Wednesday, February 29, 2012


One of the advantages of having two boys is that I have a stash of clothes for the Kinderboy to grow into. Having said that, at the rate he's growing, they will be wearing the same clothes by the end of the year.

What to do then, with the Newbie?  There are heaps more girls clothes out there in retail-land than boys clothes, but why discard what you can re-use?  Also, 95% of what's available for girls is heavily loaded with pink and mauve.  Not my cup of tea.  I've been through the pile of clothes that the Kinderboy's grown out of, and sorted between 'bin', 'op shop' and 'girlify'.  Hopefully over the coming months/years I'll be able to salvage some hand-me-downs without making my little one look like too much of a tomboy.

Here's the first cab of the rank:

A cute little onesie that's pretty simple, but I thought that the blue might need a little dilution to appease those who think that all little girls should be decked out in head-to-toe pink.

These pins gave me inspiration:

I used the Martha Stewart version, but with six petals of deep red felt, with a mid-blue circle beneath the button.  Because I wasn't sure how it'd wash I attached it to the onesie by press-stud so I could remove it to wash the rest:

Hmmm.  I've decided that its too big and dark.  I made it this size as I needed to cover both the teddy bear and the writing, and although it doesn't look so dark and imposing in real life, I think a lighter colour would have been better.  I nearly didn't post this as a result, but in the interests of transparency...

I have another project on the go, so hopefully it'll be more successful!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Vintage bargains

The Schoolboy and I called into our local op shop yesterday on the pretext of donating some stuff.

It didn't take much coaxing on his part to have me having a 'bit of a look' to kill the time before kinder pick-up.  I'm so glad I did, and that they weren't open the day before when I first tried to drop off my boxes.  A collection of vintage patterns had just been donated, and they were still trying to work out whether to charge 10c or 20c each for them (?!?).  I ended up with a selection of kids patterns for my loose change (the lady insisted on giving back the gold coins I tried to give her).  I love them as much for the illustrations as for the patterns they contain:

The Style pattern dates from 1972, and I can remember wearing similar as a girl.  One of the Vogue patterns is dated 1953, meaning that my mum could well have worn similar dresses made by my grandmother.  Whilst the illustrations look quaint (and I can see myself framing them), I can see a lot of similarities between the style of some of these patterns and little girl patterns that are still available.  I guess time will tell if I dare use them!

I'm off to gloat over here and here.  If you're in the area and want to see what's left I got the patterns from the Childrens' Protection Society op shop in Rosanna, and when I left there were still a number of kids patterns as well as some ladies ones of same vintage (plus newer patterns as well).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pillowcase Dress #2: Simplicity 4243 (yet again)

I've completed my second pillowcase dress (although I realise now that I should have ironed it before taking photos!), and am hoping that I'm meeting my aims despite the fact that I've used the same pattern as I did for Dress 1!  It had been my plan to invert the pleats at least, only I didn't think through the implications of that around the neckline, and it wouldn't work (I am planning one final version of this pattern, with the pleats on the outside, and I'll show you what I mean and how to adjust the pattern as part of that post).  This is View E in Size S, and should fit the Newbie soonish.

I saved time and made a floral version in Size M at the same time - hopefully it'll fit next summer.

I'm loving the decorations - the little white flowers came from my Grandma's stash, and I suspect they date from when my sister and I were little.  The buttons on the floral dress have been in my sewing kit since high school, so it also feels good to give them a nice home!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

'Spring cleaning'

I'm doing a progressive spring clean of our house.  It started with the boys toys, and was originally born out of necessity, as there was no way that the birthday and Christmas presents could fit in the house otherwise.  I'm now picking off shelves/drawers at a time, and this week I tackled some of my clothes.  I'm trying to balance between what'll [hopefully] fit in 6-12 months time, what really should be binned, and what could be re-configured / should be given away.  Yesterday afternoon I tackled my sleepwear drawer, and turned a tank top I've never been that keen on into another pair of pants for the Newbie.  I used Rae's pattern again, with some adjustments...

Pattern:  Rae’s Basic Baby pant

A tank top of mine

One of my goals for the next year or so is to begin to see patterns as a starting point - to look beyond the illustrations provided and make each garment 'my own', rather than simply sewing them as drawn.  These pants are a simple way to start!  They're also a starting point for getting a bit more comfortable with knits, which's another of my goals.

As with the previous pair of pants, I used the bottom hem of my top as the hem of the pants, doing away with the need to hem them separately, and added the length of the hem (ie. I lazily lined up the bottom of the pattern piece with the bottom of the T-shirt).  

I used some ribbon we'd been given around a present for the Newbie to decorate the bottom of the pants, tying a bow at the side of each leg, and sewing it down before sewing the inside leg seam.  I also used a little on the pocket, and the rest for the waist drawstring.

I took a bit of inspiration from the Kinderboy's bathers for the waist of the pants, switching the elastic for a drawstring.  I created a break in the centre front seam from a point around 2.5cm from the top to around 4cm from the top of the pants (see blury photo below):

I then stitched around the full waist casing, without leaving a gap for the insertion of elastic.  When I'd finished I threaded a ribbon/elastic combination through the waist via the opening I'd created, tying it at the centre front.  I used around 30cm of ribbon on each end of a 35cm long piece of elastic.  This gives the flexibility of an elastic waist, but will also effectively allow me to let out the waist of the pants as she grows.  I stitched through the pants and the elastic at the centre back to stop the drawstring being pulled all the way through the pants (the ribbon/elastic combo is also longer than the waist of the pants, so that the ends of the ribbon won't get lost inside the casing either).

I used an offcut to create a pocket for the back of the pants.  No science to it I'm afraid, I just noticed that some of the offcuts looked a bit 'pocket-shaped', trimmed one, gathered top and bottom, then stitched it on (the top of the pocket is the bottom of my original top, meaning that no hemming was required).

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Simplicity 4243 revisited

In the interests of getting the most out of my patterns, I've been making another Simplicity 4243 top.  Hopefully the colour is sufficiently different from the previous version that no one will notice that the Newbie's wearing the same thing over and over!

I did a few things differently, this time, so here's the rundown:

Pattern:  Simplicity 4243, View D with the sleeves from View A / B

40cm of an unknown print I received in a scrap pack recently (sorry, can't find it on the Fabricworm website, and the selvedge was no help)
A teensy bit of pink poly-cotton from the stash
Miraculously similar bias binding from the stash

  • I didn't have enough pink for the sleeves, so I shortened them by about 1.5cm (ie. I made them as long as my fabric would let me) and then bound them with the floral material rather than hemming the sleeve as described in the pattern.
  • I bound the bottom with bias binding, rather than hemming it, meaning that the finished length is slightly longer than the pattern.
  • I made my own facing patterns for the neckline and cut these from the pink fabric, rather than using a bias strip.  This also allowed me to use a single button with elastic closure on the back (sorry for the blurry photos).  This's the first time I've used this sort of enclosure, and I love it already!

I was about 2" short on the bias binding, and decided that I would sew it on anyway and do something different at the centre back.  My 'something different' ended up being to bind it with a leftover piece of the sleeve material.  Not the creative approach I had in mind I have to say.  Its on the back, and no one will ever see it (or the mis-matched pattern at the centre back seam), but it annoys me that it looks tacked on.  I could have joined my strip to the bias binding and made it look a whole lot better if I had thought more before sewing.  Of course, I could also unstitch it and re-do it, but we all know that's unlikely!


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