17 June 2016

The very hungry caterpillar baby sleeping bag

Baby sleeping bags the best and would be my number 1 recommendation to any new parent. I don't know how new they are but our lives changed once we got Master Fox into his first sleeping bag. One of the biggest problems we had with him at night when he was tiny (especially as he's a winter baby) was that he would wake as soon as you tried to put him back in the cot as he missed the warm temperature of your body and didn't like the cold sheets. Sleeping bags eliminate this completely as they keep all their snuggly heat inside their snuggly little sacks.  

This sleeping bag is made using the Lua Sleep Sack pattern which I bought as a PDF download from Straight Grain patterns. Its a lovely pattern and I really wish I'd bought this when Master Fox was a lot smaller so I could have got more use out of it, but never mind, I am sure there will be more people in my life having babies so we know what they are getting as a gift. It was a really pleasant sew, and the instructions were really clear. I really like the piping detail (and the excuse to get more practice with my hated piping foot) but this detail can left out and there is the option to not have the contrasting top panel.

I think it's the fabric that makes this sleeping bag so amazing though. We all love The very hungry caterpillar, its been a part of all of ours, and our children's lives and its just so iconic. I also love how clear the print is its just so fresh and eye catching.

The fabric has officially licenced hungry caterpillars on and comes from Makower studio. There are 10! different patterns in this collection so even the spotty section at the top of the bag is from the matching set. I bought mine from Ebay as it was the easiest place to find the patterns I wanted listed together but it is also stocked in other online stores. The lining is just some plain green cotton which I bought from my local fabric shop in Beeston and I added self cover buttons as they just look so much nicer on hand made items like this.

As you can imagine the sleeping bag is quilted. I wanted this to be a lighter weight quilt for the summer months as Master Fox has grown out of the last one so I bought some 100% cotton batting from Cotton Patch. Its lovely and soft, its thin but also warm and being 100% cotton it shouldn't get too warm in the hotter weather. I haven't actually quilted the sleeping bag just stitched the edges so I will have to report back after its been through the wash but fingers crossed it will be fine, I did pre-wash it.

I hope you like it, I LOVE it! Mr Fox is to thank for the fabric choice, I was going to go for some dinosaurs so I am really glad he picked this one instead, The very hungry caterpillar is his favourite book to read to little Master Fox.

10 June 2016

Bettine wearable toile: AKA the Robin Hood dress

Sorry to start with such a posey photo but its quiet flattering so I'm rolling with it! This is my first version of Tilly and the Buttons Bettine Dress which I made as a wearable toile (something you are getting used to seeing me doing here!). Its actually a pretty good version and my god this dress is easy to wear! Its made from some green viscose that again I just bought off eBay.

I have been wanting to make a green dress for ages as green really suits my colouring but is not a colour I would normally be drawn to when clothes shopping. I really like this shade of green, its a sort of emerald colour and it goes really well with the pink (that pink belt is an awesome pairing though I'm not sure everyone would agree). However the first time I tried this on after making it Mr Fox turned round to me and said 'Oh hello Robin Hood, you look like your getting ready to star in a panto'! I don't really think that was a compliment but do you know what I know exactly what he means, it pretty much summed up what I was thinking as without the belt it does look a bit like that.

But anyway lets not let that deter from this actually being a dress I really quiet like. This is an amazing pattern, really simple, easy to follow (as always from Tilly) and really quick to make. I made it much harder by using french seams rather than the overlocker (something I probably wont bother with next time) but it still came together really fast. Tilly has said on a number of occasions this is the most comfortable dress you can wear and she is not joking! You just slip it over your head and head out the door. The top is drapey giving lots of room for movement, the elastic belt helps flatter your waist and the fitted skirt makes a lovely shape around your bottom half. I sewed a straight size 3 because there is lots of room in the top for me to not need a FBA.The sleeves are perhaps a little tighter than they should be and its a little snug in the seat but I don't think I will bother making any adjustments for the next version. Its summer after all I'll just finally try and get round to loosing that 3lb i've been meaning to get off for the last 2 months (as much as you can 'mean' to loose weight whilst eating chocolate!).

As mentioned above the fabric is a lovely drapey viscose. I chose viscose as the fabric I have for my proper version is a polyester crepe so I needed something which had a lovely drape and viscose does that. It does however have a tendency to fray so I used lovely french seams throughout. The other issue with viscose is it has a tendency to stretch when you sew it. I didn't use interfacing on the facing piece as suggested because I wanted to keep the bouncy nature of the fabric so I self faced it with another piece of viscose. This did mean my inside facing is not as neat as I would have liked but it was a lesson for making up my crepe version.

The other odd thing I thought about this dress as soon as I put it on was 'do you know what this dress really needs? Pockets'. I can totally see why the pattern comes with a pocket variation I would love to just sink my hands into a lovely deep pair of pockets on the front so I definitely need to plan making one of these vertions. I have some lovely Atelier Brunette fabric which I think would suit this pattern very well. I think this dress is something which definitely benefits from a print fabric.

So on that final note I am giving some serious thought into adding some kind of embellishment to this dress, its something I don't normally do (hand sewing urgh!) but I am not really sure what or where to start? So if you have any ideas of how I could embellish this dress to make it a bit less plain then PLEASE leave me a comment. I am possibly thinking of a sort of black floral trim around the neck with maybe some pink sequins/beads hand sewn on?

27 May 2016

Llama Llama dress!

How frickin' awesome is this dress! Seriously who doesn't need a dress with llama's on in their wardrobe?

Lets start with the fabric because lets face it that's all you really care about in this post. Its Michael Miller 'Packmates' 100% quilting cotton. How cute are their little llama faces! I struggled to find this fabric but I did manage to get a couple of meters from Ebay so hopefully you can find some too. I hope you can its totally amazing! I've talked before about pink and orange being my favourite colour combo so this is just awesome.

The dress pattern is By Hand London's Kim dress, now you can see why I needed to do a mock of this dress before cutting into this fabric. I made the straight neck version this time and its a lot better to wear, much less boobalicious, so I actually feel I can wear this in the day now. This dress is the ultimate summer dress. I made the hem a little longer than I usually do, because its cotton I wanted to be able to wear it without tights in the summer so I thought it best to air on the side of modest.

I actually think I have got the fit of this dress spot on now, especially at the back it fits like a glove.

I actually need to fess up though with this dress. Its a total copy of a dress by my new favourite source of inspiration which is Katie Makes a Dress in Australia who I found via Instagram. She basically made this exact same dress, but what with the cost of the dress, the shipping from Australia and the fact that I am not an 'out the packet' size I thought I would make my own version. Its obviously a different pattern but I love it all the same (sorry Katie). But if you want your own version of a dress like this and your not a wizz on the sewing machine totally go and buy one from her, they are so awesome and she manages to find the most amazing fabric prints.

I have always been a bit cautious about sewing with quilting cottons since making a couple of skirts which were just so full and just totally unflattering on me. But seeing Katie's amazing dresses and skirts pop up on Instagram all the time I thought I might as well give it a go. Also I have a couple of bought cotton dresses which I really like so I guess its more about finding the right pattern for it. This pattern works really well, I think the fitted bodice helps to flatter my shape with the fuller skirt. I want to do a search for a dress pattern  with more of a fitted pencil type skirt to make to try with cottons so if you know of any tried and tested patterns then shout up.

13 May 2016

Me Made May 2016

May is a special month for sewcialists (internet/social media sewers) in that it is Me Made May, where the idea quiet obviously is to wear handmade clothes every day in May. You didn't really need me to explain that did you!

 Knit dresses: Wren and Lady Skater

So I suspect you expect this post to be about me telling what I wore every day for MMM16, well its not! I don't have near enough clothes to do that yet (or I do but I would have the washing machine on near constantly and it would very boringly be the same clothes every week). So instead of actually joining in on MMM I thought I would just use it as an excuse to have a look at the things I have made that do actually get lots of wear so that I can see what things I like and also see what I want more of, where my wardrobe is lacking and see if there are any trends in the kinds of things I do wear.

Summer Viscose Dresses: Lilou and Kim

Lets start with the dresses. I know every home sewer always sews dresses and I'll be honest I never used to wear dresses but that's mostly because I am 2 sizes bigger in the bottom than I am in the waist so they either clung way to much to my wibbly bits or looked a bit like a sack on me. I love that I can now wear dresses. They are so easy, just wack em over your head and go! I have a lot of fit and flare but the shape is so good for hiding that post baby belly whilst still making a feature of my waist. Lovely, I see many more of these in the future, but I am actually on the hunt for a more fitted dress pattern, something with a pencil skirt, that I can tailor and make nice and flattering.

 Skirts: Zinnia and Clemence

Then on to separates;  I say separates but well I make a good few bottoms but really only ever one top which is the Mimi parrots blouse. Skirt patterns are so plentiful though and there are loads of nice ones to choose from. I think its also because I enjoy a pretty skirt but actually just tend to wear jersey vests on top, and well they are so cheap to buy why would you need to make them. I am all for handmade but I sometimes think there are some wardrobe basics which should just be bought: Jeans, jersey basics, leggings to name a few. I am sure there will come a time I will attempt them but for now I am happy to play with more fun patterns. I do have a plan to get the Agnes tshirt pattern (mostly to make a dress out of) so there will probably be a few long sleeved tshirts in here by Autumn. 

 Chataigne shorts

I think you can see a definite theme here in terms of colour/pattern choice in the clothes that I actually wear. Animal Print, Monochrome, pink, coral, blacks and whites. I have learnt over the past couple of years that there are a lot of clothes that I have made which I don't really wear. Some of that is down to the fit or shape not suiting me, but actually its mostly to do with poor fabric choice. It really is worth thinking about the colours that suit you, and that you like to wear as it really does go into making a better wardrobe.

Mimi blouse

So that's the wardrobe which I enjoy to wear. There are obviously things which I haven't included here. Looking back on this there is actually a lot less than I realised, I guess when mixed in with your bought wardrobe you don't consider what you have made and wear and what you don't. I really should think about sorting out the things which I don't wear and either charity shopping them or hacking them into something new. 

If you are taking part in Me Made May 2016 how have you found it? And if not and you haven't heard of it before go and have a search for #mmm16 on instagram and see all the gorgeous outfits people have lovelingly handmade themselves.

6 May 2016

Neon Skulls Kim Dress

There seems to be a bit of a neon theme going on here at the minute but this dress is a lot less gawdy than the tutu outfit I posted last week! I totally wasn't sure about this fabric when I bought it but I actually really like it now its turned into a dress. Also, before we carry on can I just address the fact that I bloody love my shiny Dr Marten Mary Janes, they literally go with everything.

This was a mock up test version of By Hand London's Kim Dress. It's the first time I've made this dress but I was looking for something with princess seems so it fit the bill. 

A couple of things to say about this dress before I go into a bit more detail. I really like the sweetheart neckline and the full skirt, especially in this viscose, the skirt is lovely to wear but my god it's a bit boobalicious! You cant really tell from these pictures but when I am sat and look down they are all I can see! I had the same thing with my last by hand London dress so they obviously like a low neckline but I'm struggling to wear this in the daytime! I think It's going to have to be an out to the pub dress rather than a chilling at home on a summers day dress.

The fabric was some viscose which I got from ebay. There is lots of it on there so you should be able to find it, I also think its one of those lovely cheap fabrics you are likely to find on your local market stall so certainly very inexpensive. I have started to really love viscose. Its so easy to wear and really cheap to buy. The only issue is it can stretch out of shape quiet easily when sewing and also it frays A LOT. but if you can get over that you can make some lovely summer outfits out of it. The reason I used this to make a mock up is because it was so cheap. You can see in the photo below there is a bit of excess fabric in the front bodice and this is due to it changing shape and ending up bigger than the cotton fabric I used to line it but its totally fine to wear.

I re-took my measurements before I made this dress and matched them up against the pattern and I fit the size 12 exactly (35, 28, 36). I sat there and I thought how can I have the exact measurements of the pattern but know even before I begin that if I sew this straight from the pattern pieces its not going to fit me? What I realised was that my back is proportionally smaller than my front and that what I need to do is cut out the size 12 but take a % out of the front and equate that into the same in the front as a full bust adjustment. I made a 3/4 inch adjustment to both front and back but actually I think that maybe should have been a whole 1 inch but again its a better fit than it would have been.

I started off making this dress really fast and rushing through it because I have another version planned which is the one I really want to make. I have spoken before about how when you take your time over something you are much more likely to enjoy the result but I was totally ignoring my own advice here. Thankfully Karen over at Did You Make That made a very well timed post about learning sewing patience. I really needed this. I think I sometimes try and make things really quickly to have something to blog about but what she made me realise was that actually you can have some very useful things to say as a blogger without always having to blog about something you made. So I thank Karen for the great outcome of this dress for making me slow down, take my time and enjoy the process. And do you know what, it really worked. I do love this dress (I've had it on for 2 days) and I think its totally down to the fact I took some care over it.

 So that's it from me for this week, I hope you like my new dress :) I am going to have to sign off because I can hear master Fox has woken up. But as a closing thought have you ever read any non sewing posts which totally inspired you in other aspects?

29 April 2016

Avert your eyes! Neon tutu tutorial

The brief was 'neon tutu' I think I nailed it don't you!

I love orange and pink together, I think its my favourite garish colour combo. I am desperately trying to decide whether put some orange back in my hair again, last time I got told I reminded people of a tutti frutti! Haha I don't think that's a bad thing do you?

Anyway, why have I made a neon tutu I hear you wondering? Why not? Honestly though there is a reason. I recently went to Leeds for a friends hen do, the theme was 80s and we were told we should be wearing neon and tutus! I did do the obvious and look on ebay for the cheap option but every time I looked at them I couldn't help think 'I'm not paying for that!' I didn't really have a plan beyond that though and by the time it was 3 days to go I realised I was a bit late to order one, there was no fancy dress shop near work and so I was just going to have to make it.

I did a bit of a search on the net for how to make tutu's but most of the results were for the no sew kind, and well I wanted to yes sew kind. I thought being as I just made up a process I would quickly type up how I did it whilst I show off the tutu in all its neon glory!

I bought one meter each of two different coloured cheap fancy dress nets from my local fabric shop (thank you My Fabric Place in Beeston) in these amazingly neon pink and orange colours. I then folder the fabric in half width wise and then in half again width wise and cut along the folds. This gave me 4 x 1 meter long pieces of both colours (8 pieces total).

Please note that I do have a small waist and whilst there is plenty of material here to make larger sizes if you want a bigger tutu, or in fact a fuller tutu you might want to consider buying 1.5 or 2 meters of each fabric colour.

Next I cut a piece of elastic which I measured to fit comfortably round my waist where I wanted it to sit (with a bit of stretch) and then added an inch for where it meets at the back. Make sure the elastic is not too stretched its uncomfortable but not so loose its not going to stay sat on your waist where you want it. I then marked the middle of the elastic with a pin.

I then lay 4 of the pieces of fabric on top of each other. I alternated mine so orange pink orange pink (have the colour you want facing out on top). You can of course do this however you like it, play about with the colours and see what works for you. You need to do the same with the remaining 4 pieces but keep these to one side we are going to be working on one half at once.

Next you need to attach the net to the elastic. You do this by making lots of large folds in the net and pinning it to the elastic. You don't need to stretch the elastic, but it might help if you do give it a little stretch as I did find my waistband didn't have much give. You want to put in enough folds that the piece extends just beyond the half way pin so there is a bit of an overlap.

Once you have done this with the first 4 pieces you then need to do the same with the second 4 pieces starting by overlapping where you left off and continuing to fold until the piece reaches the other end.

Finally you can get out your machine and using a zig zag stitch sew that bad boy down! take your time and make sure you catch all the layers.

Once you have done this overlap the two ends of the elastic and sew some tacking stitches to close the waist into a circle and that's it, time to twirl!

I did trim a couple of inches off the bottom of mine after I had stitched it as I preferred the shorter length, but you can choose whether you do this or not after trying it on.

It certainly is neon isn't it! I'm pretty sure I'm now at a point in my life where I am getting too old to wear outfits like this but regardless we had an amazing weekend away and had a great laugh (as well as some rather odd looks as we walked the streets in the day dressed in neon tutu's!). 

FYI, the matching bow I made using my Tulle Bow Tutorial

You have to excuse the lack of my face in these photos, I was a bit sleep deprived when I took them and my gaunt baggy eyes really didn't do these pictures any justice!

I hope this was a useful tutorial, or if not then a fun look into a crazy outfit! I do actually love this skirt, and I think its all to do with the colour. If only I had more occasions to dress like this!!

Have you ever made anything like this? Or bought one of those cheap ebay tutus? You should totally try making one, this one cost me £5, which was £1 less than ebay, and much nicer I think.

Now I want you to show me your crazy makes (or tutus) so I don't feel so silly!

22 April 2016

And then there was Wren: Version 2

Following on from that hideous version of wren I blogged about a couple of weeks ago I'm very happy to show of my second version of Wren which is a much much better fit. You may not have seen the other post as I purposefully made no reference to it on social media I think it was that bad!

Anyway, I had always planned on making two versions of this dress, when I was looking for the fabric for it I spied this lovely jersey here on Croft Mills website and it was a great fit for the pattern. I wanted something with a pattern but it needed to be something without a directional print as I'm not sure how that would transfer to the neck crossover sections. This ticks all those boxes and because I knew I would want to get some wear out of this one I thought it best to make a tester first.

I made a number of adjustments on this version. Not just in the sizing but also a couple on the pattern itself. I did a small back adjustment, a full bust adjustment (using the Myrtle sew along, thank you to the lovely ladies at Colette for getting back to me with this suggestion) and shortened the skirt. This one fits soooo much better now I'm really pleased I did them. How frustrating is it though that I can't even get away with sewing straight from the pattern even in the stretchiest of fabrics!!

So I also made a couple of adjustments to the pattern. The first was to cut the front wrap pieces on the fold so that they are actually doubled over. This meant that rather than having to sew a hem on the front neckline you have a nice smooth line, you just have to sew the two raw edges to the bodice piece and thats it. I also decided to add cuff bands instead of sewing a hem on the cuffs. I used the 3/4 sleeve which is in the additional sleeves download, but they are just a bit short, and I like something that clings to my arm a bit better. I nicked the cuff bands from the lady skater dress pattern but it would be really easy to draft your own just by measuring the width of your arm and adding a seam allowance. I'm really pleased with these two adjustments, I hated the twin needle sewing on my last version so it was nice to get rid of as much of that as possible. I don't think the neck alteration would work on the thicker ponte roma/interlock knit version as it might be too thick but it works well if using regular jersey. The only adjustment I would consider down the line would be to make the back neck a bit higher, it feels a little drafty for me but not too much to worry about.

I'm really chuffed with this version. The fit is brilliant, its really flattering, the fabric works really well and is comfortable to wear, it goes with all sorts and I can dress it up or down to suit the occasion. I am still having some slight issues with flashing depending on my undergarments but it is no where near as bad as the previous version. I have discovered that I can wear a vest top underneath if I am really worried and it doesn't look awkward at all. However, if anyone has any tips on how to prevent this happening tell me, tell me now!

I hope you like it. I really recommend this pattern, its it a breeze to sew once you have your twin needle sussed.