Mini PJs for a Mini girl

I know most of us are in that Christmas stage where we don’t know what day it is but it is Friday,  so even though time off means more posts from me,  here’s my weekly Friday one!

Some time in October I acquired quite a lengthy amount of pink gingham cotton. My sister-in-law and I were talking about how it reminded us of the cutest little PJs that my niece, Grace, had when she was tiny. So, I couldn’t not replicate them. Luckily for me there was a sale on a simplicity so I bought this girls and boys pyjamas pattern (1575). The pattern starts at aged 7 and goes up to 14, Grace is only 5 but nearly 6 and rather tall!

I decided to cut two lots out at the the same time, because you can’t get enough PJs when you’re 5! I just made one set of sleeves shorter and customised them to make them individual, as you will see. I wanted traditional, hence the button up style PJs but I was concerned because I’ve never done a button-up shirt before. I needn’t have worried though, the pattern was so easy to use.

I read through the instructions first and decided to scrap the facings and I used a bright pink binding on one and just hemmed the other and used the binding on the back neckline. The tops went together so easily and I chain stitched through the two in no time. There was a brilliant button guide pattern piece that made the buttons really easy to do.

The trousers came as all in one leg pieces and were so simple for it, they literally took me 15 minutes. I did have to wing the elastic waist measurement slightly though, as said child was not on hand!

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So that was it for construction, but I had so much fun customising these. Obviously I used a bright pink bias binding so they look interesting straight away. I put a pocket on one with a cute bit of white ric rac. I wanted these to be more traditional so I used pink buttons and left it at that, apart from this cute label I hand stitched for the inside.

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The second pair have a shorter sleeve, I bought these iron on letters from Drift in Seahouses ages a go and have been waiting for something to put them on and I’m so pleased they go really well and look great! I used yellow buttons on this too as a contrast.

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I love that I have been able to make these PJs personalised for Grace. She wore them on Christmas Eve and her Mum was made up with them! They are a little big but that only means she’ll be in them longer, which doesn’t happen with anything these days!

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She’s the perfect little model! AND… we bought her a sewing machine for Christmas! Can’t wait to have a go at this with her! She was so excited!

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year and best wishes for success and happiness in 2017. Only a few more Christmas pressies to share in 2017 and then normal service will resume!! 

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My brother approved Christmas dress

I don’t know whether  I’ve discussed this but I love Christmas. I have all the Christmas clothes and accessories and last year when I shipped up to my Mum’s in my gingerbread swing dress my brother looked at me like he wished he was adopted or maybe that I was.

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As I’ve discussed, I love a bit of geek/cheesiness, whereas he looks like he’s stepped out of a rock band half the time. So I thought I would tone it down slightly this year…. note I said slightly… I also wanted a dress which would fit better!

I thought it would be really apt to use my New Look 6393 (previously 6020) that my Mum bought me for Christmas last year. It was the first pattern I owned and really sparked my passion for sewing and fuelled my whole year of learning to sew clothes. I have tried this pattern a few times over the year, not always successfully as the bodice would gape (see here) and on others it was too tight, so I was determined to get this right.

I made a muslin (literally from muslin) using view C and made some alterations to the arm holes so that it fit without gaping and then I transferred these changes to the pieces I cut out of this super cute fabric with little owls wearing Santa hats! (see, I’ve toned it right down!)

I used the muslin to line it as I felt a dress I will probably only wear once (possibly twice) a year would be the perfect opportunity for me to practice lining techniques.

I used a thicker maroon coloured fabric to cut the skirt pieces, though I tapered it down slightly down the sides. I used a longer length, which I’m pleased with too, as it is sleeveless but it is winter so I wanted a bit more fabric in the length. I wanted to use a plain fabric for the bottom so that it would be a little more subtle.

Both the pieces of fabric were in a bundle from Abakhan so this was a super cheap make and a good way to use the smaller pieces. The lining worked really well and I love putting the skirt panels together, I find stitching lengths like that really relaxing. I intended to put a zip in but was able to just slip in to it. I even used a Christmas ribbon on the hem!

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Finally a dress which fits well! It’s perfect and Christmassy and I wore it with pride at our Boxing Day party! I know I said it was brother approved and by that I mean he didn’t say ‘what on earth are you wearing?’ so that’ll do for me! 

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My lovely mum and sister
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I hope you’ve all had a nice Christmas.

Getting Shirty for Santa

I’ll start this post by a bit of an explanation of my family dynamic,  I’m the eldest but so far from the coolest of 3 siblings,  my brother and sister are and always have been a billion times cooler than I will ever be and although they love me and we are so lucky to be as close as we are as a family, they consider me to be a complete geek…  Rightly so to be honest and it isn’t a title that I shun. Andrew, my brother, doesn’t usually find my home-made clothes very on trend,  until more recently as I’ve started to get better anyway. When he noticed this, he told me that if I made him a shirt, he would wear it so…  The challenge begun.

I bought Simplicity 6232 Shirt Pattern and cut a small in a lovely dove grey cotton and begun. I didn’t want to get overwhelmed by all the parts so I bought plenty of cotton so I could recut if anything went terribly wrong and tried to take a step by step approach. I really wouldn’t have been able to do it without this tutorial from Male Devon Sewing, it’s a fantastic tutorial and it made the whole thing much easier.  I did also follow this video from Sew Over It when it came to the yoke as I messed up the last one I did. I was doubtful the whole time, until I turned it out and it had only gone and worked!!

I used this brilliant Downton Abbey Fabric for a nice,  manly contrast, even though it is called Dowager Grey Paisley! I used it on the collar, cuffs, yoke and inside the pocket.

dsc_0123.jpgIt all seemed to be going so well and I didn’t have the ‘this doesn’t look right’ feeling but that was such a mistake, as it turned out that I had turned the packets in instead of out. I didn’t realise this until I came to the collar and it was about 1 and a half inches too short on each side. So…  I unpicked the right side and had to do the left side again as I had already done the button holes (gggrrr) Anyway, that solved that, so I moved on. I was dreading the collar but I felt it went really well as I followed the instructions and the tutorial. I found doing the button holes really therapeutic,  which was a good job as I did them twice! I chose these really cool metal buttons to go with it, I wasn’t sure whether they would look cheap or trendy but I decided on the latter.. My father-in-law pointed out that they look like little screws.

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The next problem I came up against was the cuffs,  I couldn’t get them to line up well and they just weren’t really up to standard,  I ummed and ahhed and then unpicked the lot and started again..  I’m glad I did though as it was unwearable with the original cuffs. They look quite neat now and I decided to use more on the contrast fabric the second time round.

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I’m really pleased with it,  this is easily the most complicated garment I’ve ever made and it was a great learning curve. I was really pleased to end a year in which I’ve been learning to sew with a big project like this. I’m very proud of it and Andrew liked it too, which is fantastic. They’ll be no pictures of him wearing it though as he is VERY camera shy!

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Christmas Par-Tea Dress

So, this is my second blog in 2 days because I got published in Sew Magazine! I’m so excited! It’s a bookazine called Sew Style: Stitch Your Size and comes with 3 Butterick Patterns.

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So Exciting!

Anyway, today’s blog offering is the Simple Sew English Tea Dress. I wanted a black dress for the Christmas Party, which I could customise and make nice and Christmassy with this beautiful gold trim  – note, I can’t actually go to my Christmas Party so I actually joined my sister-in-laws!

I bought a lovely, drapey black viscose dress fabric from the local market and 2 metres of it just covered this dress (luckily I wanted to have a go at the little fluttery sleeves that are featured anyway!).
The pattern came together quite quicky, there’s darts in both the front and the back pieces which gives it a really nice shape. I stuck with the facings for this and soon remembered why I usually avoid them. They just don’t sit right… As this was my Christmas dress I used gold ribbon as a binding on the facings before sewing them in place. As usual, they were far too eager to pop out so I settled for some tacking stitches at my shoulders and moved on.

I thought that would be my mission complete,  however it was too tight on the chest… Not unheard of, sadly. So in my determination, I opened up the side seams and inserted a triangular panel at both sides to give me a bit more room. This makes the shape of the sleeves look a little more wide but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

I had left the dress very last minute, I’ve had it cut out for ages but the party date just crept up on me! Anyway, because I was rushing slightly, I didn’t have a long zip so I had to use a 9 inch one… luckily I had cut the back piece on the fold; it meant I didn’t have to cut in in half to insert a zip. and it does make it look smoother. It does mean I have to wiggle in to it a bit but it’s no big deal.

The picture on the pattern shows a V-shaped dip at the waist but I found the pattern doesn’t allow for this as much as it suggests. I inserted the cute little tulip shaped sleeves (it comes with 3 options) and then hemmed it, which was an absolute nightmare; it seemed to press nicely and then it stretched and went wonky as I was stitching. Luckily I was adding my gorgeous gold trim to the bottom so I wasn’t too stressed about it…  I think I would have done some unpicking otherwise.
Anyway,  I pinned and sewed the trim along the hem with the design slightly overlapping the edge. I toyed with the idea of adding the trim elsewhere and pinned it along the neck and the waist to try it but decided against it in the end…  I think my hubby’s words were ‘you have issues with simple being better don’t you?’ I do think it looks effective and more classy and not too OTT this way.

I styled in with black tights and these gorgeous festive gold T-bar shoes… Another reason I didn’t go mad with gold trim- I knew I had gold accessories!
The party was a mardi-gras theme and my sister-in-law and I went all out and had my lovely friend Ann do our make-up professionally.

I felt really glam and was so pleased to be wearing something I made when I didn’t even know how to sew clothes this time last year. Also, just to add, I borrowed my friends chopstick curlers and oh my God,  I’m in hair love!
We had a fab time and danced the night away! I even bagged myself a matching gold mask, which  has since made it’s way on to my Christmas tree!!

 

 

Positive Body Blogger

 

A few months a go I responded to a Twitter plea for Positive Body Bloggers for Sew Magazine and what do you know, I’ve been featured.  It’s a bookazine called Sew Style: Stitch Your Size and comes with 3 Butterick Patterns so check it out!

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It’s something I’m so pleased to have been involved in because I’ve always been curvy and it isn’t going to change any time soon. I don’t want to appear like I’m campaigning here because I’m more of a ‘each of their own’ kind of girl but it’s important to me that I have clothes that fit me and I know all too well the pains of having clothes which don’t fit right or that dreaded fitting room situation where everything is too small, or just doesn’t have enough fabric!! Over the years I have learnt what works for me and it’s great that I can apply these rules to sewing. It is one of the main reasons I love dressmaking so much and I hope I can keep getting better and better so I can design clothing to suit me and my shape.

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It features more information about how I sew to my body and some pictures of me from this blog post in Ireland, which was my first me-made weekend away in a skirt I absolutely love! I hope it inspires people to learn to sew for their shape and let what works for them, work even more!

So a big Hi to anyone who is taking a look from the magazine! Please give me a follow because I have lots of exciting stuff to share, especially over Christmas!

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