Friday 27 September 2013

Refashion Friday: Knitwear Baby Trousers

Now this of course is not a new idea. Heaps of peops have turned unwanted knitwear into cosy baby trousers before (in fact I've done it before myself) because it's just such a blooming good idea! I decided to make some for our imminent Missy after buying a baby carrier at a nearly-new sale last weekend. I swiftly realised that her little legs might get mighty chilly hanging out the bottom of the carrier during Winter. See? It's not all pretty-and-everything-but-potentially-not-going-to-get-used-much baby sewing round here!   

Probably much to Pat's annoyance, I've been carting round a large bin bag full of old jumpers and scraps of knitwear during the last couple of flat moves we've made. Some of the knitwear was harvested from the embers of the TRAIDremade studio, and then when friends found out I was collecting unwanted knitwear I also got donated a fair bit. Last Christmas I was using it to make lots of pairs of mittens to sell at craft fairs, which was a great success. Then I gave most of the leftover stock as Christmas presents (genius, no?!). I had every intention of making and selling more mittens again this Christmas, but with Missy on her way and the loss of the 'thrill of the new' means that I know I probably won't. Plus all the women I know already have a pair of my mittens now so all the left over stock would end up sitting around at the end of this Christmas's selling season! 

So I delved into my knitwear stash and found a few garments to have a whirl at turning into baby trousers. The wool jumper pictured above, for example, used to be Pat's. It finally lost the battle against moths and I put it in a hot wash to felt it up in preparation for making mittens. Instead it's become the warmest of the pairs of baby trousers! 

I decided to use the same pattern as the recent jersey trouser making marathon I went on. The pattern is so easy to construct and I prefer the narrower leg than the previous baby trousers I've made in the past. I had to restrain myself to only cutting out three pairs to see how they went (cut out pieces pictured above). When I come across a quick project like this, my natural inclination is to go mental and MAKE ALL THE THINGS, but until I know how useful they'll be to us, it seemed a bit pointless to make more. 

When I made the jumper trousers for baby Joe, his mama Sophie requested that I make them extra long. Her thinking was that the trousers could be rolled up at the bottom and last a long time. Apparently, those trousers are still going strong nearly two years later (although she did have to replace the waist elastic to make them more accommodating a year in). I took that into account when making these for our Missy and made the size bigger than she'll probably need this Winter, plus added extra length to the leg. That way we can roll them up this year (see above) but hopefully she'll get two years worth of wear from them. Hurrah for potentially-practical baby sewing! 

Tuesday 24 September 2013

An Army of Knitting Ninjas

I'm not sure how it's happened but I'm very pleased that it has. An army of knitting ninjas has appeared seemingly from nowhere and created an Autumn/Winter selection of wooly delights for our Missy! As you may know, although I try and make as much of my own wardrobe as possible, my lack of knitting skills means I rely on charity shop finds for my own knitwear provisions. I thought that I would need to do the same for our baby: hoovering up charity shop jersey and knit things and making the wovens (plus some simple jersey trousers) where necessary. This was concerning me a little because, whilst good quality jersey items have been abundant secondhand, I hadn't found much nice baby knitwear when out 'hunting'. I needn't have worried because a mountain of warm loveliness has appeared! I'm so grateful to the talented and generous women who have made these things, that I'd like to share them with you here...

This gorgeous and super-soft limey-green cardi with heart motif has been made by Mumma E! What you are witnessing above is the outfit I've packed in my hospital bag to bring Missy back home in. C.U.T.E. 

But that isn't the only item hot off her knitting needles: she has also created this other gorgeous green 'rig out' (pictured above) that's a bit bigger. Green items seem to be a theme with my mum because she's convinced that our little lady is going to have ginger hair. I have explained to her twice now that both parents need to carry the ginger gene for that to be possible and there are no gingers in our family, but anyway, these are lovely greens she's picked. Allegedly a knitted coral hoodie is in the pipeline... she's on fire is Mumma E!   

And then... This glorious set of cuteness appeared from my mum's mate Kate who lives in Scotland! Despite the fact that I have never actually met Kate, her generosity is so deep that she made us this phenomenal little set and bought us further cuteness for lucky little Missy.

And then we need to talk about Brenda. Brenda is my mum and dad's next door neighbour. She used to be mine as well between the ages of 11 and 19 (me, not Brenda). Well, Brenda could clearly clothe whole nations if sufficiently sorted for wool! She made both little lemon sets pictured above (along with some matching mittens that I forgot to photograph) PLUS the blue dress and cardi set and pink buggy blanket pictured below AS WELL as another pink dress and brown buggy blanket not pictured. Damn that lady has skills AND speed!!!

Now I know very little about knitting, but check out the amazingness of the stitch pattern of the blue dress (close-up pictured below). That can not be easy. 

What's up next?: NAUTICAL BOOTIES!!!!!!!!! These are the fruits of knitting needles belonging to Christina, an assistant/teacher at Sew Over It. Christina is quite frankly one of the nicest parts about working at Sew Over It at the weekends and I miss her now I'm on maternity leave. Can we just spend a minute looking at these!?: 

And last (in terms of most recently received, i.e. today!) but of course not least: a GORGEOUS crocheted pixie hat from the seriously multi-talented Emily. Look how well this hat is going to go with the nautical booties?! 

As I have mentioned, I am super grateful to all these knitting legends for their amazing gifts for Missy. She hasn't even got a clue right now just how lucky she is, or how cosy she will soon be! 

Friday 20 September 2013

Refashion Friday: Refashion Your Own Nursing Bras

I'm not going to lie, today's Refashion Friday post features an idea that will interest a very limited demographic. However, it's one of those ideas that is so genius that even those that are not likely to deploy it in the immediate future might hang on to it for use in the future, or to pass on to someone else for whom it may become relevant.

This is not my idea. It is an idea I found on Pinterest that has been devised (or at least explained) by Valeri on her blog 'Keeping Up With Us Jones''. As soon as I saw it I clocked it as a genius way to avoid buying any more new stuff and spending any more money than is necessary on this whole 'being pregnant and having a baby' scenario.

Some time ago I received a comment from the lovely Jen on my Eight Month Maternity Wardrobe post that included the following tip:

"Just make sure you invest in some good nursing bras - they can really be the best thing for making you feel better about your body afterwards, when you feel as though your pre-pregnancy figure is gone forever, especially since now there are some lovely options out there for nursing bras."

I totally took that suggestion to heart. I thought that, seeing as I've saved quite a bit of money maternity clothing by making, repurposing and borrowing all I've needed, I would treat myself to one or two nice nursing bras. So I went into a couple of fancy maternity shops but two things became apparent: A) my boobs are currently too big for all the nice nursing bras I saw on my attempted shopping trip, only the less attractive ones seemed to come in my size, and B) DAMN, posh bras are EXPENSIVE!!!!! I'm way too skint right now to justify spending that kind of money on bras that should only realistically see six months use and will be covered in milk or be in the laundry most of the time anyway.

So as much as I'm sure that after the baby is born I'd like to set fire to the unsexy maternity bras I currently own, instead I'm going to apply this nifty little trick of Valeri's and keep my maternity bras in rotation until either my boobs change shape/size or I give up breast feeding (assuming I'll be able to breast feed ok in the first place). Actually, I'm not sure I'll do the step that Valeri suggests of making the loop of fabric so that they are still adjustable. I may just apply the hooks and eyes and tether the straps at the length that they fit well at.

Anyways, apologies for going on about nursing bras and my recent deliberations for longer than was probably necessary. I hope that Valeri's post saves you or someone you know some money at some point in the future!

Monday 16 September 2013

The Bloomsbury Dress Set

I'm a firm advocate of the phrase 'Make hay whilst the sun shines'. Though my own interpretation right now is probably more like 'If you're on maternity leave and finally have a functioning sewing machine, get some flippin' sewing done whilst you can!'. So that is what I have been doing. Even though our little lady is still just about in utero right now, both elements of this outfit are actually for a 1 year old. As I mentioned in my nappy-cover blog post, I plan to dress her mostly in jersey until that point. 


If memory serves, I bought this vintage Style 1106 pattern (published 1975, Size 1) from the awesome Snooper's Paradise in Brighton not long after we moved here a few years ago. How frustrating must it have been trying to sew for children before multi-sized sewing patterns became the norm? Such a small window of opportunity for each pattern to be of any use to you! This is actually the second time I've used this myself, the first being for my friend's daughter Surayya that I made in Africa wax fabric. When I made that first version I wouldn't have guessed that the second time I'd use it would be for my own little Missy! I also recently leant this pattern to my friend Kate so she could rustle up a birthday present for a mate of her's daughter, thus getting more use from this than it possibly ever got from its original owner!

Pattern changes:

Kate and I both came to the conclusion that the neck opening seemed a little tight, so we both made that a little wider on our respective versions. I also added a couple of cms to the length, plus only used 3cms of the suggested 5.7cms (!) hem allowance to make it a bit longer. What is up with those crazy-short hems on kiddie dresses of the 1950's/60's/70's?! I'm hoping that Missy will be able to wear it for a longer period of time if the length is a bit more generous. Kate and I also decided to opt for small poppers to fasten the top back opening instead of buttons because we'd narrowed the neck yoke and creating button holes would have been a bit of a faff on the new reduced dimension. 

Also, I created a slightly different sleeve shape pattern for this version. I wanted something less frilly or puffy than most of the sleeved versions included in this pattern already so that this dress can be worn with a cardigan over the top (seeing as this outfit should be coming into use next Autumn/Winter). 

The matching nappy cover pants are made using the same Newlook 6818 pattern that I blogged about last week. I'm not sure how seasonally appropriate they will be for when this outfit comes into use, it's possible that wooly tights might be in order at that point, but who can say?! Making these nappy covers is so quick and so much fun, and I'm sure she'll get some use from these ones even if it isn't with the dress. 


I am one hella lucky mama-to-be because a few weeks ago the super-lovely owner of offered to send me some fabric to make something for our Missy. As you probably know by now, I try to avoid buying new fabric for my sewing projects, particularly when sewing for myself, but I'm not a crazy person! If offered some lovely new fabric to sew something special for our little baby, I'm not about to pass up that opportunity!

So I told Susan from Sewbox the meterage I'd need for this dress pattern plus some nappy cover pants. I also sent her a couple of links to fabric that she stocked (Liberty Bloomsbury Collection - Woolfe and Liberty Bloomsbury Collection - Dance) that I really liked so she'd get the idea of what kind of colouring I was into, and left it to her to select me something. Susan only went and sent me BOTH of them AND some amazingly cute matching buttons! I really can't thank her enough. 


I may have slightly undermined the classiness of this Liberty fabric with the application of some white bobble trim that I found in my stash. I wanted to add something so that the neck yoke and pocket details didn't get lost in the ditsy print. I think the outcome is somewhat more Mexicana/fiesta-time than the fabric designer probably originally envisioned! Maybe Missy can wear this for her first birthday. Jeez that's a mental thought...

Friday 13 September 2013

Refashion Friday: Autumnal Inspiration

I don't know about you, but where I live Autumn has arrived with a bang. As lovely as Summer has been, I LOVE the 'Back to School' refocusing on plans and head-clearing freshness that early Autumn brings. And being a heavily pregnant lady this time round, I'm vastly appreciative of the slight new coolness in the air.

The change in season from Summer to Autumn also brings the need to rediscover some warmer garments. Maybe you feel the desire for some new wardrobes additions but haven't got the cash, time or inclination to make something from scratch? Umm, then let's get our refashion on! Refashioning existing garments is almost always cheaper AND quicker than embarking on a from-scratch sewing project, and if you are stuck for inspiration then take a look below at some ideas from the archives of my 'Refashion Resource' page:

The Leather Moustache Appliqué Jumper remake combines a knitwear re-hash with a super-simple appliquéd design. Whatever design imagery you are into at the moment (narwhals? elks? garden gnomes?) could be easily translated in this manner. 

Does anything say Autumn like a checked/plaid shirt?! Then how about taking an expected tack by combining one with a denim shirt and trowing in a cute collar detail for added interest? Check out the Contrast Yoke Shirt with Petal Collar project for more details. 

Oh wait, actually maybe a denim skirt with opaque tights and boots says Autumn more. You decide. Anyways, this project might not be much quicker time-wise than a from-scratch sewing project, but by playing with the different tones and faded elements of old jeans the results are arguably more interesting! Or you could simply adopt the front tab detail from this denim skirt project to add interest at at the waist, front or back, to a high-waisted garment. 

This Lace Yoke Sweatshirt Dress would probably be the easiest and snuggliest garment you'd find yourself wearing all season! The idea behind the remake could obviously have the lace element omitted for a more utilitarian, sporty look. 

So what about you? Do you have any Autumnal (or Vernal if you live in the Southern Hemisphere) refashioning projects up your crafty sleeves? 

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Stash Bustin' Nappy Covers

Well I guess we need to be honest with ourselves here. There's going to be a whole lot more blog posts about baby clothes round these parts from here on out. I can promise you that this blog will NOT become exclusively about baby clothes. Plus, I can promise you that the baby clothes that do get blogged about will bring a whole heap of cuteness with them. But if you really can't stand babies/kids and baby/kid stuff then I totally understand that you may wish to look away now and un-follow this blog for the next 18 years or so.

Anyone still there? Ah good! I certainly won't stop making my own clothing, umm, ever, but if our recent flat move taught me anything it is that I have A LOT of clothes already. Plus, the time I'll have to devote to sewing is about to be violently curtailed with the arrival of our little Missy so it makes sense to get into making some quicker projects that will still give me the same sense of completion. And damn these nappy cover/pants were quick! They took about 30-45 mins each, plus I have a cold at the moment so wasn't working at full capacity. And not only quick, but cheap! Each pair used up a smallish piece of fabric from my scraps bag and I used elastic from my stash. Free pants!

I have the lovely Catherine to thank for the pattern, the same reader who loaned me the copy of Ottobre magazine that started a new obsession. I've kind of decided that I'd prefer to keep Missy in jersey/knit garments for much of her first year for comfort and ease of movement, but I thought that some soft woven fabric nappy covers like these when paired with a baby vest/onesie might be good for warm days spent at home in the flat. In fact, they might prove particularly useful if I end up following this idea of turning outgrown vests/onesies into t-shirts in the name of longevity. Who can say right now? I've got a BIG learning curve ahead of me, and what to put the baby in is just one tiny fraction of it!

Anyways, I changed the pattern slightly to remove the frilly hem element, making them look more like some fancy, expensive ones I saw for sale in a fancy, expensive maternity and baby shop in Brighton. The casino pair will be perfect for when we host poker games. Those are a size 'Small' which will allegedly fit 3-6 months babies. The other two are a size 'Medium' which apparently spans 6-18 months, which seems quite a tall order for just one size and they do seem mighty big. But I guess there's only one way to find out (= finding a baby's bum to put them on!). I may need to tighten up the waist elastic at some point.

On the back of each pair I've stitched a little label that I had left over from when I used to dabble in making and embellishing baby clothes to sell a squillion years ago. The sizes on the labels don't really correspond with the size of the pants but I thought it would be useful to be able to figure out which way round the pants are meant to be worn at a glance whilst you are trying to wrangle a wriggling baby. See? Always thinking, me...

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Maternity Wardrobe: Eight Months. Plus Post-Natal Wardrobe Plans

A couple of months ago I shared the contents of my maternity wardrobe as it stood at six months for those who may be interested in seeing how much/little I've personally found is required to get by. Now that I am really down the 'business end' of this pregnancy (eight months / 36 weeks in) I thought another update might be of interest to those same readers. 

So you see my clothing rail pictured above? See the little chunk of clothes gathered at the far left? That is now what I can fit in. The similarly small chunk of clothes slightly to the right of that is the (all secondhand) knitwear that I can wear with my maternity garments. From the end of my first trimester, as my body started to change, I started to implement a useful piece of advice I'd read about removing the items from your wardrobe that gradually began to feel too tight so that dressing in the mornings doesn't get really difficult (not to mention a bit disheartening). I did that for a long time, but as you can now see, if I still did that my rail would be virtually empty and all my clothing would be stuffed in bags wedged into corners round the rest of our flat! 

Therefore whilst unpacking from our recent move, I decided to rehang any garments I theoretically think I might fit into again during the first few months after the birth, particularly items that I think I may be able to wear whilst breast feeding. That's what the larger chunk of garments on the right of the rail in the photo comprises of. Doing that has also had the beneficial effect of reminding me that colour and variety in dressing will soon be an option once again. I still have one MASSIVE storage bag full of lovely garments that I doubt will either fit for some time (if ever!) or be breast-feeding friendly, but that's fine: the selection to the right of that rail above is a veritable wardrobe feast in comparison with my clothing options right now. Plus, I've discovered during this pregnancy that working with a smaller than my previous selection creates far fewer headaches, especially if the colours of your items mix and match well.  

So back to what my eight month maternity consists of:


  • Spotty dress-to-maternity T-shirt with gathered sides. This is a little bit too short so I have to keep yanking it down at the back. The neckline is a bit higher than the grey version and feels a bit frumpier.
  • Fancy sleeved maternity T-shirt, also with gathered sides. This is my favourite garment to wear right now, the fabric is so soft and it's so comfy to wear generally (it's a bit longer than its spotty predecessor). 
  • Striped Peter Pan batwing top, although it's been way too warm to wear this for ages. The mustard version kind of got relegated after the curry-down-the-front incident.  
  • Modcloth-inspired maternity smock top. This has been trouper of a garment. 


  • Blue treggings. For some time now I've had to wear these with the waistband rolled down at the front under my bump, but that is a small price to pay for how useful and how much wear these babies have been through over the last four or so months. 
  • Some secondhand Topshop maternity jeans that I've been leant. These really got me out of a wardrobe fix but now are starting to get uncomfortable as my greatly expanded bump pushes them down at the front so they dig in somewhat.


  • Nautical batwing jersey dress. This has been soooo useful. It can be worn on its own or as a tunic with bottoms. One day, when I'm done with breast feeding, I'll take it in a bit at the sides (assuming I'll need to!) so that I can get lots of non-maternity use from it. 
  • Black batwing jersey dress. This has been the garment that made me feel the nicest and least frumpy! The jersey has slightly less stretch than the nautical version so it is getting really tight now...
  • The modern muumuu. To be honest I haven't worn this since getting back from our holiday. A few commenters suggested that belting it would make it look less frumpy, and whilst I agree that the belted dress look often looks great on some pregnant women, I personally can't stand the feeling of a belt around my rib cage.  
  • Secondhand Topshop maternity tea dress (not shown because it's somewhere in the laundry process). As I previously stated, I wasn't planning on buying any maternity wear beyond bras, but when I saw a lovely light-weight maternity tea dress in a charity shop just before our holiday I decided to buy it. It's got a low-cut cross-over bust part that I think will also make it useful for breast feeding. 

Other garments:

  • My 'loungewear' still consists of two ropey pairs of secondhand jogging bottoms and some large baggy dude-T-shirts.
  • My sleepwear still consists of my biggest pyjama bottoms and more baggy dude-T-shirts.
  • I'm working with a limited selection of my largest undies, but I think I can get away with continuing to do so if I keep on top of the laundry (making some more in a bigger size would be pretty disheartening at this point). 
  • My usual selection of secondhand cardigans are seeing me through very well thanks to the seasonal weather. If I was heavily pregnant in deep Winter I might require some cardigans or warm layers that wrap over/cover the bump instead. 
  • One unpredicted maternity purchase that I did end up making was a secondhand maternity 'tankini' bought on eBay to wear on our recent holiday to Spain. I only wore it twice, but it's now been packed in my hospital bag as I'm hoping that water will be involved in my birth at some point and I may feel the need for a bit of coverage at least towards the beginning of labour. 

Monday 2 September 2013

Sorry But No More Apologies

So here's a thing that has been bothering me for a while: apologies. Specifically the apologies you often see on blogs when the author has been unable to post for a while. They just make me really sad.

Please don't misunderstand me: I totally do understand that if you are unable to post on your blog as often as you'd like or usually do, you may get the feeling that you are disappointing your readers. But let's look at it like this: you will no doubt be missed, but there really is enough other stuff on the internet to keep your readers busy until you have enough time to provide them with another post. So unless your blog forms all or most of your income and you have a commitment to your sponsors to uphold, your only real blogging obligation is to yourself. So if you find that other things are getting in the way, cut yourself some slack. It genuinely upsets me when bloggers apologise for having, you know, a life and stuff that is required of them that takes time out of their day. It's basically apologising for being a person.

So, unless it generates your income as previously mentioned, isn't this whole blogging lark meant to be fun? As sewing bloggers, aren't we using this medium to document and engage with something that brings us enjoyment? Then why are we making ourselves feel bad for not committing more time than we are able to spend on something that is essentially about pleasure? Seems kind of counter-productive to me.

I think what I fear most about this apologising phenomena though is this: that it may be another manifestation of that very female-trait of finding stuff to make ourselves feel inadequate and lacking. Women's magazines and the media in general have used our insecurities against us for their own ends (usually to get us to buy stuff, which is eloquently expressed by comedian David O'Doherty in the below clip where he expresses his beef with Boots the chemist for making women feel shit about themselves) for so long that is has often become second nature to find fault with ourselves and our actions, and to whip ourselves for being 'bad'.

So what are we specifically judging ourselves against here anyway? Sure, there have been heaps of articles written with titles like 'Seven Rules for Successful Blogging' or whatever that may state guidelines or 'ideals' for frequency or length of blog content, but hopefully most grown adults can see that they are entirely arbitrary and in fact irrelevant. Those kinds of articles may contain the odd point here or there that you might find interesting or useful, but generally those articles are more or less just filler. Like my previous rant about articles attempting to prescribe the contents of The Capsule Wardrobe, no one has access to the (non-existent) blueprint on what anyone with a blog should or shouldn't be doing with it.

Of course I'm not saying that your self-generated or chosen rules for blogging are invalid, indeed I have plenty of my own. For example, all being well, I like to publish a post two to three times a week all of which should contain at least one image. But we all need to recognise that these are our chosen blogging ideals, and to remember that nothing bad is going to happen if we have to go on a work trip/get sick/have a childcare drama/etc. that means our self-set 'blogging rules' get 'broken'. You wouldn't be annoyed with a blogger who you like to follow for not posting for a month because they got swamped with other things would you? So why apply that approach to yourself and make yourself feel bad?

All of which is not to say that by not apologising you have to pretend all is/has been great when you do get round to posting again if that's not your style. Another personal example: a few weeks ago our previous landlord, upon discovering that we were expecting a baby, decided to start proceedings to chuck us out of the flat because he claimed that children weren't allowed to live on the premises (despite there being nothing mentioning this in our tenancy agreement). Although we could have fought our case to stay put, because I was only 7 weeks away from my due date at the time and didn't want to bring our baby back to a flat where we had a horrible relationship with an unpleasant landlord, we decided to ship out quick-smart and find somewhere new to live, the moving equivalent of a shotgun wedding! For that period I didn't get to blog as much as I usually like to and, horror or horrors, one of the posts I did manage to squeeze out didn't have any images in it! I'm mentioning this because A) it illustrates the point I'm trying to make, and B) it is my blogging style to talk about my personal life on here if it's relevant and/or I wish to. I'm not apologising for my 'poor blogging performance' over the last few weeks, just as I certainly will not apologise when I go off the blogging-radar for a while after our daughter is born. But whatever the reason for your blogging sabbatical, be it as dramatic as eviction or as simple as you didn't feel you had much of relevance to write about, PLEASE don't make yourself feel bad for what I hope I've proven is no good reason. Let's put a stop to blogging apologies!!!

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