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!


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!

Fox Coat- Getting Organised

Last year Toby’s Bunny coat was one of my favorite makes both for the process and the finished garment, so I decided it would be a shame not to make him another animal coat in the next size up. This time I’m going to make the fox coat from ‘The Fox, the Bear and the Bunny’ in the age 2-3 size.

For a more involved project like this I don’t really have the right fabric and notions at home in my stash or available locally so it takes a bit of planning and preparation. I’ve been ordering samples of corduroy and wool for the main outer body of the coat, trying to find one that has the right foxy rusty shade of orange! I’m still not sure any of these is quite the right thing. Though I like the colour for some of them, they are a bit ‘soft’ and lightweight so the search continues.

I’m going to use the same faux fur as on the bunny coat for the foxes ear and tail appliques, and probably for the front accent too. I haven’t yet decided if I will line it in the fur again, or whether I will choose a fun coordinating cotton for the lining. The bunny coat is so soft and fluffy inside that I am leaning towards using the fur. I have seen some cute fox print cotton’s though too so that is also an option, perhaps with a flannel or thinsulate underlining to help keep it cosy.

The other big task before I can commence cutting and sewing has been tracing off all the pattern pieces. I am not always a tracer- on PDF patterns for me I usually just cut them to the right size, but for children’s patterns where I’m planning to use multiple sizes and pattern books I always trace. I did find the patterns in this book a little odd the first few times I used them and I took a while to find the tiny grainline arrow, but now that I know what I’m looking for it is much simpler!

I know lots of people swear by different methods of tracing. Personally I always choose this squared dressmakers tracing paper from Amazon. I like having the squares to help me align things to grain, it is a nice weight- not to thin and flimsy, and it can arrive next day with prime if you are halfway through something and run out!

I still have a few more decisions to make and notions to order but i’m pretty exited to see this coming together.

New year plans and goals

Planning for a new year requires both a bit of ambition and a reality check! While I would love to commit to sewing everything that inspires me I need to be realistic about the fact that having two small children around is going to change my sewing routines once again! On the other hand, sewing is my relaxation and ‘me’ time, so I certainly don’t want to give it up altogether, or make my plans so unambitious that I don’t feel inspired. Its a difficult balance! Last year I think I sewed and blogged the fewest garments so far, but I am also really proud of what I have achieved. The vast majority of what I made was a real success so I’m hoping to take what I learned last year and let it inform my planning.

I have a few definite plans, and some other thoughts in the works, but want to leave some scope for flexibility too. I know I want to have a variety of projects for me and the children, and of different levels of complexity and ‘newness’. I think a make 9 has been a pretty useful tool over the past couple of years, with my usual proviso that I might make some changes or include a couple of wildcard options!

I have purchased a couple of new patterns recently with the intention of adding them to my 2020 plans. One is the Closet Case Carolyn PJ’s and another is the Sarah Kirsten Raspberry Rucksack. The PJ’s are definitely going to be fed into the planning- I would like to make a short sleeved, short leg version as a test run, and then a full length pair with all the piping and cuff trimmings!

The raspberry rucksack is a bit more of a trial run, and I don’t yet know if it will end up being quite what I am looking for. I like the idea of creating my own bag which suits my needs. Currently I carry a rucksack almost everywhere full of drawstring bags of nappies in two sizes, wipes, spare clothes, and snacks! It would be great if I could lose some of the bags, and have the right pockets permanently in my rucksack.

I also won some Sew Over It Patterns ages ago in the summer, and finally made my pattern choices to include the Georgie dress, and the Maple Cardigan which might be cute for both Toby and Lottie. I’ve actually already made a Georgie as my Christmas morning dress and hopefully I will get some photos soon, but I would like to make another in a lovely heathered grey ponte. I love that I didn’t need to make any adjustments to the pattern to make it work for breastfeeding, or to flatter my bit of a tummy! The Maple cardigan also has some fabric already lined up- I have some mustard coloured French terry to make one for Lottie.

I actually have about 4m of the mustard French Terry- I liked it so much when I received 2m, that I had to go and order 2 more! I’m planning on some footed pants for Lottie to co-ordinate with her cardigan, a Raglan hooded sweatshirt for Toby, and probably also an Oslo cardigan for me! They are all patterns that I have made before, so I’m anticipating these being pretty simple projects to tackle when there isn’t much time available. We will just have to make sure what we’re not wearing them all at the same time!

Toby’s bunny coat was such a success I’m planning a fox coat from the same book of patterns for next winter. I’ve already started looking out for some rusty orange coloured coating or corduroy, though I think this will be a project for later in the year once our routines have settled down a bit. Hopefully Lottie will get to wear the bunny coat next winter too!

I think that is probably enough actual commitments for one year so far so I’m leaving the last slot as a wildcard entry for something that excites me. There are quite a few options- I still want to finish my Taylor Trench, I have some fabric for a pair of Ginger Jeans that got put on hold once I found out I was pregnant, or perhaps something completely different will come along. I do want to keep trying to use fabric from my stash as much as possible though this year. I have been a bit less restrained in the last couple of months and have done quite a bit of fabric shopping, though in my defence most of it has been solid colour cotton lycra from Girl Charlee which I consider a bit like having flour and sugar in the kitchen- its a cupboard staple!

2019 in review

Once again this year I chose to set myself a ‘make 9’ to help focus my sewing to patterns that have been waiting around or wardrobe gaps which need filling. I found it really helpful in 2018 to have a combination of focus, and freedom and I think it has been successful again this year. Once again, I needed to change and review the plans part way through the year to accommodate the baby bump so these are my thoughts on the year as a whole.

My make 9 ended up looking like this after my mid year review, so how did I fare with completing it?

So all but one of my plans was completed, and I think several of them have been huge successes in either my wardrobe or the skills that I have been developing. I’ll go into more detail about some of the successes and failures when I do my top 5 hits and misses for the year, but I do have some initial thoughts on each of the projects.

Taylor Trench

This got off to a great start with the Rebecca Page sew along early this year, but stalled somewhat once I got behind and hasn’t got going again. I love some of the trench coat details and am proud of the accuracy involved in finishing them well so far. I really do need to get this coat finished because I really want to be able to wear it in the spring! I have got to the point where the main body of the coat is complete and the lining is almost there, so the two just need combining and finishing off.

Alder Shirt

This hasn’t had as many opportunities for being worn as I would like. I’m not sure if it was actually worn again after taking these blog photos because I was already starting to get a little bumpy. I’m hoping though that it will be in more regular circulation next year, especially as I find button-ups a practical clothing choice while breastfeeding.

Eugene Henley

I haven’t done a huge amount of sewing for Matt this year so this Henley is one of the few pieces that have been for him. It definitely wasn’t prefect in the construction, and the pattern instructions were a bit problematic too, but the finished item is happily worn in rotation with all his other t-shirts. Its nice that it is something a bit more interesting than the basic metro tees I have made in the past.

Oslo Cardigan

This has go to be one of my most reached for items, especially during the end of my pregnancy. It fits over a couple of layers, but is still slim enough to wear under a coat. It worked with a huge belly, and is still getting worn as a practical option for breastfeeding too. I’m so glad that I finally got around to sewing it up! I’m actually contemplating another with some mustard French Terry that I bought recently too.

Virginia Leggings

I haven’t been wearing these leggings so much in recent months because I have been firmly in the maternity leggings, but they did get lots of wear in the spring and I am confident that once they fit comfortably again they will continue to be a wardrobe staple.

Ascent Fleece

I have only just started to wear this, but I’m already feeling confident that it will be in regular use over the winter. I hate having to take layers off when it is chilly, so in combination with an Amber tee it is a really practical way of feeding without getting cold! I like it as a fleece too, so I’m sure that even once feeding is done it will get lots of wear, and I’m tempted to make other fleeces or jumpers from the pattern without the extra feeding zips.

Bunny Coat

This has to be one of my favorite makes this year because it is just so cute! Toby has been wearing it quite a bit now the weather has cooled down, and though the sleeves are still too long it does mean it should fit him comfortably all winter. I also love it for the complexity and precision of the sewing. It was really satisfying to sit down at a more complex project and just tackle the next step. I’m definitely inspired to make him something similar for next winter, and have been dreaming up lots of variations with different animals too!

Honeydew Hoodie

It feels like this has been in Toby’s wardrobe for ages, but it still fits comfortably. Admittedly, it’s not the first jumper to get pulled out of the drawer so I’m not sure that I will make another, but it is pretty practical and I really like the reversible nature of it. It was fun choosing two fabrics that co-ordinate, and Toby gets to match with either my Oslo Cardigan or Matt’s Eugene Henley depending on which way round he wears it!

Amber Dress

This dress feels nice to wear now but it did end up a bit long originally! It turns out that my previous Amber dress also needed shortening, so I need to note that with the pattern for future reference. I’ve been wearing it more now that I’ve shortened it, and I know that the style is something that will be really practical for the duration of breastfeeding so it will definitely get worn lots in the spring. It feels lighter and more spring appropriate than the previous Amber Dress that I made, but I have been wearing it with a long sleeve underneath recently too.

I haven’t quite decided how I am going to structure my sewing plans for the new year yet, but there are definitely a few ideas floating around. Some of the projects that I have enjoyed the most this year have been the ones which have stretched my skills a bit, so I’m hoping to add a few of those again mixed in with some much needed basics, unused patterns and possibly a few easy wins for when I need a bit of a mental break. Its going to take a bit of getting used to having two small children around who need me too, so I’m not sure yet how that is going to affect sewing time opportunities either!

Adventures in double brushed poly

Well I’ve finally got back on the blogging train, and have a couple of things written and ready to go in the next few weeks. First of which was a bit of a fabric experiment for me. Double brushed poly is one of those fabric types which I had seen cropping up on other blogs and in online fabric shops, but still wasn’t 100% sure what to expect when I finally took the plunge and ordered this one from Girl Charlee! I was feeling a little apprehensive about the polyester content because I usually make all my t-shirts from cotton jerseys, but this actually feels super soft and drapes really well too.

I’ve gone with one of my most sewn patterns from the last year- the Megan Nielson Amber. It really is one of the patterns I’ve had best value for money out of. It makes me feel comfortable while I’m pregnant, but I also know I will get loads of wear out of it after baby arrives too for nursing.

This particular Amber is definitely my current favorite. It comes straight out of the wash and gets worn again! Both of my previous Amber tops are solid colours, which makes them very practical but not quite so fun! This floral print is perfect for wearing with most of my plain bottoms.

The fabric does make this one feel a little warmer and less breathable than the cotton spandex versions, so maybe not perfect for the current high temperatures, but I can see that I will be wearing this all the time once it cools down again, and I’m going to love it next spring too because it feels so cheerful.

So that’s another of my revised make 9 now complete. Its one that will be cropping up some more in the next few months because I already have another top cut out, and have fabric earmarked for at least one more top and a dress, so sorry if this gets a little repetitive, but you’ve got to love a pattern that really works with your lifestyle!

Me Made May 2019- looking ahead

It’s almost the start of May, and I’ve decided to think through my pledge with you. I’ve taken part a few times in the past, and found it really helpful for clarifying my future plans.

I’m pretty sure this Oslo Cardigan is going to feature quite a bit!

I already wear handmade clothing most days, except the three days which I wear a uniform to work. For the challenge to be useful I think I need so do something a little new. In terms of sustainability and making good use of all of my wardrobe, I would like to think about the combinations in which I wear both my handmade and ready to wear clothes. I want to see where the gaps are- which things I wear all the time and are wearing out, which are great, but don’t fit as well as I would like and need adjusting, which just don’t suit my style now and never make it into regular rotation.

I’m hoping that the weather is friendly and lets me wear a few of my summer makes– I’ve been missing them!

So my pledge for this year: To wear a unique combination of my current wardrobe each day, except where I am required to wear my uniform. I’m also going to keep track of where the gaps are, and what I might need to do to fill them, whether it is looking out for something in the charity shop, or sewing it up later in the year. If there are things that don’t get worn at all, I want to think about why, and consider modifying, remaking, or clearing out those things that don’t work for me any more.

It’s also a great opportunity to wear some makes from a couple of years ago, like this Agnes/Moneta hack

I’m not going to worry about photographing or documenting each day, but I might share any new combinations that I discover and really love! Good luck to any of you that are also taking part, and if you want to know more about the challenge, I recommend that you visit Zoe’s blog here.

Life Lately…

So I have been a little more absent from this blog than I had hoped the last couple of weeks. I’ve just been very tired, and it has really hit my motivation to sew. Fortunately, it looks like change is in the air, and my sewjo is returning this week. I’ve been busy cutting out and preparing a few projects, tracing off a pattern, and yesterday I actually sat down at the machine to sew for the first time in about a month!



I’ve even been out to the park to take some pictures of something which I finished a month or so ago. Hopefully I will get to sorting and editing this week so that I can share it next weekend.

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I haven’t been completely away from crafting though. I have cast on a new knitting project, this time with a few new stitches to learn, and some lace patterning. It has been quite a therapeutic way to spend some of the evening, and I do really like to have my hands busy if we are sat watching TV, so it is a good solution for that.


So hopefully, dispute my absence things are ticking along. I still have some work to do on my Trench Coat, but that might wait a few weeks until I settle back into the routine of sewing. I think I might need a couple of easy wins to ease back in first!


Taylor Trench progress report 2- the toile

I think one of the reasons that I didn’t get any further than choosing and preparing my fabric for my Taylor Trench last year, is that I was a bit scared about cutting into my fabric. Some of that fear came from worries about the actual sewing, but I think more of it came from choosing the ‘wrong’ size and not ending up happy with the finished fit.

This time though I was determined not to have any reasons for putting this coat off, so I decided that the solution was to sew a quick toile of the outer coat from some cheaper fabric. In my stash I do keep things like old bedsheets and duvet covers just for this purpose, so I had no excuse not to give it a try.

When sewing my toile I went for a size L because I want to be able to fit jumpers underneath, and my quilted lining will also take up a bit of extra room. It did mean that even with my toile I needed to use a bit of judgement about how the actual coat will fit because it is going to feel a bit snugger. I’m happy with my decision though and now there is no more procrastinating allowed!

In fact, to make sure that I didn’t let the fear get to me again, I have cut out the fabric for my actual coat now. There is a sew-along starting tomorrow and I’m hoping to use it to give me some extra confidence and purpose, even if I don’t manage to stick completely to the schedule.

At last, an Oslo!

This cardigan has been at least a year in the making! When I made my trial run in January last year, I already had bought this fabric with a second in mind. Now it has finally made it to the top of my sewing queue.

This fabric was from Sew Over It, but it has long since sold out. It’s a little unusual because it appears to be a lightweight knit bonded to a mesh backing. It was a bit of a pain to cut out, so I wasn’t sure that I would manage to pattern match properly across the seam between the neckband and the front of the cardigan so I decided to remove the worry and cut the neckband and the cuffs on the cross-grain instead. I like the contrast of changing the pattern direction, and it works in this pattern because it is fairly loose fitting so it doesn’t matter that I have slightly changed the stretch characteristics.

When I cut the cuffs, I also made them half as tall as in the pattern. I always wear them folded back on my other Oslo because they are very long. I decided this time it would be simpler if I just shortened them to save me from having to keep adjusting them. Though it’s not perfect, the pattern matching at the side seams is pretty acceptable.

One of the great things about Seamwork patterns is they are generally quite straightforward and quick to sew, but the downside of this is that they sometimes don’t have the neatest of finishes. The Oslo instructions have you hem the main body of the cardigan, then attach the front band, which makes it tricky to get it all aligned neatly at the hems. This time I borrowed a technique from my Kinder cardigan, which has the band sandwiched into the hem, and the hem stitched last. It does look really neat now on the inside.

I like to be able to close my cardigans, but I wasn’t sure about putting a buttonhole in this knit without it stretching out. Instead, I sewed a decorative button over the top of a metal popper. There is another small popper at the other side of the neckband, and I really like the way that the collar folds into the closure.

I don’t think this will be my last Oslo cardigan. When I made it before, I wasn’t sure about the loose fit, but a year on I’ve become much more used to that silhouette and it doesn’t bother me any more. Even in this snow I was lovely and cosy with this Oslo cardigan all closed up.

I do have another loose woven knit which might make a lovely summery version if it ever makes it to the top of the list! As it is, I’m happy with another project from my make 9 completed, and another stash fabric fulfilling its purpose.