Saturday, 22 November 2014

Baby clothing

There comes a time in life when you realise you’re growing up - you become surrounded by friends and colleagues who are pregnant. At last count, I knew of four. And we all know what that means, don’t we? It is time to crack out the little patterns and whip up something cute. 

A friend has recently had a little girl, and a colleague is expecting one early in the New Year. I wanted to try a different pattern to the sailors dresses I made (here and here) and had heard about this baby kimono from Vairë Gwîr. 

Baby kimonos

I purchased a meter of Acacia by Free Spirit fabric with a meter of plain turquoise for the bias binding to make the 0-6m size. As I was cutting out the first one, I realised that I could get two out the fabric and promptly cut another. I still have fabric left over from both fabrics - that’s how small they are!

You need to draft the pattern, all two pieces of it, but this isn’t a big deal as a clear diagram and the measurements are provided in the instructions. The pieces are made up of straight and diagonal lines only. Construction took longer than I expected though. Admittedly I was repeating each step twice and I opted to make my own bias binding as the turquoise matched perfectly, but it still felt like I was spending a lot of time on them for their size and that they are essentially straight lines. 

Baby kimono inside 


All seams are overlocked and are smooth so shouldn’t irritate young skin. The fiddliest bit was creating the two bias straps on either side of the kimono - my machine wanted to eat the fabric but eventually I tamed its appetite. The sleeves are hemmed by folding over a couple of times and stitching into place. 

I’m completely in love with them. Their size is almost unbelievable and look like they have been made for a teddy bear (yes, I know babies are small when they have just been born!). Despite the perceived length of time it took to create them, I would definitely dig out this pattern again. 



Baby dungarees

My other colleague is expecting a little boy and I made another pair of baby dungarees. I found this beautiful dark navy blue cord with little teddy bears on it in Barry’s during the SewBrum meet up. I just couldn’t resist it. I paired it with a plain light olive cotton for the lining. 

I don’t have much to say about the construction as I covered it all in my first post. This is the third time that I have made this pattern, and it just gets easier with every creation. Ensuring that you can’t see the lining on the pockets is still the trickiest part and is something for me to improve the next time I make these. There will be a next time - I’m not yet over this pattern! 


Baby dungarees back

And the fourth make? I’ll share that with you later as it deserves a post of its own. It’s a little different to everything else I’ve made for tiny people. I’m also on the hunt for new patterns. Do you have a favourite baby pattern to make? If so, please do share the link below. 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Pattern hack: The Afternoon Bolero

What do you wear to a wedding? The age old question for us sewists is do I make a dress? We were invited to a wedding at the end of July and I didn't have time to create a new dress. Thankfully I had a few lovely RTW ones that I could pull out. Still, I wanted to have something handmade and I was missing a suitable jacket. 

Afternoon Bolero

I had come across a beautiful 1950s bolero on Pinterest. It had kimono sleeves and buttoned up at the front with a round neckline. Sound familiar? Of course, it is exactly like the rounded neckline Afternoon Blouse.

I pulled out the pattern and began a very simple hack. To fix the gapping neckline I had on my previous versions (here and here) I went down a size at the shoulders. To get the desired shape of the bolero, I drew a straight line from the end of the curve on the neckline to the lengthen/shorten line. For the back, I used the lengthen/shorten line as the hemline. I then trued the side seams to ensure they were the same length. 

Afternoon Bolero

The fabric is white crepe which was part of a large fabric stash I was given a few months ago. It was great to work with, and is stable although there were a few indentations from the iron when I pressed it with a too hot an iron. These were covered fully with silver bias binding. I really wanted to get robin egg blue or mint binding but couldn't find them in a satin finish locally. It had to be satin to smarten it up! 

Afternoon Bolero

The bolero is self-lined, meaning I cut two sets of the front pieces and the back. This allows the pattern to be reversible, providing your happy to restitch the button or find another way to close it. The button is wooden button with a pink flower. The whole project took a few hours to finish and was very satisfying to make. 

Afternoon Bolero

The photos were taken recently as unfortunately I didn't get any photos at the wedding where I matched the bolero with a peach 50s style dress with a full skirt. It was overcast with a little rain in the morning and by the time it brightened up, we were having so much fun I completely forgot to get the camera out. It was definitely one of the best weddings I have been to! 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

An experimental White Russian

Thanks for all of your comments on my last post. It seems that many of you have one or two sewing projects on the go at any one time, or have a knitting project alongside a sewing project. This seems much more manageable and reasonable to me and I’m glad that I have cleared most of my projects now – just four more to finish and three of them are very nearly at the end.

Moving on, here is another of my recent makes. There was a gaping hole in my winter wardrobe – a cosy sweatshirt for those cold days when all you want is something casual. I also completed a 5k which meant I got to buy a few patterns, including the White Russian from Capital Chic.

White Russian

The fabric is bright aqua green sweatshirt which I got in a fabric swap in Leeds. Amy brought so much of it that I went halves with Ruth. I just cannot resist this colour – it is practically the same as my fitted winter fleece. It’s such a happy colour for mid winter. I couldn’t be bothered decided not to try and find ribbing that matched so went with the self fabric option for the cuffs, waist band and neckline. I had to squeeze all of the pieces out – reducing the seam allowance to 5mm in most pieces. I was slightly surprised how small these patterns are – I’m hitting right at the higher end of the sizing rather than my normal middling sizes. It isn’t a problem, just sometime to be aware of if you use these patterns.

White Russian

I don’t have a lot to say on the construction as it is a simple and quick make. If you can get the tension right on your overlocker, I’m sure you could whip this up in an afternoon or less from start to finish. I struggled to get the tension right and it took a little longer than an afternoon. I used my twin needle on my machine for the first time on the neckline and waistband to hold the seam allowance in place although in the pictures it is only on the waistband for reasons that will become clearer later.

I wanted to keep the sweatshirt fairly simple with just a touch of detail. So what did I add? A turtle, of course! I used carbon paper to trace a copy of the turtle in my banner that my brother drew for me and then used a very narrow zigzag stitch. It is a long way from perfect but you can definitely see what it is meant to be!

White Russian

This version is definitely a wearable toile. I wore the finished item for a full day travelling up to Sheffield and wandering around the city. It was a good test for the fit and I found a couple of things I didn’t like. First, it was way too big at the bottom and instead of staying warm I got rather cold at times. I also hated the neckband. The width of it is just too big for me and felt like it was creeping too far up my neck. I unpicked it, reduced the width by half and it feels much better to wear. I also took in the side seams by 2-3cm on each side to solve the shock of cold draughts. It has worked very well and the change in warmth was immediately noticeable. I'm also a lot happier with the neckline and don't notice it at all. I will stitch the neckband with my twin needle but that will need to wait while my machine is serviced (I'm missing it already and it has only been 24 hours!) 

White Russian

So, not one of my best makes but it is a useful addition to my wardrobe and I think it will get a reasonable amount of wear, especially in the evenings when you want to change in your pjs as soon as you get home. I’m now on the lookout for more fabric to make another version. Any fabric suggestions?


Saturday, 1 November 2014

How many is too many?

Tell me, can you juggle more than one sewing project at a time? Can you cope with a number of works in progress (WIPs) at different stages? I ask because I seem to be pushing my limits at the moment. 

I’m a multiple projects on the go person and will have at least two projects happening at the same time. I like the variety and different options I get by staggering projects. If I’m short on time, I can stitch a couple of seams. If I don’t feel like sitting at the machine, I can trace a pattern or pin pieces together. If the projects are at the same stage, I don’t have the chance to maximise my sewing time and match it to my mood. Two or three projects feels manageable. I find myself in a place where I’ve slightly lost this feeling and I’ve been asking how many WIPs is too many?

Projects 1-4

At the beginning of last month I had a whopping 11 projects on the go. I had to create a spreadsheet just to keep track! You have seen some of them (my Buchanan and Cressida skirt) and you will get to see the others fully rather than the sneak peaks in the photos. I admit this is a completely self inflicted situation. November and December are busy months for me and I have no idea how much time I will have to sew. October was relatively free so it seemed sensible to try and use the month to get ahead. 



Projects 4-7

Working on 11 projects has been pretty difficult to move along. There is a pressure there that doesn’t normally exist. I'm still enjoying the process but there is an edge to it. Perhaps it is because six of the projects are selfless ones that I am feeling it more - the pressure of getting it as perfect as possible and delivering on time seems to dramatically increase when you’re not the recipient of your work. It seems that I haven’t learnt my lesson though as I’ve added another project to the list this week and agreed to finish a coat lining replacement with a friend that we started about ten months ago. The good news is I’m nearing the end of this marathon. Thankfully there is more grey text on my spreadsheet than black but there is a lingering sense that I've had too many projects taking place. 

Projects 8-9

What are your thoughts? What’s on your sewing table at the moment and what is your limit for WIPs at any one time?

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