Happy Harem Coverall

Today was probably the last sunny day of what has been a rubbish summer in these parts but any sunny day is a day for celebration in my book. Wee gal is wearing her newest party outfit. It’s not a dress. It’s a harem pant romper because why not?!

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I’ve had my eye on Brindille and Twig patterns for a while. They are good basics but with enough quirky details to suit the age of their target market and they really showcase all the wacky knit fabrics that are out there just now. I took advantage recently of the lower prices of the Harem Coverall and Hooded Vest and I knew immediately that I had to use the appropriately named fabric, Happiness, by Shalmiak. It’s happiness on a plate! Suns, stars, CND signs, rainbows, peace, love and happiness, yes please! I paired it with red and white striped rib knit by Shalmiak. Both fabrics are organic cotton, amazing quality and available here and here in my Etsy shop.

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The romper is well drafted and came together well although I’ll admit to not reading the instructions in detail. It’s a fairly simple construction and I’ve made enough knit garments to feel comfortable about diving in head first but on this occasion I wish I had read the instructions fully before cutting out. As soon as I realised the only way in and out of the romper is through the neck I decided to add button snaps to the shoulders to reduce strain on the neckline. They do advise that you use a fabric with good stretch recovery for the neckline but I think it would have to be very hardwearing to cope with the stress of being pulled over the shoulders umpteen times a day for toilet breaks, undressing, etc. The button snaps work well so it’s not a problem except that I’ve lost a bit of room at the shoulder. The seam allowance is 0.6cm but instead I folded over each seam 1cm then overlapped to make the button band so I think I’ve lost approximately 2cm on each shoulder seam which considerably decreases the neckline and armscye length. It still fits fine but it’s a lesson to me to not be so impatient to get started on a new garment. And I will  *cough cough* pay heed!

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I made the size 3-4T which was a bit of a long shot given that wee gal is turning 2 next week but she is tall for her age and I’d rather make something too big than too small. I think the design of this garment hides the extra length quite well though. It just bunches around the baggy bum and legs area and it will grow with her so hopefully she’ll get lots of wear out of it for – um – the next two years probably!

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But besides the cool shape of this romper it is the fabric that really makes it special. The organic cotton is deserving of its name – it’s the happiest fabric I’ve ever seen. Wee gal had tons of complements when she wore it which makes the process of making clothes extra special. It feels good to know that your kids’ clothes are ethically made (the late nights are all my own!), organic, totally unique and make people smile. For extra feel goods this is Kids Clothes Week, a celebration of sewing for your kids which you can find out about here. The theme for the current challenge is Celebration and that couldn’t be more fitting for this amazing print which is surely a celebration of life!

Peace n love x

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Inari Tee Dress (and some thoughts on the fashion revolution)

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I’ve jumped on the Inari Tee Dress bandwagon! And what a ride it is too! This is my first foray into the world of Named patterns and so far I’m pretty impressed. When you make this dress it’s easy to see why it’s been so popular – it’s been on an almost constant wardrobe rotation since I finished it because it’s just so dang comfy and that has to be a sure sign of success in anyone’s book. I often make items that only get worn the odd time because they’re not casual or comfortable enough for a day running about with the kids but this dress is all that. It’s a very simple unfussy shape which I like but the addition of the curved side seams and dropped back hem elevate it from boring to cool immediately.

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I used denim blue cotton jersey fabric from Remnant Kings. It’s a stable knit with minimal stretch but it’s ideal for this dress as the shape is so roomy. I’ve read others saying that they’d size up for a woven fabric but as this size works with this very unstretchy jersey I think it should be fine with woven. I’d like to try viscose or a soft linen next for summer (though perhaps unnecessary – we had snow yesterday. In April!)

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Last week I was really happy to be able to tell anyone who would listen that I make my clothes. It’s not something that I generally waffle on about (more to do with the fact that few people I know sew) but last week I felt that I was allowed to be, or even meant to be, evangelical about it because it was Fashion Revolution Week. I sew because I enjoy making things. I studied jewellery design a long time ago and around that same time I also learned to sew (because you can never learn just one craft, right?!) Sewing quickly took over and now I make a lot of my clothes and my kids’ clothes too. I don’t manage everything – far from it – but it has taught me to be much more considered in my shopping habits as I have come to appreciate the time, effort and materials that go into making clothes. I know that for something to be that cheap there must be a pay-off somewhere. When I look at the high street I can’t help but imagine the hot, noisy sweatshops and the people who slave away in them for a meagre wage, the mountains of discarded ‘one-offs’ filling landfill and the variety of pesticides, chemical dyes and finishing agents bearing down on the environment. They say that ignorance is bliss and to me that can be the only reason that many shoppers continue to consume fast fashion in the levels they do. Maybe if we spent more time being evangelical about the dark side of fashion we could change a few minds. I’m working on it anyway.

Fashion Revolution Week has inspired me to keep sewing and to keep talking about it. I loved reading others’ opinions about the fashion industry and why they sew and, of course, seeing their makes. Sewing has become a much more exciting hobby with the advent of social media. There’s much more choice in patterns and styles and so much to be inspired by – my list of patterns to try and clothes to make grows ever longer! But for me Fashion Revolution Week and all the chat about avoiding fast fashion has legitimised the different forms of making and buying fashion that I do. So here are some of them…

I enjoy a refashion…

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I shop on Ebay for second hand fashion…

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I use organic cotton whenever possible…

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And I make fashion.

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And always be learnin’…

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Happy Friday x

 

 

Wee Football Star in a Football Shirt (of sorts)

I love children’s clothes but I’m not hugely keen on the gendered offerings available in most high street shops. Everywhere I look boys’ clothes are covered in cars and trucks or ridiculous statements like ‘Here Comes Trouble’ that subtly suggest to boys that we expect them to be troublesome or even find it cute when they act boyish (or boorish). And girls’ clothes! All that pink and glitter and princessy, image-obsessed nonsense. (Don’t get me started on Frozen! Yes, I get that its supposed to be one of the good ones with an empowering female message and all but they’re still bloody princesses and there’s no need for their faces to be plastered all over clothes and toys. Give us a break. Please!) I’m quite particular about how I dress Wee Guy – I like simple shapes, comfortable fabric (cotton, always; organic, if possible) , colour and fun prints. It sounds easy, yes? Well its not. But it’s okay…I can make my own!

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I’ve sewn this pattern before. Many times, in fact. But who cares? Wee Guy needs new clothes and this is his ideal style. It’s my modified Mushroom top pattern from  Ottobre Design mag 4/2014, also seen here and here…oh and here too! I clearly love this pattern. What makes it so good though is that it’s the perfect simple shape to show off lovely fabrics. This one is Shalmiak’s Soccer Star which Wee Guy saw and immediately wanted for obvious reasons. It’s beautifully soft and stretchy and amazing quality. That and the ribbing, also Shalmiak, are from my Etsy shop. The grey fabric is organic cotton jersey from Organic Textile Company available here. Even the wee strip of blue covering the innards of the neck seam is organic but I can’t remember where  it’s from. That means the whole thing is organic! (Okay, except for the thread, damnit!) Wee Guy’s skin is quite sensitive so I try to use organic with him as much as possible but if I’m being honest the more I read about the cotton trade and the garment trade the more I feel compelled to buy organic. I feel uneasy when I think about the harm that the chemicals used in growing cotton and manufacturing fabric are doing and I’m not sure I want to contribute to that. That’s not to say I have fully committed to only buying organic yet but I’m definitely becoming more aware of the issues and my choices as a consumer.

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The entire thing was constructed on the overlocker except for the neck binding and the hem which were done on the sewing machine. I’ve said it before but I’ll say again…I love the jersey stretch stitch on my Bernina! (as seen in the following picture). It has stood up to the demands that both of my children place on their clothing and those are big demands – Wee Guy has developed a sudden interest in climbing trees, need I say more?!

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One happy boy! Will I make more of these? Er…yeah!

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The Ladybird Dress – A Puperita Appreciation Special

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It’s the spring holiday fortnight in Glasgow. Schools and nurseries are closed and I am off work but someone forgot to tell the weather gods and in typical West coast of Scotland holiday fashion it’s a wash out. So, what do you do on a drookit fortnight in Glasgow when it’s too wet to go outside and play? Make summer dresses of course! We live in hope…and in the meantime we are good at layering!

This is the Hula Hoop dress by the wonderful Puperita, an Etsy shop that specialises in clothing patterns for babies and children and today is the day that the very talented lady behind Puperita, Annalisa, is being celebrated by a variety of maker/bloggers who want to collectively show their appreciation and admiration for her and her amazing work. The patterns range from the whimsical to the everyday but every one is crafted with practicality and comfort in mind so that children can do what children do – move! (Sounds obvious but not all clothes for children are comfortable for children!) Annalisa is always on hand with advice and encouragement through her Etsy shop and Facebook group which makes the Puperita experience unlike any other. When you can ask the designer a question about fabric choices, sizing or for help with construction and receive an answer quickly you know you are dealing with someone who really loves what they do…and it makes all the difference. And the Puperita community demonstrates how popular Annalisa and her patterns are – lots of people eager to share pictures of the clothes they have made and to complement and find inspiration in others’. Puperita is a very popular pattern brand and it’s easy to see why when you make up one of the patterns.

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For the Hula Hoop dress I used this beautiful cotton ladybird print that my mum picked up on a holiday in Brighton in Ditto Fabrics. It’s quite a hefty cotton but nevertheless I fully lined the dress in more white cotton because it’s never that warm here, even in summer. The dress will get much more wear this way. I used a fuchsia pink cotton for the piping and cute wee green heart buttons that I had in my stash. The dress is fairly sturdy with all that fabric but as it’s cotton it’s breathable and very comfortable. Wee Gal rolled around all day yesterday in it and it did not restrict her movement in the slightest. I think I’ll make many more beautiful dresses from this pattern.

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This is only the second pattern I have made up by Puperita. You can see the Mini Tulips pinafore dress here but I have cut out the fabric pieces for the Lil Critters pinafore so that will be appearing on the blog soon. Thank you Annalisa for making such wonderful patterns and please know that this is one Mum (and one Wee Gal) who loves and appreciates what you do!

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To see who else has participated in this Puperita appreciation day follow these links and enjoy…

 

Emi ~ Just Add Fabric     Jaime ~ Made By Jaime

Janice ~ So-Cal Sewing Mom     Soso ~Moineau & Petit Pois     Ula ~ Lulu & Celeste

Nuala ~ clootie dumplings     Pam ~ Threading My Way     Maria ~ Fairies, Bubbles & Co.

Shelly ~ Sew Shelly Sew     Chari ~ Take time to smell the rose     Helen ~ The DIY Fox

Karly ~ Paisley Roots     Sanae ~ Sanae Ishida     Melissa ~ Rebel & Malice

Janet ~ 7 Pine Design     Jenya ~ While she was sleeping 

 

Easter Chick Dress

DSC_0501This is Wee Gal’s new Easter chick dress made with some uncharacteristic forward planning on my part. Okay, I’ll admit, this was entirely accidental, but, by a very happy accident Wee Gal has the perfect dress for the season ahead. My Mum bought the fabric in Brighton last summer for me to make something for the wee one. It’s a lovely Robert Kaufman cotton with a weirdly large bird and egg print that works well in children’s clothes. Who wants to wear boring solids, after all?!

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I used the Mini Tulips dress by Puperita, a great pattern company that sells on Etsy. The dress is designed to be reversible which is great for practical parents who can’t abide lunchtime mess – when baby gets grubby you pull the dress inside out and no one will ever know!  I used unexciting beige polkadot fabric on the inside so I doubt I’ll ever willingly put it on inside out but, still, it’s nice to have the option should Wee Gal ever tip her lunch down her front. I love the details of the piping and the inverted pleat on the front on what is an otherwise simple and easy-to-make dress.

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I’ll be making more of these but in the meantime I’ll leave you with the song we were singing during our photo shoot…

Chick, chick, chick, chick, chicken, lay a little egg for me

Chick, chick, chick, chick, chicken, I want one for my tea

Oh, I haven’t had an egg since Easter, and now it’s half past three

So, chick, chick, chick, chicken, lay a little egg for me

 

For the Kids: a spot of refashioning

Mr Clootie Dumpling was throwing out some clothes a while ago. He doesn’t do this very often as he does not have an extensive or varied wardrobe – it mainly consists of t-shirts, jumpers and denims – although, he would like me to point out that he is not a slob or a scruff. He considers himself to be a snappy dresser owing to a penchant for Italian designer brands and, in particular, sports jackets. Whatever. I rescued two sweatshirts from his bundle and got into a spot of refashioning.

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The brown jumper is ancient – 15 years old was his guess – and it was pretty faded and worn looking. It still is but I managed to cut around most of the really faded parts and now it doesn’t look too bad. The pink jumper was not that old but Mr Clootie never really took to the pink. He doesn’t have anything against pink btw, he just didn’t think it suited him. I used the recycled sweatshirts for all main pattern pieces except the cuffs and bands which were cut from new organic cotton ribbing from my stash. The only notable thing about the whole experience was the pink fabric. I’ve never seen anything like it. There are two layers of jersey joined together by evenly spaced threads – it’s like the jersey version of double gauze. I don’t think you would call it sweat shirting but it is very thick and snuggly nevertheless.

 

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I used a dress pattern from my workhorse of a pattern book, Ottobre Design 4/2014, for the pink dress and hacked it into a sweatshirt for the brown jumper. This involved simply lengthening the top pieces and adding a band at the bottom. Easy peasy.

Now that the cold (and wet, so blooming’ wet!) weather is upon us the kids are very pleased with their new ‘not new’ jumpers. Dad had better watch out. We might all go poking around his wardrobe looking for some more old jumpers to refashion.

It’s Bright: BHL Charlotte skirt in African wax cotton

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A good friend of mine was living in Kenya for a couple of years and was kind enough to haul several metres of various fabrics back for me each time she holidayed at home. African wax cotton is known for its wild prints with vibrant colours and often wacky designs. (This design is not what I would call wacky but I do have one with table fans…yes, table fans!) I love the colours on this fabric and I don’t think the photos accurately show how bright this is. The blue is really blue, the red is really red, the yellow…you get my drift! African cotton seems to be popular at the moment. I’ve seen it in the occasional shop window made into skirts and trousers but never one this bright. I am working my way up to a dress – this stuff would make an amazing dress – but in the meantime here is my By Hand London Charlotte skirt. Here, pattern and fabric are well matched – the simple lines of one allows the crazy lines of the other to shine.

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This skirt should be perfect…but…I muslined it a few months ago, then lost a bit of weight, then for some reason didn’t think to try on the muslin(!!!) before making the skirt last week. It is too big now at the waist by a couple of inches – not a huge amount but enough to annoy me so I’ll have to fix it before the xmas party season kicks in. Note to self…always try on muslins! I lined the skirt in duchess satin to give it some body as the cotton on its own was not enough to hold the shape of the skirt. I think it works pretty well if a bit strange. Is it strange? I’m not sure. Anyway, it works.

I am using Etsy to sell on some of my mountain of wax cottons so check here if you are interested. I will be adding more as I work my way through my stash – believe me, I have a lot!

The Too Big toddler dress and leggings combo

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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?!

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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?!