Monthly Archives

March 2012

Family Kitty

Like Mama, like daughter


Terrible photos of a rapidly moving one year old I know, but it appears that my tiny apple has not fallen far from the tree:
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Birkenstocks? check
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Camera? check.

Look Mama, I’m being just like you. 

And very sweet you are with it too Kitty-cakes.  Now all I need to do is teach her how to press the shutter, she’s already a dab hand at dark and blurry self portraits on my phone!

Finished Kitty Sewing

Sunny Day Blouse


I had high hopes of blogging over the weekend, H was out at his end of season dinner on Saturday and I hatched an oh so cunning plan of tiring Kitty out during the day and having an evening free to sew, knit, blog and watch really trashy tv.  It started out pretty well, we went for a swim in the morning (which she loved!), and after her nap we met some village friends at the playpark and she did her very best to keep up with the bigger kids.

So by bath and bedtime she was one sleepy little girl. But …. so was I.  She was fast asleep by nine, and I was in bed with an audio book by quarter to ten!

Anyway, today is another day, with the promise of lots of glorious sunshine, and to double the excitement, I’ve got a finished project to share with you.

I’d wanted to make Kitty a little top to go with her Skater Girl trousers earlier in the year and I’d even got as far as buying a pattern and some fabric for a cotton blouse, but that’s when it got stuck in the perennial quick sand of the sewing room “I want to make that” pile.

The pattern I bought is Burda ‘Easy’ 9645, an ‘outfit’ pattern with blouse, shorts/trousers and a wrap cardigan so I traced the pattern pieces for the short sleeved blouse onto greaseproof paper in case I ever want to make a larger or smaller version in the future.

It’s described as ‘very easy’ but whether I’m spoilt for childrens’ patterns by the Anna Maria Horner and Amy Butler patterns that I’ve made before, or I was just having a particularly sleepy day when I was sewing it together I’m not sure; it certainly wasn’t the easiest pattern I’ve ever made, although far from complicated.

On of the biggest issues was the finishing (or lack thereof) in the pattern as written, so I spent a bit of time working out how to deal with raw edges as tidily as possible.  I think if you had an overlocker (serger) and used that for everything you’d have no problems at all, but as I need to spend some time getting to know the elderly overlocker which I inherited from an aunt who was upgrading, it was just me and my trusty Brother.

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I added french seams to the body side seams and bias binding to the shoulder and sleeve seams, and as you can see the rest were zigzagged and pinked.
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But my piece de resistance was the lace edging to the sleeves.  The sleeves are made puffy by a band of elastic set an inch or so up the sleeve from the hem so both the inside and outside of the sleeve hem is visible.  The pattern would have you add the lace and then zigzag the seam allowance (possibly with machine embroidery thread) to hold it flat.  It doesn’t sound very appealing does it.

I started by sewing the lace onto the hem, wrong sides together, with the tiniest hem I could get away with (a scant 1/8 inch)
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then pressed that seam with the seam allowance toward the lace.
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Then I folded the lace back on itself and pressed again,
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and sewed another slightly wider seam (just bigger than 1/8 inch, and sewn mainly by feel to make sure I was trapping the first seam allowance)
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then finally I pressed the seam allowance to the turquoise, and there you have it, a sort of french seamed lace edging.  Nice and neat and tidy from the right side,
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and fairly acceptable from the inside, at least as far as you’re ever going to see it without having your nose in her elbow.
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The sleeve setting was a bit of a challenge too.  From the pattern instructions it seemed that the sleeve head should just fit gently into the opening but there was far, far more sleeve fabric than armhole.  My trusty \Colette sewing handbook came to the rescue and I gathered and eased and pinned and sewed, although it is to my everlasting regret that the most successful fit I got was on the sleeve that I fitted inside out and had to rip out again.

The final result isn’t really to a standard that I would pass for something I would wear myself, but it’s much less noticeable on an active toddler, and it isn’t really that bad, just a couple of little tucks that pleated rather than eased in.  After the inside-out sleeve debacle I was too tired, and a little concerned about the fabric’s ability to withstand all this ripping, so what we got is what I went with.

But I’ve teased with in progress photos for long enough.  Allow me to introduce the most wonderful girl in the world (in my opinion anyway) in a pretty, blousy little baby top:

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Does it count as a completely Mama-made outfit if the vest came from Asda, the nappy from BumGenius and the shoes (or sh-hooos as Kitty likes to call them) from Clarks?
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Kitty put her new top thoroughly through a toddler test, checking for the all important crouch down to grab small plastic pot and empty the smidgen of rainwater remaining inside.
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which it passed with flying colours, along with
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playing football, and
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going for a walk holding Mama’s hand.

I just think she looks cute.

The Bare Necessities

Pattern: Burda 9645
Size: 2 years (the second largest size on the pattern).
Fabric: Some turquoise cotton from Decorative Cloth, ready made bias binding from Darn it and Stitch (colour matched by memory no less!!), and some broiderie anglais trim from the ribbon stash.
Alterations: No lace on the hem or neckband – I used a plain turned hem for the former and bias binding for the latter.  French seams and sort of french seams for the side seams and to attach the lace trim, and bias binding finishing on the shoulder and sleeve seams.  I also moved the elastic on the arms down an inch.
Time to make: an evening to trace and cut out the pattern pieces, an afternoon nap to cut out the fabric and start construction and another evening to finish.  If I could manage not to set sleeves in inside out, and decide where I want sleeve elastic before I sew it in it might have been a little faster.
Would I make it again: I’m not sure.  It’s a pretty top, but not a great pattern.  I think the position of ‘go-to’ toddler top pattern is still vacant, but this is an acceptable stop-gap.


Five things that make me happy for a Friday


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1. My daffodil field.  I planted a packet of Red Devon bulbs in the autumn and now I’ve got a little veg bed sized field.  I’ve picked enough to fill two vases twice over so far and they’re still growing.

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2. Homemade lasagne for supper. Yum yum.

3. Cuddles with my family.  I worked Thursday this week and I missed my full time Mama day and Kitty missed her cuddles.  She woke up in the middle of the night on Wednesday, said “Yay! Yay!” cuddled up next to me and went back to sleep; we’re going to catch up on our time together over the weekend and I can’t wait.

4. Saturday Eve.  The extra day this week came with a side order of a few hundred miles round trip, and I’ve been longing for the weekend.  I’ve got exorbitant plans including a long bath and maybe cake.

5. I’ve finished the first draft of the Phoenix pattern.  I think I need to play around with the pattern charts before it’s properly properly finished but it should be ready soon.
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Designed by me Embroidery Finished Kitty

Where the brass bands play tiddley-om-pom-pom


I’m reliably informed by scientisty types, and friends and relations who are doctors and therefore were medical students, that my cranium contains lots of neurons and nerve synapses and the soft squishy type stuff that makes me say “eurgh” if I think about it too much.  But what if it’s all a con? What if several comic artists and the Dr Who writers were right? What if, my head is actually filled with little tiny Caries that move levers and turn wheels to send me about my daily business.

Well, I can tell you one thing.  If that’s the case, they’re decorating the place out with little tiny beach huts.

When I say that my blood runs salty, I usually mean that my pulse quickens to the sound of crashing waves, that I take a deeply satisfying pleasure in stretching for the horizon and not reaching it, that I have a special reserve of memory for the way to tiny hidden coves and the cliff path to the best surfing beaches.

But since our trip to the South Coast I seem to be dreaming in beach huts.  Clearly the existence of little people is the only reasonable explanation, so I did what any other ordinary rational and (most importantly) completely sane person would do.

I made them one (or two):
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These teeny tiny little huts are actually hairslides for our little beach-loving daughter.  Well, I say teeny tiny.  On me, they’re teeny tiny.  The model was asleep when I made them, and asleep when I took these photos so you’ll have to trust me when I say that they’re not quite big enough to qualify as a hat for Ascot, but they’re sizable, about an inch across and a little more vertically.
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The clip itself is held between the turquoise and the grey layers with the clip prong poking through a hole in the back of the grey layer, one for each side of her head, and I used the embroidery to hold it all together and make it look nice and beach hut-y.

The main connecting points are the backstitch to make the doors and the blanket stitch on the gable and the base, and the rest is just running stitch and a few french knots.

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And my favourite part? The teeny tiny bucket (yes it is a bucket) and space.  The mini Caries are very happy.