Starting to Sew for Summer

Although we had a fairly mild winter, it only took a few days of sunshine to get me thinking about what patterns I could pull together to start making some summer clothes for me and my two.  Lovely linens, crisp seersucker and double gauze, cotton lawn and light jersey knit are all fantastic fabrics for summery clothing and by mixing up fabrics and colours you can have a great handmade summer wardrobe before you know it.

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I pulled together these patterns back in early March and even had most of them cut out but I lost my motivation for a while so they sat next to the sewing machine until last week.  Two of the patterns I have made before, the Geranium dress and the Scout Tee so I  put those to the side and started with the new ones. First up was the Puffball shorts. Shorts on kids get a bit of a hammering outdoors over summer so I picked a bright purple polka needlecord from Fabrics Galore. The pattern is from a lovely book that I picked up after seeing on the instagram feed of Lauren Guthrie, former Sewing Bee finalist, now fabric shop owner. These shorts came together so quickly and I love that some of the seams are reinforced with extra stitching. The front pleats are a lovely feature and waistband and leg cuffs give a neat finish. They fit nicely but I will add an inch or so to the top of the leg pieces next time around to give a little extra nappy room. These are great for summer and could even make it into the Autumn with a pair of tights underneath.

Next up was the Oliver & S Roller skate top. I managed to grab the pattern on sale and had it tucked away for a while. It’s has a number of variations but I picked out the most simple for a little summer tunic for B using fabric from Gütermann Ring a Roses collection. Gütermann are most commonly known for thread but released their first fabric line in 2013. The collection is a lovely range of pastels and still reasonably easy to find and best of all they are 57″ wide so you get quite a bit more for your money (compared to standard 44″ wide quilting cotton). This came together quickly although I left out the elastic for a looser fit. It’s a smart tunic and great for cooler days as it’s fully lined and somehow I managed to have the perfect button to match just in my tin!. I think I’ll try to figure out making one without lining for when the weather really warms up, perhaps by adding a facing, or maybe using bias blinding on neck and arms.

Third on the list was the Scout Tee from Grainline Studios. I made a few of these last year so grabbed one from my wardrobe to check the fit. I pulled the pattern pieces from my file and got to work with a supersoft double gauze I picked up from Miss Matatabi fabrics over a year ago. This stuff is so light and comfortable to wear, just perfect for warmer weather. This woven t-shirt is a great staple pattern for any sewist, I definitely need a few more in my wardrobe.  Finally I moved on to the Geranium dress. I made a few of these last year for B and the pattern is just perfect. It comes with a couple of variations so I chose the cap sleeve and dress length. I picked up this lightweight printed denim from Empress Mills  and it sewed up great as it’s really soft and drapes beautifully. A certain someone will definitely enjoy twirling in this!

I now need to have a dig through my fabric stash and pile of patterns to see what else I can move on to next. The kids and I are really starting to build up our handmade wardrobes and it’s so great to get up in a morning and have them pick out something I made for them.

If you’re sewing over the Easter weekend let me know whats on your table and if you are looking for some fabric to start your summer wardrobe there are some good offers around for the Bank Holiday weekend including:

  • 15% of at Fabric HQ with the code ‘EASTERBUNNY’
  • 2 Free Gütermann thread at Plush Addict when you spend £20
  • Pay no postage at Simply Solids until midnight on Monday
  • Olive and Flo Handcraft are offering a free Fat Quarter with all orders over £15
  • 15% off yarn and fabric as well as patterns and accessories at Hulu Crafts
  • The Village Haberdashery have 10% of some of their woven collections with the code WOVENS10, details on their Facebook page
  • Sew Hot have a 20% discount over the holiday weekend with code ‘BUNNY20’
  • Girl Charlee have 20% off, no code needed
  • There will be a sale of fabrics at £8.75/m over at Celtic Fusion Fabrics Facebook page starting Saturday at 9am
  • The Crafty Mastermind have a sale on with up to 60% off until Tuesday 18th
  • Fabric Galore are having a special discount on seasonal Liberty fabrics on Friday 14th with code ‘EGGCELLENT’
  •  Sew Over It has 20% discount on patterns, kits and classes with code ‘EASTERSTITCHES’

Please check out each retailer for any special conditions or limitations before you place your orders!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend, whether it be spending time with family and friends or simply finding a bit of extra time to sew!

Half Term Haul

While on our half term trip up to West Yorkshire I managed to squeeze in visits to two fabric stores Simply Solids and Fab Works Mill Shop. I’ve been following the social media feeds of both for a while and was very much looking forward to exploring both.

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Half Term Haul!

Simply Solids is a great store, with a beautiful range of fabrics every shade of the rainbow. With collections from Dashwood Studios to Cotton & Steel, pre cuts and stash clubs they really do have something for everyone. I managed to pick up a little Elizabeth Hartman, some Carolyn Friedlander extra wide and a metre of Alison Glass Spheres in raspberry.   I am thinking the Paint box Basics will make a lovely summer shirt and shorts for B and the Raspberry Spheres could be a stunning Frida dress. The extra wide Architextures is just to add to my stash. I love buying extra wides as you get so much for you money and at 108″ wide even half a metre will go far.

Next was a quick stop in to Fab Works Mill Shop. This shop has a fab range but I was most interested in some of the jerseys and knit fabrics. I am often unsure of buying these online as you have no idea of the quality but having visited and bought I won’t hesitate in the future.  This lightweight purple marl is quite thin but doubled up will make a lovely layered skirt and at only £3/m doubling it up is quite affordable. The light teal/aqua sweatshirt knit was a steal at £7/m especially with it being 78″ wide. With the 2 metres I bought I can see sweatshirts for both kids as well as some comfy shorts and maybe joggers and quite possibly a little something for each of us. The final piece was the squishy grey bonded jersey, again very reasonably priced and while I haven’t settled on a pattern for this, it could easily become another Toaster sweater or some cosy super soft lounge pants!

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Since getting back you would think I had enough to be getting on with but I couldn’t resist this jersey print in my local fabric store Kayes Textiles. I have already made shirts for each of the kids and have enough left over to make some leggings and possibly even a summer dress. Its a great quality jersey and sews up very easily, even managed to get some nice twin needle stitching on the sleeves and bottom hem. fullsizerender-2

With all that to be getting on with I must put myself on a fabric buying ban for a while I think! It does feel great to be planning some more summery clothes for us all. Spring is only a few weeks away and that will mean a little less time sewing as we start work in the garden. We are hoping to grow a good range of fruit and veg again this year, we have lots of seeds left from last year and if we get some good weather we will be eating our own produce before we know it!

 

(Disclaimer: just in case anyone is wondering, these opinions are entirely my own, I have not been paid by any of the shops named for mentioning them here.)

 

School Holidays

Somehow J is half way through his first year at school. Time flies by so quickly and before I know it he’ll be asking to borrow my car. School holidays are a tricky one for me, I’d love to go out everyday and do all the local farms and attractions but this is hard to do on a budget and it can be tricky to make sure both kids are happy and enjoying themselves as they inevitably run off in opposite directions. With this in mind I decided that for half term we would take a trip to visit family in West Yorkshire. Having never travelled with both of them before this was a bit of an adventure. I booked 3 nights in a hotel for the 3 of us, packed a crate of food for breakfasts, snacks and drinks while out and filled a case with more clothes than we would have needed for a fortnight (but then you can never be over prepared with kids!!). img_4178

In the weeks before leaving I made a list of selfish sewing that I wanted to get done. I had a couple of patterns that had been sat on my table for a while and also a new one I wanted to buy. First up was the Rivage Raglan t-shirt from Blank Slate
Patterns. A quick and simple make, and my first attempt at a twin needle hem. The jersey from Sew Over It London sewed up like a dream and this shirt is wonderfully comfy, just perfect with jeans and boots.

 

Next was a little bag for me to carry my essentials. Generally I am not one for ity bity bags. I am usually the one with a shoulder bag the size of a shopping tote. At any one time I usually have nappies and wipes, change of vests/pants, first aid kit, snacks and drinks, and all of that comes before the essential purse, phone and lip balm (which I never go out without!). After finding a little backpack to carry the kids things I wanted something for me. A bit of searching and I happened on the Clematis Wristlet from Blue Calla Patterns and best of all it was a free download. I tinkered with the inside pockets a little but followed the rest of the instructions to the letter. I found some fabric in my stash for the upper but was unsure of what to use for the lower part of the outer fabric of the bag. Many of the ones I saw had used cork or vinyl but I didn’t have any on hand. What I did have was an old leather coat, something that had sat in the back of the wardrobe for years and even attempts to sell it had failed but as fabric it would instantly become useful again so hacking off an arm I cut out and got sewing. I’m really happy with how it came out. Just the right size, a handy strap, and a couple of inside pockets just right for cards etc!untitled-3

 

img_4189The last thing I wanted to make for myself was a Toaster Sweater. These have been showing up all over Instagram and I instantly new I wanted to make one but needed to find the right fabric. After seeing this post using a ponte roma from Fabric Godmother I was off. I ordered the same fabric but in navy and got to work piecing the pdf pattern together.  Its a great pattern and comes with a second style as well that I’m hoping to try out soon. I took this from the machine and wore it for three days straight (which is kind of a miracle when you have kids who always have sticky fingers!). I did end up taking a few inches off the arms and I think if I was making it again I might reduce the neck and cuff bands and thin out the arms a little but its a very easy sew, especially on the overlocker.

 

I had intended to make a few more bits for B to wear but time ran away from me and I didn’t quite get round to it. It was good to be able go to her wardrobe and pull out some handmade items for her, she does have more than I thought and with spring around the corner I’m sure I’ll be making some more to add to it very soon.

The other benefit of travelling it looking up fabric stores that you wouldn’t normally get to visit. I knew of a couple within range of where we were and managed to visit both. You can see my haul here! More details on that next time! If you don’t want to miss it please add your email on the right side of the page to be notified of all new posts!

 

Getting Organised

Most of you know by now that I love Instagram. I can get lost for hours scrolling through posts, be it fabric or patterns or basically anything sewing related. I had it in my head over the new year that if I want to get more sewing done then I need to plan it into my day or week.

There seems to be a big thing for planning at the moment. You only have to enter #bulletjournal or #bujo in to your search bar to see hundreds of images showing how people are planning almost every minute of their lives and some in the most beautiful ways as these images from My Blue Sky Design on Instagram show!

After a bit of searching around and decided I couldn’t find quite one single planner that suited what I was looking for so I created my own with lots of free printables found online. I have a weekly plan page, money pages for saving up and budgeting and some project pages. If you are looking to get a bit more organised with your sewing or life in general you may find some of these helpful.

  • Eliza Ellis has some printable sheets for fabric and pattern inventories and well as project sheets here
  • More project planning sheets here from Pixels to Patchwork
  • See Kate Sew has some fab sewing related colouring pages here and some brilliant printable for organising your sewing space here
  • Miss Tiina has lots of free resources for planning your projects, finances, recipes and cleaning schedules so is well worth a look

There are many other tools out there for planning or recording your sewing. I have only seen one up close and that is the Makers Workbook from Creative Industry available here. This is great for all your dressmaking notes and pattern adjustment details that you want to record for future use. If you are more of a quilter than a dressmaker then I have seen many people posting online photos of the Quilters Planner so this is certainly worth a look.

Do you plan your sewing? How do you make sure you factor your creative time in when busy with family and daily life? Please let me know if you have any planning tips or tricks to share!

 

Welcome 2017!

Happy New Year! Since my last post mid November time seems to have flown by. With J now at school there were so many events and things going on before school finished and then with my girl’s birthday just two days before Christmas we were putting out Santa’s plate before we knew it!

J enjoyed the lead up to Christmas, he did his first school play dressed as a snowman, enjoyed Christmas jumper day and had a Christmas party that lasted two afternoons due to the amount of sweets and treats sent in by all the class parents! We were invited into the classroom for a family fun morning where we made Christmas decorations, reindeer food and finger painted cards. By the time term finished he was shattered! We had a few days to settle things down before B’s second birthday which we celebrated with a birthday lunch at McDonalds and a trip to Hyde Hall RHS Garden which is one of our favourite places to visit.

Christmas Eve was fairly low key, but we laid our plate out for Santa with a few biscuits, milk and a carrot from the garden for Rudolph. The plate had to be refilled a few times when I realised B was sneaking over and nibbling away at the treats!  I did manage to get my Christmas sewing finished and was pleased with Christmas shirt for B and a large quilt (55″x60″) for us all to snuggle under!

But as is always the case, time files round and now we are back into our normal routine. I think B is enjoying a little playtime with out her brother and J is more than ready for the challenges school brings. While they are keeping busy I am hopeful I can get a little more sewing time in. I have been desperate to make some new cushions for our living room. The ones we have are tired and a bit flat, certainly well past their best. I’ve been toying with various patterns and fabrics and not really settled on anything until I found the patterns by Elizabeth Hartman (check out her Instagram here!). As soon as I saw the sloth I knew I had to have it and made it up within a few days, only delayed by waiting for the right fabric for the tree! I also love the pattern for Bjorn Bear which I believe will be coming out next month. The pattern for Fancy forest is amazing and so far I have tried out Hazel Hedgehog but I’m sure it won’t be long before I give another animal a go! All I need now is some new cushion pads and the sofa will be looking brighter and friendlier than ever!!

I have quite a few sewing goals for 2017, more clothes for myself, more for both J & B, and a few pieces to brighten up our home. Who knows what the year ahead will bring and how much I’ll get done but with a bit of careful planning maybe I’ll surprise myself! I hope you had a happy time with loved ones over the festive period and that 2017 will be a healthy and happy year for us all!

Trying New Things

Its very easy to find something to sew sometimes. You revert to the same old pattern that you can complete without the instructions, or opt for a quick sew like a zip pouch or maybe even a simple quilt block but after a while its time to try something new.

I have never had a sewing lesson, but sewing was one of those things that happened in our house growing up. If there was a big family event than it was pretty much a given that Mum would make outfits for my sisters and me and also herself. I remember fabric shopping (not so interesting at the time) and tracing patterns onto newspaper. The sewing machine was always up and we were each taught how to use it when we were old enough to be interested. Most of my early sewing knowledge came from Mum, the basics of how to thread a machine, using straight line and zigzag stitches and so on. Mum is always there when I have a sewing or fabric question and now that she runs a patchwork and quilting business she is also great at enabling my fabric addiction from time to time! With the help of google and youtube I think you can learn almost any skill these day and sewing is certainly no exception. From ‘how to put in a zipper’ to intricate specialist techniques there is something for every level of expertise and through this I have been working on my own skills.

I often think that the smallest of detail can really make the difference to a piece of sewing, be it home furnishing or clothing or almost anything. Adding contrast piping to a cushion adds instant wow factor and a few pin tucks on a blouse can really smarten up the most casual of styles. With these two tricks in mind I pulled together a few supplies recently. Firstly was a Janome piping foot (prices vary but I found the cheapest here). I watched a couple of youtube videos and gave it a try. I expected a few wobbles to start but it worked like a dream so after just one practice run I got to work on another EveryDay Top adding the pipping between the yoke and skirt. This shirt is perfect for these wet and raining days and I think the pink adds just the right amount of pop!

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Next up was to try to add to my patchwork skills and try paper piecing. I have long admired the amazing quilt designs that can be achieved using this technique but had always put off trying it. So I had a little look online for a simple Flying Geese block, grabbed some fabric scraps and got to it. It took a while to get the hang of it, making sure the fabric pieces were the right size, constantly pressing and trimming, a little unpicking here and there but I got there in the end and was quite pleased with the result! I’ll be honest, I’m not sure if I love or hate paper piecing but after seeing a few  #uglysweaterblocks on Instagram I knew I had to give it another go so I hunted down the pattern and jumped straight in. For my second attempt I was thrilled for this block to come together so well. Yes, a few of the points are a smidge out but its pretty close and the reindeer is just the cutest!

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And finally, another technique I’ve wanted to try was pin tucking. I’ve had a pin tuck foot for a while and managed to get the right twin needle on eBay and was ready to go. I think this simple detail can transform a garment when added to a neckline or the front of a blouse.  I’m still working on this one, I haven’t quite found the right tension on the sewing machine to really make it stand out but it was easier than I thought and with little more tinkering  I might get there.

 

So I remain a student of sewing. I can’t imagine a time when there won’t be anything new for me to learn and with so much inspiration out there my to do list grows almost daily! Some weeks I sew every day, other times it can be almost a month between my visits to my machines but there isn’t a day goes by that I don’t think about fabric, think about the next thing I’ll be sewing or the next pattern I’ll buy. The majority of my inspiration comes from Instagram and last week I happened to come across a little hashtag doing the rounds and I instantly wanted to get involved. I am not sure where this originated (if you know please send me the details so I can give credit where due!) but all over the world people were gifting each other fabric after posting their ‘quiltywish’. Some were very specific wishing for particular fabric collections or patterns, some were looking for scraps for hexie making, other wanting to add to their stash or pick up bits of a collection that they had missed. It is truly wonderful to see people gifting things to others for nothing in return. I was able to grant a few wishes myself and have been lucky enough to have a couple of people grant my wish in return. I have sent several packages to the US, some to Germany, Slovenia, Australia and a few more in the UK and am hopeful that there might be one or two more parcels somewhere in the mailing service headed my way. If you have the time do check out #getyourquiltywishesgranted2 and if you have fabric to spare grant a wish or two!

Catching Up Again!

So it’s been a little while since my last post but be assured I haven’t stopped sewing! Being a big fan of Made by Rae and the fantastic Geranium pattern I knew I wanted to make up some more shirts and dresses for my girl. I adore this pattern and all the variations but with the changing seasons and the festive period approaching I knew I wanted something with sleeves to keep her toasty so not being brave enough to try drafting them for myself I went on the hunt for another pattern.

Having made quite a number of pinafores with the A Line Dress pattern from Tie Die Diva Patterns I went back to see if there was anything to fit the bill and I was not disappointed. The Everyday Top PDF pattern was quickly purchased and printed and I grabbed some fabric from the stash and got going. This pattern is great with many options for different necklines, cuffs and collars but I went for a simple version on my first attempt.

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This squirrel fabric is adorable and I remember buying it at a local store on sale for £4/m! Bargain! I’m really happy with this one, the square neck is a nice change and it fits my girl very well and will wear well into the winter with a little vest underneath and a pair of jeans. Needless to say I grabbed some more fabric and quickly made another!

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I haven’t tried any of the collar or the cuff options yet but I’m sure it won’t be long before I do. I have plans to lengthen the pattern to dress length and get started on a party dress for my lady too. With her birthday and Christmas only days apart she may need quite a few additions to her wardrobe to get her through the party season.

As I mentioned in my last post I was very lucky to win some fab prizes in the Gingham sew-a-long and my loot has all arrived! With a voucher to use at Sew Over It I quickly settled on the arrow jersey which I am hoping to make into a long sleeve t-shirt (pattern to be determined!) and there may be enough for a mini version too. And then there’s some lovely gingham fabric and a bundle of  bias binding to add to my ever growing stash!

Now that I’m sewing so often I am frequently on the look out for ways to keep tidy and organised and its fair to say my thread box was beginning to overflow. And just at the right time I spotted the perfect solution. I snapped up two of these little wooden houses which are just the right size for reels of Gutermann thread. I think these would look great painted but whether or not I’ll get round to that is another matter! Do you have any space saving tips or tricks to keep your sewing space tidy?

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My Wooden Thread House