The lion sleeps tonight…

…or, as one of my school friends and I prefer to sing “le lion est mort ce soir” following what (seemed to us to be) a hilarious French exchange trip when this was playing as we got off the coach to take a tour of a champagne factory. My husband was on this trip too, but he can’t remember even going round the champagne cellars, which were huge and filled with bottles of champagne in racks being turned by hand every few days, so there is no way he’ll remember songs being played on the coach radio.

But I am distracted (I spend most of my life distracted), our daughter needed to dress up as her favourite book character for school. Not for World Book Day as most schools do, but for her school’s book week, several months before World Book Day. Our daughter is a book worm, and over the Summer holidays we we read our way through the Narnia books together. Though I read them all when I was younger I could only remember the story in the first two, so it was a treat for both of us. So it was not surprising that her choice of book character was Aslan.

I went to our local ASDA an bought up anything mustard coloured to see whether I could upcycle it into an outfit. There was a surprising amount to choose from, but I am also a cheapskate at heart so I chose the cheapest option – an man’s fine knit jumper which swamped her and came nearly to her knees.

I got our daughter to try it on and then much to her dislike I pinned it to make it fit her closer at the side seams, and I also closed up the v neck somewhat, putting a slight pleat in. I pulled it off her whilst she complained about the pins, used the sewing machine to set the adjustments I had made. Not wanting to waste anything, I made the arm pieces I had cut off into a long tube, stuffed it with toy stuffing, and finished one end off with some brown wool before attaching to the back of the jumper / lion tunic as a tail. I probably made the tail a bit to big and bulky as it did have a tendency to pull the jumper backwards, but I’m sure she didn’t notice.

The night before she went to bed with a head covered in velcro rollers to give her a BIG head of hair, and the with a face paint nose, and some gold tights, the look was complete… Thankfully she didn’t encounter the White Witch so did not need to fear being tied to a table and having her mane shaved off before being rescued by mice, she just had a fun day at school.

lion full lengthlion mane

More Bird Print?!

I had a tunic top from M&S that I loved. I wore it so much (because it looked good with jeans, or just a cover up on the beach – as though I spend all my time on the beach, may be once a year. In Suffolk. And not the trendy bit of Suffolk at that) the cotton gradually wore down and eventually there were too many holes in it to be able to wear it out in public anymore.

Again my Mum had saved me a pattern from Prima which looked similar, so I thought I’d give it a go. As the pattern called for cotton lawn I tracked some down, and spent rather a lot on some Liberty fabric – with some pretty birds in. But knowing how much I had worn the original tunic I hoped I would get my money’s worth.

liberty tunic neckline

I cut the fabric pieces nearly a year before I made the final tunic. And after that delay, I still held of finally finishing it because I had a bit of difficulty with the hems on the sleeves and the bottom of the tunic, I just couldn’t get the hem done on the machine without getting tucks – and on the sleeves a line of stitching just looked wrong. So this did involve a fair bit of hand stitching to finish the hems. But my Mum always tells me that my maternal Grandmother would have been appalled at the way hems show on clothes nowadays, so I feel as though I have revived one of her skills with neat and invisible hems.

Liberty tunic side view

My husband doesn’t really like it, he thinks the fabric is too chintzy. And I think that if I had made a muslin first I would probably have shaped the side hems a to give a bit more of a fitted shape, but I have done French seams and there is no way I am unpicking those beauties. I have received a few compliments wearing it, so I must have done something right.

A small spider surprise

In the Summer I like wearing skirts. I live in jeans most of the time so wearing a skirt feels like a bit of a treat. My Mum gave me a Prima pattern for a skirt similar to one I already have and I wear a lot, so I decided to have a go at making it. I chose a fabric with a white background and lots of bright birds on, to maximise what tops I could wear with it and because, well, as I get older I find myself drawn to bird prints. And bird decorations. As well as pearls and cut glass. And sequins. I wonder at what point my ageing will dictate I start to like sandals like this…

granny sandal

It seems to come to all of us at some point (though my paternal Grandmother refused to wear the ones she was given).

It was only as a I studied the fabric as I cut it out that I found it didn’t just feature pretty birds, it also had spiders in webs. Hmmmm.

skirt spider

This skirt was fairly simple to make, and I was proud as I managed to insert a zip without too much hoohah. I do wonder if I cut it a bit too long though – what do you think? Should I cut it to be on the knee rather than on the calf?

bird skirt full length from the back

And if I use this pattern again I need to try and work out how to add some pockets. Because you need pockets – else not only will I be longingly looking at the sandals featured above and wearing pearls, I will also be tucking a tissue under my bra strap, and my conversion to Granny chic will be complete.

Lots of love

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.

sundress shirred detail

shirred sundress

heart dress plus hat

Even more Amy Butler. But that’s it. For now.

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)

Sorbetto 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…

Sorbetto in Amy Butler Lantern print