Mountains of Memories

I’ve tried out another new grow with me pattern from Appletree Sewing. This is the Banff Sweater. Just look at that mountain!

We took these pictures at the zoo just before the start of the lockdown and it was really quiet! (Spot the Tiger!). This is the 12 month to 3 year size. Isn’t it amazing to think that Toby might still be wearing this for such a long time. It already feels like he has grown up so much already! I’m sure that it will see lots of memories made.

The sweater gets its adjustment from long cuffs and waistband. In the pattern there is the option to add Velcro to keep the waist cuff folded up for the smaller end of the size range. I ordered some yellow Velcro especially for the job. When I had sewn it, I was worried that it was a bit too stiff, but it does mean that the length is great right now so I have left it in and it isn’t so obvious when it’s actually being worn. For next time have found especially soft ‘snag free’ Velcro instead. It does seem to be more pliable than the standard sew in Velcro so it shouldn’t be quite so bulky.

I love the pieced together mountain on the front. I used a little piece of faux fur left over from Toby’s bunny coat for the snow so this whole jumper is just so soft! I will definitely be making more of these. I wish it came in an adult size! I like the way that it is actually a part of the jumper, not just appliquéd on.

It’s a little bright with all that yellow! This is pretty much the last scraps of some fleece I was given ages ago by Minerva which is why the sleeves are blue. There just wasn’t quite enough to get out yellow sleeves too, but I like the way that it ties in with the mountain anyway. At some point I am hoping to share the trousers and top I made for their blog because this will be such a cosy pairing.

I’ve been busy sewing up a couple of little capsule wardrobes of co-ordinating clothing for both Toby and Lottie, and I think I might use this sweatshirt pattern again in Toby’s. The mountain is really fun and will help to tie together a few solid colour co-ordinates.

I wish it came in adult sizes too, but I’m wondering about hacking another pattern to get the same effect. I think the Seamwork Paxton sweater would work pretty well as a starting block, or perhaps I could try it on the Stella Hoodie from Tilly’s Stretch book.

It seems a bit out of season to be sharing fleece, but before we know it it will be time to plan winter sewing. This is going to be great for all the muddy and wet splashing that Toby loves to do!

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Grow Fonder

I really love pattern testing for companies where I already know and love their products. You already know that you are likely to love the end result. This time I was testing an update to an already established pattern, the Grow Fonder cowl by Appletree Sewing.

I had already been stashing away fabric for a capsule for Lottie and I’ve suddenly realised that if some of the key pieces are grow with me then I get to enjoy it for so much longer. This mustard zebra and grey stripe are key parts of my plan. I just love how the stripe mirrors the stripes of the zebra.

The cowl is perfectly proportioned. I think I like the idea of cowl jumpers on kids. They never seem to keep hoods on, and the cowl is less bulky under a coat too. This is the 3-12 month size on Lottie at almost 8 months and she definitely has some spare room in the length and the sleeves but it doesn’t look to oversized.

I did find the tabs at the end of the drawstrings pretty fiddly and bulky, but that may have been my own fault for wanting to match the colour perfectly and using a bulky knit fabric instead of the recommended woven. I’m pretty sure I would do it neater next time though and I’m not so worried about how these ones turned out to feel the need to do it again.

I fancied making a bit of an outfit to kick-start her capsule so I made a simple pair of leggings to coordinate. These are the free lightning leggings from Made By Jacks Mum, but in the spirit of getting them to last as long as possible I gave them double height ankle cuffs too which can be unrolled as she grows. The pattern has several fit options so these are the looser relaxed fit with space for a cloth nappy. They are surprisingly not actually too big for her given that they are the 6-12 month size. I think if I make more I might need to increase the rise height a bit to give a bit more room for her bum!

I’ve always been a bit scared of pairing different prints together because I don’t think I’m very good at getting the balance of colours and scales right. This outfit however has turned out even better than I expected.

I feel like I’m fan-girling a bit but I really do love the revamped Grow Fonder pattern and already I have plans for two more in the next 12 months to 3 year size! I believe it is being released imminently so it is definitely one that I would wholeheartedly recommend.

Spontaneous Speedy Shorts

Does anyone else feel a bit caught out by all the lovely weather we have had recently? I realised almost right away that Toby has just two pairs of shorts that fit and even they are on the small side so we needed a couple more pairs pretty urgently!

When I made his harem trousers I realised how much I like them on him so thought they would be a good base for some quick shorts. I could have made them even quicker by omitting the pockets, but I liked the idea of a flash of colour, and I’m hoping these will fit quite a while. Who knows how essential pockets might be by the time he grows out of them!

I used a new reel of multicoloured thread to topstitch the pockets, but unfortunately the colour changes are a bit too spaced out so it didn’t work all that well. Next time I will go back to using my multicoloured overlocker cones instead.

For these I literally guessed a length, cutting them about 3 inches below the crotch. I decided to hem them, rather than add a cuff, so I needed a bit of length to turn up into the hem.

I really like long shorts on little children. A bit less skin to worry about slathering in suncream! These have ended up a little below knee length so he has plenty of growing room. If they start getting too short I can always add a cuff later on.

The green fabric is a little heavier weight than the blue, and possibly a better weight for shorts. Both are cotton lycra so they are light and comfy. I kind of fancy some knit shorts myself!

There’s not really much more to add on these shorts. For a spontaneous sew I think they have turned out really well and Toby will get lots of use from them, possibly even into next summer depending on how much he grows.

Time for a change- Toddler capsule part 3

I’ve never really been much of a refashioner. The refashion challenge on the Sewing Bee has always felt like a bit of a mystery to me. How to visualise how something could become entirely different! This means that I usually start with cuts of new fabric, nice and flat and without seams or other features to work around. So it’s a bit of a change for me to be cutting two things for Toby from some of my maternity and post maternity clothes.

I found a pair of linen/viscose Capri length trousers which are far to big on the waist and a Raime Miette skirt that I made after Toby was born, but hasn’t seen much wear. They were both perfect for turning into summery trousers for Toby. I recently downloaded the High Tide Trousers from Made By Jacks Mum so then it was just a case of planning how to make the most of the fabric available.

It definitely took a bit of figuring out how to get all the pieces out and on grain. I had to let out the hems to manage it! There was a lot more usable fabric available in the skirt than the trousers so I decided that the best route forward was a contrast waistband and pockets.

It really is ages since I last sewed a woven garment, so I was a but unsure as to how well these would fit over his nappy. Toby is also quite a bit shorter than the age 3 size at the moment, but I figured that being as these trousers are designed to be rolled up anyway I wouldn’t worry about shortening them. I can always add an extra button to give an additional length option.

At the moment, the rolled up length is ankle grazing when standing, and about knee length when sitting or on his bike which is actually really lovely for this current beautiful weather. Being covered up but loose fitting and cool saves too many worries about sun cream!

I used a nice new fine needle to sew, and then finished the seams on my overlocker because the fabrics do both fray. I didn’t want this to be a really complex sew, so I decided to skip the back welt pockets and Toby certainly wont miss them! The front patch pockets are more than roomy enough for collecting treasures, and I even remembered to pop a handmade label in to the side seam of one pair.

One of my favourite parts of the pale blue pair is that I was able to reuse the faux drawstring from the capris into a functional one in these trousers. The instructions tell you to use buttonholes for the drawstring, but I already had some 5.5mm grommets which were perfect and speeded up the final few sewing sessions too. Because these have an elasticated waist they are still really easy to pull on and off for changes, but look pretty smart too!

Now I’m just hoping that the good weather holds so he can get lots of use out of these for the summer!

Hoodie and Harems- Toddler capsule part 2

I made Lottie some MBJM harems as part of her mini capsule and loved them so Toby needed some in his capsule too! I’ve always been a bit unsure about the dropped crotch on harem trousers, but I think the fit on these is spot on. Plenty of room for a nappy and freedom of movement, but slim legs and cuffs so that there isn’t too much volume.

This purple sweatshirt has only about 10% stretch so it’s been waiting for ages to find a suitable use. These harems work in lower stretch fabrics so it seemed like a good option.

There is a great big through pocket in these trousers, so I thought it would be fun to tie them in with the striped t-shirts. I also used rainbow thread for the topstitching as another fun little detail.

Usually I want the seams to disappear invisibly from the right side, and that was my intention with these. When they are stretched though you can see just a hint of the rainbow overlocking, which I actually quite like!

I have already made Toby an I CAN hoodie since I tested the pattern with Lottie, but haven’t been able to share it yet. This is his second one, and as soon as I saw this monkey fabric on the Poppy Bear Fabrics Facebook group I was sure he would love it! One of his favourite animals is the monkey, and this fleece backed sweatshirt is so soft. This is the basic version without the colour blocking and the pockets so that I didn’t need to break up the pattern.

This time I didn’t have a suitable colour of bias binding, so I went for the simpler version of the hoodie where the seam allowances are just topstitched down. I also topstitched the hood seams, like I have before on some of his hoodies, because I don’t really like the way that the inner and outer hoods move around without it.

I want to save as much of the monkey fabric as possible, so I thought I would use the purple sweatshirt for the hood lining instead. It means that I think I have enough fabric left from my 1m to make another jumper in the future.

Both of these got a thorough toddler road test and passed with flying colours. They have been through toddler gymnastics, climbing on banks, jumping, leaf kicking and stone throwing. He just looked so comfortable through all of it so there will definitely be more. I’m even thinking they might be cute as shorts!

Making masks

I know I’m not alone in the sewing community in making cloth masks, and I’ve been pretty small scale compared to many. This week though I decided that it would be a good idea to make a couple for myself and Matt, and also for my parents and sister.

I was rummaging through my cotton offcuts and fat quarters for another project, so it was fun to pull out a few scraps which were a bit small for other sewing. I tried to choose a print with each person in mind because I wanted them to be comfortable with my choices but also for them to lift their mood and make them smile. I went with prints on the outside and a solid colour inside to make it really easy to get it on the right way around. These prints are all fairly simple designs, but with uplifting colours!

The pattern I have used is from Patrick Grants Big Community Sew project. I wanted a shaped mask because quite a few members of my family are glasses wearers at least some of the time and my understanding is that the rectangular pleated masks don’t mix so well with glasses. This pattern was a pretty quick easy sew is you are comfortable with curved seams and small seam allowances.

These masks won’t last forever. I didn’t worry about finishing the internal seams so there might be a bit of fraying eventually, especially if they are washed regularly, but I’m still hopeful that this is a temporary situation and I’m pretty sure they will outlast their need. It is possible though that if we end up wearing them a lot then everyone might need a second so that they can be washed after each use.

My sister works in a research lab using lithium and needs to wear a mask to help keep the moisture content of the air low. She says she might continue to wear these masks once she is back at work too. They are much prettier than her standard masks.

I know that people in essential services that are wearing masks everyday have found the elastic behind their ears really uncomfortable. This mask has the elastic going behind the nape of the neck and over the back of the head instead. Hopefully it will be a suitable balance of comfort and practicality. We won’t be wearing masks all day, or needing to replace them regularly so I think that these will do the trick for now.

Shorty shorts

Another pattern test! I’m feeling fairly prolific, though I have only been accepting ones with quick outcomes and sewn in jersey! This one has been for Appletree patterns, and I’ve sewn a couple of their grow with me patterns before so I was really excited about being involved in this test. I actually managed to sew up two different options, one each for Toby and Lottie.

These little shorties are super cute. They remind me of the bike shorts and cut off leggings that I wore when I was about 10! The pattern has two lengths, two skirt options and a relaxed or snugger fit cuffs. I think I might try the double height waistband too soon. A bit of extra height is always useful with cloth nappies!

I would also have loved a skirt with the little shorts sewn in too for doing handstands and cartwheels! I dont think Lottie is up to that right yet, but she is very sweet in her skort. She has the shorter version of the shorts, and a half circle skirt attached. There is a full circle skirt option too.

I made the longer shorts for Toby. We had a really active morning in these and they were perfect. Its a bit different to the shorts I have put him in in the past, but I really like them! I tried these shorts on Lottie too, and with her big cloth nappy they fit surprisingly well, so at the moment they can both fight it out to wear them!

As in many pattern tests, small tweaks are made to the pattern pieces throughout so I ended up sewing two different versions. In the final pattern though they have ended up giving both options so that there is a closser and more relaxed fit for the waistband and cuffs.

I made Lotties skirt with a rainbow rolled hem on the overlocker, which actually meant that this was a no sewing machine required make. Definately something to consider, and does make the process very fast. I always feel proud of myself when I manage to use some of the other settings on the overlocker.

As Lottie grows up I can definitely see myself making her dozens of these to wear under school uniforms and dresses for a bit of modesty and freedom of movement. They are such a quick and practical sew. I know I’ve said it before about her grow with me rompers, but I really love the concept of grow with me clothing. It makes so much sense with children who grow so fast!

Tons of t-shirts- Toddler capsule part 1

I have a few bits of sewing to share today, but all of them are from the same well used pattern and fairly simple I thought it best to share them as a group. This is the start of Toby’s 2-3 capsule wardrobe.

I made a selection of pick n’mix T-shirts, which is part of the same MBJM (Made by Jacks Mum) pattern as Lottie’s bodysuits. These are all the basic round neck version, but with a few tweaks to add variety. These first two are as in the pattern. I took my time matching the stripe, and I just love the space print. I even bought a bit extra of the space fabric to add a dress to this capsule for when Lottie gets bigger!

Next I added a simple pocket to a plain shirt using the offcuts from the stripes.

I recently bought some rainbow overlocking thread so I thought it would be a nice feature running through all of the little capsule. I did actually buy 4 cones, but I’ve just been using it in the loopers, and matching the needle threads to the fabric which seems to be helping to let the seams blend in from the right side.

I’ve been making friends with my twin needle again so there is a mixture of twin needle and zig zag stitching. Definitely enjoying the finish of the twin needle and the ease of stitching when using walking foot so I need to stop being so lazy in switching the feet over!

Then I started to get a bit more creative. I colour blocked this t-shirt so that the white background had a better chance of staying stain free! Toby is great at eating independently, but somehow tomato sauces get everywhere so I thought the teal would have a better chance of survival!

I also curved both the front and back hems, so this shirt is a touch longer than the others. As an engineering student I was required to have a set of French Curves among other things to use when technical drawing. I’m glad that they get to have a new use now in my sewing space. I’m glad I took the time to create a hem facing because I love the little bit of teal peeking out of the bottom.

The final t-shirt has a whole load of applique. I think it might have taken longer to prepare and sew all the shapes than cutting and sewing the rest of the t-shirt. I have some fusible stabiliser which can be printed on, so I used that to help cut the sea creatures out. Then it was just a case of slowly stitching each one on.

All of these tie in with the colour scheme I planned for Toby’s wardrobe. I’m going for more pattern and embellishment on the tops and keeping the bottoms plainer to avoid pattern overload!

I think this should be enough t-shirts for now, though I would like to add some long sleeve t-shirts/ light jumpers in to the mix at some point. I like that though these are ‘short sleeved’ they come right to his elbows at the moment, which gives a little more sun protection. I also recently bought the MBJM explorer raglan, so there may be one or two more once I’ve printed and traced that one out too!

Baby Feathers

One of the things that I really enjoy about pattern testing is trying out different designers and getting a chance to see their instructions and how they interact with their customers. I recently did a little pattern test for a really new company- Wildflower Patterns.

I don’t have loads of time to sew at the moment, and pattern testing is usually done with a fairly tight deadline so I only volunteer to test patterns if I know that I’m going to have time to do it properly. This ‘Fat Baby Slims‘ pattern is a really quick sew, so I actually had time to sew a quick first test fit and a second ‘pretty’ pair with a few tweaks.

One of the tings that I am discovering is that I would definitely class myself as an intermediate dressmaker now, so I felt like I was actually able to give some useful and constructive commentary on the pattern based on my personal preferences and experience. This pattern is aimed at much less experienced sewists so I could see why the construction had been instructed the way that it had, but I tweaked the construction of the waistband so that it was easier to sew on an overlocker. My method also traps the elastic in the seam line instead of in a casing, so there is no chance of it twisting or bunching up. Amy the pattern creator was really gracious in letting me experiment with her pattern during the test, and I’m really pleased with how this pair have turned out. She even switched the method to mine in the final instructions.

I like that the trousers are roomy around the bottom so that there is plenty of space for a big cloth nappy, but still nice and slim at the ankle so that they aren’t always slipping off over Lottie’s feet. She is pretty much perfect for the recommended measurements for the smallest size so she is probably quite a useful reference as to how they should fit on a little baby.

This fabric is cut from some of the offcuts from one of my t-shirts, so perhaps at some point we will have to do some mummy and daughter matching! It always amazes me how little fabric is needed for baby clothes.

While I like these, I think my favourite trouser pattern for Lottie at the moment is still the Made By Jacks Mum Harems. They just seem a bit easier to get on and off having slightly longer elastic measurements, and being UK rather than Australian sizing I just find it a bit easier to get my head around. It is nice to have some variety though so I’m sure I will make other pairs of these too.

Planning a toddler capsule wardrobe

I’ve been thinking about sewing smarter rather than sewing more. Part of that has been to plan and cut in batches. The next phase is to plan stratecigally about what I sew, so I’ve decided to plan Toby clothing as a whole capsule for the next year or so. It’s a bit like the planning I did for Lottie before she was born, and the yellow bananas set, but on a bigger scale.

First, I wanted to think about the fabrics that I have ready to sew for Toby and how they might fit together. I came up with a bit of a colour scheme based on fabrics that I definitely wanted to use, and then looked for a colour palette that included them.

Now that I had a collection of colours, I went back to my fabric and pulled out any others that would fit in, including a few prints and lots of solids. I also looked out for some extras to fill in the gaps in a few fabric shops, because it seemed like a great excuse for a little fabric shopping!

This is what I came up with. The fabrics are mostly knits of a mixture of different weights from t-shirt jersey to sweatshirting. Most of the clothes that I make Toby are stretchy because he wants to be able to move freely, though I think I might also pull in a few cotton or linen type fabrics too. I’m hoping that this capsule will be sufficient for approximately a year, so I’m planning to make things with a bit of growing room and to suit a range of weather too. I’m hoping to be able to include a few quirky and unique touches like some of the animal inspired outfits I made in the past, but keep everything as interchangeable as possible.

Once the fabrics are finalised, it was time to think about patterns and quantities. I’m not sure yet if I will end up making everything or if I will supplement what I make with hand me downs, charity shop finds or even a few ready to wear pieces. The clothes will all get a lot more wear by keeping the number of items low, so they all need to be able to withstand lots of wearing and washing.

I decided that Toby probably needs:

  • 5 short sleeved t-shirts
  • 5 long sleeved t-shirts / lightweight jumpers
  • 2/3 warmer jumpers / hoodies
  • 5 pairs of trousers- 3 warmer, 2 lighter
  • 2/3 pairs of shorts

This should be enough to avoid washing every few days, but few enough that they should all be able to coordinate and also get worn regularly. To make it as simple as possible to get him dressed I’m going to keep the prints to the top half, so they can be layered up but should match with any of the shorts or trousers.

I already have a great selection of patterns to choose from, so I don’t think I’m going to look for any new ones particularly, unless I come across a real gap. Some of the ones that I’m already planning for are a zip hoodie, some joggers, ringer tees, and a yet to be blogged grow with me pattern. I’ve also bought a few other patterns recently so I’m looking forward to incorporating those too.

I’m really excited now about the prospect of creating a structured and cohesive set of clothing. Now I need to start pairing fabric to patterns and get started. A few of the items are already underway or completed so they will be appearing here shortly. I’ve also been planning something similar for Lottie (and got sucked down a fabric rabbit hole) so I’m quite excited about that too!