Thursday, 2 January 2014

Balloon shorts and ruffle top - and an ironing board

Happy new year, readers! I managed to fit in a bit of sewing over the Christmas holiday. Emboldened by the success of the ribbon-tie pants (R has worn them a few times without complaint, undeterred by her brother calling them 'Aladdin pants') I thought I'd see if I could get R into some shorts. And since I'm working my way through my new Japanese pattern books, I tried out a new top to go with them.


The 'balloon-shaped' shorts are from Girls Style Book and the fabric is cotton seersucker. I love this fabric, but it might be just a little too similar to next year's checked school dress - so although I bought heaps, it may not get much use. Oh yes, and I managed to sew two left legs and couldn't be bothered to re-sew, so the shorts have an exposed seam on the inside left leg. But it's not all that noticeable - unlike the loose thread hanging down in the photo above right. Why is there always a thread I don't notice until after I've taken the photos?

The top is from Kids Clothes Sewing Lesson Book, and it's basically a peasant-style top with a ruffle around the neck. It's a lovely, roomy, comfortable style and R seems quite pleased with it. The fabric is cheesecloth - I love the colour but shudder to think what's going to happen when I wash it... I'm imagining a little shrunken dolly-version of the top that requires much stretching and ironing to return it to its intended dimensions.

Speaking of ironing, I have a confession to make. My ironing board, which I inherited from my late grandmother some years ago, was, until yesterday, in a disgraceful state. The stained cover had lost its elastic and had been savaged with scissors. It slipped around when I ironed on it, and to make matters worse, the padding underneath was not secured and was too small for the board. I don't know why my grandmother put up with this shocking state of affairs (except for the scissoring - that bit was my contribution) and I don't know why I put up with it for so long. Many times I considered buying a new board, ideally one with a holder for my iron, but didn't want to waste money on something so mundane. So after years of procrastination, I finally took action. Introducing... (drumroll)... my NEW IRONING BOARD COVER!

It's clean! It has elastic! And it hasn't (yet) been attacked by scissors! I even rearranged the padding so it almost fits. And under the many disgusting layers of stained and torn covers that I found beneath the top one (it was like being an archaeologist, uncovering my grandmother's ironing history through the strata of ancient fabrics) I even found a pull-out iron holder. It was hidden under the board, disguised by one of the older covers having been lashed onto it with some kind of nylon rope. Weird. And hard to untangle. But I'm very happy to have found it.

If you feel inspired to renovate your own board (which is not to suggest that anyone else's board is half as disgusting as mine was), there is a simple tutorial here - but I ditched the bias-tape bit and just folded the edges in to make a casing. Worked beautifully. Strangely, my husband and children have barely responded to my new board cover - perhaps they are speechless with admiration?


  1. Love your fabric choice! That purple fabric looks perfect for the top. And that ironing board cover! How cute it is!? Well, I actually don't even have an ironing board. I've been ironing sometime on our dining table (putting towel on it), on the floor or on the side table of my sewing machine... I wanted to buy it but not so sure it was so useful... Is it? Should I buy and not to iron on the floor?

    1. Thanks Shino :) I don't think I could iron on the floor - mine is covered in bits of thread, fabric and lost pins... I think if you have the space to keep an ironing board up permanently, it's very useful. But if you have to pull it out of a cupboard to use it, you might as well stick to what's been working for you. I'm just lucky to have enough space in the study/sewing room to have my board up all the time.

  2. I get it. It's a lovely ironing board cover and I'm jealous. Mine is intact but covered in marks from heat'n'bond that I've sloppily ironed to the cover. What I find indispensable now is my small sleeve board.
    Love those shorts. i'll have to hunt that pattern down.

    1. I could probably do with a little sleeve board; my only concern is that it might give my husband the wrong idea about what I'm prepared to iron. As for the shorts, I was initially going to make a similar-looking pattern from 'kids clothes lesson book' which had front and back pockets and a false fly - then I noticed this far less labour-intensive one in Girls Style Book and was so relieved to be spared all that work!