Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Our baby is three!!

This time three years ago I was taking sideways glances at our third and final child in her plastic crib as I lay stilled by an emergency caeserean. Our little Emily was born at 4pm on March 4th and has been a joy in our lives every day since then.

Issie and Juliette loved their little sister from the start.  Issie was just over three and half and Juliette at 21 months was my 'wet nurse' which was very handy when I'd had a rough night.

Today Emily turned 'free'.

Emily was very excited to turn free and we spent the morning down at the breakwater cafe where Emily wore her newly opened birthday dress and took her new dolly out for a milkshake!

I made Emily a Louisa dress by Compagnie M from a vintage floral sheet and she had to have a Poppy doll (pattern by HopSkipJump) to match her sisters.  I actually made one of these dolls for Emily for her first Christmas but it disappeared into thin air so I made her a new one.

As you can see, dolly has a dress made of the same fabric as Emily's. The waitresses at the cafe made a fuss over Emily and delivered her a little cake with a candle on it.  Emily loved it.

What a sweetheart. We love this girl so much.

Happy Birthday Emily!!!!

Monday, March 2, 2015

An Antoinette dress

I am determined to keep plugging away with finishing unfinished projects.  This dress was a bodice with no zip and just the skirt cut out when my sister delivered it to me in a bag.  We planned the dress together for her daughter Lucy and cut out the fabrics from the lovely Antoinette pattern by Nele from Spiegelstiksels (no longer available).  My sister ran out of steam with the dress and had too much on her plate.  I didn't actually have this on my 'to finish' list, but I dug deep into the basket and found this dress in pieces and decided to finish it.

I am really glad I did. I love how it turned out.  The light bodice and bright skirt and bow collar look really sweet, I think.

I don't know the names of the fabrics as they came from my sister and she has had them a while.

I really do love this pattern. It is so pretty and also unique.  I made one for Juliette last year in stripes which she wore all year and it always look beautiful on her - a very feminine design.  The back has a lovely 'v' but I did not get a good photo of Issie in this dress so you can check out Juliette's dress if you want to see.

I think my girls are pretty lucky.  Isabella came home from school today and I showed her this dress and told her it was hers.  "Thanks Mum!" She put it on right away and declared that she liked it. She played around in it in our backyard and wore it off to her swimming lessons this evening. I was satisfied to pile our three girls in the car headed to the pool and all three of them were wearing Mum made dresses.  I like that!

Thank you Nele for sharing your lovely pattern!

Are you as bad as me at starting and not finishing projects?  I am determined to put an end to my 'start a project, get excited about another project and not finish the first project'style sewing!

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!!