A Great Winter Travel Dress

Next month I’m travelling to the US so I wanted to make something warm and easy to pack. I found this Charlie Brown Camel Wrap dress online and was inspired.

I already had the pattern for a similar dress and New Look had classified it as “*easy”. Perfect!

I had read a number of reviews on Pattern Review that identified a few issues with the pattern but I decided to press on regardless.  There were some concerns about the facing but I thougth I’d try following the pattern initially and then make adjustments if necessary.  It came together quite easily and without too much drama…initially!

The fit is great, and I really like the ‘v’ in the back waist line.

Sometime towards the end of making this, when I was at the point of sewing the side seams I made a few guesses rather than pulling out the pattern pieces to make sure I was joining the wrap section into the seams at the right point. I really shouldn’t have done this!  Fortunately the belt, that is attached at the back side seams, mostly hides my mistakes.  Here’s a close up with the belt tied…

…and without the tie (hiding the hideous mistake!)…

It’s a little disappointing and a constant reminder that good sewing is all about precision, patience and unpicking!

Overall, I’m really happy with this dress and I think it will be great to travel with.

Back to School Chair Bag

Today I made some chair bags for the boys to take back to school to keep all those school books I was complaining about covering yesterday!

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I have made quite complicated versions in the past with lining, lots of pockets, personalised with their name. Today I was really after a slightly quicker option (but still with pockets) given how close it is to school starting! I still wanted the strength of the lined version so I used rubber backed curtain fabric that I just happened to have in my stash. Here’s a quick tutorial…

1. Cut a rectangle of fabric 50cm wide by 90cm long.

2. Cut a second rectangle 50cm wide by 25cm long. This will act as the flap that goes over the chair.

3. Now cut some small squares or rectangles in contrasting fabric to form pockets on the front of the bag. I cut one large one for books 30cm by 30cm and a tall narrow one for rulers and pens 12cm x 30cm. I overlocked the edge of each square and then folded and pressed the fabric edges before sewing around the edge.

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4. Next I folded the large rectangle of fabric in half with the right side of the fabric on the outside. I placed the hemmed pockets onto the fabric and pinned them in place before sewing them. Be careful to leave enough space on the edges to allow for the side seams.

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5. Next step is to sew the smaller rectangle of fabric to the top of the large rectangle to form the flap to slip over the chair. To do this you will need to sew the right side of the small rectangle to the wrong side of the large rectangle. Then fold the fabric flap over before top stitching on the right side of the larger piece.

6. Next you need to hem the edge of the small rectangle, now attached to the large rectangle, and the bottom edge of the large rectangle.

7. With right sides of the fabric together, and the flap folded down, pin the edges together and sew.

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8. I then covered the seam with bias binding, but over locking would be fine too.

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I know there are lots of steps here…and I’m hoping it all makes sense. If you have any questions please just let me know and I’ll try to clarify. It may seem like a lot of work but it really is quite straight forward if you can decipher my instructions. And the best part is that in the end your child will have a unique chair bag, like no one elses in the class – hopefully in a good way!!!

From Teddy Bear to Super Ted

When Hamish was a baby my parents gave him a gorgeous soft blue teddy bear. It was actually the same size as him as a newborn.

In the last couple of years he has given this teddy a name – ‘Super Ted’. He has been begging me to make an outfit for Super Ted. Today I finally did…

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The outfit gives a great deal of strength to this little bear…

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Hamish is happy but already looking at enhancements to make to the outfit!

Maxi Skirt

I recently bought two metres of this pretty knit fabric from Spotlight (40% off!) with the intention of making a dress of some sort. 

But this afternoon I decided to make it into a maxi skirt.  I simply cut the full two metre length to 95cm wide.  I sewed it with right sides together to create a seam and then created a casing at the top for elastic and hemmed the bottom.  This was a half hour project, and I’m very happy with the end result.

I’ve never been into long skirts or dresses but I’ve really enjoyed wearing this this afternoon. I think it’s going to be a favourite!  And the best part – I have the remaining 55cm width of the two metres of fabric to make a short version.  You really should give this a try…if you can sew a straight seam this is the project for you.

A Blogging Pause

I’ve taken a little pause from blogging for no particular reason.  I’ve still been creating…just not blogging.  So to kick off my return to the blog here’s an update on what I’ve been up to.

  1. Making more Christmas decorations
  2. Continuing work on my quilt
  3. Planning for a dinner party
  4. And…introducing daily exercise – a surprisingly time consuming activity that makes me feel great but isn’t all that creative!

I’m back now so I’ll see you tomorrow!

Personalised Baby Blanket

One of my work colleagues in the US had a baby a few weeks back and I’ve been trying to think of something to send that is uniquely Australian. I haven’t had any luck thinking of such a gift so today I made a personalised baby blanket.

I used pale pink polar fleece with a patchwork poly cotton fabric.  Not the most natural of fabric choices, but from past experience, ideal for a playmat and durable for regular washing.

I appliqued Avery’s name onto the blanket using Heat’n’bond iron on adhesive, then zig-zag stitched to hold it in place.

I then hand quilted around the already defined blocks in the patchwork fabric. 

I hope little Avery enjoys her new blanket.  And – if you know of any good Aussie baby gifts to send OS please let me know in the comments below. Perhaps I can add it to the parcel before I send it off.

My New UFOs

Remember last week when I was making an outfit for the cocktail party? Did you notice I went very quiet about the whole thing after posting some inspiration shots.  Behind the scenes there was a lot of activity working towards creating something. Unfortunately I created two disasters…it happens!

The first project was inspired by the little black dress I posted last week.

Lanvin 

I loved the nipped in waist look and exagerated hips.  I had for some time been admiring Alice and Olivia (Vogue 1122) fitted dress.

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I thought this could look super cute in pale pink…especially given I was wearing it to a pink ribbon event! I looked high and low for feedback online from others who had whipped this up. But there was nothing to be found.

So – I decided to give it a go anyway. Pretty early on I became a little concerned about those sticky out bits on the hips.  I had chosen a fabric with a little stretch and this created a few dramas. I stay taped the hip darts and the side seams to avoid over-stretching and impacting the look.  It greatly improved the issue I was having and made it look a little closer to the picture on the pattern cover. But – it was looking very ‘worky’, a prediction my husband made right up front. I hate it when that happens! And the event was drawing closer so I canned this project - and it become UFO No. 1:

Then I got started…just a few hours before the cocktail party started…on a gathered purple silk skirt, inspired by the cute little purple dress I posted last week.

Alice + Olivia 

It was hideous! Sooooo not right.  I was becomming that desperate person trying to create something to wear in just a couple of hours time!  UFO No. 2:

I could possibly recover this to wear during the day in summer with a cute top and flat sandles. 

Fortunately I had quite a collection in the wardrobe to choose from, and the winner was the emerald green dress I made late last year based on Vogue 8032.

We had a fantastic night! And now I have two UFOs to finish off…someday!

How to Make a Circular Skirt

This Spring I’m loving circular skirts and bold floral fabrics…so I’ve combined the two to create a floral circular skirt.

And the best part is, circular skirts are surprisingly easy to make without a pattern. It’s very similar to the steps I shared on how to make a round tablecloth a few weeks back.

Step 1 – Find a fabric that is nice and wide – around 140cm wide.  Fold the fabric in half joining the selvedges and then in half joining the cut seam to create a square of fabric. 

Step 2: Create the waist for the skirt.  Calculate the diametre for this first little circle by measuring your waist. Then add 3cm for the seam allowance before dividing the total number by 3.14 and then dividing again by 2. 

Step 3: Now measure this distance from the corner fold of the fabric and continue doing so to create a quarter circle, as shown below.

You can mark this line with chalk or pins, as I have done above. 

Step 4: Measure 1.5cm above this line to allow for a seam allowance and mark with chalk. Cut along this line. Keep the small circle of fabric that you just cut as you will use this later when you make a facing for the waist.

Step 5: Now determine the length of your skirt and measure this distance from the waist line, marking the hem.  The width of the fabric is going to determine the maximum length of the skirt. The wider your fabric the longer your skirt can be.  Cut along the marked line.

 

Step 6: Now create a facing for the waist of the skirt. I did this by using the piece I cut from the top of the skirt to create a template for the top cutting line of the facing. This was pined to the fabric, still folded in four. I then measured down from this edge 4cm and marked another line.  I extended the edge of this by 1.5cm to create a seam allowance. Repeat this process to cut the same pieces with interfacing.  Attach the interfacing to the fabric. I skipped this step as the fabric I was using was very heavy and sturdy and didn’t require stiffening.

Step 7: Cut down one side of the skirt to create a seam for the zip.

Step 8: Sew this seam together leaving a gap 12cm from the top to insert the zip.  I finished the side seams by hemming them, but you may simply overlock or zigzag the seam.

Step 9: Insert the zipper. I find hand sewing it in before machining sewing ensures it always sits perfectly.

Step 10: Sew the facing pieces together on one side and then pin the right side of the facing to the right side of the skirt waist band.

Step 11: Attach by sewing.  Trim the excess fabric and turn the facing through to the inside of the skirt.  Top stitch the fabric close to the waist to hold the facing in place. Hem the raw edge of the facing and stitch again 2cm from the skirt waist.

Step 12: Before hemming the skirt try it on to ensure it doesn’t need to adjusting. Depending on the shape of  your body you may need to trim some fabric off the front of the skirt. It’s easiest to measure from the ground up, marking the length on the skirt.  You’ll obviously need someone to help you with this. Hemming the skirt is easiest if you sew a narrow hem, and then trim close to this sewing line before folding and sewing a second hem. This will create a neat hem without any puckering. 

I hope these steps all made sense. Please do let me know if you have any questions as I’d be very happy to clarify.