This scarf was a charity shop find that attracted me because of its bright colours. I thought I might chop it up to make something, but it somehow didn’t seem suitable for that, so I thought I might wear it, but it just didn’t quite work somehow.
Then on a trip to Anthropologie I saw a beautiful scarf that was edged in bobble trim. It was out of my price range but gave me an idea. A quick trip to MacCulloch & Wallis (intimidating shop staff, great range of products- less scary to shop online!!) and I picked up this vivid blue trim.
After an evening of hand-sewing I now have another colourful wardrobe addition- it almost makes me want the weather to get cooler!
In contrast to last weekend’s power tools and paint, my work this weekend has been a lot more genteel. By day I’ve been in the garden rather a lot, but for the last two evenings I had my sewing machine out. While my two patchwork projects are calling out for attention, there were more pressing needs in the baby and toddler departments.
First up, a long promised pirate sun hat for P. I made him some shorts out of this fabric from the market a while back, and they’ve been worn so much the skull and crossbones have almost faded off them. This hat, like the shorts, was made using an Oliver + S pattern from the lovely ‘Little Things To Sew’. I’ve made a few of them now and have plans for more items for the book as presents for the upcoming autumn of birthdays. I think I might have made the crown on this one a little shallow, but as the brim is quite deep it works okay, as the brim shades his eyes without stopping him from being able to see out. He seems happy with it anyway, we’re getting lots of ‘Aargh, Captain’ from him when he wears it.
Next it was another visit to ‘Handmade Beginnings’ for some booties. My cousin is booked in for a C-section a week tomorrow, and I’ve already broken my superstitious rule about not making things for babies before they’re born by knitting an Aviatrix hat for her baby shower. Even so, I prefer to say that I’ve made these cute little Liberty print booties for a baby, and if it just so happens that it’s the baby that arrives in a week then wonderful. They were a little fiddly, especially getting the inner soles to stick (I need better interfacing) but they’ve turned out pretty well I think, although looking at their size compared to one-year-old M’s feet, I’m not sure 0-3 months is going to be an accurate size, and she may be waiting until winter to wear them.
There was more Liberty print last night when I made M some more ‘Quick Change Trousers’ from ‘Handmade Beginnings’. Mum had given me the Liberty fabric as she knew she wouldn’t have time to make a dress with it this year. As it goes, M has had so many lovely dresses given to her this summer that it would be a waste to make another. In addition, her crawling and climbing calls more for trousers so although I indulge myself putting her in the frocks (with the bonus that it slows her up a bit), I indulge her by putting her in leggings and trousers. These ones were partly a contrivance to use the lovely seaside print fabric that our friends had wrapped M’s birthday present in instead of wrapping paper. There wasn’t that much of it, so I cut the pattern with shorter legs, thinking I might squeeze a cropped pair out of it. That wasn’t going to happen, so instead I used the contrast back yoke option, which also gave me a chance to use a fat quarter of lovely red spotty fabric I’d been given. In the end, when they’re unrolled the trousers are just the right length- she is only just into the age category for them- while when turned up they are a chic and climber friendly capri length.
Tonight, providing C can stand yet more sewing machine noise, I might just get around to that patchwork.
More Mama love in this post I’m afraid! This delightful chicken (from Anna Maria Horner’s gorgeous book ‘Handmade Beginnings’) was meant to be among the presents my parents gave to M for her first birthday. When I conveniently got a nasty bout of tonsilitis in the week leading up to P’s birthday, my lovely mummy flew to the rescue, driving 5 hours up the motorway to look after the littles and in the process ran out of time to sew the chicks in time for M’s birthday the following week. As a result, the finished birdy, complete with six chicks with Velcro wings to nestle safely under their mummy’s wings, arrived today in the post, no less special for its tardiness. It must be a good week for chickens, as our dear old hen Penelope has decided that she will honour us with a precious few of her rarely laid eggs- three in a row!
With the unexpectedly warm weather continuing- it’s like Nature is trying to apologise for the hard, cold winter- we took to the garden yesterday. Having near enough burst my lungs inflating the paddling pool and given thanks for a hosepipe in the garden to save me lugging buckets about, I settled down to finish off some handsewing.
Proper smocking is something I’d like to learn, but for now I’m contenting myself with mock smocking using shearing elastic. A slightly late birthday present of a sun top for a little friend of ours in Cardiff was made in a similar way to the first of two sundresses I’m making for Maeve from some Liberty print and other fabric acquired on a recent trip to see my folks. I’ll expand- and reveal- more when the full ensemble is complete.
>I made up that word- ‘slackblogger’, sounds almost Shakespearean, doesn’t it?- to describe how I’ve been recently with this blog. Maybe I just haven’t been doing enough of the stuff I like to write about, making stuff and going out and about, or maybe I’ve just been lacking motivation to write in general. Anyway, a big distraction has been the chance of going back to full time work, but following an unsuccessful interview yesterday, it looks like home is where it’s at for a while longer.
With that in mind, it’s probably appropriate that some of my recent making projects have been of the homely variety:
This dishcloth is my first attempt at one. I ended up using a probably over-fancy yarn, Rowan Revive . I’d got it on special from but found it a bit rough and stiff when I knitted it up. Fortunately rough and stiff is quite good for a dishcloth. I used what my Grandma described as ‘a sort of fancy rib’ for the pattern. You knit a row, purl a row, then k1 p1 rib two rows, basically. In this yarn, this makes for some useful, grot-shifting bobbles.
You may also notice the drip-catcher below the draining rack. I think this was inspired by something Soule Mama put on her blog a while back. It goes some way to solving the problem of a draining board that is too small, doesn’t slope enough and has areas around the outside edge where pools of yukky water form. Some reclaimed polyester cotton, from a charity shop duvet cover in glorious Seventies purple flower print, and some fleece fabric I had knocking around- bit of freestyle embroidery foot sewing and there was something that looked a bit better, soaks up the water and is easy to wash.
The only problem with both these items is they’re meant to be chucked in the wash and replaced every couple of days…and I’ve only made one of each so far. With interview preparation over with, that’s where my priorities should be now.
Except…sometimes the sun is shining at the moment, and there’s a very convincing argument for why going back to work full time wouldn’t really have been all it’s cracked up to be. Or rather two convincing arguments, with big sparkly blue eyes ready to take in the world and its wonders. So when the weather is bad I’ll get mundanities such as dishcloths knitted, but when it’s kind I’ll be grabbing the opportunity and the camera and working at kicking the slackblogger habit.
Last weekend I finally got to unpack the many boxes marked ‘craft stuff’, as the little room which was P’s temporary bedroom is on its way to being a workroom/office space. In other words I spent a relatively peaceful afternoon untangling random balls of yarn (not as many as I thought as it happens) and trying to find ways to sort and store a lot of scrap and resuable fabric (lots more than I thought). With this yarn/fabric lack of balance revealed, along with all my sewing notions and box of threads, I’ve been inspired to get some sewing done this week.
A lot of what I’ve done has actually be useful, round the house type stuff (I seem to remember that this was meant to be the plan for the first three months of the year…oops! Better late than never!) I’ll post about that soon. In the meantime, I wanted to share this little bit of fun.
Actually, sewing with ‘fun’ fur isn’t really fun at all, even when using a floating embroidery foot. But the good thing is that there’s no need for hemming, so the tasks of adjustments in shape of hat and length of trouser leg are just a simple snip, rather than unpicking and resewing.
To make my little tiger’s legs, I simply folded an existing pair of jogging bottoms in half and used them as a template, rather like the way Amanda Soule describes in ‘The Creative Family’ when she makes old t-shirts into trousers- my Christmas present cutting wheel was invaluable for this. I ended up doing a bit of unpicking as amid the family chaos around me I forgot which seam to sew up first, and chose the wrong one. Spend a moment thinking about it and it’s really not that hard. Also, having made a nice long tail out of a long tube of fabric, I forgot to sew it into the back seam, so a bit more unpicking. I had to handsew the tail into this seam as four layers of fun fur just don’t go through my sewing machine. I made a simple elasticated waist so he can pull them on and off easily (useful fo
To make the tiger hat I dipped into the delights of a belated birthday present from my sister, Oliver + S’s ‘Little Things to Sew’ (buy it, it’s gorgeous!). I used the pattern for the ‘Cozy Winter Hood’. Knowing my little boy’s rather large noggin, I chose the largest size, forgetting that, since I wasn’t lining it, it would turn out even bigger. In the end I made a tiger hat that would even fit C, the originator of the big noggin genes. Still, nothing a bit of trimming and off-piste dart making couldn’t fix.
I realise, looking at this post, that it reads like a farcical list of errors made by mother trying to sew amidst an ever-curious toddler, a squeaking baby and getting the tea ready. Actually, that’s about the size of it. But the thing that is fun about sewing with fun fur is that it’s very forgiving, covers a lot of mistakes and pretty quickly gives the results that any toddler would be happy with. Catching a tiger for a photograph on the other hand, is not so easy…
This somewhat solemn little chap is a small piece of a new beginning. Maybe a small piece of what will become something bigger. For quite some time my friend and I have talked about creating the sort of toddler group we’d like to take our littles to- less of the heaps of plastic toys and mothers sat around on chairs ignoring any newcomers, more natural materials, being in touch with the seasons and connecting families together. A lot like the Steiner playgroup we’ve been to, really. However, the Steiner group is a good hour and a half to drive to, a fact which has been increasingly hard to live with, both in terms of environmental conscience and, with rising fuel costs, budget. Our answer? To start up the group we want in our own living rooms- and once a month at the woodland recently bought by my friend’s mother. If all goes well, we’ll invite more families to join us and perhaps eventually find an official venue.
This, then, is ‘Pete’, our Steiner inspired story telling puppet. I hand-sewed him and filled him with wool, as this seemed to fit with the spirit of our enterprise. I haven’t hand-sewed anything much for years, and had forgotten how soothing it can be, providing the project is small enough.
If this idea is our indoors green shoots, then there are plenty of real green shoots in the outdoors. We’ve had a blessing of February sunshine today, inspiring us to go out to the woods. Trembling snowdrops somehow managed to avoid the stomp of muddy wellies and the leaf litter was peppered with tiny green spikes of promise- Spring is on the way!
I’ve been totally preoccupied with possible nursery schools and wallpapering this week, with a background soundtrack of money worries. However, in the longer term plan, this year I really want to improve my sewing skills. I must have advertised this fact at least a couple of times, as my Nana-in-law very kindly bought me this cute sewing basket for my birthday (no more stuffing spare machine needles etc. in an old cardboard box), while my brother and his partner got me what they describe as ‘The Ferrari of sewing scissors’ (her mum teaches sewing, so no doubt they are). So I’m tooled up, but what about the projects?
Patterns from Oliver & S have been on my covet list for a long, long time but I’d never quite committed to buying. Then just after Christmas we sold some stuff we no longer needed on eBay and therefore had some money in the PayPal account…and Oliver and S did a lovely ’20% off during January’ offer…so welcome to my stash Music Box Jumper (that’s a pinafore dress for us Brits), Music Lesson Skirt and Blouse and Sketchbook Shorts and Shirt.
The reason for this selection is two-fold. Firstly, they range from what Oliver and S deem easy to medium in terms of how much sewing experience is needed. So in theory, if I work from the easier to the harder patterns I’ll increase my skills-base. Secondly, as I mentioned earlier in the post, the subject of nursery schools is on the horizon, which will mean school uniforms. The idea of P wearing cheap store-bought stuff doesn’t really appeal as
a. He has sensitive, eczema-prone skin
b. We try to avoid cheap, sweatshop produced clothing if possible, but don’t have a lot of money to back up our ethics.
c. He’s going to be at school five mornings a week. Then more the following year. So if I make clothes for him to wear the rest of the time then why not for school time too? A bit of mummy-love to take with him on this big step towards independence.
I’m hoping, then, that I can make the Sketchbook shorts in a long-trousered version for school uniform and with any luck will manage shirts by the end of summer when he’s due to start. Looking to the future, the girl’s patterns will be lovely for when M starts, just need to get a summer dress pattern to do in gingham- I like this one and fortunately I have a few years to acquire the necessary sewing ability before she’ll need it.
Given that we’re at Winter Solstice, it’s probably appropriate that we’ve had some loooong nights around here. A nasty cold bug continues to make the littles miserable, and today C is in bed with it. So far I’ve escaped, which may well mean I’m due for a dose on Christmas Day! Still, despite this, I managed to get the last of my ‘elving’ done last night, with these doll nappies and change mat. They are heading for P’s little friend, who is about to become a big sister for the first time. P had some play nappies for his doll when M was born and I thought it was a lovely idea. I used the pattern from Anna Maria Horner’s Handmade Beginnings for the nappies, using terry towelling for the inside and some left over babycord from M’s dresses for the outside. The change mat is simply a rectangle of cotton print with a rectangle of wool/cotton quilt batting and a rectangle of brushed cotton. I had a bit of fun with the embroidery foot on my sewing machine to doodle on it, having earlier threatened my machine with the sack when it wouldn’t work properly for some reason. I believe my threats included “I’ll get rid of you and get an antique hand sewing machine, then you’ll be sorry.” Maybe this is a sign that I could really do with more sleep, but it seemed to work!!