Sunday, 30 August 2015

Hmmm...what do you think??

OK. First pair of boys shorts are made. Although they may have some adjustments done to the elastic in the waist, as to me they look a bit large. (I have just been to Sainsburys and surreptitiously measured some shorts - they were actually the same size as mine but I still think mine look too big...)

I had spent a fair bit of time looking for a chart for children's clothes that had actual waist measurements, as the pattern I had printed off didn't tell you how much elastic you'd need. They helpfully told you to measure your child's waist...
(There is a button on the Dress a Girl website for a size chart but it doesn't work at the moment  - I'll email later today and ask for a copy.) In the meantime, I did come across this sizing guide that I found useful. If you scroll down you'll find the child sizes.
There's a link in my last post to the pattern (it is a really good pattern), or if you look on the side bar there's a button that takes you to the Dress A Girl UK website where there's a pattern page with lots of links.
I couldn't resist taking some photos before I started cutting out...
(I thought I'd try out the chicks as weights to hold the pattern pieces in place. They will be flying off to their new home soon.)

Dress a Boy Shorts, Tina's Allsorts

Dress a Boy Shorts, Tina's Allsorts

Dress a Boy Shorts, Tina's Allsorts

I added pockets to the front, although the next pair will have a smaller opening at the top of the pocket - I've clearly made them to fit my own hands not a child of five! They went together really fast, although I could have done with making sure the casing for the elastic was big enough. The fancy inch wide special waistband elastic I bought only just fit through. I'm debating faffing about adjusting it.
They were cut from the 150cm wide fabric and as you can see form the picture above, I was able to lay the pieces side by side across the width when cutting out. This will also work all the way up to the size 12 on the pattern, as long as you remember to leave enough for the waistband as that will have to be positioned elsewhere on the fabric.
There's enough of this fabric left to make the size 12 shorts and I might adapt the pattern slightly to make the leg longer. Maybe.
Do you like the other fabric I bought? It's in the top photo - airforce blue with a white yacht on it that has the look of a blueprint. I think it will fray like crazy if I don't zigzag as I go though. I might cut them out tonight so that everything is ready to go in the morning. Depending on the weather, I'd like to get out for a walk as well as sew, if I can. The forecast isn't brilliant though.

And as far as work goes, I've decided to start my 4 day week from now. Tomorrow is a bank holiday, I've booked next Monday as leave, then it's official the week after.
So until I find a part time job, I will have one day a week to sew...

UPDATE. Well, it rained most of the day today - Monday. There was a faint glimmer of sunshine at 3.30pm and I thought I might escape for a short walk in the park. At which point the doorbell rang and visitors arrived! I did get out a couple of hours later for a very short walk - not even 20 minutes. But it did blow away one or 2 cobwebs.
I made 2 pairs of shorts today, both age 12, one in the airforce blue fabric and a second pair in the gingham.
The airforce blue turned out very nice.
Dress a Boy Shorts,Tina's Allsorts

Dress a Boy Shorts,Tina's Allsorts

I had a go at using the buttonhole elastic. I settled for using a very short length that should be enough to pull in the waist by about an inch. I don't think you're supposed to use it this way but it sort of works.

And I must say a BIG thankyou to Jayne of Dress a Girl UK for taking the time to email their size chart to me - at almost midnight last night! That's dedication for you!! (She has also fixed the button for the chart on their website.)
She's putting together a consignment of clothes to go out to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in 2 weeks time and as long as I get my shorts to her by the 15th Sept, they will be included.

I must admit, I don't even know exactly  where Bwindi is... OK. It's HERE in South Western Uganda. Almost central Africa, just below the equator.
The name Impenetrable Forest conjures up some strong images. I can't imagine what it must be like to live in such a place, never mind how hard it must be to get to. My journey to work tomorrow will be a piece of cake in comparison...
I'll look forward to (hopefully) eventually seeing some photos on their facebook page.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Shorts - Finally!!!

I have finally bought some fabric and printed out a pattern for boys shorts. Thought I'd never get there I was so stuck on dresses!! I didn't really know how much fabric to buy per pair (I did my usual trick of visiting the shops before checking the pattern...) so decided to buy enough to make (hopefully!) up to six pairs. Maybe more with a bit of nifty cutting out.
C&H Fabrics had a nice blue heavyweight cotton with a boat print, which was reduced to £4.95 per metre - I settled on 3m. And a dark blue and white gingham. That was £12 but it was 150cm wide so I thought if I do a small size I might be able to cut 2 pairs across the width. And some nice wide elastic for the waist. Again, I didn't know how much, so just bought ample.
There's a link on the patterns page on the Dress a Girl UK website for a pair of shorts - find it HERE.

All I need now is the time to make them!! I'm quite looking forward to making some shorts for a change.

Before too long I will have more time on my hands anyway, as things have "progressed" at work - although I'm not sure that's the right word to use - and in less than a month I will be moving to a 4 day week.
I did seriously consider leaving and had updated my cv and started looking. Even had an interview. But after much soul searching (believe me, there was a lot of soul searching) I came to the conclusion that I should stay, at least for the time being. I like the place where I work. I like (most of) the people. I like Winchester. I love being able to go for a walk at lunchtime. The parking is free! And I will just have to try and not think about the things I don't like about where I work, hard though that may be. Yes, it will mean a 20% pay cut but at least I still have a job. It could have been a lot worse.
So if anyone knows of a part time job, one day a week - preferably on a Monday - in the Southampton/Winchester area, please let me know...

Until I find something I will look on the bright side and view it as being given a day a week to "give something back" and will begin with a day a week to sew.

Now for something completely different! (Where have I heard that before?...)

Earlier this year, a friend introduced me to a singer/songwriter called Callaghan. She's English but has moved to Nashville in the US. Her songs are quite beautiful with powerful lyrics sung with an amazing clarity in her voice. I heard her perform live in a pub in Portsmouth a few months ago and she sang The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and it was so moving. She's just posted a link on facebook to a youtube recording of it (recorded elsewhere) and I thought it was worth sharing. Enjoy...

Callaghan  - The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Flock-a-doodle-do !!

The chickens are flocking...

I keep meaning to share pics of all the chicken doorstops and chicks that I've made. A total of 4 adults, each accompanied by 3 chicks.
Most of them made as a commission but there is one family group available for sale if anyone is interested? Mum's quite hefty though, so postage wouldn't be cheep!

They're quick to make (unless you need to make as many as I did!) and only use small amounts of fabric, so very good for using up your oddments. My tutorial is available here - chicken doorstop. Enjoy!!!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Another Ta - Dah !!

Actually, there are two ta-dah's today. Here's the first one -
Tina's Allsorts,Dress a girl
The first batch of dresses ready to send off, along with their little pocket what-nots. I actually packed them in a strong carrier bag in the end, when I realised the box alone weighed 450g !! There were 13 dresses in all, with about half of them being size 2 and size 14, plus one size 5 and one adult. I wonder what the receiving girls will make of them?...

Now to start batch two and another ta-dah straight away!
Ever since I first saw Jamie's Peasant Dress Pattern, I've been itching to make it! Knowing that C&H Fabrics had some of their cotton fabrics 25% - 50% off, I finally headed off in search of 2 toning fabrics and was so excited I got cracking as soon as I got home from work on Tuesday. (I'm paying for that now mind as I still have back ache after hunching over my desk all day, then hunching over my sewing machine...)
I'd managed to get a print out of the pattern for once and cut out the biggest size, age 7-8, and following Jamie's excellent instructions it went together very quickly - it probably took about an hour and a half. (Excluding the pockets, which I made the next night and they took another hour at least!)

The lighting wasn't very good by the time I finished and I didn't want to have to wait until the weekend to take photos to show you, so had to make do with the following picture -
Tina's Allsorts, Dress a Girl
This is hung on the side of the shed where there was still a little daylight, so you can see the fabric colour properly. It's a lovely soft mink brown with little peach flowers and green leaves. The contrast fabric, by the same designer, has a pattern of peaches (?) and leaves that are exactly the same peach and green shades.
I opted for 2 pockets on the front for this dress. Not done that before. And they had some contrast "piping" near the top edge and curved bottom corners.
I think to finish it off, I'll use the contrast fabric to make a bow, or a flower to go in the centre of the neck edge.
I'm very pleased with how it turned out and although I had also bought some mauve fabric, I'll wait until the weekend before I make it. Give my poor old back a rest...

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Soft hearts & smiley faces

I spent this afternoon making the little what-nots to go in the pockets of all the dresses I've made before I parcel them up and send off.
Jayne of Dress a Girl had suggested perhaps making smiley faces for the younger children, so I popped to the Range and managed to get a pack of felt in 4 shades of yellow/gold. I decided to trim the edges with pinking shears and then stitch a couple of rows just in from the edge, rather than try and turn them through. I also did them on the sewing machine for speed - I do like everything to be done NOW!
Tina's Allsorts, Smiley Face
They had just a little stuffing popped in before I finished stitching all the way round, and a loop of rick-rack. I think they turned out ok, don't you?? These will go in the pockets of the younger size dresses that I've made.

For the teenagers, I thought fabric hearts, with a little lace. These also have pinked edges.
I've made one adult dress and thought the recipient might like something too! She also gets a heart but it has a hanging loop and decorative button.

I'm glad I decided to get involved with the project. I'm really enjoying sewing again but I'm not ready to get stuck into complicated dressmaking yet. Although that hasn't stopped me from buying fabric for a can sit in the cupboard with all the other fabric I've bought in the last year or 2. Or I'll make girls dresses with it! They're so quick and easy but at the same time, there's lots of scope for dressing them up. And filling the pockets!
Thanks for reading and I hope I manage to inspire at least one person to join in, even in a small way.

A lunch time walk

The weather's been quite nice this past week and I managed to get out for a walk down to St Cross Church and back one day. I didn't want to come back mind. I wanted to keep going and sit at the top of St Catherines Hill...Never mind.
As I walked along Kingsgate Street, I saw this love big shrub - a smoke bush?? The camera on my phone hasn't done it justice - it was much pinker than this. Shame about the telegraph pole...
The house with the fabulous allotment garden looks like they've been doing a lot of picking. There's a fair bit of bare earth now, although I could still raspberries to pick and runner beans growing. Not a good picture as I was looking into the sun.
When I reached St Cross, I happened across this lovely thistle going to seed. I love seed heads like this and couldn't resist snapping several photos.

Once you're at St Cross, you can access the water meadows for a walk by the river. Very tempting! I must admit, on this occasion I did succumb for just a few minutes and started my  journey back to work through the water meadow. Said hi to the cows quietly grazing -

I stopped briefly to enjoy the view of St Catherines Hill - it was a perfect day for a stroll to the top... It didn't help that I could just make out some people up there. I'll just have to go after work one day...

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The Gina Bag

Do you ever see bags in different styles that have a name? Like a Kelly bag or an Amanda bag??
Well, meet the Gina Bag.
The Gina Bag, Tina's Allsorts

Named after my friend Gina, it's made from a pair of girls jeans, is fully lined with internal pockets and a zipped top. It's actually the second one I made for her - she wore the first one out! She asked me to do some running repairs on the first bag at one point, which I did but she clearly needed a new bag, so I made the one above. And she loved it. 
She kept enthusing about it and said how perfect it was and  how all her friends loved it and did I take commissions. And you know, I always thought she was just being polite about it being so brilliant. It was after all, just a home-made bag made from a second hand pair of jeans. Nothing special other than being made especially for her.
But that bag has now made it's way back to me and I used it myself for the first time on Sunday. And you know what? It's a brilliant bag! 

My friends will tell that (although I have a big mouth and make a lot of noise sometimes!) I don't blow my own trumpet very loud. If at all. I'm always the first to point out the mistakes in whatever I've made, rather than say how good it is. Well, having now used it, I can safely say this bag is brilliant. 

It's the perfect size. It has a roomy zipped pocket inside that opens and closes easily -with one hand. All the external pockets function too. The straps - OMG the straps - are just perfect! I stopped using shoulder bags because they were constantly slipping off my shoulder and I was forever hoiking them back up. But not this bag. The straps are made from denim too, with one being just a fraction shorter than the other, so that they'll nestle on top of each other, not side by side, and the fabric has enough grip that they just don't slip. Amazing. And the strap length is just perfect too. The bag sat comfortably beside my hip and - if you're as snap happy as me and like to have your camera in your pocket, if not your hand at all times - it proved to be the perfect position for slipping my camera in and out of the front pocket. And I didn't need to keep one hand on top of the bag as I walked - it just stayed where it was... Perfect.

So if you're listening Gina, Thankyou
And I'm sorry I didn't listen when you said I'd made something good...

Monday, 3 August 2015

Sew magazine patterns

Just a quickie! I bought a copy of Sewing Style & Home over the weekend, as it had a simple girls dress on the front cover, which I thought might come in handy for Dress a Girl.
Rather than put in a supplement of pattern pieces with every magazine, they allow you to access all the templates online and just print what you need - and you don't have to buy the magazine first! Just bear in mind that you will need the magazine for the sewing instructions - although there is also an extensive collection of complete downloadable patterns.
You have to set up a login to use the site which simply requires an email address and password but then it looks as if you can access all the templates and patterns with ease (although the templates to go with each issue may not be available indefinitely). I'm sure I'll start getting junk mail/newsletters etc but I'll simply unsubscribe as they arrive if I'm not interested.
The September issue also had a cute rag doll made from scraps of fabric - and you can download the pattern pieces for that too.
I mentally started choosing fabric to make not only the dress but also a miniature doll to fit in the dress pocket! At this point I had to have a very stern word with myself and say that there are just not enough hours in the day to make everything I want to. No matter how much I might want to make it...

But if you have the time, here's a link to Sew Magazine.