The softest sweatshirt

This Atelier Brunette jersey is one of the loveliest, softest, most beautiful fabrics that I have ever worked with, so when I made my Toaster Sweater from it I carefully hoarded all the remaining fabric! This time it’s Toby that gets the special treatment with a Brindille and Twig Hooded Raglan Sweatshirt. I’ve had the pattern for ages (it is one of their free offerings), but only reccently got to sticking it together and tracing it out.

I made this sweater during the last few weeks before baby Lottie arrived. I had a few quiet days to sew when Toby was in nursery which gave me the blissful opportunity to cut something out in the morning and sew all afternoon. I was actually really surprised how quickly it came together. It would make a great last minute present for a birthday or event.

I’ve gone for the 18-24 month size here. I wanted to make sure that Toby will get lots of wear out of this sweatshirt before he grows out of it, but it actually fits really well already.

I was going to pair this fabric with some plain navy jersey for the hood and pocket linings, but it seemed a waste of the beautifully soft backing on this French terry, so instead I lined them both with the same fabric but placed right-side to wrong-side. It means that it is a double thickness of fabric and all the edges are finished nicely, but Toby still gets to enjoy the softness on the inside. This seems to be one of the first hoods that he doesn’t immediately want back down, so I think he likes it!

I decided to make the cuffs and waistband with the fabric ‘inside out’ for a bit of contrast, and it means that they are also lovely to touch. Its nice to have a bit of texture and definition, rather than just letting them blend in with the main sweater.

The only deviation I made from the instructions was to topstitch around the hood to make sure that the lining stays put. Brindille and Twig have great photos in their instructions, and for this pattern in particular it is really clear which piece is being used because they have chosen really distinctive fabrics for the outer and lining.

This hoodie was such a easy sew. I will definitely have to make a few more as Toby grows. The hood and pocket would be really nice lined in fleece, and I think it would be really good hacked to have a centre front zip too.


My Christmas Dress

I often enjoy having a slightly festive new dress to wear on Christmas morning, but I generally want it to be something that can fit into everyday life too. If it’s going to be comfortable on Christmas, jersey dresses are your friend! Mine also needed to accommodate feeding a small baby, and not be too complicated to construct in small doses while sleep deprived!

With all that in mind I chose the Sew Over It Georgie Dress which is a fairly new release. It has a mock wrap bodice which facilitates baby feeding, and a big circle skirt for me to fit Christmas lunch into! It can also be sewn in Ponte Roma which is lovely and well behaved for sewing when tired!

The Ponte came from an eBay store. I didn’t want to spend too much on the fabric because the big skirt is quite fabric hungry. This Ponte is really soft though so I’m pleased with the quality, though it has gone slightly bobbly after washing a couple of times. The bodice is lined with a lighter viscose jersey also from eBay.

Like lots of my recent makes, choosing a size was a bit tricky. I ended up cutting the size 12 based mostly on my bust measurements because the skirt is going to have plenty of ease over the hips anyway. I was a bit unsure if it might end up a bit too big in the shoulder, but it has worked out fine.

The pattern comes with a full length sleeve but I decided to shorten it to elbow length. Houses are often really hot at Christmas when filled with people and food cooking, so I thought the shorter sleeve would be more comfortable and practical. I just held the sleeve pattern piece up to myself to estimate where it needed to end.

There aren’t any pocket pieces included in this pattern, but I borrowed the pocket piece from the Collette Moneta Dress, and just worked out at what height I wanted the pockets to be in the skirt. A comfortable jersey dress like this definitely needs pockets!

One of the things that appealed to me in this pattern was that the neckline is stabilised with clear elastic to make sure that the wrap doesn’t gape. It means that I am feeling really good about wearing it because the bodice is well fitting and flattering without any worries about it flapping around. The elastic leaves enough stretch in the neckline that it can be pulled aside to breastfeed, and helps with the recovery too.

I always forget how long the hem is on a circle skirt! I did end up finishing this dress off almost at the last minute on the 23rd, just before all the festivities began.

I was so inspired by this pattern that I have purchased a heathered grey Ponte Roma to make a second dress. I think it will be a lovely practical outfit for the rest of the winter and into the spring. Hopefully I will get some sewing time soon to work on it!

New year plans and goals

Planning for a new year requires both a bit of ambition and a reality check! While I would love to commit to sewing everything that inspires me I need to be realistic about the fact that having two small children around is going to change my sewing routines once again! On the other hand, sewing is my relaxation and ‘me’ time, so I certainly don’t want to give it up altogether, or make my plans so unambitious that I don’t feel inspired. Its a difficult balance! Last year I think I sewed and blogged the fewest garments so far, but I am also really proud of what I have achieved. The vast majority of what I made was a real success so I’m hoping to take what I learned last year and let it inform my planning.

I have a few definite plans, and some other thoughts in the works, but want to leave some scope for flexibility too. I know I want to have a variety of projects for me and the children, and of different levels of complexity and ‘newness’. I think a make 9 has been a pretty useful tool over the past couple of years, with my usual proviso that I might make some changes or include a couple of wildcard options!

I have purchased a couple of new patterns recently with the intention of adding them to my 2020 plans. One is the Closet Case Carolyn PJ’s and another is the Sarah Kirsten Raspberry Rucksack. The PJ’s are definitely going to be fed into the planning- I would like to make a short sleeved, short leg version as a test run, and then a full length pair with all the piping and cuff trimmings!

The raspberry rucksack is a bit more of a trial run, and I don’t yet know if it will end up being quite what I am looking for. I like the idea of creating my own bag which suits my needs. Currently I carry a rucksack almost everywhere full of drawstring bags of nappies in two sizes, wipes, spare clothes, and snacks! It would be great if I could lose some of the bags, and have the right pockets permanently in my rucksack.

I also won some Sew Over It Patterns ages ago in the summer, and finally made my pattern choices to include the Georgie dress, and the Maple Cardigan which might be cute for both Toby and Lottie. I’ve actually already made a Georgie as my Christmas morning dress and hopefully I will get some photos soon, but I would like to make another in a lovely heathered grey ponte. I love that I didn’t need to make any adjustments to the pattern to make it work for breastfeeding, or to flatter my bit of a tummy! The Maple cardigan also has some fabric already lined up- I have some mustard coloured French terry to make one for Lottie.

I actually have about 4m of the mustard French Terry- I liked it so much when I received 2m, that I had to go and order 2 more! I’m planning on some footed pants for Lottie to co-ordinate with her cardigan, a Raglan hooded sweatshirt for Toby, and probably also an Oslo cardigan for me! They are all patterns that I have made before, so I’m anticipating these being pretty simple projects to tackle when there isn’t much time available. We will just have to make sure what we’re not wearing them all at the same time!

Toby’s bunny coat was such a success I’m planning a fox coat from the same book of patterns for next winter. I’ve already started looking out for some rusty orange coloured coating or corduroy, though I think this will be a project for later in the year once our routines have settled down a bit. Hopefully Lottie will get to wear the bunny coat next winter too!

I think that is probably enough actual commitments for one year so far so I’m leaving the last slot as a wildcard entry for something that excites me. There are quite a few options- I still want to finish my Taylor Trench, I have some fabric for a pair of Ginger Jeans that got put on hold once I found out I was pregnant, or perhaps something completely different will come along. I do want to keep trying to use fabric from my stash as much as possible though this year. I have been a bit less restrained in the last couple of months and have done quite a bit of fabric shopping, though in my defence most of it has been solid colour cotton lycra from Girl Charlee which I consider a bit like having flour and sugar in the kitchen- its a cupboard staple!

Peacock Pajamas

There is something very satisfying about making the simple things really well. This Tilly and the Buttons Margot Pajamas pattern is the very first item of clothing that I sewed for myself, and also the first pattern that I was confident enough to make for someone else. Pajamas can be about as simple as it gets- you can use well behaved cotton fabrics and the fit is forgiving because they are usually loose with some method of drawing in the waist.

The pattern comes from Tilly’s first book ‘Love at First Stitch‘ which was my first introduction to garment sewing and is a fantastic resource for a novice dressmaker. It certainly gave me the confidence to branch out into other patterns, and has lots of good advice about technique and terminology too. Over the last couple of years it has been my reference of choice for sewing an invisible zip, and has yielded some great garments, including a couple of Delphine and Clemence Skirts, a slightly unsuccessful Mimi blouse, and a Megan Dress.

This time, I’ve made my sister some new PJ’s though. She has had a couple of pairs from me which have gradually worn out so definitely time for a new pair. My skills and equipment have improved massively in the last few years so I wanted this pair to be a higher quality finish, and hopefully they will last much longer too. In the past I have finished the raw seam edges with a simple zigzag, but as these are a gift I’ve gone for a more robust and attractive French seam. I also popped a little Kylie and the Machine label into the back.

This fabric has been in my stash for a while. I bought it without a particular plan which is part of the problem because I only bought a metre and every time I have pulled it out it has been a little bit too short for any pattern that I have tried. It was too short for this pattern too, but I decided that it was time to make it work for something and decided to shorten the main pattern pieces by 15cm so that I could add a wide hem cuff. Even so, it required some very careful cutting because there was still only just enough.

The fabric is a cotton lawn from Minerva Crafts which is still available, and has a nice smooth feel. This is the blue colourway, but there are a few different options with varying degrees of peacock realism! There were plenty of colours in the print to co-ordinate with for the cuff which meant that I could easily ‘audition’ a few solid cotton options from my stash too. The navy blue which I settled on was originally a pillowcase I think so this feels like quite an efficient sew, having not needed to buy any new fabric or findings.

One change that I do make to the pattern is to swap the drawstring for an elastic waist, and just sew on a decorative ribbon at the front. This was feedback from my sister after the first pair that I made her, and is a very easy switch because the pattern already includes a casing, it just needs elastic inserting into it before it is fully closed, and the buttonholes can be omitted.

I would like to make myself some more pajamas sometime, and have had my eye on the Closet Case Carolyn Pajama pattern. It would definitely be a big step up in complexity from these Margot PJ’s, with the piping and the more traditional shirt style top but would be a nice challenge in accuracy and finishing technique.