Thursday, 29 December 2011

Lingering Layers Skirt

So, I made it through Christmas, without an early baby. You have no idea how many jokes I have heard about whether it/he/she would come early on the 25th and I would have to call it/he/she, Noel or Holly.

Christmas day was knackering due in part to the 2am wake up...yes, 2am, from T age 8 and half. "I woke up and saw Santa has filled my stocking, I can't go back to sleep" This went on for an hour....till Mr Minnado took the unusual but slightly desperate step of taking T out for a walk, giving me an hour's much needed sleep and trying to wear T out. So then at 4.30am he came back and woke me up to tell me he had had a walk and now hot. Then of course he woke his little sister up. What can I say other than it.was.a.test. of.maternal.devotion. (Not sure I passed, as at breakfast T said "You did say some swear words when I couldn't sleep") We held out till 6am and then let them open the stockings....looking back I am happy he still believes in Santa, and keep wondering if this will be the last year?
Anyway enough festive ramblings, last week I was able to reconnect the camera with a new usb cord. (thankyou ebay ) I am catching up on the last few FOs. The Lingering Layers maternity skirt sewn back in late September.

Here is the photo from Handmade Beginnings. The skirt has kind of petal shapes at the top and a jersey panel for the bump. There is also a version without the jersey panel for non-maternity wear. Ideally you can alter the panels so the skirt's life is extended after pregnancy.
As you can see my version is much less feminine and floaty.
I made a few changes to the pattern:

  • I obviously left off the ruffle.

  • I also added inseam pockets which have slightly spoiled the side line of the skirt but are so comfortable and useful that I don't mind.

  • I added a centre front and back seams instead of cutting on the fold, in order to make my chevron stripes.
I used some stash fabric that started out as white with a duck-egg green stripe, found in a remnant bin. I had dyed it grey about 18 months ago.
I had a small piece of this stripey fabric to work with and had to play around with the pattern placement to get enough pieces out and also to play with the stripe placement.
The grey jersey panel was an remnant from t shirt making last year.
I ran out of fabric for the back yoke and so used a grey spotty piece instead. The back view shows how this fabric does crease through the day. Once I had put the skirt together I realised it needed lining as it was too see-through. I had to attach the lining from the curved seams as I couldn't line the stretchy tummy panel, if I had it wouldn't be stretchy anymore! Tricky and fiddly - I sewed it first it on the inside and then sewed it from the right side with a stitch in the ditch.

Back in September when I made this skirt it was too big and kept falling down, but it fits okay now. I am annoyed at the creasing issue of the fabric but I can live with that for a casual everyday skirt.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

FESA /maternity round up

Looking back and uploading these photos, I realised I have sewn more maternity clothes than I realised. I also have still got one skirt and a dress to show you but the camera is currently awaiting a new cable. Plus I refashioned a pair of brown velvet jeans found at the back of a cupboard at my mum's house and never photographed them.
Making these maternity clothes has been an exercise in making myself a little capsule wardrobe, something I have thought and read about but never managed to do.
The most used item? It has to be the mariposa jersey dress - it has accomodated my growing bump and can be layered over long sleeved tees and leggings as the weather has got colder. Dresses are so comfortable at this stage. Interestingly, the mariposa dress is one item friends have seemed surprised is home made. I think it is meant as a compliment when they say "You made that??!!"
The trousers have been good but tend to fall down a bit, a problem I have found with many maternity trousers. The grey trousers were being worn a lot but it is now too cold for them. I have also worn my shorts a lot, I love them, most recently I have been wearing them over leggings as I cannot be comfortable in tights anymore. I also love my pyjamas.

Now to work out the cost:

Purple cords for refashioning: £2

Green trouser fabric: £2

White tunic top : £4

Mariposa dress: £6

Navy blue knit: £6 (for unblogged dress)

Black tee for refashioning:£ 1.50

Burda 8376: £8.00
Handmade Beginnings Book: £8.50

Total £32. Not bad, when the cost on the high street of one pair of maternity jeans is about £29. I also hope some of these clothes I will be wearing after the baby, and I can alter them to fit eventually.

All other fabric and notions were already in my stash. I reused old tee shirts for stretchy panels.

I now feel like I am on a wind down with maternity sewing. I was sorely tempted to make a jacket but just didn't have time. It has been a journey for me. In my previous pregnancies I was given lots of maternity clothes so never made any. Then I gave them all away and started this pregnancy with no maternity clothes stash. In fact, I thought you couldn't really make maternity clothes. I thought you needed some special techniques, special fabrics and special measurements. Sewing maternity clothes has been liberating and super speedy in some ways as I have largely given up on zips, button holes etc. Elastic becomes the maternity sewers friend instead. It has been fun to think in a different way to my usual train of sewing thought and I have enjoyed using up so much of my stash fabric.

I found the Burda 8376 pattern became my basic trouser block used for refashioning as well as making from scratch. I also like the Anna Maria Horner book, her patterns are well written and easy to follow. The book has a lot of things in it that are for baby which I haven't made but would use for present making in the future. I am however, tempted to make a changing bag from it now.

Now, once my camera is fixed I can show you the final two items.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Apples for teacher

I have not made many home made gifts this year but here are the few that I have done.

As well as Christmas on the horizon this is Little I's last week at her nursery before she starts primary school after Christmas.

I know I will cry when she has her last day, I cried when her brother left the same nursery! (Maybe I can blame it on hormones.) It feels like the end of a special time and even more so because after Christmas everything will change again. (I am not great with change, can you tell?)

We are very fortunate that our local nursery provision for 3 - 5 year olds is an outstanding Reggio based nursery where she has had an amazing time. Her brother also went there so we feel connected. He still remarks that he feels it is unfair that he cannot spend time there. I have to prise him out somedays when he comes to collect his sister as he quickly gets busy working with magnets or lights and mirrors.

So we have been making some leaving presents for the nursery teachers. It is hard to think what to make, they do get lots of tins of biscuits and chocolates at this time of year. There is an unspoken tradition there of giving a picture or storybook when you leave so it is a present to the nursery. We are doing that but also made some personal gifts.

We made a fabric covered journal for her headteacher. Little I drew on some calico and then I tortuously sewed it into a cover for an A5 notebook. It was quite quick to sew up but was a bit fiddly to insert the book at the end. The cover is fully lined with some scrap William Morris fabric, I tried unsuccessfully to get a picture of this.

Then I knitted a scarf for her main teacher. The variagated yarn is ribbon-like rather than wool. I bought it four years ago and can only remember that it was italian and from a lovely knitting shop. I trimmed the ends with some velvet ribbon. As the yarn is graduated in colours I decided to keep the actual knitting simple and plain to hopefully show off the colour changes. The embarassing truth here is that I bought the yarn four years ago when T was due to leave the nursery with the intention of making the self same teacher a scarf. Needless to say I ran out of time and never did make it. During my November declutter I emptied and sorted my knitting supplies and found this yarn. I decided it was too good to waste. The fact that I actually did make it this time means maybe I have become better at time management?

A recent obsession with Little I has been drawing her teacher's picture. I keep finding these pictures. She recently started drawing them on fabric with some fabric felt pens. I took a small one and sewed it up, filled with some wadding and added a brooch pin to the back as an extra present for her main teacher.

Finally T was set to work on saturday....her made this coaster for his class teacher from Ikea Pyssla beads. This is his teacher's first year of teaching so we decided she probably doesn't have a large enough collection of child-made gifts yet. He decided upon the pattern himself. I think it is reminiscent of a granny square. At age he can sit and do this kind of fine motor skills task (though not for too long) while his little sister tried for about ten minutes to copy him but then ended up having much more fun running her hands through the beads, spilling them everywhere to the point where I had to take her into another room.

That's about it apart from bulbs in a pot for the lady who provides snacks at the nursery...a very, very important person in Little I's world for the past year. Oh no, I mustn't cry on friday, I try and remember I am British, we don't do that kind of we?

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Pyjamas and Scrooge-fest

I have the distinct feeling that I am on a sliding scale of time, or maybe one of those airport moving walkways which is speeding up, first stop end of term, second stop Christmas, third stop start of school, fourth stop new baby...eeeek....can't someone stop this moving walkway? I have decided I want to get off. I have recently been having some good days (plenty of energy) and some bad days. On a bad day I lie down a lot...on the sofa, or even when it's really bad on the hall floor. Then I follow my bump to stagger to the school and nursery for pick up time.
Anyone else live in a family where Christmas preparations fall mainly to women? We set ourselves ludicrous goals, rush around getting everything sorted...I keep hearing and having conversations that revolve around "Are you ready yet?" "Have you bought everything for Christmas?" Do you want to put your fingers in your ears and stick out your tongue when you meet someone who has had all her presents bought and wrapped since October?
I decided to drop a few christmas activities this year in the interest of saving my sanity and retaining some energy and a bit of money. Plus cut down on waste. First for the chop is Christmas cards, I am just not doing them, except the mandatory half a dozen for elderly relatives who will ring and complain if they don't get one. (yes, they will and/or sulk...seriously). Second, I contacted various friends a few months ago and asked if we could just not do presents for children or ourselves this year...everyone said yes and seemed relieved, lots of people are feeling a lack of money this year. I am still doing presents for family and a couple of friends, but I feel so glad I don't have to have a long list this year. Am I now an offical killjoy? I have to say I do love Christmas normally but what I love is the lights, trees, advent, decorations, food, and most importantly seeing family...not the grind of hard work and over consumerism. As I am going to be only three weeks off the due date for this baby I cannot go to visit my family this year, they live 200 miles away and I don't think I can manage that car journey! So I plan a simple Christmas meal here just me, Mr Minnado and the children and lots of sitting on the sofa. We have a "Christmas box" which recently came out of hibernation, in it live Christmas and wintery story books and a small collection of festive dvds. It caused great excitement when we opened it on 2nd December. We are currently reading one book a night from the box and plan to watch the dvds nearer the big day. So, I am not completely mean. Anyone else have mixed feelings about Christmas?
Now then, deep breaths....camomile tea....and back to some blogging about sewing.
I've made some super-comfortable maternity pyjama trousers. At the end of the day it is a pleasure to put these on. I am doubly pleased with these as I have used some some stash fabric and every little bit of decluttering gives more space, plus I didn't have to spend anything on them!
The first pair are from an Ikea duvet cover found in the charity shop quite a while ago. I made a skirt in the summer from the matching pillowcase. You can see the big bump panel which I used the scraps from my mariposa dress for.
The second pair in greens and blues are made from a duvet cover I bought in the summer. I had used a large piece of the duvet cover for a skirt I am also just in the process of finishing off a maternity dress. I had other maternity clothes to sew but that running-out-of time feeling means I may just stop here, put my feet up and knit till the baby comes.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Chest of drawers, to paint or not to paint?

I expect most people reading this will have read Zoe's fascinating and impassioned post on consuming.

I was reminded of her post while putting this post together. When I realised I needed a new chest of drawers to store my baby clothes (second hand of course) I didn't even bother to think about buying new. For one thing it is out of our budget at the moment, and secondly I haven't bought any new RTW clothes or shoes for myself for 18 months now, and this attitutude has definitely filtered over into other aspects of buying. I talked about where I found the chest of drawers here.

I think for my money (£10) I got a sturdier, better made chest of drawers than if I had bought something flat pack.

Looking inside the chest of drawers has the label Lebus furniture. A quick google showed that Lebus was a British furniture brand whose arts and crafts furniture at the beginning of the twentieth century is apparently considered their best works. Mine is obviously later than that, but as the firm closed 1969 I am guessing mine is a 60s piece. I am not overtly patriotic but it feels nice to have something manufactured in Britain.

I have already filled it with baby clothes. Absolutely filled it. And still have some baby clothes planted on top of the chest of drawers. But I am considering painting it white, putting on coloured glass handles and giving it to Little I for her clothes. She has a white metal bed already so I think a white chest of drawers would go well with her bed. It is also easy to open these drawers so she can access her clothes more easily. The baby stuff can then go in the chest of drawers I currently share with Little I. Thoughts on this? Is it sacrilege to paint a piece of furniture like this or am I just extending its life. I am not really a great shabby chic fan but I do have a weakness for painted furniture. I always have. I was thinking about painting the chest of drawers before I even got it home, then I saw Tors' dresser and was swayed further towards the white. I have a great desire to paint furniture and walls white, to have lots of peaceful spaces. This is kind of risible given the way our family life goes. Peaceful? Ha! It may well be a side effect of looking at too many Scandinavian blogs.

There is also the matter of whether I can summon the energy to sand and paint. I have the intense feeling that I have to do this before the baby comes or I will never get it done. Then I look at the nice shiny wood and think it may be foolhardy to paint it white. It looks quite sweet as it is....decisions, decisions.

Oh, and I also have a yearning to paint the chest of drawers a bright glossy red, I have a great love of shiny and red together, but I know that will go down badly with everyone else in the house.

PS: One interesting aside to buying second hand furniture on a budget, is how you get it home. This chest of drawers cost only £10, the delivery charge would have been another ten pounds. So to save money I got a friend to come and collect it with me. Of course, it wouldn't fit in her car with Little I as well so eventually after much trying it this way and that, my lovely friend drove the chest of drawers home to my house while Little I waited with me by the road side. I had to wrap Little I up in my coat as it was cold, while I shivered for half an hour. The thought, "This wouldn't happen if we were buying flat pack from a well known chain store" did cross my mind. But it wasn't as bad as the time I bought two sets of fully assembled second hand shelves which I had to carry home while pushing a child in a pushchair at the same time.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Declutter update

Thank you for the lovely comments on the maternity top in the last post. I really appreciate reading every one of them and I am determined to try and reply to comments but at the moment it is a slow process.

After a cold-induced pause my declutter mission has been continuing. Oddly the house is still a total mess though. does that work?

4 x out of date lens solution - recycling
3 x out of date make up
old suncreams and aftersun creams x 3
1 cardigan
1 hoodie
2 dresses
1 top
3 pairs girl's trousers
4 pairs outgrown children's pyjamas
7 books
6 assorted babygros
Bin bag of scraps x 2 - recycling
2 x tee shirts
1 shoe horn (just one, not a pair)
1 pair Mr M's broken shoes - recycling
sewing kit - present to friend
1 broken unmendable cushion - recycling
2 old sweatshirts - cut up into cleaning cloths
2 curtains - sold on ebay

Total = 45/90, plus previous total of 35 = 80/90

I cannot believe how much crap we accumulate. There is something about having lots of stuff that scares me. I don't know why, I know some people are reassured by having lots of possessions butI find it oppressive. (The above declutter list was been done with me hardly venturing near the kids' toys. How easy it would be to chuck lots of those out but how much trouble would I be in?)

This scary photo is of my bags of childrens' clothes to go in the loft, plus Mr Minnado's spare cable collection. I am trying to get him to sort it out.

All this sorting and decluttering has led me to a few thoughts. Of course I am going to share them with you! I was further prompted to write these questions after reading Eleni's recent post over at Seamless.

I am lucky in that we get given nearly all the clothes we need for my two children. They happen to have cousins a little older so we get their cast offs. We also have some friends with girls who give us their cast offs. However, and I am not ungrateful here, we get clothes sometimes two or three years in advance, so I have a fairly laborious storage system...we also sometimes get so many girls' clothes that I have shared them between three other little girls as well. This can call for sessions of mass sorting and storage. I think we are lucky to get these clothes, so I cannot really grumble at having to sort. I was also given two binbags of baby clothes last month which I have weeded out and sorted, resulting in a bin bag of excess baby clothes for the charity shop.

A fortnight ago, I had a huge session, sorting bags and piles into seasons and age groups, ready to go into the loft. By the end I had a bin bag of girl's clothes to go to the charity shop. The excess was partly because we get so much. I found myself wondering how many pairs of trousers one age 4 girl really needs...also there are some things my daughter cannot wear, for instance trousers are often too big round the waist.
As I sorted through the stuff others had given me and also sorted through my own possessions to declutter, it made me think a bit about the etiquette of charity shop donations and passing on possessions. Do you pass on stuff and do you have rules? I mean would you put lots of unmatched, odd dirty socks and tights in a bag of clothes for a friend? I have received this before now at the bottom of a bag of other clothes. As someone is being generous enough to pass on their things I don't grumble. But I don't think I would pass on odd dirty socks to a friend.

I try and only pass on clothes in decent and clean condition. I try and think about what I would like to receive myself. I also tend to think about whether I would want to put my hand in a bag and sort through the items in it. I am not fussed about paint or pen stains on kids' clothes so I would pass those on to someone who also is not fussy. Anything that is too stained or holey I tend to put in a separate rag bag. My local charity shop gets paid for rags so I give them my rag bags. I assume they get recycled for cleaning cloths or go into fabric recycling, but I don't actually know! Sometimes my son's school do fundraising where they get paid by weight for old clothes and other textiles. I am again not sure what happens to these clothes after the school gets its percentage. Do the clothing collectors sell them on, are they the clothes that you hear end up in markets in Africa? Does it really bother you where your old clothes end up and who profits from them? And do you have an etiquette for what you give away?
I know several people who volunteer to sort donations in charity shops and hear stories of grubby underwear (eek) and other unsavoury items in donation bag...

Friday, 18 November 2011

Vintage Maternity: McCalls 5921

This has been a week mainly of cough, sneeze, splutter, splutter as I caught Little I's cold and cough. She was unwell for one night and croaky, but happy, for four days. I have been coughing, sneezing, and bunged up all week. The sad highlight of my week has been the opportunity to go to sleep for half an hour in the afternoons propped up on four pillows to prevent coughing while she is at preschool. So sewing has been put on one side. I even felt too crummy to read many blogs. (Yes, that bad!) I am a champion at self pity. But powered by hot lemon, paracetamol and granny naps I have a new maternity make to share, finished a week ago. It is McCalls Carefree 5921,. Roobeedoo kindly sent me this pattern from her stash a few weeks ago. (If you don't read Roobeedoo's blog, then I suggest you hop over there and have a look at some of her beautiful clothes and knitting. She dresses how I would like to dress if I only had a waist.And she can knit, as in really knit, all I can say is look at Betty Jean )

And, Roo, I really do have a belated little parcel waiting to be posted to you in thanks. It is sitting with the other overdue parcels on my table, I will post it it soon.

I like how this called McCalls Carefree. I am guessing the carefree bit relates to the ease of the pattern making-up, rather than that you will be carefree wearing these clothes. Carefree is the last thing I feel at the moment, careworn perhaps. Check out the great illustration at the top of the post, and notice how these women are very discreetly pregnant. I have been looking at a range of maternity patterns and this illustration is in contrast to the modern Burda 8376 pattern shown here where the model's bump is proudly on display. Though to be honest it is still fairly discreet. I am just curious about these illustrations and wonder if they serve to give a slightly inaccurate view of pregnant women. I have a future blog post brewing about this very subject so for now, I will get back to the sewing.

I was tempted by view E, the sleeveless red top but reminded myself winter is fast approaching and opted for view C, the long sleeved top, drinking tea. Maybe in some distant galaxy I can be that carefree pregnant tea drinker!

I used some white dotted cotton that I bought for £2 a metre from the Ragmarket. The shirt was much easier to put together than I expected. The finished item does make me think of something like a bucolic tv adaptation of a Thomas Hardy novel, I think it's the yoke and gathers that make that association.

I like the extended (drop?) shoulder and arm seams both of which have gathers. I also liked the gathers beneath the yoke. I used interfacing on the yoke but I wanted the collar to stay quite floppy so I left out the interfacing for the collar.

The only thing I changed was to make the sleeves three quarter length rather than full length and to add deep pink rose buttons for the cuffs.

I had a little google of this pattern and found a fab dress made here polka dot overload from the pattern. It is very inspiring...I found myself mentally searching my stash for dress options after seeing it.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Declutter month

Over at Thrifty Mrs it is Declutter month. She has set herself the target of 90 items to be decluttered in 30 days. This chimed in with me and my compulsive nesting/decluttering behaviour, so here I am joining in. This is the total from last weekend:

  • toy fire engine that was under the stairs for three years, surely no one will miss it? - charity shop

  • model making kit - charity shop

  • bin bag of scrap fabric - recycling bins

  • 9 books - charity shop

  • two broken rucksacks - recycling bins

  • one summer shirt - charity shop

  • one pair jeans - ebay

  • one piece tweed fabric - ebay

  • one knitting book - ebay

  • 1 pair of outgrown, worn school shoes - recycled for charity at local shoe shop

  • outgrown sports shoes x 3 pairs - charity shop

  • one barbie type doll(shhh....) - charity shop

  • 1/2 duvet cover found under the stairs - remade into pyjamas

  • 2 pairs of wellies - charity shop

  • various pieces missing from board games

  • 1 bottle perfume, unused gift - charity shop

  • 6 cardboard boxes that have sat on T's shelves, empty, for 2 years - recycled

    35/90....not bad going, but this is out. And the house is still full of clutter, although certain areas are starting to look a bit clearer! If you came to my house you could not sit still for long or leave your coat and bag lying around as I would pick them up with a maniacal glint in my eye and stick them on ebay or stuff them in a bin bag for the charity shop.

    I am in an odd position where I am trying to get rid of clutter but then there is some stuff I need to store. I need to get rid of some stuff to make room for more stuff. Witness what is my car boot: a complete set of clothing for 0 -3 months, hats, sleepsuits, even a snowsuit. These were kindly given to me by a friend of my sister's. I don't have anywhere to put them as yet. I was determined not to have to go and buy brand new furniture, so this morning Little I and I went to a second hand furniture shop run as a local charity. Donated furniture is collected, renovated and given out to low income families or individuals free of charge. (They have to be referred by a key worker to access this scheme). Recently the charity opened a small shop selling excess furniture to the public. There was one chest of drawers, a really sweet three drawer little one, I would say 1960s, with gold filigree style handles for £10. It is slightly bashed up but has a granny-chic charm. (Some people would say "old lady crap" but I say Granny Chic). I have to go and collect it next week as the shop is only open part time. I am in two minds about whether to paint it and add new handles or leave it with its granny look. Photos to follow after collection next week, then maybe someone can tell me what to do with it in terms of painting.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

FO: Maternity clothes #4

Apologies for photo quality - the light here has been dim and gloomy for the past few days.

More finished items - I am just not sure about the colour of these trousers. They are bright acid yellowey green.

The fabric was only £1 per metre from the Ragmarket. The colour for me is reminiscent of something a 90's raver would wear. It is hard to find things to wear with this colour so I opted for the safety of black or white. I also am really stumped as to what shoes I wear with these without looking like too much of an old 90's raver who cannot quite give up on their youth. So these are trousers I have mainly been wearing around the house. My version of wearing jogging bottoms at home! I cannot help but loathe jogging bottoms. Seriously, those big baggy ones with cuffs at the ankles as everyday wear? No, no, no! (Sorry if you are a jogging bottom person, no offence, we all are different.)
I used Burda 8376 again and added side pockets using some stash fabric and some dark green velvet ribbon down the outside leg seam. This pattern has been well worth the money spent on it - so far I have made two pairs of trousers, one pair of shorts, one tee shirt, and two pairs of pyjama trousers from it (still got to blog the pyjamas). It provides me with basic useful maternity clothes, rather than anything radically exciting but basic maternity clothes are what I guess I needed to tackle first. The more exciting and interesting clothes are in the out for a future post. (60s and 70s retro, ScruffyB?....wait and see...) The plus side to these trousers is they are supremely comfortable to wear, they have pockets and are a good weight/warmth for this time of year. The inside of the fabric has a kind of silky feel to it which is lovely. T was so impressed with the feel of this fabric that I am making him a pair of trousers from the left over.
The downside is the weird is a marmite colour, sometimes I look at it and love it, sometimes I look at it and hate it. Rachel also bought some of this fabric on our shopping trip and I look forward to seeing what she makes of it. And how she deals with the colour.
The tee shirt was an XL man's tee from the charity shop which I resized using the tee shirt pattern from 8376. I was able to use the existing neckband and hems and just cut and resewed the shoulder, and side seams to make it into a maternity tee shirt, adding a bit of the green velvet ribbon. As an XL men's shirt it was miles too big across the shoulders and had too much fabric at the back. I am looking for more XL tees to resize as I would really like one or two long sleeved ones for the winter months, suddenly it is much colder here. Maybe in plain colours to wear with the aceeeeedddd trousers. Ha, I just couldn't resist the aceeeeeeeddddd word, sorry. Maybe I just need to accessorise these trousers with some glo-sticks and a luminous whistle? Hmmm... should go down well on the school run.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

FO: Purple and paisley

A finished top and trousers.

Purple and paisley are not usually my thing. But here I am finding myself in ...purple and paisley. This is due to the fact I am trying to sew without spending much money and using second hand fabric where ever possible, so fabric choice is limited by what came out of gifted bin bags. The top is my completed Mariposa tunic by Anna Maria Horner. The fabric came from my Devon bin bags. I started making this tunic back in September as a wearable muslin but got frustrated when it came to trying it on and found it was too big on the top half and the modesty panel was massive making the top very immodest. I took the modesty panel out and decided to wear it with a vest underneath instead (is that camisole if you are reading this in the States?) In September I wondered if the too big top would fit by now, well, the bust is still a little too large and hangs awkwardly. This is partly due to the fact that I lined the front bodice with fabric (again a found free fabric) that is maybe slightly too heavy and doesn't drape well. If I were sewing normal non maternity clothes I would probably take time to alter this but as it is maternity wear for only a few months and I may still get bigger up there (eek) I am going to leave it. The top ties under ther the bust - I have tied it behind my back today.

The trousers are purple H&M cords that I bought in a charity shop last week. I've been looking for some cords to alter for a while now as I wanted some warm winter trousers. Finally I found these for £2.00 in a favourite charity shop in Devon last week. I used the tummy panel from the Burda 8376 trouser pattern and cut a panel in jersey left over from making this dress. Then I cut out the panel from the cords and sewed in my new stretchy panel. I added buttonhole elastic in a casing.

View of the stripey panel...

Verdict: I cut the panel a bit too low so I can only wear long tops with these trousers. These cords are also really very flared. I am considering taking them in a fraction. Any opinions? Or advice on taking in flares? Apart from that they work well and are so much better than the Next maternity jeans I bought on ebay. The maternity jeans I bought are awful, they fall down way too much, they are supposed to be skinny but are too big on my legs so they wrinkle and bag out giving a Norah Batty effect and the feeling of falling down tights. I think I am going to resell the jeans on ebay and stick with my me-mades. Hah....lesson learnt here. I cannot resist finishing this post with a picture of Norah Batty just for those of you who may not know her.

Norah Batty: Style Icon (image source)

Monday, 24 October 2011

Sewing for others - part 2

Bags, bags, bags...I know I am pregnant due to the recent frantic bouts of nesting activity and organising. If I had an appropriate cupboard or set of drawers I would use it but instead I am making bags to rein in the winter stuff I recently pulled out from under the bed.

See exhibit 1:
A combat bag for T and alphabet bag for Little I from stash fabrics. The straps are from my collection of belts...a really easy and effective way of making bag straps. My genius plan? Each family member is to have their own tote bag with their winter gloves, scarves and hats in. Each family member is therefore able to find said gloves, scarves and hats by themselves without recourse to shouting at me. Of course this plan relies on everyone putting their hats, scarves, gloves back in their own bag... I need to train everyone to do this. I am not going to be placing bets on this working in mid-winter.
Mr Minnado has a combat fabric bag for his winter things and I made one for myself from the left over duvet cover fabric used for a summer skirt.

A wrinkly washbag for T fromstash fabric, lined with the stripey blue and white. I made this for him to take to cub camp. "What's a toiletries bag?" he asked me, reading the equipment list.

Finally a P.E. (sports) bag for Little I to take to school in January (yep, forward planning inaction here). Made from rag market fabric and I used some embroidered trim also fromthe rag market to make the strap.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Oh no, more maternity sewing: Mariposa Jersey Dress

When I bought my stripey jersey at the Ragmarket I was originally thinking of t shirts but changed my mind and decided to have a go at a mariposa-based dress. I saw Mad Mim's jersey version of this pattern and decided to have a go at using a non-stretch fabric pattern with stretch fabric. I can't carry off long skirts and also have a tendency to trip over the hems so I made it to the knees.

The Mariposa pattern by Anna Maria Horner is from this book and can be made into a tunic or dress. The picture above shows the dress version illustrated in the book.

I like the fact that the maternity patterns in the book all have non-maternity options or are adaptable for after you have had the baby. I had started making a Mariposa tunic back in September from stash fabric. When I came to try it on I had quite a few fit issues. There is an insert called the "modesty panel" which was much too big on me and was very very immodest! So I have taken the panel out and still haven't finished the tunic.

My half finished tunic

The pattern calls for the front bodice pieces to be lined and the back piece to have a neck facing. I decided to line the backpiece fully so in effect made two bodices and then put them together. This works well with jersey and eliminates any flapping facing. I also cut the sleeves slightly longer then the pattern piece. I decided to leave out the modesty panel on this dress and just wear it over a vest. Then when it came to making the skirt I decied to just wing it with a rectangle of my remaining jersey, sewn up the side seam and then ran a gathering stitch round the top before pinning it onto the bodice.

The jersey was much more forgiving of this approach then a woven fabric may have been.
The dress fastens with ties which currently meet behind my back. It is designed so you can undo the ties for easy breast feeding once you have had the baby.

What do I think? I like this dress. It is so comfortable and so wearable and I do love stripes. How can you not be happy wearing a stripey dress???? But the stripes highlight any wonkiness in the belt and I did botch it together. I hope to be able to adjust it after having the baby so I can keep on wearing it. It was a pleasure to sew with some good quality cotton jersey after having sewn with not so good jersey before. It just sewed up so much better, no snagging or terrible holes with the needle. The jersey was £3 per metre from Rag Market. I used about 1.75m for this dress. The stall holder told us it was "best Marks and Spencers Jersey", maybe this was true... I should have bought some more for t shirts! I don't want to go back to sewing with crappy jersey again.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

FESA happiness

Happiness, happiness this a pair of maternity winter shorts. I used Burda 8376 again and the fabric was a grey wool mix with a tiny blue stripe left over from my Uniform Project dress. (I am planning to post the dread details of that dress soon, it didn't exactly turn out well, and it feels like a mammoth post to write). As you can see the pattern photo shows a summery sort of pair of shorts worn by the lovely sporty looking blonde amazon. Hmmm.... I changed all that and made some wintery nerdy shorts.

I liked the idea of putting on the large side pockets with flaps which are more meant for a casual combat trouser look but I like to play around with ideas of suitability within fabric types. I thought about addding giant buttons to the flaps but decided to restrain myself.

The pockets and flaps are lined with some blue floral scraps from my stash.

Like the trousers already made from this pattern the shorts have an insert for the bump made from an old tee shirt. This type I followed the pattern instruction and used buttonhole elastic (bought on ebay) in the casing. What genius invented buttonhole elastic?

So I wore them on wednesday with a charity shop top and again on thursday with my me made nautical top. This thursday photo is especially for Ali, after she had asked about favourite jackets in her recent post, I was spurned on to wear one of my favourites, this red 60s style Zara jacket (via charity shop again).

The shorts are super comfortable, use up some stash, tick another item off the FESA list, and they go with lots of different colours, kind of obviously I guess.
I just wanted to add a note to say sorry if you cannot comment here - I am hoping this is a temporary blogger hitch as I cannot see what to change in my settings. I also wanted to thank everyone who left congratulations - for a week or more I couldn't respond to comments on blogger but I am trying to catch up now.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Birmingham Bloggers Meet Up

"What?? " shrieked my friend on the phone "I can't believe you are six months pregnant and went running round the Ragmarket on Saturday".

Yes, instead of spending saturday lying on a couch being fed grapes as befits a woman in my position, I went off to Birmingham and met up with five lovely bloggers. You have probably already seen Scruffybadger's superior account. (If not, go and have a read).

This was my first blogger meet-up and I was a little nervous. ("What if they are, like, really old?" said my sister when I first mentioned a blogger meet- up to her last summer. Hmmm, she is in her forties, not fourteen by the way).

Well they were lovely, and very good company. As for the Ragmarket...I thought it was great and am ashamed to say I have lived 45 minutes away for 8 years and have never been before. We had a good look round the inside and outside stalls, trying not to get too muddled in my case. Then a late lunch. Cafe Soya looks like not very much from the outside but the food was fab, especially for a vegetarian like me, and generous portions. Rachel had the never-ending bowl of soup. I wish had taken a food blogger type photo now.

Then back to shopping:

Lots of prints

So many trims, with so many colours - even the zips were embellished.

And onto my haul, some looky-likey swiss dotted cotton in white, £2 a metre, for a top. Some dark denim with a bit of stretch. I bought this thinking of trousers but I am not so sure now - I think it would make a better skirt. A darkish blue mystery blend that looks like linen but isn't. Probably trousers. A yellowey green, I think this was £1 a metre. It has a silky feeling reverse so won't need any lining. Some stripey cotton jersey knit. I was very happy to find this as knits were high on my shopping list.

You can read Melizza's account of our day over at
pincushion treats

and Sarah's is here at Not Found

Their blogs are both new to me so an added bonus was to discover them and be able to add them to my reading list.

You can see a better picture of the green fabric hanging on the line.

If you live near to Birmingham I would definitely recommend a trip to the Ragmarket (a return trip next year has already been suggested) but a word of caution - check what days the markets are open - I am not certain if all the outdoor stalls we visited on saturday are there every day.