Saturday, 28 December 2013

Baby Doll Pram Set

We, hubby and I, both come from largish families and at Christmas time, we have a family rule that we spend a set amount on each little branch to be spent however we deem.  It makes for interesting buying, sometimes with the parents missing out, or at best getting a token gift, whilst the majority of it goes on the children.  I like to try and make things; it makes the money go further and makes for more interesting and personal gifts, time allowing as ever.  Alas this year, time did not really allow for it and I only got around to making one.  My littlest niece (the disgusted recipient of a clothing present), Little Miss H, was given a wooden pram for Christmas last year.  It was pretty enough, being the typical pink of so many little girls' things, but just not comfy enough for a baby doll, no mattress and no covers.  I promised then to make her something but just never got round to it.  So I decided to make it for her Christmas present whilst hoping it would be better received!

I'd made a quilt a few years ago for my daughter.  I'd found this gorgeous piggie fairy fabric when she was tiny and held onto it with the intention of making a quilt for her.  In fact I had it so long, I couldn't even remember what it was called nor who made it!!!!  It (the quilt) was in gorgeously girlie pink and purples.........just right for a little pram set and so I raided my stash.  It took me just as long to decide which fabrics I was going to use as it did to stitch it.  I settled on a very basic square pattern, with stitch in the ditch quilting.  I cut up a duvet from when my wee lass was a baby and used that for the mattress, giving it a plain pink cover and made a pillow to match, with a stripe of fabric down one short side to match the binding on the quilt.

I am pleased to report that Little Miss H was far more impressed with this gift, exclaiming "Cushion!" when she saw the mattress and cuddling it tightly!  She then spent the evening tucking her baby snuggly into her pram.  Success this time!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Skadi Dress

I tend to flick between knitting and sewing, although I do sew more than I knit.  I think I prefer the more immediacy of sewing.  I say immediacy with a reasonable amount of tongue in cheek!  I am a member of Ravelry and I have to say, I love that site.  I've always liked clothes that are not found on the high street, which is one of the reasons I started sewing and the same goes for knitting. Ravelry is fabulous as it is a huge resource of patterns, mostly from independent designers.  One of the patterns I found was the gorgeous Skadi dress by Erica Neitzke  It has a lovely vintage feel to it, so right for nowadays.  It is knitted in the round and knits up like a dream (and I am new to knitting in the round).  My daughter is too old for this (not to mention has developed a severe allergy to dresses) but luckily, we are girl heavy in our family, so my youngest niece was the recipient of this in time for her second birthday.  Alas she was distinctly unimpressed, being that her present was clothing, but her mummy loved it!  Hope you do too!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Well Hello! Long time, no see!

Well, 3 posts do not a blog make (which I have shamelessy pinched from the blog of a fellow forumite!)!  I have an excuse, a very good excuse.  Well it is the only excuse I have, so it will have to do.  Before starting this blog, I had a really nasty, severe bout of sciatica.  For those of you that haven't had it, let me put it this way....I gave birth to all 3 of my children without pain relief, and I would do it again, in fact all 3 at the same time, rather than have sciatica.  I had an episode last year and a mini-cocktail of drugs and some time sorted it.  This time, I ended up in A&E, was given a shed-load of drugs, both oral and injection, none of which worked and sent on my merry-way with a bag positively rattling with a cocktail of drugs.  I tried to settle down to sewing, but it was just too much.  After months of physiotherapy, I am reasonably back to normal, and how I am now is likely to be my normal, which isn't what my normal used to be, but hey ho!

I did, during that time, make a gown for someone (more of that later), but a recent girl's night and an empty wardrobe tempted me into trying to sew again.  Well you know what they say about necessity being the mother of invention - it was time to get inventing.   I say inventing,  I raided my Burda Style magazines.  I have been collecting these magazines for years and then I fell out of love with them; their patterns were dull, dull, dull.  However they turned a corner and our romance was rekindled.  I found an asymetrical top in the July 2011 edition (pattern 113) and raided my stash, finding a silk satin-backed crepe (or crepe-backed satin) and a silk chiffon.  I decided to wing it and not make a toile, figuring that as it isn't fitted, I would probably get away with it.  Once I'd got over tracing off the pattern (I have never forgiven Burda for skimping on their pattern pages), it was an absolute dream to put together, although cutting the chiffon sleeves proved to be somewhat of a challenge.  I thought I'd pinned it to within an inch of its life.....but it moved so that in the  middle there was barely any sleeve and actually it was not even discernably a sleeve!

Take 2:

I pinned it diagonally around the seam allowance.  It was better but I still wasn't convinced.

Take 3:

I had some lightweight iron on interfacing so I pinned to chiffon to the rough side thinking that it would be gripped by the glue.  It was a bugger to cut it that way as it was pinned to the interfacing and actually,  I couldn't tell the difference between attempt 2 or 3!!!!  I did a french seam for the side seams and just zig-zagged the trimmed edges for the neck and sleeves, which was a bit of a mistake as my beloved Janome really doesn't like zig-zag finishing, but it was ok, not great, but ok (and who else will get to see the insides when I'm wearing it?!).  In the pattern, the hemline is supposed to be elasticated but I skipped that as it probably isn't wide enough to gather and it could do with being a bit longer it I were to gather it.

The good news is I finished the top in time and wore it out.  I'm not sure about the unfinished chiffon edges.  It is already fraying, and I do like neat edges.

I think next time I make it (and there will be a next time) I will bind the seam allowances of the neck and sleeve edges, just for a neater finish, but I love it and it is a great wardrobe basic.  It is a great pattern to work with and could be quite versatile.  I can see it made in a jersey for a cute, casual summer top, with maybe a deeper neck band, or in a cotton with bias bound edges....the options are limitless.  

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Call the Fashion Police!

I am a woman on a mission.  I have committed my cardinal sin and my mission is to rectify this.  Let me explain. Years ago when my friend had her first baby, her dress sense completely changed.  She went from a mini skirt loving gal (and at 6ft tall, there was wasn't much skirt against those lovely giraffe-like legs) to a jeans and polo shirt clad mamma.  She of course was quite happy, and that is the main thing, but I swore I would NEVER become the jeans and t-shirt mum.

Roll forward to today, and what do I wear?  Yes, you've guessed it jeans and t-shirts.  Now I really don't blame the children for this change in my style (although I do hold them responsible for the loss of my waist), nope.  It all started when I began working from home.  Our house is old and cold, (especially as my office is my loft!) and I was rushing around doing the school run, dropping off work, collecting work, ferrying children to their activities, etc.  And it was just easier to throw on my jeans.  But I am sick, so so sick of wearing my uniform of jeans and T-shirts.  So my mission is to smarten my wardrobe.  The only thing is I've kind of lost sight of what suits me.

So I made a croquis as advised Threads (and didn't like what I saw, but hey ho) but still didn't really know what to do.  I then stumbled across the blog .  Ignore the fact that it is aimed at the over 40's as there are some great style tips and hints.  It led me to a calculator which has determined that I am a rectangle or banana (?!) and that I have long legs/short torso.  (Actually, I have long thighs, if it weren't for them I would be more balanced and 2 inches shorter).  I then bought Gok's book "How to work your wardrobe" (well at £3.99 in a discount book store it seemed rude not to!).  And he has some good pointers for building a wardrobe.

So armed with this info, my mission is to update my wardrobe and get me out of my jeans.  I have gaps in my wardrobe, considerable gaps actually (did I say that I only wear jeans and t-shirts?!)  That being said, I really need to get in touch with my friend to get my bodice block toile checked for fit  and I will be off.

I just need to find all the fabric I have ideas for.  Now that is a different story!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

My Bodice Block

I did the City & Guilds in Pattern Cutting quite a few years ago.  Since doing it, I've had a baby (who is now 9 :-O ), lost a shed load of weight (related to food allergies of said baby) and put most of it back on, you know the cycle! So my blocks don't really work, although I have to admit that I've not really used them since I've had them, life has kind of got in the way.  (I have used my pattern cutting though so it wasn't all in vain!)   I have a massive stash of fabric, all earmarked for projects but need my blocks to make them so have got on with making new ones.

The first time round, I did my blocks via the flat pattern cutting version, using the Helen Stanley book.  This way is very mathematics-based and necessitates you having measured yourself accurately at various body points.  However, this time round my bodice block was done using the modelling style: no maths involved, you just need to be able to stand still for a while, whilst someone else fits  fabric to your body to create a basic shell.  Both require you making a toile of your blocks to check the fit (which means you need to have someone available to help with fitting).

Despite the speed and ease with which the modelling was done (the speed probably due to my fitter knowing what she was doing, it does help!), I prefer the flat pattern cutting version.  Now I have never really thought of myself being much of a mathematician.  Don't get me wrong, I got a good grade at "O" level (yes I am a relic of the old education system, soon to be old-old education system if Mr Gove has his way) but that was with extra tuition.  Maths and I had an uneasy relationship;  I never really got it, nor the point of it.  However the older I get, I realise that I'm good at the Maths I know and remember (most of it has been forgotten) and I enjoy it.  I am obviously way more mathematical than I ever cared to admit (and yes, I am now admitting it:  My name is Melissa and I DO like Maths).  I like this way of creating blocks; I like the process, the accuracy and the neatness of the flat pattern cutting version.

So, whilst I am waiting for my toiled modelled block to be tweaked, I find myself wondering if you have a block, which method you used or prefer and why?


I've been following various blogs for quite some time now and recently stumbled across Clare's blog Sew Dixie Lou.  She asked me if I had a blog to follow and I hung my head in shame. I've been contemplating about doing a blog for years (and procrastinating all the time: would I have time, what would I write, would I be interesting enough, witty enough etc, etc) and decided to give it a go.  So here I am, and thanks for the push Clare! Oh and please excuse the look; I'm a new blogger and decided to seize the day.  I am hoping/intending for it to look better, once I know how!