Thursday, 11 September 2014

Not a total write off…

In its usual, relentless, fashion the summer holidays have steam-rollered through July and August, resulting in the usual lack of summer makes. On top of that, while the children were away for the week, I developed shingles, and spent about 8 days flat out in bed. A week on, and I still haven’t made it back to the machine (tbh, been a bit busy – family days out, and all that).
However, before I was struck down I did manage to make a couple of things. First up was a dress for Piper (she wanted to be involved in making one from scratch). I used one my Mum’s uncut patterns from the 1970s and positively whipped up a little princess line number from a rose patterned St Michael’s sheet. And lined it with the final remnant of “the sheet which kept on giving” (off the top of my head, I’ve used it to make a toga, interline a bag and line three reversible aprons).
Piper dress
This was followed by a partially successful attempt to make my lounge curtains (I have had the fabric put by for a couple of years now). Our lounge is a through room with a bay at one end and patio doors at the other, so the plan was to make a wide pair for the bay, and a long pair for the doors. I (mostly) made the pair for the bay, and I am very happy with them. I just held off hemming them because I couldn’t tell how much they might drop. At this point I fell ill (and about time too – turns out curtains are really dull to make!) so the other pair will have to wait a while, just hopefully not another two years.
Bay Curtains
My highlight of the summer though is my Bronte top, in a dark murky grey, with mother of pearl button. As yet un-photographed (I tried a few mirror shots, but they always end up unflatteringly wonky), it has fast become one of my most worn t-shirts, and I already have the next one lined up to make. This top was brilliantly easy and the extra sewalong tips really helped as this was my first time sewing with t-shirting. Best of all my Mum loved it so much she has requested one too!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

End of School

ButterflyWhich of course means teacher presents – and I sort of forgot for a minute that I now have two children at primary school, which meant twice the number of presents…

So, 2 Teachers and 2 TAs, plus a leaving present for pre-school as my youngest says goodbye to them. The pre-school was easy though, as Robin regularly wore her butterfly costume to school where it was greatly admired, so I made another one for pre-school. (I “slightly” overestimated how much fleece I would need first time around, so had plenty on hand!)

Traditionally I have made reversible totes for Matthew’s teachers (well, TAs really, as until this year he hasn’t had a teacher last out the year), which as they were all ladies worked well, but this year I had the challenge of a male teacher (couldn’t picture him with one of my bags…) But he is a tie-wearer, so courtesy of the free pattern at Coletterie I had a go (with some more of the linen from Cathy’s wedding).

The bags came together very nicely. As usual each bag is lined in a sturdy fabric to reinforce the decorative side, with a large pocket from the contrast fabric on it. In this case the blue and green bags had a calico lining, while the fern pattern fabric was paired with dark heavyweight denim. (Of course, the whole bag can be reversed so that the plain/pocketed side is on the outside, and the more decorative side tucked away discreetly inside the bag.) I even remember to sew tag in before stitching the side seams, and put the handles and ties in the right way round FIRST TIME!!

The tie was straightforward, but, unless I misinterpreted the instructions for folding, came up far too wide around the neck, so I ended up tracing some changes onto the lining from one of Robert’s ties, trimming it down and refolding everything. Came together beautifully the second time around, which isn’t bad for a first time make. And I think we had four happy teachers (the tie was even being worn by the end of the day).
Bags and tie

Monday, 30 June 2014

Pyjamas for Peter Rabbit

PJ1Smallest of all had her 4th birthday a couple of weeks ago and I had a last minute present inspiration for her. Frankly she has so many clothes that I was struggling to justify making her another dress, but when I saw a very lightweight cotton tablecloth (with yellow flowers and a brown border print) in the charity shop (£1.99) it screamed pyjamas at me. And it has to be said, her current pyjamas are all getting a little snug.
I then found a free pdf pyjama pattern and away I went. Although the original pattern was drafted for a child apparently the same size as mine I did a little enlarging. This all worked fine, except for the sleeve head – arm scye PJ2relationship (somehow I didn’t make the sleeve head large enough), but having fudged it by tapering the body in under the arm to make the two bits fit together, the top fits her fine. I also had to add an extra inch to the trousers to bring the waistband further up her body – I can only assume she is long in the body like her brother.
Obviously I bought fabric for this project, but I did manage to bust some of my button stash!! A couple of years ago I was given a card of Beatrix Potter buttons and I have been hoarding them, waiting for the right thing to put them on – and this was it! The colour density on the buttons and the style of the fabric just seemed to fit together, and given that Robin loves the current Peter Rabbit animated series it was a winner. Although she didn’t want the Old Brown button, because “he is a bad one”.
PJ6 Buttons cropped
Aside from Robin’s delight, I am really pleased with this make. Especially with all the cutting and pattern matching. In fact every time I see how the border print lines up makes me smile (although not as much as Robin, apparently).PJ3

Monday, 9 June 2014

Wardrobe Makeover

Well, it is a kind of stashbusting. In that we no longer have to edge into the garage and complain about not being able to find anything “because there’s a wardrobe there”. :-)
My online presence has been little bit sketchy over the last couple of months. I nearly blogged on my April makes, but with two lots of school holidays, plus some other things to be doing, I feel like I got sucked into limbo and have just been spat out again.
My big (non-sewing) project was a long-awaited paint job on the wardrobe I promised Matthew last summer. It arrived then as a plain, beaten up, scribbled on pine wardrobe (£12, ebay). Summer 2013, before the sun went away, I let the children help me prime it (why???) and then it got mothballed in the garage while it rained. End of April/beginning of May I made some space in the living room, and spent the next few weeks giving it a top coat and then decorating in the previously approved fashion, while fending off offers of help from the children. It is now residing in Matthew’s tiny bedroom (it fits under his loft bed!)
Wardrobe stage 1 Wardrobe side pulleys

Wardrobe finished
I did do some sewing, but nothing that needs much explanation…
2014_04_01_14_23_11Leaving present for my son’s fab Maths teacher Easter presentsnon-food items for the Easter Egg Hunt.
2014_05_12_11_18_08money pouch, using vintage linings from my grandmother’s stash… 2014_05_12_11_36_23Leather brooch made at a workshop at the fab Love From Hetty & Dave.
I also made two items of clothing – a frilled, polka dot crimplene skirt for Robin, and a green and orange linen shirt for my 1 year old nephew, only “Failure to Fotograph” struck again so no photos. (Sorry, alliteration was too good to resist).
And I moved my sewing machines from the dining room to the recently vacated garden office (or “shed”). This has had an impact on my sewing too, as I have to go outside to get things done, but it is also helping my to think about how I approach my sewing tasks, and what state I leave everything in at the end of the day!
Here’s to a more productive June/July, before 6 weeks of no sewing hits me.

Friday, 28 March 2014

The Moustachathon

Project no. 3 for March – an utterly seasonal marathon running costume!
In a couple of weeks’ time my elder sister will be running the London Marathon (again) and felt that her earlier foray into Marathon/Moustache combos was just too low key and commissioned something like this but out of felt.
Pretty straight forward to make – 1.5m of black felt, some kind of covered wire I was gifted last year when corset making, and lots of black thread. (We considered using cardboard, but thought it might be harder to run in, especially if it rained). I broke out the zigzag machine for this one, and having cut out two layers of moustache shaped felt zigzagged over the wire to attach it to one of the layers. If I hadn’t been trying to work it all out on the fly I would have then done the same thing with a wide H shape of wire (to provide vertical and horizontal support) and repeated for the other piece. As it was I attached the two layers a bit too soon, so had to be a bit more creative. Especially as it needed a little bit of padding to give the curves some character. However, by dint of layering in some spare felt/wire/batting and then painstakingly sewing in some more wire to the lower edge of the front piece for support, attaching it to the RTW black tutu at regular intervals, and stitching more bits closed to get it to hang right when worn we ended up with “the vision”.
Cathy Full Moustach 2
And a bonus piece of theming is the comedy facial moustache that no-one can miss!
Matthew Face Moustache Robin Face Moustach
Piper face Moustache Cathy face moustache
If you want to sponsor Cathy then please visit her sponsorship page here.
Cathy Full Moustache 1
p.s. apologies for the quality of the photos – the light was poor, the house was a mess and I was using my mobile phone – never a good combination.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

World Book Day

Apparently this was the 17th World Book Day (the fourth since I first heard about it – when Matthew started school) and I love it. The notion of having a day to celebrate the joy of reading a book, and even better, going to school in costume to illustrate it and to share new books and characters with your friends!
This year Matthew and Piper both came up with really clear ideas of which characters they wanted to go as. And posed for LOTS of photos.
World Book Day
Piper chose Katie Morag (recently made into a TV series, but we have a couple of the original books at home too). The key items of this costume are a cream chunky knit sweater (with some blue detailing), a green check skirt and a pair of wellies. Well, the boots we already had and the basic jumper I found in Tesco marked down from £10 to £4! The skirt was trickier though as it is a very green on green check, and didn’t quite fit any of the tartans or checked fabrics I could find locally. It also bugged me that I wasn’t going to be able to use anything out of my stash – until I realised I had the perfect base fabric for the skirt. Then I just cut out the pieces I needed (traced from one of her school skirts) and I used fabric paints to print the squares and draw the lines. A few hours later and I had the perfect print, mimicking the watercolour style of the original illustrations! The skirt then just needed sewing together,  I couched a length of blue yard onto the jumper to create the decorative element Katie Morag has on her sweater and I had one happy Piper.
KatieMorag KM Dance KM Skipping 2
KM Skipping 4 KM Skipping 3 KM Skipping 1
KM Full KM Back KM Jumper close up
KM Skirt front KM Skirt back KM Jumper 2

Matthew selected a brilliant character costume that is completely his style, and couldn’t have been more obscure if he tried! One of his most read books is one I bought when I was his age called “Aliens in the Family” by Margaret Mahy. Bond is a shape changing alien sent to Earth on a fact finding mission. He disguises himself as a human in order to not stand out. His clothing is described in detail: “Pockets of orange, green and gold, all differently shaped, were sewn down the legs of his blue jeans, and there were others like bright windows on his brown shirt.” The book also makes reference to his white hair and the red and black tattoos on his neck which in his real form are his gills and there is a plot element where he acquires a transistor radio with ear piece which he carries around everywhere.
One charity shop shirt, one existing pair of jeans, and some more wedding linen from the stash (plus some junk from Robert's collection of broken tech that he hasn't thrown away yet) and we had it!
Alien Tattoo Alien Full Face
Alien Bodycrop Alien Pout
Alien Pout Alien Headshot
In progress shot – tattoos applied, and hair spray in progress – outside!
I love World Book Day, and I think they did too.

Monday, 3 March 2014

A little bit of Love

SuperPiperStashbusting in February has been going very well – and with a brief to make either something I love, or for someone I love it was very easy to fit with other practical considerations.
First up was Superhero Day at school (much admired already by my fellow stashbusters. Most of the costume was made a couple of years ago for Matthew, but Piper is a different kind of superhero, so she definitely needed a red skirt to really work her superhero status.

February is also a birthday month and sister in law Sue wanted a barista style apron. Half a remnant later (plus some leftovers from Robert’s shirt) we have an apron. I was undecided on a pocket, so left it for now and will add one to Sue’s requirements next time they visit.
Sister in law LJ’s birthday was soon after, and in a spectacularly unimaginative move made her an apron too! However as they have utterly different styles I was able to be much more creative in my fabric choices.
Aprons(modelled by Robert and Matthew!)

Contrary to all the clues this is in fact NOT a valentine! Except in the sense of I love youbeing an enduring reminder of my love. I wanted to provide my little sister with something that would remind her how much she is loved on the days when everything is a battle. As a first pass I made this simple needlework design using a piece of the leftover wedding fabric. The embroidery hoop was just for the making. I ended up gluing it to a postcard, and backing it with another piece of card to hide the edges, so that she can lean it on a shelf or stick it to the wall easily.

Finally(ish) my other sister came to visit over half term, bringing with her a onesie which needed to be altered to make a Max (from Where The Wild Things Are) for World Book Day. This was great fun, working out how to achieve the look without drastically altering the original garment. I turned the round bear ears into horns by twisting them up and stitching in place. Then I raided my cupboard for black covered wire (I don’t know what this generally used for, but someone gave it to me when I was corset making…) for wonky whiskers and some white fabric for the tail. Finally I added four large buttons down the front – and added white stickers to the front of each one to make them more like Max’s. One happy Robin… I mean Cathy.
Next up, more World Book Day costumes. :-)