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.


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.

Grow with me two

I’ve been making a couple more grow with me rompers– one for Lottie, and another as a gift for a friend who has recently had a little boy. When you have a baby you seem to end up with so many clothes for the first few months so it’s always nice to have clothes which will last a little longer.

I put a little handmade label in the gifted romper, and included a little card showing how the romper adjusts to different sizes. I hope they enjoy it!

This time I used a bit of a hack that is talked about in the Appletree sewing patterns Facebook group to simplify and speed up the sewing of the side seams and the drawstring channel. I extended that part of the pattern by about 1cm to give it a seam allowance and sewed the channel down before the side seam so that it could all be done in one pass without needing to switch machines part way down.

On the left- drawstring channel sewn as in the pattern instructions.
On the right- hacked to overlock the seam in one go.

I think it is quicker to sew and looks fairly neat, but it is a little bulkier than the way that the pattern is drafted. If you were sewing lots, then it might be a good time saver, but I think I might go back to the original method in future.

I also made a couple more pick n’mix bodysuits, one for Lottie, and one to gift. It was great to use some of the offcuts as fox appliqués on the bodysuits.

The bodysuits each match the lining of the romper. Lottie’s fits her proportions so well at the moment. She is fairly slim, but with a big cloth nappy so it’s quite impressive to find a pattern that works so well straight off. I’m happier with the binding on these than the banana one too, and I think it might be even better next time if I use my walking foot.

I went with lovely bright snaps on the crotch, though I did have a few issues with them falling apart to begin with. I think it might be that these smaller snaps don’t have a long enough shank for the four layers of fabric at the binding.

I can see Lottie wearing this new romper loads now that the weather is warming up. It’s great to be able to just lenghen the legs a little when we are going out on our daily walk to keep her out of the sun.

Baby mini capsule Part 3- all the legs

This is the final part of my mini series on Lottie’s capsule wardrobe. Find her t-shirts and bodysuits in the previous posts. This time I have tried out two new trouser patterns to finish of the capsule.

First up is the free Petite Pegs by Patterns for Pirates. This is a pretty simple legging pattern with a yoga waistband so it came together so easily! If you want a quick win this is definitely it because there are only two pattern pieces.

Like on the kimono bodysuit, I chose yellow thread to hem to tie in with all the other yellow. It’s a lovely subtle detail though, and Lottie wears these with lots of other colours too.

The second pair of trousers are a bit brighter! These are the High Kick Harems from Made By Jacks Mum, which I bought a while ago as a bundle with the Double Trouble Joggers. I actually made the joggers first, and will share them soon, but I totally love these harems over Lottie’s cloth nappies!

Like the petite pegs, there are only a couple of pattern pieces, and I think these might be even quicker to put together with an overlocker because there are cuffs instead of hems. I will definitely be making more of these both for Lottie and Toby. They just fit that baby nappy proportion so well!

I’m really pleased with how this mini capsule turned out. Perhaps the yellow isn’t the best for coordinating with other things in her wardrobe, but it is so bright and sunny! It’s inspired me to come up with a more detailed capsule wardrobe for Toby next year or so which is already well underway and I’m really looking forward to sharing the planning and the execution. It’s probably the biggest sewing project that I have ever embarked on, though it does get broken down into lots of little parts.

In other news, we’ve been so appreciating our garden at the moment (and knowing how fortunate we are to have an outside space to use while we aren’t so able to get out and about).

There have been lots of changes in the garden as we spend more time in it making it more toddler friendly and tidy. Who knew that being confined to home was going to be so good for organising!

Baby mini capsule Part 1- Going Bananas

I’ve had a little bit of a splurge on a few new patterns because a couple of pattern companies have had release sales lately! It means I’ve done another batch cut and sew to create another little capsule wardrobe for Lottie and matching t-shirts for Toby too.

The whole outfit was inspired by these two banana prints that I bought a while ago in a sale at Fabric Godmother. Toby loves bananas, and it’s one the words that he uses often so he was very pleased to see this print.

Toby’s t-shirts are Brindille and Twig ringer tees. I’ve made him the next size up- 18-24 months. It’s a staple that I keep going back to! The fit is quite roomy which is useful when you know that. Toby is a chunky 22 months and still has plenty of growing room.

I made Lottie ringer tees to match, but with my snap neck hack. To go with them I’ve been testing out new patterns. First up is the Made By Jacks Mum pick n’mix bodysuit.

The pick n’mix has loads of options, including a t-shirt cut line and both ‘regular’ and ‘cloth bottom’ fit bodysuits. I’ve gone for the cloth fit, and the snap neckline. There is also an envelope or crew neck option.

I’ve always liked the idea of making bodysuits to go with handmade baby outfits, but I find it hard to justify spending time making something so basic and that can be bought so cheaply. This was a slightly fiddly make. I’m not 100% happy with the binding so I am wondering about doing it as a band in future instead.

On these bodysuits the side seam is sewn after the binding, so I’ve stitched the side seam allowance down with a few little stitches. It’s quite a common feature of shop bought bodysuits too.

The little offcuts from were great for creating a couple of little appliqués. I used bondaweb to fix them in place, and a fusible wash away stabiliser to stop anything from stretching as I sewed. This has been through the wash a couple of times and the stabiliser still hasn’t washed out completely, but it did make the sewing really easy.

I’m looking forward to showing you the next parts of this mini capsule. I have 3 more new to me patterns to share, some of which are about to become firm favourites!

Growing like weeds

Why is it that babies keep growing? While I love to see Lottie getting bigger and chubbier it seems a shame when she starts growing out of her handmades. This romper is perhaps the solution… it’s intended to grow too!

This is a free sample pattern from Apple Tree Sewing and is available by signing up to their newsletter. It is a sample 3-12 month size of a pattern which can be purchased in a bigger size range.

Lottie is 3 months in these pictures, and isn’t going to fit it on the smallest settings for long, though I think she is quite a long and skinny baby! It is fitting nicely over her big cloth nappy bottom though.

I love the concept of grow with me clothing, but this is my first attempt at sewing some. The idea is that there is lots of adjustment built in in the form of long cuffs, snap settings and in this pattern a set of drawstrings to shorten the body.

I had a bit of this fabric left from the baby outfit I made a while ago. Lottie has grown out of those now so it’s fun to have this print back in her wardrobe.

I wanted to have used and washed this romper a couple of times before I wrote this post so that I could report on how easy it is to use in practice. There isn’t much spare time for constant readjusting when putting away the washing so getting the cuffs to sit right is a little bit of a faff. It will only get easier as she gets bigger though.

It is amazing to see how much scope there is for growth as the straps are lengthened, the ruching on the sides is let out and the cuffs are rolled down. Lottie is hopefully going to fit in this for ages!

I didn’t have quite the right size range label, but this one is fairly close.

I think I may have to make another couple of these because it was such a quick and easy sew, but one which will last for ages. It seems like a good ‘value’ way to use my time and fabric. I can definitely see it as a good way to get the most use out of a special fabric.

I think I might look into a few more grow with me patterns. I like the idea of making Toby some jumpers which will do him for a couple of years. I’m also a little tempted to start sewing a few of these to sell. I’ve always wanted to see if I could begin to transition into sewing as a business and I can see that it might be easier to charge the actual value of the work and materials for an item which will last a long time. Something to look into perhaps.

Be wild baby!

This post comes a bit out of sequence because it is another collaboration blog post going live on Minerva Crafts this week. They kindly gifted me the fabric, in exchange for a blog post and photos. I was able to use this very sweet cotton spandex print to make a ‘coming home’ outfit for the new baby, and a co-ordinating t-shirt for Toby, so these were actually sewn in about May or June last year!

One of the reasons that I chose this fabric to test was because it would co-ordinate really nicely with the other pieces that I have already made and blogged in grey and green. It seems like a good idea for the baby to have a wardrobe that will mix and match as well as possible, so these are also in the newborn size.

I used the same patterns as the ‘pencils’ outfits, and this was actually finished first, inspiring a search through my stash to find some other fabric options. Toby’s t-shirt is a Brindille and Twig Ringer Tee, so also a free pattern. This time I left off my neckline hack and just made it as in the pattern. It is so quick to sew up, and I think this is the 12-18 month size.

As always, the full blog post can be found on their website here, with more details and pictures. Enjoy!

Always animals

I think I would dress Toby in animal outfits all the time if I could. His Lion dungarees had a great outing to the zoo recently, but now I’ve been adapting another pattern to create a bear sweatshirt.

This is the same free raglan hoodie that I blogged not long ago, but I was inspired by this post on Tilly and the Buttons Instagram to adapt it with this bear applique. This is the first time I have done any applique on jersey and I’m sure I still have lots to learn, but I’m pleased with this as a start!

The great thing about this bear is that is only uses very simple shapes to create an impression. I used bondaweb to attach the nose and mouth and then just stitched with a straight stitch. I’m hoping that the double row of stitching at the top of the curve will be sufficiently robust, but if not I might have to go back and use a zigzag to attach it more securely.

The little 3D ears are a very cute feature too!

I couldn’t decide which way out to put the hood. In the end the fabrics chose for me because the cream scraps of Ponte were heavier than the mustard French Terry so the seams wanted to press with the French Terry to the inside. (The scraps came from this jumper– thank goodness that my photography planning and execution has improved!) I also did a little topstitching on the hood to help the centre seams to stay flat because I’ve noticed them moving a bit on the previous hoodie.

Like Lottie’s latest outfits, this hoodie got a size label. It will definitely be helpful when I put it aside for her to grow into.

Toby just looks so cute! This version of the hoodie doesn’t have a pocket, but he hasn’t started using pockets yet so I don’t think he will miss it.

I wonder which other animals would work well in this style? I’m thinking about a lion perhaps with a 3D mane. What would you go for?

Batch-cutting baby clothes

I’ve been trying to sew smarter lately so that I can make the most of my sewing time. A few weeks ago I spent a whole afternoon tracing off a range of patterns in various sizes, and another afternoon batch cutting out a selection of things for myself, Toby and Lottie. These are my least enjoyed parts of the sewing process but somehow doing a whole load in one go seems much more efficient and enjoyable.

Here are some of the bits that I cut for Lottie- Vagabond Stitch footed trousers in 0-3, and 3-6 month sizes. This is a great free pattern. It just looks so much more comfortable on her than some of the trousers with elastic waistbands.

I don’t have the time or inclination to make everything for Lottie to wear, and we have some lovely hand-me-downs that it would be a shame not to use. Its fun though working out what basics I could make to co-ordinate with some of the ready to wear bits in her drawers. I made a couple of teeny beanies to coordinate too. I think my favourite way to dress her at the moment is a little vest with a tee and the footed pants- comfy and cosy and easy to dress and undress! They will match in with her new zip hoodie too!

These baby patterns are perfect for using up smaller fabric scraps. Especially when you choose a couple of coordinating solids like this pair. The maroon interlock doesn’t have great recovery, so it was a good choice to colour block with some other cotton lycra.

The 0-3 month size are still a little long, but I do like the way this pair coordinate with this ready to wear t-shirt.

The different fabrics have definitely ended up being slightly different sizes. It’s interesting to see how fabrics make up differently. This coral rib definitely is a little bigger than the other pairs due to less recovery.

These labels are going into all my makes at the moment and I’m really pleased with them. I have a whole bunch with different sizes printed which should make it easier to tell which size my handmades are. Especially useful when packing things up to pass on to other families!

I’m sure I will be using these patterns again soon as Lottie continues to grow. She still just fits into the newborn sized outfits that I made, but not for much longer. It’s so lovely to be able to make her little everyday basics though!

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.