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How to make a child’s apron {handmade for Pip}

06/01/2017

Four days before Christmas I wandered through town waiting for inspiration to strike.  I’d bought the buttons for Elma’s Wee Chickadee and nearly finished Kitty’s Toy Box Skort and I had nothing mama-made for Pip save for four inches of inky blue hem, and even to my eternally optimistic mind, not nearly enough days in which to finish it.  I needed a plan.

Trousers I couldn’t get the ribbing I wanted, anything more complicated with an actual pattern was going to end up half finished, and shorts didn’t exactly seem weather appropriate even if tiny princes wear them all year round.  Inspiration came to me at Cath Kidston.  Lots of things come to me at Cath Kidston, usually wrapped up in one of their nice blue bags and accompanied by a receipt and the groaning of my bank card, but this time it was free, and rather appropriate.

The fact is, I have a bit of an apron obsession collection.  There are coming up to a dozen usually hanging from the kitchen door; stripy ones, John’s Christmas one, a Mickey Mouse one from Disney and the beautiful butterfly one that my mother gave me at my baby shower for Kitty and has never ever been used.  And quite a few Cath Kidston ones because they’re just so pretty.

Pip loves helping in the kitchen, especially when it gets to be just him and his Daddy, but he doesn’t have a pinny unless one of his sisters is out or not interested and then he gets theirs.  Staring at the pretty display of floral beauties, the penny dropped.

As dusk turned to dark I dashed back to the fabric shop and there found some thick red cotton, near identical to John’s apron, some stripy ticking, and a couple of D-rings.  It made up into an apron in an evening, and while Pip was initially a bit puzzled as to what he’d been given, when he’d sorted out the back to fronts and upside downs and put it on, I think it met with approval.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make a child's apron

And because it looks really sweet on him, because I’m never going to be the only one in need of an emergency handmade present, or with a neglected third child who doesn’t have an apron, I’ve made a little tutorial.  In my best Blue Peter spirit, here’s how to make a child’s apron:

Before we start I should stress that this is a big apron on him; Pip is a very tall two, currently wearing age 3-4 clothes, and nearer the 4 on a number of them, and this comes down past his knees and goes nearly all the way round him. Knowing Pip as I do, this is definitely a good thing.  In a cotton I don’t think that’s a problem because it will happily bend with him but if you were to make it out of oilcloth or something really heavy it might be more of a straightjacket.

Also, fabric is sold in metric in the UK so I’ve given requirements in cm, but despite being entirely educated in the metric system, I cook and sew in inches because that’s what my Mum taught me, so the measurements are in inches.

 

As well as the usual sewing accoutrements you will need:

  • 60cm medium to heavyweight cotton (sometimes described as decorator weight cotton).
  • 30cm ticking, or other mediumweight cotton for the pocket and ties.
  • Two inch wide D rings.
  • Tailor’s Chalk or other removable marker (air erase, water erase etc)
  • To be able to see this pattern:

Space for the Butterflies - how to make a child's apron

How to:

  1. Fold your fabric in half raw edge to raw edge.
  2. Measure and draw onto the folded fabric the apron outline, making sure that the long side is at the fold, and cut along those lines.  You could just sketch out the whole apron and cut it out that way but by cutting on the fold you ensure that the two sides are the same.
  3. Hem the armholes.  Fold the curved edged in 1/4″ to the wrong side and press, then fold in a further 1/4″ and press again.  Edge stitch the hems to secure.  You will find that the edges fold in easily as they are cut on the bias.
  4. Hem the sides. Fold the sides in 1/4″ to the wrong side and press, then fold in a further 1/4″ and press again.  Edge stitch the hems to secure.
  5. Hem the top. Repeat as for the sides.
  6. Hem the bottom. Fold the bottom hem 1″ to the wrong side and press, then fold in a further 1″, press and edge stitch to secure.  This hem is deeper than the others to give a bit of weight to the bottom of the apron and help it hang nicely.  It’s also a great excuse for fancy embroidery stitches if your sewing machine does that.
    Space for the Butterflies - how to make a child's apron
  7. Make the pocket.  Cut a rectangle 5 1/2″ high by 9 3/4″ wide from the striped ticking. If you cut it the other way round don’t worry, you’ll have slightly shorter ties but they’ll still be plenty long enough. Fold in half, press to mark the centre fold, then open up again. Hem the top of the pocket as for the sides of the apron (step 4).  Fold the remaining three sides 1/4″ to the wrong side and press.
  8. Stitch the pocket to the apron.  The centre fold of the pocket should line up with the centre fold of the apron, and the top of the pocket should line up[where] below the start of the armholes. I include a central line of vertical stitching to divide it into two pockets rather than one big pocket that might become baggy with time but that’s optional.
  9. Make the ties.  Cut the width of your fabric by 2 1/2″.  Fold wrong sides together lengthways and sew around one short seam and the long seam with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Turn the right way round.
  10. Repeat to make two very long ties.  From this you should have enough length to cut two waist ties at 27″ each, the neck strap at 24″ and a 4″ piece to form the loop for the D-rings.
    Space for the Butterflies - how to make a child's apron
  11. Attach a waist tie at the bottom of the armhole on each side of the apron, tucking raw edges in as you go. I like to do a square with a cross in it for extra sturdiness.
  12. Threading the D-rings into the loop before sewing, attach both ends of the 4″ strap to the top right corner of the apron (as you would wear it), and the neck strap to the top left, again, tucking in raw edges as you do.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make a child's apron

And there you have it, one apron just ready to tie on and get making a giant mess cooking jaffa cakes (or is that just my children?)

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On and Make Do and Push for A Lively Style

Space for the Butterflies - how to make a child's apron

Handmade Handmade for Pip Pip

Nautical and Navy {handmade for Pip}

28/10/2016

If last week I was getting predictable, this week this leggings addiction is getting silly.

I suspect it may be because they’re pretty much the sewing equivalent instant gratification; a little bit of cutting out, a couple of seams and ta da, you have a pair of leggings.  Or two.

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The first of this week’s pair is from the last of the lengths of jersey bought from Innsbruck, it’s such a gorgeous blue and perfect for my obsession with dressing Pip in blue and yellow.

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It’s not exactly the same pattern as his monkey pair; I started with that pattern, and cut it freehand to be a little bit wider in the leg, and then traced around the one leg to make the second to match.

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To make sure that this pair last for more than five minutes before he grows out of them I added cuffs by cutting strips of the same fabric 4″ x the circumference of the bottom of the leg, overlocking them to form a tube, folding the tube in half wrong sides together and overlocking that to the bottom of the leg.  It’s given me another couple of inches so this pair is comfortably long enough, and I’ll probably do something similar to the monkey pair when he grows out of them.

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Other than that they are exactly as before, and seem to be just as comfy cosy for Pip to wear while he tears around the garden.

That really should have been it as far as leggings were concerned, I’d used all the fabric I had piled up, the kids all had leggings galore, except…

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Well last winter John well and truly wore through the sleeves of his then favourite, very nice, very warm, very cosy wool jumper.  And when we say “wore through” we mean holes big enough to fit a flock of sheep through.  The body of the jumper was still in pretty good nick though so I’d held onto it with the thought of using it for something for the children.  And so when I finished one pair and looked around to see what else I could make, there it was.

It feels incredibly naughty cutting into clothes, even clothes that would otherwise be destined for the recycling bin. With a bit of extra length, and using the existing jumper hem for the bottom of the legs, I had just enough length to get a Pip-sized pair of leggings out of the front and back.

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I cut them to the skinnier of my two patterns because I think these are most likely to be worn as long johns underneath waterproofs in the winter and so I wanted them to be a little bit fitted and they fit him beautifully.

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For the top I just overlocked the top and made an elastic casing as with all the other pairs, with a little snip of elephant ribbon in to mark the back.

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And so, with a ceremonial flourish, I shall now remove the twin needle from my sewing machine, and tuck my overlocker back on its shelf. There is nothing more in my stash to turn into leggings and far too much stash to justify doing any shopping and so the leggings obsession will have to have run its course. For now anyway.

Tell me I’m not the only one who things Christmas leggings could be a pretty awesome thing to find under the tree when you’re 6, 4 and 2?

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On and Make Do and Push for Funky Kid Friday
Finished Handmade Handmade for Pip Pip Sewing

My little monkey {handmade for Pip}

21/10/2016

If it seems that all I’m making at the moment is leggings, you might just have a point.  I am doing a little bit of secret knitting on the side, mostly because you can’t take a sewing machine and overlocker on the train without getting some seriously funny looks; although now that I think about it I’d love to take a sewing machine on one of the big trains that has charge points by the table and sit there sewing – I think the looks would be on a whole new level to the sideways glances you get for knitting!

Anyway, back to the sewing. I actually have a huge pile of sewing sat next to the machine but it takes me so long to thread all the needles and get my desk organised to be able to overlock and use the twin needle on my sewing machine that I’ not moving them, or fitting another needle until I’m fully up to date on the leggings front.  And, if I make the leggings before I get to the point of needing to do a big proper grown up declutter and tidy up of the studio then I don’t have to find somewhere for the fabric to be stashed.  It’s slow tidying at its very best.

And with the girls’ pairs all finished, and worn, and sat in muddy puddles, and washed and worn again, it was time for some for Pip.

I love leggings for little people, they’re so cosy and they’ve got room to wriggle and move and stretch and do all the things that babies and toddlers should do, while also looking incredibly cute.  We’ve had some gorgeous pairs over the years (and if you’re not planning on getting to grips with an overlocker I can happily enable a legging addiction by pointing you in the direction of Lottie and Lysh and Maybelle & Bo!), but that little boy of mine possesses spectacular abilities to grow both out of and through his trousers.  Perhaps three children is what it takes to wear holes in the knees or perhaps he just does it in style!

Space for the Butterflies - Monkey Leggings for Pip

So, back to Innsbruck and the wonderful wall of jersey: we chose two prints for Pip on the basis that if I was only having half a metre of each then we could stretch to two.  There’s still a nautical pair in my future, but I couldn’t resist starting with these monkeys.

I seem to have developed a bit of a habit of underestimating my son’s height on all available opportunities.  I know I held up a tape measure vaguely in Pip’s direction and half a metre seemed loads, even allowing for shrinkage, but somehow when I got that half metre home it just didn’t look that big any more.  I’d tried Elma’s elephants on him and while baggy, they weren’t ridiculously huge, and that’s an age 5. Only when I laid the age 5 pattern piece over the fabric did I remember that they’d fitted nicely into 3/4 of a metre.

Space for the Butterflies - Monkey Leggings for Pip

This patten started out life as the age 5 size of that Oliver + S pattern but with some fairly heavy macgyvering to end up with something that fits him more closely but without being too stretched, so he can pull fleecy waterproof trousers over the top without them bunching up.

Although I knit while the children are up and about and awake, sewing tends to be a nighttime pursuit for me, and if I’m making something for one of them I always start second guessing how big they’ve got and wondering whether it’s too big or too small or just too too. With Pip’s monkeys I was worried that the ankles would be too tight; I was so tempted, not to wake him up exactly, but maybe to sneak a little foot out of his sleeping bag and just try it on.  I’m sure he wouldn’t have woken up; well maybe not.

Space for the Butterflies - Monkey Leggings for Pip

The sewing fates were on my side though; the ankles fit, and the chosen length of ‘this is the longest I can make it’, turns out to be just about long enough, at least for the next five minutes.  The hem on them is absolutely tiny though; literally the ends finished on the overlocker, flipped under and sewn down so for the next pair I’m going to cut them slightly wider and put cuffs in.

Space for the Butterflies - Monkey Leggings for Pip

And the verdict from their small wearer:

“Mine monkey trousies!”

Space for the Butterflies - Monkey Leggings for Pip

He wouldn’t let me take them off him when it was bedtime; and so after we’d washed off the mud, and his sisters’ efforts at decorating, back on they went – I think that makes them a hit!

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On and Make Do and Push for Funky Kid Friday

 

Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Pip Knitting Photography Pip

In Summer {handmade for Pip}

09/09/2016

A year ago in Paris I bought four little balls of bright blue merino. It was, and is, the perfect colour for my little blond haired brown-eyed boy, and it has been earmarked from the start for a jumper for my Pip.

But optimism, oh my old friend, you never let me down do you; by the time I’d made Kitty’s cardigan, and Elma’s cardigan, and some crowns for Christmas, and some socks and some baby knitting it was coming round to August again.

“I know!” I thought, “I’ll make his birthday jumper from the Paris yarn!”

Excellent plan. Except for the minor fact that there is a considerable size difference between a one year old and an almost two year old. Especially if he’s my almost two year old. Where patterns might have worked for Pip wearing an age 2 jumper, things were looking a bit tight to make an age 4.

Space for the Butterflies - Frozen in Lil Weasel's Lil Wiiiz in Myosotis

But this is where an over generous allowance of optimism comes in. Or possibly foolhardiness. I chose a pattern because I loved it and I thought it would (a) suit Pip and (b) be easy enough to knit while driving around Germany, packed all the yarn and needles and set forth, figuring I’d work it out somewhere along the way.

And so I knitted, and knitted, and knitted. I cast on somewhere along the German-Austrian border, knit as we drove past mountains, and then up alongside lakes, and then for quite a decent stretch through the less picturesque roadworks we encountered on the Autobahn trying to head west for home. And what became rather obvious after I used the best part of three balls on the shoulders and the body, was that four was not going to cut it.

Space for the Butterflies - Frozen in Lil Weasel's Lil Wiiiz in Myosotis

Now from my many years of acquiring yarn knitting, I know that it is possible to order yarn via the Internet. And in fact it is even possible to order yarn from other countries via the Internet, especially if you speak enough French to navigate their website, and the shop in question has a website.

But who doesn’t need a good excuse to go to a yarn shop, or to go to Paris, or both. And so we did; one small detour on one of the last days of the holiday and I was the happy owner of a fifth ball of yarn.

Space for the Butterflies - Frozen in Lil Weasel's Lil Wiiiz in Myosotis

I knit as we headed to Calais, and on the tunnel, and perhaps I would have finished it then but for some reason the jumper was just not finished with me.  I made mistake after mistake after mistake, I forgot decreases, I changed direction on the cable randomly in the middle of the row, I somehow ended up with several more stitches than I wanted, until eventually, after several do-overs, I just pulled the whole sleeve back and started again.

Despite my best efforts, it wasn’t finished until the weekend of Pip’s birthday, and then it needed washing and blocking so it wasn’t sat on his birthday table all wrapped up like it should be, but the advantage of a two year old is that he never really noticed.

Space for the Butterflies - Frozen in Lil Weasel's Lil Wiiiz in Myosotis

The pattern is Frozen, and the yarn is Lil Weasel’s own Lil Wiiiz in Myosotis.  In English it means forget-me-not, and a blue more reminiscent of deep skies, summer holidays and perfect swimming pools it would be hard to find.  It’s lovely yarn to knit and softer than butter, and I can neither confirm nor deny that I bought some more of it to make a certain someone a winter hoodie (which will absolutely definitely be made this year!!).

The age 4 size is, as you can see, a bit on the big side for Pip at the moment and fits the nearly-four Elma perfectly. But there is no point in making Pip a jumper that fits him now because he’ll have grown out of it by the end of the month.  The sleeves at the moment would cover his hands if you really stretched them out, and so if I really hadn’t been able to get that fifth ball of yarn I could have made four stretch as I only dipped into it for the last third of the second sleeve, but after all that work it’s nice to know it’s going to be around for a while.

Pip is to be honest, rather indifferent to it at the moment.  He didn’t want to wear it when we first presented it to him, which is fair enough because even in England August is not the month for big woolly jumpers, but when he woke up early in the morning, and I decided that if you’re going to wake up so early it’s still the morning golden hour you might as well take advantage of it, he seemed happy enough to style it with Hansel and Gretel pyjamas and be all cosy as he carried out a rather bewildered inspection of our veggie garden.

Space for the Butterflies - Frozen in Lil Weasel's Lil Wiiiz in Myosotis

“What do you mean, that’s a carrot?!”

Come winter I fully expect it to fit, to be being worn every day, and to be always just a little bit muddy.

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On and Make Do and Push for Funky Kid Friday

Elma Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Elma Handmade for Kitty Handmade for Pip Kitty Pip Sewing

Campervans, Campervans and more Campervans {handmade for Kitty, Elma and Pip}

02/09/2016

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.

Space for the Butterflies - A Campervan Skirt for all Ages and shorts too

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.

Space for the Butterflies - A Campervan Skirt for all Ages and shorts too

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.

Space for the Butterflies - A Campervan Skirt for all Ages and shorts too

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.

Space for the Butterflies - A Campervan Skirt for all Ages and shorts too

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…

Space for the Butterflies - A Campervan Skirt for all Ages and shorts too

…to make a matching pair of shorts?!

Space for the Butterflies - Purl Bee A Skirt for all Ages

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.

Space for the Butterflies - VW Campervan Shorts

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?

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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.

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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.

Space for the Butterflies - A Campervan Skirt for all Ages and shorts too Space for the Butterflies - A Campervan Skirt for all Ages and shorts too

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!?”.

Space for the Butterflies - A Campervan Skirt for all Ages and shorts too

Pockets next time, it’s a deal.

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On and Make Do and Push for Funky Kid Friday