefer this version.

The waistband is so so soft against her tummy. I may have popped in a longer length of elastic than last time to prolong the shelf life a bit. Ironically, I finished these last night and this morning a parcel arrived containing the buttonhole elastic I ordered earlier this week. Ah well!

We are on half term now and so the rest of KCW will be mainly late night sewing sessions to work around the children. I will get some t-shirts sewn up at some point!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Kids Clothes Week Challenge: Day One

Day one of the challenge and I decided to put together this hat. The truth is the pieces had been cut out months ago and forgotten about. In the name of tidying up my sewing area I decided this would be my first project of the week.

The pattern is the Uptown Hat by Heidi & Finn. 

I used a medium weight stretch denim and a star print quilting cotton for the lining and decoration. Both fabrics worked really well. You do need a lightweight fabric for the lining that will enable you to stretch it to fit around the outer shell. My cotton just about eased into place.

I added some of the lining fabric to the brim along with some ribbons to add some interest to the outside.

You can add an optional bit of elastic inside the layers of the back brim to make the hat more secure. I skipped this stage because my girl has quite thick hair and that in itself stops the hat sliding about!

I used a fat quarter of the star fabric and had plenty left over so you really don't need much for this project. The brim is quite stiff on this hat because I used some fusible buckram I had left over from some curtain tie backs. It did make the hat a bit tricky to turn out and I wouldn't use it again. Just medium weight interfacing would be fine.

So there we have it. First item made. I really like how it looks on my daughter, she seems to suit a hat. We have a lot of woolly hats so it is nice to have something a bit different.

While I was waiting for her to come home from school to try it on, I may have got a little bored.....
(you can't be sensible all the time!)