Monday, 20 October 2014

Kid's Clothes Week Sewalong: October 2014

kid's clothes week

So, you may have noticed that I've been making more baby/child clothes over the last year or so... And in doing so and thinking about doing so, I've started to encounter a whole new (to me) subsection of the sewing blogosphere: the children's wear blogs. Holy shitballs there are some amazing kids clothes being made out there, let me tell you. Plus some of those blogs are sooooo beautiful. Like, stroke-the-pretty-pictures-on-the-screen beautiful. How any of these people have time to look after the kids they are sewing for whilst maintaining such amazing blogs, I have no idea! 

I came across a whole heap of children's wear (or partly children's wear) blogs when I took part in the promotion for the Perfect Pattern Parcel #2. My involvement with that and plundering Pinterest for my bloated though may I say amazing Kiddie Clothes Making board has brought a wealth of amazing independent children's wear pattern designers to my attention, along with the Kid's Clothes Week sewalong.

The Kid's Clothes Week blog can explain it all perfectly well, but in short it's a week-long sewalong that takes place four times a year along a theme which you are welcome to ignore. The only stipulation for taking part is that you sew kid's clothing for one hour a day for a week, and the latest instalment starts TODAY! 


The theme this time round is 'Storybook', but to be honest I'm going to ignore that and just dive in to the  stack of patterns (some of which are pictured above) and fabric I have been sewing together in my head but haven't actually touched in reality. The preparation for releasing the Dolores sewing pattern, a bulk order for my Etsy shop, making stock to sell at Christmas craft fairs and other sewing obligations seem to have got in the way. Plus, my recent charity shop hauls and bags of hand-me-down clothing Dolores has received of late has abated any new clothing requirements she may have had for a while. 

However, the joy of seeing her wear the recent baby blouse refashion has reminded me of how much I want to make the majority of her clothing, so I'm going to get stuck in next week and see how much I can make in seven hours. I'll probably make things for size 18 months or two years, as she has more than enough clothing for her current size. I'm working at the weekend so I'll have to spread those two hours of sewing into the other five days to make up my quota! I'll report back with my creations. 

Do you follow any children's wear blogs? Have you used any independent sewing pattern companies' designs? 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Refashion Friday: Men's Shirt to Baby Blouse


Oh it feels good to crack out a Refashion Friday post again! It's been an age. As has this garment in the making, actually. This was the last sewing project I touched before I gave birth. I hadn't picked it up again until yesterday when I finally got to finish it, over a year later! I remember cutting out the pieces whilst not really having a clue about what was about to happen to my life.... This is going to be an unashamedly picture-heavy post, BTW, for two reasons: 1) I am so happy with the final outcome, and 2), my little girl makes for cute pictures!


Fabric:

This project started out life as a fairly bland second hand men's short sleeved shirt (see above). I was drawn to it though because it has a delicate red and blue check that appealed to me. Plus, the fabric is super soft and it was in really good condition, generally. 


Pattern:

Every month I have a nose at the Burdastyle magazine on sale in my local newsagent. But rarely these days do I find a pattern in there that I'd actually like to make, let alone several. The Sept 2013 addition (pictured below) was a real exception because I adored most of the patterns from the issue's baby section. For this project I used the blouse pattern, but I also used the baby dress pattern from this issue to make Dolores's Christmas dress (which she was wearing today, in fact). If you like either of these patterns, you can buy them individually here and here from the Pattern Store on the Burdastyle website. For both the Christmas dress and this blouse I used the size 74. Dolores is slightly taller than that right now, but she is a bit skinnier than the 'average' for that size and it seemed to work out fine. 


Refashion:

Whether you would classify this baby blouse as a refashion, remake, upcycle or anything else is of course a personal call. I would call it all of them! As well as making the most of the lovely fabric from an unwanted garment, I also utilised a few of the original garment's finishes, the most useful of which was the original button stand, buttons and buttonholes (see below) for the back closure. By cutting the pieces to include those, I side-stepped some serious faffing about, particularly because my current sewing machine is from the 1960s and doesn't have a one-step buttonhole function. The original shirt's button stand has been interfaced and looks so crisp and neat, I wouldn't have been (bothered) able to have created a finish that clean. 


Another element from the original garment was the sleeve hems. Because the shirt's sleeves were short, there wasn't enough fabric available to cut the blouse sleeves with sufficient hem allowance for the elasticated cuffs the pattern prescribes (which you can see here). So I kept the sleeves loose and used the deeper sleeve hem from the original shirt and I think I prefer the effect than the gathered version anyhow. This blouse has a less twee, more let's-go-to-work-wrecking-the-lounge look to it than the pattern intends. 


As I have done many times when refashioning men's shirts into women's blouses (see here for an example, plenty more on my Refashion Resource page), I used the original garment's hem. It has a pleasing curve that the blouse pattern didn't call for. To salvage the original hem, I stitched the side seams, then finished the seam allowance together as a closed seam, press the seam allowances towards the back and then made tiny bar tacks at the hem to encourage the seam allowances to lie flat as they wouldn't be trapped down by the hemming step (that was already done). 


Details:

I'm pretty much in love with this whole pattern and it's proportions, but my favourite parts are definitely the neck ruffle and bias binding neckline finishing. I was worried that the neck ruffle would might look a bit clownish. In fact, due to the restriction of fabric available in the original shirt, I had to cut the ruffle piece shorter, so it isn't quite a gathered as the pattern is meant to be. I'm hoping that helps side-step any circus associations that the finished blouse might have had! The self-made bias binding highlights the little check of the fabric, and the hand stitching that traps the inside edge down creates a neat finish which might have been difficult to achieve with a sewing machine on such a tiny garment. 


Conclusion:

It may sound like I'm blowing my own trumpet a bit in this post (I'm English and such things are NOT ALLOWED), but I'm just trying to express how happy I am with this blouse, which means so much to me as the creation of it spanned both ends of my daughter's first year of life. It's also refreshed my love of reusing existing garments for a pleasingly cheap and lower-environmental impact sewing project. Sewing clothes rather than buying them is awesome for many reasons, of course. One of main things that appeals to many is the ability to put your personal stamp on a project by making your own design, fabric and notions choices. When refashioning an existing garment, you often can or indeed have to use elements from the original garment or work around restrictions which in turn has the effect of making the final outcome even more unique.

Look away now if you are of a nervous disposition....


Sunday, 12 October 2014

Charity Shop Scores in Leigh-on-Sea, St Leonards and Hastings


For those who enjoy nosing at other peoples' charity shop/op shop/thrift store finds (like me), you're in for a treat! Lately I have been working HARD at scoring major bargains, let me tell you. The above booty was all found in one day whilst Dolores and I were visiting my parents in Essex.


My dad, Dolores and I hit an unsuspecting Leigh-on-Sea one Tuesday afternoon. (Witness Dad and Dolores enjoying a mid-trip coffee break and one of her new books above.) With the baby strapped on, Dad and I quickly discussed our tactics on route (avoid the Salvation Army one because the staff are pretty racist and Oxfam because it's too expensive). We came away with nine vests, two t-shirts, one gilet, five books, one pair of leather Zara shoes (50p!) and one wheelie duck. Total spent: £11.70. If I'd bought all these things for Dolores new, I probably would have spent about five times that amount. 


Closer to home, I enjoyed further success in the limited yet bountiful charity shops of St Leonards, East Sussex (pictured above). Another crop of goodies all for Dolores, this time I got three books, one soft bath towel, one plastic rake and one spade, two t-shirts, one dinosaur sweatshirt and one swimming costume. Can't remember how much I spent, my apologies, but with those books coming in at 10p each, you can bet I spent a lot less than I would have buying each item new.  


On the same day I later snared a faux fur jacket (pictured above) in a charity shop in Hastings for £25. It's in mint condition so I thought it was a fairly new item. However, after a good look I'm pretty sure it's vintage judging by the labels. I love how the grain of the fur faux runs on the bias down the sleeves. And the best thing about it? The lining has freaking eyes on it! 


Of course, it's not just the money saving that I love about charity shopping. There's the thrill of not knowing what you're going to come across, and finding out how kind the Gods of Charity Shopping are feeling on that given day. Plus I truly believe that we all need to try and consume fewer mass-produced products for the sake of slowing down global warming and the consumption natural resources. By buying things that have already been bought before and still have heaps of use left in them, I hope that it will, in some infinitesimally small way, mean that the world my daughter grows up in will be a better one than what I fear she's currently looking at inheriting. Have you had any good second hand scores lately? What is it about charity shopping/op shopping/ thrifting that you love, if in fact you do?

Friday, 3 October 2014

The Dolores Batwing Pattern: On Sale Now!!!



The Dolores batwing pattern is now available to purchase! For only £7.00 you can make six different versions of this garment (just £1.16p per version!). Click here to buy the pattern, or visit the Dolores batwing pattern page for further details. Plus, don't forget to check out the Dolores Batwing Pattern Pinterest board to see other people's creations using this versatile sewing pattern.

Thank you sooooo much for your supportive comments on my post introducing the Dolores batwing pattern. I was blown away by how many of you were up for making and reviewing the pattern to help spread the word. It was tempting to send you all a copy of the pattern to make and review, but that would have defeated the object of making a sewing pattern to sell! The random number generator selected the following 18 bloggers who have each received a review copy of the Dolores batwing pattern (plus two who have yet to confirm receipt of the pattern):

Amanda from Blanca Pate
Charlotte from English Girl at Home
Cheryl from Red Knits
Coo from Betty Stitchup
Franca from Oranges & Apples
Isa from Only Lola
Jo from Jo Sews
Joy from A Charm of Magpies
Katy from Sleek Silhouette 
Lindsey from French Seam and Pipe Dreams
Lucie from Love, Lucie
Margaret from Senjiva Studio
Sandra from Flossie FT
Sara from Mixed Emotions 
Sarah from Fabric Tragic
Sue from Quilt, Sew, Sew Sue
Thea from Thea's Adventures in Sewingland
Zoe from Fozzel & Bean

I can't wait to see their versions of the pattern and read their honest reviews. If you try the pattern, puhlease send me a pic or a link to a post if you blogged about it (sozoblog (at) g mail (dot) com).

Friday, 26 September 2014

Fancier Pants


See all that beautiful cotton undies elastic pictured above? Well it's mine, ALL MINE! Hahahaha!!! 

Forgive me, I got a bit excited. I have acquired this lovely stash is because I was asked to make some undies samples using some of it. Maggie, the owner of Textile Garden, who is a sponsor of my blog and officially the nicest lady in haberdashery, recently got a new range of elastic and wanted some samples for her stall when she goes to knitting and stitching type events.  


I made a couple of pairs of pants using some luxurious organic cotton knit (sent to me by Offset Warehouse) and a vest using some stretchy lace fabric lurking in my stash. Unsurprisingly, I used my free undies/pants and vest patterns for these. 


I adapted my usual undie-making methods to suit these delicate cotton elastics by applying them with tiny zigzag stitches rather than a chunkier three-step zigzag stitch. It was really enjoyable to sew with a product that I normally wouldn't get my hands on. And I love the results, even if there's no red, navy, leopard print or anchors involved!


I think my favourites are the duck-egg and lilac/pink scalloped elastic (pictured above) and the cream lace elastic (pictured below). They also sell the lace elastic in white, and seeing as it's cotton I'm assuming that you could dye it any colour you pleased. 


My undies drawer is looking a bit shabby these days (in case you were wondering) so when I get some time I'm going to update it using some of these lovely elastics. I'm sure there are lots of other uses aside from undies that you could make though. What would you make with pretty cotton elastic like this?


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Introducing The Dolores Batwing Pattern! PLUS: Review Copies Giveaway

**THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS FOR ENTERING**


I am flipping out with excitement to finally be able to reveal to you lovely people my new garment pattern! It has been in the pipeline on and off for over two years, and she's finally ready for you to see. The Dolores batwing pattern be on sale in downloadable PDF form on 3rd October. But in the meantime, let me show you some pics and tell you a bit more...


This is a pattern designed for light to medium weight knit fabrics, and looks and feels particularly good in those with a drapey, slinky quality. It's a super-simple PDF pattern that prints off in just 11 pages and consists of four patterns pieces. You'll only need to use three of those pattern pieces per style variation. 


Speaking of style variations, there are two sleeve options and three length options, giving you a combination of six different looks in total (and that's before you put your own spin on things, should you wish to!). These photos here show three of the style variations you could make, check out the line illustrations to see all six. 


Multi-sized for sizes 8 - 16, this pattern is suitable for knit beginners and more experienced types alike. Not only is it simple in design and construction, but the instructions include lots of tips for choosing, prepping, cutting and sewing knit fabrics, whether you own an overlocker or just a regular sewing machine. The Dolores batwing pattern will be on sale from 3rd October, but of course I'll be reminding you!


So on to the giveaway... I will be sending some 'copies' (umm, files) of this pattern to sewing bloggers around the globe to help get the word out about its existence. If you'd like a free copy of the pattern and instructions, then please leave a comment below this post. The only criteria for entering this giveaway is that you have a blog and promise to write an honest review about the Dolores batwing pattern on it. I don't care how many people read your blog, BTW: whether it gets a squillion hits a day or only your mum checks in now and again, please enter the giveaway if you wish to!

Leave your comment by midnight GMT Wednesday 24th September, and I'll choose twenty bloggers the following day by random number generator to receive this pattern ahead of it going on sale. If I can't easily find your email address by clicking through to your blog or blogger profile etc, then please leave it in your comment.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank my awesome pattern and instruction testers Claire, Jane, Jenna, Karen, Kathryn, Laura, Marie and Winnie. They have all been so generous with their time and assistance, and I literally couldn't have got this into the real world without them.

Friday, 12 September 2014

One Week One Pattern '14: Complete!


It's a wrap! Today was the final day of this year's OWOP challenge as hosted by Handmade Jane (thanks, Jane!), and a thoroughly fun challenge it was too. If you recall, I decided I was going to take part using the Playful Kitty baby leggings pattern from Ottobre magazine. Signing up to the challenge was a great push to bash out a few more pairs of this excellent and super quick pattern.


After making the original pair (on the left of the picture above) I revisited the pattern and made a few changes. I, umm, *coughs*, added the seam allowance that I should have added before, as well as lowering the waistline at the front by 2 cm. 

The second from left pair are made from some weird vintage cream and navy printed knit fabric. It's really thin and synthetic-y feeling but I'm also strangely drawn to it! I have a ton of it and will therefore probably make many garments for Dolores from it in the future, so I may as well start now! 

The stripy pair are made from some amazing organic interlock that is available here from The Village Haberdashery. These were made using scraps left over from the Moneta sample I made for VH's owner Annie in advance of the class I taught there a few times.   

The fourth pair are made from the same ribbed synthetic knit that I used last year to make a pair of pregnancy leggings from. You can see them in action here. By the end of my pregnancy, they were the only things I could fit on my lower half! I really like that she now has a version of the same leggings I wore whilst growing her!

So on the documentation of the challenge, because I'm sure that's what you really came here to see!


Saturday (Day 1):
Blue version 


Sunday (Day 2):
Cream and navy version


Monday (Day 3):
Cartoon print brown version


Tuesday (Day 4):
Cream and navy version


Wednesday (Day 5):
Stripy version rolled up in a natty manner


Thursday (Day 6):
Blue version (she was not feeling well today)


Friday (Day 7):
Started with cartoon print brown version, but due to a leaky nappy an outfit change was required before photography could commence. So, stripy version!


Conclusion:

I love this challenge! As I said before, I love it for many of the same reasons I love Me-Made-May. It's a great opportunity to enjoy and celebrate the things we've made that we actually want to wear in our day-to-day lives. Plus it's wonderful to see how people interpret different patterns, and it's great to hoover up ideas for future creating.

Regarding the leggings themselves, they are also a great success. The lowered front works well and I was surprised by how many not-too-bizarre-looking outfit combo's I could rustle up including this quartet. The addition of seam allowance on the pattern obvs makes them come up a fair bit bigger, and at the moment the pair without seam allowance currently fit her best. However, it's great to know that the others will last for months and months, especially because I created quite a large overlap on the waist elastic with an eye to letting them out further down the line, just like the pregnancy pair I made myself actually! In fact I'm sitting here typing this wearing the black pair of pregnancy leggings I made, with the elastic made a lot shorter again!
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