Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Field Trip Dress

Before too much time elapses, I want to blog about the jersey dress I made during the KCW challenge last month. After the time consuming Hopscotch skirt project, I wanted a speedy project to balance things out and make the week a victorious one!


I got the idea from the image above that I found on Marina - Big Sewing Box's awesome kids clothes Pinterest board. The caption read 'Inspiration for dress from Field Trip raglan tee pattern', and I remembered that I have the size 12-18 months of that Oliver + S pattern (pictured below) traced out from when I taught it as a class at the Village Haberdashery earlier this year. 

I cut the main pattern pieces for the t-shirt and added a simple skirt section. To do that I cut a rectangle of fabric, stitched it along one side to form a loop, then attached it to the hem of the t-shirt with little pleats, eyeballing them to make them as even as possible. I made the rectangle as large as I could with the fabric I had left after cutting the body of the dress, so that dictated how full the skirt ended up being. 

Aside from adding the skirt, the one other change I made to the pattern was to cut the neck hole 1cm wider all the way round. I don't think Dolores has got a particularly big head, but I wanted to err on the side of caution as she hates having garments that are a bit tight pulled over her head. 


I was lucky to have been given both the blue polka dot jersey and the cute farm print jersey by Jenna, in her generous haul of children's sewing stuff. They were too awesome to be left to sit in Le Stash for eons, so I'm pleased that both got used with very little but the teensiest scraps left over. They are great quality jersey (you'll have to ask her for the original source) and were a pleasure to sew with.  


I'm really pleased with how this garment came together. It all seemed pretty serendipitous: seeing that image on Pinterest, realising I had her current size already traced in that pattern and finding I had just enough of these awesome jerseys to make it. This dress is currently a bit too big for her, but that is ace because it means plenty of use can be extracted from it! The idea of adding a simple gathered skirt to the bottom of basic jersey top patterns has made me look at the patterns in my copies of the kid's Ottobre magazines in a different light.

I struggled to get a modelled picture because of the murky lighting. This is the best I could manage:

Friday, 14 November 2014

Perfect Pattern Parcel #7: The Daphne Bag

Pattern Parcel #7: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win!

It feels to me like the Perfect Pattern Parcels have come thick and fast this year, but this is the final one of 2014 (umm, where did this year go?!). If you don't know what the PPP's are, let the organisers themselves explain:
How Pattern Parcel Works: Here at Perfect Pattern Parcel, we believe in supporting independent pattern designers. It’s our opinion that indie patterns are just, well, better than big box patterns, and we’re pretty sure our customers think so too. So, we allow customers to show their support in naming their own price for each Parcel. We also encourage customers to allocate part of their Parcel price to the charity Donorschoose.org in order to help classrooms in need. Pattern Parcel donates all profits after expenses from Parcel sales to the charity as well. Its our goal to raise over $20,000 for Donors Choose this year.
The patterns in this parcel are:

BONUS PATTERN: Daphne Bag by Clover & Violet 

When I was invited to take part in the promo tour of Parcel #7, I was really excited when I saw that it consisted solely of bag patterns. In terms of the ratio of 'sewing-time : amount-worn', bags have got to be up there with jackets and coats when it comes to useful things to spend your time making. And yet I've only made one bag from a purchased sewing pattern (RIP, vintage curtain bag), having previously only used self-drafted patterns. When I see bag sewing patterns though, I must admit I usually get a bit turned off by the fabric choice. I tend to wonder what the bag would look like if it wasn't made from Amy Butler quilting cotton (no offence, Amy Butler or her fans, it's just not my aesthetic), but instead in something, oh I don't know, nautical perhaps? Time to find out...

The Pattern:
I chose to make the Daphne Bag by Clover & Violet which is the bonus bag if you choose to pay at least $32 for the parcel. It looked casual enough to suit my everyday style and it had a zip closure which I wanted for security because I travel round London a lot. Plus, the pattern looked like it might have a couple of features that I haven't tried before. I feel my sewing has got in a bit of a rut in recent years, so I wanted to try out some new-to-me techniques, as well as use some bag-making notions and hard wear like plastic canvas stuff for the bottom and sliders (?) and rectangle rings (?). 

The Daphne bag isn't a pattern as such, it's a list of cutting instructions (it's all rectangles) and constructions steps with clear photographs. It was very easy to follow, which is handy coz my brain is in a bit of a fog these days. I made a couple of changes: I omitted the little pleats on the bag body because I wasn't a fan of them, and I didn't bother making the internal zip pocket. I did bother making the 'slip pocket' inside so I can easily access my phone, but this bag isn't exactly cavernous so I didn't think I'd need both the pockets.

The Fabric:

The checked nautical fabric I used was a scrap left over from a curtain my mum bought. She'd picked the curtain up in a charity shop to make cushion covers for my dad's boat and gave me the rest. There was just enough to make this bag (as long as I made a join in the strap section). Seriously, there's virtually just dust left, so I feel this fabric and pattern combination were meant to be. The base section is made from some navy blue faux-suede I've had lurking in my stash for a while. I'd been hoping to use it for a bag somehow, and there's still a lot left for more projects. The lining is some tomato-red and white polka dot poly-cotton that I've had in my stash since before the dawn of time which, quite frankly, I'm pleased to get out of there.

Techniques/notions/hard wear:

This project did provide me, as I'd hoped, with some learning opportunities. It was interesting to see how the zip closure was dealt with, for example. I really enjoyed using the plastic canvas stuff. It gives a fabulous stiff-but-flexible base and I'll definitely use that stuff again. I bought it, along with the slider and rectangle rings from U-handbag.

Now you may well be thinking, 'Zoe, where are the sliders and rectangle rings then?'. Well, I ordered them, they arrived, and then I promptly lost them. I spent (wasted) a whole damn evening trying to find them, to no avail. Ordering another set and waiting for them to arrive would have meant missing the deadline for my scheduled blog post slot. I was really looking forward to using them and I think they would have taken this bag up a notch, but it didn't pan out that way so I just chose a fixed strap length and went with that.

Further notions dramas ensued... The pattern calls for a 14" metal tooth zip for the main closure. I ordered one from eBay that had swanky gold teeth and red tape for contrast, but when it arrived I realised I'd ordered a 14 cm one instead! DUH. Back on eBay, I couldn't find a comparable one the correct length, but found this chunky nautical plastic one instead. Eventual-WIN.


I really enjoyed making something different to my usual projects and am very grateful to the PPP organisers for providing me with the push to do it. If you could use a new bag, then this parcel would give you a lot of great options. Plus with Christmas just round the corner, you could use them to make some very special presents.

Pattern Parcel #7: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win

Monday, 10 November 2014

Charity Shop Scores in Darlington

A week at the end of October spent at my in-laws proved very fruitful in the thrifting department. Well, fruitful for Dolores anyhow! Want to have a look?

Spotty long sleeved T-shirt, 50p. Mustard zebra print T-shirt, 99p. 

Spotty knit dress, £1.75.

Nautical playsuit, £1.75. This has the original tags in and I'm tempted to sell it on Ebay in the Spring because it just looks so damn white. As in, won't-be-white-for-more-than-five-minutes-if-Dolores-wears-it. 

My favourite, geometric jumper, £1.

So the total sum: £5.99. All these items, aside from the jumper, are for sizes larger than she is now. She is more than fine for clothing at the moment and it's good to have some nice things 'in the bank' in preparation for the inevitable and unpredictable growth spurts! 

We're going back to Darlington at Christmas, so the town has a while to replenish it's charity shops... Have you had any awesome thrifting scores recently? 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Denim Hopscotch Skirt

If you'll permit me, I'd like to elaborate on the denim skirt I made Dolores as part of the Kid's Clothes Week challenge (the result of which I disclosed the other day). I didn't get round to sharing my creations on their site, but their blog well worth a gander for highlights of other participants inspiring creations. 

I must admit that this skirt took up the vast majority of my time during the Kid's Clothes Week sewing sessions. In fact it probably took way longer than it should have done, but I guess that's what happens when you try to sew at the end of a busy day spent dealing with a crazy baby. But it was the promise of seven whole hours of sewing laid before me that lead me to make this skirt. I knew a woven item would take more time than the usual knit leggings I whip up for her. 


I was very kindly given the Oliver + S Hopscotch pattern, among others, by the very generous Jenna. I'm still on the fence about the knit top/dress part of this pattern, but every version of the skirt that google could rummage up looked awesome, IMO. Seeing as Dolores is well stock for clothing for the foreseeable future, I decided to make the Size 2 (years), even though she's currently only 13 months old. That should have the bonus of lasting her a bit longer than if I'd made a smaller size, which helped justify the extra time I spent on this project. 

Cleverly, the front skirt sections are gathered into the waistband, but the back skirt section folds over at the top to form an elastic casing. With the back part elasticated, I'm wondering if you'd need to use the buttons at all to put this skirt on and take it off. I really like how this pattern is drafted, and the instructions are nice and clear. I did spend a whole evening constructing the pockets as per the pattern, only to decide to remove them the following morning, but that was my fault not theirs! 


Now here's the issue: the fabric I used was too thick for this pattern. I really wanted to stash bust this small piece of soft pale blue vintage denim. It reminds me of the 70s and the film Dazed and Confused! The colour in the image at the top of the post isn't very accurate, and I couldn't' get the tweaks right. The above button close-up image is more accurate. If I'd used the recommended weight of fabric (something like a quilting cotton), this project would have been a breeze and the pockets would have looked ace. The thing about children's clothes is that they are small. And the thing about smaller pattern pieces is that it's more difficult to get a super clean, crisp finish when using heavier fabrics than if you were making an adult's sized version. However, I battled on and I actually think the final outcome looks good! Phew! 

The wooden flower buttons were from my stash from an un-recall-able source. I stitched the centre of the flowers with yellow thread. I was tempted to do yellow topstitching on the skirt as well, but considering the difficulties I encountered in getting a neat outcome, I'm glad to didn't. In fact, now I think about it, this little skirt's colour scheme reminds me of Tilly's 70s feel Beignet


I definitely intend to use this pattern again, probably in a larger size and DEFINITELY in thinner fabric. I'd like to have another go at the pockets, as they add something special to this fairly standard skirt pattern. I promise I'm not wishing anyone's life away, but I CAN'T WAIT to see Dolores running about in the outfit above (t-shirt charity shopped from Leigh-on-sea) in a year or so! 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

KCW: Results Are In...

A couple of weeks ago I took part in my first children's wear related sewalong: KCW. Largely because it had the most relaxed rules of any sewalong I've ever heard of. I simply made sure that I sewed some children's clothing for at least an hour a day for a week (more or less). Want to see what I made? OF COURSE you do! You're not mental. Are you?  

I rustled up a denim skirt, a knit dress and finished up a UFO which took the form of zebra leggings. I'm going to post separately and more thoroughly about the first two. For the zebra leggings, I used the playful kitty leggings pattern in the next size up (Size 80). I have no idea when Dolores will fit them, but we put her in leggings A LOT so it's good to have these 'in the bank' for when she grows out of her current leggings stash

The fabric was a gift from lovely sewing lady Catherine, which I received when Dolores was still at the stage when her age was measured in weeks, rather than months or years. Like I did for the smaller size, I redrafted the waistline so that they are a bit lower at the front. Plus I stitched a loop of rainbow grosgrain ribbon into the centre back so I can tell at a glance which way round they need to go whilst wrestling the octopus/baby. 

I actually made two pairs of these leggings exactly the same and gave one to Dolores's friend Naomi to congratulate her on acquiring 12 months of age. I still have a small quantity of this stuff left in Le Stash, and I have a plan...

Monday, 27 October 2014

Perfect Pattern Parcel #6: The Bronte Top

Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win!

Stop me if I've told you this, but I bloody LOVE the Perfect Pattern Parcels! And Parcel #6 is a real beauty! I think it's their best yet in terms of how useful and varied the patterns are. But let's back up a bit and let me explain what the hell I'm talking about if the are new to you...

The organisers of the Perfect Pattern Parcels put together a package of indie designer PDF sewing patterns along a theme. You can then purchase the pattern parcel for a price of your choice for a limited time only, and then ALL the profits go to supporting a charity called Donors Choose which funds and supports educational projects in the US. Parcel #6 is an awesome set of potentially mix-and-matchable womenswear patterns and is on sale here between 17th and 31st October.

Parcel #6 includes the following sewing patterns:

  • Bronte Top by Jennifer Lauren Vintage  - Such a clever pattern, I'm pretty sure that it's impossible to make a version I wouldn't love to wear.
  • Julia Cardigan by Mouse House Creations  - I'm totally making this at some point, it looks like such useful layering garment.
  • Hudson Pant by True Bias  - Although they are way more 'urban' and contemporary in style than I'd usually make, I actually have a pair of these cut out and ready to stitch together. 
  • Zsalya Dress by Kate and Rose - There's a dress and tunic/top version included in this pattern and both look lovely. I would definitely make this for mild-to-mid maternity if I ever found myself preggers again. 
  • Syrah Skirt by Lauren Dahl (exclusive release!) - Not really my style and I doubt I'll ever make this but it could be a total staple garment pattern for many wardrobes. 

If you choose to pay $32 or more for the parcel, you will receive the BONUS PATTERN:

  • Odette Dress by Bluegingerdoll - A really clever take on a standard fit and flare dress, IMHO. 

So if you are still on the fence about whether or not to buy this pattern parcel, here's my version of the Bronte top that may sway you! This isn't the first time I've made this pattern. I was one of the testers for the Bronte top and I made a long sleeved version in navy and cream. Since the weather turned cooler, I've been wearing that top a lot and it never fails to score some compliments for me. 

When I saw the Bronte top on the list of patterns in this parcel I was reminded of how awesome it is. It may seem like cheating to make a parcel pattern that I already own, but I'd thought about making a 3/4 sleeved version in black and this was the kick up the bum I needed to make that happen. And as I mentioned above, I've cut the Hudson pants out as well, but KCW has got in the way of me actually sewing them together so far. 

The fabric I've used for this black version is a thin jersey knit. I wanted to see how this pattern worked  in something finer than the navy stuff I made the last one from (it worked fantastically). Actually, I think this black stuff isn't the greatest quality: it's a bit too thin and I have a feeling it'll start to go out of shape before long. But stash-busters can't be choosers! The red plastic buttons are from Le Stash. I'm not sure if they look a bit kiddie, but I'm happy looking like a children's TV presenter from time to time!

 Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win

So there isn't much more I can add other than, if you like at least one of these patterns, then you really ought to buy this parcel! It's surprising how owning some sewing patterns that you wouldn't be immediately drawn to can open up your personal style. For example, I never would have bought the Staple dress pattern, but I have worn the dress I made for parcel #3 loads and I adore it. 

Which of these patterns is your favourite? 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Kid's Clothes Week Sewalong: October 2014

kid's clothes week

So, you may have noticed that I've been making more baby/child clothes over the last year or so... And in doing so and thinking about doing so, I've started to encounter a whole new (to me) subsection of the sewing blogosphere: the children's wear blogs. Holy shitballs there are some amazing kids clothes being made out there, let me tell you. Plus some of those blogs are sooooo beautiful. Like, stroke-the-pretty-pictures-on-the-screen beautiful. How any of these people have time to look after the kids they are sewing for whilst maintaining such amazing blogs, I have no idea! 

I came across a whole heap of children's wear (or partly children's wear) blogs when I took part in the promotion for the Perfect Pattern Parcel #2. My involvement with that and plundering Pinterest for my bloated though may I say amazing Kiddie Clothes Making board has brought a wealth of amazing independent children's wear pattern designers to my attention, along with the Kid's Clothes Week sewalong.

The Kid's Clothes Week blog can explain it all perfectly well, but in short it's a week-long sewalong that takes place four times a year along a theme which you are welcome to ignore. The only stipulation for taking part is that you sew kid's clothing for one hour a day for a week, and the latest instalment starts TODAY! 

The theme this time round is 'Storybook', but to be honest I'm going to ignore that and just dive in to the  stack of patterns (some of which are pictured above) and fabric I have been sewing together in my head but haven't actually touched in reality. The preparation for releasing the Dolores sewing pattern, a bulk order for my Etsy shop, making stock to sell at Christmas craft fairs and other sewing obligations seem to have got in the way. Plus, my recent charity shop hauls and bags of hand-me-down clothing Dolores has received of late has abated any new clothing requirements she may have had for a while. 

However, the joy of seeing her wear the recent baby blouse refashion has reminded me of how much I want to make the majority of her clothing, so I'm going to get stuck in next week and see how much I can make in seven hours. I'll probably make things for size 18 months or two years, as she has more than enough clothing for her current size. I'm working at the weekend so I'll have to spread those two hours of sewing into the other five days to make up my quota! I'll report back with my creations. 

Do you follow any children's wear blogs? Have you used any independent sewing pattern companies' designs? 
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