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.


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!

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.

I can zip!

I recently got the chance to be part of a pattern test for a new to me pattern company-Made By Jacks Mum. I figured that it was a great opportunity to try out their pattern instructions and drafting without much risk on my part. The pattern I got to test was the I CAN Zip Hoodie which is aimed at novice zip sewists and has a pretty amazing size range of premie to 12 years! (I received the pattern for free in exchange for feedback and photos during the testing process.)

The pattern has two options for finishing the zip- a simple version or a bound edged version. Its intended as an introduction to zips, and does have some really good tips, especially recommending wash away tape to secure the zip while you sew. Both versions look very similar when the hoodie is closed, it is only if you are looking at the details inside that you can appreciate the bound edges.

I generally avoid bias binding like the plague, but I thought I would give it a go. I found it tricky, especially at the top corner where it all got quite close to the zip. It certainly isn’t perfect but I would try it again, and I do like the finish.

There is also a colour blocked version with pockets, but I thought that being as I was sewing for Lottie and she has very little use for a pocket that I would stick with the basic version. I think I will make Toby a colour block one at some point though because all the samples I have seen look really great!

Sewing wise, I was really impressed with the instructions. They have really clear photographs, and the sample fabrics have been well chosen to have a distinctive right and wrong side. It meant that I could understand the construction with a fairly speedy look through the instructions.

The pattern seems to be a big hit with children too. While I was part of the testing group, all the older children seemed to love it and barely wanted to take it off. I’ve thought about hacking the free Brindille and Twig Raglan Hooded Sweatshirt, but I think now I would just use this pattern instead.

Since the test, the pattern pieces for the hood and cuffs have been altered slightly, but I think it probably would be barely noticeable in this small size. I really like the fit. Lottie is quite long and skinny so it is a bit roomy, but I think that is probably good in a jumper and gives her some room to grow. I would like to make Toby one in fleece for playing outdoors.

I recently ordered some new size labels on Etsy and this hoodie was the first thing to get the label treatment. I’m still not sure quite how to add the labels neatly into a overlocked seam, but stitching this one under the binding was really convenient.

Wendy Ward book review and the Kinder Cardigan

This weeks blog post comes to you a day early as it is part of a collaboration.  I was given the chance to review and make something from Wendy Ward’s new book in coordination with Minerva Crafts.  As part of their book tour, lots of lucky sewing fans were given a chance to test out the patterns in the book with some of their fabrics.  I chose to make the Kinder cardigan in some great quality ponte in a muted ‘Denim Blue’.

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The book has loads of options for modifying the included patterns, and lots of good advice and technique.  I particularly liked how well drafted the patterns are, and how the construction process is really thought through to give a neat and professional finish.

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My full review is on the Minerva Crafts blog here, so check it out, and the reviews and makes by some of the other very talented bloggers.

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These Photos were taken quite a while ago, and I have got quite a bit bigger since then, but this cardigan is still going strong in my maternity wardrobe.  Versatility is always a winner.




Pattern testing, Beausoleil Top!

This post is something I have been so excited to share!  For the first time, I plucked up the courage when Kennis at Itch to Stitch was having a testing call and I have been part of the tester group for the Beausoleil Top and Dress.  Kennis designs prolifically and there always seems to be something new coming out.  She even has a couple of free patterns if you want to give her designs a try.


This top is a slight departure from my usual style, but it is so cute and summery!  This is the first Itch to Stitch pattern that I have used, but I really loved the option for pattern pieces with different cup sizes.  For someone that probably should do a full bust adjustment more often, but can’t usually be bothered, this is fantastic!  I am really going to have to try some of her other patterns for the ease of fitting something when the bust and waist proportions are already right.


I did make a toile for this pattern as part of the testing process, just to check the fit of a new designer and to practice a couple of the new techniques.  My toile was really useful because I discovered that the pattern was about an inch too long all the way around above the waist.  Once I took this extra out, it fitted great, and the bust darts are in just the right place too.  I used a size 0D, graded to a size 2 at the hip, which also perfectly matched my measurements.


The instructions in this pattern were really clear, and I didn’t have any issues.  One of the real highlights though was the lapped zip tutorial.  This was my first lapped zip and I was slightly dreading it, but the tutorial was so clear and easy to understand.  The whole pattern gave such a professional, clean finish inside around the facings and they sit perfectly. No peeking or rippled facings on this pattern!


The fabric is just a cotton lawn from my stash (the same as in this dress) and is now almost all gone.  Just scraps left for pockets or facings.  It was lovely to try a couple of new techniques and actually have them come together well.  Because this top has a long zip (I could definitely have got away with an 18″ zip rather than 22″) I didn’t want my hem interfering with the end of the zip so I hand catch stitched the bottom hem and I am very proud of the result.  The stitching seems to be invisible from the outside which I guess is exactly the point!


Aside from the pattern itself, I also really enjoyed the feeling of being part of the testing group.  Kennis set up a Facebook group for everyone to share successes and ask questions.  It definitely helped me to have a second opinion in the fit and my adjustments, and it was also lovely to see everyone’s tops and dresses coming along.  I will definitely be volunteering to test patterns again.


The Beausoleil Top and Dress pattern is due to be released today, and for a short time is reduced at Itch to Stich, so if you are interested in a cute new summer top, this is the perfect moment!