Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Never pass up a freebie pattern...

This week Shwin&Schwin have been offering up a freebie pattern for a kid's top/dress called The Pleated Penny. Unable to walk away from a cute freebie I set to whizzing one up this evening. From start to finish this little top took me only 2 hours and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

I changed the straps a little. At the front I turned the points under to neaten it up. Then I attached shoulder straps to the back which secure to the front with a popper/snap fastner. The buttons on the front of the straps are just for show. I know it's lazy, but I couldn't be bothered to make buttonholes this evening and sometimes I think snaps work better for toddlers anyway as they rarely stay still for long enough to get buttons fastened. I also made the top slightly shorter than the pattern stated simply because I didn't have quite enough length in the fabric I wanted to use (it was a funny shaped left over piece from a previous project).

I haven't decided if I prefer it loose or with the ribbon tie at the waist. I guess I will have to wait and see what it is like on. What do you guys think?

Monday, 25 June 2012

A bit of me-time

Last week was really hectic and I didn't have much time to indulge in the things I enjoy. So this weekend I decided to ring-fence some me-time.

On Sunday we had a little un-birthday tea-party for my niece (long story cut short... she has a Christmas birthday so we have decided to have family birthday presents in June and her kids party in December... this way we get to indulge her and buy lots of cool summer things like a trike and a wendy house). She didn't have a cake and candles (that would be too confusing for a little person) but I decided to make some fun summer cake-pops. So on Saturday I baked chocolate cake and I spent Sunday morning transforming said cake into cute critters.

I also managed to find some time this weekend to get sewing. Since we haven't had much sunshine (despite it being the end of June!) I've decided to put making summer dresses on hold and instead set about making some cotton tops that would be nice and cool for summer, but equally cute over a long-sleeved tee for chillier days. I used the 'Pretty in Pleats' tutorial over at craftinessisnotoptional.com and picked up a nice cheap fabric remnant of Midwest Modern in Garden Maze by Amy Butler. I had some buttons that matched perfectly in my button stash and decided to add three buttons to the front centre pleat.

The back of the top is made up of two pieces with buttons all the way down. Unfortunately the fabric dimensions didn't allow for me to make the pattern match up, so the two back pieces have a staggered pattern. It's not ideal but it will do.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Because a girl really can never have too many dresses (and my refashion pile is still huge!)

After the success of my last top to dress refashion I decided to have a go at another. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the original top - a long sleeved wrap-over top with a gathered detail on the open side of the wrap.

I decided to keep the neckline and the wrap-over details in tact, but removed the sleeves. I used the sleeves to make ties for the back to add some extra shaping, and to make some binding for the sleeve edges.

I'm pretty happy with the result... what do you think?

Sunday, 10 June 2012

A girl can never have too many dresses...

Today I spent the afternoon shopping with my lovely Mum. I was on a mission to find the perfect little black dress and was so pleased to walk away with not one little black dress, but two! After all, a girl can never have too many dresses!

So this evening I decided to get stuck into another refashion project and make my niece another little dress (because little girls can also never have too many dresses). I started out with this old jersey-knit top...

I wasn't too sure about the print pattern for a little girl, but the interesting neckline and ties drew me in.

I used a favourite tried-and-tested pattern piece for the bodice shape, and kept the length in the top for the skirt. These are the pieces I cut...

When it came to putting together the side-seams I decided to take off some of the bodice width under the arms and angle it out more as it seemes a more natural fit. I also incorporated the original ties to help with shaping.

And this is how it turned out...


Front - Neckline Detail
Back - Tied

And of course, no dress is complete without matching knickers! The dress fabric has a pale yellow in it (not sure if that shows in the photos) so I decided to pick that up in the knickers, which I refashioned from an old t-shirt.

Let me know what you think...

Friday, 8 June 2012

Even more refashioning

Yesterday I indulged in a bit more refashioning... it is half-term after all and what better way to relax and unwind then by letting the creative juices flow. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos of the original clothes so you will have to use your imaginations, but you will get a peek at the finished products.

I have been looking for something suitable for making the Playdate Dress over at craftinessisnotoptional.com for a while and yesterday stumbled across a long sleeved t-shirt with a cute pattern and some embellishments round the neckline that I thought would work well. With some clever pattern placement I managed to include most of the lovely pattern on the front of the finished dress. I had to wing it a bit when it came to the sleeves. The tutorial and pattern use short flutter-type sleeves. However, taking into account the current grey and miserable weather, I wanted long sleeves and since I had plenty of fabric in the original top's sleeves decided to give it a go. I undid the sleeve seams and attached the sleeves in the same way as shown in the tutorial. Then stitched the skirt side seams and sleeve seams in one go. It looks like it's worked out ok... the proof will be in the wearing though. It looks quite wide (I think that has something to do with the sleeve) but my niece is still in the squidgy toddler phase and is always on the go, so a bit of extra room probably isn't a bad thing. What do you think?

I also took a couple of old vest-tops and refashioned them into knickers/diaper covers for my neice. Daring to be a little optimistic, if summer ever does really arrive, she might soon be able to ditch the tights. And I think there's nothing cuter than a pair of knickers poking out from under a skirt... well it's definitely cuter than a pampers or huggies logo!

Itty Bitty Baby Gifts

A friend of mine had a baby girl at the beginning of the year and I haven't seen the gorgeous little lady since she was only a week or two old. We are planning to get together this week so I have whizzed together a couple of my fave girly baby bits. Most of the the fabrics I used are from 'Monsterz' by 'Cloud 9' and are just so cute.

I used the prudentbaby.com Layer Cake Skirt tutorial and the Snappy Toddler Top pattern and tutorial. The knickers were made using a free pattern and tutorial at danamadeit.com.

Quilt Roundup

I made these quilts a while back but haven't shared them before. They were Christmas presents for my goddaughter and her two brothers (all under 3 years of age!). The family were moving house and the kids were getting their own bedrooms for the very first time, so it was great to be able to make them something personal. I went for bright, bold colours and prints and  backed them with cosy fleece. I bound the blue and green quilt with home-made binding to match the quilt fabrics. It was really fiddly and I wasn't totally happy with the finishing, so  for the other two I followed the Easiest Cheat for Binding a Quilt tutorial at prudentbaby.com. It was much easier and gave the quilts a snuggle fleece edging that I love! 

Thursday, 7 June 2012

More refashioning

More digging in the refashioning pile uncovered this pretty skirt, with an unusal bold print.

I decided it would be perfect for a little girl's party dress and spent the evening tinkering away, with a little guidance from the Ice Cream Social Dress tutorial at craftinessisnotoptional.com. And this is the outcome...

I had intended this to be for my 18 month old niece. However, it appears I made an error in measuring the length (or could it be, I failed to measure the length at all!) and had to adjust the length and re-do the trim, so the final dress was a fair bit shorter than the picture. I seem to have a tendency for learning from my mistakes, but it all worked out in the end so hey-ho!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Gardening in the rain

This week is half-term break, so I have a whole week off work to catch up with all the things I don't have time to do normally. Number one on my list was getting my garden in order, as I have done nothing to it since the end of last summer. I'm a fair-weather gardener and the prospect of having to fill numerous watering cans in order to maintain a pretty garden during the hose-pipe ban has put me off getting going this year. However, for two days now I have woken up to sunshine and been optimistic enough to get out into the garden. Unfortunately, on both occassions the sunshine was short-lived and I had to be barve and garden in the rain but...

I now have a tidy, pretty garden and am feeling quite proud of myself, albeit a little soggy.

Herbs and chard

Happy yellow sunflowers in memory of my beautiful friend Johanne,
they were her favourites.
And red geraniums because I like red and they look cheerful
in my conservatory in autumn.

My lilac tree - Now full of bird feeders (and hopefully, soon birds)
now that the flowers are finished.

Tidy beds

Now all I need is some sunshine to show off the garden in all its glory

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

These are a few of my favourite things....

Yesterday we had a bank holiday family lunch and I was tasked with making dessert. Bored of all my usual recipes I decided to concoct something new and decided to use some of my favourite things - lemons, strawberries and meringue.

And this is what I came up with...

Lemon meringe cupcakes with strawberries
They went down really well, despite the unusual combination of strawberries and lemon - I would definitely recommend trying it!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Refashion part 2 - The balloon shorts

I had planned to spend my day gardening but the great British weather spoiled my plans. So instead I decided to indulge in some more sewing time.

I have been swooning over the 'Paper Bag Pants' tutorial and free pdf pattern over at 'Shwin&Shwin' for what seems like forever, but I havent had the right fabric. For toddler trousers the fabric has to be hard-wearing, but the gathering in this pattern mean that it also has to be pretty thin.

So imagine my joy when I found these in my big pile of refashion clothes from Mum!

The fabric - a light weight woven tweedy type fabric (sorry for the poor description) - is just perfect for the trousers. However, being optimistic, I decided not to let the weather sway my choice of project and altered the pattern to make some cute shorts. And the dark colour of the fabric lends itself well to making shorts that can either be worn on sunny days with a cute t-shirt, or with tights and a cosy top on those very british, grey days. To fit with the tights option I decided to gather the bottoms, resulting in a poofy look and my name for the shorts - Balloon Shorts.

So here they are...

And here they are on...

Sorry about the picture quality, but my niece is a typical toddler and never stands still for long!

Let me know what you think...

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Refashioning Time

So my mum has been clearing out her wardrobe, which means I have a huge pile of clothes available to refashion into cute outfits for my 18 month old niece. It's also half-term break so I have a whole week off to spend sewing. The big question now is - What to make first?

I love the 'skirt to dress refashion tutorial'  and the the 'playdate dress tutorial' over at Craftiness is not Optional, so might start there methinks. Jess shares some great tutorials and lots of them are based around a US size 2T which fits our little lady pretty well - Bonus!

I decided to give the 'skirt to dress refashion tutorial' a go and I am pretty pleased with the results... and I think it will look even better on as it's one of those styles that looks a bit rubbish on a hanger and needs a body inside it. The tutorial is really easy to follow and the project took me less than an hour from start to finish!

This is the skirt I started out with...

And here's the dress...

Watch this space for a photo of my niece wearing the dress (though sunny days once again seem few and far between in the UK and my niece rarely stands still long enough for photos!)...