Birthday Party Season

Another weekend, another birthday party. In fact the kids are each different birthday parties as I type, and LSH and I were playing/calling at a ceilidh for an old friend’s birthday yesterday evening.


This time round I made a sunhat for the Girl’s friend, reversible, with some summer uniform gingham on the other side that came with butterflies embroidered on (I may have more of that in my stash now).


I found this colouring book on sale locally and picked it up as The Boy previously had this one from the same range. The pictures amuse me as they have no heads and limbs, just the clothes are drawn, leaving you to add in the rest as well as colouring them in. I must admit I was a little disappointed when I got it home, the boy’s version is full of boys doing things (such as a climbing in a big treehouse) whereas the girls version seems to just be people standing still in pretty dresses. Hmm. Anyway, I made a fabric folder for it which has space to put some pencils in, inspired by these.  I like the idea of being able to pop it in a bag to get out when going for a family meal in a restaurant, or to use on a train journey. The rainbow stripe is a strip of elastic to help hold pens/pencils in place. The red elephant cord is left over from the Tsarina Cape, with a piece of interfacing on the back, and the denim is leftover from my jeans and I added pockets and the initial (also interfaced) from the left over fabric from making the hat. It’s all held together by an elastic loop.

Speaking of holding things together, I have “mended” 2 pairs of my jeans with this keyring on the zipper trick, to stop the zips falling down all the time. This feels like a cheating way to participate in Mend it May, but I’ve also darned some holes in a favourite scarf.

As for Me Made May, that’s pretty much business as usual, there’s only been one day when I had to stop and think about how to make sure my outfit included me made, when I was putting on a patterned skirt (charity shop find) and wanted a plain top to go with it. So a reminder of what I already knew, more plain fabric needed in my wardrobe. As for colours, this last week I have mainly be wearing blue, with a bit of gold/yellow and a dash of green.

Tsarina Cape


Arty shot of The Girl putting her finishing touches on a birthday card before this cape got wrapped and taken with the card to a party.


A less arty shot, but a better representation of the colour and you can’t see the fact I had to piece the back of this Forest Path Cape in this shot.

I was inspired to make this one after seeing her friend slyly feeling the pom poms on her Princess Anna Cape, the red elephant cord was lying around in my stash and I was in the mood for making. I found the rainbow stripe polyester shirting in my stash too and it thought it would make a great lining. This time I added a welt breast pocket in the lining because every Tsarina needs a pocket, right? Talking of Tsarina’s, that wasn’t the look I had in mind, I mean I knew it would have to have pom pom trim, but I didn’t expect the girl to choose such shiny gold buttons (which were a pig to sew on).

I drafted a mandarin collar the same way as last time and used this braid chosen to match the buttons. There was just enough left for a hanging loop. Anyway somehow the thick red stripes of the cord manage to combine with the trim and buttons to make a very regal, opulent looking cape, despite the fact it’s machine washable. Hopefully it’ll get a lot of wear.


Oh, and I nearly forgot, it’s the first of May today. Which for LSH meant getting up at 4.15am so that he could be morris dancing on top of a hill when the sun rose. (The rest of us caught up on some sleep prior to a day of visitors, birthday parties and cooking). Anyway, for me, the first of May means Me Made May of course. So I better sneak my Crafting a Rainbow pilfered inspired pledge in on the line.

“I, Prolificprojectstarter, do pledge to wear something I’ve made each day in May 2016, to keep a track of my colour palette and to mend at least one thing each week”.

I wasn’t sure how to up my ante from just wearing a thing I made each day like last year, without making it too difficult (I’m not up for a huge challenge right now), but keeping track of colours will be interesting and I’m also keen to tie in with Jen’s Mend It May.

So, for the record, today is brought to you by the colour blue, I’m wearing navy jeans a mainly blue (with a hint of yellow) drapey top, and a navy and green stripe top from Seasalt.

So, bright May Day greetings to you, and for those with an extra day off due to the Bank Holiday in these parts tomorrow (assuming you’re not having to work it), I hope you make the most of some extra free time tomorrow.


I just realised that it’s Long Suffering Husband’s birthday a week today yesterday. Eek. I haven’t even ordered the fabric for the hoodie he wants yet. (Which is partly a good thing, as I have found a better option than his original choice of fabric, one that requires less work from me too).


Anyway, to make sure that I had something to give him on the day at least, yesterday I whipped up a pair of Comox Trunks, as he has commented more than once that the last pair are really comfy. The black is some lovely organic knit from my stash and the stripes are scrap, pretty much the last of this fabric.


Spotted the deliberate mistake yet? As I was doing this on impulse, I didn’t think things through and cut two of pattern piece number 2 from the stripey fabric and 2 of pattern piece number 3 in black. However, the cup part of the trunks needs one of each piece, so really I should’ve cut 1 of each in stripey (for the outer part) and 1 of each in black (for the inside). There wasn’t enough stripey left to recut an extra piece though. Rather than have a half black half stripey cup both inside and out, I used both the stripey pieces on the outside, making these trunks, err, accessible from either side.


The opening is still functional as I folded over the inside cup, like I did last time, mimicing the shop bought trunks in our house. Note for next time, cut one piece number 2 and three piece number 3 next time to acheive this. (Must remember to annotate the pattern pieces tomorrow when LSH isn’t around straight after this blog post).


This time I also topstiched all the seams down with my imitation coverstitch stitch on my normal machine too.

The elastic isn’t a great match, but it’s the best I had and I won’t find better locally so I used it.

Right, I better go and order some fabric then. Just as soon as I’ve finished the washing up and annotated my pattern pieces. What sewing have you got planned this week?


The Challenge – Part 1

On Saturday (which coincidentally happened to be 4th July, which is just another day for most people here in the UK) there was a shindig to belatedly celebrate my recent birthday and rather more prematurely celebrate my friends upcoming one. (Our combined age by the end of this year will be 110). Food was eaten, drink was drunk, children ran around outside with bubbles and balloons and there was lots of ceilidh dancing with music from my favourite band. It was a fab night.

Eating and drinking

Eating and drinking

Playing outside

Playing outside

And cake (BTW I never intended to wear those 2 items together, but I completely forgot to plan what to wear and on the day it was the only clean skirt I had and the only top that would go with it. I kind of hope they looked like a dress but I rather feel they looked very mumsy. Oh well. The kids looked cute!)

And cake (BTW I never intended to wear those 2 items together, but I completely forgot to plan what to wear and on the day it was the only clean skirt I had and the only top that would go with it. I kind of hope they looked like a dress but I rather feel they looked very mumsy. Oh well. The kids looked cute!)

(There appear to be no pictures of the dancing so you’ll just have to take my word for it.)

I suppose I should’ve realised that some people might get me presents, but it honestly hadn’t crossed my mind (after all, everyone had brought food or drink to contribute). However, I did get a couple of small things, including this.

She didn't know me 20 years ago, but I may have mentioned that back in the day I liked to watch Ready Steady Cook (there was no Can't Sew, Won't Sew program, but there was Can't Cook, Won't Cook, I seem to recall)

She didn’t know me 20 years ago, but I may have mentioned that back in the day I liked to watch Ready Steady Cook (there was no Can’t Sew, Won’t Sew program, but there was Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook, I seem to recall)

Ah, what a lovely thought

Ah, what a lovely thought

My haul of goodies, a fat quarter of quilting cotton, 2 different colours of ribbon and lots of beads. Hmm, thinking caps on....

My haul of goodies, a fat quarter of quilting cotton, 2 different colours of ribbon and lots of beads. Hmm, thinking caps on….

Challenge accepted.

Watch this space….

Rectangle to dress (a guest post by The Boy)

fabric before I started.

fabric before I started.

Sister’s birthday coming up, I thought I could make her a dress so I mentioned it to mum.We looked in her stash & found some fabric I thought she would like (above).

measuring the skirt.

measuring the skirt.

OK, so I’ve chosen the fabric. Now it’s onto the measuring. Not too hard. (Apart from annoying little sister trying to find out what we’re making her for her birthday).

Cutting out (there are probably a few pins in the fairy eyes as well)

Cutting out (there are probably a few pins in the fairy eyes as well)

Chosen fabric, measured it out, next it’s cutting out the pieces = not so easy, she’s still there.

The space between the eyes of the fairy is a nice distance for pinning.

The space between the eyes of the fairy is a nice distance for pinning.

After all that, it’s time for pinning so I can sew it together. As you can see I’ve been pinning the fairy eyes = very fun.

Sewing the seam.

Sewing the seam.

Seams sewing and more sewing. I did a French seam on the side seam of the skirt. I put gathers at the top.

a thimble for a pocket (I'm actually turning the pocket).

a thimble for a pocket (I’m actually turning the pocket).

I sewed my first pocket (I made 2 later on too) using the tactic I made to make my blanket. Then I sewed ribbon across the top. (I’m also wearing a t shirt mum made.)

OK, I'm the Molly.

OK, I’m the Molly.

The dress is at a stage where I can’t quite give it to sister.

Although at first look it looks finished enough so who do you think I am?

You guessed it, the Molly.

OK a new invention on the pocket!

OK a new invention on the

Done the important parts, and the sister will complain if not pockets.

Now it’s on to the last two pockets and decoration. I wanted to have a curved pocket but mum said it would be to difficult… so I designed my own using the idea that if you cut out a straight bit on the corner of the rectangle it is slightly curved.

Finished the dress, sister's wearing it, doesn't it look good.

Finished the dress, sister’s wearing it, doesn’t it look good.

I’ve sewn some ribbon onto the bottom of the dress. Finished it without help the day before sisters birthday.

I am very proud of the neat stitching and sister likes it too.

Pretty in Pink?

So, I have some hot pink shiny metallic jersey foil stuff left from that dress, and it needs using up before it’s too small to make something for anyone I know and/or they’ve grown out of the pink phase. 

A friend of ours is having a 6th birthday party at the weekend, and I thought maybe I could utilise the left over fabric to make an extra present.

Quick birthday pressie

Quick birthday pressie

I used this tutorial for a raglan t shirt, drawing round one of big brothers baggy t shirts for the pattern (new things always need growing room and he’s not much bigger than the girls). My only issue with the tutorial was working out if I used a different neckline front and back, I finally decided after some peering at pictures and much reading of comments to use the front neckline of big brothers t shirt for both the front and back of the pattern.

childs raglan t shirt

childs raglan t shirt

I didn’t really have any fabric that would work well with the hot pink metallic for contrasting sleeves, so I reversed the fabric I had to make shiny front and back pieces with matt sleeves.  I wasn’t sure how to finish the edges on the raglan seams (I was making it up as I went along), the material doesn’t seem to fray but the recipient suffers with excema, so I folded the raw edges down towards the front (I wasn’t sure how it would take being pressed) and topstitched in a black stretch straight stich.  I added a matt big initial “L” on the front too to personalise it, stitched on in black stretch zig zag. 

I decided as I went along to do French seams at the side/under arm seam – I should’ve deided this sooner and added more seam allowance really as I think it will be a skinny fit t shirt now as french seams eat up more material, so it won’t last as long now before it’s outgrown, but hey. I made fold over hems on the bottom and sleeves, but folded them the wrong way, (so over twice to the outside not the inside) to get a contrast matt hem on the shiny body and shiny hem on the matt sleeves, again stitchd in black stretch zig zag. The hems stand slightly proud too. 

inside of seams

inside of seams

I tried the t-shirt on my daughter to check the fit before finishing the neckline.  All fine there. I didn’t have any rib for the neckline so I cut an inch wide piece of fabric on the bias to edge it. I thought I’d use the matt side, as I couldn’t contrast both the front/back and the sleeves I decided contrast with the main pieces would be more noticable.

Pinning the binding on, right side to wrong side of neckline

Pinning the binding on, right side to wrong side of neckline

I sort of made up sewing the neckline as I went. I didn’t iron the bias strip into bias binding as I cannot get the hang of my bias binding maker tool, it just makes a raggedy mess and I wasn’t sure how the fabric would take to pressing. I started off pinning the right (i.e. matt in this case) side of the strip to the inside of the neckline, with the end I started with folded over for a neat edge and the other end overlapping it so it didn’t show. I sewed the bias with a straight stretch stitch, then clipped notches on the curve. Then I turned the t shirt back the right way out and folded the binding over twice and pinned it down, making sure it covered up the stitching line from when it was attached. Then I zig zag stretch stitched it down, to match the applique and other hems.
binding sewn onto wrong side of neckline and clipped

binding sewn onto wrong side of neckline and clipped

The final result fit my son, big head and all, so it should be ok for the birthday girl too. All in all this was a quick easy make.   Around an hour, maybe a bit more, but that included breaks and interruptions.  Plus it was practically cost free in materials and yet another confidence boost to my skills at sewing with jersey.  (I did switch to a jersey needle as I have some and used the stretch stitch options, but I don’t have an overlocker, just a normal machine – so don’t be put off sewing knits if you don’t have an overlocker/serger). And I think it looks ok, well actually I think it looks horrendously and shinilly pink, which is a little overwhelming, but then it’s intended for a 6 year old girl, so that’ll probably be seen as a good thing. Also the fabric is quite stiff, so it looks a bit like a wetsuit, but that’s what you get working with this fabric and whilst I wouldn’t like it again I don’t think it will be an issue. But I’m really pleased with the use of both sides of the fabric, which helps tone down the overall effect a smidgen.

So Philippa, does this count as a scrap buster even though I didn’t have to piece it together?  I have had a request to make hairbands with the remaining scraps…..

Presido Purse no 2/1 aka Blue Birthday Bag

So, when I first saw Erin’s Presido Purse pattern I was interested, but I wasn’t going to buy it. After all, I quite happily make different bags at the drop of a hat.

But the pattern picture with the large polka dot insert kept calling to me, “look, you could make me, in the large polka dot fabric to match your skirt” it said. Except I had no more of that fabric and there is no Ikea near here to get more.

Then my brother, who does live vaguely near an Ikea, invited himself down for the weekend. So I asked him if he would mind going and buying me some fabric and he obliged. Hurrah!

But what lining to choose? I remembered some red fabric with white stars on, that I thought would be similar yet different to the polka dots. That was until I took my polka dot fabric to the shop and found that the reds clashed horribly.

In the end I chose two fabrics that I couldn’t choose between, at that time I was thinking of making two polka dot bags (one for a present I hasten to add). But then the present one turned into a present for a different old friend who has a birthday in January and loves all things blue. So I planned to use some of the blue uphostery remnants from my bag making stash with the bluer of the two lining fabrics.

First I made the lining for what will be my polka dot bag from Erin’s instructions, and very nicely it came out too. But the bag is not finished yet – I’m following the sewalong for a couple of details and I’m having to be patient. Next I made the lining for the birthday present bag and went on to finish it as I had a deadline, hence the 2nd/1st thing.

So, wanna see? First you make the secret pocket with a zipper pocket over the top…

zipped pocket with secret pocket peeking out

zipped pocket with secret pocket peeking out

I used a reclaimed zippers from a destroyed childs coat for the bag. The one for the pocket had attatched the coat hood to the coat (why do they make them like that?!) which meant that I had a matching one from the front of the coat to use for the main bag zip. They’re both green, which tones with blue, right? Plus the lovely owl lining fabric is a tealy blue, so there are definitely green tones there. I added blue ribbon tags from my stash (seriously, if it’s blue, the birthday girl generally likes it, so I planned lots of blue) with judicious dobs of clear nail varnish to stop the ends unravelling and the knots coming undone. The zipper insertion didn’t go in as smoothly as the zipper on my first lining, I think because it was a chunkier zipper. But it looked pretty good. However the fabric at the end of my pocket zipper is narrower than the pieces above and below. It is on the other bag too. Other people seem to have mastered this step fine so I’m pretty sure the error is in my excecution not the instructions.

Zippers with ribbon tags

Zippers with ribbon tags to distract from the way the pockets sides step in where the zip is

Then I found the blue and green and purple upholstery remnants from my stash to choose a combination of fabric for the outer from. Hubby helped. In the end we went for a blue square print fabric for the front and back panels and a matching blue for the bottom, sides and strap (I didn’t have enough of the squares to do it all). We considered inserts but, umm, how can I put this, with the inserts in the main panel the front piece reminded us of a pair of pants. Don’t tell Erin! It’s clearly our dirty minds, but once we’d seen knickers we saw them in all the bags the testers had made with inserts. So we went for no inserts.

the "outside" fabric

the “outside” fabric

The main part came together quite quickly as it’s the same construction as the lining but without any fiddly pockets. I had to “finger press” the seams though because when I ironed it it made a horrible smell that I could ‘t stand. Presumably the fabric is treated with some fire retartand stuff or summat. I was mainly pleased with it. Although a little disappointed. The photo above is a bit misleading, the squares don’t stand out that well in real life, and it was just a little bland. I felt it was letting the lining down. Maybe I should’ve put my foot down and had green side panels. Hmmm.

Next to join the main bag and lining, which you do along the zipper seam. I had never inserted a zipper on a bag before and never sewed a zipper in between a main fabric and an lining. Luckily the instructions were nice and clear. Well, it would have been lucky if I’d read them more carefully. The instruction said to pin the zipper “to the top curved part of the bag with the teeth facing down”, I glanced at the photo, the zipper teeth were pointing down the bag away from the opening, easy peasy. I finished following the instructions painlessy, turned my bag the right way around, had a brief moment of pride at my wonderfully inserted zipper before I realised that I had sewn it in upside down. Ah, that “teeth facing down” instruction must mean, face down, right side of zip to right side of fabric, as is fairly usual in sewing (although they also clearly needed to face down the bag). Never mind, how bad can an upside down zipper be I thought. I zipped it shut. Not too bad, definitely livable with. Then I tried to open it. That was quite hard. Not livable with. Arghh. It clearly needed unpicking. But could I do it without the upholstery fabric that liked to fray coming apart too much for me to reassemble it afterwards. And how would the zip be, I’d already had to “mend” part of the zip tape with nail varnish as it was starting to unravel after getting snared when being unpicked from the coat.

I put it on oneside. And sulked…

Then I had a brainwave. Why unpick and reinsert a zipper so that the exciting fabric can be hidden on the inside. Why not keep the bag the way it was. OK, so the lining fabric was a fairly thin (poly?)cotton, but it would still have the strength of the upholstery fabric on the inside.

Decision made, I fudged the handle construction (I couldn’t get the instructions to work somehow) and attatched the end to the outer lining fabric before sewing the lining and main main and lining fabric together at the top of the sides. This means that the end of the strap is hidden inside the bag.

And job done….

Finished Blue Birthday Bag

Finished Blue Birthday Bag

Inside Out

The Inside Out Bag

zipper tag

funky zipper tag


what it was going to look like

When I finally got my act together, wrapped it, parcelled it, took it to the post office, realised I didn’t have her address, found out her address, took it back to the post office and posted it and it made it’s way (less than a week late) to her, it was a hit. Especially the owls. Which match her owl top and owl slippers. So, once again a sewing disaster that turned into a triumph.