Showing posts with label jersey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jersey. Show all posts

Monday, 7 July 2014

A Mother Lode of Sewing Stuff

And who knew 'mother lode' was spelt 'mother lode' and not 'mother load'?! Not me until I did a spot of googling just then. Anyways... I am one lucky baby-mama because I have recently received not one, not two but THREE packages of baby/toddler sewing stuff from super lovely sewing bloggers. Up until now, I have mainly dressed her in secondhand and hand-me-down things because she's been growing too damn fast. But I plan to make more of her clothing myself as she gets bigger, with a dose charity shop scores and hand-me-downs for the difficult or boring to make things, and nana-knits for her knitwear. Which is just how I approach my own wardrobe I guess, save for the nana-knits.  

So let me show you the awesomeness that I now have to work with! The top image is a whole of beautiful vintage sewing patterns that were sent to me by lovely Adey from The Sew Convert. Can you see that two of them have a nautical theme?! Amazing! She also sent me the four patterns in the bottom row of the image above (one of which I have just finished using, blog post on it's way...). 

The top row of pattern in the image above were sent to me by fabulous Jenna from Just Sew Jenna. As you know, I have already used the romper pattern, and I can't wait to get stuck in to the others. She also sent me the fabric on the top row of the image below to incorporate into my makes. 

The middle row of patterns were sent to me by wonderful Catherine from Clothes and Sewing, including a super cute dolly sewing pattern that I eyed up on the front of a sewing magazine but couldn't justify shelling out for. Catherine has kindly sent me several packages and parcels of sewing-related items since my baby was born, as well as getting me hooked on the Ottobre design children's sewing magazines.  

All three women sent me these patterns because their own children have grown out of the largest size. I aim to honour their kindness by using each pattern at least once and then to pass these on to other worthy sewing-mamas when I am done.

The wonderful printed fabric pieces in the bottom row of the image above are all big enough for whole garments. They were given to me by a newly made IRL friend who bought them to make stuff for her own baby girl but can't really be bothered. The deal is, I get to make them into lovely clothes for Dolores, and then pass on the garments to her daughter (who is five months younger) when she's grown out of them. DEAL!

So with the awesome sewing patterns pictured above, along with my own modest stash of baby/toddler patterns scored from charity shops and flea markets AND my five copies of Ottobre design AND a couple of Burda magazines AND the patterns from the Perfect Pattern Parcel #2, I think I'm set for Dolores-sewing for some time. Thanks again to those lovely, generous ladies, I'm so grateful.

So tell me, what garments have you enjoyed making for your children/other people's children? Which patterns have you used again and again? 

Monday, 23 June 2014

The Bronte Top

For someone who claims they don't get much time to sew these days, I've been busting out quite a few new projects lately! Here's one that I completed during May but wasn't allowed to wear during MMMay'14 or blog about until now.... 

It's the new pattern by Jennifer Lauren Vintage (creator of the Afternoon Blouse): the Bronte top. I was asked by Jen to be a pattern tester and as soon as I saw pictures of her samples I knew it was going to be a hit, both for me personally and for the sewing community in general. It's a genius design: vintage inspired but comfy, the holy grail for many of us sewers, non?! 

The Bronte top is basically a jersey/knit top with a cleverly drafted neckline that is no more difficult to construct than a t-shirt with a standard bound neckline, and with only one more pattern piece. The Bronte's neckline has kind of a flattering 40's vibe but also reminds me slightly of the envelope necklines on babies' onesies (in a good way). I love that you can make it really stand out with contrast binding (as I have done here) and buttons, or make a more subtle effect with self-binding (see Jen's blog post for some great options). I really look forward to seeing how other sewers interpret this pattern. 

I made mine in some thick, stable navy jersey that was lurking in my stash with cream organic jersey (left over from my Coco breast feeding top) for the binding. I chose to make the long sleeved option because I felt the thicker fabric suited a colder-weather appropriate version. I'd definitely like to make another, possibly in medium weight black jersey with 3/4 sleeves, self-binding and buttons either side of the neckline. 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Tutorial: How to Pattern Hack Coco for Breastfeeding/Nursing

So this tutorial is only going to be of use for a small minority of sewers. However, like my maternity top pattern tutorial, you may wish to bookmark it for the future! ;-) Over the last seven months I've found that attempting to dress in a stylish and comfortable way for breastfeeding/nursing can be a total pain in the arse/impossible. This is especially true if, like me, you prefer to make your own clothing rather than buy mass manufactured garments. Here's a way to adapt your favourite jersey top pattern, for example the Tilly and the Button's Coco which I've used here, for breast feeding functionality.

The basic concept of this pattern hack is to create an elasticated overlap of fabric at the boob area. In this top (or dress if you're making that version) you can discreetly 'gain access' without needing to lift up your whole garment, yank your neckline down or fiddle with any buttons or zips. You remain well covered which is a major bonus if, like me, you feel the cold or you don't enjoy exposing lots of flesh. Plus you also don't need to wear a vest layer underneath either, which I've been concerned about now we are approaching warm weather. This is an awesome answer to those two climate conundrums! 

My modesty prevents me from modelling it's full function so here's my dress form instead to give you a proper idea!:

Pattern prep:

A note about sizing: This pattern hack works on close fitting garments, so you may want to consider sewing a size smaller than you otherwise would, or take in the side seams a bit half way through your make. If you are in between sizes on the Coco pattern, definitely go for the smaller one.  

Step 1:

Trace the front pattern piece for whichever Coco view you are planning to make, transferring the notches and any useful markings from the original pattern.

Step 2:

Cut the front pattern piece out and hold it up to your body in front of a mirror (sorry you'll have to imagine this bit in your head as doing it plus taking a photo at the same time proved impossible!). You will need to make two small marks on your pattern in pencil:
1) the top of your breast, roughly where the top edge of your bra cup sits (don't worry, this doesn't have to be super accurate, this line will be hidden).
2) your 'empire line', about 3/4 down your breast (more flattering than a line that hits right underneath your breast).

Step 3:

Draw lines through your marks that extend across the front pattern piece. The lines need to be at right angles to the centre front.

Step 4:

Make two new pattern pieces by tracing round your front pattern piece:

1) For the first, trace round the top part of the front pattern piece to the lower of the two lines you just drew. Add 1cm (3/8") seam allowance below the lower line. Cut the piece out. This is the new pattern piece is the upper front pattern piece and is pictured on the left below.

2) For the second, trace round the bottom part of the front pattern piece to the upper of the two lines you just drew. Add 1cm (3/8") seam allowance above the upper line. Cut the piece out. This is the new pattern piece is the lower front pattern piece and is pictured on the right below.

Step 5:

Add a notch on each of your new pattern pieces at the side seams where the other piece finishes (minus the seam allowance you added). These notches will help with the construction of the garment. You should be just be able to see them in the picture below to see what I mean:

Now cut out your pattern pieces in fabric as you usually would, replacing the original front pattern piece with your new upper and lower front pattern pieces.

Applying the elastic to the fabric pieces:

This stage should be completed after cutting the fabric pattern pieces out but before garment construction ensues.

Step 6:

Lay the fabric upper front piece wrong side up on a table. Leaving extra clear elastic over the edge of the side seam, pin one end of elastic to the bottom edge of the pattern piece (pictured below). Being careful not to stretch the elastic NOR allow it to be too loose, lay the elastic along the bottom edge and pin in place at the other end, once again leaving extra clear elastic over the edge of the side seam.

Step 7:

Marking with a pin, pen or whatever method you prefer, make the elastic 1cm (3/8") shorter and re-pin to the lower edge. As you can see in the picture below, the elastic will now not quite lie flat against the fabric.

Step 8:

Slightly pulling the elastic as you go so no pleats or tucks appear, baste the elastic along the bottom edge of the upper front piece by stitching down the centre of the clear elastic with a straight stitch. Then fold the 1cm (3/8") seam allowance up, encasing the elastic, and stitch using your preferred stretch stitch (I've used a three-step zigzag here).

Step 9:

Repeat Steps 6, 7 and 8 to apply elastic to the top edge of the lower front piece, HOWEVER make the elastic 2cms shorter in length than the top edge (unlike the 1cm you shortened the elastic on the upper front piece). The elastic applied to these edges prevents them from gapping as long as the overall top is a snug fit. The elastic on the upper front edge isn't quite as tight as the elastic on the lower front piece because a gathered effect on the upper front piece is less desirable as it would be more visible.

Garment Construction:

Now you can continue the construction of your garment as per the pattern instructions using the upper front piece instead of the old front piece to complete the shoulder seams, neckline/collar finishing and sleeve head insertion.

Step 10:

When you are ready to stitch your sleeve seams and side seams (usually done in the same process), you need to bring your lower front piece to the party. Lay the lower front piece face down on top of the upper front piece so they create an overlap. This is where those little notches to made in the side seams really help you to align the pieces correctly.

With the sleeve and side seams stitched, now would be a really good time to pop the garment on and see how it's fitting. As I've said before, the overlap will only function well and look nice and gape-free if the fit of the garment is quite snug. If it looks like it might be gaping, pinch in the side seams to see how much extra needs to be removed from the side seams. Withe the fit perfected, you can finish the construction of your garment.

Now you're ready for a hungry baby!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Leopard Print Baby Trousers

I'm not going to write a blog post every time I make Dolores a pair of trousers or leggings, but I thought that these turned out pretty special so I wanted to share them. Behold the awesomeness!!!

I used the same reworked pattern that produced these trousers and some leopard print jersey that had been 'a lingering too long in the old stash. The blue leopard print was actually left overs from a skirt I made myself in my first year of university back in 1999! 

Two of the four pairs are actually for Dolores's friend Ezrah. You can see them hanging out together in the picture above, Ez rocking his trews. Ezrah's mum and dad were very kind in letting Pat, Dolores and myself stay over night at theirs, and it was generally agreed that limited-edition leopard baby trousers make a better gift for your host than a bunch of flowers or box of chocs!

Friday, 28 March 2014

Refashion Friday: Sleeping Tops to Baby Trousers

So here's something I've learnt about babies: they grow really fast. So fast that if you watched them constantly, you could probably see it happening. Clothes that seemed a bit big on Dolores one day can be far too small a couple of weeks later. Thankfully we have positioned ourselves down-stream of a flow of garments from her 20-month old cousin, however a healthy dose of charity shopping or mum-makes is required to fill in the gaps. 

A very good thing about babies is that they had absolutely no sartorial opinions. Therefore you can make their clothes out of anything and they won't complain! Clothes that are super shabby, like these two sleeping tops that I've owned for longer than I care to remember, can be given a second life when hacked up and used as baba-garms. 

For the pattern, I started with an Ottobre magazine pattern that I redrafted to alter the style and improve the fit. I incorporated the original hem ribbing from the pink towelling zip-through and the original hem finishing from the grey ribbed striped top saving me some construction time on both the pairs of trousers. If you'd like to get an idea of what it feels like to wear these trousers, here's a wearer's-eye-view (kind of):

I've written a lot in the past about how much I love the idea of turning old garments in to new ones, especially new ones intended for loved ones to wear. It's very satisfying to cut away the worn bits and end up with something that's got a whole heap of new life in it (literally!). Clothing that is passed it's best can be such a great source of sewable fabric, particularly if the things you are making are for a tiny person. I can see A LOT more reworking of my old clothes into useful things for Dolores in the future, hopefully most of them will end up as useful as these trousers have been so far.   

What about you? Have you reused old clothes for babies and/or children? What do you like about it? Have you any tips or ideas to share with the rest of the class?!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Toddler Leggings Vs Napping

No, this project not going to set the sewing world alight with it's complexity, but the fact that I have managed to make something, let alone something that is actually wearable, means that I win. My baby girl blessed me with a succession of tiny windows of opportunity (opportunities that perhaps I should have spent napping or trying to excavate the lounge under all the nappy sacks) to make her cousin Anya (18 months old) a couple of pairs of leggings for Christmas. 


'And then came Ottobre magazine, and lo, it was good...' My mum bought me a subscription of the children's version of Ottobre for my birthday last year and I flip out with excitement each time one appears on my door step. Well technically it's not my door step, we share it with another flat and the pub below (yes I live above a pub). I digress...

This pattern is a super simple toddler leggings pattern that consists of two pieces, a front and a back. I omitted the knee patch piece, but I have some ace ideas for making knee patched versions in the future. To be honest I haven't really got my head round baby and toddler sizing yet. These magazines use height guides rather than age suggestions, plus I haven't figured out if Ottobre patterns generally come up big/small etc. They then confuse things further by telling you age and heights of the models wearing the style. It nearly melted my sleep-deprived mind. But after some texting with my sister-in-law and further deliberation, I chose to make the smallest size (92cms) but add about 4cms to the leg length just in case. In the end they did come out a bit long, but they looked pretty cool with turn ups and it means that they should have a longer lifespan. 

The pattern is a great basic, but I feel that the illustrations are a little misleading. Even taking into account the extra 4cms I added to the leg length, I think the final garments (as seen at pictured at the top of this post) came out quite different in proportion to the stubby, baby wear-esque illustration in the magazine (pictured above). 


Anya is quite a girly girl so I chose some fabric from my stash that reflected that. The fabric on the left is some Liberty jersey that I've had knocking about for about as long as Anya is old. The fabric on the right I've had for longer, I acquired it at a sewing meet up/swap in Brighton a couple of years back, I think it used to belong to Tilly. Both are very sturdy jerseys with a good recovery, just what you need for a toddler, I'd imagine.


These garments are obviously pretty plain and functional items, so I added these little labels (also acquired from a sewing meet up/swap) to make them a little more special. I also think it's handy to clearly indicate in some way which is the front and back on an ambiguous garment style like this, particularly as getting babies and children dressed can be like trying to wrestle an octopus!  


I think these came out really well and I was pleased to see got quite a few wearings by Anya whilst we were in town visit Pat's family. I'll definitely be making a whole stack of them for Dolores when she is big enough in a variety of solids and prints. I'll probably be doing that instead of napping. 

If you sew for babies/toddlers/children, do you have a favourite 'workhorse' pattern that you come back to again and again?

Friday, 4 October 2013

Refashion Friday Inspiration: Shirt Detail T-shirt Top

Today's Refashion Friday post is about a garment that, in a similar vein to the frill hem denim shirt remake, has a few different elements going. But maybe a feature or two might provide some inspiration even if the whole thing doesn't work for you! 

So what IS going on here? Well the base of this top is an unwanted grey marl dude's T-shirt that had the sleeves removed and the hem chopped off. An equally neglected men's button-up shirt was then ransacked for pieces to apply to the T-shirt/tank basis. The button stand was cut away and top-stitched down the front. Sections of the sleeves were harvested to make new slightly puffy sleeves (with cuff bands made from the hem part of the original T-shirt).  

The new top also features a waist band/tie made from harvested shirt fabric. Overall, this top is fairly cropped and quite boxy. Personally I think my favourite element is the applied button stand: such a simple feature that could add an unexpected design element to a variety of makes. 

Friday, 16 August 2013

Refashion Friday: Other People's T-shirt-to-Undies Creations!

Happy Friday! Today I wanted to remind you how fun and easy it can be to make underwear from unwanted T-shirts (I know, I know, as if you'd forget!). You could of course use my free vest/camisole/singlet pattern or my free pants/knickers/undies pattern as a starting point, or any of the other no-doubt awesome free undies patterns that can be hunted down on the interwebs. You can find more thorough instructions for reusing T-shirts with my vest pattern here, and for reusing T-shirts with my pants pattern here. But let's take a look at some other super-creative ladies' versions! The picture  below is of fabulous former T-shirts made into vests/camisoles/singlet's by Made By Trisha using my downloadble pattern.

Another awesome T-shirt-to-vest creation is pictured below created by the ever-awesome Scruffy Badger Time. Of the pattern she says:

"To say that this is a quick and easy make would be too obvious. I need to say that I succeeded in making three of these in 2.5 hours: cutting out all three took 30 minutes before we went out for a curry; sewing them up and adding the elastic took me no more than two hours... Not only is it great as a summer top, but it will be long enough for being worn as a warming layer in the winter. My inner granny has already clocked that it’ll be nice and long to tuck into even low rise trousers and keep your lower back nice and snug! I’d recommend this pattern, such a useful practical make."

And if you want to see a fabulously naughty former T-shirt turned into cheeky pants using my free downloadable pants pattern, then those not of a nervous disposition should head over here to the superb Dapper Duds blog!

So if you are looking for a gratifyingly super-quick sewing project to undertake plus already have some old T-shirts no longer being worn that are clogging up your wardrobe, why not download either (or both!) of my FREE patterns, get some elastic, and have a good ol' time?! 

Monday, 5 August 2013

More Maternity Madness: Some Selfless Stitching

Don't be thinking that all the maternity sewing that's been happening round here has all been for myself, oh no! With only two months left to go, I'm trying to get by on my limited selection of maternity clothes (with the exception of a new dress which I'll blog about next week). However, I'm in the lucky position to have a bit of free time for sewing at the moment so I was able to come to the aid of my good friend Anna (also preggers) when she announced that she was rapidly growing out of her clothes and having a bit of a maternity wardrobe crisis. 

I made her a version of my nautical batwing and black batwing dresses in a super soft, light-weight grey knit that had been sitting in my stash for about a year. Anna lives in Madrid so it was very important to make something in a light-weight fabric. You can't see them here, but I added a few little pearl buttons to the sleeve bands/cuffs for some extra detailing. I also elongated the pattern a bit because Anna is a tall lady, her height being the cause of some of her problems sourcing decent maternity clothing. Not only do a lot of the dresses and skirts end up indecently short on her (she has a proper grown-up's job where that would NOT be cool, even if she felt comfortable in them), but also she's found that being taller means that the positioning for the bump in some dresses ends up in the wrong place for her. As you can see in the photo above, she looks AMAZING in the batwing dress! Damn that girl can accessorise! And the shoes? I can't even talk about those shoes right now...

The second garment I flowed Anna's way was actually kind of a happy accident. I'd made a gathered side jersey top (pictured above) as a toile using my own maternity top tutorial instructions but tweaking the measurements a bit. It came out a bit too long in the body for me and the gathers to accommodate my bump were a bit low, but seeing as I hadn't expected the first version to be perfect, I wasn't bothered as it helped me perfect the pattern for my next attempts (the spotty dress remake and grey fancy sleeve top). I thought it might serve as something for me to sleep in, but when Anna said she needed maternity wear, I realised this would ace for her, considering it had been a bit long for me. The jersey print is pretty mentally bright (more random stash fabric), but hopefully she can get she wear from it at home or at her preggers yoga class. 

So, who wants to see a pic of me and Anna in the 1990's?! EVERYONE (no doubt)!!!:

Hahahahaaaaa. The 1990's! Look how drunk I am! Seeing as we are both about to become mothers, Anna and I will probably never be that drunk together again.  

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Fancy-Sleeved Maternity T-shirt!

... for want of a better blog post title. After the success of my recent spotty dress to maternity T-shirt project, I felt inspired to make a variation that had something a little more fancy about it. A dash of pattern adjustment rendered the spotty version's pattern a little longer in the body and with a 'scooper' neckline. 

I then jacked the sleeve pattern and armscye shape from the below complicated jersey top pattern.   

For those who may be curious, the above pattern came from the below magazine: a copy of some sort of French Simplicity patterns magazine that I scored at a meet-up/swap a couple of years ago. I don't speak French. Finding out if the pattern pieces already included seam allowances was a challenge (figured out that they do! Who knew?!).

The fabric I used for this top is a total dream! I scored 2 metres of super-stretchy and silky-soft dark grey jersey from a charity shop in Clapham round the corner from Sew Over It for just £3! The gods of charity shopping smiled on me that day. 

I must admit that when I first tried this top on, I wasn't in love with it. The sleeves seemed a bit bizarre, although I have to say that in the flesh they look exactly like the ones on the pink top in the magazine. I think that my lack of initial acceptance might be because the sleeves are a bit of a departure from what I consider to be 'my style', but after a couple of wears this is now my favourite maternity top. It's funny how, when I first became pregnant, the thought of having to put aside my quest to find and represent my sense of style through sewing for a time really troubled me. But as the months have progressed and I've found myself making and wearing things that I wouldn't have gone for had I not been preggers, I've actually found it liberating. The fact that this is for such a finite period has allowed me the freedom to explore things like a different sleeve shape, for example. I'm not sure what effect these experiments and freedoms will have, if any, on my style and sewing in the long term but it'll be interesting to keep half an eye on that. 

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