A practical need for sewing

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I have a pile of sewing to do.  Not ‘fun’ sewing like cute dresses or kimonos or sashiko-style mending  but the practical kind.  I mean things like sewing on Cub Scout badges, fixing holes in the kids uniform, hemming my pants and sewing my hubby’s swimming badges onto his sweatshirt (don’t ask!)

This is the kind of sewing that I shove on a pile and leave for a rainy day, which in Sydney isn’t that often. It’s not creative (like visible mending, my favourite mending of all time!) that’s why I don’t enjoy it but I think it’s time to change my attitude.  Sewing is a practical skill and not only should we enjoy it for the loveliness it brings but we should also sew for a practical need.

Many years ago, while try to survive my life as a new Mum, I remember reading Buddhism for Mothers.  I didn’t get that far into it, read the first few chapters and got the basic idea.  Not because I didn’t enjoy it, mainly because I was too tired to read for about 5 years.  But what stuck with me was the being ‘in the moment’ with the housework and chores and not taking them on with a ‘get through it’ attitude.  Yes, I can see that, it’s hard to do but it’s worth a try and I often think about this when I am folding 12 tons of washing.

So I am going to apply this ‘in the moment’ idea to my practical sewing and enjoy every stitch of adding the Scout ‘fishing badge’, so proudly earned, to my sons shirt and the WWW (that’s Winter Without Wetsuit) badge to my husbands sweater!

It also means I need to make a few ‘boring’ items for me and the kids.  I need some pyjama pants and Bertie needs some trousers.  I yawned at the idea.  But then I really surprised myself by how much I enjoyed the process.  They were quick, a quick sew has been few and far between of late.

The first ‘practical’ item was my pyjama pants.  I used the Tilly & The Buttons, Margot Pyjama pants pattern from her book, Love At First Stitch.  This is the first pattern I have used from this book. Super easy and super quick.  I cut a size 4, they are comfy and loose.  I made the process easier by adding elastic to the waistband instead of a drawstring, which in my opinion is ‘faff’.

The fabric I used was a charity shop find, bought about 6 months ago.  I had about 2.5m, luckily, as it was not very wide.  It’s a cotton mix paisley number, cost all of about $3.

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Shockingly unflattering, making short legs shorter, but does it really matter?
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Lets not even discuss pattern placement here!!

The second ‘practical’ item was a pair of trousers for Bertie.  He is growing at an alarming rate (god knows how as he eats like a sparrow) and having already made two pairs of Mini Hudson Pants in the last month, something else was called for.

I made Parsley Pants by Made by Rae.  I am no stranger to this pattern, I have made it many times over, I even wrote a post about my love for them here.  It’s super easy and with only two pieces (the front & back are one piece), it’s a doddle to cut and sew.  I thought I might add some pouch pockets as he always needs somewhere to stuff his lego minifigures or his cars.

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He’s almost out of this sweatshirt I made him, I wrote a post about one very similar here.

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My child, the shoe refuser!

The fabric I used was another charity shop find, I bought it last week.  It’s a yummy, thick, olive green cord.  It cost $4.  It is a fairly thick fabric with a little stretch. I was originally going to add knee patches but the thickness was just too much.  The pockets are a little clunky. I changed the direction of the cord on the pockets, if we are going to see them, then lets see them, I say!  I lined them with some green duck cloth scraps left over from a previous make.

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I am thrilled to have spent only $7 to get two fantastic pairs of pants. Both pairs are cosy, both pairs are comfy and both pairs are necessary and dare I say, they are both ‘practical’!  OK, procrastination over, pass me those Scout badges someone….Hooray for practical sewing.

A place to call home

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I have been working out of a dark and gloomy corner of my bedroom for years, and with my sewing obsession in full flow and the corner of my bedroom overflowing with projects, it’s time to move out.

I would love to say we moved home, from our tiny two bedroom apartment to a lovely big house with lots of bedrooms and a sewing room just for me.  But who are we kidding here, I live in Sydney.  The most expensive city in the world (well, actually it’s 20th, but you get the picture!)

So I found a little place to work, I found a studio space among a bunch of creative types and piled all my stuff in there.  It’s a place to prep and teach my sewing classes, a place to work on my blog, a place to spread out and sew obsessively without interruption (its also about 5 minutes from my house!)

What makes it even more joyous is that Emily from In the Folds is also in this studio space.  This means I can interrupt her with a quick cuppa and generally obsess about sewing with her, hooray!

Today, I completed my first sewing workshop in the new space.  It was the Brooklyn Pattern Co. Henry Dress Sew-along and I just wanted to post the photos of our day. We had such a good laugh on a very wet Sydney Sunday.

I am very proud of my students, some have almost no sewing experience so to achieve such awesome results is just incredible. Whoop Whoop… well done girls x

 

 

Seashore Shelly pants & the mini Henry (try saying that after a wine!)

blog tour

A few weeks ago, Maaike of Maai Design asked me to join a blog tour to showcase her latest fabric collection, how could I refuse?  I love the fabric, it has a cool European feel, probably because Maaike is a cool Belgian and all the fabric is European!  Belgium seems to be producing some good stuff of late, Matthias Schoenaerts being a firm favourite (swoon)!  I digress…

The biggest hurdle for me was deciding which fabric to choose.  My shortlist included some polar bears, beetles and boats.

There is clearly a blue theme going on here.  In the end I chose Seashore Shelly turquoise. I love the vintage look of this fabric and chose a co-ordinating plain rusty red fabric to work with my piece.

I had a couple of projects in mind when I chose this fabric. Both my little nieces, Jessie & Robyn were April babies so it’s birthday time again and I love the idea that they will have matching fabric in their outfits.

For Robyn, turning four, I decided to make a pair of Moon Pants from Made by Rae.  I make a lot of dresses for Robyn, but some light trousers for an English Spring seemed like a good idea.  I also love this pattern as it is an easy one to make and they are comfy to wear.

For Jessie, turning one, I decided to make a Henry Dress by Brooklyn Pattern Co. Surprisingly, she doesn’t own one yet. Hard to believe as I think I have made about 20 of them!  I am running a Henry Dress sew-along workshop on the 20th March  and I needed a sample and so ‘two birds, one stone’…

The make – MOON PANTS

I am not actually sure you can call them Moon Pants.  The ‘moon’ element of the pants is basically the crescent moon-shaped pockets.  I have made these before and I loved the look of them.  Here they are made from a soft charcoal chambray (leftovers from my Lobster dress) and some small fabric pieces I found in the charity store.

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What I am basically saying is that I redesigned the pockets.  I wanted to mirror the shell shape of the fabric design in pocket form.

I made up a couple of samples of the shell shaped pocket. I tried to produce it in one piece (as above) but it wasn’t all that successful. It looks like a cloud and when I turned it out, it wasn’t very crisp. I then turned to a quilting book on my book shelf, A Passion for Quilting by Nicki Trench.  I am not a quilter, nor am I ever likely to be.  I love the look of quilting but I don’t have the patience for it.

Once I had blown the dust of this book, I found exactly what I needed in the Dresden Plate place mat.  It gave me the construction tip I had been looking for. So, instead of making it in one piece, it became a four piece pocket, plus the lining which I interfaced to give it some structure.

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The element I hadn’t considered was the pattern matching.  As this pattern is basically 2 pieces (the front and back are one piece) there wasn’t a great deal of pattern matching to consider.  The front and back seam melt together quite well.

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Thanks to Roxy, my very capable model who wanted ‘baby’ to join in!
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Here you can see the pattern matching at the front, all in line but not complete shells.

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Again, pattern is in line but not perfecto!

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The Make – HENRY DRESS

When I choose fabric it’s an aesthetic and so I don’t often consider how it will work in construction.  So with the Henry Dress, there was some serious pattern matching to be done.  I am not ‘big’ on pattern matching, I usually just fudge my way through it.  The moon pants worked out OK, but the Henry Dress was another issue with 2 seams to match on the front and 2 on the back.

If I were to make them again I think I would have been more vigilant and perhaps do some proper reading up on pattern matching techniques for small scale patterns. But, a bit of trial and error and I think it’s OK (don’t look too closely!)  I love how the pockets cover most of it though LOL!

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This is the smallest Henry Dress I have made so far.  It’s a size 18 months, it’s ridiculously cute.  I am really pleased with this one.  The contrasting rusty red pockets really work a treat here.

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The hemline is hand stitched, I think it looks better with this pattern.
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I used the rusty red fabric to face the neckline, I like the flash of colour here.
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The sleeves are hand stitched, I think it’s a nicer finish on this sleeve.

If you are interested in any of the fabric, and there is an abundance of yummy fabric on her site, Maai Design is offering a 10% discount to all my readers, just use the discount code: maaidesign10% (valid until March 26th 2016). There are some other lovelies joining the Maai Design blog tour, check out all of these fantastic makers.

March 8th – Suz from Sewpony
March 9th – Caroline from Usefulbox *
March 10th – Kate from Sewing With Kate
March 11th – Allison from The Tall Mama
March 12th – Suzanne from Dressed in Pretty Little Things
March 13th – Toni from Make It Perfect
March 14th – Natalie from Sew Outnumbered
March 15th – Jenya from While she was sleeping
March 16th – Nicola from Create.nic
March 17th – Shelley from Bartacks and Singletrack
March 18th – Maaike from MaaiDesign

 

* In the spirit of ‘blogging friendship’ I actually met Caroline from Usefulbox for a coffee yesterday. It’s always great to put a face to a name and we enjoyed a few hours of sewing chit chat. As usual I was over excitable and very animated (I like meeting sewing peeps!) Poor Caroline!

 

 

Books, bobbins and a blue dress.

“What was your favourite childhood book?”

This was the question posed to me by Rebecca of Dobbin’s Bobbins when she asked me to join her World Book Day blog tour. Choosing my favourite book was easy! She then asked me to make something inspired by my book, eek!

The book I have chosen is a little known story called “Lost at the Fair.” It’s a ladybird book by AJ Macgregor and W Perring.  The story is told in verse, written in 1948 and so it’s a little twee, but really rather lovely.

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My original book is long gone but Mum bought me this replacement when I had my kids!

The story is about Danny and Daisy Dormouse and their friend, Little Fieldie Mouse and a little adventure they have when they visit the fair. When taking a ride on a (miniature) elephant Danny makes a grab for some acorns and gets stuck in a tree, only to be returned back to the fairground by a (giant) blackbird.

There were a few elements that appealed to me as a child, the first was the ‘Woodland Fairy Rock’, what was this magical treat?

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Also, why had Little Fieldie Mouse been left behind and why was he weeping on a gravestone?  Who had abandoned him?

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Why was the policeman less than helpful?  Where was Mr Dormouse? Why was the elephant so small compared to the mice?  Why was the blackbird the same size as the elephant? So many questions… some of which have since been cleared up (it was a milestone not a gravestone). Some questions, however, will go forever unanswered.

MY MAKE

I wanted to incorporate a number of elements into my piece, I wanted a mouse reference, a touch of ‘Woodland Fairy Rock’ and a sprinkling of the 1970’s (the era in which I was endless read this book).  I decided to make a children’s dress, a little blue number just like the one Daisy Dormouse is wearing.

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The dress has a square neckline, so I turned to the old faithful Henry Dress by Brooklyn Pattern Co. and I wanted the fullness of a gathered or pleated skirt with some in-seam pockets, so I looked at the Geranium dress by Made by Rae for the skirt component.  A pattern mash-up in all it’s glory.

As I am a big fan of pre-loved fabrics, I really wanted to use something vintage and preferably something that I already owned.  It was then I remembered this cute homemade 1970’s apron, a present from my sister.  She sent it to me because of the lovely fabric.  It was in a sorry state, very faded and quite a few stains, but definitely workable. If you look very closely you can see little mice running through the pattern.

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The apron looks quite large here, but it’s tiny and so I decided to use the bottom portion of the apron for the bodice and use some contrasting plain fabric for the skirt.  I had to remove the pocket on the apron and hope that the fading wouldn’t be too obvious. I also found a gorgeous teal coloured duck cloth at Spotlight and that worked really well with the colours in the apron.

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Thank you Eva, for being an awesome model, there was some channelling of 1940’s starlet throughout this shoot.  She is an amazing and quirky kid hence the fun photos!
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The hint of Woodland Fairy Rock came in the form of the bias binding on the hem, you can catch the odd glimpse of it now and then.  I used a cot sheet to line the bodice and a navy pillowcase to line the skirt.  I finished the armholes with bias binding, which is the teal duck cloth fabric.

A LITTLE EXTRA

I love a bit of collage, lets just say it’s not my forte (they are a little basic as any proper collage artist will tell you!) but I enjoy the process enormously. I decided to make a set of 3 canvas’s using some imagery from the book and some hand stitching.

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‘Rise and Shine’

I love this image of Danny waking up in his yellow onesie.  I found the crochet blanket image in an old craft book, I do think though, it looks like the sun is radiating from his bum.

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‘Get me off these bobbins’

Poor Little Fieldie Mouse, this image of him crying really had an impact on me as a child.  I wanted some giant teardrops and to get him off that milestone and onto something far more appealing!

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‘I want it all and I want it now’

I have played with scale quite a lot in these collages, mainly because the scale is so absurd in the book.  If ever I wanted some Woodland Fairy Rock I would have to say that this is the size I would want it, GIANT!  (Please tell me you noticed Daisy is wearing my dress!)

I loved every moment of this project.  I really enjoyed delving back into my favourite book and getting to grips with the story and illustrations. I am really pleased with the dress, I like the 70’s feel of it.  It is definitely the kind of frock I would have loved as a child. I only wish it fitted me now. I am also pleased with the collages, it’s a relatively new medium for me and I loved putting those pieces together.  If only I could find a recipe for Woodland Fairy Rock I think this project would be perfect!

Check out all the other amazing makes on this blog tour, you are in for a real treat. There is also a MASSIVE four prize giveaway, some brilliant patterns, children’s craft books and sewing books to be had (there is also a Henry Dress pattern in the mix!) Check out the link for all the information about the tour and giveaway.

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World Book Day

On Thursday 3rd March it is World Book Day and to mark the occasion, Rebecca of Dobbin’s Bobbins is hosting a literary themed blog tour with some creative sewing bods from around the world.  I am lucky enough to be included in said ‘creative sewing bod’ category.   She has also created an amazing give-away, so pop over and enter now, it’s pretty special!

Watch out for my post on Wednesday, it’s action packed and also a little bit mousey.

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Join the Henry Dress sew-along!

As you know I am a huge fan of the Henry Dress by Brooklyn Pattern Co. It seemed only right that I teach this little number in the Northern Beaches.  If you are local and are keen, just drop me a line!

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From Brooklyn to Balgowlah.

Learn to sew a New York boho children’s dress

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Join the Henry Dress sew-along!

We will teach you to sew this beautiful dress for the little girl in your life, while mastering the skills to make your own clothes too!  Within this small group, we’ll have you making a boho classic in no time.

Course price is $150, bring your own fabric and download the digital pattern here.

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For more information or to book your spot contact Kate via email: sewingwithkate@gmail.com or fill in the contact form on this website.

For Henry Dress inspiration check out these awesome makes; Brooklyn Pattern Co., Brooklyn Pattern Co.Edith & Eloise, Made by SaraDobbins Bobbins, Sanae IshidaSewing with KateSewing with Kate.

See you there x

(all photographs courtesy of Brooklyn Pattern Co.)

 

Raglan, the King of Sleeves!

I love a raglan, I am drawn to them. I first made a raglan in stretch for the little one, a Brindille and Twig pattern. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make. It convinced me that I never needed to buy a sweatshirt for the my toddler again.

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Trying to find a larger sized pattern for the big boys seemed to allude me, so I decided to draft a version based on there measurements (luckily they are about the same size).  Whoop Whoop, it worked a treat thanks to some help from Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich.

I backed this up by drafting my very first pattern, of course a raglan sweatshirt.  It’s one of my favourite pieces, mainly because I drafted it and also the awesome bling on the shoulders.  I am sure you have seen this many times before.

I am getting to the point I promise.

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I don’t really know what it is that makes me love a raglan so much.  Maybe it’s the simple construction or maybe the flattering fall of the sleeve.  Whatever it is, I love them and it inspired me to find the perfect raglan sleeve dress.

The first one I made was a very simple self-drafted number based on my sweatshirt. I didn’t want a stretch version though, so I just added a little extra width, basically enough to fall easily over my hips.  A boxy shape, my favourite shape. I then added more ease on the three quarter length sleeves.  It is possibly the most impractical item I own, it’s in white!  WHY?? What was I thinking!  The kids are not allowed to come near me with food!  This ultimately means I don’t wear it much, shame really because it’s rather nice.

The main fabric was a charity store find, it’s a cotton mix with quite a nice drape.  The sleeve fabric is a cotton lace I found at Lincraft many moons ago.  There is nothing fancy about this make.  Just some homemade bias binding around the neck, hemmed sleeves, and a chunky hem at the bottom.

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A more practical colour option was in order and I wanted to try a ‘proper’ pattern! So I tried the raglan sleeve dress in the Japanese pattern book, Stylish Party Dresses.

I used some black crepe that I found at the charity shop.  I have been holding onto it for ages looking for the right project but I think this was the one! I wanted to make it a little special so I used the last bit of my quilted bronze fabric.  This is the reverse side of the fabric I made my Frocktails dress  in.  It’s such a wonderful colour, I just couldn’t help myself.  I seem to have a thing for bronze shoulders!

I didn’t have enough to make a full sleeve, which is why I opted for the shoulder panel. It’s a minor tweak and easy to redraw, I wrote about it here. It’s amazing how much you improve as you sew, I just re-read that post and wondered who wrote it, lol!

The neckline was also quite high on the pattern so I dropped it by a few centimetres. The pattern calls for a button closure but as I had dropped the neckline I could get it over my head so I ignored this step.

I quite like it, although I think it is perhaps a little short! I will see how I go and then maybe drop the hemline by about 5cm. I rather like it and I am glad I used the last scraps of the bronze as I love it so much!

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I am currently working on the ultimate raglan, the Rushcutter dress by In the Folds. It has some really interesting elements in it, I am excited about this one.

Watch this space…

I love a pocket!

I love a pocket, especially a BIG pocket.  A pocket that can carry my phone, my purse and a collection of Superhero Lego Minifigures.

I have spotted a couple of corking ‘pocket’ dress patterns of late and I just made a lovely dress with giant pockets,  so I thought an ‘ode to the pocket’ was order of the day. As we are on the subject, I thought I would interview my friend and fellow pocket lover, Emily Hundt from In the Folds.  Her Rushcutter really is a dress with some major pocket work.

What inspired you to incorporate BIG pockets into your Rushcutter?

I incorporated big pockets into the Rushcutter, because I just love pockets. I love the look of them, but more so I love how handy they are. I love them for stashing bits and pieces when I am too lazy to carry a handbag (which is often), but most of all, I just love having pockets to put my hands in. Especially when I’m nervous! What I like about the style of the pockets on the Rushcutter, is that you can easily leave out the pockets if pockets aren’t your bag (don’t worry. I’ll try not to judge you) or you can swap the pockets on View A for the pockets on View B (hidden in-seam pockets), so there is lots of room to play, so that you get your ideal pocket preference. Pocket placement is always an element of my design process, as I want them to be really functional (you will never see a fake pocket on one of my patterns!)

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Emily in her Rushcutter with View A pockets
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Rushcutter View B inseam pockets (credit: Corey from Domestic 360)
What are your favourite type of pockets to make?
That’s a good question. And one I’m not sure how to answer! As I like sewing all kinds of pockets (am I starting to sound like a crazy pocket lady?). I guess one of my favourites is sewing patch pockets on shirts, when I am working with a print. It isn’t too hard to match the print, but I always feel very proud when I get it just right. And when it’s done, it’s right there on your chest (or in this case, my partner’s) for everyone to admire! 
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Some cracking pattern matching on patch pockets – nice work Emily!

Do you have a recent ‘me made’ piece with rad pockets?

To be honest, there has been very little selfish sewing this year (unfortunately), apart from Rushcutter samples. Although, I am currently working on a pattern for a pair of trousers I am planning to release sometime in the new year. And they have pockets of pretty epic proportions. I haven’t yet sampled them in anything apart from calico, so I’m not sure if they qualify as a make yet though?! 

Is there another indie pattern that you love (on your to do list?) that has awesome pockets?

As I said, I don’t really have time for much selfish sewing (although it is on the new years resolutions list for 2016) and when I do have a chance to sew I tend to draft my own patterns. But I do keep track of all the indie releases, and one that comes to mind is the Louisa dress by Compagnie MIt has two different pocket options (kangaroo or asymmetrical) which is what caught my eye. 

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The girls version of the Louisa dress (made by Sewing with Kate) – the adults version is now online!

And finally, what’s in your pocket right now?

In my pocket right now I have my phone (so that I can listen to podcasts and have the freedom to run around my studio like a headless chook, as it’s somehow December) and my house key. Oh, and a crumpled up receipt. 

Excitingly, Emily and I will be running some Rushcutter dress sew-alongs in the new year.  If you are interested and would like more information and just drop me a line through my contact page.

To continue with my pocket theme I thought I would share a recent make. I spotted this pattern on the Sew Unravelled blog, twice!  I am a big fan of Jillian (I think I have mentioned this a few times).  I really liked the two dresses, sunshine on a rainy day and the pineapple dress of happiness.  Don’t you just love the names!

The pattern is from the Japanese pattern book, Stylish Dress Book: Clothing for Everyday Wear by Yoshiko Tsukiori. As luck would have it, I stumbled across it in my library, the sewing gods were smiling down, I just HAD to make it.

You don’t really get the sense of BIG pocket-ness from the pattern.  It was only when I saw Jillian’s versions that I was convinced to give them a go.  It was a fairly straight forward make.  I graded a small top to a medium bottom as the size ran quite big.  I think in hindsight I really could have made a straight small.  I also opened up the armholes on the front to allow for my hunchback!  I did make a rather catastrophic error when drafting the pattern which meant I had to redraw and recut the front bottom panel which is the reason why there is no pattern matching (that’s my excuse anyway!)

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Could those pockets be any bigger?
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80’s vibe going on here!

It is much more flattering that I expected.  I thought the oversized pocket would make me look rather large in the hip area, but I don’t think so.  The fabric is a stiff cotton with no drape so it sits quite well and hold the shape. I should also say that the fabric is totally AWESOME.  A charity shop find.  I think it is someones home screen printed experiment.  Clearly they were not in love with it. Your loss is my massive gain!  Not bad for $2.  Yes, that’s a total of $2 to make this dress!  You have got to be happy with that.

Big shout out for pocket love!

 

 

 

Christmas present sewing = RSI

DONE!!  Yes, I am done.  Finally finished all my Christmas sewing.  It was an epic event and certainly a challenge. Grab a cuppa, I will try to be brief!

FOR MUM

I made this Marilla Walker top for Mum. The pattern is from her latest Roberts Collection.  I chose a beautiful ottoman fabric in a watermelon print from Spotlight. It has a lovely drape and it worked really well with this pattern.

I wasn’t entirely faithful to Marilla’s pattern, I didn’t include the interesting back detail.  You can really only see the back detail with a plain or lightly patterned fabric so I skipped this part. I love the v-neck and the kimono sleeves and I will definitely be making this one for me too.  The big question is, will she like it?  (Note: My Mum is the kind of person who takes navy slacks back to M&S about 12 times before she is happy with them).

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Cost: Fabric $16 (sale item) + Free pattern (I pattern tested for Marilla and I was kindly rewarded with a printed copy!)

Total = $16

FOR DAD

I made him an apron.  A bit of a cop out?  Maybe? yes!  I was going to give him the gilet but I loved it so much I give it him for his 70th birthday instead. After that epic sew, I am sure he will forgive me for this!

I used some left over ticking from a previous make and a heavy denim from Lincraft.  He enjoys a spot of baking so I know this will be useful.

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Generously modelled by idiot husband!

Cost: Denim fabric $8 (sale item) + leftover ticking $1 + pattern from a Great British Sewing Bee book (gifted to me!)

Total = $9

FOR MY SISTER

I bought an amazing kimono back in July, while visiting Byron Bay.

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It is a second hand piece, not vintage I might add, which made me feel a little better about pulling it apart.  I removed a front panel on each side and a fair amount from the length as I wanted this to be a jacket as opposed to a dressing gown.

The whole kimono is hand stitched, it’s a beautiful piece of work. I couldn’t bring myself to put it on the machine so I hand stitched the alterations.  It was a fairly straightforward refashion once I got my head around all the different layers.

This one was hard to hand over.

I love this – such a beautiful piece!

Cost: kimono $30, used a good chunk of it so say, $20, no pattern or extra’s required.

Total = $20

FOR MY BROTHER

Yep, another apron! I used the heavy denim from Lincraft and some crazy moustache fabric for the binding and pocket, found at the local charity shop.

I was a little unsure if he would like the moustache fabric but my 10 year old assured me, “Uncle Rich likes funny things!”  So, there you have it!

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Cost: Denim fabric $8 (sale item) + moustache fabric $4 (charity shop find) + pattern, free as before

Total = $12

FOR MY AUNTY

This was suggested by Jillian from Sew Unravelled who made the ladies in her family the most beautiful Furoshiki bags one Christmas.  Thank you Jillian!

I used the remaining pieces of my sisters kimono as it’s such beautiful fabric. I will write a blog post about both of these projects soon.

Let’s hope she likes it!  If she’s not keen, she can always use it as a peg bag!

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Cost: $10 (the remaining portion of the Kimono) + free pattern, using an online tutorial

Total = $10

FOR MY NIECE (4 years old)

I think she got the lions share this Christmas, they are blackmail presents as I want her to like me.  I made her two Henry Dresses, both appeared on the Henry Dress blog tour.  She also scored my Henry skirt hack which I love (I wrote a tutorial about how to do this one!)

p.s don’t forget I am offering a Henry Dress pattern to one of my lucky reader. See my Henry skirt tutorial for details.

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Lobster love
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Sunshine & Lollypops
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Henry Skirt hack

Cost: the lobster dress fabric $4 + Sunshine & lollypops dress fabric $20 + Henry Skirt fabric $1. (All patterns were free as I pattern tested this, the skirt is a hack from the Henry dress pattern.)

Total = $25

FOR MY NIECE (9 months old)

One of the favourite makes this year was the Compagnie M, Charles Dungarees I made from a salmon pink linen shirt.  It appeared on the Makery website as part of the Refashioners 2015 which pleased me no end! Completely impractical for an English winter, hopefully they are too big and will be just right by June!

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Cost: Pink linen shirt $15 + Nani Iro offcuts $3 + buttons $1 (charity shop find) + pattern $10

Total = $29

FOR MY Niece (7 Years OLD)

I know, I know, another Henry Dress but I just love this pattern and it was a request so, who am I to say no?  It’s a great make, I wrote a blog post about this one and I am really happy with its retro feel.

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Cost: Fabric $4 (charity shop find) + free pattern

Total = $4

FOR MY Niece (5 YEARS OLD)

A little crafty project.  I was asked for a cloud cushion, so here is my interpretation!  A happy little piece with some blanket stitching made from a very cuddly grey jersey.

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Cost: Grey jersey $1 (charity shop find) + extra scrap pieces + stuffing $4 + self drafted pattern

Total = $5

I promised in my earlier post that I would do a breakdown of the time I spent. I did start jotting down the time but then I gave up, anyone knows (non-sewers and sewers) that this is hours and hours of work.  I am no saint, there have been moments when I have wanted to just abandon it all and make something for myself! But really, I have not begrudged this time although I do think I have taken selfless sewing to a whole new level!

Financially, this has been an interesting journey. Christmas is such a crippler for us, especially as our kids summer holiday happens over this period. I have incurred about $130 and made 11 presents for my 9 family members, I am pretty proud of that!

Would I do it again? I am not sure, I suppose I will have to see the response from the family.  But I think maybe not to this extent, it has been an enormous undertaking and I really am not joking about the RSI.

Someone pass me a sherry…

The Henry Dress + a little hack = The Henry Skirt

Back in July I was invited to join the Henry Dress blog tour by the lovely Erin of Brooklyn Pattern Company. It was my first ever tour so I was super excited and made these cute little frocks.

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Not long after I made my first ‘Henry Skirt’ hack.  I wanted to make a gift, I had a few pieces left over, but not enough for a dress, so the idea of the skirt was hatched. My dresses were a hit, but I wasn’t sure about the skirt.

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My first Henry Skirt hack

Do pattern designers mind when you hack up a pattern that they have spent months working on? Is this politically correct?

I have worked with many creatives over the years in advertising and design so I know that messing with creative can be a tricky business.  But I bit the bullet and sent it to Erin, she hi5’d me and posted it on her Facebook page.  She loved it, so much it seemed, that she asked me to write a little ‘how to’ tutorial.

How could I refuse, you know I love all things Henry!

It’s very easy to do, especially if you love the aesthetic of the dress but don’t have quite enough fabric or if you are a newbie and are a little nervous about neck facing and setting in sleeves. So, let’s get started…

PREP THE PATTERN:

Prepare the Henry Dress pattern pdf as per instructions.  We will be using pieces 1 – 6 only.  I am cutting a size 4, but this hack works with all sizes.

The best way to draw up the skirt hack, I find, is to grab a coloured marker (I used red) and mark up the skirt onto your dress pattern. Before I do this, I want you to know that I experiment as I have no conventional training.  Newbies will thank me as I speak their language, experienced sewers will probably raise the odd eyebrow.

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Start with the SIDE FRONT (2) measure 1″ up from the centre of the pocket placement dot (size 4 dot in my case). Square across. This gives you the skirt waistline.
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Mark out the remaining part of the piece, (the coloured pen really helps). Now, trace off the SIDE FRONT SKIRT pattern piece.
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Flip your SIDE FRONT SKIRT pattern tracing onto the FRONT (1), match the single notch and mark off the waistline.
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Mark out the remaining part of the piece and trace off.
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Place the traced off SIDE FRONT SKIRT pattern piece onto the SIDE BACK (4), matching the single notch (left side) and marking off the waistline.
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Mark out the remaining part of the piece and trace off.
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Flip your SIDE BACK SKIRT pattern tracing onto the BACK (3), match the double notches and mark off the waistline.
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Mark out the remaining part of the piece and trace off.

Trace off the POCKET (6) and POCKET FACING (5), no alterations are needed here.

Finally, you’ll need to draw a WAISTBAND pattern piece, we will be inserting a 1 inch elastic into the casing, but of course you can use any size elastic, just change the formula to fit! Measure the waistline (drawn in red) on pieces 1, 2, 3 & 4, the measurements are marked in green (based on size 4).

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Photo top left – FRONT = 2½ inches x 2 (note: it’s on the fold!) = 5 inches, then remove seam allowance (½ an inch off the 2 edges) = 4 inches

Photo top right – BACK = 2½ inches x 2 (note: it’s on the fold!) = 5 inches, then remove seam allowance (½ an inch off the 2 edges) = 4 inches

Photo bottom left – SIDE FRONT = 5½ inches x 2 (note: left & right sides!) = 11 inches, then remove seam allowance (½ an inch off the 4 edges) = 9 inches

Photo bottom right – SIDE BACK =  5½ inches x 2 (note: left & right sides!) = 11 inches, then remove seam allowance (½ an inch off the 4 edges) = 9 inches

Add them all together – 4+4+9+9 = 26 inches, now add back in a ½ inch seam allowance on each edge (there are 2 edges) = 27 inches

The waistband depth is 3 inches (1 inch for each side of the casing and an extra ½ inch on each edge (there are 2 edges) for seam allowance)

The pattern piece should be 27 inches x 3 inches.  Draw this out to create a pattern piece.

FABRIC

This pattern works really well with pretty much any cotton fabric. I have made the skirt in both heavy and light fabrics and they both work, but I do think a bit of weight helps the drape. So for the main body of the skirt, I am using an old faithful!  This is a medium weight cotton drill in sea green, found in the charity shop for a dollar a metre.  This skirt will be my fourth and final project from this fabric, it has worked as a pair of adventure pants,  a gilet and a pair of parsley pants!

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I am more excited about the pocket fabric though. This is a bag I have had for a while, a little retro piece gifted to me from my sister.  While it’s cute, it’s very small and not user friendly but as pockets it will work a treat!

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It’s made of sturdy stuff, it’s a heavy cotton drill, in the most beautiful shades of green and blue. I have already patched my jeans in it.

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I digress….

CONSTRUCTION:

Get your Henry Dress instructions at the ready! Lay out your pattern pieces as per page 2, pin & cut.

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BACK (page 5) – with right sides together pin one SIDE BACK SKIRT piece to the centre BACK, matching the double notches. Stitch & serge. Repeat for the second side. That’s the back piece finished!
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POCKETS (page 6 & 7) – follow the instructions for construction of the pockets and attachment to the SIDE FRONT SKIRT. FRONT (page 7) – with right sides together pin one SIDE FRONT SKIRT piece to FRONT centre, matching notches. Stitch & serge. Repeat for the second side. That’s the front finished!
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With right sides together, pin the FRONT & BACK together at the side seams. Stitch & serge.
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WAISTBAND – with right sides together pin the short edge with a 1/2 inch seam & sew, press seam open.
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Press a ½ inch seam on the bottom edge of the waistband. With right sides together attach the un-pressed edge to the skirt waistline. I always place the waistband seam in the centre back but you decide what looks best! Stitch in place.
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That’s the waistband attached!
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Fold over the waistband casing and pin into place, leave a gap to thread the elastic at the back. Stitch the waistband in place.
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Turn it to the right side and then stitch on the skirt, just under the waistband, to catch the back of the casing this is known as ‘stitch in the ditch’.  There is a really good YouTube clip on how to do this if you are unfamiliar with the term (see below).
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Thread the elastic and hand or machine stitch the gap closed. (Yes, that is blue thread, I ran out of green at the eleventh hour!) Use a non-roll elastic, something quite sturdy, if you are using a heavy cotton fabric.
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HEM (page 9) – follow the instructions to finish your skirt. I used a green cotton on the main skirt and cream on the pockets. I just like the more subtle colour on the pocket fabric. Hand stitching the hem would also work really well here.
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DONE!
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Thanks Roxy for modelling my skirt!

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THERE’S MORE….

As Erin at Brooklyn Pattern Company is a complete gem, she is offering a Henry Dress pattern to one of my lucky readers.  So, not only could you own my favourite girls dress pattern, you can also make the skirt hack too. Eeek!

All you have to do is tell me “Who’s your favourite Henry?” in the comments section below and Erin will choose a winner on 1st December.

Good luck!