Sunday, 3 July 2016

Summer Dress Time.

I seem to have been on a lengthy quest for a patterned, cotton jersey that I like / feel inspired enough about to make something with - and that is outside of the usual stripes, spots (I have a drawer full of Breton striped jersey tops!). Until a few weeks ago, when I landed upon this gorgeous grey jersey, patterned with fluttering swifts and ordered it almost within the same breath.

Already in hand was Marci Tilton pattern V8975..another chance to indulge my passion for big usable pockets and the end result is one of my happiest makes I think. On a par with the gratification derived from last Summer's florally Lynn Mizono dress, (you can read that post here) and way up there on comfort value with its loose fitting skirt.

As is par for the course with Marci (and Katherine) Tilton patterns, you are faced with a conundrum of several, intriguingly shaped pattern pieces, that only really make sense once you get sewing..and then the magic happens.
I just love the finish of this dress, the great statement pockets, the triangular panel feature at the front and the totally unfussy 'wear'ability' of it. The hemline hangs in two long pointed panels when the dress is finished, with instruction to fold them up underneath and attach to undersides of the pockets inside the dress. In fact (and with lots of helpful input from other 'sewing heads'), I decided that it works better when attached lower and to the seam allowance, still creating a slightly ruched effect, but without compromising the shape. Overall, another winning Marci pattern that I will be making again in the future.
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Monday, 23 May 2016

Party Dress

After the success of the Peter Pan collar dress in my previous post, I decided to make it again!...this time without the collar and made just in time to wear to a cousin's birthday party (and I mean literally an hour before we left!) I used a remnant fabric with cute bunnies hiding amongst bold polka dots..under half a metre of it, but just enough to be eked out into a toddler size dress...albeit a bit shorter than the previous version. The slightly heavier weight of this fabric worked well to make the gathers in the bodice stand a bit more proudly, with extra body.
So far, this version has been inaugurated at two parties over the weekend and withstood tunnel crawling, bubble chasing, birthday cake and a bit of English rain! And the fabric camouflages the grass stains brilliantly ;)
And if you love a pattern that much, why not make it a third time ! This time sleeveless and with a bit of pretty ribbon trim.

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Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Summer Vibes

I probably speak for most in the UK when I say that the recent mini-May heatwave has put me perfectly in mind of longer Summer days and the chance to roam bare-legged and breezy through sunshiney days. Equally so, it finds me seeking out the lightest, brightest toddler patterns for the little lady of the house...and something with which to do justice to the cutest deer and rabbit fabric I picked out on a trip to Norfolk and my favourite sewing haunts. It is a super soft, lightweight cotton that lends itself perfectly to an online pdf pattern I found, the results of which are even better than hoped.
The pattern is a simple A-line shape, with a pretty gathered detail in the front that I fell in love with instantly, as well as an adorable Peter Pan collar - sold! If you are willing to ride out the potential frustrations of having to print out your own pdf pattern and then commandeer the floor in the largest room of your house to piece together the jigsaw of pattern pieces that ensues, (cellotape in hand), then it is well worth searching the web for patterns that fit your wish list..and there are so many of them out there. If like me you were finding that not all the commercial paper patterns on the market were meeting your hopes/imaginings, then there are some very worthy mummies of young families creating their own patterns that are well worth a look. That's not to say there aren't several lovely commercial patterns as well, but for the moment, I think I will be making this sweet little number more than once.

There are other considerations with this kind of pattern, in that (and I have said this before in a previous post), you sometimes have to fill in the gaps a bit with the instructions provided where they are not as complete as they could be. You are also dealing with the creator's own illustrations, interpretations and directions to guide you, rather than the printed instructions/diagrams you may be used to on a commercial pattern. Most intermediate sewers would be able to handle this valiantly though. 

A small issue in the case of this particular pattern was the one fastening instruction, (the option of a hook and eye or a button with rouleau loop) at the back of the neck. There are no other zips or fastenings on the dress and as every two year old is different, it is always worth checking first that the dress can still slip over their head with plenty of room for getting arms through armholes before you set your fastening in place. I could see straight away that I was going to need to make the back opening longer than the markings on the pattern for my own little one and ultimately chose to place two buttons instead of one, with two elastic fastenings. Not only do they look beautiful against the gorgeous fabric, they enable greater ease in robing said child without any tugging or extra persuasion, (that isn't always best tolerated by a small girl in a hurry).
Having said all of that, what pattern doesn't require a bit of adjusting and personalisation to get it just how you want it !? We are both very happy with the result. Roll on the warm Summer days !

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Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Toddler Tunic ~ Take 2

Such was the success of the first wrap-over tunic in the previous post (here), another one was soon in the making. This time re purposing some boiled wool in a powdery blue and some cute mouse fabric for the lining, (that you may recognise from its use as a lining for my little line of baby slippers 

This works perfectly as a slightly cosier version, until we are more 'officially' into warmer weather!
I loved working with the contrasting fabrics and their different weights, a perfect pairing.
The toddler approves...and the minimal fuss way that she can just slip her arms in and off she goes. No over the head business and an easy wear over the top of long sleeves and leggings. I just need to up-size it for a Mummy sized version now!
Here she is :

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Sunday, 6 March 2016

Toddler Tunic!

I've come across so many gorgeous patterns for little girls on my sewing travels, some of which I have made for my daughter as a baby and now as an active toddler. There are some very pretty and sweet dress patterns that can be complimented with the array of fabulous fabrics on the market. However, the quest for something practical, functional, yet still girly and cute, took me away from commercial patterns and into the world of online pdf patterns, created by fellow sewing enthusiasts and that they've been kind enough to share with the world of sewers and makers.

This method does mean printing out the pattern yourself and piecing together a paper jigsaw of A4 print outs, before cutting out your pattern in the usual way. I don't object to this however and more of the commercial pattern companies are offering the choice of a digital version instead of a printed pattern for those who prefer it. You can also choose what paper you use to print on, which can be a welcome alternative to flyaway tissue patterns that easily tear after bring pinned to fabric a few times.
This wrap over tunic top caught my eye and I could visualise my busy little one in it instantly. It even has useful pockets (pron.''bobbits'') for useful girly stuff...and you never know what you'll find in a pocket if you delve deep enough!
It can be made as a completely reversible tunic and the wrap over design means that you always get a peek of whichever fabric is on the inside, so I chose a strong yellow to contrast with this beautiful grey, woodland animals design. I also used the yellow for the inseam pockets so you get another little flash of contrast there.
Although the pattern itself is very simple, without as much of the direction you'd expect from a commercial pattern, (for example there were no placement markings for the buttonholes), it is a very workable pattern that yielded great results. With several versions and makes of it out there on the web, it is lovely to see what other people have done with it too. 
It is definitely one of my favourite and most satisfying creations to date in terms of wearability, fit and structure and I just love it on her ! I'm on to my next one already !

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Monday, 1 February 2016

Lazy Day Tunic

We all love a lazy day wardrobe staple that can just be thrown over leggings or jeans - and look fabulous with minimal effort. This is mine at the moment, aka Butterick 6101, another Tilton number (Katherine, not Marci this time) It is perfect for minimal thinking time within a busy morning routine and it looks great on. It is comfy, easy to wear and I've had lots of lovely compliments, (and I still get a mini-buzz being able to say I've made something myself) 
This is the second of two I have made, the first my own in a teal, boiled wool and this powder blue is for a friend.
The second run at this was easier than the first, with the benefit of hindsight etc and some adjustments to the pattern instructions which didn't always seem logical. At best, the pattern itself is a bit of a jigsaw and with several pieces, though it is very gratifying when you see how it is all fitting together and making sense. Sometimes the pattern instructions over complicated things I felt...I called on an expert for advice who was in agreement. All in all though it is a really interesting pattern with all the hallmarks of a Tilton design, quirky pockets included - one large enough for a small kitten and the other more of a feature 'sticky-outy pocket' that courted some indecision initially, but it is now loved and approved!
Boiled wool is such a pleasure to wear and sew. I love its reassuring weight as you work with it, using big pins to secure it in place and the un-frayable raw edges create an organic feel that I love, (with the added bonus of time saving of course).
The second time round, I decided against using the same wool to make my bias binding for the neck and armholes which on the first is completely wearable, but a little bulky for my liking. So, with a few moments rummaging in the fabric stash bag, I found I had a perfect off cut for this purpose and it makes for more flexibility and a cute flash of pattern on the inside of the neck and arms.

I'm now looking forward to presenting this one to its intended wearer and getting on with another for myself...I think I'll investigate some soft jersey or a Summer linen for the next instalment.

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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Slippers News.

I've so enjoyed making these cuddly, toddler slippers, or 'dippers' as my own little toddler likes to call them ! There is something very reassuring and soul restoring about a creative task in hand over the longest evenings. It has been even more gratifying to be able to interest others in them too and sell a significant number of pairs straight from the sewing table, as well as through my new Etsy shop, From some 0-6 month sizes for babies expected and yet to be born, to 12-18 and 18-24 month sizes for new and confident walkers with special grip sole.

I've loved adding the little embellishments that personalise them that little bit more and matching up new wool felt and lining combinations - as well as taking requests - the mice have been popular !
All thoroughly road tested by the household toddler - if she can chase the cats in them they pass part one!
The Etsy shop is open for continued business, so pay a visit !
In other sewing news, I have also tried out another Tilton pattern - Katherine this time not Marci! Delighted with it.  I am currently making a second. Pictures to follow in next post.

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