I do like to make matching bits and bobs for my daughter and niece, and at the same time that I made plenty of pillowcase dresses for my friends’ girls, I made them both shirred sundresses from fabric featuring rainbow coloured hearts. I trawled several sundress tutorials, and as though shirring wasn’t enough of a test for a novice sewer I decided I would also shape the arm holes so that the dresses fitted a little better ~ rather than leaving the tops of the dresses straight and ruffled just under the armpit which I thought would be rather uncomfortable to wear. And as it turned out shirring is fun – especially when you realise you can just sew each row of shirring a sewing foot apart and don’t need to draw parallel lines to follow. Because that was dull. But ruffling is great!
I wish that I had just stuck with something simple because I cut the wrong size or shape of armhole and ended up having to fiddle with both girls’ dresses so that they could wear them without showing too much chest off. But you learn from your mistakes, and in the end they both had something which was wearable if not quite as cute and cleverly designed as I initially imagined.
I did give Amy Butler a rest for a while. Then I was looking for a fabric to make Colette Pattern’s Sorbetto top and saw an Amy Butler fabric in bright green, navy and white, which co-ordinates with existing items in my wardrobe… If you have been watching the Great British Sewing Bee you may recall seeing this fabric used on there for a dress, and for the comments about the lantern print not being central. It totally confused my son who wondered why my top was on TV as a dress being made by a man.
I had some time to work through this make, so even made a toile first and adjusted the darts so they pointed correctly to the bust apex. I used French seams (I love a French seam)
and I lined up my lanterns almost centrally, so I felt very proud of my final creation. I’ve worn it a lot which I guess is proof of its success in my mind. There are a few mistakes, which I would try to rectify if I use the pattern again, but I’m not going to point them out to you. And I have tried to take my photo in such a way that it hides them…
I saw a Bob & Blossom pettiskirt and fell in love. I wanted to be five again and twirl round in it all day. But as that is the sort of behaviour frowned upon in a grown woman I passed on my want and decided our daughter needed one. But I also knew that there was no way my husband was going to let me spend lots of money on it. So I started researching, and there are loads of tutorials on how to make them. I struggled to find nonfray chiffon you need to make them in the UK though so I ordered a bespoke kit from the USA through Etsy, which came with great instructions.
I wanted to make one in fushcia pink. But my little girl chose a combination of her favourite colours of pink and yellow. Which meant I spent most of the (I hope that you are sitting down) week it took me to make it with ‘Copacabana’ running through my mind ~ only because of the reference to “yellow feathers in her hair” ~ but it was enough of a colour connection to subject me to more Barry Manilow than even I can take.
I reckon if I made one of these again I would be able to do it a lot quicker – cutting all the strips took over a day (though admittedly it was a day with breaks for tea, and cake, and then a bit more tea and cake), but now that I have a cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter (thanks Mum) it would be a breeze.
You need to be prepared to embrace your inner child and love being surrounded by metres of ruffles. Which I did. Lovely!
There is a lot of gathering to do and you need a lot of space to spread all the layers out to make sure that you gather them to the right lengths.
But I was relieved to find that I had minimal thread snapping so the gathering wasn’t too frustrating.
I made the pettiskirt whilst the children were away, so I was a bit worried about whether the princess would like after a week of my time had been spent on it, but to my great relief she LOVED it and twirled round in it all afternoon, just as I had wanted! Although after putting so much love and dedication into making it I am still reeling slightly from my BFF’s husband’s shout of “What the heck is that?” He might have a point. But my little girl and I choose to ignore it.
Most projects I get obsessed by are gifts for others. Well, in the main, for others’ children. And in some cases (although I think it should probably be all, but then it ruins surprises) I check first that the gift I have invested time and love into will be wanted. My husband is inclined to believe that in most cases they are not wanted but people are too polite to say so. I choose to ignore this.
I(nearly) always check with my sister-in-law because she will honestly tell me if something won’t be used. And she is even kind enough to think of things that I can make that are needed. Love her. But I do like surprises, so with the Amy Butler fabric left over from making a mobile for my niece, I fashioned a couple of extra bits and bobs.
Everyone with a baby needs a basket to fill with nappies and wipes and nappy bags and cotton wool and, and, well, baby stuff. Indeed, most people need more than one of basket to fill with such stuff. So I lined a basket with some of the fabric. Which I thought would take me an hour. Hmmm, the fabric left overs didn’t quite fit so it was a bit more fiddly. And took a bit longer. Ahem.
And then I got a bit carried away with being sentimental. Our little girl’s favourite cuddly toy is a piglet, so when I knew we were going to be having a niece, we bought a piglet for her to have from our daughter. And I made both the girls matching tops, so then I made both of their piglets matching tops from the Amy Butler fabric too. The pattern for all four tops is from Prudent Baby, but shrunk down a bit for the piglets.
Before our niece was born I really wanted to make something special for her that hopefully she would keep for some years to come. Her Mum and I agreed I would make a mobile for her room, and came across this lovely pattern and tutorial from Spool Sewing. There are no end of photos of different variations that people have made on Flickr, it is such a simple idea it opens itself to several interpretations.
My niece’s room was decorated white but with bright accents, so I looked for fabric to co-ordinate. In hindsight perhaps a bundle of bright polka dot fabric would have been good, but I went all out for Amy Butler. And what fun I had…
Firstly I made lots of little birdies, and nearly didn’t want to let them leave my house (I have kept a runt one because I couldn’t quite bear to let it go).
Then I annoyed my neighbours by spray painting branches white in the garden late in the evening. The only way I could think to get an even all over coat of white was to hang the branches off the washing line and spray them. Which meant a good 20 minutes of can shaking and spraying whilst they were trying to have a BBQ. Ooops.
And then I spent ages deciding on my bird positioning. It may not be all the obvious, but they are roughly in a rainbow order starting the pinks and reds at the top and moving into blues on the bottom branch. I tried using fine wire to attach the birds to the branches, but sadly the birds twisted themselves to hang upside down (so it would work wonderfully for bats). So I ended up with a less delicate option and hot glued them on. But nearly 2 years on those birds are still stuck in place. I don’t think that they are ever budging. Budging. Budgies. Ha!
The final task was to hang the branches together so that they were balanced and could move. Which again I tried to do in a neat way with clear thread, but the branches twisted, so I had to resort to white cotton. But, and this is surely what you have been reading through to see, the finished item was done…
And the view from below…