Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christening gown for my baby

We had our baby girl's Christening this morning. It went really well and I feel like I can relax now - so much work for such a little person!

Most of that work has been sewing. I made Baby A's Christening gown and while I'm really happy with it, it was a lot of work, especially while juggling a baby, 2yo and 3yo. It's made from satin and lined with silk. I'm looking forward to never working with satin again. That fabric has a mind of its own.

The pattern is a modified Oliver + S bubble dress. I didn't sew the bubble, instead opting to lengthen the skirt and lining to create a long dress and pettiskirt. I edged both skirts in a gorgeous tatted lace. The bodice was also finished with the same lace, and I had a ribbon sash at the back.

We incorporated a little history with some 100 year old lace sewn into the sash at the back (from Baby A's great grandmother's Christening gown). The buttons were from Baby A's paternal grandmother's stash (she died before Baby A was born and left me her buttons and sewing machine) and I also made little mock bows to cover the buttons. Baby A wore her great-grandmother's 100 year old crocheted bonnet.

I also made a little pair of shoes for her. The Ottobre Tepsukka pattern, but with the pintucks omitted.

The kicker - I had to do all of this twice, as I also made a dress and shoes for my niece (kind of) who was also Christened today. Early to bed for me tonight!

The finished dress

Front bodice. Love those cap sleeves and am looking forward to making the bubble dress in cotton.

Love this lace

Mock bows on the back bodice...

... covering the buttons

I omitted the pintucks and used the lace instead. Finished with a pearly snap.

Dresses x2 (headaches x 10)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Everything old is new again

I developed a bit of an obsession a few months ago for vintage sheets. The colours and designs really appeal to me - some of them are so ugly they're beautiful!

I started collecting them a few months ago and after my baby girl was born started a vintage sheet quilt for her (which I really need to bind). I am particularly in love with one of the designs, from an old pillowcase, so decided to use the leftover fabric to make baby A a little romper for Summer.

The pattern is Kwik Sew 3776. The sizing is spot on and it looks cute, but the construction left me scratching my head at times. Next time I will make a few changes to make it a bit neater, both inside and out.

All in all I'm happy with it. Baby A looks so cute in it - just like the little ray of sunshine that she is. And at $2 for the pillowcase, it's super cheap an original.

The front. It has a crotch opening for nappy changes.

Simple placket at the back.

Oh how I love these thighs!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pitter patter of tiny feet

I have a bit of an addiction to baby shoes. Baby A owns around eight pairs a the moment that she'll outgrown in a matter of months. I can't help it, they're so cute and dainty, even if they're not all that practical.

I think I have mentioned before that I had three friends due to give birth around the same time as me. Well, two of them had little girls too, so I decided to share my love of all things cute and dainty by making them some little baby shoes.

The pattern is from Ottobre magazine - they're the Tepsukka Slippers. I adore them. They're a MaryJane style but with sweet little pintucks and a curved strap. I used a couple of fabrics that my mum brought back from Japan and plain cotton lining. I adore them! Baby A will be getting several pairs over the next year or so.

The construction is fairly simple, although they are teeny tiny, and there are some very small curves to sew. I reduced my stitch length quite a bit to make life easier. This pattern is also intended to be used with corduroy, so I made my pin tucks slightly wider than usual to accommodate the thinner fabric.

I also made one friend a matching hat after she commented that she couldn't find a sunhat small enough for her daughter. I used the pattern from the Oliver + S book, Little Things to Sew. The smallest size was still too big, so I reduced it down to 90%, and it worked really well.

Pair for baby AM. I love the pink lining with the pistachio green outer.

Pair for baby S. The lining is actually pale blue, this photo is a bit dark.

I made the tucks wider than I usually would to allow for the thinner fabric.

LTTS hat, reduced to 90%. This gives a circ of 41.5cm, as opposed to 45% (I kept the half inch seam allowance).

Hat and shoes set :) The shoes are sz Eu17, which is about a US2 (I think).

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Long time between posts

It's been ages since I've blogged. It's actually been ages since I've connected with the online sewing world, apart from late night browsing on my phone.

But I have the best reason, a gorgeous wee six week old baby girl.

I can't begin to describe how much I love our little possum. She has filled a gap I didn't know existed, and she fits so beautifully into our family. She looks just like her big sister and is one of of those 'easy' babies I had heard about before but never experienced. My husband has said that if all our babies were like her he'd be keen to have a dozen more (but we won't, as we have also experienced what it's like to have a baby of the non-sleeping, poor-feeding, reflux-medicating variety!).

Our tiny wee girl has also been diagnosed with a permanent hearing loss, in both ears. It's been a stressful few weeks but we feel a bit better having some answers now. Her hearing loss is mild, which sounds fairly benign but she will need hearing aids to learn to speak and get by in life.

It's not what I want for my little girl and it's not what I'd choose for her - we all only want the best for our kids don't we? But I am not silly - I know many parents face far worse diagnoses than this, and I am really positive about her future. If anything her diagnosis has made me even more grateful for what we have. There have of course been tears and sadness, but we are moving forward and overall we are doing well. Many positives have come out of this too, especially the support I have received from my amazing friends, both online and in real life.

I don't share pics of my kids online but trust me when I say she's a little cutie. Dark hair, fat little cheeks, big blue eyes and a rosebud mouth. She's soft and gentle and always has a smile for me. She really just melts my heart.

I could go on all day, but won't, as this is a sewing blog. I only started sewing when my oldest child (another daughter) was 2 years old, so I have never had the pleasure of sewing for a baby girl all of my own. That's about to change! I have a few projects on the go and many more patterns earmarked to make for baby A over the coming months.

For now, I'm going to share an outfit I made for my 3.5 year old daughter a few days before giving birth. It's the family reunion blouse and puppet show shorts, both from Oliver + S.

I've made the shorts before but this was the first time I've sewn the blouse. As you would expect from O+S it's a great little pattern that is cleverly put together. I sewed it using a French floral fabric I got from my local fabric store a year or so ago. It's finished with my favourite pierced wooden buttons and coordinating lilac embroidery thread.

The shorts pattern is a favourite. It is out of print now but O+S have recently released it as a downloadable pattern - hurrah! If you take a look at the O+S Flickr group, some versions of these shorts don't have much gathering around the leg opening. Early versions of this pattern had a mistake in the leg binding - the errata is on the O+S website. If you own this pattern I really recommend checking it to see if it's affected by the mistake, as the leg gathers are just so cute and really add something to the shorts.

That's all for now. I hope to be back blogging regularly soon with some sewing for our tiniest family member.

The finished outfit.

Tab and pintuck detail. I threaded the buttons with lilac floss.

I used the same buttons down the back.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy birthday baby!

My wee boy turns two on Friday and I can't believe it! It really does feel like he was born a few months ago. I'm feeling it even more acutely with the impending arrival of his little brother or sister in a few weeks.... I think he is too. Last night after his bath I wrapped him up in his towel and gave him a big cuddle. He rested his head on my cheek and said 'I'm mama's baby'. Eek! I think we are in for a few interesting months ahead.

I really wanted to make my little guy something special for his birthday. I wasn't sure about his initial request for a 'cookie monster dress', but I let him choose some cute Kokka cars fabric from my stash which he just adores, and decided to turn them into some shorts for him. He hasn't seen these finished yet, but got very excited when he saw me sewing up the fabric. He should love them.

They're pretty much the same as the helicopter shorts I made recently. O+S Sketchbook pattern, without the pleat, with a flat front, and two rows of topstitching on both sides of the fly, up the rise, on the pockets and up the outer seam. A few minor alterations that gave me the casual look I was after.

I also wanted to make him a shirt, and as usual turned to my O+S Sketchbook shirt pattern. I've made this several times now and am always looking for ways to make it a bit different. In the past I have monogrammed and also embroidered the pocket. This time I decided to applique a little dinosaur peeking out from under the pocket, as my wee guy loves dinosaurs, and I was keen to avoid using a dinosaur print (I love novelty prints, but need to draw the line somewhere!).

I sketched the dinosaur freehand onto some vliesofix then blanket-stitched it by hand onto the shirt. The eye is satin-stitched. All in all it only took about 20 minutes and I really like the lift it gives the shirt.

I also used the spotty fabric I used for the dinosaur on the inside of both plackets and the underside of the collar. It's not immediately obvious but peeps out hen the shirt is being worn.

All in all I'm happy with this shirt. The fabric was a bit of a nightmare though. It's lovely to look at - a very fine striped aqua and white cotton, but it's very, very crisp and creases so easily.

I'm wrapping these up for the little guy to open on Friday. Happy birthday baby!

Dark and blurry sorry, but here's the finished shirt.

Dino detail! T should love this.

The inner plackets and under-collar both have the same spotty fabric I used for the dinosaur, to tie everything together.

T's brm-brm shorts.

I did two lines of top-stitching on both sides of the fly, pockets and outer seam (plus the rise, which you can't see here).

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Japanese jumprope

A year or so ago my mum bought back a whole heap of fabric from a trip to Japan. One of these fabrics was a $4, 1.1 metre remnant that I fell in love with instantly. It was a lilac-grey linen and cotton blend with little bunches of deep pink and red flowers and strawberries scattered all over it. I knew as soon as I saw it that it would eventually become an Oliver + S jump rope dress.

I made view B of the jump rope last Summer and it was hugely popular with Sweetpea and me! In fact I think that dress may be one of the most favourite things I have ever sewn.

This year I sewed up a size 4, which has a fair bit of growing room for the rest of the season. I also added a wee bit of length for my beanpole.

The plackets, sleeve tabs and pocket trims are made up in a hot pink pure linen. Gorgeous fabric but it has a life of its own and slipped all over the place when trying to sew it.

Not much more to say about this - love the pattern and love the fabric, so am pretty happy with this dress. I am still sewing & nesting like mad, and now have two new baby girls to sew for ASAP before my own baby arrives in (hopefully not less than) three weeks.

Sorry for the shocking photo... here's the dress!

MOP buttons (which I think are a little too big?) and pink topstitching on the collar.

I think the pockets really make the dress.

My mum is fab: she watched the kids for me a few weeks back, and when i came home she had folded a flower hairclip out of the dress scraps.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Otto shorts

One of the hardest things about sewing for boys is the lack of variety. There's just so more choice when it comes to patterns and fabrics for girls. Having said that though, there's a lot of brilliant stuff out there and I can usually find inspiration on other blogs or Flickr.

I'm still trying to get most of my Summer sewing done and that includes lots of shorts for my little guy, who wears little else over Summer. I have a few patterns, but am reluctant to buy more as they're all just variations on a theme. That's why I like Ottobre magazine so much, lots of boy patterns every issue that I probably wouldn't purchase individually, but really appreciate.

These shorts are from Ottobre 3/11. I like the way they're a bit shorter than most of the other patterns out there, and the little cuff detail is something a bit different (to be honest I wasn't sure about it, but was itching to do something 'new', and I really like the end result).

This is only my second Ottobre attempt. On one hand it's kind of refreshing to have minimal instructions - there's certainly no hand-holding! On the other hand the finish isn't quite as polished as you'd get with say an Oliver + S pattern. I learnt a few new tricks making these though - constructing the waistband without having to thread through elastic on a safety pin was a revelation... sooooo much easier than the way I usually do it!

I sewed them in navy and white seersucker with red topstitching. There's a lot of topstitching in this pattern - two rows on most seams. I love topstitching though, although using such an obvious colour made me a bit more cautious than usual. The seersucker was from my stash (leftover from this shirt) - if I had purchased fabric for these I would have gone with a broader stripe, but I'm trying to chew through my fabric stash at the moment.

I made these in a 92 and they fit beautifully on my big, little boy.

The finished shorts. They've got patch pockets with a little flap, faux fly and a little crossover cuff detail.

*sigh*. This is the best photo I could get of my little guy wearing them. You are growing up too fast mister.

The fly with bar-tacks.

Cuff detail. Didn't like this initially but do now.

Pocket detail. I like the diagonal buttonholes, and chose red and white contrast buttons.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Popover squirrel dress

I've been sewing Oliver + S for as long as I've been sewing, yet it's taken me until now to sew the (free) popover sundress pattern. Why? I have no idea. I think i just run out of time each Summer, and there is usually a new whizz-bang pattern that takes priority over this one.

This year I have made a head start on the kids' Summer sewing, and was recently given some gorgeous Echino fabric that suits this pattern perfectly.

I matched the Echino with some linen scraps I had left from old projects, and trimmed the yoke and hem with some cotton lace I had left over from making a friend's bridal garter a few months back.

I added a little squirrel pocket to complement the dress. I wish I could take credit for this idea, but I cannot - I took the idea from this Etsy store. Making the pocket was easy. I traced a squirrel clipart directly onto the linen from the computer screen, then fused another layer of linen to the back using vliesofix. I then sewing around the edge using a very short zig zag stitch, clipped around the edges and straight stitched it onto the dress.

This is such a sweet pattern and so quick to sew up. I hope to make a few more, as it suits our hot Summers.

The finished dress. Size 4 with extra length. It's a little roomy, but will be nice and cool to wear.

I love the Echino with the linen and lace. If you haven't seen this fabric in real life, it's a much softer purple than it looks here.

Lacy hem.

Squirrel pocket

Pockets are always a hit with my wee girl.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Nesting, getting a head start on Summer and stash busting

I've been sewing so much lately, churning out clothes for the kids daily. Part of it must be nesting, part of it is getting a head start on their Summer wardrobes before baby #3 comes along next month, and part of it is stash busting (I have a LOT of fabric on its way to me and need the room! I also have lots of one yard cuts that I need to use before the kids get too big).

These little shorts are one of my favourite recent pieces, I adore them, and so does my little boy.

The fabric is Echino (my mum loves Echino as much as I do and is always picking up bits and pieces for me, this one is no exception) and the pattern is the Oliver + S sketchbook shorts.

I have made this pattern once before, but am much happier with this attempt. This time I made a few alterations:
  • omitted the pleat to make them more casual
  • top-stitched the edge of the fake fly and added an extra row of top-stitching to the curve of the fly
  • top-stitched the rise from the bottom of the fly to the back waistband (again, to make then more casual)
  • added a bartack to the fly.
I also gave them a flat front this time, with the elastic only at the back and sides. I added a button to the top of the fly (after finding my mother-in-laws old button box - treasure!).

All in all, I love them, and when I next make these shorts will make the same alterations.

The finished shorts. I really like them with the flat fronted waistband and without the pleats.

Fly details, you can just see the extra top-stitching either side and bartack.

The back: rise top-stitched all the way along the seam.

My wee guy modelling them. These are a sz 2 for a very tall almost two-year old. They fit beautifully at the moment. We're not going to get more than a season's wear out of these :-(

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My very first Ottobre creation

I mentioned in my last post that I've finally got brave enough to attempt sewing at knit. As part of this process I discovered that sewing with knit is actually fine, but there are some elements of it that make me want to beat my head against the wall. Like attaching rib binding... that's enough to cause a nice big bruise on my forehead.

I am about 7 weeks away from meeting my new baby, and thought I would get some practice making a little onesie. I chose a pattern from Ottobre 3/2011 (I think it's called Peppermint) to make for my colleague's new baby girl - I made a larger size to fit her in the Summer.

The actual pattern is very simple. The body of the onesie is all one piece, so the only tricky bit was to attach the binding. According to Otto, the binding should be cut to about 70% of the edge length and then stretched on. But when I tested this on a scrap of the fabric it was a hot mess.

After getting some great advice from a few good sewing friends (hello girls, you know who you are!) I felt confident enough to attack the binding. I cut a huge strip of binding and stretched as I sewed - a little less on the straight bits and much more around the legs and arms. I also found using my walking foot was a big help.

When I was finished I was pretty pleased with the results. But when I went to fold the binding over and attach it to the other side, it seemed to stretch again... and I don't know why! I unpicked a few times and tried everything, but still couldn't get the result I was after.

After a few hours I decided enough was enough, and just finished the damn thing, imperfections and all. It looks okay laying flat on the table, but I suspect the neckline is too big, and maybe the legs. I also made the binding too thin, so that the snaps kind of overlap it. And the icing on the cake is that the paint flaked off some of the snaps as I was hammering them in. So I don't think this little onesie will meet it's intended recipient, I am too embarrassed and will make something else instead. If I end up having a girl I will see what it's like on her and she *may* wear it.

I am not completely turned off sewing this type of thing. It's certainly a learning experience and though I have a lot left to learn, I felt I picked up a few new skills. I'm going to attempt a few envelope tees next, as I hope they'll be a bit easier and more forgiving than a onesie like this.

I have also rediscovered Ottobre magazine during this process and am totally inspired. I have been busy tracing out lots of (mainly woven) patterns so I can get a head start on my kids' Summer sewing before this baby comes along.

The finished onesie. See how narrow the binding is? I wish I had made it wider so that the snaps fit better.

The wrap-around style is really cute, but made it hard to gauge how much to stretch the binding, especially around the legs (as it wasn't simply a matter of using the same length binding for the legs).

Hammered in the snaps and the paint flaked off to reveal a rusty snap! GAH!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Urban Hoodie

I first bought the pattern for the Urban Unisex Hoodie (from Heidi and Finn) about a year ago now I guess. I loved it as soon as I saw it but have put off sewing it as I've never sewn with knit before.

A couple of weeks ago I bit the bullet and started two new knit projects, one of which is the hoodie, and the other I will blog about soon. And what do you know, sewing with knit isn't hard at all... unless we're talking attaching rib binding, which I'm not... in this post.

This is a great little pattern. It's a fairly simple shape and it unisex, which is a bonus in our house. I sewed this version using a couple of cheap remnants - a blue interlock and a black and grey striped rib knit.

I have read a few reviews saying that the sizing runs small in this pattern, especially around and under the arms. With that in mind I halved the seam allowance and it makes for a really nice fit on my little boy.

The only thing I didn't like about this pattern was that fact that the lining and main fabric at the bottom of the hoodie is stitched together before the band is attached. It makes it kind of clunky to sew. Apart from that, I really recommend this pattern and will be making more for my kids.

The finished hoodie. I wish I had stretched the bottom band on as I'd sewn it. I will next time.

This is the best modelling shot I could get, but you can get a pretty good idea of the fit and general look of the top here.

View from behind. I love the blue poking out from the hood. I also love that my wee boy is hugging his teddy and sucking his thumb here. At nearly two my baby thinks he is a big boy now and getting so independent. It's nice to see him slip back to baby mode once in a while!

Monday, July 4, 2011

The tea party playsuit

Nothing inspires me to sew like a friend having a baby. Baby E was born eleven days ago and is just delicious - super chubby cheeks and loads of thick, dark hair. Cluck cluck!

I decided to make him a tea party playsuit, by Oliver + S. My motives were largely selfish - I wanted to try it out as I've never sewn one before, and I already had most of the pattern pieces traced and cut from making the tea party sundress last year. I am nothing if not lazy!

This is a size 6-12 months, so intended for baby E to wear this coming (Australian) Summer. I used some of my stash of Kokka robots for the bodice, and a really lovely, super light, striped linen for the shorts. The bodice is also lined in the linen. The linen had a beautiful drape, but was so hard to work with. I swear it was alive... it just moved - my seams were all a bit uneven because of it. In the end I overlocked each piece before sewing, which gave it some stability and meant I didn't have to finish the seams post-production (again, lazy!). The piping is one of the many green Kona solids, and while I was initially worried it was too bright, I like the pop of colour it gives the playsuit.

Construction was straightforward. I used snaptape for the crotch and am pretty happy with the way it turned out. It seems kind of bulky against the light linen but I'm sure with a cute little nappied baby bum in there it will be fine. In any case the snaptape was so much easier than worrying about whether regular snaps are aligned properly.

The finished product. The left left looks wonky here but it was just the breeze - I promise :)

The bodice is lined in the same linen as the shorts, which gives a very clean finish to the inside.

Bodice detail.

The buttons, hand stitched with green floss. My initial linen covered buttons were a disaster (you could see the aluminium button through the linen on my first attempt, then when I interfaced it it wouldn't snap in on the second attempt). I didn't remember I had these buttons until I was fishing through my button box. I bought them on a trip to Hong Kong last month for the lovely Nicole, who was searching for them. If you ever are in Hong Kong, go and visit Sham Shui Po. It's home to the craft district and is absolute heaven - so many treasures at very cheap prices.