Sunday, 13 December 2015

My Christmas Robin

L had her first Nativity play at school this year and she was given the part of the Robin. She was actually offered the Rabbit and the Goat first but turned them down. Not happy with the costume apparently! So they made up the Robin just for her as she liked the idea of being a little birdy.

The teachers knew I would be able to come up with a costume so they left it up to me!

I loved the idea of her having wings to flap so went looking for a tutorial I had pinned a while back. It was a simple straightforward design and would be perfect for her.

I had an image in my mind of beautiful lush wool felt feathers and luckily there are a couple of brilliant UK based sites that supply gorgeous quality felt. I went with this one because I could choose the percentage of wool content and balance out my overall cost a bit. I picked up a mixture of 40% wool and 100% wool for the project and made sure I used the good stuff for around her face on the mask so it was nice and soft.

(If you want to jump straight to the step by step bit of the wings, then scroll down. I took a few shots while I was making them.)

Altogether, this project made use of four different patterns!

Wings: (see tutorial link above)
Mask: Willow & Stitch Owl Mask from Etsy
Leotard: Jalie 3349

The leotard sewed up beautifully. I will admit to being a little apprehensive as to whether I could pull off a leotard but I had just sewn up a swimsuit so was feeling brave. As it happens the pattern is very well written and the 4-way stretch fabric I purchased from Ebay was super quality. Nice and thick, yet soft and stretchy. Not see-through either which was a bonus!

The Sunki leggings are so quick to come together, I always enjoy sewing them up. I thought she might slip on stage wearing tights but wanted to cover her legs up and keep her warm. These were perfect!

The wings were a little time consuming but I got everything cut out and stitched together in one day. It was a fun project.

I measured her wingspan (not something I thought I would ever have to do...) and added a couple of inches for the middle spacing at the back of the neck. Then I traced a quarter circle onto a piece of card and made a template. The backing fabric is a black cotton/linen mix, nice and light.

I had sketched and coloured a layout for my red, white and browns so after cutting all my scallops out I put them in order.

And got to work pinning and sewing them down on the backing fabric. I learnt along the way, that I should have made the bottom ones a bit deeper but they still sat nicely and you can't see the backing fabric under all the layers. It would just have helped me arrange them better.

As the width got smaller I found that by pleating between the scallops, they sat nicer and looked more natural.

It was a simple case of working all the layers, then trimming the edges. I fixed wrist and upper arm bracelets made of black elastic to keep them in place and a black ribbon to tie around her neck.

The mask was very quick and simple to put together, I highly recommend the pattern for stocking up your dress-up box. The pattern comes with options to make out of felt or card and my girls have requested more.

I am happy to report that the Nativity play went without a hitch and my little Robin was brilliant! (They did dress her with her leotard on backwards, which I inwardly groaned about, but only I would have noticed.)

Monday, 23 November 2015

Ottobre Joggers

This feels like mission accomplished for me. A pair of comfy trousers that actually fit. Not for me sadly, but for my eldest. I have wanted to try this pattern for a long while, taken from the Ottobre Design issue below, which is one of my all time favourite issues. I have made the dress on the cover here and the applique horse for a gift here.

(follow link for magazine)

These are 32. Remainder velour pants. I didn't have velour but my sweatshirt knit bought from Kitschy Coo was perfect for the job. It has a bit of stretch so makes these like wearing pyjamas. So she tells me.....

A while back when I ordered the fabric, I asked  Boo to choose something for a sweater/hoody. This was her choice and while I wasn't 100% on board, I did ASK her to choose herself. When it arrived I had one of those moments where you think, what the heck am I going to make with this? It's cool. But still, no idea!

Then I figured, everybody needs crazy pants for days at home. And here they are.

I blended two sizes to get a better fit. I went with the 146cm with the length of 134cm. I ended up taking a large hem on the legs as they were a smidge too long, but am happy with the overall fit. Not too baggy, nice and slim down the leg.

I had the perfect black drawstring in my stash so didn't have to make one as the pattern instructs. I would always choose to use a ready made one where possible because cutting a thin strip out of knit fabric, folding, pressing and sewing it down neatly seems like too much hard work!

Yes I will definitely be making these again. I would love to try some out of velour and have seen some lovely colours online. I might just get to choose myself this time!! 

Friday, 20 November 2015

Simplicity 1382 for girls

Pattern: Simplicity 1382 
Fabric: 'Persistence Prevails' by Sarah Watts for Cotton and Steel 
Size made: 8 1/2 

I recently bought a few of the Simplicity patterns that include half sizes as I discovered that my daughter fits into the size ranges better. I bought three dress patterns and this is the one she wanted me to make the most. For obvious reasons, the heart cut out at the back appealed to her!

I made the smallest size, that being the 8 1/2. She varies with different pattern companies, and can measure from a size 10 to a size 12 so it is great to know that these come with a bit more longevity.

This is View A; sleeveless with a cut out back. The other options include cap sleeves, a contrast bodice and a simple crossover back without the heart shape cut out. I think the sleeves will look very cute on her. It would be nice to sew another up soon as it makes a perfect Christmas party dress.

The buttons catch the light as they are multifaceted. I got a close match to the lighter turquoise on the dress fabric and chose to make the button holes stand out a touch with a blue thread.

I enjoyed the construction of this dress, it was simple and easy to follow. The bodice is fully lined at the back and part faced at the front. The skirt zips up the centre back. I changed to an invisible zip as I thought it would look cleaner. 

I had a problem with the way the top of the zip curled to the inside when it was zipped up. I have had this problem once before with invisible zips and even though I folded and basted the top of the tape down away from the teeth, it still seems quite rigid at the top. Those with more experience of working with zips, please feel free to throw me some advice. I found this infuriating!

I chose to rescue the situation by adding a hook and eye to the very top of the band and not pulling the zip all the way up. Not the clean finish I was after but the alternative looked messy.

Another brilliant feature of this dress is that it has pockets! And we all love a good pocket!
Sewn into the side seams, the pockets stay nicely concealed within the pleats. I lined mine with the same pinstriped orange I used for the facings.

I like the length, love the back detail and adore the pleats. Safe to say I am really happy with how this turned out. 

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

L's Winter School Days Coat

When L started school, one of the things I got excited about was thinking of making her a duffle coat for the winter term. Of course there could be only one pattern to use, the School Days Coat from Oliver and S.

This is my second time making up this pattern. Similarly to the first run through of the coat, I was terrified of doing something wrong. A coat still feels slightly overwhelming!

I used an English tweed cloth for the outer that felt like a really expensive splurge when I bought it, but on reflection, I have got two coats out of my yardage (the other, an Uptown Girl Jacket, is at the end of this post) so I am satisfied that the money was well parted with.

The inner lining was fiddly to work with. It is a poly-satin that I hoped would make the coat slip on and off easily, which it does, but my fingers kept snagging it and I would find fluffy frayed ends attached to my clothes. Once I got it sewn in, I was relieved! 

Her measurements saw her in a 4T but I wanted to size up to a 5T to make it last a while longer. As you can see, there is plenty of growing room in the arms but it doesn't look too big overall.

I secured the openings with a couple of velcro squares just to keep things together. We are going to have to teach her how to work those toggles. She finds them a bit awkward at present.

I am very keen to make the quilted vest to go with this as the wool is quite thin and there would be plenty of wiggle room underneath even with the extra layer. I haven't sewn in the loops to attach the vest to the coat. When I do get around to sewing it, it will work as a separate piece rather than attaching to the inside.

That is both of the girls sorted for winter now in terms of coats. Hubby and I are patiently waiting our turn for our new coats. Mine will be the Grainline Cascade Duffle and Jay will have the Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat. When I get around to them!

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Sailboat in Stripes

I just love the Sailboat pattern from Oliver and S. It was one of the first patterns I made and it filled me full of such enthusiasm for sewing that it always makes me smile every time I make it. 

The first size I made was a 5T and L isn't fitting into those yet. So I made up a size 4 and the sizing is spot on. No adjustments necessary.

I have been looking for a reason to use this fabric too. Sent to me by the lovely Nicole, I have been reluctant to waste an inch of it unnecessarily. Knowing how wearable this top is, I couldn't pass up the chance to combine fabric with pattern. I think it works!

I tried my hardest to pattern match those stripes and I was 95% successful. The sides look really well matched so I am happy.I didn't want to put buttonholes in. My machine has a poor track record of working buttonholes on knit fabric so I opted for the ease of snaps. She doesn't need to undo them yet to get the top on and off, but towards the end of its life, they may come in useful.

Clothes that become instant favourites are always the best ones to make again. This is such an easy pattern for her to wear that I am eyeing up my fabric pile to make her some more. Winter is coming after all.

Speaking of which, we took the girls to see the Christmas decorations and displays in the garden center today and they got increasingly more excited with each passing minute. Roll on December!

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Swingset For A Big Girl

One of the recent pattern releases from Oliver + S is the Swingset Skirt. A remake of an old classic, updated to include sizes up to 14!

I have always loved this skirt pattern. It is pretty, twirly and has a clever waistband that is both elasticated and contains a channel for a drawstring or ribbon. 

I held off buying the Swingset pattern for a long time purely because it only goes up to a 5T and my big girl was growing out of that size at the time. When I had another daughter, I knew I could justify buying it at last and I have enjoyed making the top from the pattern, here.

For my fabric I chose a print that I had spotted a while ago from... Ikea! Yes, that's right, and it is a home dec weight fabric, so not the easiest to gather, or make and install the drawstring with. But I couldn't resist. 
Sometimes when you see a fabric, you instantly know what you want to make with it. The Swingset popped into my head straightaway and I intended to make a smaller size for L but held off as I knew the colour would suit Boo more.

What a wonderful bit of luck when Liesl released the updated version with larger sizes. Finally!!

I made a size 10. Boo sometimes falls into the 12 but because of the generosity of the elasticated waistband, she fit into the 10 perfectly. I added 2" of length to the skirt so it would finish just above her knees.

The skirt is lined and for this I kept it simple with a white poplin. It is perfectly petticoat like and in this case, keeps the heavier weight fabric from touching her skin so she doesn't complain about it being rough when she sits down.

Lets talk about the top. Another Oliver + S pattern, and another one that is my first time sewing it, the Parachute Polo

This fills my need for a good uniform pattern. The top is perfect for everyday school wear when she doesn't want the fuss of a blouse. The sweatpants will be ideal for PE as well as comfy days at home and long journeys in the car.

This top is a size 12, she needed the extra width across the chest and shoulders. I used a single jersey for the main fabric and a cotton poplin for the collar and placket. 

No need to be surprised but the instructions were superb and the top came together easily. I have just bought a new water soluble marker and it was invaluable for making this. My air soluble marker wasn't coming off some fabrics even though I tried to remove it before the steam iron got near it. For this white fabric I didn't dare to risk it.

The length is really good too and it has a slightly longer hemline at the back than the front. Although you will have to take my word for it as it is tucked in here!

We love both items and I am hoping to get stuck into some new colder weather clothes for her over the next few weeks. I have been lusting after corduroys and twills in the online shops. She needs new trousers, skirts and jumpers so I see a lot of tracing and cutting in my future!

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Sew Lisette B6182

More sewing for me! Another Lisette pattern but one of the newer ones this time. 

This is Lisette B6182 a top, dress and skirt pattern.

I like the style of this top very much. No fastenings so it slips on over your head and there is no extra sewing work with an opening. The front is detailed with a dart which runs across the middle of the chest. A detail which is a bit difficult to see with this patterned fabric but would look great in a solid fabric.

The sleeve cuffs are nice and deep and sit at just the right length.

I made alterations to the overall length though. Here I have added 2" extra to the body pieces. I feel that it is still too short for me. I know the style is meant to be cropped and boxy but I find that when it hits my waistband I am constantly smoothing it back down and trying to cover up my back. Plus as you can see from the photo above, when you have a larger bust, the front hemline sits away from your stomach. 

I had lots of encouragement and advice on Instagram regarding the length when I made a muslin, thanks everyone! In the end I wanted to use this fabric and couldn't lengthen it any more than I had previously. I like it very much, but wish it were a touch longer.

As you can see below, when I bend my body (here I was looking at the blueberries...) it rides up at the back.

I am glad I made this one. It fills me full of confidence for making the dress version which I think will fit into my wardrobe perfectly.