Thursday, 8 September 2016

The Refashioners 2016

Sometimes when you haven't blogged for a while it's hard to know where to start again.  I have always used my blog as a means of documenting finished projects which has set the timetable for posts, but as I haven't done a lot for the past six months I haven't had a specific reason to write.  If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed I am pregnant, which is why I haven't been up to much!  Specifically, without boring anyone with the details, this is an IVF pregnancy after 6 years of secondary infertility which has resulted in me taking things very, very easy - to the point of practically no sewing at all.  This has been very strange for me as, like a lot of people, I have been using sewing as a means of escape from life's little problems and sometimes it has been the thing which has kept me going. However some minor problems early on meant forced rest and by then I was out of the swing of things a bit.

Luckily Portia's brilliant challenge, The Refashioners, forced me to start thinking and sewing again.  I took part last year and it was one of the highlights of my year so when Portia asked me to participate again I was very excited.

I had so many ideas to start with (my initial reaction was to make a dungaree dress, which sadly would not have been practical for pregnancy so has been shelved for a while!) but I soon settled on making something I will need soon, and something I know will be used a lot – a travel changing mat.  I had one of these when my daughter was a baby which was a freebie from a magazine and it didn’t last but it was so useful for carrying a small changing kit around, and meant that any bag could become a changing bag.  

I started with a pair of jeans which I probably bought about 8-10 years ago and which were still a lovely dark indigo colour which was what I was looking for.  They also have some stretch in which isn’t ideal but hasn’t affected the end result.

Before starting, I looked at a tutorial to get a basic idea of construction and also borrowed a friend’s changing mat to get a rough idea of size.  I was obviously constrained by the width of the leg of the jeans but luckily I managed to cut the mat out whilst avoiding the leg shaping in these jeans.  Obviously this would have been easier if I had used a pair of men’s, non-stretch and unshaped jeans but these were sitting unloved in my cupboard!

I cut my jeans up the outside leg seam, leaving the inner seam intact, and lay the fabric out flat. I then made a quilt sandwich of denim, batting and soft furry plush fabric before quilting all three layers together in a diamond pattern, using basting spray and a walking foot to stop the layers shifting around while quilting.  To make the pockets, I cut two rectangular pieces of denim from the remaining leg and two pieces of flannel fabric half as wide again as the main pocket pieces.  I gathered the bottom of the flannel to fit on the pocket, and sewed a channel for elastic along the top.  I wanted bigger, roomier pockets than my last version as I am intending to use cloth nappies again which take up more space than disposables, but they will also be useful to put a spare change of clothes in too.

Using a faux leather bias binding I bound the pockets first before attaching them to the mat then bound the whole way around the mat.  The binding was really quite tricky to work with so I kept the walking foot on my machine and took it really slowly.  It isn’t perfect but I am happy with the outcome.  The last thing to do was to stitch the buckle on the front, which has a magnetic closure, and done! 

The only thing I had to buy to make this changing mat was the binding, everything else I had in my cupboard.  The plush and flannel were left over from making new baby gifts, I can’t even remember why I bought the buckle but I am so pleased it has been put to good use and obviously the jeans were taking up space and feeling unloved so I am delighted to have turned them into something which I know will be so useful to me in a few months’ time.  Thank you so much Portia for organising such a brilliant event.  I love seeing everyone’s projects popping up and how other people interpret the theme.  Good luck to all taking part in the community challenge - the deadline is 30th September so still plenty of time to enter!

Friday, 4 March 2016

Oliver & S Sailboat Top/Playtime Dress Mash Up

The success of my last Playtime Dress had the additional bonus of helping me to decide how to use this gorgeous fabric that the very lovely Nicole sent me last year.  After having seen Katy's Sailboat Top I wanted to make an exact replica because I love it so much!  But then I thought about lengthening the pattern to a tunic, and then I stalled what with so much going on towards the end of the year.  I pulled the fabric back out again around the Child's birthday but was suddenly undecided so put it back away again, and it was only after making the Playtime Dress up that I hit on the idea of mixing the two patterns together.

I took the front and back pieces of the Sailboat top and measured roughly where the playtime bodice ends and cut the pattern off at that point.  Then I attached the skirt to it.  Simple!  I did make an error when constructing the top which was to overlap the back pieces at the shoulder on top of the front instead of the other way around.  I have made this pattern before but it was over two years ago and I wasn't really concentrating that hard this time!  Oops!  Having said that, I think it is one of those things that bugs me but that non-sewing people may not notice so it's staying.

The fabric is a fantastically stable polo shirt pique style knit.  Nicole very generously sent me a lot of it and I have plans for a maxi dress for me from the rest of it - although knowing me my plans may change!  I would also like to make a straight Sailboat top from it, I think it is perfectly suited to this pattern.  

Most of the construction was done on my overlocker, including attaching the facings which is probably not advisable! I opted not to use a contrasting thread for the top stitching which is a bit of a shame as I did it quite neatly on this one, I have just finished a sweater version of the sailboat and the top stitching on that is decidedly wobbly!  

I am very pleased with how this dress has come out.  I think it's a nice version of the Playtime dress which my daughter finds very comfortable.  I can see this getting a lot of wear and hopefully it will fit for a year or so.  

I have done very well at replenishing the Child's wardrobe recently.  There are still things I would like to make for her and she will need more clothes this summer but she has enough to be going on with for the moment.  She is still in need of basics though but I feel my motivation to make them wearing off a bit!  At some point I will get round to it but for now I think I'm going to take some sewing time out to work on my cardigan that I have been knitting for myself since last May!

Friday, 26 February 2016

Oliver & S Lunch Box Tee and Culottes

Well it would appear that I have some of my sewjo back!  After writing in my last post that I wanted to get this outfit sewn up I actually went and did it.  Not only that but I've made something else too!  I'm not feeling very inspired for myself at the moment but that's okay, because the Child needs almost a complete wardrobe replenish.

This is the Oliver & S Lunch Box Tee and Culottes, something that I've had my eye on for a while but for some reason couldn't see myself making.  I think because I didn't think there would be a lot of variations but now I have it my mind is whirring with ideas - these culottes would be perfect school uniform wear!  (Katy has already done this and they are fab!)

The fabric from the top came from Marilla's recent destash and is a thin-ish french terry.  It is lovely, stable and soft, perfect for children's wear although I can see it is not that practical colour wise!  It's already had kiwi down it but it has lived to tell the tale!  The transfer came from Van Ikke which I bought having seen Nicole's.  It really is very good quality and has stayed put following its first wash.

It was really very quick to put together, although next time I may leave the front pockets off.  Aesthetically I love them but from a practical point of view I'm undecided.  The temptation to use pockets if they are available is too great and I have visions of all sorts being left in there in the wash and then also I hate the thought of her walking around with her hands in her pockets!

Apparently this is what a duck looks like...
I decided to use denim for the culottes so they would go with everything and hopefully last well.  Since these are really quite big on her I think they will last a few years!  I could have done a deeper hem but don't really feel like going back and changing it now so they are staying this long. I bought the denim at some point last year when I was on a denim and chambray binge.  Its quite a medium weight and I think is probably the heaviest fabric I would use for these.

I love the heels on the ankles look, it might catch on!

For the waistband and pockets I used my favourite Liberty print  (Betsy) which I bought from Sewbox.  I interfaced the whole waistband, not just the central section as per the instructions, as the fabric was so light.  It seems to have worked well.  I quite fancy making a woven back button Lunch Box Tee using Betsy to coordinate with these culottes for the summer.  I'm not sure how well it would work but now I've put it in writing it has to happen!

I am so happy with this outfit.  I came out pretty much exactly as I imagined it and I think it will get a lot of wear.  The culottes especially I can see being worn a lot.  Next up on my to-sew-list is a Book Day costume and then I think I will be on to boring basics - so dull to sew but so necessary! I'm hoping my jersey scrap box will make things a little more interesting.  Have a good weekend everyone!

I have no idea...

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Oliver & S Playtime Dress in Liberty Corduroy

I am really struggling to find time to sew at the moment. Part of this is lack of motivation but also part of it is just a general malaise so when I have finished for the day and go to get my sewing stuff out I find I just don't have the energy!  I wish this meant I was doing more knitting to make up for it but unfortunately I find I am not really doing anything. I am sure this will pass but to try to ease myself back into the rhythm of things I thought I would make a pretty but practical dress for my daughter's 6th birthday - sadly this wasn't finished in time for her birthday but it is here at last!

The pattern is the Oliver & S Playtime Dress which I hadn't bought previously and now I'm not sure why.  The pattern consists of a tunic length dress, this length dress and a pair of leggings so it is very versatile.  The dress can be made from either woven or jersey and this is exactly the sort of thing my daughter likes wearing.  I made the size 6 for this dress and as you can see from the photos it is quite large on her at the moment.  She will grow though, and with fabric like this I want to get as much wear out of clothes as possible!

I bought the fabric from Sewbox with very vague plans to make a Christmas dress, or maybe another pair of dungalottes.  I didn't want the fabric to sit and marinade in my stash for ages and not get used up but at the same time I wanted to find a good pattern for the fabric that would make the most of it and be the sort of thing that would be worn. I didn't want this fabric to end up as something too special to be worn regularly and therefore not get value for money from it!  I bought some other bits of Liberty fabrics at the same time so hopefully they will make their way into the child's wardrobe fairly soon.

As this is the first time I have made this pattern I sewed it up exactly as per the pattern but next time I think I would like to add a collar, and maybe elasticated cuffs (I still may change these).  One of the things I love about this pattern is the stitched down facings.  I really hate facings normally because they flap about but as these are stitched down I decided they could stay!  I used some dusky pink linen look cotton for the facings and pockets left over from another project and some mauve mother of pearl type buttons which I am pretty sure I bought with something in mind but cannot remember what!  

I love Oliver & S patterns because the instructions are fantastic, I have learnt so much sewing from them over the years, they are the first place I go when looking for new clothes patterns for the child.  I have also just bought the Lunch Box Tee and Culottes which I'm hoping to have sewn up this week and I've got my eye on the Carousel Dress, although I'm not sure I can justify that having bought two other patterns and with so many other patterns I already own.  The child is badly in need of clothes, so badly that I bought her some for the first time in years a few weeks back, so I'm hoping to channel my limited energies into replenishing her wardrobe with a view to getting my motivation back!  

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Goodbye 2015 - Hello 2016!!

Well, that went quickly!  Two house moves definitely helped the time to pass, along with all the usual life things that get in the way of sewing.  I am pleased to say though that now we are settled in our house and have been there for 7 months life is feeling pretty good.  I had such a good Christmas and New Year that I really do feel invigorated!

First Vintage Pledge of last year
I did a lot of sewing in the past year, the last bits of which are still undocumented because we lost internet for most of November and December and as soon as we got it back my computer broke!  So I will be relying on phone photos or previously blogged ones in this post as I am writing from work (ssshhh!).  As a quick summary, I sewed lots of clothes for me, a few for the child, knitted one jumper (two ongoing!), refashioned quite a bit and took part in Portia's refashioners challenge, sewed from 5 vintage patterns, knitted from 1 and forgot to put any of them on the pinterest board, made a lot of underwear and a jumpsuit.  Phew!

Portia's Refasionhers Challenge
My best make of 2015 is one of the last: the coat I made for the Child.  It took about three weeks in total and I learnt so much making it but it also gave me some confidence; I CAN do this!

I had wanted to make a smart coat for the Child for a while, but it was a trip to London to see the Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House that really nudged me into finally doing it.  I just decided that she couldn't possibly wear her anorak to London (country bumpkins!) despite the fact that no one would be looking at her or her coat anyway!!

I used Vogue 9043 for the pattern and made a straight size 5 for my nearly 6 year old (sob!) with the only change being less height on the sleeve cap. The coat fits well now, however if she has a big growth spurt I don't think it will last next year, which is a bit of a shame so I'm planning on making her wear it a lot!

I bought the fabrics, lining and interfacing from Stone Fabrics and they couldn't have been more helpful in helping me choose.  I ordered 4 wool swatches and 2 velvets and did a quick Instagram and family poll and the results were fairly unanimous.  For once I went with the majority vote! Unfortunately this wool is now sold out (I bought the last bit, sorry!) but it was a gorgeous British herringbone tweed at £17.95/m - I bought 1.35m which I think makes this a fairly cost effective coat. I chose a quilted lining for warmth but this does take up some room inside the coat, hence it fitting perfectly now with no room for growth.

As an added touch, I embroidered her name on a label along with a couple of flowers, mounted it on a scrap of Liberty corduroy then attached it to the back lining along with a matching coat hook.  I think this finishes off the coat well, and makes it so personal.  At around the time I was stitching this I read this article in The Guardian which really touched me.  Of course a personalised label now makes this harder to hand down to someone else but I really felt I was sewing with love when I made this coat.

Also towards the end of last year I made a couple of bags for Love Sewing Magazine!  I cannot describe my excitement about this, and about seeing the published article this week. It was pretty amazing to be Star Maker a few months ago, but to actually make something for the magazine was just brilliant!

So, 2016 has started with a bit of a bang and I am really looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year will bring.  We have lots of exciting stuff planned already for the year, including a wedding in Italy at which I will be Matron of Honour and Child will be a flower girl - we are both giddy with excitement!  I cannot wait to see what the rest of the year will bring!  I hope you all had a lovely festive period too and are feeling relaxed and refreshed for the New Year!

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress x 2

I have been trying to write this post for a whole week now but life keeps conspiring against me!  The weather keeps being too rubbish to take photos and now we have no internet at home for a few weeks!  Aaargh!  If I look really tired in these photos it is because I was, I've had a poorly child for the past few days and took the opportunity of a break in vomit watch and a break in the weather to quickly take some photos! (The child is all better now and back at school which means I am back in work and able to use the work internet - yay!).

This dress is the Sew Over It Ultimate Shift dress which I hadn't really given a though to until I bought this fabric whilst out on my recent trip to Goldhawk Road when Marilla suggested it would be a great fit for the fabric.  The fabric is so deliciously soft that I was tempted to make pyjamas from it but I needed a new dress more!  We went out to a dinner thing last weekend and at first I thought I needed a posh frock but when I actually read the dress code and realised it was smart/casual I decided to make this.  Which was a bit of a shame because I had some plans with some silk and a gold skirt.  Oh well, there'll be a next time!

I started this dress on the Thursday night, hand sewed the hems on the Friday night then wore it out on the Saturday night - perfect! 

I was a bit unsure what size to make as going by the pattern measurements I should have made a size 12 but I have put on a few pounds recently so decided to err on the side of caution and make the 14.  The fit is fine so I am happy with my decision and the only change I made to the pattern was to lower the bust darts by 3cm which I have to do to most patterns. I also decided to line the body of the  dress to give the fabric a bit more substance.  I finished the back with a button and loop rather than a hook and eye, thinking it would be easier for me to do up myself as I do find hook and eyes so fiddly.  

I am so happy with my new dress and had a fab time at the dinner thing. I am so pleased I made a new dress for it, it gave me a bit of a confidence boost and helped me enjoy the evening so much more because I wasn't worrying about what I was wearing.  

Because I loved the pattern so much I went straight on to make a jersey version in some fab stripy ponte roma that I picked up on the same shopping trip.  I felt like I bought a lot of fabric that day but actually I have used most of it already so my guilty feelings are lessening somewhat!

For this version, I cut the back on the fold, kept the rest of the dress as it was and added bands at the neck and cuffs - with anchors on!  This dress is the bees knees.  It is definitely a pyjama dress and I love it!  Since I finished it (last Tuesday) I have worn it 5 times, it is sooooo comfy!  

Checking out my stripe matching!

It was also incredibly quick to make since the majority of it was made on the overlocker.  I think I made it in 2 hours, which is quick by my standards.  I do spend an awful lot of time staring at the television when I'm supposed to be sewing!  

As I actually finished my dress in time I rewarded myself by sewing up some lovely lounge wear, none of which deserve a whole post of their own.  I made a pair of peach hudsons, a banana Lark Tee and a Linden with a gold glitter stag's head!!  Words cannot describe how much I love this jumper and I will not actually be wearing this as lounge wear until after the festive period (after spilling red wine down the front on its first outing!).   The morning after I finished it I realised that the quality of ribbing I used just wasn't up to scratch so I made the decision to unpick it and replace it with some gorgeous red and white striped ribbing I bought from KitschyCoo.  It's true love and I will be wearing this to every festive event I have to go to this Christmas, starting with a Guide party on Monday night!

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Style 1711 - Victorian Outfit

I was in two minds about writing a blog post for this little outfit but in the end I decided that I wanted a record of it.  It wasn't a long or complicated make but I'm really happy with how it turned out. And the pictures made me laugh!

The pattern I used is Style 1711 from 1976 which I found almost by accident on eBay.  It is perfect for a Victorian style dressing up and I think I will make it again as normal wear, I like it!  I do enjoy using vintage patterns for children's wear probably more than for me as I don't have to worry about fitting issues.  I only changed two things when making this; I omitted the high neck band and finished the edge with a bias strip instead, and I left the back of the apron open for a more aprony look. Oh, and I left the frill off the bottom too!

I bought the fabric on my most recent trip to Goldhawk Road and I'm really pleased with it.  The grey/blue fabric for the main dress has a slight check running through it and is almost a trouser weight. I think the dress will get worn by itself a bit, I like the style of it.  The sleeves need shortening first though!

Following on from my last post I can confirm that reward charts also work on adults and as a reward for making a new dress to wear on Saturday night (not even started yet!) I am going to be heavily influenced by Marilla and make myself some nice loungewear! Featuring bananas!!