Saturday, 27 February 2016

Kids Clothes Week: cat dress

I've only made one thing this Kids Clothes Week and I'm pretty sure I won't finish anything else by tomorrow. So here it is, the 'ribbon-back tunic' from Linen Wool Cotton: Kids. I made the sleeveless version of this top (here) and loved it, but this one didn't quite turn out the way I imagined.

I had a vision of the tunic lengthened into a dress, but I was far too short of fabric to make the double-layered skirt I had envisaged. And as it was, the skirt part of the dress turned out rather too short. As I did with the previous version, I lined the top (and also the sleeves) instead of using facings, and I should have narrowed the bodice like I did last time, but I forgot, which made the neck and shoulders a bit too wide.

I'm not thrilled with the giant flutter sleeves - they look ready to take flight! I prefer a far smaller flutter, so if I made this again I would be chopping a fair bit off their width. I'm also not sure about the merits of the waist, where a gathered top part meets a gathered skirt part, which is kind of weird. Then there's the back - there's something about the way the tunic/dress hangs that makes its loveliest feature, the open back, not sit as nicely as it does in the sleeveless version, which has a band at the bottom. But as I didn't manage to get any decent photos of R from behind, you'll just have to take my word for it!

It's not so obvious in the photos, but the unlined skirt portion of the dress is quite see-through. As I write this, R is wearing the dress with leggings and a cardigan, and it suddenly looks much better. Given the issues of size, length and transparency combined, I think it's destined to be worn as a tunic. I'm not sure if I'll shorten it or just wait til R grows into it - she's shooting up fast lately - but as a top/tunic with a pair of leggings or pants (will she ever agree to wear pants??) it's clearly going to work much better. And it HAS to work, because I adore this fabric with its little hidden cat faces:

So not a total sewing success, but not a complete failure either. I reckon by next summer this dress will have a new life as a top!

Thursday, 25 February 2016

2016 SVE - what I received

Putting together a parcel of gifts for someone in a land far, far away is so much fun - but the joy of the Secret Valentine Exchange is as much in the receiving as in the giving. Arriving home to find a parcel on your doorstep is a wonderful, wonderful experience. And if that parcel is covered with colourful stamps, and if, when you open it, there is a large box inside, all the better! My parcel came from Mirjam in Switzerland, who blogs at Miushka learns to sew and and who goes by @miushkamiushka on Instagram.

I had to shoo Moriarty away so I could open the wrapped gifts without him chewing the paper off (that cat chews anything!). Inside the two beautifully-wrapped packages were... (drumroll):

A little handmade pincushion turtle (tortoise?) so beautifully hand-sewn and decorated with sashiko stitching. He has magnets in his hands to collect pins, and as I write this is making himself useful beside my sewing machine. And...

An oven glove with spotted linen on one side and striped on the other, also decorated with sashiko. Mirjam very creatively embroidered little crosses on the spots, which is a really effective technique (and, she told me, a great way to keep your stitches even and in line!). Going to have to try this myself one day.

Both gifts are so thoughtful and beautifully made, they really made my Valentine's Day special and will always be treasured. Thank you so much, Mirjam!

Sunday, 21 February 2016

2016 Secret Valentine Exchange

This was my second year participating in Sanae and Ute's Secret Valentine Exchange, where sewing and craft enthusiasts make handmade gifts for a secret partner. You're given a few details about them - their favourite colours, fabrics, motifs - and if they have a blog or instagram account you can get a sense of their style that way too. It's amazing how much fun it is to make gifts for a stranger - it gives you license to sew all sorts of pretty little things you might not otherwise have a chance (or an excuse) to make. And you can't beat the scrap-busting opportunities that little sewing projects provide!

My SVE partner Sarah lives in Florida and blogs (occasionally!) at dear little water. When I looked at her blog, though, there weren't any recent posts, so I mostly went by the information Sanae and Ute gave me: she likes triangles, moons, stars and nature-inspired things; linen and cotton; and the colours blue, lavender, grey and white. I'd also seen from her blog that she had a young daughter and liked gardening. With those things in mind, here is what I made her:

Drawstring bag from the book Carry Me, made in linen-cotton, lined with lavender linen.
Pleated pouch (from this tutorial) in linen.
Little paper-covered notebooks (inspired by this tutorial) using reproduction vintage paper.
Parsley seeds from my garden.
I also included a teeny tiny paintbox - I adore these, and they make a great handbag-friendly portable activity for little kids.

It was so exciting packing everything up and posting it, although once you place something in Australia Post's hands you never really know what's going to happen to it. It eventually reached its destination only one week late, which isn't too bad. I

You can see all the other Valentine's gifts on Instagram using the hashtag #2016sve. It's well worth a look if you need ideas for handmade presents - there are SO many beautiful things there and plenty to be inspired by. I'm really tempted to buy myself the Stowe Bag pattern now that I've seen so many stunning versions of it, but I really should stick to the patterns I already have, shouldn't I... let's see how long my resolve lasts!

In my next post I'll show you what I received from my lovely SVE partner Mirjam!