Thursday, 13 September 2018

Monkey 'Jamas

Pollywoggles Designs - Simcoe 

I am so pleased to have been chosen as a tester for the Simcoe pattern, and not for the usual reasons. This isn't a new pattern, it's not even a new to me pattern. In fact, this pattern came out last October and you may remember that I was chosen to test it back then too! Last week, I found some amazing spoilt monkey brushed cotton that I just had to make into PJs, the moment Jay found it she begged for it to be PJs, so I asked if this was in the works to be re-tested anytime soon and if so I would hold off making them and apply to test. It was actually the next pattern in line to be tested and once I applied I was chosen to test! I was so happy, it's so nice to have been able to see this pattern through from the beginning!

Last time, I tested the short version, so this time I wanted to test the long one, especially as summer is on the way out and our holiday home is in Wales/her bedroom at home is one of the coolest rooms in the house for some odd reason. 

So, one of the first things you might notice about this pattern is that it doesn't print in layers and even though the patterns are all being updated, layers is not likely to be an option any time soon. That said, the sizes are pretty clear to see, even in black and white, unlike some other patterns. These patterns also include, amongst their printing instructions, which pages relate to white size/style, so it's quite easy to print only what you need.

One of the more unusual features of Pollywoggles Patterns is that the designer includes a beautiful story behind the names of her patterns, that can be found on page 6 of this pattern and it's such a lovely read! I look forward to reading these in every pattern, I love learning the reason behind the name and I do often wonder how people have come up with their pattern names.

You might notice that there's a bit of an unusual step in the construction of the trousers, that is you cut bot sides on the fold and use a rise template to lower the front. It's a bit of an unusual way of doing it, but I love the results. These are one of the few patterns that actually accommodate my kids bottom well and take half as much printing to get that result as the others! Which means half as much sticking pattern pieces together, which is always a win!

Speaking of fit, Jay has always been lanky. I made this in a size 2 for her last year and again made it in a size 2 this year. She's grown 1" in the last two weeks, so she is really shooting up, this fit her to perfection last year and even now it still fits enough for sleeping but she will need the next size up for length before too long because it's slightly too short for energetic toddler play. It's designed to be baggy, the cuffs however keep it in place which means I'm certainly getting my money's worth out of these jammies! They are actually a firm favourite in our house!

Monday, 27 August 2018

Superhero Socks

The wolf and the tree - Abby's knockout Socks

Summer is almost over and that means my friends are in the middle of back to school shopping. I feel for everybody going through this right now as it seems to be very expensive and quite manic! Anyway, something was mentioned about how one of my friends still needed to get socks for her oldest, and I piped up that I had a sock pattern and we could make them. Of course the almost teen looked as though she was about to faint from the horror of that we decided to keep going. The Abby socks fit the length requirements, can be made in black and... does the school uniform say anything about capes? The poor girl almost turned white at the suggestion of socks with capes on them! So naturally we told her we were going to replace all her socks with caped socks! She's not quite sure how much of this is teasing and how much of this is actually going to happen, but all that talk of caped socks really made me want to make some! So I decided to make some for my daughter, I'd actually bought the pattern to make them for Jay in the first place, but I just hadn't got around to it yet. This was the perfect excuse to actually do so.

Unfortunately for my friends daughter....I have her on WhatsApp, so I told her I was making her the socks right now and sent her fabric examples, a photo of the pattern being printed and several photos of the socks being worked up. It was so much fun! She kept sending horrified responses trying to stop me...all the way up until I finished and sent a final photo of my daughter wearing them...and she actually rather liked them! Oh no! So now she actually needs a pair... I need some black fabric!
Fortunately, the pattern is really easy to make up and actually quite quick and enjoyable, I can see myself making a lot more of these in the future, and not just as pranks. My daughter absolutely loves her superhero socks! But these are so much more than just kids superhero socks, there's nearly a dozen different styles to this pattern, including yoga socks! The Abby version is sized from 2 to 14 years but then the adult version continues on with fully customised sizing  that takes into account the fact that our legs are not always shaped like children legs. The one thing that is worth mentioning though, is that unless your fabric has some serious stretch recovery on the cuffs, they're going to start falling down! My future socks will be having some elastic threaded into the cuffs from now on.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

BB8 Romper

The wolf and the tree - River Romper
I can't believe my baby girl is three! Where did the time go? It seems like only yesterday we were playing with rattles and cardboard boxs, now she's madly in love with star wars and wants a Disco at soft play! I don't know when it happened, but my baby has grown up!!!

Last year my daughters party was at soft play and I made her the most beautiful skirted romper to wear. This year, we're doing soft play again so I wanted to make another one, but I wanted it to be a bit different too. I had a look around and finally settled on the River Romper. I really liked this one because it can be made both with woven and stretch fabrics, which is just awesome! I've wanted a woven romper for ages! This one also features a peasant top styled bodice, which really calls to the hippy in me! 

I bought some beautiful BB8 fabric from Sunnyside fabrics back in May, but I hadn't yet decided on the pattern I was going to use it for, so I only bought the 1 meter as that's enough to make most things, if not in full then in part and since it's quite a busy print, that was fine by me! As it happens, I wish I'd bought an extra half a meter as I really would have liked to have enough fabric to turn the gathered skirt into a classic circle skirt as I did last year. I just think they're much prettier.

For those of you who are wondering, last years Romper was a much better fit and still fits now. The fit in this one is generally large, and I wouldn't say it's a great fit right now, although it is comfortable and stays on her, I think it will take a good year for it to fit her as the designer intended. I became aware of the issue very early on, but decided to stick with it as the fabric isn't cheap and it simply means that she will get more wear out of it, which can only be a good thing as kid is star wars mad and due a growth spurt soon.

I decided to use the BB8 fabric primarily on the skirt, but also for the sleeves and I wanted to add cuffs on the legs with it too to tie the whole thing together, but I wanted to break it up by using white for the main body pieces. Luckily for me, I had just enough BB8 fabric for that and two hair bows. As I say, I would have liked to change the skirt to a circle skirt, but to keep that length I would have used virtually all the fabric, so I kept the gathered skirt...which I don't dislike, and I lined it with a plain BB8 Orange to provide the lovely contrast you can see in the swing picture.

One of the main problems with last years romper is that now she's potty trained, that thing takes some time and effort to take off every time she needs the toilet, which is made worse in soft play when she will sometimes forget until she really needs to go. We're that mad duo who at the word potty race to the toilets in a mad dash forsaking bags and talking to no one...every second counts! We make it, but a fiddly outfit adds more seconds than we'd like, so I put a snap crotch in this one. They're not hard to do and seriously, if you/your kid likes rompers but not getting naked to go to the bathroom, add a snap crotch! You'll never look back! Lastly, I shirred the waist rather than using encased elastic as again, I prefer the look, it's got more shape to it, but also, shirring is a much closer fit which really matters in soft play!

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Happy 3rd Birthday!

CKC - Emily
Handmaidens Cottage - Tea Party Dress

It's tradition in our family that you get a special birthday outfit. For me, that's one outfit that I wear every year, for my daughter it's a new outfit every year that she gets to wear on her birthday and then anytime she wants afterwards since it won't fit on her next birthday. Or, that was the theory at least... Last years dress actually does still fit... But I decided to make her a new one anyway because it's no longer a special dress. She has two of them now!

I bought the fabric several months ago from Waltons Fabrics, which is an AMAZING fabric shop that's sadly just too far for me to get to very often, fortunately a good friend of mine gave me a lift that day and I fell madly in love with the main fabric of this dress which retails at £30 p/m!!! But I needed it and they had it on sale so I bought a meter of that and a meter of the co-ordinating purple fabric because I thought they'd go beautifully together. Lastly I bought two meters of trim and called it done. What more could I possibly need? I have plenty of fabric right? Well I only settled on the actual pattern less than a month before her birthday and no, I don't have enough!

I was absolutely in love with the Emily dress from CKC and the tea party dress from HMC, but I couldn't choose between them. Luckily for me, I didn't have to because I liked the sleeves from Emily and the skirt from tea party, so I decided to just mash them both together and make my own completely over the top dress! Unfortunately, the overskirts hem is 2.5 meters long! So I rang Waltons in a blind panic and they raided their stock room for me...and found the trim! I was so relieved! Another friend ran me through and this time I picked up 5m of it (because I just love it so muchh, having more is not a bad thing!) and a meter of plain purple to line the underskirt with. Of course, the whole thing was an uphill slog the entire way through because I decided to do it in spandex rather than woven fabric and the two patterns don't just slot nicely into each other. One uses buttons and the other uses elastic to achieve a fit, so I essentially made the entire thing up as I went using the pattern pieces simply to get the shapes right...

I'm sure that you'll agree with me when I say the end effect is really quite breathtaking! Especially when paired with the fairy wings she was given last year for her birthday! It was completely insane, over the top and had it's sparkle factor turned up to 11, but it was also really easy to spot her as she made mad dashes for freedom in the crowded areas where I just couldn't catch her fast enough. I am so glad I decided to pattern mash, I really couldn't have done any better! It was absolutely perfect and I'm so proud of it!

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Care Bear Tunic

Stitch Upon a Time - Magnolia

The Magnolia top is by far the best top pattern I own, and what's's absolutely free! It ticks all the boxs of a perfect top, it's roomy, loose fitting, easy to wear, easy and quick to sew and has a huge kangaroo pocket! Give me some time and you will find it taking over Jays t-shirt drawer! Sadly, I'm so incredibly busy that this in only the second time I've made this for her! I know, I can't believe it!  Especially when this one only took me a day to make on the regular sewing machine, including cutting out and top stitching...and not even a solid day, I lounged around watching horror movies and finished Jays birthday dress and played with Jay! So it's really no time at all!

I was discussing this pattern with another Sewing Mama and she asked if you could make it using a panel... I didn't see why not, but since I hadn't done it before I couldn't be anymore specific than that, so I decided to use one of Jays panels and actually see how it turns out. Her panels are all quite small I'm not sure if they're baby or toddler sized, but they're not really big enough for her and it wasn't big enough for this, so I pieced it together with the main fabric and can now say that this top works beautifully even with small panels! Jay is absolutely in love with her CareBear pocket top! She was desperate to wear it and reluctant to take it off.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Baby Unicorn!

Ellie Inspired - Vintage Baby Romper

I love sewing for babies and children but sewing for babies who haven't been born yet is hard! Sewing gender neutral for babies while still being interesting and fun is very hard! Finding unicorn fabric that is gender neutral is simply a herculean task! I was convinced that it simply didn't exist! But I needed it! You see, one of my closest friends was pregnant with a gender neutral baby, his nickname was unicorn. Long story short, I was involved with this nickname. So he needed unicorns! It took me the entire nine months to find these freaking unicorns!!!! Needless to say, I hadn't even started the outfit when he was born! I had the pattern picked out, but only got the fabric the weekend before he arrived! I was still planning it out!

So before I begin there are two things to note with this pattern... The first is that the sizing is given in finished garment measurements rather than actual child measurements, so everything runs quite small compared to pretty much everything else I sew. The second is that the baby pattern also includes a matching doll pattern for 15 & 18 inch dolls, the doll pattern can be bought seperately at just over a third of the price, but the child one is actually a bundle. It's a bundle worth getting as I originally bought it just for my daughters doll. I haven't made the doll version yet, but it's perfect for this baby!

I could be on the sewing
bee with seams like this!

My original plan was to make Version D with a unicorn bodice & sleeves and purple shorts & collar.. However after buying the fabric I was seriously reconsidering given just how important pattern matching was going to be and how difficult it would be to achieve... When he was born and I knew he was a boy I very almost changed to an entirely purple romper with only a unicorn waistband and no collar...I'm glad I can't keep a secret because when I asked the mum she confirmed the unicorn bodice and so that's what I went with, although the collar is still scrapped. It took a while and used more fabric than I would have liked but my side seams are pretty much perfect! I mean look at that pattern matching! It makes the whole affair so worth it! I don't even mind the extra waste! I'm sure I can make pockets or something with it anyway, but the bodice almost looks like one continuous piece!

Ugly right?

Sadly, the shoulder seams were impossible to match and really let the side seams down!!! It looked worse sewn up than it did in my head and I couldn't leave them in this state, so I unpicked them and added a folded strip of the purple fabric between them, pressing it forwards and breaking the pattern up just enough that it became bearable without creating too much distraction. It also served to tie the purple bottom half into the patterned top half now that I'd scrapped the collar. In the end, I actually quite like how the shoulders turned out. 

 I wish I could say that these seams were the most difficult things to suss out in this romper, but the truth is, this pattern is just terrible! Aside from the complete guesswork of the sizing, it's just a terribly written pattern! It's a weird mix between a choose your own adventure book and a constant stream of consciousness, that is to say, you have to jump all around the pattern to find the information you need (spoiler: the front page with all the cutting instructions does not have ALL the cutting instructions, you will find more in the actual pattern instructions!) and when you do find the instructions they are rambling and poorly written! I know I don't often read instructions on patterns and I rarely like them when I do, but these are especially bad! I hated every second of this pattern and it's entirely because it's so badly written! The actual garment is completely lovely and I may very well make it again, but I won't touch the instructions! In fact, that's a pretty good summary of Ellie Inspired Patterns on the whole, they are lovely look at, they're absolutely terrible to make!

I have a few of them now and almost all of them are the same, the only exception being the doll versions which are actually quite nice. 

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Dr Jay (part 2)

Patterns 4 Pirates - walk the plank
Sewing Mama Raeanna - Scrubby Top

In Dolly Doctor I made Belle a pair of scrubs so she could doctor the other dolls, but since it's my daughter who has the actual interest in Doctors it seemed only fair that I make her a pair of scrubs too, and if I'm making them they should be as accurate as possible, so I got on the facebook groups and asked to see everyone's working scrubs... The conclusion I came to is that there is no standard for scrubs. They're mostly reversible, but not always, they're mostly drawstring trousers, but not always and the pockets, when they appear, are usually on the top rather than the trousers...but not always! It was quite a fascinating topic to look at and I learned way more than I thought I would. The final conclusion being that they are not always well made, the sleeves are above the elbow and they're polycotton. So I used what information I had to create scrubs that my daughter could actually sew while still staying true to medical scrubs. The really great thing about these scrubs though, is that you can make them for next to nothing because polycotton is really cheap and the patterns I used were free! 

The first pattern I used was actually a pajama pattern by P4P called walk the plank, and this one is worth having in your pattern library even if you don't want to make scrubs. It's sized from 3 Months to large adult man, meaning that there's a version of these available for pretty much everyone you know! It uses layers so you can print only the sizes that you need and it has an A0 printing option. Not sold yet? Ok, well it isn't just a trouser pattern either, there are a couple of different lengths already marked up for you, so this is a fantastic shorts pattern as well and it's really simple and easy to do! Now some of you are probably sat there thinking "But what's simple for you isn't always simple for me," However my daughter seamed these in 22 Minutes and she kept watching Paw Patrol and playing with her horse toy. So these really are simple. I hemmed them and added an elastic waistband with faux drawstring, but the actual making of these is so easy. All in all, they took less than an hour from start to finish. I really enjoyed working on these.

The top, on the other hand, is an entirely different quality pattern. I wouldn't recommend it unless you really wanted scrubs. It fit beautifully with what I was trying to achieve, but while the P4P pattern is a free sampling so you can buy others with confidence, this one is just something people wouldn't pay for. My first problem is that it's only available in US letter size... Only the US uses that size, the international standard is A4 so the majority of people simply cannot print it properly. The next issue is that there are no size measurements. So I lengthened it because Kid usually needs things lengthened and since it's dress up it doesn't need to fit exactly. My final peeve with it is that the pattern pieces don't match. The back shoulders are a good inch wider than the front shoulders, and this is the one thing that wasn't affected by the printing difficulties! I probably will never make this thing again, and it's put me off the "designer" entirely.

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