Sunday, 25 October 2015

Autumn/winter sewing plans

Ah back to the lists again! When I posted my summer sewing plans I kind of thought they were quite ambitious and yet, here I am, doing the same again. What can I say, I like lists! The summer list had 10 items on it and I got 3 finished. Those 3 items have already had a lot of wear though so I'm happy with that. I made my Marilla Walker sailor top, Dress 'D' from the Stylish Dress book, and the geometric Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank. I also made other items not on the list - two VERY quick jersey pencil skirts and a Victoria Blazer which had been a work-in-progress for about 2 years - all of which have quickly become favourites.

Woven fabric sewing plans

So, onto my Autumn/Winter sewing list.

Woven fabric  - clockwise from top right: Navy geometric fabric (from my summer sewing plans) now destined to be a Marilla Walker Maya top; the blue/beige & brown/orange prints were both lining options for the bottom left - a gorgeous terracotta/brick coloured wool or wool blend that is going to be a full length, long-sleeved, Victoria blazer. I've decided to go with the orange/brown print fabric as it matches so perfectly (so now I need a project for the lovely pale blue/brown fabric which I think is a voile). Last but by no means least top left is a lovely pink twill to be made into a Brumby skirt.

Jersey fabric sewing plans

Jersey fabric - clockwise from top right: The navy and burnt orange jersey are going to be combined to be a Jalie drop pocket cardigan. The purple and purple printed jersey are going to be Plantains. I just can't decide whether to make the printed fabric into a plantain dress or just a top, I need to have another feel of thickness of the fabric to decide if it's suitable for a dress.

And that's it, ha! If I even get two of these things done I'll be happy so we'll see how it goes. What are your autumn/winter sewing plans, or spring/summer if you're in the Southern Hemisphere?

Monday, 12 October 2015

Dress 'D' - Stylish Dress book

This Japanese pattern book was a lovely spontaneous present from my husband, just because he thought I would like it.  He was right and I've looked and dreamed of making up the pattern since he gave it to me about 2 years ago. When I was pregnant there were a few smock top and tunic styles I thought would be good but of course I never got round to them.  However a trip to Merchant and Mills in Rye on a weekend away with pals a few months ago led to me coming home with 2 metres of dark blue chambray, perfect for a version of the dress shown on the cover. I am so pleased with the finished dress, I've already worn it 3 times since I finished it last week which is a sure sign of success!

First wear, a trip to the local park

My Dress 'D', Stylish Dress Book

Sleeve close-up of my Dress 'D', Stylish Dress Book

I love the style of this, and have seen so many great versions, particularly on Instagram (if you search for #stylishdressbook lots of versions of Dress D come up). I also admired Louise's versions and these versions - it seems to be a pattern people love to make multiple versions of!  What do you think of this style? It is very loose-fitting and billowy, a style I don't usually wear, but it's so comfy and I think it looks pretty stylish too. Have you sewn with any Japanese patterns?

Pattern used: Dress D from Stylish Dress Book

Size cut: S

Fabric: Dark blue chambray at £7 a metre from Merchant & Mills, bought 2 metres. I still have enough left for some toddler clothes too, yay!

Issues/changes I'd make:

  • As you can see in the image above, the instructions are pretty sparse! Now when, like me, you're used to the detailed instructions, photos & sewalongs most indie sewing pattern companies treat us too, this can be a bit intimidating at first. However I did find that the diagrams provided helped a lot and there were only a few moments of head scratching.
  • Next time I would go down to an XS to make it less billowy & lower the neckline as it's already a bit higher at the neck than I'd like.  
  • Both my front & back facing pieces were too short. I couldn't work out why as I checked and I'd definitely traced the right size & added seam allowance. Luckily it wasn't much of a gap so unstitching the facings and using a smaller seam allowance gave me enough room.
  • Add length if I make this again. There's a nice deep hem on this which I wouldn't want to sacrifice but I would like a bit extra length so I'd need to add this on.
  • The pocket placement seemed a bit off to me. They seem to be placed really far to the sides and I wasn't sure about the look of this. However I've realised maybe that is the style as I've seen a few high-street tunic style dresses with side patch pockets recently.
Cost: The pattern was a present and the thread was left-over so the total was £14 for the fabric.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Victoria, Victoria

My first jacket! I may not look too happy about it here but I really love it! This is the Victoria blazer by By Hand London. I cut the fabric out almost 2 years ago so this blazer has been a long time coming!

In order to finally get this made I took a day's annual leave from work and spent the whole day sewing - and it was bliss! The fit on this is great, I've got room under the arms (something I often struggle with when sewing up tops and sleeved dresses) and I like the width of it.  However when I finished this I really wasn't too sure how much wear I'd get out a cropped blazer. I'm pleased to say I've surprised myself by how often I've worn this. I think it goes with jeans & skirts & I chucked it on yesterday as an extra layer in case the sun disappeared so it's going to be quite handy for autumn.

The outer fabric is from The Shop on Cheshire street, London - a brilliant shop full of vintage fabric. I'm not sure what the fabric is but it pressed beautifully & is very soft, though it frayed terribly! The lining is Liberty, the print is called Dr Tulloch, and I picked up a metre of it in the remnants bin during a Liberty sale. This was my first time working with Liberty lawn and my goodness I can see the appeal, it was really easy to press & sew. I do wish I'd made this full-length now rather than cropped but that'll be my next one.

I'd written up a whole load of notes about this - problems I had, things to do differently next time etc, however I managed to drop my phone in the swimming pool on holiday and there went my notes. Of course now I'm wearing my blazer I can't remember any of the problems I had - does anyone else find that? I really need to start writing a blog post, or write my notes on paper, to have a record of the sewing process.

Has anyone else sewed this up? Did it start you on an outwear mission? I already have plans for the Republique du Chiffon Gerard coat and a vintage jacket pattern I have but first up, another Victoria. I have the fabric already, a gorgeous wine coloured wool blend, and just need to get my lining fabric. I'm going to extend the sleeves to full length and line them. I'd also make the outer fabric slightly longer than the lining as on this one you can see the lining peeking out at the bottom sometimes. In these fabrics I've not had a problem with the lining peeking out on the lapels as a lot of people seem to, probably because both fabrics pressed so well. My next fabric is a wool blend so as it'll be thicker I think I'll play it safe and understitch the lapels. I can't wait to get started on my next one! Thanks By Hand London for such a lovely pattern!

A few close-up shots

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Jersey pencil skirts

In the past few years - read, since having a baby and losing all time to iron clothes/select outfits/look in the mirror before leaving the house - I've grown to love jersey pencil skirts. They make me feel put together and slightly dressed up without having to think about it.  I just pick out a nice t-shirt or tank top and that's me sorted. In the winter they'll work with tights and a sweater as well so they're pretty much a win-win in my book.

B/w skirt, worn with tank top (top of maxi-dress)
Worn here with my new Tiny Pocket Tank

These two were both re-fashions, though not exactly taxing ones. The black and white one was a short-sleeved dress from H&M that was too short and kept riding up. I just cut it off under the arms and then added elastic. Easy peasy! Now it's longer and doesn't ride up, plus it was a double layered fabric so no transparency issues to deal with.  The pink/purple jersey was once a tiny pocket tank maxi-dress. I wore it loads when I was pregnant but the fabric was just too heavy really and I kept having to re-hem it as it stretched. Plus as it was heavy it meant it was also pretty warm, too warm really, so I haven't worn it much this year. I decided it would get more wear as a pencil skirt. This was a quick and dirty re-fashion - I simply laid the b/w skirt on top, drew round it with a coloured pencil, remembering to include a seam allowance, cut it out, turned it right sides together and stitched, then added an elastic waist. I even re-used the original hem so this was another quick make.  Not wanting to waste the top half of the dress I took a bit off the length then re-hemmed it - new tank top, ta da!

Quick refashion in progress
There's not much else to say about elastic waist tube jersey skirts. Except, except that is that this tutorial from Lladybird totally changed the way I looked at elastic waistbands. As Lauren says herself there's loads of tutorials and instructions out there for doing this but I hadn't seen them before so I was really grateful for this quick and clear tutorial. It looks nice and neat on the outside, and best of all no twisting!

Does anyone have any other quick makes that they find really satisfying?

Friday, 4 September 2015

Third time lucky? Tiny Pocket Tank

Ah the perfect tank top [skirt/shirt insert your own favourite garment type here] pattern, have you found yours? When I saw the Cali Faye basics dress I could imagine it as a tank, my perfect tank.  I was all set to hit purchase when I remembered just how many patterns I have that haven't been used and realised I couldn't justify buying another at the moment, especially when I have the Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank. The things I love about the Cali Faye dress are the scooped out lower armholes and the lower back so I set about trying to adapt the tiny pocket tank pattern.

I've made the tiny pocket tank before - my Lush Life tank, and an unblogged Betty Jackson striped pink one but the pink one is too big and the Lush Life one is now too tight under the arms. And I couldn't find either traced pattern so I had no idea which sizes they were - arrgh!! Time to start from scratch then!

The black and white fabric is from the Man outside Sainsbury's ages ago - I bought 3 metres, planning an Anna maxidress but then realised I'd need to line it and gave that idea up as I'm too lazy/have never lined a skirt before. It's lovely and soft which is why I bought it as usually I wouldn't go for anything with black in it, and it was only £2 a metre - perfect for experimenting with.

I cut out a size 8 but then added length to the straps. I held the traced pattern up and approximated a 1.5cm increase would make it a bit more roomy under the arms. However I then added 1.5cm to both front and back pieces which of course made it far too long. I also forgot to raise the darts, raise the neckline or lengthen the strips of bias binding - a true catalogue of errors. Of course I didn't realise any of this till I'd sewn it up, with french seams, so by then it was too late for major alterations. I decided I could live with the low neckline, just. I used the Colettte tutorial for piecing bias binding and attached it using the Sorbetto instructions (links to PDF) where you cut the binding to size once you've pinned it to the garment.  However the straps were still too long and it was hanging ridiculously low under the arms. So, I just cut the straps down a bit and resewed them! Definitely not the most sophisticated way to deal with the problem but it still looks neat, and best of all it fits great under the arm.  I also sewed the under stitching too close to the seam line so when I folded it under for top-stitching it didn't sit right and there's a few spots where the binding isn't caught all the way under.  Luckily not moving the bust darts doesn't seem to have been a problem - obviously gravity is helping me out there now, boohoo!  I bought the PDF of the pattern and have managed to lose the instructions somewhere along the way. I'm sure if I'd emailed Grainline with my receipt they would have sent me the instructions but to be honest, using Jen's tutorial meant I didn't need them.

Putting aside all these mistakes I absolutely love this top and have already had lots of wear out of it, it's so nice and soft and looks great on.  On holiday (in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, France where these photos were taken) I wore it with this skirt and it also looks great with jeans. I will make it again, to try and perfect it.  I plan to get the length of the straps sorted, raise the front neckline a bit, lower the back neckline (like this gorgeous Eucalypt tank by Charlie), and slim it down a bit at the sides. Here's a question though - if I slim it down at the sides will this make the armholes tighter?

Sorry for the lengthy post on a relatively easy garment but I thought it would be useful to document the changes I've made.  Do you try to alter existing patterns if you see a new style you like, or would you buy the new pattern?

Thursday, 2 July 2015

More sunny days

Another Kids Clothes Week has been and gone and once again I loved seeing what everyone else was making! I signed up this year but didn't get round to posting my projects on the KCW Community site this time round. This time I didn't get as much sewing done but I did get some essential shorts made - especially now that we're having a heatwave here in London! 

Both shorts are the Sunny Day shorts pattern from Oliver + S. This is a free pattern! As it's a kids pattern there arent' many pages to the PDF and the instructions are brilliant. I love this pattern! However I do find it runs a bit small and keep forgetting to use a smaller seam allowance than it reocmmends to compensate for this.  The first pair are exactly the same as the pair I made last year (I know, how boring. But I love them so!). The fabric was from Ray Stitch, an organic cotton, maybe a cotton/linen blend I'm not sure. The second pair are made from a lovely striped fabric, I think you'd call it a seersucker, which I won in a giveaway over at Anneke Caramin (if you don't already know Anneke's blog I recommend checking it out - she makes lots of gorgeous clothes as well as being a very talented artist). This is gorgeous fabric and aren't those pockets lovely?!

So those pockets, ahem, there's a story behind them. I managed to attach them twice, that's right twice, the wrong way round before third time lucky I got them right. By which point I'd completely forgotten I'd already trimmed the seam allowance so they are now quite a bit tighter than they should be. Given that this pattern seems to run a bit small anyway I don't think these will be fitting my son for much longer! The perils of drinking and sewing eh?! *Amendment - I totally forgot to say I used the Tutorial from Dana Made It for the pocket shape & instructions. I just drew a template like the one she uses then followed the instructions. Which are very good, if you've not been drinking.

oops, wine-induced sewing errors!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Quick fix sewing - Sailor Top

Another jersey make from me - can you tell I'm craving quick fix sewing at the moment? Last Saturday I was meeting up with some sewing buddies, none of whom I'd met IRL before (how amazing is this sewing community eh?!) and I decided on Friday night that I wanted something new to wear. I am in real need of some more t-shirts so I thought I would give Marilla Walker's Sailor top a try. I love her versions and Grosgrain Green's and wanted one for myself! However I didn't have enough striped jersey so I decided to use some more of the bright pink I used for a plantain. Then I discovered some pink/white scraps from a Maria Denmark Kimono tee I made 2 summer's ago (sadly sent to the textile recycling as the jersey had bobbled terrible, and stretched out of shape due to me wearing it throughout my pregnancy!). The pinks matched perfectly - it was meant to be!!

A perfect colour match!
The PDF was really easy to match up the pages as the pattern is basically squares.  After reading Helen's post where she mentioned that the shoulder gussets exposed a bit of bra strap I decided to add a bit of length to the gussets (as an aside isn't gusset a great word?!) and this has worked really well. I got a bit confused with the instructions for attaching the should gussets and somehow attached them inside out, but luckily it's a woven jersey stripe and not printed so you don't notice it.  Marilla suggests using ribbon or bias tape to stabilise the neckline and gives really good instructions on doing this. I used it on one side of the neckline but then just tried topstitching on the other side to see what the difference is, the topstiched side looks ok but if I make it again I'll definitely use ribbon on the neckline as it looks much crisper.

I just love the shape of this top. I wouldn't usually go for something so cropped but I love it. All in all my quick fix was a great success! I'd highly recommend this pattern for a quick but satisying sew with a stylish result. Thanks Marilla! Since I made this both Jenna and Minnado's House have made gorgeous versions! Me and Jenna both wore ours for the sewing meet-up on Saturday - great minds! Have you been doing any quick fix sewing recently? Any favourite patterns for a quick sew?

Monday, 22 June 2015

Lists - love them or loathe them?

Lists. Are you a list lover or a list loather? I've been a list devotee for a long time but since baby was born my list habit has fallen by the wayside a bit. Aiming to make 3 items during Me Made May re-motivated  me and I've realised that I like having goals to tick off so I'm going to start with the list writing again. In order to write a sewing to-do list it was time to sort out the stash first so that's what I did last weekend. It was so satisfying!! I put 2 big plastic bags of scraps in the textile recycling bin and now have 4 boxes of fabric that you can see in the photo (the other box is all my PDF patterns). These are sorted into printed fabric, plain fabric, jersey fabric, and fabric for children's clothes. In addition to this I have 2 large storage bags under the bed filled with beautiful winter wools and cotton sateen's that I was lucky enough to get from a friend who works for a big fashion company where they have fabric sample sales. So definitely enough fabric to be getting on with!

my sewing space under the stairs.
To be honest the amount of fabric intimidated me a bit so I picked out a selection of my perfect summer fabrics and decided these would be the basis for my summer sewing plans. Now, I'm under no illusions that I'll get all of these things sewn but if I get even a couple of them sewn I'll be happy.

summer sewing!
So this is my 'to sew' pile - isn't it lovely?! Starting from the top:
1. This stripey fabric was an old-fashioned nightgown I bought at a kilo sale. I had tried to make a pair of shorts early on in my sewing life but they were a disaster, I cut too small a size & sewed them together the wrong way! I've unpicked all the stitching and think I have enough for a waistband and bias biding for a pair of city gym shorts.
2. Bright pink knit and pink/white striped knit. A Marilla Walker sailor top - already finished! I love this top and just need to get it photographed.
3. Some VERY bright pink fabric from my friends work sample sale. I'm planning a pair of Burda shorts from a pattern another friend has given me.
4. Black/white geometric print from The Man Outside Salisbury's. I think I'm going to make a Tiny Pocket Tank, and maybe also a Kimono jacket, or maybe some trousers? I can't decide. Any ideas? I've got 3 metres.
5. Navy/white geometric print from M is for Make. A scout tee.
6. Sheer turquoise fabric with raised square design, and turquoise lining. I think this will be Dress D from Stylish Dress Book
7. Pink pique fabric won in a fabric destash by Gail. If there's enough I might try a Moss Mini, otherwise this will be a Colette Meringue (without scallops) or a Vogue 1247.
8. Silk type fabric from Mandors remnants bin. I'm hoping this will be enough for a Kimono jacket, either from this tutorial or using Tessuti patterns Tokyo jacket.
9. Merchant & Mills dark chambray - this is for Dress D from Japanese Dress Book.
10. Pre-washed denim from Merchant & Mills. I can't decide, I have 2 metres. Maybe a shirt dress but I'm not sure if it's too thick, or a denim jacket, or my favourite option at the moment, a Marilla Walker Evan skirt but possibly changed to a false button placket front.

So many things to sew! I won't get much done this week as it's Kids Clothes Week so I'm concentrating on sewing pyjamas, summer shorts, and a shirt for H but next week I'll get back on this list!

Friday, 19 June 2015

Third time lucky Plantain

As I realised during Me Made May, I'm a Repeat Pattern Offender, and if I needed proof of RPO benefits then the Plantain tee provides it! The Plantain is a free pattern from Deer & Doe and is a firm favourite among sewing bloggers (there are so many gorgeous versions, as a start I'd check out Elena's versions and Laurence's, posted on the Curvy Sewing Collective).  I don't know much about drafting but this t-shirt just looks so good in every version I've seen that it must be very well drafted.  The instructions are easy to follow and I love the method of inserting the sleeves flat - I'd never tried this before.  It's also an easy pattern to adapt into a dress - see What Katie Sews for a lovely example, or a cardigan - as Dandelion Drift did, I'm seriously going to have to copy that idea!

For my first version I stuck to the pattern and made the long-sleeved version but without the elbow patches.  I used a cheap bright pink jersey I got in Walthamstow, either at Saeeds or from the Man outside Sainsbury's. I cut a size 38 at the bust grading out to a 40 at the waist and 42 at the hips and it fits really well.  The fabric has started to show signs of pilling/bobbling already and I was never that happy with my twin needle on the sleeves and hem, however, saying all that, I wore this loads, tucked-in, over the winter and I'm sure will continue to wear it until it gets so bobbly I need to make another!

First version of my Plantain t-shirt dress in Teal textured jersey.
Moving on quickly to version 2 - my first attempt at a dress version. Once again cheap fabric, from a shop on Walthamstow High Street (can't remember which one).  It turned out ok in terms of fit, and I do like the colour but the fabric just looks cheap to me which puts me off a bit.  I'm sure I'll wear it in the winter with tights but I didn't like the look of it with bare legs so it's been consigned to the back of the wardrobe until autumn rolls around. There is a dress tutorial by Anna on the Deer & Doe blog but I wanted to stick to a t-shirt dress style rather than adding any volume to the skirt.  My solution was to lay an old favourite t-shirt dress from H&M (so bobbly and worn looking it has now been shipped off to the textile recycling bin) under the pattern piece and tracing paper and draw round it, adding length and copying the shape.

But version 3, oh version 3 I love it!!  The fabric is from the Man outside Sainsbury's and it is a gorgeous soft jersey which feels really good quality and was a dream to sew with.  I also had a couple of revelations with this make. First off when talking to a friend about the tunnelling I had been getting with my twin needle, she asked if it was a stretch twin needle, to which I had to reply I have no idea! The twin needles I have belonged to my mum and as she used the machine for her art work I doubt she had a stretch twin needle. So I 'splashed out' and got a stretch twin needle - what a difference! This time, no tunnelling and as a result a much more professional looking hem on the bottom and the sleeves.  My other revelation actually following the instructions properly and top-stitching down the neckline. I'd never done this before, not quite sure why, but it makes such a difference. It lies much flatter, and again looks more professional.  I am so pleased with this version and I'll definitely be making more! I have some nice John Kaldor fabric (from TMOS yet again) which I'm going to use to make a version for winter and I'd love to make another long-sleeved t-shirt and a cardigan for the winter.

The sleeves are perfect for a summer dress

Top-stitched neckline

Flat twin-needle stitching - yay!!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Me Made May 2015 round-up

So, it's the 11th of June and this is me finally rounding up my Me Made May 2015.  My aims were  to wear me-mades or re-fashioned clothes 3 days a week for the whole of May, and to make myself 3 new garments during May. I'm so happy I succeeded on both aims - yay!! Of the 31 days in May I wore something me-made 23 of the days. This year I didn't put myself under any pressure to document every day and I think that worked out well for me, I managed some photos but not every day.

Apologies in advance for this big list but I thought it would be useful for me to list what I did and didn't wear, so feel free to skip this part if it's a bit long!

Pink Tiny pocket tank - unblogged (2x)
'Lush life' tiny pocket tank (2x)
Pink Sorbetto (1x)
Green Sorbetto (1x)
New (Made in May) Scout tee - unblogged (1x)
'Sherbet' scout tee (1x)
'Sailing, I am sailing' scout tee (1x)
Bird kimono tee (5x)
Pink plantain - unblogged (2x)
White Banksia (2x)

'Wildwood flower' Colette meringue skirt (1x)
New (Made in May) Purple knit pencil skirt  - unblogged (1x) I would have worn this more if it hadn't stretched so much. It's currently sitting waiting to get some width cut off the waistband & restitched.

'Not such a disaster after all' tiny pocket tank maxi dress (2x)
New (Made in May) Teal plantain dress - unblogged (1x)

Me-makes I didn't wear -
Autumn colours circle skirt - I don't have any tops that go with this right now, plus the waistband is a bit snug.
Teal McCall's 2401 dress & beige McCall's dress (unblogged) - both are winter dresses for wearing with tights.
Liberty pyjama shorts (unbloggged) - not warm enough for them. STOP PRESS - summer is here and I'm pleased to say these have suddenly been getting lots of wear!

Quite a few me-mades have gone to the charity shop in the past year so it's not surprising there aren't many I didn't wear.  Definitely a RPO - repeat pattern offender - but I'm not ashamed of that! The colder May weather has once again made me realise I need to make some trousers. Maybe this will be the year of the trousers?!  Taking part in MMMay this year has made me realise just how often I wear the clothes I've made. That gave my sewing confidence a nice boost and spurred me on to make 3 new items in May (highlighted above in bold and hopefully to be blogged about in the future!). Asides from that I've got no big realisations from this year, just confidence and determination to continue sewing my own clothes, and confirmation of my love for bright colours.

I've absolutely loved taking part again this year, seeing everyone else's makes and being part of this amazing on-line, and real-life, sewing community.  Did you take part? Did it lead to any big sewing realisations?! or change/reaffirm your sewing plans? Thanks Zoe for being our organiser extrordinaire for another fun and inspiring year of Me Made May!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Me Made May 2015

It's that time of year again, Me Made May is upon us! 2013 was the first time I took part and I loved it - the sense of community, the friendships made and the inspiration from other people's makes was incredible.  Last year my pledge was to try-on or wear everything me-made and sort out my sewing plan. Well I did wear all my spring appropriate me-mades but didn't get much documented, didn't have much time to take part in the community, and certainly didn't get a sewing plan sorted out! This year I've been doing more sewing (so far for my wee boy mostly) so I thought I'd change up my pledge and try and encourage myself to do some more sewing for myself.  So my pledge for this year?

'I, Kathryn of Kathryn's BusyTown, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '15. I endeavour to wear me-mades or re-fashioned clothes 3 days a week for the duration of May 2015. In addition I will make myself 3 items of clothing during May 2015.'

I'll probably post photos on Instagram as well as the Me Made May Flickr group and a round-up post at the end of the month.  I'm looking forward to taking part this year, hopefully see you there!


Monday, 27 April 2015

Kids Clothes Week round-up

Well that's Kids Clothes Week over for another season and I really enjoyed it! I managed to sew every day except the two days I work and by the end of the week had made four See Kate Sew Recess Raglan tees. The first one I showed you on Friday. The other three are all for Harris. It's so nice to use all these scraps of fabric, especially the bird fabric (if it looks familiar it's because I made a kimono tee from it which I still wear).  The short-sleeved blue t-shirt with the design on the front is my favourite though as Harris pretty much picked out the transfer himself. He kept pointing and laughing at the squirrels on mopeds so I just had to use them on a t-shirt for him. I added the birds as he loves pointing at birds too. These Sukie transfers are just so good, I can't wait to use more of them!

There isn't really anything else to say about the pattern except... be wary of the neckbands & cuffs! I lengthened the neckband piece on all these versions in order to make them fit over his head. I also had to cut the cuffs off the bird fabric one as they were too tight. I decided just to leave it uncuffed as Harris doesn't like anything tight or too long on his arms. Id say this is partly to do with the stretch content of the fabric I used but to my, admittedly inexperienced, eye the neckband piece looks pretty short anyway.

close-up of the squirrel t-shirt
I did have other sewing plans for the week - two pairs of Oliver + S sunny-day shorts I've cut out and an Oliver + S sketchbook shirt which is also cut out. I will get these sewn up but I think it's time to do a wee bit of sewing for me now - Me Made May is on the way and I've so many sewing plans! If you've thought about taking part in KCW but haven't before then I'd really recommend it, it's a great motivator!

Friday, 24 April 2015

Kids Clothes far

Sewing for one hour, every day, for one week. That's the aim of Kids Clothes Week. I'm doing pretty well so far.  Since Monday I've sewn, or prepared for sewing, for at least an hour a day, usually longer.  I braved it on Monday and started sewing during naptime (otherwise I'd never have got any done) and Harris didn't wake up - yay! So that's me got some sewing time now, for as long as he has a naptime, and I'm going to make the most of it.  Yesterday I didn't get anything done as I was working during the day then my husband surprised me with concert tickets for Grouper in the evening - a lovely surprise and such a good gig!

See Kate Sew Recess Raglan knit tee

I've finished one t-shirt - a gift for a 3 year old. Once again I used the See Kate Sew Recess Raglan .  A few years back a friend bought me a book of Sukie transfers which I'd been meaning to try out for ages.  Her daughter's third birthday seemed the perfect occasion to break them out. I did a few testers on scraps of this peach jersey, to see how long to hold the iron on & whether it would wash ok.  I put it through a 40 degree wash and it came out fine which was a relief as there'd be no point in a child's t-shirt that couldn't go in the wash!

This really is such a simple make and even done in little segments of time, it doesn't take long at all.  I used the vari-overlock stitch on my Bernina to finish all the seams neatly, and used a twin-needle on the hem.  After messing up the hem on my plantain tshirt (unblogged) I've learned to do a test with the twin-needle now to get the tension right. The only alteration I made was the same as last time, to lengthen the neck-band piece. This time I got it right first time. Let's just hope it fits the recipient now, fingers crossed!  I'm really happy with how this top turned out though looking at it now I wish I'd placed the tree slightly higher up but that's a minor quibble. Here's hoping the recipient likes it!

Pile of things to sew!

Still another 3 days left of KCW and I've a huge pile cut out & in varying states of sewing. 3 Recess Raglan's, an Oliver + S Sketchbook shirt & 2 pairs of Sunny Day shorts - all for Harris!  Hopefully I can get a wee bit done tonight.  I love how this challenge really makes me appreciate even the odd 15 minutes at the sewing machine and I feel like I'm so much more productive, here's hoping I can keep it up after the week is over!  How's it going for you if you're participating in KCW this time?

Friday, 10 April 2015

Recess Raglan #1

Some more children's sewing from me - a Sew Kate Sew Recess Raglan tee.

I am so happy with this one. I love the colour combination and the fabrics are both really nice and soft. Also they're both left-overs from t-shirts I made myself, so good for the environment & for my wallet. I would really recommend this pattern as the instructions were clear, it's a bargain price at $8 for ages 18 month to 8 years, and there is so much scope for exciting fabric combinations.

I sewed up the 3/4 length sleeve with sleeve bands option.  My only issue with it was the neck band piece seemed very small and once attached it was too small to fit over his head.  I went up one size for the neck band plus an extra couple of cm and after 3 attempts, and some tantrums on my part, I finally got it to fit. This pattern works well as a sweatshirt too and I'm sure I'll make lots more versions of this. It felt so nice to sew something for my boy and see him wearing it. I know he's too young to tell me whether he likes it or not but if I'm sewing him things that are comfy to wear and bright and cheery then I'm sure we're both happy!

I'm really looking forward to Kids Clothes Week and would like to try and sew something to tie in with the Wild Things theme. The 'In the forest' post on the KCW blog particularly appealed, I love the applique foxes! I'm sure most readers here read So, Zo... what do you know? but in case you missed it she did a brilliant two part post on independent children's clothing patterns, part 1 and part 2.  I also love Elena's DIY mini-Hemlock tee for her wee boy so I might need to try that too!  Any other kids sewing patterns you'd recommend?

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Vintage Pattern Pledge 2015

I loved seeing all the beautiful clothes sewn up as part of last year's Vintage Pattern Pledge hosted by Marie of A Stitching Odyssey. This year's is even bigger and is co-hosted by Kerry of Kestrel Makes.  I've not got many vintage patterns but the ones I do have I'd love to sew up so this year I've decided to take part! Are you joining in?

I posted this pic on instagram of my four options and I still can't decide what I'm going to try first. Definitely one of the dresses but I'm not sure which one yet.  The bottom right dress got the most votes (5) followed closely by the top left (4) then the bottom left (3).  I'm torn between the top left and bottom right so I think what I'll do is look through my fabric to see what I would use for each then decide.  Are you taking part in the vintage pattern pledge? Have you sewed with a vintage pattern before? This will be my first vintage pattern.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Music class skirts

That's me just signed up for Kids Clothes Week Spring 2015 - who else is sewing along this time?
In the spirit of getting more organised I thought I'd try and blog my backlog - all of three things that it is!

First up - some kids sewing.  These skirts are the Oliver + S Music Class skirt pattern. I traced the pattern and cut out the first skirt back in summer 2014, then forgot about it for ages. More recently I cut out the other one and got them both sewn up and posted off to their wearers in January.

They didn't take long to sew up at all - once I got started!  As I've already found with Oliver + S patterns the instructions were brilliant.  The only bit I struggled with was making the pocket on the side but by the time I made the second version I'd worked it out and both skirts came out good. I'm really pleased with them. The red cord is lovely, I took time to overlock the seams, I added lovely trim to both the hems, and I put little tags to mark the back of the skirt.  I used a different trim on each skirt, which you can see in the photos. I think I got the trim from The Cloth House in Soho, and the red cord is from a Peter Jensen fabric sale a few years back (also used to make this pouffe).

I'd definitely recommend this pattern. The pleats and side pocket make it a bit more unusual and the good instructions mean it's still possible for a beginner to do without too much stress.  I'm sure I'll be making some more this summer! Has anyone sewn any other Oliver + S patterns? Any you'd recommend? I'm quite tempted by the Sketchbook shirt & short set.

The side pleats and pocket
Hem trim
Tab to mark the back of the skirt

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

2015 sewing plans

Happy (belated) New Year to anyone out there who's still reading! I've really enjoyed reading everyone's reflection and forward planning posts but it feels a bit late for one of them now. I'll just say that 2014 was a brilliant year for me! I got to watch our little baby become a little boy and feel so lucky to be a part of his life. In addition I've made some pretty special new friends in Walthamstow, spent lots of time with family and friends, and visited new places including a lovely week in Cornwall.

January has whizzed past in a blur of family time and returning to part-time work.  It's been hard to make the time to sew but I've realised that 10 minutes here and there really do add up, and that these creative minutes are important for me. Already this year I've finished up 2 little girls skirts which I had cut out last September/October. I'll do a separate post on them as it's such a great pattern.

Last year I aimed to take part in the Stash Diet, in Me Made May and in the end did neither. This year I'm not going to set myself too many goals but I thought it might help me to have some short term plans. I'll probably just stick a post-it note above my sewing machine with a list of potential, and realistic, sewing goals for the following few months.

My goals for January were a long-sleeved Plantain t-shirt in pink jersey which I've finished and absolutely love! In fact I'm wearing as I type - just need to get some photos now. I've also started sewing a purple jersey skirt which is almost finished. Oh, and the 2 skirts I mentioned above. I'm very happy with that,especially as I've just started back work this month to.  For February I'd like to finish the jersey skirt, draft a t-shirt dress pattern using the same jersey skirt pattern (drafted by a friend) coupled with either the Plantain or the Scout tee. I've also got some See Kate Sew raglan tee's to sew for my wee boy and for gifts. And if I have any time left after that I've got a burgundy lace jersey Scout tee all cut out and waiting to be sewn up (it's been ready to sew since last summer!).

Plantain in progress, and my first time doing flat insert sleeves

Does anyone have any tips for sewing in short bursts of time? or sewing with a baby? My sewing machine is right outside Harris's room so I don't tend to sew at night in case I wake him up, which means sewing is restricted to weekends, bringing the machine through to the living room, and the occasional 10 minute sew with Harris playing happily beside me in the hall. I might just need to brave the night-time sewing and see if he gets used to the sound of the sewing machine - I guess it could be like white noise?!