Sunday, October 31, 2010


I'm a bit of a blog and Flickr junkie - always looking for something new to inspire me. A few months back I saw the most gorgeous little top on Flickr and fell in love. After a bit of investigating I discovered a range of kids' patterns I had never seen before. Uh-oh... Dangerous. Within half an hour I had ordered one of the patterns to try it out. Nothing wrong with that, except that it cost $35 and it's French. As in all the instructions are in French.

Fast forward a few months and I finally got brave enough to give it a go. I actually studied French for a number of years as a child but typically, it didn't come it handy when it came to deciphering the instructions. However, the pattern was fairly straightforward and intuitive, and I was able to bluff my way through (using some of the techniques I have learned from Oliver + S patterns). I also relied heavily on other blogs to figure out things like whether the seam allowance is included (the jury's still out). I also learned that the sizes run small, so knew to upsize for my daughter.

Speaking of sizes, these patterns start at sz 2 and go up in 2s, so I made a sz 4 for my (very tall) 2.5 year old. It fits, and with plenty of growing room.

The pattern itself it very simple. I read somewhere that Citronille patterns are like cooking a very basic meal, but with top notch ingredients, and I have to agree. The lines of the top are lovely with everything sitting 'just so'. The pattern was interesting in that it didn't have a lot of the sewing marks I'm used to, like fold lines/grain lines.

I used some of my precious Liberty stash for the yoke. My husband gave it to me for mother's day. It's a seasonal print called GiGi Garland and I adore it. I matched the pale blue stripes of the print with a blue cotton ticking. The top has a simple button down placket at the back.

The pattern is called Apolline (it can be made as a tunic or dress) and the company is Citronille. I like this company very much, quirks and all, and will buy a few more of their patterns. They also have knitting patterns, patterns for babies, women's patterns and a small range of (lush) fabric. Their website is in English (although again, the patterns are NOT!)

The finished tunic. I do own an iron, I just don't like it very much.

I matched the blue in the yoke to a blue ticking for the bodice.

Yoke detail. I adore adore adore this Liberty print.

The armholes are finished using a very narrow bias binding.

Sweetpea - she likes it!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sketchbook hippos

I have two new newborns in my life to cluck over! Babies Max and Curtis were born to two very good friends just two weeks apart in July & August.

Shamefully, I have only just finished their presents. I rather uncreatively made them the same little outfit - an Oliver + S sketchbook shirt and shorts, in size 6-12 months for this Summer.

I've made the sketchbook shirt before and really love this pattern. I've not made the shorts before as I was a little turned off by the pleat in them, but the finished garment is really lovely. I especially love the fake fly.

I used a print from Daiwabo's Tip Top canvas collection - hippos in grey. The shirt is a Kona solid in a coordinating blue.

I wanted to 'tie' the two pieces together, so I made the shirt's inside yoke using the hippo fabric, and embroidered a hippo on the shirt pocket (I sketched it on then stitched it a few times using a very short stitch). I'm really happy with the way the pockets turned out.

A few things I learned during this process:
1) I get bored very quickly making the exact same outfit twice
2) My sewing has improved since July when I started these outfits. On one hand that's great, but it irks me to give a gift that I think could be 'better' than it is.
3) I really should have tried harder to match the thread to the Kona.

Some pictures:

I thought the pleat was too preppy but I am really happy with these.

Fabric close-up. I matched the blue puddles to the Kona I used for the shirt.

Full outfit (you can just see the other one peeping out in the top left corner)

I used the hippo fabric from the shorts on the inside yoke, to tie the two separates together.

Detail of the embroidered hippo - my favourite part of the whole outfit.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New blouse for Summer

A little while back a couple of the big fabric companies put out new collections that weren't quilting cotton. Hurrah! These fabrics have the gorgeous prints that I love in quilting cottons, but a lighter weight, which is perfect for summer clothing. Lecien released a range of voiles, and Alexander Henry did a range of cotton lawn (although some sites are calling it voile - who knows?!)

I snapped up some of both ranges.

I have made Oliver +S's music class blouse before, but not for my daughter, so I decided to make her a lovely floaty blouse for Summer.

The fabric I used was Lecien's Memoire a Paris, which is a very light voile. I spent ages choosing which colourway to get (they are all fabulous) and in the end decided on black. I don't usually like to dress my little girl in black but this particular fabric is covered in little pink and purple flowers, so I made an exception. It reminds me a little of Liberty.

The blouse was lovely to sew, and the black is extremely forgiving. I was going to gather instead of making the pintucks, but decided they were such a cute detail that they were worth the time.

The buttons are a dark mother of pearl, which picks up the pink and green in the fabric.

The blouse is a size 3 and is a little roomy, and just the right length (maybe a touch short). I think this is the last year I will be able to sew for my little girl without altering the patterns. She's now nearly a metre tall and still slim, so I'm going to have to lengthen everything from now on :(

Here are some pics:

Finished blouse. This is a rubbish photo but it shows the details... kind of. Black is hard to photograph!

Detail of the top. The buttons are a bit darker than this - they were reflecting the light.

Pintucks! I used Liesl's tip and pulled the threads through to the back and knotted them. This gives clean pintucks without the need to lockstitch or backstitch.

My favourite detail: a little inverted box pleat on the sleeve cap. Bliss :)

The fit. I think this will look cute with a little demin skirt and sandals.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

More bees for a mum to be

Another day, another baby shower! This morning's shower was for a wonderful friend who is six weeks away from meeting her little baby.

I decided a while ago to make her another bumble bub quilt using Melly & Me's pattern from their Kaleidoscope book (I have made two previously) but this time with a few changes. As her baby's sex is a surprise I used gender neutral colours - mainly green and purple. All fabrics are from Sandi Henderson's Farmers' Market range, which I just adore. I have actually seen this quilt made up in these fabrics somewhere, but now cannot find the blog anywhere - let me know if you know the one I'm talking about. I think it may be Scandinavian?

I made this version a little smaller than the pattern. It is 4x5 blocks rather than 5x6. I did this to make it easier to quilt, and it's a really good size for a baby.

The quilting is very simple, I basically quilted around the border of each block. I like it that way as it means that the quilting doesn't detract from the little bees.

I included 'flight lines' from the bees in this version and just love the result. They're stitched by hand using a running stitch and embroidery floss. I think they add to the playfulness of the quilt. The quilt was bound by hand over a couple of nights in front of the telly - bliss! The quilt batting is a 50/50 blend of cotton and bamboo, so it's soft and natural.

I also made a matching bumble bee softie, using the pattern from the book. The only variation I added was stitching some scrunched up cellophane into the lining of the wings to make it fun for the baby to chew and play with. Last night I also appliqued one of the little bees onto a store bought onesie, to complete the gift. I was sad to see this one go as I love it so much, but I know it's going to a wonderful home.

The finished quilt. It is bound using the stripey fabric that the bee bodies are made from, and is backed in the spotty looking lime green fabric (called 'pomegranate seeds')

One of the flight lines. This is such a cute little detail!

Bee softie. The wings are lined in cellophane to make them crackle.

Little appliqued onesie

The completed gift.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Robot shorts

I have promised myself that I will sew as much for my son as I do for my daughter. So far I think I am doing a good job of this, but it is hard, as there are so few patterns for boys. Really, how many shorts patterns do you need?

It seems that when it comes to sewing for my son I am limited to shirts, shorts and pants (apart from t-shirts, but my knit phobia keeps me from trying these yet) whereas I have enough patterns to keep my daughter in a new dress every week all Summer long.

Because there are so few truly different boys' patterns, I am always looking out for cute boyish fabric. Again, the girly fabric market is so much bigger, but there are a few real gems out there for boys.

I recently saw some gorgeous robot fabric by Kokka, at Kelani (link to the right) and just had to have it. I knew it would transform my boring shorts pattern into a cute and different little pair of shorts.

The pattern I used is Burda 9639, which is a basic, elasticised waist shorts pattern, but with cute patch pockets and flaps on the outside of each leg.

It's a simple pattern, although I used some of the Oliver + S construction techniques to make the finished product a bit more professional.

The robot fabric is on a black base-cloth, so i used electric blue thread for my top-stitching to make the pockets stand out a bit, as they're such a cute feature (and I don't own any black thread).

I'm really happy with the end result. I still have enough fabric left to make my little boy a cute robot hat, or maybe a matching appliqued top.

The finished shorts

There are patch pockets on each outer leg. See how the lines of robots match on my side seam? Let's pretend that was intentional and is the same on the other side.

Detail of the blue top-stitching.

I adore this fabric. These little guys are less than 2cm tall, so the amount of detail they included is amazing.