Monday, 14 July 2014

Summer in Paris Sun Dress

No, we're not spending summer in Paris unfortunately, however I realise I need to up my game in naming my creations, à la Dolores's auntie Rehanon. This is the first make from the batch of sewing patterns that were kindly sent to me from Adey from The Sew Convert. I stated in my last blog post that I was going to attempt to use each of the patterns sent to me by Adey, Catherine and Jenna, so I'd best get on with it! But don't get me wrong, I don't think that there's any point in making clothing for her just for the sake of it. She has plenty of clothes for her current size, however she doesn't have a 'special dress', if a baby needs such a thing. We were invited to lunch a couple of weeks ago and that provided the catalyst for getting this make completed. 


I used the pattern pictured below, Newlook 6718, view B omitting the contrast lower band. The pattern was already cut to the Small size, which according to the pattern envelope should have been almost too small for Dolores in terms of weight and definitely too small for her in terms of height, but the final garment actually came out quite roomy and may even span two summers. Win! 

As you can imagine, this pattern sewed together very quickly, particularly because I left off most of the faff and frills. Unusually, the dress fastens with buttons on the back, kind of like a backwards pinafore, so I chose the flattest buttons in my stash so hopefully they won't be uncomfortable when she lies down. I did add a single strip of lace from my stash along the top of the front yoke for a little bit of extra interest, and to make it clear that I HADN'T put the dress on her the wrong way round if people were to notice the button fastenings being on the back! The only part of the construction that I changed was the method for binding the armholes. I preferred to trim away the seam allowance and apply the binding to cover the raw edge, making it visible rather than tucked away on the inside creating lots of bulk. 


I've recently reorganised my fabric, putting the pieces that are too small for adults' garments, but large enough for a child's garment, or at least part of one, in a separate storage tub. This is the tub I plan on mining for Dolores-projects and this awesome Eiffel Tower and birds print cotton sateen scrap was residing within. I originally bought a long length of this fabric about a squillion years ago from Goldhawk Road, before I started this blog and before I realised that the circle skirt style I'd made from it wasn't for me.

I think I donated the circle skirt to a friend, but I still had some fairly substantial leftovers, enough for this project. Aside from being an amazing print, it makes sense to use it for a garment for Dolores because A), despite being cotton it doesn't crease very much, and B) it's red which is the colour of her favourite foods (strawberries, raspberries and tomatoes) so I won't need to soak stains out of this garment, unlike every other garment she owns. In fact, remind me going forward to make everything for her in red and dark colours with busy prints!


I have firmly got the children's-clothes making bug, which is pretty handy when you think about it, eh? Making things for babies/toddlers/children requires less time and less fabric, which is perfect at just the time in life when you have reduced amounts of sewing time, and reduced funds to spend on sewing projects. It is my aim to dress Dolores as far as possible in handmade clothing, and for it to be made from my stash of fabric and notions as much as I can. But it is also my aim for those clothes to be beautifully made and stylish. That way she will hopefully look back at them and feel proud of her mama for making them for her, and also so that they will have further life after Dolores has grown out of them when other children wear them.

Monday, 7 July 2014

A Mother Lode of Sewing Stuff

And who knew 'mother lode' was spelt 'mother lode' and not 'mother load'?! Not me until I did a spot of googling just then. Anyways... I am one lucky baby-mama because I have recently received not one, not two but THREE packages of baby/toddler sewing stuff from super lovely sewing bloggers. Up until now, I have mainly dressed her in secondhand and hand-me-down things because she's been growing too damn fast. But I plan to make more of her clothing myself as she gets bigger, with a dose charity shop scores and hand-me-downs for the difficult or boring to make things, and nana-knits for her knitwear. Which is just how I approach my own wardrobe I guess, save for the nana-knits.  

So let me show you the awesomeness that I now have to work with! The top image is a whole of beautiful vintage sewing patterns that were sent to me by lovely Adey from The Sew Convert. Can you see that two of them have a nautical theme?! Amazing! She also sent me the four patterns in the bottom row of the image above (one of which I have just finished using, blog post on it's way...). 

The top row of pattern in the image above were sent to me by fabulous Jenna from Just Sew Jenna. As you know, I have already used the romper pattern, and I can't wait to get stuck in to the others. She also sent me the fabric on the top row of the image below to incorporate into my makes. 

The middle row of patterns were sent to me by wonderful Catherine from Clothes and Sewing, including a super cute dolly sewing pattern that I eyed up on the front of a sewing magazine but couldn't justify shelling out for. Catherine has kindly sent me several packages and parcels of sewing-related items since my baby was born, as well as getting me hooked on the Ottobre design children's sewing magazines.  

All three women sent me these patterns because their own children have grown out of the largest size. I aim to honour their kindness by using each pattern at least once and then to pass these on to other worthy sewing-mamas when I am done.

The wonderful printed fabric pieces in the bottom row of the image above are all big enough for whole garments. They were given to me by a newly made IRL friend who bought them to make stuff for her own baby girl but can't really be bothered. The deal is, I get to make them into lovely clothes for Dolores, and then pass on the garments to her daughter (who is five months younger) when she's grown out of them. DEAL!

So with the awesome sewing patterns pictured above, along with my own modest stash of baby/toddler patterns scored from charity shops and flea markets AND my five copies of Ottobre design AND a couple of Burda magazines AND the patterns from the Perfect Pattern Parcel #2, I think I'm set for Dolores-sewing for some time. Thanks again to those lovely, generous ladies, I'm so grateful.

So tell me, what garments have you enjoyed making for your children/other people's children? Which patterns have you used again and again? 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

'The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe' Book Giveaway!!!! - UK and Ireland Only


Hi peops! It was a right old giveaway-aganza round these parts during MMMay'14, wasn't it? Having taken a month off to prevent this being known as 'that giveaway sewing blog', it's time for another one!

The Prize:

If you recall, back in March I reviewed the 'Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe' book and was surprised to find that it was very awesome. The publishers have been kind enough to offer up a copy to give away to one lucky blog-reader. Unfortunately, due to complicated book licensing laws, this giveaway can only be open to UK and Ireland residents only, sorry international folks.

So check out the aforementioned review to find out more about the book. If you are interested, you can find a full list of the sewing patterns included in the pattern pack here. Then wait by your front door for the postman to arrive. When he does, check the address on your post to see if you live in the UK or Ireland. If it turns out that you do, then you can enter thusly:

How to Enter:

Leave a comment in the comments section of this post telling me who was your favourite competitor of this year's GBSB and why! If I can't access your email address within two clicks, please include it in your entry comment. Email addresses will not be used for anything other than to contact you if you are the lucky winner of this giveaway. To reiterate, this giveaway is open to residents of the UK only and the winner will receive the book completely free of charge. Leave your comment by midnight GMT Tuesday 8th July and the winner will be chosen by random number generator and contacted on Wednesday 9th July. Good luck, my UK-and-Ireland-based book-loving friends!

Monday, 23 June 2014

The Bronte Top

For someone who claims they don't get much time to sew these days, I've been busting out quite a few new projects lately! Here's one that I completed during May but wasn't allowed to wear during MMMay'14 or blog about until now.... 

It's the new pattern by Jennifer Lauren Vintage (creator of the Afternoon Blouse): the Bronte top. I was asked by Jen to be a pattern tester and as soon as I saw pictures of her samples I knew it was going to be a hit, both for me personally and for the sewing community in general. It's a genius design: vintage inspired but comfy, the holy grail for many of us sewers, non?! 

The Bronte top is basically a jersey/knit top with a cleverly drafted neckline that is no more difficult to construct than a t-shirt with a standard bound neckline, and with only one more pattern piece. The Bronte's neckline has kind of a flattering 40's vibe but also reminds me slightly of the envelope necklines on babies' onesies (in a good way). I love that you can make it really stand out with contrast binding (as I have done here) and buttons, or make a more subtle effect with self-binding (see Jen's blog post for some great options). I really look forward to seeing how other sewers interpret this pattern. 

I made mine in some thick, stable navy jersey that was lurking in my stash with cream organic jersey (left over from my Coco breast feeding top) for the binding. I chose to make the long sleeved option because I felt the thicker fabric suited a colder-weather appropriate version. I'd definitely like to make another, possibly in medium weight black jersey with 3/4 sleeves, self-binding and buttons either side of the neckline. 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Liberty Cord Baby Romper

You know when you've had a sewing project in your mind for so long that you kind of start to think that it's already been completed? This is one of those. I had the pattern and the fabric for months and whenever I opened Dolores's clothing drawers, I was kind of surprised to find the romper not in there. So last month I eventually got round to making it IRL. 


I was given this sewing pattern by Jenna (who has recently started up an AWESOME new blog, Just Sew Jenna). Quick backstory: I 'met' Jenna when she was the winner of a giveaway/competition I hosted last year. She won 1 metre of her choice of fabric from She was sweet enough to indulge my request to see what she made from it (you can see her gorgeous top here) and we've continued to email ever since. She also came to one of the Renfrew t-shirt classes I taught at The Village Haberdashery (the next Renfrew class is on Saturday 2nd August, BTW!) when she made this fabulous garment. Anyways, Jenna is a massive inspiration to me as she sews most of her daughter's clothing herself. This Burda 9652 romper pattern (pictured below) is one she used regularly when her little girl was littler, and she kindly gave me a spare copy she had.  

It really is an easy pattern, and a good basis for your own customisation if you so desire. I made view B without the pockets (I felt my fabric would be too busy for the pockets to be noticeable) but I did hack the pattern to include poppers around the inside leg seams for easy access when nappy changing. I eyeballed a hand-me-down romper of Dolores's for how to approach the hack and basically ended up applying a self-bias strip along the inside leg seam to form a base for half of the poppers. The only other change I might make in the future is to elongate the body a bit, as Dolores is a relatively tall and skinny baby (takes after her papa).   


Speaking of, this super-soft baby cord was a given to me by them. Susan, owner of Sewbox, sent me lots of samples of her impressive array of baby cord and I picked my fave. This is Liberty Kingly Cord - Tatum Trail and you can snaffle your own here. It is an ideal fabric for babies: it's really soft but also holds its shape, AND the garment doesn't need ironing (IMO) after being laundered. I chose this print because it reminded me of the 70's baby/children's garments that kids were still wearing in my youth (early 80's). 


It seems, if my explorations on Pinterest are to be believed, a big trend in children's wear is to look as much like mini-adults as possible! This freaks me out somewhat. I love that this garment is firmly a baby's garment. Is isn't close fitting, she can move around in it with ease. She can wear it on its own when its warm, or layered with onesies/vests and tights when it's chilly, and various combinations in-between. With poppers at the shoulder straps rather than buttons, it's a really practical garment that is relatively easy to get on and off, helped in part by its roomy fit. I'll definitely be using this pattern again in the future. How cute is it going to be when she's toddling around in it?!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Book Review: Love At First Stitch

If you're a reader of sewing blogs (and my guess is that you are), it's likely that you are already fully aware that Tilly of Tilly and the Buttons has written a sewing book! However, I've been lucky enough to receive a review copy, and now that MMMay'14 is over and done with I'm damn well going to review it. 

What it is, basically?

In short, it's a sewing companion that shows you how to make small a range of women's garment projects, and aims to inspire sewing creativity and wearing handmade generally. Aside from the step-by-steps of garment construction, there are all sorts of added extras, like how to plan sewing projects so that they fit with your sense of style and colour palette that really take this up a notch from a lot of sewing books. The design and layout of Tilly's book is truly stunning, and for me it's neck-and-neck with the Built By Wendy sewing books in terms of aesthetics (i.e. the best).

Like the aforementioned Built By Wendy sewing books and the previously reviewed 'Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe' book, 'Love at First Stitch' contains a pattern section at the back that includes full size, multi-sized sewing patterns. The book talks you through how to create them in a pretty jargon-free and friendly manner, plus 'Love at First Stitch' emphasises ways to customise the patterns to make unique interpretations of your own.

Who is it for?

It's largely aimed at beginners who find more 'serious' sewing manuals intimidating and a turn-off. Tilly writes in a chatty, friendly way and includes personal anecdotes so 'Love at First Stitch' feels more like taking a class with a lovely teacher who is determined to help you have fun and feel capable. That said, I would argue that this book would also appeal to those who have been sewing for a while. Who doesn't want to sew some stylish, wearable garments and have the instructions actually make sense for once?! It's like, just because I can read Spanish, it doesn't mean it won't be easier to read the menu in English. It'll get me to the food quicker... 

It really is a beautiful book as well. So if you have very limited sewing time in your day-to-day life, flicking through this book and stroking the pretty pages when you've collapsed into bed can definitely help you feel like you've interacted with and been nourished by your favourite pastime. 

Will I use it?

For reals. I already use it in the 'stroke the pages having collapsed into bed' capacity (I hope that doesn't sound weird, now that I've written it twice). I also have my eye firmly on the Mimi blouse pattern, once I've got my sewing table clear of the mountain of WIP's currently residing on there. The pyjama pattern also looks like a useful staple that I'll no-doubt bust out at some point. This book is also good to remind myself how vibrant and exciting the handmade revolution that we are all part of really is. Oh, and Tilly mentions in the book about how Me-Made-May is a useful way to start wearing handmade more often, and that makes my heart sing with pride. 

Friday, 13 June 2014

Refashion Friday: Customised Rockabilly Cardigan

I know you've been missing Refashion Friday's here on this blog. It's ok, you can admit it. Whether you  regard customising as a form of refashioning or not (I do, clearly) here's a reminder that you can jazz up charity shop/thrift store scores with minimal fuss for high impact!  

I bought this dove grey cardigan in a charity shop when visiting my in-laws a few months ago. The fit and condition are great, and as useful as a plain grey cardi would probably be, I felt it was a bit too plain. Thanks to MMMay'14, I finally got round to customising and bringing it into regular wardrobe rotation, and it's now one of my very favourite items to wear. 

I've long admired the Rockabilly vibes of Collectif Clothing and other retro/repro brands. I love their kitschy 1950's style cardigans, so that is what I've been channeling here. In fact, I've just found this Bluebird cardigan which mine is very similar to mine, except I've got awesome buttons (care of the very lovely Catherine from Clothing and Sewing blog) as well as the swallow decals (which I bought in Madrid, FYI). These buttons are so fantastic, the gold anchors are on a clear base so the background kind of looks invisible. The decals are iron-on, but I carefully stitched round their outer edge as well so they wouldn't start to peel off after a few turns in the washing machine. 

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