The Too Big toddler dress and leggings combo

DSC_0127 DSC_0122 DSC_0132

I am a huge fan of Ottobre Design kids patterns. I’ve made a few items for the boy – they fit really well and are very practical for everyday wear. I am sure this outfit will be no exception…when the girl grows into it. I seem to have a problem with cutting the right size and always end up going too big. Sure, it’s better than being too small but also quite annoying since she won’t get to wear this for a good couple of months at least. I blame RTW (always a scapegoat!) and its tendency to be smaller than it should be. Certain shops have the weirdest sizing in kids’ clothes – and some clearly don’t preshrink fabric as they get smaller after washing which really maddens me! But, isn’t that one of the reasons we make our own clothes?…because we know we can do better? Now, the bairn’s tall and has always worn a size bigger in RTW but, even so, her leggings are always up above her ankles (and the same with the boy, though in his case it’s that the t-shirts don’t always meet the waist band!) so, when choosing a pattern size I tend to – out of habit – go up. Turns out it was entirely unnecessary in this case. Who’d have thunk it?!

DSC_0134

I cut the size 86cm which is normally 12-18months and as you can see in the top pictures there is plenty of growing room. That’s not a bad thing but I just hope that the bairn grows into the waist before the leggings get too short so fingers crossed! The tunic and leggings patterns are from Ottobre Design 1/2015. All seams were stitched on the overlocker and then finished with the twin needle on the neckband/cuffs and the amazing Bernina stretch stitch on the hems (seriously, it’s the most amazing thing about my machine. The hem can stretch way more than a twin needle or a zig zag stitch and means no more popped seams on stretchy fabrics!) If you look really carefully you can see it here on the tunic hem  and leggings waistband – it’s the most close up picture I could get.

DSC_0136

The fabric is the really beautiful Elk Grove knit by Birch Fabrics. It’s organic cotton interlock knit and I’ve been hoarding it for about a year waiting for the right time to use it. It feels very soft yet thick enough to handle some rough’n’tumble toddler action. I only bought a half metre of each fabric and couldn’t get the whole dress out of one piece. I like the mis-matched arms though so I’m pleased with the way it turned out. If you can get away with weird details anywhere then it’s most definitely on kids’ clothes. Due to fabric limitations there was no way I was even going to attempt to match the chevrons on the leggings. Quite liberating really as I would probably have done it despite the fact that the bum will be covered. Fortuitously, I had the perfect match of cotton ribbing in my stash. I sure do love it when that happens!

I’m #MadeUp With My Rigel Bomber

DSC_0082

I’m pretty chuffed with this jacket. This is the Papercut Rigel Bomber, planned, bought and cut out sometime in…mmmh…March? Okay, so, I have a very annoying habit of starting a project, and then starting another one before the previous one has finished. Now, I usually finish all of those projects eventually but not always in a sensible order. And that’s just the projects that I actually start. There are many more in my head or in my stash pile waiting for their turn on the cutting mat. I partly blame my current lifestyle. With two very small children I don’t have much time to sew. I snatch a couple of hours in the evening and, if I’m lucky, a couple of hours on a weekend morning. It’s certainly not enough time to realise all of the sewing plans in my head so that nice orderly queue of patterns and plans becomes a bit of a rammy as they all jostle to be next on the table. What I need is a deadline! This deadline comes courtesy of Karen at Did You Make That who launched the Made Up Initiative to raise money for and awareness of the National Literacy Trust. This is a cause that really speaks to me as an English teacher and a lover of books. In my day to day I am on the front line trying to improve literacy in my pupils so it’s something I feel passionately about.

DSC_0084DSC_0085DSC_0087

Now onto the jacket. I saw this wonderful fabric before I thought of the pattern. It’s a hefty stretch cotton from Fabric Godmother with this amazing granny floral, painterly print. It’s a bit grungy, a bit new romantic and a big bit 90s. That’ll be why I like it so much! I stored it in my head for a while (along with about 200 other bits of fabric and several patterns) but was never really sure what to make with it. Then I saw this by Sally of The Quirky Peach and I knew that I had to make a floral bomber jacket.

I made size S after reading a few reviews. Initially I graded out to M at the hips but when I tried it on for fitting I ended up taking it back out at the sides so that it is S all over. The only change I made to the pattern was adding lining. I wasn’t sold on the idea of a jacket without lining. I don’t like to see the seams and I also like to have that extra layer for warmth. It’s pretty cold here in Scotland, most of the year! It was easy to create a pattern piece for the lining. I just placed the facing on top of the front jacket piece and drew around it to create the lining piece, remembering to add the seam allowance for both lining and facing. I did the same for the back lining piece but also added a few inches to the centre to create a pleat at the back for ease of wearing.

DSC_0066DSC_0093

The lining fabric itself deserves a special mention. I’ve been reading for years about rayon bemberg, the lining fabric of choice for many sewers, but could never find it in the UK because we use different names for rayon fabrics. After an evening of hard research I finally found it, or at least I think I have! This is cupro, short for cuprammonium rayon, commonly known by the trade name Bemberg! What a find! I bought black and cream online at Watson and Thornton, pre washed, cut and sewed, and I can tell you it is AMAZING! I hate, no, HATE acetate linings. They are sweaty and fake and I feel that if I am sewing my own clothes I should be making them better than the high street. No looking back now that I have found this stuff. It’s so soft and feels lovely against the skin, and importantly, it’s not sweaty! I actually lined my Floral Linen Laurel with the cream cupro but totally forgot to mention it when I blogged about it so here’s a picture.

DSC_0097

So, thanks to Karen for making me finish this beautiful jacket. And thumbs up for the amazing job you have done to increase awareness of this great cause.

Baby’s First Handmade Dress

DSC_0021DSC_0018

So, this is the first dress I have made for Wee O. Surprising? I’m probably alone in this but I think dresses look a bit odd on babies that are not yet standing up. They bunch up around their backs when they are lying down and get in the way when they try to crawl. Tunics are nice. I like tunics with leggings or shorts but dresses are wasted on little scrunched up babies. And just don’t get me started on poofy skirts and tutus! Now though, Wee O has reached that lovely age where she is learning to walk and is spending most of her time upright so I decided to mark the occasion with a new dress.

DSC_0025DSC_0020DSC_0027

There are some really cute dress patterns out there. A quick search on Pinterest throws up loads of options and many of them free too. I love that people put so much effort into designing and digitising patterns for anyone to use. It’s a real sign of the generosity of the sewing community. This free pattern by Made by Toya is a lovely simple back-buttoning bodice with gathered skirt.  It’s available in two sizes – 18-24 months and 2-3 years and can be made as either a dress or a tunic. I chose to make the dress. Wee O is 12 months old but she is big for her age so I was sure that the 18-24 months would be fine.

I used some cotton fabric that I picked up for a bargain price in a lovely wee shop in Kirkintilloch called i Sew 2. I had no intention of buying fabric that day – I have mounds of the stuff at home – but sometimes you just stumble upon a shop you’ve never seen before and, well, you just can’t help buying more! I just tell myself I’m spreading the sewing love. It’s 100% cotton and has the weight of a quilting cotton. The bodice is lined in the same fabric as the outer and I lined the skirt in red cotton. This means that altogether it’s probably stiffer than a baby dress should be but it holds its shape nicely and gives Wee O plenty of room to move.

Wee O wore her first handmade dress to a family party today and got a bazillion compliments so we’re drawing up plans for more. Now that baby dress season is upon us it’s time to experiment with all the weird and wonderful decorative stitches on my sewing machine. And why not?!

Floral Linen Laurel

DSC_0907

The Laurel dress by Colette Patterns is one of those dresses that I could wear every day in different colours and fabrics. It’s very versatile. So far I have made four. FOUR! I think it suits me – it’s not too dressy, it’s comfortable, it’s customisable, work-appropriate, modern yet classic, yadda yadda yadda.

DSC_0906

This is a bright flowery linen. At least I think it’s linen – there may be some viscose in there as it’s slightly finer than linen. I picked it up on a sale table yonks ago and it sat in the bottom of my stash pile as I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. It makes a lovely Laurel though. I’m surprised that I didn’t figure that out sooner.

DSC_0911

The Laurel dress is a real TNT pattern for me. Here’s one I made before. And another. All I changed this time was the shoulder width which I brought in 1cm on each side.

I’m not finished with the Laurel dress. No way!

Candy Stripe Baby Top

DSC_0043

Here I have a sweet candy striped top for Wee O, the bambino of the family. It’s a pattern from Ottobre Designs magazine 4/2014 with slight modifications. I love Ottobre Designs’ children’s patterns. They’re practical and modern and I find the sizing to be great. They list their sizes by height  – this is 86 cm which falls into the 12-18 month range. Wee O has just turned 1 and it fits her as I would expect – with plenty of room to wriggle and grow. It should see her through to 18 months with any luck. There’s nothing I hate more than baby/children’s clothes that come up small. They grow so fast but I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to get as much time as possible out of an item of clothing – especially if it’s something handmade. No quick turnarounds here please! Clothing generally follows a pattern in this house – too big, just right then too small. Then passed on to someone else with any luck. It’s much nicer for the planet that way.

DSC_1160

The fabric is by Sew Caroline for Art Gallery Fabrics. I’m not too keen on this. The print is nice but I don’t think the quality is all that great if I am being honest. It’s a bit thinner than the jersey I would normally use for children’s clothes and doesn’t seem to have the best stretch recovery so I’m not sure how it will hold out. It’s maybe a good thing that this is a loose top or we might end up with baggy elbows! Anyway I might be wrong. A few rounds in the garden with Wee O will test it out! I got it on Ebay for a few pounds and I’ve still got enough to make something else. Leggings? A dress? Might wait to see how this one fares before deciding how to use it. The fabric is, I believe, 95% cotton, 5% spandex but it is not organic. Still cute though. The neckband and cuffs are navy cotton ribbed knit.

DSC_0058

All I did to the pattern was raise the neckline at the front by 1.5 cm and eliminate the pockets. Construction was easy peasy. All done on the overlocker except for the hem which was finished with the most amazing stitch that I came across on my sewing machine. It’s a jersey stretch stitch. I’ll write more about that in another post as it’s wonderful and needs to seen to be fully appreciated!

DSC_0063

DSC_0037

My wee pudding looks like an actual pudding in her stripes. How lovely!

Burda Style cotton summer dress

DSC_0938

Summer’s not here yet but I live in hope. It’s been howling a gale all day – typical West Coast of Scotland weather – and good for nothing except staying indoors and taking photos. And working on my summer wardrobe of course. This is the poetically titled Dress with Gathered Rectangle Skirt and Cap Sleeves 02/2011 by Burda Style. According to the Burda Style website this is one of their most popular patterns and I’m not surprised as it’s an easy breezy summer style that has the perfect amount of vintage flair. In keeping with the vintage shape I used a cotton that I picked up in a charity shop . What a find! I scored 6 metres for about £3 so there’s plenty left to make the family some matching attire should I take a notion to pass us off as the Von Trapps.

DSC_0936

I muslined the bodice and based on that I cut a size 38 and did a 1.5 inch FBA. The neckline was a bit low for me so I raised it 2 inches. Other than that the fit is fine. Next time I will probably raise the waist seam an inch as it’s a tad low but nothing I can’t live with on this version. I also changed the zip to a centre back zip instead of the side zip that the pattern calls for. The only major style change is the skirt. I don’t think gathered skirts are the most flattering on me so I changed it to inverted pleats which I measured and then basted in place to check the distribution before committing with the machine.

DSC_0996

The bodice is lined and the skirt is underlined in plain black cotton to give it a bit of body since the fabric is quite lightweight. This makes the dress quite hefty and gives the skirt – and the pleats – a bit more definition which I think looks quite nice. Despite the weight I am hoping it will stand up to a hot summers day…though it may be a while before we get one of those in this land of eternal wind and rain!

DSC_0947

Mini Hudson Pants & A Refashioned T

DSC_0850    DSC_0840

The boy never sits still. What 2 year old does? He prefers to jump around, climb furniture and roll on the floor so what better than a pair of Mini Hudson Pants to make his adventures more comfortable? These breeks by True Bias are the perfect mixture of style and wearability for any child. And adult in fact…I’m eyeing them up for myself too.

DSC_0846    DSC_0847

As for the fabric… My eye was caught a while ago by some sweatshirts on a sale table in Zara. They were massive and shapeless, made from organic cotton and incredibly soft. I bought two – grey and navy – and to be honest they were quite hideous as ladies’ jumpers but I was sure there would be enough fabric in each one for some mini hudsons. I was right. I even used the neckband for the pocket bands and the sleeve cuffs for the leg cuffs…and there’s some fabric left over for a hat or gloves or whatever (but that can wait until next winter now). Lovely stuff! They were constructed almost entirely on the overlocker except for some zigzag stitching on the pocket bands and the waistband. I really love this pattern. The trousers are modern and stylish and the pieces come together really easily so I can see myself making many more pairs in the future.

I thought I had scored an absolute steal given that organic cotton sweatshirting is expensive but when I got them home and scrutinised the label it appears they were composed of about 30/40% organic cotton and the rest man made. So not as good as I thought. Anyway the fabric was still lovely to work with and the trousers are super-cool so I can’t complain.

The tshirt is a reworking of one of dad’s old ones using Ottobre Design 4/2014. It’s the same pattern I used here but with short sleeves. This is a great basic tshirt pattern and fits the boy really well. Enough said really.

x

Burda 6874 in the Wild

Mostly I’m a selfish sewer. And why not? ‘Tis my time…those precious, fleeting, snatched hours in the evening when the babes sleep. I don’t have much time to sew and I have way too many plans for my wardrobe to make much time for kindness. I did once agree to make a jacket for my sister. She bought the fabric, I cut it and partially assembled it, then…promptly forgot about it. It now languishes in my ufo pile. Actually, the reason I stalled was the pattern was wrong for the fabric choice, it wasn’t behaving and would have required too much work to fix. Lesson learned there: pick something tried and tested when lending your sewing time to someone else’s wardrobe. One day I will try to fix it. Or perhaps make her an entirely new jacket.

Despite this aversion to kindly sewing acts I embarked on a shirt sewing mission for the man. He was rather taken with the idea of a Liberty shirt when we were last in London but, you know, being a sewer and therefore prone to fits of ‘I can make anything cheaper’ arrogance I said I’d make one for him.

DSC_0846   DSC_0848

The pattern is Burda 6874: a classic button-down shirt. The fabric is not Liberty. This version is more of a wearable muslin made up in a lovely soft – and more affordable – cotton flannel. I thought it best to try out the pattern before splashing out on the designer stuff.

DSC_0840   DSC_0841

I made a quick muslin to check fit – good thing, as I had to go down a size. Apart from that the shirt fits well out of the packet. And now, as the unselfish sewing bug has got a hold of me (whether I like it or not), I am looking out for a suitable man-friendly Liberty print for the next instalment. One, of course, that can stand up to some high jinks in the local park.

DSC_0863  DSC_0861  DSC_0862

A special shout out to the Bernina edge-stitch foot #10. I couldn’t have down it without you, you wondrous piece of metal.

Three Sorbettos

20150122_114949    20150122_114653    20150122_114841

Things have been slow on the personal sewing front since having my second baby in the summer. Several factors are hampering my stitching  – lack of time, demanding baby, the usual…I’m sure many can relate to this! However, the main issue is breastfeeding and the very negative effect that it has on my daily wardrobe. I can’t wear my dresses unless I want to strip to feed – no thanks – and while I could be stylish in a nice top it is all too easy to reach for a comfy jumper in the sleepy haze of morning. Oh and it doesn’t help that it is currently freezing outside! Now this shouldn’t really stop me from forward planning – I do have some ideas in the pipeline for the Colette Peony and Moneta dresses, McCalls 6696 shirtdress (love it!) and a pencil dress in african wax cotton (I got loads from my lovely friend who works in Kenya) – but there is no point in trying any new patterns until I have stopped nursing and my body has bounced back to normal. I made that mistake two years ago when I fitted a Burda jacket – FBA and all – only for it to be too big in the bust when my body changed post-nursing.

Now…as sewing is highly addictive and one must continue to sew, the best way around this is to sew some repeat patterns.

Enter Sorbetto.

20150122_114949

I made this first one a couple of years ago out of an old French Connection tunic that was headed for the bin. It was intended as a muslin and and I had plans for others which never did materialise. Although a muslin it is very wearable. The fabric is a nice, soft chambray and despite the hideous painted plastic buttons (which I have bought replacements for) it is not a bad wee top. I think I cut a size 6 and did an FBA of around 1.5 inches however I can’t be entirely sure since I traced around the modified pattern pieces and didn’t write down the changes I made. I’m pretty sure I also dropped the bust dart by a couple of centimetres as I normally do with Colette patterns.

20150122_114653    20150122_114841

The following two were made recently. The first is a beautifully soft viscose with a lovely drape and an infuriating unwillingness to stay crease-free. Ironing it is like painting the Forth Road bridge – by the time I have made it to the back the front has crinkled again. I’m sure I could spend my life standing at the ironing board trying to tame the thing and for this reason it may not get that much wear however lovely it looks. The second is a shiny polyester – much more practical from a washing and ironing perspective but probably not so good on a hot day! On this version I did a slight dipped hem at the back. It looks incredibly wonky in the photo but it is not in real life.

Both of these tops were stash sewing but I like the pattern so might invest in some summer appropriate fabrics. It might be January but I live in hope that the frost lifts eventually. And at least in the meantime I am sewing something – anything – for myself. There will be more to come…

Ottobre jersey tops for the boy

DSC_0806   DSC_0814

I recently discovered Ottobre Design magazine in WHSmith in amongst all the dull crochet and cross stitch magazines that seem to be stocked everywhere (seriously, who buys them?!) I grabbed it without hesitation, despite the eye-watering price tag, figuring that with so many patterns it’s got to be good value for money. Now that I’ve made something I can say I’m really happy with it and look forward to making more. There are loads of lovely and practical clothes for kids from babies up to teens so it could get a lot of use. Even the tracing wasn’t as much of a chore as it usually is (Burda I’m looking at you…) probably because being child-sized the pattern pieces fit on my cutting mat and I did’t have to shift the paper around as I was tracing. Last year I made the Made by Rae Flashback skinny tees but despite cutting a size MUCH bigger than the age of the boy (I know he’s big but really…) he didn’t get much wear out of them before they were straining to cover his poor wee pot belly. Ottobre sizes are based on height rather than age so it’s easier to select a size that will fit without being derailed by the age guide.

DSC_0804    DSC_0807

The pattern is the Mushroom jersey top from the Autumn 2014 issue in size 98 cm. As with last time, I used organic cotton jersey from Kitschy Coo. This stuff is lovely. The woodland animals are a hit with the boy and he gets loads of compliments when he wears the top. The second one is my favourite though as the stripy cotton is amazingly soft. Both tops used just under half a metre of the main fabric and are finished with organic cotton ribbing for the neck band and cuffs.

As an added bonus the stripy top has welt pockets!

DSC_0827

It’s the first time I’ve done this with a knit but they went together without any hassle. Ottobre instructions are as detailed as Burda – that is, not at all, so if you are a beginner you might struggle to follow them. Best to consult your instruction manual of choice for help with this stage. Hopefully my construction stands up to the extreme conditions posed by this wee man…

DSC_0811

So there you have it. Two more practical, cute AND organic cotton tops for the boy. And this time they fit better and, hopefully, for longer.

Coming soon…more sewing for me again, YAY!