Too-rye-ay

Does anyone else think of Dexy’s Midnight Runners when they think of dungarees? I haven’t worn a pair myself since the mid-90s when I had some short dungarees for the summer. [Un]fortunately I have no photos, but I loved those things – they were so comfortable and I thought I was so cool wearing them. I’m not sure I could carry off proper dungarees anymore but a dress version is a happy compromise.

Tilly and the Buttons’ Cleo dress came along just at the right time. It’s an easy-fitting dress with two length options and instructions for buckles or buttonholes. I’ve seen loads of lovely versions over the internet, and not just in traditional denim. When Tilly released a new batch of kits, I snapped one up in aubergine needlecord.

front

The kit came with everything you need to make your Cleo – pattern, thread, interfacing, shiny silver buckles and enough fabric to make one dress. The fabric is seriously nice too. So very soft. Before cutting it out I must have spent a good 15 minutes just stroking it… Don’t judge me. I was… ermmm… testing for the nap…

Anyway, the pattern comes with Tilly’s trademark clear and detailed instructions. I went for the longer version and had no problems sewing it up – it’s a great pattern for a beginner, but a nice quick sew for someone with more projects under their belt. Proving every day’s a school day, I did pick up a new skill! I’d never done a bar tack before and never really realised that it’s just a row of really tight zigzags. Mine’s at the top of the front split for reinforcement.

As dungarees have a relaxed fit, I was confident that my standard adjustments to TATB patterns would be ok. I’m a 4 on top, but according to my measurements I should be a 7 on the bottom. I graded it out as normal but the finished article made me look like I was wearing jodhpurs, so I unpicked and resewed. I’ll try grading to a 6 next time instead.

pocket

Difficult to see in this pic, but I can assure you there is a painstakingly stitched pocket on this dress. 

This was a really satisfying sew and I’ve had a lot of lovely comments about this one (apart from my dad, who asked me why I was wearing overalls *sigh*). From tracing the pattern (normally the part that takes me ages, mainly because I find it so very tedious) to trying on the finished article, this took me about four hours. I can see more on the horizon too. It doesn’t take up much fabric – less than 1.25m for the longer length dress – so it’s good for stash busting. I’ve already bought some dark blue denim and the buckles for my next version, though this time I think I’ll give contrasting top stitching a go.

That’ll have to wait though, cos I’m about two weeks away from the big move and I am mainly spending time sorting out my life right now. That and my machine and overlocker went into storage last week. I am itching to do some more making but I’ll have to restrain myself until I get to the other side of the pond.

What’s on your sewing table at the moment?

straps-back

Straps!

Getting ruthless with my pattern stash

I’m not much of a hoarder, but like most I do accumulate stuff at a rate of knots. Moving continent has given us a great chance to have a bit of a purge and if I can’t take it, it’s either going in storage or to the Tooting Oxfam.

As we’re going to be travelling light I can’t take much sewing stuff. I’ll be buying a new machine in the US  and I’ve been thinking about what equipment I can take from my sewing box to get me started. This means some pretty straightforward decisions, but I’ve had to be ruthless with my many paper patterns.  The ones I know I’ll never make went straight to the charity shop. Then I had to choose what would make the trip and what would go into storage. I limited myself to taking ten essential and versatile printed patterns, with the aim of creating a capsule wardrobe.

So what made  the list?

  1. Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress – great office wear in the winter and makes a wonderful summer dress in cotton lawn
  2. By Hand London Anna dress – multi-purpose dress that works in all the fabrics, plus the instructions are so clear on inserting an invisible zip. I forget how to do it every time, but the BHL ladies help me through.5dafceed-c554-42e6-845d-6a2dd38025cel0001
  3. Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dress – I made one of these the other day and now I want more! Watch out for a post on this coming soon.
  4. Deer & Doe Chardon skirt – I wear my Chardons all the time – in the office and at home. You will be seeing more!Anchor chardon front
  5. Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt – I’ve worn my previous versions of this into the ground. Need more.
  6. Tilly and the Buttons Arielle skirt – this is purely a work skirt for me, but I love it as it’s so different to my usual fit n’ flare skirts.Arielle pose
  7. Sew Over It Ultimate Shirt – I’m taking the class at the moment and I’m pretty pleased with my progress. It’s a fitted shirt that will work best for smart/office wear.
  8. Grainline Archer shirt – it’s been in my stash for ages. It’ll be awesome for all sorts of casual wear.
  9. Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top – I haven’t made this one either, but it’s a wardrobe basic, and the online class will hold my hand as I get to grips with jersey.
  10. My copied Oasis top – I’ve made loads of these, but they’re so useful to have for layering under cardies.50s pleated skirt front 1
  11. Simple Sew Shannon trousers (free with Love Sewing magazine in Sept/Oct last year) – I haven’t made these yet but I will need some pants, and these wide-leg trousers will suit my eastern European shotputter’s legs quite nicely.
  12. By Hand London Victoria blazer – because I need something to throw over the top of everything.

So I may have gone slightly over my target of ten, but I’ll just have to sit on my suitcase to get it closed (and let’s not talk about the bonus home décor patterns I ripped out from some sewing magazines. They totally don’t count).

How about you? If you could only take a few patterns with you to a new place, which ones would you choose?

Cock-a-doodle-hen-do

Happy Sunday all! I’m taking a break from a massive clear out to bring you today’s post. We’re having a spring clean because on Friday we went to the American Embassy in London and had our visas approved! We now have around about a month to get our stuff together and get out to Seattle, which means a mad rush to sort things out.

Anyway, I’m here today on much more frivolous business. A few weeks ago, I had a rather belated hen do. Since Chris and I went from proposal to marriage in the space of six weeks, I didn’t really have time to have a hen do, so I decided to do it after the fact instead. I gave my bridesmaid a few stipulations (karaoke, a drink or two, and absolutely nothing that indicates we’re on a hen do – e.g. No willy straws or fluffy pink stetsons), but otherwise she had free rein. I was in the dark about what was happening until the day itself, and Gillian was being quite cagey about the dress code, so I figured I’d need something that would take me from day to night with ease.

The Alex shirt from the Sew Over It City Break e-book seemed to fit the bill nicely. I am having a major SOI fan girl moment. All I seem to make at the moment is their patterns. They do fit me nicely, and the patterns are all things I want to wear, so why not?

alex-front

The concept of the City Break book really appeals to me. I’ve been thinking about capsule wardrobes for a little while now, and with an impending move abroad, it sounds like an appealing idea. While I like all the patterns (apart from the Mia jeans – they’re a bit skinny for me), the Alex shirt was the one that stood out for me. It’s loose fitting, can be lengthened into a dress and has rolled up sleeves. These details make it a nice introduction to sewing shirts without too much hassle – no collar stand and no fiddly cuffs.

My Alex is made out of a lovely drapey rayon I’ve had in my stash for so long I can’t remember where it came from. I love the drape of rayon, but it can be difficult to cut out as it moves around a lot, so I cracked out the spray starch to help it stay put.

The pattern and instructions were really easy to follow. The only bit I found tough to get my head around was the enclosed yoke. I couldn’t work out how to twist it so that the inner yoke could be stitched nicely all in one and turned through. I got a bit confused and ended up with a Möbius strip instead of a yoke several times, so after one bout of unpicking I decided I’d pin and test first, which saved my tears.

alex-yoke

The fabric is quite busy, but I assure you this is the yoke and the pleat in the body.

My only other criticism of the instructions was about attaching the collar. It has you out the collar on before you sew the side seams. This struck me as a bit odd and turned things into a bit of a faff when you have slippery fabric flying about everywhere.

alex-front-close-up

The collar and almost invisible patch pockets. I also didn’t bother doing buttonholes as I can fit it over my head without any bother. 

The fit’s pretty good. It’s supposed to be loose and relaxed, so I had plenty of space in a straight size 12 to fit my child-bearing hips (a pretty standard adjustment for me). I started doing the sleeve tabs but when I sewed them on, I realised they were too thin and positioned too far down the sleeve for my liking. I like rolled up sleeve to sit in the crook of my elbow, but these were more bracelet length which would just annoy me. So I left them off, and made a note to draft a thicker tab next time round.

alex-side

So how was the hen do? Well, I got my karaoke but I was also made the leader of a routine to I Wanna Dance With Somebody (video of which I hope will not see the light of day). We went out for dinner and then went for drinks and table football in Bar Kick in Shoreditch. I had rather a lot to drink but I was also the table football champion of my own hen do along with my friend Joanna. I don’t think they let us win…?

Big life news

I’ve been quiet for a good while on here basically because it’s been all change since I last checked in in September… Last time we met, I was merrily sewing up door stops and cushion covers as part of getting our flat ready for sale. We had grand plans of buying a house in Walthamstow (market proximity was a plus) but that all came to a bit of an abrupt halt.

A few days before we were due to put the flat on the market Chris was sort of made redundant. I say sort of, because his company were shutting down their London office and moving operations to America. He had three options: find another role in the company in London, redundancy or move to Seattle with the job. We had a chat about it, went to visit Seattle for a week, decided we really liked it and opted to move out there! We’re currently in the middle of the visa process, and all things being equal, we expect to be flying out by the end of February. Sounds pretty intense, eh? You don’t know the half of it!

My being able to move to America with Chris and staying there legally is really dependent on us being married. So, Chris popped the question on our anniversary at the end of October and six weeks later we got hitched! It was always going to happen anyway, and I’m informed that he had the ring for several months before he proposed but this sped things up considerably. We decided to have a quick and quiet wedding in Merton registry office in London, with a buffet and drinks at his parents’ house afterwards – just immediate family and friends.

If the stress of organising a wedding in six weeks wasn’t enough, I decided to make my dress too! I was already doing the 1940s wrap dress class at Sew Over It anyway, so I thought why not just make that my wedding dress? It made sense to me – I had dedicated class time to get it done, I had fitting help and (most importantly) it took a massive headache out of finding THE dress. And the teacher, Dominique, didn’t freak out when I told her the occasion!

I managed to get most of it done in class time, with just hemming to do by the end of it which I did while Chris was on his stag weekend. I was really pleased with how it turned out – while some bits were quite fiddly (the neck line binding in particular), it came together quite nicely, which is pretty standard for Sew Over It patterns. It’s a good job too, since this is probably the most important dress I’ll ever wear!

The wedding itself was lovely, and despite my dad tripping down the stairs as he walked me down the aisle and a bit of a mix up with the rings, it all went smoothly. We couldn’t have done it without the help of our family and friends. Chris’ family really pulled out the stops and transformed their house for the day, and my bridesmaid Gillian was brilliant at being decisive, and listening to my rants about cake arrangements (that’s another, long, story). We’re both really happy and looking forward to new adventures!

Anyway, here’s some pictures!

vows

Vows

just-married

Just married. Prob the best view of the front of the dress that isn’t obscured by my bouquet

rings-and-flowers

Rings n’ flowers. I loved my bouquet – the florist got really excited that I was wearing lavender and not ‘Cadbury’s purple’. I think she’d seen a lot this year… 

bridesmaids

Me and my bridesmaids, Anne and Gillian

confetti

Confetti: can’t speak for Chris, but it was so windy that not one bit of it landed on me!

car

Oh I felt so classy in that car! Here I am desperately trying to keep my dress closed in the breeze. 

cutting-the-cake

toast

I love this photo – so much going on in the background.

photos

Getting papped. 

Next level scrap busting

Hello from the living room! It’s chaos in the flat this weekend – we’re gearing up to put it on the market so we’re having a few jobs done to make it look a bit more presentable. As I speak there’s a builder outside installing a new front gate. The kitchen, where I usually sew, is currently a bomb site with all the building materials spread out, so I’ve been sewing in the living room today, in amongst all the furniture from the study which is being replastered.

Anyway, you know when you have some fabric that you love so much you can’t bear to chuck any of it away? I had that with some home décor fabric I got from Ikea last week . I got two metres with the intention of making some cushion covers so that everything vaguely matches in the living room (those estate agent photos are on my mind!). I won’t bore you with the cushion covers, but I ended up with loads of little scraps that I was determined to use.

cushions

I don’t normally put all my cushions on one sofa but the living room is such a mess at the moment this is the only clear space there is!

Ever since I’ve been with Chris he’d been using dumbbell weights to prop the door open. It’s a bit of a cliché to have unused exercise equipment lying around the house, but it’s not the best impression to give to potential buyers. This month’s Love Sewing magazine has a pattern for a doorstop that’s basically a cuboid with and handle. It only takes a small amount of fabric, so perfect for scraps.  It has an outer shell with a zip in the bottom, then you fill a lining bag with 1.5kgs of rice to create the weight.

bottom-zip

The zip. 

Of the scraps I had, I could only do the handles in single pieces – all the other pieces had to be sewn together to fit the pattern. It was a bit of a jigsaw with at least one of the pattern pieces using five separate scraps. I don’t think it matters all that much with the blue and white fabric as the print is random enough for the joins to be largely unnoticeable.

patchwork-pieces

Dedication to using my scraps, right there. 

The instructions were well written and easy to follow. I had a brief brain fart with inserting the side panels, but once I’d got round that, it all made sense. In short, the pattern markings are important as they tell you where to turn corners! I did ignore the instructions for the lining bag though. It suggested filling it with rice/dried kidney beans/gravel before sealing it with some hand stitching. For a bag that no-one is EVER going to see, I wasn’t going to bother making it look pretty, so I just did a line of machine stitching at the top and stuffed the lining into the outer. Some things just aren’t worth bothering with, are they?

lining-bag

One of the two lining bags I made. The other one is also a bit of a patchwork affair. 

I ended up making two of these, but I only really had enough fabric for one and a half, so I had to raid my scraps some more. Luckily I had some lightweight blue denim which works quite nicely, and the inner bags were also from the scraps bin (you might recognise it from the laundry bag I made the other week). It’s all good value for money. I spent £10 on the fabric, £1.98 on the zips, and £1.80 on three kilos of rice – I’d say less than £14 for five cushion covers and two doorstops is pretty good!

blue-and-white

Number 1 matches those cushions nicely. 

They’re both now in situ in the living room and bedroom, and I’m happy that the living room is a bit more tied together (OK, matchy-matchy). Now, does anyone want to buy a flat in Colliers Wood?

denim-and-patches

Number 2 is more of a mish-mash. 

What?! Some unselfish sewing?!

I like to think I’m a generous, giving kind of person, but when it comes to sewing I turn into a selfish cow. I like to wear what I make – after putting all that effort in I think it’s a good thing to be able to enjoy the fruits of my labour. However, if friends and family have requests, I’ll certainly consider them. One of my latest projects (I am trying to clear a blogging backlog at the moment) was a special request from my friend Sophie. You might remember that I made her new daughter a mini Geranium dress a few months ago. Sophie had been searching Not On the Highstreet for a laundry bag for Alice but found that they were all mega-expensive. Could I make her one? Well, I’m a sucker for a baby gift, so yes, yes I could.

Sophie offered to pay for the materials, but knowing the cost of quilting cotton I said she may as well have bought her own finished bag anyway. Luckily, I had just the right combo of scraps in my stash, which were coincidentally left over from the bunting I made for her wedding three years ago (and featured in my very first blog post!). I like it when things come full circle – it’s like the sewing equivalent of saving the top tier of the wedding cake for your first-born’s christening.

front

Check out my super neat appliqué!

Anyway, I could have made a standard drawstring bag – like the kind you used to use for your PE kit in primary school – but I decided it was high time I had a go at a project from my library of sewing books. I found instructions for a lined drawstring laundry bag in Sewing in No Time by Emma Hardy, which I had been given for Christmas a few years ago. The sample used in the book is pretty hideous (fabric choice goes a long way to sell a project), but the shape looked good and the instructions seemed easy to follow so I thought I’d give it a go.

back

And the back. So good to get rid of some of those scraps. They’re all a bit girly for my tastes so they were only going to be used for gifts. 

I followed the instructions pretty closely, apart from the outer shell. You’re supposed to sew three strips into a tube, but I didn’t have enough complete fabric so I had to do some patchwork, which involved a little bit of headscratching as I worked out the right dimensions to produce same-sized squares. I also wanted to personalise for that Not On the High Street look which meant using a larger panel in the middle so I could fit her name on nicely in felt appliqué. The inside is a single length of a blue/green ditsy print cotton, so that was nice and easy to put together.

2016-09-05-22-45-54

Innards. 

I’m really pleased with how the machine appliqué turned out. I used a square notepad to make templates for the letters, so I could be sure that they’d turn out in proportion. I pinned the letters to the shell and I made sure to slow reeeaaallly slowly so I could be as accurate as possible – and it paid off! So neat!

Probably the hardest part of sewing the bag was threading the drawstring as it ended up being quite a tight fit. I used some spotty bias tape I had in my stash but if I was doing this again I’d use proper cord as threading it through resulted in a fair bit of stretch (of course it would, it’s bias tape…).

In all though, I’m pretty pleased with the finished article. It’s a great stashbusting project and I’m particularly happy to get rid of some of those scraps of quilting cotton I’ve been hanging onto for too long! It was a nice, easy project to get on with over a couple of evenings and doesn’t take a lot of thought. It’s now in the post on the way to Sophie, so I hope she likes it!

2016-09-05-22-48-45

Stuffed with a couple of hoodies to give you an idea of shape. 

PS. I notice that Emma Hardy has a new book out and has been promoting it in some of the sewing magazines. The projects featured in those magazines also featured in Sewing in No Time with the same photography and everything. Is it the same book under a different name??

Pattern review: the Overture set

Howdy ho! I hope you’ve all been having a wonderful summer – mine’s been crazy stressful thanks to the demands of a shitty project (hence the radio silence over the past two months). I haven’t felt like there’s been much time for anything and I ended up being told to take a week off once the project went live. I had grand plans for that week. I was going to do ALL the sewing, but it coincided with a heat wave and all I wanted to do was spend time in the coldest place in south west London. Turns out it’s the fruit and veg section of the Colliers Wood Sainsburys, but that’s another story.

Pattern envelope

The only thing I did manage to make was the Overture top by Storybook Patterns which came free with the latest issue of Simply Sewing magazine here in the UK (it was still available in Sainsburys yesterday… I spend too much time in that place). It’s a floaty dress/top with a little pointed collar and a pleat in the back to give it a bit more volume. The full shape was something of a departure for me, as I usually prefer a more fitted silhouette, whether it’s a cinched waist or slimmer bodice, but I figured it would be good for big dinners and hot temperatures.

The samples in the magazine were made up in cotton lawns, but I knew something with more drape would look good. Luckily I had some funky and floaty pineapple print viscose that I bought on a recent trip to Copenhagen in my stash. I also had some black crepe for a contrast collar, so I was all ready to go.

Pineapple viscose

Pineapple viscose from Stoff & Stil in Copenhagen. Our hotel was two streets away. I had to visit; it was FATE. 

Assembling the pattern
If you’re going to have a go at this pattern, I’d recommend looking at all four pattern sheets together before you start tracing/cutting out. Because the pattern has a lot of fullness, the back bodice pieces won’t fit on a single sheet, so you have to trace or stick them together – four separate elements make up the single pattern piece. I didn’t realise this and got myself really confused. I suspect it’s something to do with printing/paper restrictions, but I almost gave up as a result.

Fit and drafting
My measurements corresponded with size D and I was pretty pleased with the results, cos it fit me straight out of the packet. Normally I’d grade out for the hips, but looking at the finished measurements, I was confident I wouldn’t need to. The drafting was also spot on with everything matching up nicely.

Front

The front. The hem is higher at the front than the back. 

Instructions
Judging by the level of detail in the instructions, the Overture set is aimed at ambitious beginners. It’s a reasonably simple pattern, but it teaches some useful skills including two different seam finishes, pleats and inserting a collar. These are all explained really clearly and are accompanied by pictures, which is great and I felt there was something to learn in there for more experienced sewists. For the most part I skimmed the two sheets of instructions, but I appreciated having my hand held a bit more when inserting the collar. I have to say I couldn’t be bothered with the Hong Kong binding used on the back bodice, preferring to use the overlocker, but the side seams are nice and Frenchified.

Back

Here’s that back pleat. In the wind, the back billows out like a cape, making me look like a superhero. Unfortunately these photos were taken on a still day. Shame. 

Results
This top took me four days to complete, what with the heat, stops for ice cream breaks and not being able to fathom out how to assemble the pattern properly. I’m quite pleased with the results. I’ve done a reasonable job in pattern-matching in places, and I’m happy with the finish, which is lovely and neat with a hand-sewn collar and hem. I may change the button at the collar, as it’s a little too big and is making the collar itself sit awkwardly, but I’m generally happy with the way it’s turned out.

Back collar

Kind of difficult to see in this photo as it’s all black, but the button has skewed the way the right hand collar piece sits.

I really enjoyed sewing this top, and I like the floatiness, but practically speaking I’m not sure how much wear it’s going to get – for now at least. In this fabric, the shape doesn’t lend itself to layering, so now we’re leaving the summer months behind I may not get a chance to wear it as is.

The Overture top is the first pattern I’ve made that I’ve got free with a magazine, and I’m impressed with the results. Looking at their website, Storybook Patterns are only just setting up, but I’d be interested in seeing what else they have to offer. One to watch!

 

 

 

A Datura to cheer me up

Happy Sunday all! I hope you’re all having a top weekend, wherever you may be. This weekend’s been a bit of an odd one. Chris and I have been out and about doing things – we’ve been cultured at an exhibition at the Science Museum, been to see Independence Day: Resurgence (it’s hilariously bad) and made some good in-roads into getting rid of some of the clutter in the flat. It should have been a fun weekend, but it’s been overshadowed by the EU referendum result. I know we’re not the only ones, but we’re both desperately disappointed at the prospect of leaving the EU and the fallout makes me uneasy for the future. As I write this, we’ve no effective PM or opposition and the Leave campaign seems to backtracking on all their pre-vote promises. I just hope that the coming weeks bring more stability and answers because I don’t feel it’s an understatement to say that my country is going into meltdown right now.

Anyway, you don’t come here for tinpot political comment. You come here for the clothes! My latest make the Deer & Doe Datura blouse, which has been sitting in my pattern stash since last year but it’s only now that I’ve got round to making it. Leigh over at Clueless Seamstress recently made her first version (and it’s ace) and it’s spurred me on to having a go myself – I need more tops for the summer, of course.

Datura front

Definitely a bit of excess around the hips there.

For a first attempt I went for View B with the Peter Pan collar as I thought it would be less of a fiddle than the triangle cut-out version. I used pink cotton for the bodice for a bit of colour (I am learning from Me Made May, see!) and blue Atelier Brunette cotton lawn for the body. You might recognise this from my Mimi blouse, and I’ve still got a little left to do something else – which is fab, cos I do love this stuff). I’m not sure I’d buy the pink cotton again. The wrong side is coated with a thin layer of shiny stuff which I wouldn’t want next to my skin, but it’s ok because the bodice is self-lined so it’s all facing inwards.

Datura collar

Close up on the collar – one of the things I like about this is how the Peter Pan collar mirrors the pattern on the body. 

Speaking of the bodice, this was the most difficult part, but only because the instructions were so sparse when you get to attach the front to the back at the shoulders. The method has you pushing the front straps up the inside of the back straps, right sides together but it’s not very well explained in the booklet. I used this sewalong for clarity, but I soon realised I’d done it before on the Grace dress – I just hadn’t recognised it. I do like it though – it produces a very clean result, and when you pull it through, it’s particularly pleasing to see it just work.

Datura side

The envelope says that the Datura is an Advanced pattern, but I think it’s mostly due to the bodice construction – the rest of it is pretty straightforward. Even the hem is bias bound, so it’s easy-peasy.  It’s been for a reprint since I bought it, and looking at the website it’s been downgraded to a 3/5 for difficulty. I certainly had no problems beyond the shoulders. I needed to lower the darts by an inch or so, and I graded out a few sizes at the hips, which I probably didn’t need to do, with hindsight – it is a little baggy round the hips. The only other change I made was to omit the buttonholes on the back as I can get the top on without any bother.

Datura back

From the back. I might have had a nap on the sofa this afternoon, hence the creases… Ooops.

Although it is a little bit bigger around the hips than I would normally like, I do like this version. I’m pleased with the fit around the bust, shoulders and armholes, and it’s summery and light which will be great on warmer days. I can also throw a cardi over it, so it’ll take me into autumn too. I’m going to have a go at Version A next, and I’ve got the fabric (all stash – yay me!) ready to cut out. More on that one another time!

I love sewing, but…

I like sewing. I think that’s pretty clear. I like finishing a project and having something lasting to show for it. I like it when the insides of my clothes are really neat. I like learning new skills, putting them into practice and getting better at them over time. But, we can’t love every single aspect of our hobbies, and man, are there some things that get my goat about sewing! Here’s my top three:

Bobbin running out of thread

I daresay I am not alone in this. You’re merrily sewing a line of stitching, you get to the end, back tack and clip your threads and then you turn your work over to see that the bobbin thread ran out halfway down the line. UGH. I have so many better things to be doing than stopping and rewinding the bobbin! I try to remember to wind two at the start of a project but sometimes I don’t have any extras so I run the gauntlet of frustration instead.

Empty bobbin

So empty. So sad. 

Pinning and cutting out fabric

I love fabric. I love making it into things. But I hate pinning it and cutting it out. It takes so long! I just want to get to the good stuff and start running bits of material through my machine, but obvs you can’t do that unless you’ve got proper shapes cut out in the first place. I cut out on the kitchen table, which isn’t quite high enough either, so if it’s a particularly complicated pattern to cut out I can end up with a sore back. I’m looking at you, vintage shirt dress.

 

Skipped stitches

Another thing that ruins my flow is skipped stitches. What could be causing it? Incorrect tension? Poorly threaded needle? A dull needle? Wrong size needle all together? I feel like I have to go through every option every time to find out what the problem is, so I change the needle, rethread, sigh, rethread again… And then, once it’s sorted, I have to unpick my work and re-do it! Pesky needles.

Skipped stitches

So many skipped stitches. Why did I persevere? Seam ripper ahoy!

What could you do without in sewing?

Selfless crafting for a new arrival

I’m at an age now where if my friends aren’t getting married (and let’s face it, they are all doing that at the moment – just one left to go this year), they’re having kids. And all these happy events mean more gift giving. The latest new arrival is my good friends Mark and Sophie’s little girl Alice, who popped out a week or two ago at an eye-watering 9lb (not so little then…). I’m normally much better organised on the present front – after all, there’s at least six months to prepare – but this time I’d only managed to do half my gift before the baby was born.

Cardi front

Teeny tiny cardigan! She’ll be in it for all of five minutes but it’s still cute!

The first part of my handmade present is the Swingset Cardigan from Little Crochet by Linda Perman. I’ve made it several times before (firstly for my goddaughter here) and it’s always been well-received. It’s a really cute little cardi and because I was making the smallest size I think I completed it in a day. It crochets from the neckline down so you increase the stitches in the yoke as you go and eventually add the upside-down shells straight on. The yoke is probably the trickiest bit, though it’s just a case of concentrating, counting and trusting that it is going to turn into a yoke, because at the start it doesn’t look like much. I used three little clear buttons from my stash and marvelled at how teeny tiny the finished cardigan is.

Cardi back

From the back. I like the contrast of the dense yoke and the lacy shells in this cardi. 

Once I had the text from Sophie that Alice had made her entrance, I had to get my skates on with the other part of her gift. I knew I wanted to sew a little dress, but had no idea what to make since it’s not all that often I sew for babies (i.e. this is the first time). A quick Google brought up Made by Rae’s Little Geranium dress, which is a free pattern for 0-3 months. There’s a full pattern with a couple of add ons for kids aged up to 12, but since we’re approaching the summer I figured Alice would probably have grown out of it by the time she needs sleeves. You might recognise the fabric from one of last week’s Chardons (stashbusting FTW) and I found the cute little daisy buttons in my button box.

Front

SO. SMALL.

What struck me about this pattern is just how minuscule it is. Again, since I don’t spend a lot of time around newborns I forget just how small they are. The pattern fit onto two pages of A4, though granted, you do only get the front and back bodice pieces, a pocket and the layout instructions. The skirt is just gathered, so you only need to cut out a rectangle the width of your fabric by 11 inches.

Pocket

Pockets. Completely unnecessary on baby clothes, but why not, eh? 

The Geranium is a quick sew (well duh, it’s a fraction of the size of grown up clothes). The bodice is self-lined with three buttons or snaps at the back. Whack the skirt on and you’ve got yourself a dress. The instructions are comprehensive so there’s very little chance of going wrong. I did have to unpick the skirt a few times though, as my stitching in the ditch left a lot to be desired and I didn’t manage to catch the bodice. More practice required, obvs. I also put on a couple of patch pockets because babies need somewhere to put their loose change.

Buttons

Close up on those buttons, and if you look carefully, my less than perfect stitching in the ditch.

Along with the cardigan and dress for Alice, I also slipped in a little book for Mark and Sophie, Go the F*ck to Sleep. Have you seen it? It’s worth a look for any prospective parents with a sense of humour. Check it out, but probably best not to read it to your child.

Have you done any selfless sewing/crafting recently?