Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Lotta skirt for me

In December last year, my friend Marte from Compagnie M, asked if I would like to sew up one of her newer patterns (Thank you Marte!!).  I love Marte's designs and I decided I would like to make something for myself, so I chose the lovely Lotta skirt. This skirt sat half made in my overflowing 'to finish' basket, until a few days ago when I finally finished it off.

If you have not already seen this pattern, the Lotta skirt features a gathered front and back with a thick waistband, sweet turnover pockets and closes with an invisible zip at the back.  The pattern includes instructions to fully line the skirt or to leave it unlined, depending on your fabric and season.  This skirt is not lined.

I bought the fabric for this skirt about three and a half years ago and first intended it for Isabella's 'big girl' quilt.  I didn't end up using it in her quilt and thought it would be perfect in a skirt for me! It is "innocent crush" by Anna Maria Horner. Her prints are beautifully bright and big. The pocket linings are just a pink cotton and the buttons I covered with cream calico.

The skirt is very flattering I think and I love the fit and the big waistband.  I don't remember which size I cut but it fits me well!

Isabella took these photos of me and asked me to do some silly poses hence the gem below (clothes hanging in the background in case you didn't see).

If you are not familiar with Marte's blog and patterns, please head over to Compagnie M to be inspired.  Marte lives in Belgium and has just launched her patterns in paper also.  They look amazing!! Did you hear that she will be transforming her gorgeous girls' Louisa dress pattern into womens' sizes too? How cool - I can't wait to make one and my sister has also put in an order based on Juliette's Louisa dress!

Here is my now updated 'to finish' list:
  • A Lotta skirt for me from some bold Anna Maria Horner floral
  • A Nani Iro summer dress for Juliette (finished but not blogged)
  • A teddy for a new baby here
  • A three quarter sleeve version of this design
  • An artistic representation of this top
  • A dress adaptation of my Little Betty top pattern
  • A recycled Sunday picnic dress for Emily
  • A bed quilt for Emily
Meanwhile, I have added two more things to my to sew list - a dress and doll for Emily's third birthday this week!!

Friday, February 20, 2015

A sweet bear for Gia

A good friend I have known since I was 12 had her third baby last week and I had to make her a softie!  She is crafty herself and I knew she would appreciate it.

I made this sweet bear from a woolen skirt given to me by my sister.  The pattern is adorable and is by the very talented soft toy maker and pattern designer, Fiona Dalton of HopSkipJump.  Fiona is Australian too and I just LOVE all the toys she makes.  I have her HopSkipJump book and I have used it heaps already. I have made the mouse, cat, monkey, fox, bunny and now bear!  If you are into making soft toys, this is such a good book to have.  Fiona promotes sustainable sewing using lots of recycled fabrics and organics. 

This pattern is called "Louis".  I planned on making this bear if Emily was born a boy as we planned on naming her/him Louis!  

So I finally made a Louis for gorgeous baby Gia Scarlett - what a lovely name!  And she is so sweet!!  The photo below was taken with my phone so is not super clear but you get an idea of how cute Gia is and how she stacks up against her new bear!!

I highly recommend Fiona's book - it has so many adorable patterns in it. You can see all the other toys I  have made using Fiona's patterns by clicking here. Have a lovely weekend!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Hello 2015 and a little yellow dress

Hello there! It has been a while since I have been around here! I blame Christmas/school holidays, a room renovation, house painting and feeling a bit overwhelmed with how many unfinished projects Ihave piled in my sewing room!  Time to tick some off....

This is another Blake dress, pattern by mingo and grace.  You can see three more I made more true to the original pattern here. For this dress, I gathered the skirt instead of pleating it and added a peter pan collar. This is size five on Juliette who sits between a 4-5 size wise. I used some recycled fabric that I found at the op shop. It is a lovely soft cotton shirting.  The collar and little pocket (hidden by folds in the pic above) are a lovely double gauze I bought from miss matatabi.

I really love buying second hand fabric.  I get so much satisfaction from making a dress for a few dollars and also from making something pretty from something that someone didn't want (and supporting charity at the same time!) In fact, I am putting it out there now that my sewing resolution for the year is that I am not buying any new fabrics this year. I will be using fabrics I already have and any I find at the op shop.  That said, if someone happens to buy me some Cloud 9 fabric that is currently in stock and looking lovely at Spotlight, or I happen to receive lovely fabric in the mail from a secret admirer, I am not going to refuse them. 

I love her gapped teeth smile! Emily totally photo bombed this one!

The back of this dress is very feminine I think with a slightly cut away arm scye.

I realise now after editing these photos that the one below is the only one where you can see the little pocket.

Juliette loves her new 'party dress' and I am glad she still loves wearing dresses. 

I hope to show you the rest of my half made projects soon -

  • A Lotta skirt for me from some bold Anna Maria Horner floral
  • A Nani Iro summer dress for Juliette
  • A teddy for a new baby 
  • A three quarter sleeve version of this design
  • An artistic representation of this dress
  • A dress adaptation of my Little Betty top pattern
  • A recycled Sunday picnic dress for Emily
  • A bed quilt for Emily

Yes I am very naughty at starting new projects.  I WILL not start a new project until this list is done!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Book review and a dress for the wishing tree: Sew Sweet Handmade Clothes for Girls

I was recently received an email from Brandon from Tuttle Publishing asking if I would like a copy of the latest Japanese sewing book - Sew Sweet Handmade Clothes for Girls.  Of course I would!  The only condition was that I make something and blog about it.  My pleasure!!  I love emails like that!

I love Japanese sewing books and have made a few pieces in the past here, here and here.  Good news - this one is available in English so is super easy to follow.  The instructions are digital drawings with the exception of a couple of sewing procedures that are photographed (below is creating a button placket) 

Below is an overview of the patterns in this book.  The sizing is 1-2; 3-4; 5-6; 7-8  with the addition of two patterns also being sized for women.

A few details about this book:
- Patterns are overlapped and are all stacked on two sheets of large paper that are folded and placed in a pocket at the back of the book;
- Each pattern is only colour coded in black and red so you need to search for the letter that corresponds to your chosen pattern - the pattern then needs to be traced and cut;
- Seam allowances need to be added;
- Styles are reasonably simple and many are appropriate for the beginner sewer;
- The books is beautifully laid out and a pleasure to work with - drawings are detailed with written instructions to accompany them.

I pondered over the book a while after deciding to make this dress.  It is sleeveless with a high stand up collar, button placket, faux front pockets with gentle gathering under the front and back yokes.

I made mine in a wool/cotton blend check that I was given by a friend.  I am not sure how old the fabric is - it is from my friend's mother who was a seamstress in her day and loved fabrics. I was lucky enough to receive a big box of her fabrics. 

I cut the yokes and button flaps on the bias for some contrast.  Although I learnt to sew years ago, this is the first time I have created a button placket - it was heaps of fun to follow the steps and see it come together.  I am very pleased with my first attempt!

Although this dress suits Isabella very much, while I was sewing it, I decided it would be a dress we would donate to the wishing tree - this is a charity initiative organised by the Salvation Army whereby you place a marked gift under a christmas tree at our K-mart and the gifts are then distributed to those in need.  I hope a little girl enjoys opening this gift for christmas and I will just have to make another one for Issie one day!!

Isabella was once again in a silly mood for the camera but I managed to take some acceptable photos this afternooon...

I sewed up size 5/6 for my petite 6 and a half year old.  I would say the sizing is on the small size for this dress (mostly with dress length) but can't say for other garments yet. The author and pattern designer for Sew Sweet Handmade clothes for girls, Yuki Araki states in the book that she has designed the clothes to be worn "now", ie. not with room to grow into. The collar looks like it is mismatched in height in the photo below but in real life it's not...I promise!

I can imagine this dress with long sleeves, tights and boots too.

Thank you very much Tuttle Publishing for offering me this lovely book. I can highly recommend it!! If you would like to buy a copy, you can here:)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Three Christmas dresses

Today I am sharing three sweet dresses I made my girls to wear on Christmas day. Do you remember that Laura (from Craftstorming) and I hosted The 12 Days of Christmas last year?  You can revisit the round up post here (you can see the dresses I made the girls last year there too). We were both a bit in need of a break so decided not to host this year but we are both sharing some festive sewing today. You will see a sneak peek to Laura's post with link at the end of this post.

Anyway, on to my dresses!!  I spotted this stunning dress by Diorella through An (StraightGrain's) Sew and Show the other week (stunning yes??) and saw that the dress design was an upcoming dress pattern by Farrah from Mingo and Grace.  When I saw that "Blake" was released, I bought it right away. (I have just noticed that Farrah is having a sale on her patterns too!)

I love this pattern!  It features a fitted bodice with cut away armholes at the back (I think this is referred to as racer back?).  It has large box pleats and sits above the knee.  The dress is fully lined and the underskirt is gathered which gives the dress a lovely fullness and structure. The dress closes with an invisible zip. The dress also has a large hem (2-3 inches depending on your preference).  I hand stitched mine just because.  I do love myself a big hem.  Below you can see the lining.

"Blake" is Farrah's second pattern.  She also released "Charlie" a few months ago.  She has done a superb job on this pattern.  All the instructions are digitally drawn and the whole pattern is very 'pleasing' to view and to work with.  I was a little confused with the placement of the pleats at the side seams - they are designed not to line up with the side seam so that the hidden pockets are even more hidden! But checking Farrah's amazing drawings I realised that I hadn't made a mistake and the mismatching of the pleats with the side seams is intentional (I forgot to get the hand in pocket shot!) I can imagine this pattern made up in satin, sateen or taffeta as a flowergirl dress.  I can also imagine it looking gorgeous in pinwale corduroy with tights! I know I will be making more Blakes for my girls.

Here are the girls in front of our pine forest - just the spot for Christmas photos!!  We have sent some of these pics to Stefan's family in England.  We do it every year.

Juliette pointing at the cow in our neighbour's paddock that she exclaimed had escaped and was walking up our hadn't.

We have painted some of these pinecones silver and will put them on the table for Christmas. We are looking forward to hosting my family in our house for the first time this year.  Stefan actually cut one of our small pines at it is now beside me as I write this post with lights and tinsel on!! Perfect!

The fabrics I used were all purchased from the lovely Frances from Miss Matatabi.  Emily's dress is Hatbox - Tiger Stripes in green by Alexia Abegg for Cotton and Steel, Isabella's (my current favourite fabric) is Japanese fabric arrows - not currently available in this colourway.  But you can see another colourway here (yes blogger spell check, us Aussies spell 'colour' with a 'u').  Juliette's dress is made from Homebody - Tacks in rust by Kim Kight for Cotton and Steel.

Thankfully I managed to take some natural smiling/laughing shots of the girls as Stefan was pulling funny faces to amuse them.

I am so happy with how these dresses turned out!!  Now would you like to see what Laura made?  How cuuuuuute!!! I can't wait to see.  Laura prints fabric like a pro!!  Head over to Craftstorming to see!!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A top for me....for a change...

Today I am taking part in an Aussie hosted series called 'Constant Change'.  It is a series hosted  by two of my lovely blogging friends - Jenya from While she was sleeping and Renee from Nearest the pin

When I first got the invitation from Jenya and Renee, I planned on starting and finishing Emily's 'big girl' quilt as she will soon be graduating from her cot into a big bed. But I did not have enough time, and instead  I decided to make something for myself for 'a change'.  

I am very used to being behind the camera but not so comfortable in front!  Juliette took some of these photos, but I needed Stefan to step in for a couple! One thing about my wardrobe that has not changed in many years and that is that I live in jeans and tops/shirts and usually a pair of ballet flats. My wardrobe is also full of quite an array of cardigans - I have had a soft spot for them since I was a teenager.  

I made this pattern up - traced from a top I already own.  It is like a smart T- shirt.  There is a curved hemline which dips down further at the back.  the back has a small yoke and the neckline is faced. The fabric is a lovely linen blend from Miss Matatabi. This particular print is not longer available, but you can see another colourway here. I have worn this shirt two days in a row and it feels really nice to wear something I have made.  

Thank you Jenya and Renee for the inspiration and for having me!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

When we were young: petit a petit and family

Hi there! I am really excited to have another instalment in my When we were young series.  I plan on making this series more regular than it has been this year...time just ticks on and all of a sudden, months have gone by!  

Today I have an amazing sewer, designer, pattern maker and kids' style guru guest posting today! Celina from petit a petit and family! Celina makes amazing things and always goes to so much effort for her kids.  She recently made this gorgeous dress for her little daughter Elsie for our I (heart) Marcel Marlier series. Celina has a huge following on pinterest (around 3,000,000 follow her pins!), and she always makes clothes that are just a little bit different (and very cool!). I love Celina's Friday dress that she is currently drafting.  It seems to me that Celina is fantastic at anything she puts her hand to. Oh, did I mention she also co-edits the amazing free e-mag: STYLO along with Jess from The Sewing Rabbit...It is amazing! 

Over to the lovely Celina....

Where were you born/where did you spend your childhood?
I was born in Brighton - England, then moved to Rabat - Morocco at the age of one and half and finally moved to Montreal,  Quebec - Canada at the age of 5. 

Here I am  around 5 years old and actually still have this dress. Elsie will be able to wear it this summer.
Who did you grow up with?
I grew up with my mom and dad and my little sister, she is five years younger than me. 

Did you have a childhood ambition?

Besides playing and having fun, no not really. 

What did you like doing when you were little?
I loved to dance. I also really liked dressing up and organizing plays with all the neighborhood kids. 

Do you see any similarities between yourself and your child/children?
I do see some similarities, my daughter is on the shy side especially when you first meet her, she also loves to dance, hates the cold and loves to create a mess just like me.  Apparently my son is stubborn and gets that from me! I beg to differ.  He doesn't like to break the rules, I used to be the same as kid, never cross at a red light or eat a grape at the supermarket without paying. I used to love the stage and both my kids love to perform and put on a show. 

This is my kindergarten school picture. My first year in Canada. 

Do you live far from where you grew up?
I pretty much live in the same neighborhood.

Where do you live now and who with?
I live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada with my husband and two kids Elsie (5) & Mathis (7). 

I remember growing up and loving to dress up in beautiful clothing. I was lucky to have an older cousin who gave me all her clothes which were imported from France or Italy. She had the latest fashion and most gorgeous styles and I was lucky enough to have them handed down. To this day my cousin who lives in Paris still gives me some of her clothes and I get that same feeling of excitement as I did when I was kid. I also remember loving to wear dresses so much so that one day my father took all my dresses and put them in garbage bag and threw them out the window, because I refused to wear anything else. The thing is we were living in Canada and let's get real, dresses are not practical in minus 20 degrees weather. My daughter is going through a similar stage right now, she is actually obsessed with wearing tights and everyday she asks me if she can wear some. Soon it will be too cold to wear dresses, but I thought it would still be fun to make one for this occasion.

As I was looking through my photos I came across this plaid dress which I thought had that vintage late 70's feel but yet could be very contemporary. Especially with all the plaid being in style this fall. And how perfect is that my daughter loves to wear turtlenecks, perfect for layering and wearing our dresses longer.

I went fabric shopping and after searching for a while I ended up in upholstery section and found something that was close enough. The dress is self drafted, I should have made the sleeve a little wider to mimic the original style but ran out of fabric.

Physically my daughter and I look nothing alike, she is such a little brunette with big black eyes and olive skin, she does have my eyebrows and hands ( poor her!).  I feel like this little dress brings us a little closer- I know it's silly, but it's just how I feel. 

My daughter absolutely loves the dress and was so excited to see it was the same as mine, she didn't want to take it off. I am sure she will be wearing this quite often and be a new favourite. It is wide enough and long enough that she will be able to grow into it. 

I am lucky to have a few dresses from when I was a kid that my daughter will be able to wear, but actually sewing this dress has brought back so many memories and the expression on my daughters face when I showed her my photos was priceless.

Thank you so much Suz for inviting me on this really special sewing series, it was such a lovely experience to live. And posting on your birthday makes it that much more special.  A very HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you! Sending many hugs from across the world! xxx


This is amazing Celina!!! I love the dress and your photos.  I am so glad you enjoyed the experience and that Elsie loves her new dress and that she can look just like Mum did!  Thank you so much for sharing and for your birthday wishes too!!!!