Thursday, 26 January 2017

Elemeno Pocket Joggers - My New Favourite Kid's Pattern

Last year (sounds like ages ago doesn't it?!) I was contacted by the designer of Elemeno patterns, a small-but-growing children's sewing pattern range, to see if I'd like to try out and review one of their styles. Dolores has grown out of their size range (2T-3T is the largest size), and knowing that I was due to have a little boy, I asked to try out the Pocket Joggers pattern as I thought I'd find it the most useful.


The Pocket Joggers are very similar to my former favourite kids pattern: some dropped crotch joggers from Ottobre Design, except these have pockets and a separate waistband piece (rather than an elasticated waist). I like that the pocket mouths, waistband and cuffs offer lots of options for contrast fabrics.

But the best things of all? It is possible to make these entirely with an overlocker/serger! I didn't get my regular sewing machine out once, which was great because I made these whilst I was heavily pregnant and wanted to keep lifting machinery to a minimum. There is the option to topstitch the pocket bags to the front trouser pieces to keep them in place which would require a regular sewing machine, but I didn't do that on these.

I made a variety of sizes: the white anchor ones are 0-3 months, the blue arrow fabrics ones are 3-6 months and 6-12 months, and the floral print are 2T-3T. The pattern seemed well drafted and the construction was quick and simple.


Knit fabric is required for this pattern, however it is important to choose a knit with an elastane/lycra/spandex content. I found this 100% cotton rib anchor print T-shirt in a charity shop for £3.50. I was so into using it for this project but found that the waistband stretched out after a couple of wears. I dealt with it by unpicking a little bit and inserting some elastic, but hopefully the other pairs won't require that. My prediction is that a fabric waistband may not hold up quite as well as an elastic one, but will probably be more comfortable to wear, making these potentially fantastic pyjama bottoms too.

The blue arrow and floral print (now out of stock) fabric are from knit-specialists Girl Charlee, both of which I had left over from making Cordelia maternity camisoles. The larger of the blue arrow trousers and the floral ones were made as gifts, although sadly the little boy's legs were too chubby for the arrow ones so they've been re-gifted back to Frankie! 


Looking at these pictures I'm reminded of how hot and uncomfortable I was in my last few weeks of pregnancy when I made these. Thankfully, this pattern is such a quick and easy make that I was able to be pretty productive despite my disposition! It's a great scraps-and-small-pieces buster too. I'd like to try making them in a crazy mash up of different prints. Also, I feel strongly that kids should be comfortable and unrestricted by their clothing. So for all these reasons, I imagine I'll be returning to this pattern often. What's your favourite kid's sewing pattern?

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Breastfeeding Agnes Tops

A few years ago I wrote this tutorial/pattern hack for making a breastfeeding/nursing-friendly knit top. I based that tutorial on the Tilly and the Buttons Coco pattern, but in hindsight what the tutorial was really waiting for was Tilly's Agnes jersey top pattern, which was released after I wrote it. The closeness of the fit of the Agnes is much better suited for the type of 'access' the tutorial creates, and shortly after the birth of my second child in October 2016, I set about to prove it. 

I prepared my Agnes top pattern pieces as per the tutorial: making two front pieces instead of one with an overlap. This time I had to make the overlapped section lower than my breastfeeding Coco top, because the effects of breastfeeding and three more years of gravity sadly made it necessary! 

For my first version I used some of this cheetah print jersey, which was kindly sent to me by Girl Charlee. I love the neon green in it, which has pushed me slightly out of my stylistic comfort zone. The fabric itself is the perfect weight for an Agnes: fairly light-weight with excellent stretch and recovery. I also love that the print is performing a cheetah skin's original task of camouflaging, and you can barely see the edge of the overlap at all. 

I've been wearing the cheetah print top almost constantly from the day it left the sewing machine, so another version was clearly on the cards. Not wanting to splash out on fabric for a top that I'll probably only wear for a year or so, I hunted through my stash for a suitably sized piece of knit. This super soft striped interlock is lovely to touch and feels great to wear, but not as ideal as the cheetah print in other ways. 

Firstly, the overlap on the front is much more obvious, which might make it look a little weird to some, especially those who haven't figure out that it's there for boob-access. Secondly, I should have made the neckband shorter than the pattern piece because it doesn't lie flat. There's no elastane/lycra/spandex content to this interlock to help it spring into shape. It doesn't help that I tend to shove my hand down the neckline of these tops to unclip my nursing bra (TMI? Don't care).  


Although both these tops have been worn way more regularly than any of my other tops over the last few months, it's probably no surprise that the cheetah print one sees much more action. Not only does the superior stretch and recovery work better for this adapted Agnes, but the print is more fun to look at. I was considering making more of these with the shorter sleeve options for when warmer weather blesses us, but by then the longevity of my need for breastfeeding/nursing tops will be even further reduced. I'm also sorely tempted to make a breastfeeding Bronte top, but having already made a squillion Bronte's, I think I'd rather try some new-to-me patterns like Jennifer Lauren's Gable knit top pattern. With so little sewing time currently at my disposal, I'd rather spend it making myself garments that will potentially have years of use in them. Ya dig?

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Bird Print Summer Dress on a Winter's Day

Happy New Year one and all!!! Ah, I love the beginning of a new year for an opportunity to get my head straight with what my hopes are for the near future. And in terms of sewing and blogging, this year my aims are simple: to just to do some! The not-so-mini-dude is now three months old and lots of fun. His three-year-old big sister is awesome and energy-filled, and requires A LOT of attention during her waking hours, so mumming duties are plentiful and opportunities to do either sewing or blogging are currently very limited. But the boost to my mental health that they give me makes them all the more important, so I certainly will aim to get a some done when I can, even if it's just 10 minutes here or there. 

I'm not going to make any promises as to the amount or frequency of my sewing projects or blog posts, as that would probably become one more thing to feel pressured by and frustrated about. I also endeavour to focus on sewing from my stash of fabric and upcycle-able garments, because I'm feeling more than ever that it is important to use existing materials where possible rather than buying new. Plus, we could use some more space in our little home! I wish you all the best with whatever sewing or non-sewing related resolutions and aims you may have made for 2017. 

I want to start this blogging year by tying up a couple of loose ends and posting about some garments I made in 2016. And whilst the UK is currently in post-Christmas winter dullness, why not start with a sunny summer project that I made back in August as part of the last KCW challenge that I participated in? 


To be honest, I often find the Big Four's children's pattern to be fairly uninspiring. The fabric choices and styling on the envelopes often look so cutesy and twee, particularly compared to Ottobre magazines and independent pattern companies like Oliver + S, that I find it hard to get excited about using them. However, I could see some real potential in the pattern pictured above.

This McCall's M6059 was generously sent to me a couple of years ago by Adey from The Sew Convert, along with lots of other patterns. I've had a whirl at the cute cuffed, puffy shorts (unblogged) from this pattern and they came out really big. So even though at the time of making this dress Dolores was about to turn three, I used the size 2 dress pattern, but combined it with the size 4 length to get a couple of year's wear from it. It was generally an easy make, with a bit of fiddly concealed zip insertion and some hand stitching round the yoke. 


The bird print fabric was a small piece of secondhand, silky, synthetic twill with a tiny bit of stretch that I got whilst working at TRAID about four years ago. The print features blue tits as well as paler versions of the same blue tits, which kind of make the fabric look semi-translucent, which it isn't. All told, this is rather odd but fabulous fabric that I'm guessing was originally intended for lingerie or nightwear. If I'd had enough of it, it would have made for a lovely Tilly and the Buttons Fifi set.

The outer yoke is made from leftover washed denim from my Tova top, and the yoke lining is leftover cotton lawn from my Mimi blouse. The whole thing was looking a bit plain so I added these gorgeous little shell bird buttons which were kindly given to me by Maggie from Textile Garden (you can find a black version of them here).  


I, personally, was really happy with this creation; it is pretty without being super-sickly/girly, plus it busted a treasured piece of stash fabric that I previously couldn't work out what to do with. However, it took a couple of weeks for Dolores to accept it. I want her to be free to dress as she wishes (which is almost always in a dress), but she needs help with choosing weather and activity appropriate outfits, so each morning I offer up a few suitable options for her to pick from. It took quite a few rounds of outfit choosing before this dress beat its competitors for the honor of being worn that day. I'm glad to say that, as long as it remains in Dolores's good books, it should hopefully have at least another two summer's worth of wears left. And now that I've got three bodies to sew for, longevity is key in the garments I make. 


Pattern: £0 (a gift)
Fabric: approx. £1 for the bird print fabric (we had a karma tin that we contributed to when we took a piece of fabric for our personal use), the rest were scraps whose cost was factored into other projects 
Buttons: £0 (a gift)
Total: £1
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