Tuesday, 16 September 2014

DIY Elsa costume (FO)

The jelly bean was five a couple of weeks ago, and like most small girls, is fairly enthusiastic about the film Frozen. Badly sung and barely remembered versions of 'Let it go' feature regularly in our house.

An Elsa outfit of some description was needed for her birthday, and I did some careful research on the webz to get some ideas. I decided to make a skirt and top rather than a dress, with a separate cape. As with all dressing up clothes, I figured it would be useful to make things interchangeable, just in case a fireman or a pirate ever needed a snow queen's frosty cape to wear. 

In one of those 'oh yes' moments, I realised that the sparkly teal knit fabric I had in my stash might just be. completely. PERFECT. for this project. It feels fairly horrid and is undoubtedly a synthetic throwback from the 1970s, but it looks pretty (and double bonus is only cost £3). 

As if that was not karmic enough, when I was hunting through my box of scraps, I found an old vest/cami top of mine in a nice ice-blue colour, just right for the not-quite-matching vibe of Elsa's sleeves. 

Yada, yada. Here is the make:

I wanted to emulate some of the shape of Elsa's skirt, without the split or foxy silhouette. So, I decided to have an a-line panel at the front, and gathered panel at the back. The front panel has a little hi-lo curve at the hemline to look extra cute. I used some of the jelly bean's existing clothes to give me an idea about dimensions, but generally just cut it on the fly. I cut the front panel on the fold, and then used a curved hem from another pattern to give me a cutting line for the hi-lo hem. 

I just cut a rectangular panel for the back of the skirt, with plenty of width to give fullness. Of course I had cut this before thinking I should add a curve to this hem too, so that it could form a little train. Oh well.

Because this is a non-fraying knit and for dressing up, I did not finish the hem.

I did the waistband on this baby three (yes, THREE!) times. The first time I included a dressing-up-friendly velcro closure, but then realised it would pull the fabric something rotten and end up mangling the skirt. So I took it off. 

I cut another waistband from the scraps and got that all sewed on ready for the big day. Before I could add a fastener, I got sick (lying-in-my-bed-unable-to-do-anything-sick) and the birthday dawned and the jelly bean put it on anyway. It was fine apart from the fact that it had no fastening, and it was about 2 inches too small (yes, too small?! wtf?)

Cue more seam ripping. Sigh.

The third time I made a casing and elasticated the whole darn thing. No fastenings, no velcro. Nothing to go wrong. It's fine. 

Next I made the top. I wasn't quite sure how I was going to do this at first, but somewhere I got the idea to use the raglan tee pattern I bought a year back (it's all about the stash). 

I cut the back from the teal fabric and the sleeves from the ice-blue fabric, without any adjustments. Oh, actually, I did make an adjustment - I made a mistake when I cut out the sleeves, so I had to fudge it a bit lowered the back neckline to match the front and trimmed the neckline on the sleeves. 

For the front of the bodice, I used a piece of the teal fabric, but adjusted the neckline to look more like the front of Elsa's bodice, with a little bit of a sweetheart shaping at the top and a point/V at the bottom. I then filled in the 'missing' part of neckline with a scrap of ice-blue fabric. I've been reading lots of sewing tutorials lately, and I made use of a tip I saw somewhere (umm, make it love it I think) about using a glue stick to stabilise things before sewing. I glued and then top-stitched the two pieces together, before making up the tee in the normal way.

To finish the neck I folded over a narrow hem and top-stitched. The clean line fits with the vibe of Elsa's costume, and it was really quick! I love it!

3. The CAPE
Finally, I got to work on some organza which I bought for the cape (£4.50 per metre). Although it is fairly easy to sew, it is so fragile that it pulls apart really easily. I hemmed the bottom, then gathered the top and attached a ribbon tie. The first attempt looked lovely, but was too long, and came apart when the birthday girl stood on it. I shortened the cape to reduce the risk of being stood on again, and reattached the ribbon at the top - hopefully it will be a bit more robust this time...

All in all, I am totally thrilled with the way this turned out. I spent £4.50 on the organza and everything else came from my stash (ribbon, thread, fabric, elastic). Oh, and the jelly bean likes it too. 

Friday, 12 September 2014

Pyjama time (FO)

After cutting those pyjama bottoms out in a flash, I stitched them up quickly too. 

I have been devouring sewing blogs over the summer, and absorbed some of the advice about maximising your sewing time from the Coletterie blog. The main thing I did was to work on the three pairs simultaneously - cutting them out in one session, then sitting down to sew as much as possible before getting up again. After only ONE sewing session all three pairs pyjama bottoms were sewn together, and just needed waistbands and finishing!   

I used french seams throughout, and followed a neat tutorial about boxer shorts for the waistbands on the children's pairs. These turned out fabulously, and I slightly regret not doing the same thing on my own pair. 

My pair of pyjama bottoms took a bit longer to finish than the children's as I had to hem the legs. I found this rather lovely bias fold trim in my box of notions. I think it is something I have inherited from my grandmother or my mother-in-law - so I used that. It went on like a dream and looks very pretty! 

I am happy to report that all three pairs of pyjama bottoms were pressed into action immediately. It makes me a very happy mummy/sewist . 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Socksperimental socks (FO)

I finished the socksperimental socks a couple of weeks ago...

I can report that although they look a bit different, there is no noticeable difference in feel when on the foot, or in a shoe. 

So far so good.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Pyjama bonanza

Over the last week I have managed to wear out two (TWO!!) pairs of pyjama trousers. How does that happen?! They weren't even the same make or the same age.

As I'm on a bit of a sewing bee at the moment, I salvaged the usable remnants and (after a quick wash) I cut out two new pairs of pj trousers from the ruins. One pair is for the jelly bean (5 next week!) and the second pair is for the bean - his pair are shorts as that was all I could eke out of the fabric available. 

I used some existing pjs as a template, adding as much length in the leg as I could manage. My children tend on the slim side and just seem to get longer/taller rather than wider as they grow.

While I was cutting out pyjama trousers, and, given that I am down two pairs, I cut out a pair for myself. I used an existing (non-ripped) pair as a template, and cut into some rather fabulous cotton lawn I bought on a whim a year or so back. 

They are going to be rather gorgeous. I did wonder about making a matching top (there is still quite a lot of fabric left), but thought that would be a bit much, particularly as none of my other pyjamas have matching tops! 

Sunday, 10 August 2014


Over the last few months I've been collecting worn and holey socks, piling them up ready for the darning fairy to repair them. She hasn't been around very much, that fairy, as - like all housework fairies - she is rather unreliable and easily distracted. You know, by shiny in-the-moment things like the Commonwealth Games, or drinking beer, or starting new projects (ahem).

While the holey sock pile has been marinading, I came up with a plan for a socksperiment.  Because my socks invariably go into a hole on the ball of the foot rather than the heel or the toe, I have been wondering if there was a way to reinforce this part of the sock and increase the sock's longevity.  

I think I have found a way. It involves knitting around the sock in s1 k1 a bit like a heel flap. And, when you are using two yarns in a grumperina' stripe it has the additional benefit of changing the direction of the stripes! [I must confess that this discovery makes me deliriously happy - I love knitting stripey socks, and making the stripes change direction is just mind-blowing. Just me? Oh, okay]

In order to test my hypothesis in a really scientific way, I am making myself a new pair of socks (see what I mean about being easily distracted). One sock has been knit the 'normal' way, and the other will be finished in the new way. I'm a third of the way along the foot of the second sock, and just about to start the k1 s1 section. 

Once I've finished them, I'll wear the blighters and see what happens. I hope it won't be quite as long-winded as the search for the Higgs bosun, or those experiments waiting for a drop of pitch to drop....

Thursday, 17 July 2014

FO: flowery top hack

Last year I bought myself a couple of summery cotton tops, suitable for life with a newborn (e.g. easy to wash; and with plenty of ease to allow for discreet breast-feeding). One of the tops has been in regular use, fitting in nicely with other things in my wardrobe, although the shape was a bit, um, meh. The other one has just too much fabric to be flattering and I have never worn it...(but since both tops came from charity shops and cost no more than £4, I'm not too bothered about that).

I've been planning to refashion both tops for a while, and last week I finally got round to hacking the first top.

Here it is before (a giant flowery square). [In case you recognise this item from R*ver Island, I should say that I removed the weird interesting neckline beading and the patch pockets when I bought it]. Anyway, back to the hack...

In order to make it shaped a bit more like me (a woman with boobs that stick out and a waisty bit that goes in ever so slightly), I cut off the bottom so that I could create an empire line under the bust. I used another top as a guideline to help me decide where to cut.  

I then opened one of the side seams, and removed a couple of inches of width from the front part of the top. I left the back as it was. [If I was a proper sewing person, I would have opened both side seams and taken the width from each side, however, I am not that person and I figured I could get away with being lazy it].

I then resewed the side seam, and fitted the bottom back onto the bodice, which I had subtly gathered under the bust. I sewed the two parts together again, and then added some elastic to the seam on the back of the top. Proper sewists would no doubt have done this with a casing, but I'm just too impatient. So, I just cut the elastic to length, and zigzagged it straight on, using the new seam as a guide. 


It is quite a small change really, but it's made this top much more flattering to wear without changing my ability to feed the little bean if I need to. If I wasn't breast feeding then I might have taken more fabric out of the front panel, and made it a bit more fitted. I'll try and post an action shot sometime which shows the front...

Wednesday, 14 May 2014


Our little bean is one today. 

A whole year of you. We are so lucky.

Happy Birthday little one.