Saturday, 22 November 2014

Constant Change: a birthday bag

Changes, transitions, transformations - they are our constant companions as we move through life (or rather, as it whizzes by, sometimes all too quickly). When Jenya and Renee invited me to be part of their Constant Change sewing series I had so many ideas: a dancing skirt for my daughter, who's just experienced the excitement of her first stage performance - or perhaps new cushions or a duvet cover for my son, who's soon to get his own bedroom at long last. Or even something for myself, to mark this very change-filled year in which I returned to work after almost ten years of child-rearing at home.

In the end the choice was obvious: a gift for my sister Lucy, who celebrates her fortieth birthday today. My sister is my closest friend and has been with me through many of life's great (and not so great) changes. She is such a supportive and kind person, and is a wonderful and inspiring parent to her two children (even if my son complains that she's too strict about bedtime when he stays at her house!). Growing up, I was the well-behaved one while Lucy was the slightly naughty one, or to look at it from a different perspective, I was (and perhaps still am) more compliant while she has always been great at speaking her mind and standing her ground - qualities I greatly admire. My kids love to hear stories about the things Lucy did as a child, like the time she ate all the chocolate biscuits and let us all blame it on the cleaning woman til she owned up to it thirty years later, or the time she was expelled from Sunday school for folding her homework into a paper plane and throwing it to the teacher, then hiding in a doorway and jumping out at him.

For such a special birthday it seemed completely right and appropriate to sew something - something I'd never sewn before. I bought the beautiful book Carry Me by Yuka Koshizen and made the 'Left Bank Granny Bag' featured on the cover - a giant of a bag with a zippered internal pocket, a very capacious interior and side slits which allow the bag to open up wide. The book explains that the bag is designed for browsing flea markets and antique fairs, and I'm sure it will come in handy for a bit of op-shopping or Sunday market visiting (or perhaps just to carry birthday gifts in). I also made a little pleated pouch using the same fabrics. The pleats match nicely with the tucks in the Granny Bag.

I used a cotton-linen fabric that I absolutely adore. It's quite thin and soft, so I interfaced the bag with medium-weight fusible instead of the light-weight that was recommended. For the lining I chose another cotton-linen from the same range, a sky-blue with white birds. I like the feeling of escape and freedom that this fabric evokes. I have to say, I really love the way the bag turned out, so much so that I'm going to have to make one for myself too.

Happy birthday, my beautiful sister! May we celebrate many more of life's changes together.

And thank you for having me, Jenya and Renee!

You can see today's other Constant Change post at La Folie Sewing Booth, and the series continues tomorrow with posts from Made with Moxie and Sewpony.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

An outfit for Baby B

Last week I made a little outfit for the baby boy of an old friend who lives in South Africa. I never sewed for my own babies - my youngest was a toddler before I had a go at sewing kids' clothes - so it felt rather novel to be making something for someone so young.

Not owning any patterns suitable for babies, I used two free online ones: the envelope-neck top from small dreamfactory and Made by Rae's newborn baby pants (which I enlarged a little, since Baby B is already 8 weeks old). Both were nice and easy to make, with no closures or complicated details. I used cotton jersey knit from Spotlight, added some coordinating cuffs to the pants, and loved the way I needed so little fabric for these tiny (hopefully not too tiny) garments!

I haven't sent this gift off yet, because I have one problem: the elastic in the waist of the pants. I have no idea how tight or loose to make it. I think I'm going to have to corner some mums of babies and see if I can measure a three-month-old. In the meantime if any readers know the average waist size of a baby this age, please let me know!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Halloween, and a KCW interview

Halloween for my kids: lollies, fancy dress and door-knocking. Halloween for me: a lovely warm evening out on the street with my neighbours, drinking champagne and sharing stories.

To my great relief I didn't have to sew any costumes this year. R wore her Elsa dress from a couple of months ago, and K wore a supermarket-bought vampire cape and fangs. My only creative effort was a night-before-Halloween ghost garland. When R saw it in the morning she rushed off to make her own version (below). So sweet!

And that's all I've got for you today, because I've been busy writing a post for the Kids Clothes Week blog: an interview with the very talented Amy of Amos El. Go on over and have a read!