Tuesday, 30 December 2014

2014 Sewing Review

I recently sat down to make a few notes on projects that have been buzzing around my head. I have done very well in prioritizing which sewing patterns to tackle first, even making sure I had the fabric and haberdashery bits and bobs in place to do them, but I have fallen short on time. Not anticipating how busy Christmas time can become has left me a bit behind.

I haven't fully completed a project yet and it has been 5 weeks since my last one. Not a sewing rutt, more a time rutt. But I have lots of plans so to give myself a bit of inspiration I put together some collages of my work over the last year. It is always surprising to look back over my sewing and see what I achieved in terms of output, what new skills and techniques I have learnt, and how the activities of the year have influenced the projects I chose.

I did more sewing for L this year. I have enjoyed using the smaller size ranges on some favourite patterns and indulging in some new ones just for her.

I made the O+S Tea Party Dress and the O+S Swingset Tunic with glee, my big girl is out of those size ranges. The Swingset is one of my favourite makes over the last few months.

Thanks to a pattern swap by the lovely Jenna of Just Sew Jenna, I tried out the Green Bee Sally Romper which I must try again next year.

I went with all the blues for my Oliver + S sewing for Boo.

Some of these definitely seem like more than a few months ago!

Boo's most worn item was the plain blue Seashore Dress. The bodice is just getting too tight for her now, but it has been worn constantly.

I also made the obligatory Queen Elsa dress (unblogged) using the bodice shape of the O+S Seashore Dress, skirt of the O+S Fairytale Dress and the top yoke of the Heidi & Finn Tulip Top. It was a big hit and worn to most parties.

I tested out a variety of trouser/pant patterns for Boo and still haven't decided on the right version for her everyday play ones. 

She was in the top size for the LouBee Hosh pants so is out of them now. The Clever Charlotte Raven pants were great but need tweaking to fit her better. I will try adding a zip fly next time and sizing down.

I can't say enough good things about the Small Fry Skinny Jeans pattern. We absolutely love them! Best fitting trousers of the year!

I made the Figgys Banyan shorts which were a perfect fit, but didn't get round to making the trousers for her. They are on my to-do list!

For me, it was all skirts and dresses. Summer rolled around and I had a big gap in my wardrobe. I love my red sundress and my Liesl & Co Lazy Days skirts.

I am wearing my Portfolio Top today and it serves as a reminder to make another. It is a great piece for layering in the cooler weather.

I didn't get a whole lot of knitting done. Only two finished projects and one which is still ongoing. The cable yoke cardigan will get picked up again soon when I have taken a deep breath, picked up the stitches for the sleeve and divided them up over my dreaded double pin needles. I need to master the Magic Loop method, I loathe using DPN's!

So that is my recap. It helps me think about all the things I missed out and need to get started on. First up is a new school dress for Boo. I am making her another Music Box Jumper, this time in a light grey needlecord. It should last the majority of the cold season.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! The new year is less than two days away and we are having a quiet one as per usual. Our tradition is to order a Chinese takeaway and once it is collected, open a bottle of bubbly and chill out. To be honest, we rarely last until midnight. The fireworks may filter through our dreams but our Happy New Years wishes wait until the next morning. Old age I guess!

See you all in 2015! Thanks for visiting my blog!

Katy xx

Monday, 24 November 2014

My Fifth Bubble Dress.... (it must be a favourite!)

This project was so much fun! I adore this pattern anyway (as you can tell from my title) and I splurged on some really pretty fabric in a recent sale, which was calling to me to be made into a dress for one of the girls. I only had a meter. So an Oliver + S Bubble Dress it was!

The fabric is by Leah Duncan for Art Gallery Fabrics. It is a beautiful print and a really nice weight. Very soft and silky.

My little model was on top form despite having her flu vaccination that morning. I love seeing her face light up when she wears a pretty dress. I feel so lucky to have two little girls who adore dressing up. They are always so happy to have a new dress in particular.

I didn't make any alterations to the pattern. The Christmas before last, both girls had a Bubble dress for our family get-together and so I could see that she only needed to go up a size to a 3T.

It is a lovely fit on her. 

The one thing I adore about this pattern is how it is completely sealed inside. No raw edges or seam allowances of any kind on show and fully lined so it is soft against precious skin. Which is probably the reason I have made two as gifts in the past.

We are currently at temperatures of around 3C outside so layering is essential. The way the cap sleeves are shaped make it perfect to go over a long sleeved tee. I love this dress in summer but this styled this way it also works for winter too.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Lunch Box Tee & Culottes

Last month saw the release of two new Oliver + S patterns, the Carousel Dress and the Lunch Box Tee & Culottes. I was particularly excited to see this culottes pattern and after a bit of consideration bought the PDF version in the small size range for my youngest daughter. I will no doubt buy the paper copy in the larger size for my biggest girl (because I can do without sticking two PDF's together thank you). 

Just for a change I decided to buy the pattern for L, because I have never actually bought a O+S pattern in the small size range before. It feels like I am giving her some sewing attention, and this pattern has her name written all over it. She is a robust little girl who hardly ever stays still, is always hurtling headlong into puddles, crowds, mud etc. But she does love her pretty dresses, princess outfits and singing 'Let It Go' at the top of her voice while walking around the house with a blanket-cape. So shorts that look like a skirt are perfect for her. Practical yet pretty. Brilliant!

I had to really focus on the sizing for her. She falls across several different size categories.
For example:

Chest 22" (putting her between a 3 and a 4)
Waist 20.5" (12-18months !!)
Hip 22.25" (between a 2 and a 3)
Height 39.25" (that would be between a 3 and a 4)

Phew! She is making me work even before I have started.

I finally settled on making a size 3 tee and size 2 culottes. Because I was unsure how the sizing was going to play out, I used some clothes that had been set aside for recycling. A velour skirt (passed on by my Mum), and a stripey t-shirt that was too small for me.

The culottes ended up too big around the waist and I drew the elastic up to the point where I had to stop else I would distort the drape. The length of them is absolutely perfect though. Just where I would want them to fall.

The velour culottes (note: not the recommended fabric) have an air of Christmas about them and maybe she will fit them a little better by then.

I made view B of the tee, this is the simpler version with no pockets. Next time I would need to add 2" onto the length as it hits just a bit too high on her waist. 

The top is super quick to put together. I cut everything out the night before, folded and pinned all the pieces and put it out to finish in the morning. Madam had me up by 6am and by 7am, the top was done! 

I have to say, I adore this pattern. If the word culottes makes you shudder, don't be put off, these are fabulous. The box pleats at the front and back (while not coming out particularly well in my fabric choice) make the skirt/shorts fall beautifully and they are mega practical. If I had any tights that were the right colours I would have put them on her. That would complete the look for a Christmas party.

I also whipped up a pair of Sunki Leggings using some dark grey knit. They are a 2/3 and are a bit baggy, but the length is great and they look so comfy. It is such a great leggings pattern!

I am glad I got the size right with the tee, I will be making many many more. Just with a bit more length. Does anyone else have a child with really random measurements?! If she carries on, she will be tall with a tiny waist. (If only she got that from me!!)

Friday, 31 October 2014

My Kids Clothes Week Round Up

I started KCW with a very rough plan of what I wanted to achieve. My big girl needs more trousers. Jeans, joggers, leggings are all outgrown. 

So this was my list at the start:

  • Clever Charlotte Raven Pants (size 8) Beige Corduroy - for Boo
  • Figgys Banyan Pants (size 4) Grey moleskin - for L
  • Titchy Threads Small Fry Skinny Jeans (size 7) Grey moleskin - for Boo
  • O+S Class Picnic Top (size 7) Seersucker - for Boo

I also have an ongoing knitting project that I am dipping in and out of (but not getting much done). My knitting speed is quite relaxed and I am at a step that I need to concentrate on, so no distractions.

Also my Mum was visiting this week so we had a few days out and things to do in the midst of everything. As a result, I only got 2 out of the 4 items on my list ticked off. I just caught up with the third and am starting on the fourth now.

I made up the Raven pants first and they are fitting in well with our cooler weather. 

I made up the size 8 as that is where her measurements fall but could go down a size to make them fit better. Her waist measurement always puts her in a bigger size, which means I have to size up through the hip and leg. I think if I could adapt these to a fly opening, then she could go down to the size 7 and they would sit better around her middle.

Saying that, these are good play trousers and the colour goes with everything. 

Next up (and still within the time limit) I made up this Picnic Top. I got this fabric free within an order when I couldn't get the print I wanted, and it was originally set aside for pj's. On a whim I decided to make it up into a top to pretty up jeans and a cardi over the winter. This is only my second version of the Picnic top, but it is so satisfying to sew up that I want to make a few more in some solids. 

The bonus is that my daughter doesn't have to worry about which is the front or back with this one, they fit the same!

Just out of time for the weeks challenge was a pair of Small Fry Skinny Jeans. I did cut them out in the challenge week though, so they count right? 

The fabric is a grey moleskin that I bought for a song on Ebay. I truly wish there was enough to make myself something with it but I unselfishly cut out both girls a pair of trousers and am very happy about it. They will both have something soft and smart to wear.

This is my first time with the pattern and I am thrilled with it. The sizing is spot on and the instructions are so thorough it puts other patterns to shame. There are clear directions on every stage and different options to use. I used a full fly on these jeans as Boo is old enough to get herself dressed, but the half fly option will be perfect for L. Can't wait to get started on a pair for her!

The soft grey picks up the grey leaves in the Picnic Top too!

I found a jeans pocket design on Pinterest that I really liked so I copied it and it turned out great!

I have already started on the Banyans for L which I also cut out last week. Having made that pattern once before I am hoping it will be plain sailing. 

I need to make a strict list of items that need making up because we now have the fabric to replace the lounge curtains and I want to get those done before Christmas. Also I have a request from my SIL for some Christmas presents. Once I start on those, clothes will have to wait!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The one that nearly ended my love of sewing

The title says it all, I had such a hard time sewing this coat that it nearly broke me! 

Living in the UK a good waterproof is essential and I wore my beloved Regatta wind/rain/bomb proof coat every day last year until it eventually started to fall apart. Don't worry, I got my money's worth!

I wanted to make my own this time round and saw this fishtail parka in an Ottobre Design Women's magazine that was perfect. Long enough to keep my upper legs warm and dry on the rainy walk to school, lots of pockets, a high collar and a deep hood. Just what I would look for in a shop bought version.

I wanted something lightweight and breathable so bought a polyester microfibre from Pennine Outdoor (thanks Lightning for the shop recommendation). The great thing about buying it from an outdoor specialist is that I could get all the hardware for it in the same basket. The only thing I bought separately was the lining fabric but that could have been sourced from there too if I was feeling lazy.

The Ottobre instructions left me so exasperated at times that I nearly gave up. I never knew how much I took Oliver and S instructions for granted until I started this project. I would have given anything for a diagram at various stages. 

The very first step was to install the welt pockets onto the front panels. I haven't attempted them before but usually get a grasp of construction techniques fairly easily, but without pictures?! No way was this going to be easy. I looked at the O+S blog post which was super helpful and covered the basics, but the pocket pieces on this coat were a bit different and so I was still puzzled. Ottobre says there is a guide on their blog, if you can find it let me know, because I searched and came up with nothing. There is a visual step-by-step for these particular welt pockets in the preceding children's issue 4/2013 so if you have it great, this is what I used to make sense of them. 

The hood is fantastically roomy and pulls tighter with a drawstring and toggle if you need it to stay put. Nothing worse than having to hang onto your hood in a rainy gale whilst pushing a pram and looking after an older child. Whilst carrying school bags. Are you with me?!

There is also an elasticated section around the brim which makes it a bit snugger.

I made the size 44cm and was very pleased with the fit. The length is just right and the drawstring waist means that I can cinch it in so it doesn't look too boxy.

Those welt pockets on the chest area take some getting used to. It is actually really comfy to have my hands at that level and because of natural body heat, it is a warm place to keep your hands. But does it look like I am fondling my chest? I don't know. I can see my husband finding those pockets too appealing to ignore!

I did nearly give up several times and because of a stubborn refusal to admit defeat, I have been a misery to live with over the past two weeks. My apologies have already been uttered and sentiments discussed between myself, husband and children. This was not a happy project and although I am feeling some warmth now that it is all over, for me sewing is part of what I do because I love it. I didn't love this. 

I was empowered to write a proper review of the pattern over at Sewing Pattern Review. I could only find one person who had made this before so thought my two-pennies worth might help someone who was struggling with it too.

I need a comfort blanket and so am having a day off before diving back into some Oliver and S patterns to nurse my wounds with. 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Burda 9492 Girls Skirt

This is a really great girls skirt pattern. I saw a version stitched by the very talented MC and just had to purchase the pattern for my girls.

By happy coincidence the style is a mini version of the Everyday Skirt by Liesl + co. I wear one of my skirts at least twice a week and they are so comfortable. Since the design is so similar, I knew my girl would wear this without hesitation!

The skirt has side front pockets, gathers to the front, a flat front waistband with an elasticated back waistband. It also has two pockets to the rear. I am undecided about the functionality of those. I like them but have to question whether they are entirely necessary.

This is View B, the longer version. 

The length is actually quite generous. It falls at a flattering knee length. I like it on the long side but if it were shortened by another inch or two, it would still look great.

The fabric is a poplin with a print I couldn't resist. We are low on (non-school) skirts at the moment so I will make a few more to bulk up her wardrobe. I wanted to get some solid print skirts in there so we don't have to think too much about matching tops, but this girl needs some fun prints as well!

I used a fancy stitch on the topstitching line for the back pockets. So many of the embroidery stitches on my machine are neglected, I should make a vow to use them all at least once!

The back pockets make the skirt look almost back-to-front. I like the idea of making a speedier version and just using the back skirt piece with the pockets for detail on the front of the skirt too.

But to miss out on those useful side pockets would be a shame.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Oliver + S: Hide & Seek Dress

Ha! I finally took the plunge and made up this dress. This is after having pattern and fabric in a tempting bundle on the side for a few weeks.

I knew two things when I bought this Hide and Seek Dress pattern; the first is that I would love it (true love comes easily with any O+S pattern) and that I wanted to make a black version first. This is the size 7 and I am very happy with both fit and length. No need for any mods on this one.

I chose a cotton-linen blend in solid black and to jazz it up a touch, a multi-coloured raindrop print from Timeless Treasures. I wanted the front yoke panel and welt pockets to be in the contrast and the back yoke in the solid black. For some reason I am not sold on the contrast back.

The linen blend fabric does crease like a devil and these photos were taken after a car journey so not looking as pristine as off the ironing board. Still it is a comfortable and light dress to wear. The length is generous and I could get away with dressing her in an additional petticoat layer and tights when it gets cooler.

The back view looks like a little girls dress from the Victorian period. Maybe it is the sombre colour but I can visualize an apron tie creeping around the back waist here.

She was so excited to have a new dress, it has been a while since we updated her selection. I had trouble getting her changed out of this later on in the day.

The style of this dress ticks all the boxes for me. The length of the sleeves is perfect for our current August weather and it will transition well into Autumn with a long sleeved tee underneath. The sleeve cuffs are finished with the same technique as the Lisette Portfolio Top which is really impressive and professional looking.

I enjoyed the construction of the dress but have to say - phew! that side panel to middle panel seam is a long one to sew in one go!

I will have a tunic version on the go as soon as I get some other things done. The kids go back next week and I am already planning more sewing time. Maybe a bit of housework. If I must. But mostly lots of sewing!