Monthly Archives: November 2014

Self Drafted Christmas PJ’s for Toddlers

Warning: This post contains some seriously cute photos!

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Hello everyone, so Christmas! Christmas Christmas Christmas, it’s now totally fine to talk about it now that Halloween and Bonfire Night have passed and we have officially entered what marketers call the ‘golden quarter’. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Christmas, but let’s admit, it’s all got a little bit out of hand. The gluttony, the expense, the consumerism. For some years now I seem to have moved away from buying gifts and try to make them instead, or as many as I can. I usually start this about September, which I suppose is annoyingly organised, but I need this much time to fit it all in. Right now I feel a little overwhelmed by all the handmade gifts I have mounting up, on top of preparing for a craft fair I’m having a stall at in December.

If you’re in Leeds you should come down to the Slung Low Christmas Fayre, a true festive treat with carols, storytelling and a glass of mulled wine or three. They let all the crafters have a stall for free, just because they are awesome, and want to support creative individuals.

I wanted to get these pyjamas out of the way before the manic Christmas crafting starts. Evan’s been having a bit of a growth spurt, and I needed to make him something warm and cosy for winter months. As Christmas clothing is all the rage now, I thought I’d have a go at self drafting my own Christmas Pyjama pattern. My requirements were to use a sublimely soft fabric, and keep them traditional and festive. They also needed to be extra roomy to allow for lots of moving about, both whilst sleeping and the mandatory pre-sleep jump on the bed session.

Christmas Toddler Pyjama sewing

Project Stats

Fabric: 100% brushed cotton tartan from B&M Fabrics in Leeds Market
Cost: I used just under 1.5m, which cost me £7.50
Pattern: Self drafted – to be released on my blog as a free download soon
Time: 6 hours
Difficulty: Easy

Christmas Toddler Pyjamas Sewing

The pattern was pretty easy to put together, just a basic trouser and shirt pattern. I modified some of my work for my toddler shirt pattern, but added extra ease, and created a rounded collar.
Toddler Christmas Pyjama Sewing

Materials

The brushed cotton sold itself to me as soon as I felt it. It actually is soft as a babies skin, so perfect for little ones sleepwear. It was beautiful to work with, and all I could think about was how I needed more to make myself a festive dress. Unfortunately it’s sold out now, which is probably a good thing, as I’d buy it all. I also used some interfacing on the collar pieces and the facings.

The buttons were a lucky find from my button jar. I think the colour works perfectly, and they are large enough for Evan to try and do himself, but small enough to suit the garment.

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Garment Assembly

I used a mixture of my overlocker and sewing machine to make these pyjamas, which meant I whipped them up in no time at all.

Trouser construction

Just a matter of sewing up the side seams, and then joining up the inside legs and crotch in one fell swoop. Nice and easy. I then attached some elastic to the waistband using the overlocker with the knife dis-engaged. I folded the elastic inside the waistband twice, and using the sewing machine did a double row of topstitching to secure it in place. I then hemmed the trouser legs.
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Top construction

To begin with I added a pocket to the front of the shirt. I decided to cut this on the bias, to give a contrasting effect on the pattern. After topstitching the pocket in place, I prepared and attached the facings at centre front, and finished with some decorative topstitching. It was then a pretty standard process to complete the top. I joined the back and front pieces at the shoulders, and then attached the sleeves before sewing up at the sides. I hemmed the sleeve cuffs and then moved on to adding the collar. I kind of muddled my though this, but was happy with how tidy it came out. I’ll attempt putting it on to words when I get the pattern and tutorial uploaded to the blog. Yes you heard right, I am planning to give you this pattern for free. Call it a Christmas present :) I sewed the buttonholes, attached the buttons, and finished off with the hem.
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General happiness rating

:smile: :smile: :smile: :smile: :smile: – I rate this make 5 smileys. Top smiley points!
I adore these pyjamas on Evan, and I love knowing that they will keep him cosy and warm this winter. He doesn’t wear a lot of red, but it really suits him, so it’s nice to see him in a different colour. He clearly enjoys wearing them, and I’ll say that joy is contagious. I think this might be my first make I’ve rated 5 smileys, well tis’ the season to be jolly!
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Do look out for this pattern and tutorial, which I’ll upload to the blog as soon as I can (My computer is broken again so it’ll take longer than I hoped it to). It’ll be free as usual, and available in three sizes, 1-2, 2-3, and 3-4 years.
I’d love to hear about your Christmas to do lists, what are you all making?
Until the next time, tidings of comfort and joy!
Amy x
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The Schnittchen Malu Coat

Ok, so here in the UK the news would have you believe we are heading for a freak artic freeze this winter, the coldest in 100 years … or we’re not, depending on which publication you read. Perhaps horrendous weather headlines sell as many papers as photos of Kim Kardashians bottom? People are seemingly enthralled by extremes, be it derrières or climate conditions. If it is true and winter intends to do it’s worst, I’d advise Mrs. Kardashian West to sew herself a wooly winter coat, and perhaps work out how to do a full butt adjustment. She doesn’t want to be parading about all bare cheeked, tipsy on champers and ill-prepared once we hit sub zero. Don’t you know our extremities are the first to go love, I’d look after your ‘ass’ets!

Me however, I’m ready. Winter do your worst! I introduce to you, the first coat I’ve made, The Schnittchen Malu coat, and it wasn’t nearly as scary as I’d thought.

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Project Stats

Fabric: 3m of mystery mix fabric from the Abakhan sale back in the summer, cotton for the lining, and some curly faux fur the inside hood
Cost: £7 for the main fabric, £8 for the lining, £6 buttons and £12 for the faux fur. All in £33
Pattern: The Schnittchen Malu Coat
Time: 2 days of sewing
Difficulty: Surprisingly easy!

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The Pattern

The Malu Coat is a relaxed fit coat in two lengths, to the hips or the knees. It features kimono sleeves, hem cuffs, and optional welt pockets/hood. You can choose between zip or button fastening.

Schnittchen are a small German pattern company, started by Silke a couple of years ago. I really like their youthful and simple style, and I have another Schnittchen pattern in the pipeline. Many (although not all, I want this beauty!) are available in English, and they supply printed or PDF patterns. For Malu I worked from a PDF pattern, which involved 72 pages of cutting and sticking together. For me this was the most tedious part of the whole process, and the final sheet was huge!

The directions with the PDF pattern aren’t the greatest, and I don’t think you’d be able to sew the garment from these instructions alone. Luckily after reading Ruth’s post, I noticed that there was an online photo tutorial for sewing Malu on the Schnittchen site. It’s in German, but my browser did an ok job of translating it, and this together with the PDF instructions finally made much better sense. It did take awhile for me to figure out the process, but once I had it was plain sailing. Nonetheless, I would have preferred clearer and more detailed instructions from the get go.

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Materials

I managed to swipe just enough of the main coat fabric back in the Abakhan 70% of sale back in August, which is a great place to go for bargains. Trouble is you never know exactly the fiber content so it’s pot luck really. I’m guessing it’s some kind of wool mix. To touch it feels a lot like a wool which has been felted. As soon as I found it I had visions of some kind of oversized coat, like the kind your granddad would wear, (not sure when this became a good thing fashion wise by my book??). I love the green and red flecks on the navy fabric, it just adds a bit of interest. It turned out to be a joy to sew with. It behaved well, and pressed beautifully when just a little seam was applied. I’m usually not a fan of pressing, but I did enjoy this process when working with the wool mix.

I chose a plain green 100% cotton to line the coat with. Before making this jacket I found a great PDF article about lining coats which helped me decide which fabric to pick. Having never made a coat before, I really wasn’t sure what to go for. Should I go for something breathable? Slippery so it would glide on and off easy? Insulating for the cold winter months? All I was certain of was that I wanted the lining to be bright, and offset the flecks of colour in the main fabric. I decided to go for cotton as it was a natural medium weight fiber, breathable, absorbent and easy to care for. It also wasn’t going to break the bank.

As it was a winter coat, and I hate being cold, I thought it would be a nice touch to line the inside of the hood with some faux fur. Again I wanted to go with something a bit different and stick to green to match the lining. I’ve also got green eyes, and for some reason I always think wearing green brings out their colour.

If you’re looking for faux furs, the best selection I’ve found online was at Mohair Bear Making Supplies, and I found out that the top quality stuff is called Tissavel. When I realised I’d be spending more on a small piece of hood lining than the rest of the jacket, I decided to try and find something cheaper, and ordered this curly emerald green faux fur from eBay. I can’t help regretting this decision, as the fur I used, as nice as it looks, just doesn’t feel as soft as I’d imagined. I wanted to feel like my head was nestled in a polar bears armpit (a friendly one like Iorek Byrnison in the ‘Dark Materials’ trilogy). I think I’ll splash out and try some Tissavel next time I sew up a project like this, or at least get a sample and test the stroke-factor.

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Sizing / modifications

Perhaps recklessly I didn’t make a muslin for this jacket. Any similar fabric I could have bought would have probably cost me more than the fabric I was using, so I just decided to go for it and hope for the best. It’s not a fitted style, and any extra room can only be a good thing when it’s extra cold and you want to wear a jumper underneath. I cut a size 42, which is a UK size 14. I think next time a 40 (size 12) would fit me a lot better, as it is a little roomy and I think the arms are slightly too long. It does feel kind of massive! There also seems to be a lot of extra space around the armpits and chest area. I’m unsure if I’ll have another go at this coat and make the adjustments needed, although I’m sure they would be straightforward to do so.

Garment Assembly

I’ve been managing to fit more sewing in than usual over the past few weeks, and it took me two days to sew up the coat (not including cutting out). This was also whilst I looked after the wee one, so it wasn’t two full days of sewing, just when I got a spare moment and in the evenings. The fact that the sleeves are Kimono style I imagine make it a lot faster than dealing with separate sleeve pieces, so it’s mainly just a few long, wavy seams to sew for the main jacket and the lining.

Welt Pockets

This was my first attempt at welt pockets, and the process is a slightly daunting prospect if you’ve not had a go at one. It involves cutting a slit in to your main pattern pieces, and then pulling the pocket through to the back of the garment. The photo instructions on Schnittchen site were very helpful here. I really should have had a practice, because once you’ve cut in to your piece there is no going back, and I had no spare fabric. Luckily though, the pockets came out perfect, so that’s another box ticked. I did two rows of stitching around the pocket edge, just to give them some extra strength.

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Furry hood lining

The fur wasn’t the easiest to sew, but with lots of pins and making sure the pile sat where I wanted it to with my fingers, it turned out fine. It felt a bit odd working with a novelty fabric, but I’m pleased with the final result and think it suits the coat.

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Coat lining

The lining was sewn up in a similar fashion to the main fabric, but it includes two pleats at the centre seam, which I think provide a little bit of extra space and ease for wearing. This is then attached to some facings, and to the jacket at the hood and hemline. It’s all sewn on the sewing machine, and to finish you pull the coat through a gap left in the lining to turn it the right way out. I love that the lining is such a bright green.

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General happiness rating

:smile: :smile: :smile: :smile: – I rate this make 4 smileys

Firstly, I am actually over the moon that I made a coat and found it so straightforward. I wore it all of last week, and have had so many nice comments about it, and someone has even asked me to make one for them! The biggest niggle for me is that it does rather look like a dressing gown, but I’m coming round to thinking that is also a plus point. Most mornings I’ve left the house by 6.20am for work, and at that time I’d much rather be in my pyjamas than leaving the house. Luckily with this coat, I still get to feel like I’m in my dressing gown. The worst part of being so warm and comfortable for my dark early morning drives is that it takes more effort to stay awake than normal!

This make has been a wonderful entry in to coat making terrain, and I’d fully recommend the pattern as a great, simple, easy to sew jacket. I’ve got the bug now, I love working with heavy wool mixes, and I feel a quest to sew the perfect jacket might be on the horizon.

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Other bloggers who’ve made this pattern

Here are my three favourite Malu coats which are all very different, and show off the versatility of the pattern.

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I think I’ll leave it there for this week, but first I need to warn you of a full on cuteness alert for my next post. I made Evan some Christmas PJ’s and we did a jumping on the bed photo shoot earlier on today. So it’ll be a super bouncy post next time. It would be great to hear what you think of my jacket, and I’d like to know if you have made or are planning any outwear garments recently? Are they as contagiously fun as I’ve found it?

Happy sewing everyone, ta ra!

Lace insert cropped jacket make for White Tree Fabrics

White Tree Bloggers Lace Jacket
Wow, am I happy to bring you this project! It’s my first make as part of the White Tree blogging team, and it’s taken me four months from receiving the materials to completion. I did intend to have it finished earlier, as it’s really a jacket with more of a summer feel. But hey, sometimes life has other plans for us and there is no point worrying about not finishing projects as quickly as we’d like to. Apart from life getting in the way, it was a time consuming make for a number of reasons. The first was that I self drafted the pattern, and it took awhile to get it right. I also then wanted to create a prototype before cutting in to the gorgeous Tilda cotton. My practice garment was my tape cassette jacket, which I wore to Bestival festival. When I was happy with my basic pattern I hacked about with it a bit to allow for the lace insert. It was inserting the lace that made me feel nervous, and I needed to be in the right frame of mind to tackle this part of the project. (i.e not mind boggingly tired and driven crazy by a toddler who wants to watch Thomas the Tank Engine on repeat). I haven’t worked with lace before, yet alone such a stunning, special and expensive guipure lace. I really didn’t want to mess this part up. I had a vivid image of how I wanted this jacket to turn out, and I spent a long time working out how to achieve it. In the end I think I had to compromise my vision with what I could practically achieve. There were a few moments in this make that I wished for instructions to follow, but eventually my instinct got me there.

Tilda jacket stats

Fabric: Tilda Jane Blue Grey Cotton, Random flower guipure, A pink poly-cotton for the lining, Cotton elastane ribbing for collars/cuffs
Cost: The Tilda cotton and Flower Guipure was kindly donated to me by White Tree Fabrics, The poly cotton was £3.50 from Leeds Market, and the Cotton elastane ribbing was from Plush Addict and left over from a previous project
Pattern: Self drafted cropped jacket. My first version is the tape cassette jacket blogged here
Time: Could be completed in a day
Difficulty: Medium, because it involved some intricate hand sewing

Materials

Tilda Cotton Guipure Lace

Tilda Jane Blue Grey Cotton

I hadn’t heard or used Tilda fabric before, but as soon as I had it in my hand you could tell it was a premium quality cotton, which is soft and buttery to the touch. Tilda is a craft brand founded by Norwegian designer Tone Finnanger in 1999, best known for its whimsical and naive characters in the form of animals and dolls. The prints are delicate, with a county cottage / shabby chic style feel. They feature quaint floral designs, polka dots, stripes and are typically very feminine and pretty. Now this isn’t my signature style, but I thought I’d branch out a little. I can see the Tilda range of fabrics really lending themselves to a lot of home furnishing, toy clothing and dressmaking style projects.

Random Flower Guipure

Guipure lace is a firm, stiff lace, without a net background. The shapes in guipure are typically large patterns, that are held together by large connecting stitches. It’s perfect for garment cut outs because it has enough structure to hold its shape nicely. It cuts really easily without falling apart, and I’ve heard, but not tested that it also dyes well.

The Pattern

Did I already mention this pattern was self drafted? I did? Oh well, high fives anyway! It consists of a standard bodice back, front and sleeve pieces with rectangular strips used for the cuffs, neckline and hem. To create the lace insert I cut out the desired shape in the back bodice piece, which left a big hole to fill in later! When creating it I was certain I wanted to make a garment with a lace insert (White Tree have a great selection of fancy laces, and I couldn’t resist giving one a try) but I was toying between two ideas. The first was an elegant blazer, with a see through lace back, and the second was a more sporty jacket with a feminine lacy twist, like a mix mash of sporty and baby spice in one. Probably difficult to put in to words my vision but there you have it. I decided on the sporty option because I was intrigued if it would work or not.

My pattern was a cropped bomber style jacket, fully lined, zip fastened, with a narrow ribbing neckline, and ribbing cuffs and hem.

My pattern was a cropped bomber style jacket, fully lined, zip fastened, with a thin ribbing neckline, and ribbing cuffs and hem.

Initially I didn’t want any lining behind the lace at the back of the garments, so that you could see through to skin. I couldn’t quite work out how to sew it like this though, and on reflection I would probably always wear something underneath it, so just decided to fully line it. I hope the lining I chose compliments and contrasts the lace successfully.
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Garment Assembly

Guipure Lace Insert

This was the trickiest and scariest part. I couldn’t afford to make a mistake. I made myself a super charged vegan iced coffee (do ask if you’re interested) and got to work with a caffeine fueled bravado. You can see on the image below how at the selvedges the lace has beautiful teardrop shaped lobes. I wanted to incorporate these in to my triangular panel at the edges, but to do so would be a challenge that involved cutting in to the fabric and sewing back together again.
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I took a long hard look at the lace and tried to visualise if I could cut it in a way that I would be able to sew up again, without it looking too obvious. This was the result:
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I then delicately sat and hand sewed the two pieces together as invisibly as I could, trimming off any excess lace as I went along. I held my breath, without daring to think about what could go wrong. Luckily I seemed to be pulling this off, and ended up with one piece I was really happy with.
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I needed to tidy up the teardrops at the point of the triangle, and had slight concerns about how it would fit with my other pieces along the neckline, but I’d winged it so far hadn’t I. Someone or something was on my side.

Sewing together

I hand sewed the lace piece to the back bodice, and then machine stitched the neckline piece to the top of the lace. At some point, my back bodice piece had become a little distorted, where the shoulders were different widths, and didn’t fit well with the front bodice piece when sewing together at the shoulders. To rectify this, I had to sew at the shoulders a little lower, and then re-shape the armholes by cutting in to the fabric, to replace the lost height at the shoulders. Oh golly, it all sounds a bit drastic, and it was, but I had no spare fabric so I did what I could.

On reflection – a better option would have been to complete the lace panel first, before cutting out any of the back panel pieces. This would have meant I could have cut out the exact sized shape, rather than try to fit my lace in to a hole that was too large and left the rest of the garment mis-shapen.

I continued to sew up the garment. The sleeves were tricky because I had *reshaped* the armholes and the set in sleeves didn’t fit properly. You can see on the photos there are a couple of puckers, but nothing so awful it would stop me from wearing it. Once it was together, I tried it on, and it didn’t look half bad. Hells bells. I then went ahead and put together the lining in a similar fashion.

Ribbing

I knew that the general rule of thumb is to cut ribbing 2/3 to 3/4 of the length of the piece it’s being applied to, depending on how much you want it to hug that area. With this in mind I worked out the dimensions for my rectangles and cut out shapes for the neckline, cuffs and waistline.

For the neckline ribbing I used a 1.5cm high strip

For the neckline ribbing I used a 1.5cm high strip.

Zip

I attached the zip using my zipper foot, and sewed through both the lining and main fabric, so that you could see the stitching from the front. I then hand tacked the back of the zip to the lining of the garment to keep it flat.
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General Happiness Rating

:smile: :smile: :smile: – I rate this make 3 smileys
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Do I have something that looks handmade? Probably yes. But do I have something with an awesome hand-sewn guipure lace panel that I can be proud of? Hell yeah! I must admit I think it’s a slightly odd garment, that doesn’t match most of my wardrobe. Did I pull it off? What do you all think? When I wear it however, I feel proud, and that equates to lots of happiness in my book. It was a challenge to make, and one that I acquired some new skills and learnt from. What more could I want?
erm … easy! More beautiful guipure lace please.

Have you seen the other amazing creations from fellow White Tree Bloggers?

Jo’s chiffon red wedding guest dress

jo Jo made this stunning red number for her friends wedding. I love how she modified the pattern to add an elasticated waistband and beaded embroidery. She looks stunning.
See Jo’s dress here

Louise’s Red lace dress

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Well what can I say? Louise is an inspiration and she has really taken it to another level with this dress. The scarlet red really appeals to me and it’s a bold masterpiece of sewing.
See Louise’s dress here

Lucie’s honeymoon holdall bag

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Hey, I’ve just realised all my top picks are wedding themed! Blimey, weddings really bring out our creativity huh. Lucie recently got married and made this bag to take on her honeymoon. It uses White Tree Fabrics bonded lace, which looks like a really interesting fabric to work with. Hope you are having a good honeymoon Lucie!
See Lucie’s bag here

Please visit me again and lets hook up on twitter, bloglovin or instagram. I hope to be telling you all about the super cosy winter coat I’ve just finished making.

Happy sewing everyone,
Amy x

Oh, and the reason there are no pictures of me in this post is that someone took my tripod walkabouts … normal exhibitionism to return in due course.