Monday, 21 October 2013


Gosh it has been a long time since I last posted- apologies for the silence! I've been busy with everything small boy- related so have not had much time for sewing and kind of lost my mojo for a bit.

When my niece came to visit at the end of October, I discovered that she was totally obsessed with all things princess and really wanted a princess dress. So I went to Ray Stitch, got a world of pink and made her one which I've now posted off to her in Estonia. I've yet to get a picture back of her wearing it so will blog about it a bit later.

I have also been learning how to make a block with the amazing Moyna Hamilton and now have a bodice block of my very own. I must find some time to go learn about trouser blocks etc. soon.

Meanwhile (as you can maybe guess) I have been making whales.
These guys turned out amazing! I have been doing a big lot of de-cluttering inspired by the 5-day de-clutter e-course run by Lisa Cole and had two merino wool jumpers that I was never going to wear again. So I did the thing you're never meant to do with wool and washed them at a high temperature AND tumble dried them to make them go all nice and felted.

I then used this gorgeous pattern for a whale softie from Etsy to make up these little fellas. They turned out super cute. I've made them for two gorgeous little men that I know and will be handing them over this afternoon- I really can't wait!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Planning a fall wardrobe

Recently I've been thinking a lot about clothes and what it is that makes a wardrobe. Growing up, we couldn't afford much so I never really had the luxury to dwell on these things.

I've just finished reading Lee Hollahan's extremely useful How to Use, Adapt and Design Sewing Patterns and am now reading Claire Shaeffer's very interesting Couture Sewing Techniques book both of which combined with the Colette Sewing handbook have changed the way I think about clothes. I have just discovered I can fit back into some of my pre- pregnancy clothes so theoretically I now have quite a large wardrobe to choose from. This sounds nice but how many of us have crammed wardrobes with nothing to wear?

Someone mentioned going back to the Italian notion of seasonal dressing and I do find the idea of rotating my wardrobe every three months appealing. Surely it would be nice to basically get a whole new set of clothes to play with every season? This sounds particularly good when considering the very limited  wardrobe space I have. 

So how does one plan a seasonal wardrobe? And how do you think about sewing warn things in this heat?!

Monday, 22 July 2013


Finished! I made some office-appropriate shorts and a blazer. The shorts are Claire from In-House Patterns and the blazer is the fabled Victoria from By Hand London (worn here with a T-shirt I made a while ago by copying an old one).

For the main fabric of both, I've used the mystery synthetic I found at Ridley Road market and I used a lovely viscose I bought in a fabric shop in Brighton for the lining, pockets, blazer cuffs and waistband facings. (Is it weird that the lining cost more than the main fabric?)

I'm sorry to say that I found the Victoria pattern instructions really difficult to follow- they just didn't specify things like where the cuffs were going exactly (how should they line up) and what the tailor tack was for (the dart, of course the dart- as I discovered once their sew-along got to that point). 

I also foolishly graded the pattern to accommodate my ridiculous bust (isn't nursing great?) but take into account my (relatively) normal hips. That does not work with this pattern. It would if there were buttons to be done up. As there's not, I just ended up with my pockets slightly too far back. Still, it's a nice casual-ish blaster. Some details here:

I have no idea how they meant for you to finish the lining inside the jacket but I decided to cover the seams with a black satin bias tape which I hand-stitched. It looks really neat.

That said, I will definitely have another go at this pattern once I figure out which fabric I'd like it in. 

The Claire pattern went together really well and was an absolute joy to use. I cut between sizes (I am so naughty!) but it works really well and the shorts are super comfortable. I had never  made a fly zipper opening before so it was a learning curve. I think it turned out really well, specially for a first time. Not that I could tell you what I actually did. 

I used some more satin binding for the crotch seam as I had that seam break in the wash on my Iris shorts (boo). I also had to join the facing material as I didn't have enough of the fabric to cut it out straight. Lucky the pattern is so busy- I don't think you can tell without looking for it. 

I definitely see many more of these shorts in my future though first I have to finish the Juniper trousers I started a while ago. Just have not been feeling it as I'm not really getting on with the pockets (long story. 

For now, it is faaaar too hot to sew... Oskar slept through last night which still has me confused as it's not really been his habit since he was born. Long may the sleeping continue. 

Friday, 5 July 2013

Three's the charm

As I've recently started a full- time contract, I've discovered that I don't really have the wardrobe to be inconspicuous in the banking environment I now find myself. To remedy that I've started creating a whole new work wardrobe. I showed you the croquis I made to play around with designs which is a huge amount of fun.

I thought I'd ease myself into the more sober wardrobe with a Ginger skirt which I've already made two of. One during the dressmaking course I did at Ray Stitch and the second one I cheekily made before finishing the first one in class after finding a lovely bit of fabric in the remnants pile. 

Love how you can see the pattern on the lining and facings just peeking out a bit when the skirt is hanging up. 

I got the fabric for the latest iteration from the friendly fabric stall at Dalston market- no idea of the fibre contents of either of the fabrics but am fairly sure the one I used for lining is a viscose (Karen's amazing post on this material is here) as the seams are already fraying like nobody's business. Will need to invest in a serger soon...

I've always been a bit precious about my patterns and would trace them off rather than cutting into them but recently I've gotten increasingly impatient with that step of the process and so have cut into several of my pattern pieces- do you ever do that? Do you trace? Or do you cut the pattern?

Monday, 1 July 2013

Lookie, lookie, I made a croquis!

Not too much sewing going on at the moment as I've started a new contract but I have been managing to draw pictures of clothes on myself.

Following advice from the Colette Sewing Handbook I have made croquis of myself and been having lots of fun playing with it:

 I used to do this when I was a teenager and it's still just as much fun though now I can also work out what suits my shape and what REALLY doesn't (the drop waist playsuit being a good example of what doesn't). It's also helped me see that my shape isn't as bad as I thought it was post-baby- it's just the clothes that I've been trying to squeeze back into that are not working for me.

I have also discovered that my work wardrobe is woefully inadequate so am currently in the process of making a Ginger skirt from this black mystery fabric that I found on a stall at Dalston market. It's magic- so soft and drapey whilst having body AND not being a nightmare to sew. Loving it.

And so, I leave you with a picture of my little one enjoying the summer this past weekend.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Dinosaur boy

With the British summer being what it is, my boy needed a thin rain coat to make sure he stays dry but doesn't overheat. Luckily his mummy had some random dinosaur print PUL lying around so he is now the proud owner of this little number:

I made it based on a a pattern from a website called You Can Make This. It's an odd one that site- they have many many children's patterns but most of them are just horrendous (sorry but they really jar with my taste). And then you get some amazing ones. Like the jacket pattern from the Peek-a-boo pattern shop:

It occurs to me that children's clothing is perfect for practicing making new things. So far I have made two collared shirts for Oskar and so would feel confident tackling a grown-up sized shirt in the future. And now this- totally makes me comfortable trying to make something like this for me.

The pattern instructions were a bit of a nightmare to follow for this and PUL is a complete nightmare to sew- honestly, I had my zig zag foot, teflon foot and walking foot out as well as playing with the zipper foot. Was basting almost every seam and had to rip seams out several times along the way. Plus, the organic bamboo and cotton mix I used for the lining has got to be the world's most easily wrinkling material.. But it's ok. It all worked out in the end.

Have you ever sewn PUL? Any tips?

Monday, 24 June 2013

Summer bunting DIY

Remember those piles of triangles? They've now been turned into bunting. Here's what I did:

First of all, I made a template from cardboard. You can download one from here.

Then I set about cutting out the triangles. I drew all my triangles onto the fabric using a fade-away fabric pen and used pinking shears for this as it also finished the seams at the same time- win!

I then sewed the triangles together, right sides together, clipped the tip and turned then the right way around using a gorgeous bamboo point turner. Now it was time to press, press, press ad nauseum. First all the triangles and then the cotton tape which I pressed in half. 

I cut 3m strips of the tape for my bunting which meant I could fit 15 triangles on every string and still have a bit of extra tape for tying the ends. Once I'd done the pressing, I got to pinning the triangles inside the tape.

In hindsight, I would definitely recommend basting the triangles into the tape over pinning as this didn't attach them very securely so some of the triangles moved whilst sewing, giving my seam ripper an outing or two (or more).

Once I'd finished pinning the triangles, it was time to sew a long straight line. One more press and ta- dah! we have bunting.

Have you ever made bunting before? Will you try using my tutorial? Would love to see how they turn out.

PDF template for the triangles.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Pyjama party show and tell

They're finished! Just in time! Woohooo! Nothing like a deadline to get me to sew sew sew and Karen did give some pretty amazing incentives. Anyway.. Look look look:

Pattern: Sewaholic Tofino 
Size cut: Cut 14 waistband and graded the trousers from 14 waist to 10 hips 
Material: 3m of 1000 Cranes Indigo from Ray Stitch, 5m of piping cord, 5m of pink satin ribbon and 2m of wide pink satin ribbon, 1m of elastic.

I really liked this pattern though I did manage to get a bit confused with the grading as it was the first
time I'd done that. It all worked out ok though and the length of the pyjamas is just fine. I wasn't sure I wanted piping on the trousers but then my lovely husband convinced me that those were what made these pyjamas and of course he was right, as usual.

I had never made piping myself and was fairly sure you were supposed to use bias tape or something, not satin ribbon for it. Ah well.. It actually worked really well so I will be doing that again as ribbon comes in some amazing colours.

I also added some pockets to them following Suzy Bee's brilliant tutorial- I always need my phone!

All the seams are of the french variety as I am currently absolutely obsessed with that seam finish- it looks and feels great and also stands up to wear- what more could you want. The ladies at the craft club at Fabrications on Thursday were subjected to my squeals of joy as I worked out how to french seams with piping.
The waistband REALLY messed with my head. So much so I just ripped it out after trying to make it work. For some reason the buttonholes on my machine just refused to cooperate. You can see the mess here:

Worked well the second time around though. I was very impressed with the results of the waistband finishing- Karen's stitch in the ditch instructions were absolutely spot on.

I also made a top to match from some amazing bamboo stretch knit I found in Ray Stitch- it really is the most amazing material and I've already made a t-shirt out of it. No pattern for the top- I sim[lpy traced one of my existing ones and used some of the material for the trousers to make bias binding for the neck and arm holes and the little pocket.

I am very pleased with how these turned out- will definitely be making more of them. i've already spotted some really lovely organic flannel that would make a wonderful pair for the colder months. 

So there you have it. My amazing new pyjamas. That I may never take off because they are just TOO comfy.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Real life bunting action

I just wanted to share with you the joy that is making several buntings. It's taking a while but it is for a good cause. Ivy Street Family Centre is fundraising at a fair this Saturday so I'm helping out for creating lovely things for them to sell. I've had a bunch of floral fabric sitting around for a while and had also bought some seriously strong white tape from the now-closed Sew Fantastic for pennies so this is a perfect stash-busting project.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Pyjama party!

Having been following the amazing Karen of Did you make that? for a while and having been very impressed by both her amazing writing style and her brilliant makes, I decided to start documenting my own in this blog. What better way to get properly stuck in than with a pyjama party!

I've bought a very lovely fabric (Cloud 9 Tsuro 1000 cranes in Indigo, since you ask) from Ray Stitch. I also bought some of their lush organic bamboo jersey to make a matching sleeveless top to go with the pyjama bottoms. 

I got some lovely pink satin ribbon and piping cord which I've managed to frankenstein into some pretty ok piping:

I've cut all my pieces out (I'm going to use wide pink ribbon instead of the belt) and am all set. 

Now I need to work out how to attach piping on French seams...

Daddy's t-shirt to boy's top

Hello and happy Father's Day to all the daddies! I can't believe our house is already on it's second

father's day. Oskar surprised daddy with a father-son breakfast this morning:

As befits the day, I thought I'd show you what I've been doing with the t-shirts that get a bit too tight for Mykal. You guessed it- they get turned into Oskar's shirts.

First, you need a pattern. You can either buy a proper one, like the Flashback Skinny Tee from Made by Rae, or just copy something that already fits. I decided to copy O's pyjama top for this.

I folded it in half and traced the front and then back halves onto some pattern paper. I also traced the sleeves in halves which worked fine.

So now I had a pattern to work with. I made up one top which turned out nice but did show where I needed alterations (reduced width and added an inch of length). And voila- my messy pattern pieces were ready!

I cut out the pieces, ensuring the t-shirt image stays in the middle of the new shirt. I cut the sleeves from the t-shirt sleeves which saved me from finishing the edges on those.

A word on neck binding- on t-shirts where the stretch of the jersey is completely gone the neck hole may need to be a bit wider for smaller children (O is one)- sadly the robot one doesn't go over his head so will have to remake that one (red raglan sleeves anyone?)

Now if only I could catch the little blighter wearing one of the shirts...

I'd be very happy to post the pattern I made for my 1 year-old if anyone's interested.

*** Update: caught him on camera. Here's my little man striking a model pose in his new tshirt: