Saturday, 28 March 2015

A summery Ilsley on a gloomy day!

  Yesterday I walked my dog along the beach in glorious sunshine with my shoes off paddling in the waves - today it is gloomy, rainy and windy - and the forecast for tomorrow is worse! So I'm afraid my terrible indoor photos really do not show off this summery skirt very well!

  This is the  Ilsley skirt which is a free pattern download from Marilla Walker (there is a link for donations to cancer research). This skirt has a curved hem and also a type of pocket I hadn't tackled before so I thought it would be a good make for me to try a couple of new things. I wanted to make it for wearing in the summer and as I have so many patterned tops I thought a plain fabric would be best. I bought the fabric last year on a trip to Brighton, it is a wonderfully soft Linen and cotton mix.

  I know it really does not look summery when combined with leggings and a cardi!!

  If you look closely you can see that I struggled quite a bit with the curved hem! I think it is a great feature and adds interest - I just need a little more practice!!

  I am however totally in love with the pockets! And I just couldn't resist adding a bit of colour!!

  The instructions were clear and easy to follow and the skirt came together quickly (except for the french side seams meeting the curved hem - but that was my issue and I'm still not quite sure how I managed to mess it up!). I really loved how the pattern was arranged on the PDF print out - saving as much paper as possible, I wish more patterns were like this. All in all this is a great pattern and I really enjoyed tackling some new techniques. 

   After reading Scruffy badger's amazing blog this morning I thought it might be fun to join in with the Simplicity star sewist contest there are several categories - best newcomer, best vintage make, and best dress. Each has a specified pattern but you can add your own creative ideas to change or add to the pattern. I thought I would have a go at the dress as it looks like a fairly simple make (famous last words!!!!) - I am under no illusions that I would win but I just thought it would be a fun thing to do - is anyone else joining in?

   Thanks for stopping by!

           Su xx


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Tween sewing and a reality check....

    My Biggest little one recently turned eight and for her birthday she requested a pencil case and a notebook! Whilst I was pleased that so far she has not succumbed to the materialistic world we live in I also suggested that perhaps I could add to her gifts by making her something - she reported that she would like some summer PJ's and a summer dress.
  At the beginning of my sewing adventures I bought a copy of 'Happy homemade sew chic kids':

     It is an English translation of a Japanese book, has patterns for both girls and boys up to the age of eight. The garments in it are lovely and I thought I would get lots of use out of it - sadly I only made one pair of boys shorts for the smallest boy and they hardly got worn (mostly because they looked like pyjamas due to poor fabric choice on my part!). So I thought I would put it to good use and make her some items from the book. My first make was a pair of pyjama bottoms aka 'wide leg pants' This would have been an easy make had I read the instructions before I started - I happily traced the pattern adding the 1 cm seam allowance, cut it all out then read the instructions and realised I had not added the extra 3.5 cm at the waist for the elastic casing as well as the extra 2 cm for the bottom hem! Luckily they came up long so hemming was OK but I had to make a waistband and add it to the trousers - I have never done this before so it was a little fiddly but 'all's well that ends well':

    I added some button holes and threaded ribbon through them for a false drawstring, I'm so glad I took the time for this extra step as it makes them look more PJ like!

    I didn't have time to make her a top for the PJ's so I bought an inexpensive plain jersey top. She has been learning 'you are my Sunshine' on the ukulele recently and I thought it would be nice to embroider the words onto the top to personalise it - she loved it! Phew!

    My second make was planned as the smock dress (on the left) but with short sleeves:

    I had bought a beautiful (and expensive) Scandinavian designed cotton with colourful birds and flowers on it, looking back I chose to ignore the fact that when I showed it to my daughter she had politely said it was nice but you couldn't have said she was thrilled by it. 5 days before my daughters birthday I turned up to my sewing class temporarily abandoning my Colette clovers and armed with everything I needed to make the dress. I excitedly explained to my teacher about the dress, my teacher asked how old my daughter would be on her birthday, then looked at me and asked if I wanted her to be honest with me.........
     She explained (rightly) that the patterns in the book were 'up to' age 8 ie they were designed for much younger children and that given the fabric I had chosen the dress would probably end up looking like a nightdress, she said I needed to be looking at fabrics and designs that children my daughters age were wearing and go from there. I'm so glad she was honest with me and I instantly saw that she was 100% right.
  I began searching for 'tween' patterns with the added problem that my daughter is tall and skinny, will not wear buttons, is not keen on zips, refuses to wear trousers (other than legging's or jeggings at a push), and won't wear a skirt unless it has an elasticated waist. I struggled to find much that matched the remit, and my search is ongoing! Needless to say I did not manage to make the dress in time for her birthday but promised to make it the weekend afterwards.
   I needed something quick and easy and chose the go-to-shift dress

    OK so I realise that this is modelled on a younger girl and has a dreaded button, but I thought that with a belt it would still look quite grown up and by extending the neck bias binding I would be able to add a popper at the back rather than use a button. I chose an inexpensive fabric from Ikea that I thought had the right mixture of 'girliness' and 'funkiness'. I found the neckline way too high so I decided not to gather it as much as the pattern suggested - I should have positioned my minimal gathering all at the front centre neck but instead I followed the pattern instructions and spread it out so unfortunately after adding the bias binding I only had a few random pleats, it is still wearable and my little lady (or should I say tween) loves it!!

     She likes how the skirt flares out with the belt - so I will be trying to find a pattern with a fitted bodice and slightly flared skirt that is not too 'little girlish'. I think I have a long way to go before I understand her fashion ideas and taste in fabric and I know this will change rapidly as she gets older but hopefully it is a journey we can enjoy together as she grows up. I have certainly learnt a lot about myself and come closer to accepting that my little ones will not be little for ever and have their own tastes and ideas, I need to accept this and embrace it!

    Thanks for stopping by!!

             Su xx

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Crochet baby blanket number 1........

  I wanted to make a gift for the arrival of my friends baby, I don't think woolly cardi's are very practical for babies so thought I would go for a blanket. I didn't want anything too traditional and started searching for something a little funki! I found this fantastic blanket by moogly

  I really thought it looked different and fun, plus it didn't seem too tricky!! I didn't know what flavour baby my friend was having and wanted to avoid all the usual pastel colours. I thought that if I just stuck to fairly bright colours it would be OK either way - luckily she had a boy as my blanket is defiantly more suited for a boy!! It was easy to make up but did take me a lot longer than I thought it would despite coming with me to all of the after school swimming and judo sessions for weeks! Here is my finished blanket:

I am really pleased with it - I just hope my friend likes it too!!

'Guess how much I love you' is one of our favorite stories (sometimes I even read it when the kids are not about! - it nearly always bring's a tear to my eye!). So of course I had to include it in the gift for my friend! 

  Thanks for stopping by!

                   Su xx

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Grainline Hemlock and a sunny spring day!

  Yesterday was such a beautiful sunny day here on the south coast - it was so wonderful to finally feel the sun warming my face as I walked to the woods with the little people to spot 'sign's of spring' (another homework assignment) and build dens (one of our favorite activities!).

  I was wearing my new grainline hemlock t-shirt, which was perfect for this wonderful spring day. I had been wanting to make one for ages but it was seeing these fabulous versions by just sew therapeutic and what Katie sews that really prompted me to make mine.

  Here is what it is supposed to look like:

 I had a lovely drapey mustard viscose jersey with cut out shapes (I'm not really sure how else to describe it - basically there are small shapes within the fabric which are sheer) it is very thin and probably the most challenging fabric I have used to date as it shifted around quite a bit. Ages ago I read a suggestion about cutting out Jersey fabric by laying it out on a carpet - I knew this particular jersey would be difficult so I thought I would give this suggestion a go - from now on I will cut out all of my jersey fabric like this! The bottom layer of fabric sticks to the carpet so it is much easier to get it wrinkle free. I was feeling stingy and had a small section of fabric which would have otherwise been wasted so the neckband was cut on the wonkygrain rather than crossgrain - this was a mistake as I like the wide drapey neckline of the Grainline photo (above), and of course my neckband isn't so stretchy. There are no instructions with this pattern but Jen from Grainline has a great tutorial on her website. I sewed the whole thing on my serger (first garment made totally on my serger!) even the sleeves and neckband (which I don't mind admitting I did get a bit stressed about!!). 

I also ordered a stretch twin needle to try out - I played around with both the thread tension and the bobbin tension and still couldn't manage to eliminate the tunnelling between the two row's of stitching. Plus I didn't overlap the stitching enough or reverse stitch enough (my machiene really didn't like doing this with the twin needle) which meant that all of my twin needle hems started unravelling as soon as put the t-shirt on!! I ended up re-doing some of it so if you were to look closely at the sleeve and main hems there are some slightly messy bits! If anyone has any good twin needle tips or knows and good resources please let me know!!!!

    I pried my camera away from the middle little person who's homework we were doing for long enough that my oldest little person could take a couple of shots of me frolicking around the woods in the springtime sunshine!!

 Despite the neckline not being as wide as I had imagined I still love this t-shirt, it is very light and perfect for layering over a vest-top (perhaps I should be grown up and say camisole?), it also looks good with a darker camisole/vest-top under it that show's up through the sheer shapes.

  I do love a good woodland den building session!

  Whoever made this one obviously has some good den building skill's! Our's wasn't quite so sturdy!!

  This will be my last selfish sew for a bit - I have not one but three baby blankets to crochet, one pair of oven mits to make, as well as agreeing to sew my daughter a dress and some pj's in time for her birthday in a couple of weeks!! Eek! - I'm going to be a busy lady!!

    Thanks for reading!!

                       Su xx

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Sew over it ultimate cowl neck dress OR 'When is floral fabric too floral'..........

    So this weekend I had planned to sew a spring version of New Look 6148 in this art gallery fabric that I got on sale from Dragonfly Fabrics:

 But on Thursday I was checking my instagram feed and I saw that Sew over it had released a new dress pattern - The cowl neck dress/top

 So there ensued an inner dialogue that went something like this:

Voice A: ohhhhhh that is so pretty and feminine - you should buy it.
Voice B: The reason why this looks so good is that Lisa from Sew over it is gorgeous as well as skinny - this would look awful on you - this is not the kind of thing that you ever wear....
Voice A: Well perhaps if you made sure it was a bit more loose fitting on you, you wouldn't feel so self conscious and might actually enjoy wearing it, it is good to try new things - plus it is on offer at the moment......

  I am of course assuming that everyone has these inner dialogues and I am not coming across as a total loony! Anyway voice A won so I ordered and downloaded the pattern. It just so happened that the next day Mr Sewingsu and I both had planned a day off work and I suggested that rather than clearing out the garage we travel to Chichester for lunch (I rather hoped that we might manage to pop into a few shops too) - I had heard that C and H fabrics had a good range of fabrics and thought I might find a suitable jersey for this dress. There were lots of wonderful fabrics but the Jersey choice was not huge. I found a lovely black cotton jersey - a very slimming colour, goes with everything but not very summery and just a bit boring really! I also found a blue floral viscose jersey but it looked like it was already bobbling on the roll. Then I saw this fabric (65% viscose, 35% cotton) - nice and summery and floral's do seem to be 'in' at the moment, but was this just too floral? (I seem to remember my parents having a sofa with a similar pattern on it when I was a child). I decided to take a risk and bought 2 meters.

  The pattern was easy to print off and put together, and the instructions were clear, I was reminded however how much I hate laying out and cutting Jersey fabric! I cut a 14 on top and graded out (get me with the sewing terminology!!) to a 16 at the hip and took it up 4cm at the hem. I also decided to make a short sleeved version ready for spring/summer! I managed to get my over locker working (only with three threads but hey - at least it was working). I was eager to try my new twin needle but realized that it was for woven fabrics (despite assurances from the guy in the shop that I bought it from!) so I ended up straight stitching my hems which will be OK for the bottom hem and neckline but I may have to re-do the sleeves at some point. My tiny brain just can't seem to cope with pattern matching, so all I managed to do was make sure the pattern was centered on the front, back, and sleeve pieces.

  My littlest little one is reading 'The enormous turnip' story at school and as part of his homework we had to reenact the story so I thought I would use the opportunity to take some dress photos in the garden - I have no idea why I am leaning so heavily on the fork - I must have been feeling exhausted!!

I wonder if a mustard cardi would look good with this dress and weather I have enough of an excuse to buy one!

I think it looks OK with leggings but is also long enough to be worn without them in the warmer months.

  I am pleased with the fit and don't feel too self conscious in it - so verdicts on the floral fabric - is it too much? do I look like I'm wearing curtains?

  I can see me making a long sleeved grey version for next winter, a sleeveless black version paired with a sparkly belt for evenings out (because I have so many evenings out to attend - ha ha!), and perhaps another short sleeved one in something a bit more casual - stripes perhaps? OK so I probably won't be making one for evenings out, but if I ever find time I would like to make another version(s) of this dress.

  I couldn't resist adding an 'enormous turnip' shot.......

  Thanks for stopping by!

                         Su xx

Spring is just around the corner - Yay!!