Thursday, 31 May 2012

Peacocks? Sitting on eggs?

T in his infinite wisdom said to me last week as I pranced around the house in my new tunic, "It seems to me, Mummy, that you are obsessed with making dresses".  I stuttered and racked my brain for a reply other than "Yes, son you are right."   Then he took a look: "Peacocks? Sitting on eggs?"  For the highly logical person that he is, this was maybe too much, a nonsensical step too far. 
But as other bloggers have noticed there is a siren lure to the novelty print and every now and then we give in.  See Jessica's dress (I still want it) Scruffybadger's recent dalliance in elephants, plus her previous Brighton Pavilions tunic but cannot find a link to it (I still want it).  I could continue...but no, lets get down to looking at the tunic.  I bought the echino linen in
M is for Make's January sale, I think I was in a post natal hormonal haze my mind thinking something like "I just had a baby.... I deserve some pretty fabric bought brand new to reward me for giving birth". 

Slanted patch pocket

I bought 2 metres, I really should have bought 3 metres, as I only just managed to squeeze the tunic out of the fabric, partly because I initially cut the back bodice out upside down so had to recut it - that meant not enough fabric left for sleeves.  I used the Mariposa pattern from Anna Maria Horner's  Handmade Beginings again as I wanted a tunic or dress that I could easily feed Rocket Girl in.  (I keep looking at pretty dress patterns and mentally divide them into ones I can feed the baby in while out and about and ones I cannot.)  I made the non-maternity version of the Mariposa this time and omitted the facing and modesty panel.  I also omitted the self fabric ties due to lack of fabric.  Instead I used some ready made pink polka dot bias binding to edge the bodice and extended it into ties.  I also edged the armholes and as I had a relatively short skirt I used the bias binding on the hem too.    I had enough fabric left to make two slanted patch pockets which are lined in some cheap gingham polycotton.  I didn't have enough fabric to try and match the pattern with the pockets.  I don't know why but the shoulder pleat on this pattern is a small detail that makes me smile.  I had intended doing some outfit pics today in the tunic but guess what?  Little I has got up this morning with chicken pox! Two weeks and two days after her baby sister came out in spots.  So I am a bit preoccupied today as she is lying on the sofa demanding food and entertainment.
Shoulder pleat
Once I had finished the tunic on I was struck by the fact that I have in fact made a Mrs Overall costume.  Oops.
Image Detail
 Just need to accessorise it with rubber gloves and hair rollers.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

MM May days 22 - 26 and being upstaged

Another catch up for May....lying in bed at 4.00am this morning having been woken by by the neighbours happily and drunkenly shouting, I thought of all my me made clothes that are still in the loft....I bagged lots of summer clothes up when pregnant in the winter and shoved them up there to create space.  Now suddenly it is hot I want them back! Still never mind, I am wearing what is not in the loft.  I have new found love for my Portfolio franken trousers made last summer.  They are practical and cool on a hot day and great for running around in.  (My favourite RTW summer trousers are still in the loft).  I still love my Simplicity 2259 tops - the reason why I haven't made a Sorbetto is that I already had this simple tank pattern.    
Day 23 - Simplicity 2259 in tartan, Simplicity 2245 portfolio trousers

On the way to school, Day 24 - my first ever Simplicity 2259 and portfolio trousers

Upstaged by Rocket Girl

 Little I took the photo below for me, waiting for her big brother to come out of his classroom.  I am totally upstaged by Rocket Girl.  Oh and that is not a picnic basket but the basket that Little I needs to transport the selection of pink tat she HAS to take with her.
 On friday the flickr group theme was water and I tried a shot in the bathroom, the light was so bad it didn't work, plus look who got in on the act? Totally upstaged again.

Upstaged by Little I

Day 25 -  Mariposa tunic
I haven't yet blogged my new tunic - it is another Mariposa by Anna Maria Horner.  I used some echino linen and pink polka dot bias binding.  I am not sure if it is too much crazy pattern or pretty.  I will do better photos and a related post soon so you can decide for me.  Much better to let others make decisions. 
On Saturday  I was pleased to find my summer Simplicity 3964 dress was not in the loft but at the bottom of a drawer.  It is a  great dress to wear on a hot day as it is so loose and made in some lovely Kaffe Fasset shot cotton.  

Day 26 - Simplicity 3964 - note door is shut to keep out those upstaging kids

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Me Made May days 18 - 22 - lessons learnt

A catch up, and some lessons learnt.  Photographing outfits is like a long critical look in the mirror, I can see faults and mistakes.  So I am going to take action this month and get rid of the unflattering.
On friday I wore my tartan Simplicity 2259 top but took no photo.  Saturday was a bit of a wash out I wore my stripey tee shirt and tried a purple cardigan given to me by a friend who no longer wanted it.  I think dark purple doesn't suit me, it seems to drain my colour. In analysing her own me mades, the lovely Donna recently commented that navy seems to drain her face, well, I think for me it is navy AND dark purple! I think I am going to pass this cardigan on again to someone else.  The thrifted jeans are labelled size 10 but they are huge, as we all know sizes vary but they are  ridiculously big round the middle.  I am not saying I am a small size ten either, some brands size ten are too small for me.  Though it just occurred to me that they are DKNY jeans and maybe they are a US size ten?  Ah, the penny makes sense now.
Action? Take the cardigan to the charity shop! Unless anyone reading this wants a purple Next wrap cardigan size UK 10?  

Oh dear,day 19 ..saturday unbrushed hairday.... me made stripey tee shirt, thrifted scarf and jeans, cardigan passed onto me by a friend

Sunday day 20  - me made Portfolio dress, thrifted cardigan, ancient converses
 Sunday - I wore my Portfolio Simplicity 2245 dress made in red fabric.  While I love this pattern and my denim version, I have some issues with this dress: I made it too big, so big I wore it at 8 months pregnant (nb : it has no stretchiness), now it looks very tentlike on me. I also realise the fabric choice was a big mistake.  The fabric came from a bin bag I was given from someone else's collection.  It has no drapey quality at all - it just sticks out really. I have been thinking (yeah, thinking, I do that sometimes) maybe this fabric is upholstery fabric, hence the heavy quality, lack of drape. I was so carried away at the time by the fact it was free, labelled Liberty and a pretty faded red shade, that I ignored the weight of the fabric.  Action?  Hmmm, the dress fits and hangs so badly I am considering cutting it up for bag making.  Ali posted in April about discarding and giving away me mades and touched upon what to do with them.  I have an emotional reluctance to get rid of this dress because when I sewed it I was so convinced it would be great.  But it is much worse looking than in the photo, so I think it has got to go.
Day 21 - me made skirt from vintage barkcloth, thrifted tee and cardigan

Monday, Day 21: skirt made from barkcloth found in the same bin bag as the dress fabric above.  I made this skirt when I was a little bit pregnant so I just added an elastic waistband - it is now in need of tightening up as the skirt slid downward during the day! I am thinking in a few months I will take it apart and add darts, zip and waistband.  This is such great fabric.  The thrifted cardigan is too big, but I love the colour.  Action? I could take it in and resize it. 

 And onto today, tuesday, day 22 - tah-dah, an FO.  Amy Butler Anna tunic in polka dot red. The fourth time I have used this pattern. I made it here and here and here.   It is quick and easy to make up, especially as I cheated on making the button loops and used ribbon instead.  I used some cheap polycotton from ebay. Not the nicest fabric but ok.  I mean it's red polka dots - how can you not be happy with red polka dots on?

Day 22 - NEW F.O red polka dot Amy Butler Anna tunic, old thrifted jeans, me made nappy bag  

Friday, 18 May 2012

me made may,scabs and pestilence

Day 2 - MM tee shirt from Built By Wendy Home Stretch book, me made scarflet, me made Tate skirt
Over the past two weeks we have had a litany of minor childhood illnesses.  This has been a learning curve for.  And so in regard to Me Made May day 2, I peaked early this month!  I haven't had much time or energy for the flickr group or for blogging.  My favourite red white and blue combo was on Day 2.  The next day the nagging sore throat I had had only at night for a week developed into tonsilitis.  I felt too crummy for photos.  I felt so crummy I fell asleep on the baby playmat next to Rocket Girl.  Two days later T developed an ear infection that had him up crying at night so we celebrated the May Bank holiday with a trip to the out of hours doctor.  Then he also got impetigo - I didn't know what that was! I do now. 
Day 10 Simplicity 3835 top

Day  14 - Simplicity 3835 top, thrifted jeans and cardie

The ear infection didn't go away with the first lot of medicine, back to the doctor again.  The impetigo came back, up.his.nose...eeek.  Not nice.   Back to the doctor again.   Then just a couple of days ago Rocket Girl looked suspiciously spotty.  Back to the doctor again.  I thought maybe she had caught impetigo, but no, she has chicken pox. At 4 and half months. I am home with spotty, contagious baby waiting to see if Little I gets the chicken pox...T has already had it.  So my may pictures are a bit sporadic. Though I have had only two days not wearing me mades!   The eagle eyed among you may notice I managed to get my hair chopped off in the middle of this was the fastest haircut ever I think.  I went to a little salon five minutes walk from my house while a friend sat with T and Rocket Girl.  It is a salon frequented by old ladies and now me!  Head massage??  Don't make me laugh.  They don't do anything as fancy as wash your hair unless you specifically reqest it.  They just quickly chop chop chop.  I has about 4 inches cut off and plenty of layers put in.  It had got so long, but I don't look cute with long hair -I just look like a witch!  My new hair when just washed looks a lot like a Beatles moptop but I can live with that. 

Day 15 - Simplicity Portfolio top,thrifted jeans and cardie, and chaos all around
On day 15 I initially put on my denim Portfolio dress - an old favourite.  Then bending to pick up RG I heard that sound, dreaded by any sewer, ripped!  The underarm seam had given up,probably because I strained it by wearing the dress until 7 months pregnant.  Hmmm..  It is waiting to be fixed.

Anyway, in the midst of all this scabby, drippy, yucky illness infestation I had my birthday. Not such a great one but I was given a pair of pinking shears and have been gleefully pinking seams on old me mades ever since.  It is quite a satisfying job.  I also got a tin of Illy and new mug from my lovely friend E.  So here I sit, spotty (but mercifully happy) baby at my feet, drinking coffee and going pink, pink, pink with those shears.  Small pleasures, small pleasures.

Day 16 3835 top - this one is a bit too tight across the bust.  Please note special freaky blurred head effect


Tuesday, 8 May 2012


Do you find that there are some books that you read as a child that have stayed with you?  My list includes Mrs Pepperpot, Pippi Longstocking and Mary Plain.  Then when a bit older, I loved the Little House on the Prairie series, Chalet School stories, Famous Five and the Jill and her pony series

 I loved the book "The Cuckoo Clock" by Mrs Molesworth when I was a little girl. There is a digital version here.  Published in 1877, it was old then, so I guess it is positively ancient now.  It was a book my mum loved as a child and she encouraged me to read it.  How I wish I had my copy here so I could show you the illustrations in our copy. In the story the heroine is sent to stay with two elderly aunts.  She thinks it is very dull and boring until she meets the cuckoo who helps her to enter magical worlds.  I am wondering if Little I will enjoy it too.  She does love imaginary worlds, fairies and magic so maybe. 

One of my favourite parts of the story is when Griselda visits the world of the butterflies and they dress her:
"He flew off, and was back almost immediately, followed by a whole flock of butterflies. They were of a smaller kind than Griselda had hitherto seen, and they were of two colours only: half were blue, half yellow. They flew up to Griselda, who felt for a moment as if she were really going to be suffocated by them, but only for a moment. There seemed a great buzz and flutter about her, and then the butterflies set to work to dress her. And how do you think they dressed her? With themselves! They arranged themselves all over her in the cleverest way. One set of blue ones clustered round the hem of her little white night-gown, making a thick "rûche," as it were; and then there came two or three thinner rows of yellow, and then blue again.

Round her waist they made the loveliest belt of mingled blue and yellow, and all over the upper part of her night-gown, in and out among the pretty white fills which Dorcas herself "goffered," so nicely, they made themselves into fantastic trimmings of every shape and kind; bows, rosettes–I cannot tell you what they did not imitate.
Perhaps the prettiest ornament of all was the coronet or wreath they made of themselves for her head, dotting over her curly brown hair too with butterfly spangles, which quivered like dew-drops as she moved about. No one would have known Griselda; she looked like a fairy queen, or princess, at least, for even her little white feet had what looked like butterfly shoes upon them, though these, you will understand, were only a sort of make-believe, as, of course, the shoes were soleless.
"Now," said the cuckoo, when at last all was quiet again, and every blue and every yellow butterfly seemed settled in his place, "now, Griselda, come and look at yourself."
He led the way to a marble basin, into which fell the waters of one of the tinkling brooks that were to be found everywhere about the garden, and bade Griselda look into the water mirror. It danced about rather; but still she was quite able to see herself. She peered in with great satisfaction, turning herself round, so as to see first over one shoulder, then over the other.
"It is lovely," she said at last. "But, cuckoo, I'm just thinking–how shall I possibly be able to sit down without crushing ever so many?"
"Bless you, you needn't trouble about that," said the cuckoo; "the butterflies are quite able to take care of themselves. You don't suppose you are the first little girl they have ever made a dress for?" "

All this is a roundabout, long winded introduction to the fact that two weeks ago I made Little I a set of butterfly wings for her birthday.  I am wondering and thinking how to make a dress of butterflies though...wouldn't that be a fabulous outfit for a five year old?  I am thinking not too literally, just layers and layers of tiny, light, gauzy wings in different shades of yellow and blue. 
Anyway, back to the wings, I was inspired by the pattern for dress up wings made by Melissa from Tiny Happy
I printed out the page but I couldn't read the dimensions on the pattern so instead I just folded my fabric in half and cut out the wing shape freehand straight into the fabric. I didn't bother to draw the shape out first.  I used one of Little I's jackets to  give me an idea of how long to make the wrist-shoulders-wrist length.  I used some sparkly, silky white fabric that had come out of a bin bag from a friend's mother for the back.  Then I laid my white wings over the front fabric and cut around them to have two matching shapes.  For the coloured side I used a length of brightly patterned chiffon-type fabric found in the charity shop about a year ago.  I was careful to use the pattern so it was symmetrical on the finished wing shape.  I just machine stitched the wings right sides together with a small hole left fot turning them out. 

Finally a trip to the nearby fabric shop for some elastic and sequins.  I am sure the lady there got her maths wrong as I bought 2m elastic, 1 metre pink sequins and three tiny ribbon flowers and she charged me...wait for it............45p! So, then I spent my ten minutes a day waiting for the children to finish school, sitting in the car, listening to Rocket Girl snore while I sewed pink sequins onto the wings. I am still tempted to go back for some gold sequins and add those.   I added elastic loops as shown in Melissa's pattern - one for each wrist and a big figure of eight loop for the shoulders. Little I loves her wings and wears them round the house or out and about.  I am still thinking about that butterfly dress....

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Me Made May '12 - Day 1

Hello on a wet and soggy May Day.  Thank you for the comments on my thrifting.I did manage to build the doll's house, photos tp follow soon.  But for now, ta-daaa, it's day 1 of me made May:
Me made Mariposa franken dress originally blogged here.  Huge pink scarf from charity shop.  The Mariposa dress pattern  is from Anna Maria Horner's book Handmade Beginnings.  I made a few changes when making it:
  • I used a jersey knit instead of woven fabric
  • I missed out the modesty panel and wear it over a cami instead
  • I missed out the back facing and instead did a back bodice lining
Good things about this dress:
  • So comfortable, easy to wear and layer, it can be adapted to different weather and seasons
  • The jersey knit is easy to wash, and it needs no ironing (yay)
  • Love the colours
  • The knit means I was able to wear this dress till 9 months pregnant
  • I can now wear it and just tie it tighter - I don't think this would have worked so well in a woven fabric
  • The tie wrap top is designed for nursing your baby, I have found it very easy and discreet to feed in this dress
Not so good:
  • I wore this so much when pregnant that by January, I was sick of it and only just started to wear it again!
  • The knit has pilled (but was cheap in the first place, so should I be surprised?)
  • Horizontal stripes are not the most figure flattering and kind of contour lumps and bumps!
  • No pockets
But I like this pattern and am currently finishing another dress from it, it's quite different though.  I hope to finish it very soon, before May is finished, just got armholes, hem and pockets left to complete.