Review two, and Autumn/Winter Plans

My sewing has definitely slowed down a bit since having a baby, but I do have some plans for the autumn.  I need some more long sleeved tops, as does Matt so I’ve gone back to my favorite cotton spandex from Girl Charlee in Sage Green and Dusty Masala.

Dusty Marsala Solid Cotton Spandex Knit FabricSage Green Solid Cotton Spandex Knit Fabric

 

 

 

 

 

 

With regards to my make 9 plans its going pretty well and I’ve decided on a final couple of things to add as my wildcards.  I’m going to sew the Poppy and Jazz Dandelion Dungarees for Toby (and if I get time a co-ordinating Honeydew Hoodie), and I could do with another wintery Archer shirt for which I have a perfect cream speckled brushed cotton from Fabworks last year.   So my make 9 now looks like this:

Make 9 (3)

6 made (some several times), 1 in progress, and 2 yet to start.  I feel like that is not too bad.  The Taylor Trench and Archer shirt are pretty involved makes, though I have made the Archer multiple times before.  The dandelion dungarees should be super easy though.  I have some cute Fabworks elephant fabric which might work.

Z2e5If I get time, I could also do with another Oslo cardigan.  The one that I made at the start of the year is in constant rotation, and I’ve been discovering that cardigans are much more convenient to breastfeed in than jumpers, and its getting too cold to be without layers.

 

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Perfect Penny

If you saw my previous ‘in progress’ post, you will already know a bit about my planning and design process for this dress. Now I’m ready to show off the finished outfit, all ready for graduation!

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I found the sewing up pretty easy having made my toile. You do have to be aware of the seam allowances though because there are a variety of different ones used in different areas. I’m glad that I added in a seam in the skirt to allow pockets in both side seams. I used the roomy pocket piece from the Helen’s Closet Winslow Culottes and they meant that I didn’t need to carry a bag.

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I made the executive decision to have the button plackets the wrong way around. The colours and patterns on the facings just seemed to flow more logically across the front of the bodice than when I put them the right way around.  I was also getting a little short of time when it came to putting in the buttons and buttonholes, and I didn’t really want to rush them so I went with snaps instead. These pretty pearly ones look quite like buttons anyway, and are nice and quick to undo to feed!

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Even though I didn’t have loads of time to put this together, I did take some time over the finishing. I french seamed the bodice seams to keep all the layers of fabric neatly enclosed.  I needed help to level the hem properly too because the waistline seems to be rising up slightly at the front.  I think it could be partly because my bust is a bit bigger than in the past and could do with a bit more room. I had to remove about 2″ at the centre back skirt before it hung level all the way around.

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Wearing this with my underskirt did work perfectly, and I will be able to wear the dress without it too next summer.

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I’m hoping this will be a dress which will get lots of wear, both dressed up for a wedding or two, and for everyday. It’s probably getting too cold for many more outings this year though.

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What circle skirt post could be complete without a bit of twirling.  This skirt did feel great to wear.  I would make another I think, though with my sewing time a bit limited it probably wont make it to the top of my sewing queue for a while.

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Speedy underskirt sewing

Hopefully by the time you are reading this, my penny dress will be finished and have been worn, but I thought I would share with you a quick sew that I put together to wear with it.  I decided not to line the skirt of my penny dress, and it is just about opaque enough to wear as it is, but the weather has turned cooler, and for graduation I will be wearing tights so I didn’t want the cotton skirt sticking to them.  My simple solution (which should also help me to stay warm) was to add a little slip or underskirt which will both add to the opacity and reduce the cling.  This skirt came together in less than one evening.  It helped that I had a couple of little tricks in mind to speed up the process.  It is constructed almost entirely on the overlocker so the seams are sewn and finished at the same time.  In fact the only time I needed to use my sewing machine was to sew the elastic waistband into a circle.

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This skirt is a basic 1/4 circle skirt.  I sized it large enough so that the waist would pull up past my hips which meant that I wouldn’t need any form of zip or closure.  I used the classic ‘pencil on a string’ trick to draw it onto my fabric, meaning no pattern to draft or trace out, and with a bit of basic maths a skirt is born!  (If you want to skip the maths, the By Hand London circle skirt calculator is great. Just make sure that you enter you hip measurement rather than your waist if you want to do it without a closure.)

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I also tried out a new finishing trick for hemming.  My Janome 6234XL can do a 2 two thread overlock which is great for adding a lace trim and tidying up the seamline.  It was the first time I had actually used it for a project (the only other time was at an get to ‘know your overlocker’ class at the Exeter Sewing Machine Company which I would highly recommend).  I was slightly surprised that my notes were sufficient to remind me what to do and how to get set up, but it turned out to be a very speedy way to achieve a hem (and we all know how huge a circle skirt hem can be!), which has the added bonus of being very attractive and decorative.

The waistband is just wide waistband elastic sewn into a circle, and then stretched to the same dimensions as the waist while it was sewn on.  I did it straight on the overlocker again which seems far quicker than using the sewing machine.  I think the whole thing probably took around an hour from cutting out to finishing, though it was done in a few small doses around baby feeds and dinner.  Definitely one of my speediest conceived and executed projects!

Penny in Progress

It feels like might just be the last person to try sewing a Sew Over It Penny dress, but it’s the pattern that I have picked out to make my dress to wear to graduation.  I have been planning this dress a while, and it is one of my make 9 plans so it feels good to be underway!  I chose to make it in this beautiful floral cotton lawn from Minerva Crafts.  They have a great selection, and I spent a long while narrowing it down and choosing.

It is slightly translucent, so I spent a long time deciding what to do about it.  I’m still not 100% decided on what to do with the skirt (I’m going to wait and see if it is opaque enough by itself, but I chose to underline the bodice with white cotton lawn.  I could have tried to do a proper lining, but with the construction of the Penny button placket (which is a bit unusual) I wasn’t quite sure how, and underlining doesn’t change any of the construction steps.  I just had to hand sew the lining and the outer fabrics together before beginning the pattern construction steps.  (It’s pretty similar to what I did to my wrap dress here.)

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To make sure that the dress was going to fit properly I did make a toile first from a couple of old bedsheets.  I didn’t bother with cutting and sewing the whole length of the skirt, so I just cut a shortened version.  It did help me to work out the construction process before I start sewing the real thing which was really useful as I did get a bit confused for a while with the collar and facings.  The method in the instructions does work, but did just baffle me for a while!  It also meant that I could make a few fitting tweaks for my actual dress.

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Because I’m still not back to my pre-baby shape and size, I thought it might be most flattering to have the waist seam and the elastic at my smallest point, which is still just below the bust, making my dress empire line.  to do that, I’m removing 2.5cm from the bodice length.  I’ve also decided to add in pockets to the skirt, so I cut the skirt as two pieces and added a seam allowance where it should be placed on the fold.  If you are going to make your own clothes, you might as well have everything that you want!

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That’s about as far as I have got so far.  I’ve finished stitching the underlining to the main fabric, and I’m hoping the construction will go together smoothly, having ironed out the confusion with my toile.  I have just over a week to get it put together so hopefully it will be enough!  I want to do it properly though, and pay attention to the quality of construction.  I don’t make many pretty dresses any more, so the ones I do need to be make to last.

Wonderful Watson

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I had made my own bra before, the Cloth Habit Watson Bra. I think I made this bra about 18 months ago, and have always intended to make another but not yet got around to it.  Sewing lingerie does seem to be another of those slightly intimidating projects, a bit like sewing my first trousers or jeans, bit I have to say that this was a great pattern as a first attempt.

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The Watson bra is a soft cup bra without underwires, so about as basic as it can get.  What made it so great as a first project though was the great step by step sew along.  The instructions in the pattern are good, but I really valued the photographs in the sew along to reassure me that I was doing it right.  Both the pattern instructions and the sew along also tell you exactly what stitch settings to use when sewing different parts of the bra, which I really valued as a first time lingerie maker.

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Its not always easy to find all the pieces required in lingerie patterns- most require meshes and various different elastics and it can feel a bit intimidating.  I decided to take the guesswork out of it by ordering a kit from TailorMadeShoppe on etsy.  They don’t have the same one any more, but they do have lots of kits for soft cup bras like the Watson in all sorts of different fabrics.

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The Watson pattern also includes a bikini style underwear pattern, with similarly great instructions and pictures.  My success with these pants definitely gave me the confidence to make up my big batch of Acacia Undies.

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I do have fabric and findings to make another few soft cup bras, though I think I would need to work out again what size to go with as my body has definitely changed post baby.  My little bra modification to add nursing clips would work while making my own bra though too so maybe I will have to find some time to give it another go.  I did find it very satisfying completing each small step before so it might be a good project to do in my more limited sewing time.

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Bra Modification

This is another quick and practical project. I have made my own lingerie before (such as an unblogged Watson Bra and these Acacia Undies), but I didn’t really have the time or inclination this time around! Instead I bought this bra recently, though to be useful for everyday it needs to be nursing friendly so I decided to make the modifications myself.

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You can buy kits like this one to convert your bra, but I decided to just buy the clips and elastic that I needed separately.  First job is to measure the width of the current strap elastic to buy the right clip size, and unpick the elastic from the top of the cup.

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Once it’s been taken apart, the clips can be put into position and sewn up.

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Next job is to attach elastic from the strap clip to the bottom of the cup.  This stops you from losing your strap back over your shoulder when it is unclipped.

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In all, a pretty useful little modification.  It always feels good to do some sewing that will really get lots of use.  Now I really must get on with that graduation dress!

Practical Packaging

Last week I showed you my reusable wipes and said that I needed to create a bag to put them in for ‘out and about’.  Well that is what I have to show you today- the pretty and practical packaging.

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This project is a great one for using up fabric scraps.  I was able to use some cotton drill and a co-ordinating quilting cotton for the lining of this little purse.  I already had a suitable zip too so everything came from scraps or stash.  When thinking about how to make the bag as useful as possible, I knew that it needed to stand up by itself  to make reaching in one handed easy.  That means that a flat zippered purse is out, and the corners of my bag needed to be ‘boxed out’.

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There are loads of tutorials out there to show you how to put something like this together.  My favorite is this one from Melly Sews which conceals all the seams within the lining, but needs a little bit of hand stitching to slip stich the lining.  A slightly quicker alternative is this one which has the seams for boxing out the corners visible inside the bag, but which is super speedy.  I chose to conceal the seams, and it is still a pretty quick make.

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I’m pretty pleased with the stripe matching too.

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I did change the dimensions of my bag because it only needs to hold a few wipes and the spray bottle, not a whole wash kit.  I used a 20cm zip and cut my outer and lining pieces to 23cm by 17.5cm.  The boxed out corners are 2.5cm or 1inch as in the instructions and this gave me a finished bag with dimensions 14cm long, 10cm wide and 6cm high approximately.

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I’m really happy with my latest quick make.  It feels good to be able to sit at the sewing machine even just briefly and create something.  I do have some dressmaking projects in the pipeline though too, including working on a toile of a dress to wear to my graduation in September.  Considering that I get to sew in 30-60 minute chunks at the moment, I’m going to have to get a move on to get it finished to my satisfaction in plenty of time.

Simple Sewing

This is not a dressmaking project, but something much simpler.  I’ve been finding my sewing time much reduced these days so this is just a quick project, but one that I have been getting a lot of use out of!  We have been using reusable cloth nappies, and it occurred to me that it wouldn’t generate any extra washing to use cloth wipes as well.  The wipes would just be washed along with the nappies.  It is possible to buy cloth wipes (we have some of these which I use for babies face/hands), but I figured that I am competent with a sewing machine so I simply dug out an old towel and set to work.

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These wipes are made from an old microfibre towel which rarely got used. An ordinary cotton towel would also work just fine, but this towel is both very quick drying and not very bulky so it seemed perfect for this project.  I cut 15cm squares, rounded off the corners and then went around the edge with my overlocker to stop them from fraying.  It has been a great project to do in small batches while baby Toby is asleep or content for a few minutes.

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Once the cloths are complete, I keep them in a basket next to our changing mat.  They can be moistened with just plain water, but I have been using a spray bottle and have mixed a few simple and baby friendly ingredients.  Here is my approximate “recipe”:

1 tbsp. Sweet Almond Oil (for moisturising and ‘glide’)

1 tbsp. Castile Soap (for gentle cleansing)

A few drops of Lavender Oil (for scent and its antibacterial properties)

200ml cold water

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In fact, we now keep some of these wipes and a smaller spray bottle in the nappy changing bag so we can also use them when we are out and about too.

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I know for most people reading this, nappy changing and baby wipes aren’t part of your daily routine, but perhaps if you use make-up removing wipes or other similar products you could also consider using something like this.  Research by Water UK suggests that baby and facial wipes account for over 90% of the contents of sewer blockages and ‘fatbergs’ because they don’t break down or biodegrade, and contain plastic.  See the full report here, but I’m willing to try and improve the situation by cutting out the need for these wipes as much as I can.  Let me know if you give it a go too.  All I need now is to make a little bag to contain the wipes in the changing bag and make them as convenient as possible.

Baby Gifts

While I was waiting for baby Toby to arrive, I was making good use of the time to sew up some more tiny outfits from all my jersey scraps.  A couple of friends have also been expecting little ones, so it seemed like a nice idea to make a little outfit for each of the new arrivals.

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Because it is near impossible to guess how big or how fast the babies will grow, I went for the 3-6 month sizes this time, and decided to pair the Brindle and Twig cuff leggings with my hack of the Ringer Tee to have a popper neckline.

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The resulting outfits look very smart, and have been happily received their new owners.

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I even remembered to sew a tag into the leggings to help tell the front from the back!

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Because babies cannot be relied upon to keep clean for long, I thought that a couple of dribble bibs in co-ordinating colours would make a good addition to the outfits.  These are just triangles of bright quilting cotton, backed with some soft sweat-shirting.  I used Prym colour snaps as closures because they come in so many fun colours and designs.

The other bib is just a simple outline, again with snaps to close it.  I did a bit of scrap quilting in pretty coordinating fabrics.

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I love putting together baby clothes.  Its just such a good use of scraps and special fabrics!

Post pregnancy sewing

During the last weeks of my pregnancy I didn’t want to stop sewing, but it didn’t seem very logical to keep sewing for my bump.  Instead, I thought I would start trying to sew for after the birth, though it was tricky to decide what size to make.  I thought that the best solution to that problem was to make something which could adapt as my size changed so I went with the Tilly and the Buttons Miette Skirt, which has a wrap waist and tie so it can be tied tighter or looser as required.

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This sew was made with fabric from Minerva Crafts– a lovely linen like blend of cotton and raime.  To see the full review and more pictures, head over to the Minerva Crafts blog here.

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I’ve also been wearing my handmade espadrilles a lot in this warm weather, especially as my feet seem to have swollen a little during pregnancy.  Read more about them in this post here.

Prym Espadrile Soles