Monthly Archives: April 2014

The did you make that Sew Sessment!

I have recently started following Karen’s sewing, knitting and crochet blog and have not only enjoyed seeing all of the gorgeous clothes she makes, but also reading about her attitude to sewing as a lifestyle. Her reasons for sewing, ‘like yoga or a meditation‘ completely strike a chord with me, and I often tell people I sew for sanity! It’s my space, my time, away from demands of daily life where I can be free and give the left hand side of my brain a time to jump up and down, do somersaults and sing (mostly out of tune).

When I saw Karens recent post on her Sew Sessment I thought it was genius. How practical of you karen to take such a pragmatic and honest approach to your sewing. Reflecting on our creativity and habits helps us feel good about our achievements and our future. It should help us develop our skills and provide direction. I thought what better time to carry out this exercise than at the start of my blog, and then in a years time I can re-do the Sew Sessment and see what has changed.

So here are my answers, and at karens request I did them quickly!

Top Three Items That I Wear For Home:

Leggings, slippers, hoody

Top Three Items That I Wear For Work:

Dresses, cardigans, leggings

Top Three Sewing Talents (go on, show off!):

Can do attitude, Good knowledge of design and colour schemes, thriftiness

Top Three Sewing Weak Spots (ouch!):

Rushing, using fabric other than cotton, distracted by other projects

Top Three Sewing Goals:

Professional training, build up an everyday wardrobe for me, design more fun patterns for boys

Top Three People Who Enable Me:

My partner (Aww, he would love to know I said that), My Son – the perfect model, other bloggers! (You awesome creative lot)

Top Three People I Enable:

Friends, wider online community, my mum

Top Three Reasons I Can’t Sew:

Working full time, looking after my son, oh and the other half sometimes needs attention too.

Top Three Reasons I Can Sew:

I have to! – for sanity, creative outlet, save money (erm….. not sure this is true)

NUMBER ONE CHALLENGE I SET MYSELF!

5 toddler pattern releases before the end of year. And to sew chiffon. Cheeky 2nd challenge, I love a challenge.

Thanks Karen!

Hopefully lots of ideas there I can work on over the next few months. I’d particularly like to concentrate on items that get worn. Seeing all the lovely dresses (Hello Dolly Clackett) makes it so hard to not dream up gorgeous garments that might not get much skin time. If I am as thrifty as I say I am, I need to make sure items are getting worn, and not hanging at the back of my wardrobe. So it looks like a few pairs of leggings are on the cards then?

It is also, Karen who gave me a kick up the backside to get blogging. Reading her advice to people like me:
“It (blogging) is a fantastic way of making friends, both online and in real life. My world has become richer, brighter and much more fun because people like you read, comment – and maybe have your own blogs or are thinking of setting one up. Do it! I promise, you’ll never look back…”

Who doesn’t want a richer, brighter world? Sounds perfect, so thanks Karen for enabling me. Maybe if we meet one day I’ll get to buy you a cocktail I know you like so much. x

Happy Easter Humpty Dumpty

Happy Easter everyone! Who is feeling like they are peeking out from behind a mountain of chocolate? I do! The Easter bunny has bought me some Booja Booja truffles, a Moo-Free chocolate egg, a Choices dairy free Easter egg and an Organica vegan white chocolate bar. Yum!

We are down in Cambridge visiting family which means the little ones sugar intake has quadrupled with constant treats from grandparents, great grandparents,  aunties, uncles and erm … me. It’ll be a miracle if we can make it through the day without any vomit related incidents.

When it comes to parenting, the rules for grandparents are totally different for parents. As a parent you set boundaries and limits for your children, and do your best to make sure they look after their teeth and eat a balanced diet. Grandparents on the other hand, having worked so hard instilling these values in their own children, pass on this baton of responsibility when their children have children, and take on a new role as chief spoiler. It’s a rite of passage. Evan’s grandparents are proper chocolate pushers, and he loves them for it. Hopefully one day I’ll be one too :)

But for now, I’m in crazy health freak Mum mode, and am definitely not wanting to add to the cocktail of chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies, Easter nest cakes, and sweets he is sure to be eating. So with that in mind, here is my Easter present to Evan, and it’s completely sugar free.

Meet Humpty Dumpty … or should I say Humpty Jr?

Humpty Dumpty Toy

This is Humpty Dumpty Jr, inspired by a cartoon we have much admiration for in our house. It’s a ComiColor cartoon from 1935, and it tells the story of Humpty Dumpty’s son, Humpty Jr, and his love interest and femme fatale ‘Easter Egg’. We love it, but beware, it took me almost three days to stop humming the ‘spooning in a spoon’ tune. Take a look, it’s charming for all ages.

“My old man may have sat on a wall.
He slipped and had a very great fall.
But I’m Humpty Jr, I’m just like my pop.
I climb where I please, and they can’t make me stop.”

I love vintage cartoons. I’m currently working my way through all the Disney Silly Symphonies. The music, characterisation, and experimental animation are all brilliant, and still inspirational almost 85 years later.

Humpty Dumpty Sewing

To make Humpty Jr I just free-styled and drew up some pattern pieces for a basic egg shape. I added some arms and legs, hand embroidered the face, and then made him some dungarees from sewing a front and back piece together. I finished by adding a bow-tie and a hat. I am fairly happy with the result, but I think it lacks the finesse I was hoping for. This is mainly down to rushing him to have him ready for Easter, and the choice of materials I used.

Humpty Dumpty On A Wall

Humpty is almost entirely up-cycled. The white cotton is the left over fabric from the bottom of some curtains I hemmed and the red velvet is from some pillow cases I purchased in a charity shop for 50p, actually it’s just occurred to me both of these were originally from Ikea! He’s an Ikea hack! The orange fleece I had left over from a previous project.
I’ve never sewn velvet before and it was a bit tricky, especially when working on something so small. I definitely need more practice and to read up on how to handle this fabric.

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

If I was to make Humpty again I’d make some refinements to the dungaree pattern. A little wider at his legs, and less baggy around his arms. I’d like to finish my seams differently so that they look tidy when seen through the armholes. I’d also try and find a more eggshell coloured fabric for the body. I think white is a little bit bright. It will also show the dirt that he is sure to get smeared all over him.
One thing is for sure, and that is Evan likes him, and that’s the only seal of approval I need.
Evan Humpty Dumpty Evan Humpty Dumpty

Let me know what you think. Should I work on Humpty Jr a little more and release a pattern for you all? I love hearing your comments.

Toddler Waistcoat Sewing Pattern

Free waistcoat sewing pattern pdf

Waistcoats are so under-worn, and often reserved for formal occasions, but why?? A simple and savvy waistcoat can be used to brighten up a casual outfit and kids look ridiculously cute in them. This pattern is quick, simple, easy to make, and you don’t need much fabric, so good for using up leftover small pieces you have around.

What you’ll need

  • 3 different types of fabric (see below)
  • Your sewing machine and basic sewing kit
  • 3 buttons
  • light – medium weight interface for strengthening front panel

Suggested Fabrics

The pattern uses 3 different fabrics, one for the front panels, one for the back panel, and the third for the lining. A fat quarter of each will be enough, or you might be able to use some scraps you have lying around, or up-cycle an old garment. A mans shirt works well. Any type of woven is good for the fabric. I used quite a lightweight cotton which needed interfacing to give it some structure. You may get away with not interfacing if opting for a more heavyweight fabric. It’s really versatile though and would work well with cotton, corduroy, linen, denim, even leather for that cowboy look! Go ahead and experiment. Texture and pattern works especially well on waistcoats. For the backing panel use a fabric in a matching or heavier weight material than the front. To line use a basic polyester lining or lightweight cotton.

Prepare and assemble the pattern

Have your downloaded the free PDF pattern yet? If not, you can download the free waistcoat pattern here, or by clicking the image at the top of this post. All 3 sizes are included in the pattern and on separate pages. Each size spans four A4 sheets, so you’ll need to identify what pages you need to print, and then if you don’t want to print out the whole document, print those pages only.

Once printed you’ll need to stick your pattern pieces together. The pattern features a horizontal and vertical dashed line on each page which you match up on each sheet to align the pattern pieces. Cut alongside this line so that you can match up exactly with the corresponding pattern piece.

waistcoat pattern

Cut alongside the dashed line to match up pattern pieces

When the lines are matched, used Sellotape to paste the pieces together. Repeat until all the pattern pieces are joined together and then cut out.

stick the pattern pieces together

Sellotape together at line

n.b a 1/2 inch seam allowance has been added to each pattern piece.
You should be left with two pieces which look like this:

Completed pattern pieces

Completed pattern pieces

Check what size?

The garment comes in 3 sizes. To check the right size measure the childs chest measurement and check the sizing guide below:

Size Chest PDF pages
Age 2-3 55 cm 3-10
Age 3-4 57 cm 11-18
Age 4-5 59 cm 19-26

Prepare and cut out the fabric

If using new fabric, I always recommended washing fabric before sewing with it. Honestly, I am sometimes naughty and do miss this step out, but it’s a good habit to get in to as new fabric can often shrink a little, and you wouldn’t want this to happen after working so hard on your hand crafted item. C’mon – I’m sure you have other laundry to do. I know I do!
Once it’s out the machine and dry give it a good press with the iron so that all the creases and crinkles disappear. This is essential to accurate pattern cutting. Make sure that you are using the correct setting on your iron for the fabric, and carry out a test patch. Some people like to iron with a press cloth between the iron and the fabric to prevent scalding.
I haven’t included a layout guide for the pattern pieces as it’s quite straight forward.

  • Cut out 2 front panels in main fabric, making sure that you have a mirror image of each piece for the left and right hand side. Do the same for the lining fabric
  • Cut out 1 back panel in the backing fabric, and again for the lining. This is cut on the fold.
  • Cut out the interface pieces
Back pieces in lining and backing fabric

Back pieces in lining and backing fabric

Front panels in main fabric

Front panels in main fabric

Front panels in lining

Front panels in lining

Right that’s it, we’re ready to start!

Attach interfacing to strengthen front panels

If you are using a light – medium weight fabric interfacing makes a massive difference to the structure and finish to the waistcoat. It strengthens it around the button area and gives it shape. Use a fusible interfacing to match your fabric, usually a medium-weight interfacing. I quickly cut out a shape to cover 2/3 of the front panel pieces, and then ironed it on, under a damp cloth, pressing with the iron for 8 seconds.

Interface cut to size and sewn on

Interface cut to size and ironed on

Sew the front panels

Match up a front panel lining piece and a front panel main piece and place them right sides together. Using the 0.5 inch seam allowance and a straight stitch, sew the diagonal seam running from the top of the shoulder down the middle of the body. Turn right side out and press the seam.

Sew front panel diagonal

Sew front panel diagonal

Place wrong sides together again and sew around the arm hole seam.
Tip! – Marking the seam curve can help sew a good curve if you’re a beginner, and sewing a little slower helps also.

Sew arm seam

Sew arm seam

Once the seam is finished it’s time to clip the curve, to ease the fabric around the inward curve and help give it a flat, pucker-free finish. You can use pinking shears if you have them, or  small sharp scissors. If using scissors snip every 1/2 inch along the seam, 3/4 of the way up to the stitching. You can now turn right side out and press this seam too.

Clip arm seam

Clip arm seam

We have one more seam to sew on this panel and that’s the down the front of the waistcoat, (the seam that will eventually have the buttons/button holes attached). Sew this section, turn right side out and press again.

Sew front panel edge

Sew front panel edge

Repeat this stage for the other front panel.

Both front panels sewn and pressed

Both front panels sewn and pressed

Sew the back panel

We are going to sew all 3 curved edges on the back panel. Take the back panel lining and backing fabric and place right sides together. Sew along the neckline and both armholes in 3 separate stages as shown.

Back panel sewn at neck and armholes

Back panel sewn at neck and armholes

Clip once again like we did with the front panels. Turn right side out and press the seams.

Clip all the curved seams

Clip all the curved seams

Attach the front and back panel

Now this part sounds tricky but it’s easy to do. We are going to attach the front and back panels by joining and sewing at the shoulder seam. Sandwich one of the front panel pieces in-between the back panel piece. The back panel piece is turned inside out and the front panel piece is the right way round. The shoulders should neatly fit inside each other so that the front panel just sits snugly inside the back panel at the shoulder. If it does not, you can re-sew the top part of the shoulder seam of the front panel ever so slightly, just to narrow the curve and give a better fit. Align the two shoulder seams and pin together once happy. Sew along the shoulder seam.
!Tip - Make sure you get the panel the right way round. It should be that the armholes are on the same side and the right side of the front panel fabric is touching the right side of the main backing fabric. (I made mistakes here a couple of times…oops)

Attaching at shoulders

Front panel inside layers of back panel. Pin at shoulder.

Repeat this step for the other front panel piece, joining at the opposite shoulder. You’ve now got one piece. Hurrah! Turn it right way round and press at the shoulder seams.

One piece

Sew up the sides

Now we join the back and front panels of the waistcoat at the sides. To do this unfold and pin the right sides together, making sure to match up the point where the front/back fabric meets the lining under the arms. Sew this seam on each side.

Attach side seams

Preparing to sew the side seams

Sew up the bottom edge

The last step of machine stitching is to sew up along the bottom edge of the waistcoat. We will leave a small gap large enough for you to fit your hand through for turning at the end.
Turn the garment inside out, and line up and pin along the bottom edge. It won’t sit flat but do your best to work with it and accurately align the bottom edge.

Sew up the bottom edge

Sew up the bottom edge, leaving a hand-sized gap

Sew from one end to the other, leaving a gap in the centre of the back panel for turning at the end. Pay attention when sewing the corner angles, as you want them to be really crisp and sharp. Either stop sewing and pivot on your needle at a corner, or sew all the way along to the fabric edge, stop and do the same for the other seam, crossing over the stitching at the corner. Clip the seam allowance away from the corners before turning out.

Give the garment another press to make sure you’re happy with it before hand stitching closed.

Hand stitch closed

I use an invisible hidden stitch to sew the last piece of the waistcoat seam closed. If you are not used to hand stitching here is a link to a post on Fern and Freckle, an invisible seam and hidden stitch tutorial.
Make sure the seam allowance is tucked in to the waistcoat (it should do this naturally) and you have a nice straight bottom edge. Hand sew the opening closed. This is my favourite part. I find hand stitching very relaxing. Unless my toddler is jumping on me whilst I have a needle in my hand … which is quite a lot actually!

Almost done! Not looking bad eh?

Almost done!

Sew and attach the buttons

You’ll want to measure the size of the buttons you are using, and work out how large you need to make the button holes. My button holes needed to be 3/4 of an inch. I used a ruler and tailors pencil to mark 3 x 3/4 inch lines, equally spaced on right panel of the waistcoat.

Measure and marking button placement

Measure and marking button placement

I then used my machine to sew the button holes. I don’t think my measuring was spot on, but I can live with that. I leave enough cotton on the button holes to hand sew in the thread ends tidily, so I know the button holes won’t unravel.

We have button holes!

We have button holes!

Sew on the buttons

I particularly like the cute anchor buttons on this waistcoat. Choosing the right coordinating buttons can really set a garment of perfectly. To hand sew buttons I make sure I stitch them on at least six times, and then to finish, with the thread under the button, but above the top layer of fabric, wrap the cotton 6 times around the middle of the stitches you have just made. This makes a nice little protective edging for the stitches and makes for a strong button that hopefully isn’t going anywhere.

And here we have the finished result. A versatile addition to any child’s wardrobe, and an excellent way of showing of bold and striking prints. I think I’ll be making a few of these!

Attach the buttons

The finished garment!

Show me your creations!

The best part of creating patterns is sharing them with others and seeing how they creatively interpret your designs. I’d love to see what you have made and share your work on my Pinterest page, so please post me a link to a photo of your finished garments. You score brownie points for cute children wearing them :)

Variations on the waistcoat pattern

You could try to:

  • Add some pockets
  • Add a collar / lapel
  • Add a tie at the back
  • Top stitch or add piping to edges

Pssst!

This is my first sewing tutorial and released pattern! It’s incredibly exciting for me to put this together for you all, and I would love any feedback, good or bad, and ideas on how I can improve both the downloadable pattern and instructions. I’ve already got a few more toddler patterns in the pipeline, so hopefully I can incorporate any ideas in to future releases. My aim is to add to the bunch of amazing free sewing patterns for boys available online and to come up with some fun and quirky designs in clothes that children love to wear.

Toddler Waistcoat

Waistcoat
Here is my most recent make for Evan. I drafted this pattern by copying one of his existing items of clothing and grading it a size up, so it’s about a toddler size 3. I’ll be making this toddler waistcoat pattern downloadable for free later on this month. Hooray!

It is a really quick and easy sew, and took about 3 hours from start to finish, and that included me watching TV, making cups of tea and taking photos for the upcoming tutorial too.

Old shirt

I especially like this project because the waistcoat started life as this shirt I purchased for 50p from a tabletop sale. I thought it a bit odd that the manufacturer had  used the wrong side of the fabric facing out when the inside was so much bolder. I didn’t know what I’d make with it at the time, but it seems perfect waistcoat material. Pirates wear waistcoats right? I told Evan it was his pirate waistcoat. That made for a more happy model.

waistcoat7

I coupled it with some fabric I had in my stash, a fairly heavy-weight pinstripe cotton twill and some black polyester lining, which complemented the bold anchor print perfectly. To finish it I found some cute anchor buttons purchased from Etsy. I love the line that goes around the edge of the button. I did think about top stitching along some of garment edges but decided it looked nice without.

Here in Leeds we are about 60 miles from the sea, so I’ve had to bring the sea to us – What do you reckon shipmates?

on a boat

Tutorials

This blog is brand new… eek…exciting! I am working away on building up content before I fully launch my blog. Please bear with me.

Thanks!
Amy