Honeydew Hoodie

The last few months I have been off to a flying start with my make 9 plans, so I decided to keep that going by sewing up this Honeydew Hoodie for Toby. He is growing so fast at the moment and has already grown out of the Dandelion Dungarees I made him before Christmas so it seemed like a good time to make him something new.

Like the dungarees, this is designed to be a reversible pattern so I needed to choose two co-ordinating fabrics in a similar weight. It seemed like a good time to use up the remnants from my Oslo cardigan, and I chose this grey, black and red camper van print for the contrast. Both have the same grey and black colourway so I thought that they would look cute peaking out from the cuffs and hood.

I decided to go for the 12-18 month size to give some growing room. Toby often seems to have shorter arms than things are designed for, but because the cuffs are designed to be turned back to show the reverse I thought that he could just grow into them when he is ready.


In the midst of the creation of my Taylor Trench, I fancied a quick win, which is why I paused it to work on this for a few days. It was very quick and easy. Just 4 pattern pieces so both quick to cut and simple to sew.

I’m still not certain that my snap setting is perfect. They sometimes feel a bit delicate, so I think I need to reinforce the jersey a little more in future. These star snaps are pretty cool though. They just have plain circles on the reverse to go with the printed fabric side.

Doesn’t he look cute. He is growing so fast, and moving quickly too which did make our photo shoot a bit tricky!

This gets me to between a third and halfway through my make 9, so pretty good for the first 4 months of the year. See my Oslo Cardigan and Virginia Leggings for my other completed projects, and I’m part way through sewing up another at the moment.

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Basics- boring or beautiful?

I know some people who love to sew, but hate to make basics. They are always constructing something complicated or special occasion. Most of my sewing isn’t like that at all. In the last year I think I have made more plain knit t-shirts for myself or Matt than anything else. Why? Because I love being able to wear the things I make everyday, so that means I need to make everyday things.

My first make of this new year is from my make 9 planning. I have made two pairs of Virginia leggings. These are not my first pairs of Virginia leggings, but they are my first which were sewn to be worn everyday. Last time I made a straight size XS, but this time I graded out at the waist to a size S.

I think my fabric choices this time have been much more successful. These are both jerseys from Girl Charlee. This black is another colour of my favorite solid cotton spandex. It has plenty of stretch and is opaque enough that it works beautifully. This pair have the 1″ elastic as instructed, and I also stitched through the elastic to stop it from moving or twisting.

The second pair are sewn in the softest double brushed polyester spandex. It is just so lovely to stroke! I also really like the space dyed texture. It’s a bit less harsh than a solid colour so I think it will be really practical to wear.

I also used 1.5″ elastic in the waistband by reducing the seam allowance. It’s a bit of a tighter fit into the waistband, so I don’t think it is going to need the topstitching to stop it twisting, but I can always add it later.

I’m so glad that I get to wear things that I have made for myself everyday. It just makes getting dressed a joy.

Darling Dungarees

This is my latest baby pattern attempt, the dandelion dungarees by Poppy and Jazz which is an offshoot of Sew Over It.  I thought the promotional photos were all super cute, and I love dressing Toby in dungarees so this seemed like a great pattern choice.

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The pattern is reversible so you get two looks in one which is lovely.  I really like cuffing the ankles so that you can see the contrast fabric from the inside.

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The instructions were really clear, and I think this would be quite a good first knit sewing project because the seams don’t actually need to stretch and get sewn with an ordinary straight stitch.  The only tricky part is ‘bagging out’ the legs, but the instructions do explain pretty well.

 

I did make things rather trickier by hacking these dungarees to have poppers between the legs.  It does make it much easier to change nappies, but I can see why they didn’t include it in the instructions because it did make construction considerably more awkward.  I’m really pleased with them though, and even chose a few different colours of snaps to close them with.

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The straps also have two sets of snaps so that I can change the length as he grows.

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I’m definitely going to have to make some more of these dungarees.  I’ve been eyeing up all the cute printed jerseys in my stash and working out colour combinations.  Even with all the snap setting they were a pretty quick sew.  Plus, they were another of my ‘wildcard’ entry make 9 patterns so I’m really onto a win there!

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!

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.

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

Acacia Undies

Another scrapbusting project this week- underwear! This is the free Acacia underwear pattern from Megan Nielson which you can get if you subscribe to their newsletter. I spent a few days rummaging through all my jersey fabric scraps to see what I could come up with to make a couple of pairs, then set up a production line to start sewing!

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The pattern is particularly planned for people trying to cut these out from scraps by having all the pattern pieces cut on the flat rather than on the fold, which does make it easier to see what you can squeeze in to your funny shaped fabric pieces. I decided to go for the size M because its been a bit tricky working out which size to cut when your waist is clearly not in proportion with your hips. I was hoping that it would give me enough space to be comfortable, but with the option of sewing the elastic a little tighter if they ended up too big.

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I bought a few different types of elastic on eBay because the instructions give instructions for fold-over elastic, flat elastic and decorative picot elastic. I just chose a couple of colours which I liked and thought would co-ordinate with some of the fabrics in my stash.  Deciding how to mix and match has been fun!

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This green pair is the first one that I made up, and I added the elastic on the sewing machine.  It looks ok, but for some of the other pairs I did the first pass with the elastic on the overlocker so that I didn’t end up with raw fabric edges.  Jersey doesn’t fray, but I just thought that it looked neater.

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The pattern does come together very easily. If you have ever used the ‘burrito method’ to enclose the seams on a shirt yoke, the method used to attach the internal and external gusset hiding the seams on the inside is very similar. It is all very clearly explained though, so even if you haven’t come across it before you shouldn’t have any issues.  And if you prefer photographs to the illustrations in the pattern booklet, there is even a full set of instructions on the Megan Nielson Blog.

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I did use all the different elastic finishes, and I think the fold-over elastic is quickest because it is applied in one pass, rather than two.  I do really like the look of the picot edge though.  I definitely got better at applying the elastic as I went on.  It is just a bit fiddly at first stretching the elastic to fit the seam as you sew.

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I’m not going to be modelling these for you, because that seems a little weird, but good news is that they are comfortable, fit pretty well and are effectively totally free underwear if you use scraps that would be too small for any other sewing!

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Best part is, they are also really quick to cut and sew, so when you are lacking a little in inspiration, and just need to sew something, this is a good pattern to pull out of the bag.  Everyone always needs pretty underwear!

Bodycon Agnes Dress

I’ve usually been a bit more of a fit and flare girl, but I have been craving some clothes that I can just throw on, and it is already an outfit ready to go.  My maternity Agnes tops have been pretty successful over the last couple of months (especially the long sleeved layering one in all this cold weather) so I thought I would give the dress version of the pattern a go.

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This is another fabric which had been in my stash for around a year.  It is a Ponte Roma which I bought from The Textile Centre on EBay.  It was a very reasonable £3.99/m, but I think when I bought it I expected the scale of the abstract print to be a little smaller, and wasn’t sure how to use it when it arrived.  It has found a good home in this dress though, because there are so few pattern pieces to break up the print, and I have made zero attempt to pattern match at the side seams.

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It might not be immediately obvious from these pictures, but I went for short sleeves for this version, but I’m wearing another long sleeve underneath for warmth,  Is anyone else finding that the snow is wreaking havoc with photo taking opportunities?  These were taken in the recently opened café 360 in Bovey Tracey, who don’t mind you turning up in all your waterproofs and wellies after a stomp through the snow!

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While this might be a slight style departure for me, I am enjoying it while I’m pregnant.  I’m not sure that it is going to be a look that I stick with afterwards, but for now it’s quite nice to wear something comfortable but form fitting, so that it is obvious that I have a baby bump, and haven’t just put on lots of weight!  I did sew this with a smaller seam allowance than usual for the side seams because there is a bit less stretch in this Ponte than in some of the jerseys I have use before, and I didn’t want it to feel too restrictive, especially as I still have some more growing to do.

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The only other modification that I made was to remove 15cm from the hem to bring it for below the knee to mid thigh.  Its now a great length for wearing with tights or leggings and boots, which might be why I don’t want to take it off!