The sensible part of my brain told me that I needed sleep, that we were too busy packing and organising, that the children have more than enough clothes, that I really didn’t need to, and the creativity replied “but I want to”
I wanted my girls to have their matching camper van skirts for going on our adventures, just like I’d planned way back when, especially since their auntie had given them retro t-shirts that said “happy camper”, in pink and everything.
And so it was that in the last few days before we set off on holiday, when knitting and crochet and anything too finicky was still out of bounds to let my arm and elbow recover, I measured and cut and sewed.
This is the fourth and fifth time that I’ve made The Purl Bee’s Skirt for all Ages; I’ve not quite got to the point where I can made them just from the measurements but we’re getting close! It’s a really clever pattern that’s so easy to make and makes such a pretty and practical skirt. The girls love them for the pockets and because the have a good twirl and you can’t ask for more than that.
Last summer’s skirts have been handed down so Kitty’s is in Elma’s wardrobe and Elma’s is waiting for the day someone in the family has a little girl to dress, but the winter skirt I made for Kitty is still going strong thanks to a bit of extra length (I wrote some instructions on how to add length here). For this time round I made the age 4 for Elma and the 10 for Kitty, with another inch of added length so that it might last more than five minutes. Elma’s fits to the knee and Kitty’s goes just past it.
Experience always makes you faster, as does working in a production line rather than making one and then the other like I did the first time, so it took me a couple of evenings before I was measuring the waist elastic on them and sewing in the final seam. They looked adorable.
And then I looked back at my sewing table, and the pile of fabric there. H and I had guestimated how much fabric we’d need for both skirts when we bought it on our wedding anniversary trip to Harrogate and it seemed we’d rather over-estimated. By about half a metre or so. Just enough to maybe, just maybe…
…to make a matching pair of shorts?!
I didn’t use a pattern per se for these, I just found a pair of shorts that fit Pip at the moment, folded them in half and drew around them, then added seam allowances for a rough pattern. I kept them as simple as possible, cutting around my pattern on the fold to create two legs, with one seam each down the inseam.
And speaking of that inseam, I thought of using a french seam to give a nice neat soft finish that wouldn’t rub on little legs but I wasn’t 100% sure of the construction at that point so I used a seam finish I remember reading about somewhere but can’t remember what it’s called ; I cut one seam allowance down by half, folded the other one over the top, and sewed the whole thing down. It goes you a little line of stitching next to the seam on the right hand side of the fabric but I still think it looks pretty smart, it’s a nice smooth finish so it won’t rub on baby skin, and frankly who is going to be staring at the inside leg of a fast moving toddler?
Once I had the legs finished I put one inside the other, right sides facing, and sewed around. I couldn’t decide on a fancy seam finish here given that it was going to be going around a curve so I just zig-zagged this one (it being quite late at night at this point possibly came into it as well!) but even after been worn all over Europe it’s holding up just fine.
In an ideal world I would have cut the shorts deep enough to use the top of them folded over to form a waistband casing, but when I tried them on Pip they were only just passable, and a bit too low rise to be truly comfy, so I undid all the stitching and made a separate piece for the waistband in basically the same fashion as the ones on the girls’ skirts.
And there we have them, a finished pair of shorts that I could have made in a couple of hours (including drafting the pattern) had I not mucked up the waistband and had to do it again the next day.
Pip loved them, and still loves them, he calls them his “dorts” and they were his favourite thing to wear all through our holiday and what he asked for almost every morning. And if he’s prepared to offer that level of adoration to mama-made clothes I am certain that there can be more pairs in his future. Although I may have to ask his opinion on the style next time because when they all got dressed up the first time and we took these photos and the girls were jumping around with their hands in their pockets the first thing he said was: “Mama! Where mine pockets!?”.
Pockets next time, it’s a deal.