Tuesday 25 October 2016

Christmas Pyjamas - Girl Charlee Tutorial

Hi!  I know it seems a bit early for some to be thinking of Christmas already, but with three weeks to go until my due date I am trying to get organised in advance this year.  Fortuitously,  the very lovely Mark from Girl Charlee gave me some perfect fabric for the Child's Christmas pyjamas and my tutorial is on their blog today!  

Every year I like to make my daughter new pyjamas for Christmas Eve, if nothing else just so she has something unstained by porridge or my bad laundry skills suitable to be photographed on Christmas morning!  This year she is heavily into pink (I am thankful we got to six before she insisted that all the things have to be pink!) so this pink fabric with red fawns is just perfect for her. 

As I did not want to have to buy a whole new jersey pyjamas pattern, I decided to alter a leggings pattern for the bottoms and use t-shirt pattern which I already have (Oliver and S Field Trip T-shirt) for the top.  The leggings pattern I started with is the Oliver and S Playtime Leggings but any leggings pattern will work. 

I wanted a roomy pyjama bottom with plenty of room for growth so the leggings needed more width.  I started by tracing the correct size piece, then marking a line down the centre of the leg.   I cut down this line and moved the two pieces of the pattern apart by 3cm and taped them down.  I then joined up the waist and ankle lines.  Whilst cutting the bottoms out I also added 5cm to the rise for a bit more seat room. 

The final alteration I made to the pattern was to make some cuffs for the ankles.  For these I measured across the bottom of the original pattern pieces (21cm), rounded it down and then halved it (to cut on the fold).  I had already worked out that I wanted a roughly 4cm high cuff so would need double that height plus a seam allowance of 1cm at either side, therefore my cuff pattern piece was a square 10cm x 10cm.  I used some ribbing that I had left over from last year’s Christmas pyjamas for this.

I followed the instructions for the construction of the leggings with the exception of the bottom hems.  To attach the cuffs I first pressed the cuff pieces in half wrong sides together, then unfolded and sewed the side seams right sides together.  I then marked the halfway point on both the cuffs and the bottom of the trouser legs and with the raw edges even on the cuffs and trouser legs pinned at this point and at the seams.  Stretching the cuff slightly, I attached them to the bottom of the trousers.

For the top I followed all the instructions exactly as they are written with the exception of the addition of cuffs again.  I find that the size 6 in this pattern has plenty of room in for my daughter without needing to add any extra.

We are both very pleased with the new Christmas pyjamas, the fabric was a delight to work with and is just perfect for this project.  There is plenty of growth room too so I am sure they will get worn long past Christmas!

Thursday 8 September 2016

The Refashioners 2016

Sometimes when you haven't blogged for a while it's hard to know where to start again.  I have always used my blog as a means of documenting finished projects which has set the timetable for posts, but as I haven't done a lot for the past six months I haven't had a specific reason to write.  If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed I am pregnant, which is why I haven't been up to much!  Specifically, without boring anyone with the details, this is an IVF pregnancy after 6 years of secondary infertility which has resulted in me taking things very, very easy - to the point of practically no sewing at all.  This has been very strange for me as, like a lot of people, I have been using sewing as a means of escape from life's little problems and sometimes it has been the thing which has kept me going. However some minor problems early on meant forced rest and by then I was out of the swing of things a bit.

Luckily Portia's brilliant challenge, The Refashioners, forced me to start thinking and sewing again.  I took part last year and it was one of the highlights of my year so when Portia asked me to participate again I was very excited.

I had so many ideas to start with (my initial reaction was to make a dungaree dress, which sadly would not have been practical for pregnancy so has been shelved for a while!) but I soon settled on making something I will need soon, and something I know will be used a lot – a travel changing mat.  I had one of these when my daughter was a baby which was a freebie from a magazine and it didn’t last but it was so useful for carrying a small changing kit around, and meant that any bag could become a changing bag.  

I started with a pair of jeans which I probably bought about 8-10 years ago and which were still a lovely dark indigo colour which was what I was looking for.  They also have some stretch in which isn’t ideal but hasn’t affected the end result.

Before starting, I looked at a tutorial to get a basic idea of construction and also borrowed a friend’s changing mat to get a rough idea of size.  I was obviously constrained by the width of the leg of the jeans but luckily I managed to cut the mat out whilst avoiding the leg shaping in these jeans.  Obviously this would have been easier if I had used a pair of men’s, non-stretch and unshaped jeans but these were sitting unloved in my cupboard!

I cut my jeans up the outside leg seam, leaving the inner seam intact, and lay the fabric out flat. I then made a quilt sandwich of denim, batting and soft furry plush fabric before quilting all three layers together in a diamond pattern, using basting spray and a walking foot to stop the layers shifting around while quilting.  To make the pockets, I cut two rectangular pieces of denim from the remaining leg and two pieces of flannel fabric half as wide again as the main pocket pieces.  I gathered the bottom of the flannel to fit on the pocket, and sewed a channel for elastic along the top.  I wanted bigger, roomier pockets than my last version as I am intending to use cloth nappies again which take up more space than disposables, but they will also be useful to put a spare change of clothes in too.

Using a faux leather bias binding I bound the pockets first before attaching them to the mat then bound the whole way around the mat.  The binding was really quite tricky to work with so I kept the walking foot on my machine and took it really slowly.  It isn’t perfect but I am happy with the outcome.  The last thing to do was to stitch the buckle on the front, which has a magnetic closure, and done! 

The only thing I had to buy to make this changing mat was the binding, everything else I had in my cupboard.  The plush and flannel were left over from making new baby gifts, I can’t even remember why I bought the buckle but I am so pleased it has been put to good use and obviously the jeans were taking up space and feeling unloved so I am delighted to have turned them into something which I know will be so useful to me in a few months’ time.  Thank you so much Portia for organising such a brilliant event.  I love seeing everyone’s projects popping up and how other people interpret the theme.  Good luck to all taking part in the community challenge - the deadline is 30th September so still plenty of time to enter!

Friday 4 March 2016

Oliver & S Sailboat Top/Playtime Dress Mash Up

The success of my last Playtime Dress had the additional bonus of helping me to decide how to use this gorgeous fabric that the very lovely Nicole sent me last year.  After having seen Katy's Sailboat Top I wanted to make an exact replica because I love it so much!  But then I thought about lengthening the pattern to a tunic, and then I stalled what with so much going on towards the end of the year.  I pulled the fabric back out again around the Child's birthday but was suddenly undecided so put it back away again, and it was only after making the Playtime Dress up that I hit on the idea of mixing the two patterns together.

I took the front and back pieces of the Sailboat top and measured roughly where the playtime bodice ends and cut the pattern off at that point.  Then I attached the skirt to it.  Simple!  I did make an error when constructing the top which was to overlap the back pieces at the shoulder on top of the front instead of the other way around.  I have made this pattern before but it was over two years ago and I wasn't really concentrating that hard this time!  Oops!  Having said that, I think it is one of those things that bugs me but that non-sewing people may not notice so it's staying.

The fabric is a fantastically stable polo shirt pique style knit.  Nicole very generously sent me a lot of it and I have plans for a maxi dress for me from the rest of it - although knowing me my plans may change!  I would also like to make a straight Sailboat top from it, I think it is perfectly suited to this pattern.  

Most of the construction was done on my overlocker, including attaching the facings which is probably not advisable! I opted not to use a contrasting thread for the top stitching which is a bit of a shame as I did it quite neatly on this one, I have just finished a sweater version of the sailboat and the top stitching on that is decidedly wobbly!  

I am very pleased with how this dress has come out.  I think it's a nice version of the Playtime dress which my daughter finds very comfortable.  I can see this getting a lot of wear and hopefully it will fit for a year or so.  

I have done very well at replenishing the Child's wardrobe recently.  There are still things I would like to make for her and she will need more clothes this summer but she has enough to be going on with for the moment.  She is still in need of basics though but I feel my motivation to make them wearing off a bit!  At some point I will get round to it but for now I think I'm going to take some sewing time out to work on my cardigan that I have been knitting for myself since last May!