Monday, 20 May 2013

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Little trousers

With so many little boys in the house, you'd think there would be lots of little trousers wouldn't you. Well, you'd think wrong. Somewhere along the way, we've lost all the 6-12 month clothes, which is a shame, but not the end of the world (in so many ways). The other boys are 6 months out on the new one, so that they were new born in the summer, and then snug in dungarees come the winter. The new fellow, however, needs to dress for a steaming hot, as yet to materialise, Virginia summer.

I can run these little trousers up in minutes - almost less time than it would take to go upstairs and find a clean pair. They're just simple, two pieces (left and right, more on that below), drawn round another pair that fit, with soft elastic at the waist. We use washable nappies, so a lot of commercial trousers are too narrow (I'm looking at you especially, Gap), so I make them with extra big bottoms and lots of give.
I had asked my husband for a bundle of prints with bugs on for my birthday, thinking of making underwear for me, and lining a handbag. Instead I got elephants. I'm hoping he didn't know I intended to make underwear with them. Still, it's a lovely fabric and they make cute boy pants.
This pair is from a sheet from Goodwill. $1. I think it will make 4 pairs - one for us, one has already gone in the post, and there's a bunch left too. It was a fitted sheet, so I saved the elastic for that smug thrifty feeling.
So the little man can coordinate with his lady friends, I edged this fun Edwardian bicycle print (just from JoAnns) in orange bias tape.
But then I got other ideas and ran into a whole load of trouble.
I have a lovely new friend who has a boy 6m older than my baby. She very kindly passes his nice, only worn by one child, washed and ironed (!) clothes onto us, so I thought I would make some clothes for her kids.
Rather than winging it by drawing round clothes and cobbling things together, I thought I would actually follow a pattern, and used one from the Lotta Jansdotter book Simple Sewing for Baby. I've sewn lots from this book, especially the little dresses, and really like it, but my goodness, the trouser pattern. Never again. When I read other people's blogs and they talk about 'badly drafted patterns', I've always wondered what they're talking about, and think 'how can they tell?'. Well, now I know.
Making pants in 2 pieces is easy. But, as I said above, they should be left and right, not front and back. You can't really tell from the photo, but my word are they a weird shape.
So I tried to redeem things by making a little shirt to go with them. But that turned out pretty badly too. Craft Fail. Still, she was very gracious about them.

Fortunately I also made her older daughter a little apron for baking. That, at least, was a success.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

A quilt for Luther

I made this quilt for a baby in the UK.  I imagine it's a fairly basic quilt pattern, from Stitch Savvy (again), although I  made broadly read and broadly blue blocks and then interspersed them, which I think gave it a bit more consistency.
His mum did her PhD on cycling, so when I saw the fabric from Fabric Worm, it was the obvious choice.

I also used up some bits and bobs from the cupboard.

It's backed with orange flannel because orange is his mum's favourite colour. And because the pattern made up one foot squares, I decided to quilt random ish one foot squares, which look good ish, but were a pain to do. Live and learn. As I can clearly neither cut, sew or quilt in straight lines, I wonder if quilting is the craft for me. That said, Luther is only 6 weeks old, so isn't a very discerning critic yet. Perhaps he'll grow up thinking that's what they're meant to look like.

Quilting's a funny old craft isn't it. I'm constantly torn between the kind of random, thrifty, Gee's Bend kind of quilts, and the more modern, beautiful interpretations of American traditional quilts. You can certainly spend a whole lot of money on what used to be a real make do and mend activity.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Spring top sew-along

Normally these things come and go - spring top sewalongs, kids' clothing week, Celebrate the boy - and I have all the intentions and then don't do anything about it. But hey, it's the thought that counts. Right?

But, this year, I have actually managed to do a couple of spring tops for the sewalong. Well, I managed to make some tops, and there's a sewalong going on. But I think I was trawling the flickr feed and saw Colette patterns that looked pretty, had a look on their site and came up with the Sorbetto. Free. Lovely. Can totally be made with men's shirts ($1 a piece at a yard sale near you).

One of these days I will get round to paying actual money for a pattern, but for now, getting around to doing some sewing feels like an accomplishment.

 The first one is a lovely white shirt that I actually bought to make trousers for the baby, with a blue linen shirt I'd already made into a sun hat. But the cotton had a pattern in the weave which looked funny with the linen, so I kept it for me. It has wooden buttons, which were on the front, but now are on the back, and I kept the scoopy bit at the bottom hem, partly because I liked the shape, partly because I'm lazy. You know, so lazy I sew my own clothes.

I made the US14, as I'm still pretty chunky, but it's actually too big, so I need to stick some darts in the back. Other lessons learned: When the pattern says 'stay stitch', stay stitch. Because I didn't the neck line gapes a bit. I really must get the darts in before the weather warms up.

The second one is the same pattern, but with the facings on the outside (which is actually what the pattern suggests) and I sewed a line of bias tape on either side of the pleat so it looks like piping. This is a US12, which fits a lot better, but the bust darts are a bit high, so I might have a third go, although I'm out of shirts for now. Lessons learned with the Mark 2: Don't sew (or photograph) teeny tiny gingham. My eyes felt like I'd been staring at magic eye pictures (remember them?) all day by the time I'd finished.

I'm in the fortunate position of not really being on a tight budget, but even so, it feels pretty good to have made two tops for a couple of bucks, as well as to have repurposed two old shirts. The fabric is lovely, and I don't think I would have thought to make them without the design constraints imposed by repurposing as opposed to designing from scratch, something that just feels intimidating really.