It was the third one that nearly killed me

OK, so that’s an exageration, but by the time I was finishing the third and final last minute Christmas make I was feeling pretty rough. That’s what coming down with a stomach bug does to you.

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Still, if you will leave taping and cutting out the pdf until first thing Christmas Eve morning (the house was blissfully quiet as I was the only one up) and cutting and sewing until after the kids are in bed and you’ve walked your mum home (I’m thinking it was about 9pm, it’s a bit of a blur now), then you don’t have a lot of choice if you need to get it done in time. Let this be a lesson to you me.

I was fairly confident as I knew a tshirt dress, with only 5 pieces (front, back, 2 sleeves, neckband) would be a pretty quick make, but I hadn’t counted on how rough I would feel. I even switched the pedal over to slow mode to help me cope (usually only used when kids are on the machine).

But, I did it, well almost, it didn’t get hemmed until a  couple of days later but it did get worn on Christmas day. And I decided to skip the planned step of adding in some side pockets.

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So, this is Nivalis number 2, sized up 2 sizes from last time, one size because the last one is quite slim fitting with not much growing room and the second size because this fabric was a bit thicker and not quite so stretchy as last time (I think it might be ponte). Probably I should’ve only sized up one size as now it’s really quite long, but never mind, she’ll grow.  Also, I left off the tabs this time (that was planned, not just because I ran out of time).

Impulse Trousers (aka Unexpected Liana’s)

 

Ages ago I bought 2m of this lovely “gordian knot of tangled yarn in black on a grey melange background” jersey for myself with no particular plan in mind. It would make a great lady skater or a monata, but I’m not really a dress person.  I contemplated a maxi skirt or a full (circle?) skirt, but I’m not really a skirt person either. I kept thinking about making it into trousers, but I couldn’t find the right knit pattern. They were all to tight and jegging-y, or too loose and haremey, or too wide and palazo-ey, or too frumpy, or just plain wierd.

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And then I read about some most excellent looking Ponte Pants (not to be confused with Pont Y Pants, North Wales, nor indeed with Pontipines), or more preciesly, Pleather and Ponte pants. I remember that they looked fab and someone called Andrea had made them  with the Ginger jeans pattern (for stretch demin) that she already had in a beefy ponte and some plether but I cannot find the post now at all, so frustrating, I thought I had the link saved, sorry. Anyway they gave me enough confidence to  bite the bullet and try using my Liana stretch jeans pattern with my precious fabric. After all, I reasoned, I could always cut them down into leggings if it didn’t work, or wear them as pyjama bottoms. (A sensible person would make a toile before cutting into their precious fabric obviously, but you need a fabric with a similar hand, especially for a knit as they can handle so differently. However, my local fabric shops don’t have knit anywhere near as nice as this, so I’d have to buy more expensive knit fabric online to practise with, which seems a bit pointless).

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Using the Liana pattern was a bit of a (semi) educated guess, as it calls for 25% stretch denim, so I thought I might get away with jersey without sizing down.  This is what I did, in case you’re interested.  I hesitate to call it a “tutorial” as that might imply I knew what I was doing (I didn’t, I was winging it).

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In order to convert my pattern to jersey I taped the pocket facing piece behind the pocket cut out to create a pocketless pattern piece and I also folded over the fly, then I cut them out. I considered converting the back to one piece, rather than a yoke and a back piece, but I wasn’t sure how didn’t think it would be worth the effort, so I cut them out as they were.

I still wanted pockets in my trousers, because pockets, I just hadn’t thought that “proper” jeans style pockets would work in the jersey. So I took inspiration from the opening of the Domi short pattern, but tried to make them a bit more practical (as the round pocket option on the Domi’s is very shallow, as described in the pattern notes). To do this, I first traced the edge of my pattern piece and drew in the seam lines. Then I worked out where I wanted my pocket opening to start and drew round a handily sized lid to make a semi circle. I also marked another semicircle, half an inch wider, to show where the ribbing would end. I decided to have my pocket extend to the waistband and side seam, for added support and stability, and drew in the pocket line by eye. Then I cut this out and used it as a pattern piece to cut out two pockets. Next I marked a third (pink) semicircle on my pattern piece, 1cm smaller than the outer one, so that I knew where the seam line would be (yes, I want 1/2″ ribbing and I’m using 1cm seam allowance, that’s how messed up versatile I am). I cut along this pink line and then used the pattern piece as a guide for cutting out the indents on my fronts (lining the piece up with the top and sides, natch).

The “ribbing” was some black jersey. I cut a width approx 75% the circumferential of my semi circle, and the height was twice the finished ribbing width plus the seam allowance (so 1″ plus 2cm then!). This was pressed in half, then I matched the midpoint of the long raw edges to the centre of the semicircle (right side), matched the end points to the edges of the semi circle, stretched it o fit, pinned, sewed, pressed, turned it, pressed again, “coverstitched” my seam allowance down (because I thought that on the pocket the raw edges might show and also I was worried that the ribbing might fray). Next I lined up my pocket piece with my front and basted along the top and side in the seam allowance. Finally I “coverstitched” (a zig zag would do as well) the curve edge in place, from the back, so I could see what I was doing. And voila, a pocket. (And a pretty fine looking one if I do say so myself).

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After that it was pretty plain sailing, sew the pieces together, starting with attaching the yokes. (I did the centre front and back seams next and then the inside leg, so I could “coverstitch” them all for extra durability and left the side seams for last, but any order you like works, even the one that always seems needlessley complicated to me where you do the centre seams last and have to put one leg inside the other).

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I added a yoga style waistband as described in this tutorial (except I didn’t subtract only 1 1/2″ from my waistline for the length, as it was clear that my super stretchy rib would’ve been too big then. It was a tubular peice of ribbing  which I thought was the perfect size for my waist, so I used it as it was, ha. Then it turned out it was too big, so I went back later and inserted some elastic at the back).

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Then it just remained to hem them. [and get some decent photo’s, but as mentioned previously my photographer seems to be on a work to rule so dodgy selfies it is).

So, in conclusion, sometimes it’s good to do something on impulse….

(but maybe not stealing flowers and propositioning strangers with them eh)

(I feel I have to add this to balance out the creepyness of the ad, just incase anyone decides to give someone tea on impulse, plus its a great video in its own right).

A circus of Puffins

*Actually, the time before I made this t shirt was my first ever Full Bust Adjustment and I messed it up and fudged it. I wasn’t quite sure how to manage one on a kimono sleeve t shirt but according to a comment on Maria’s blog“you just cut off the sleeves, and then put them back on after the adjustment”. Righto. I think I did this right.

Next up, the back. I decided that as I’d gone to all that fuss with the front, maybe I should finally learn how to do a sway back adjustment on the front, using this tutorial from Kitschycoo, in for a penny, in for a pound, right?

 

So, more taping (does anyone actually tape the whole pdf together before starting to cut pattern pieces out?), chose where to do it (err, no lengthen/shorten line as per tutorial, so I chose a handily looking placed join in the taped together pieces), mark wedge to be taken out (in blue) scratch head, re-read tutorial, mark wedge the correct way around (in pink, I’m loosing 2cm height from the centre back here), trace top half of pattern (with seam allowance included trick), mark top part of wedge, rotate greaseproof tracing paper so that line is now at the bottom of wedge, trace bottom part of pattern. See, that wasn’t so bad was it?  And now there are two personalised pattern pieces and walking the side seams looks like the side seams are still about the same length. Brill.

A short panic about cutting into my precious fabric later (really I should use a fabric I don’t care about to test my fit, but all my jersey is precious), 4 seams (with clear elastic in the shoulder seams) later and I’m ready to try it on.

Not too shabby, the swayback has definitely helped reduce pooling in my lower back, it’s a little tight around my ever expanding waistline (no, no happy news here, just pies) and it’s far too long, as despite making this mistake last time, I cut the 4XL length with the L size.

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Just some finishing to do. Inspired by Dandelion Drift recent shoreline boatneck  post I use this variant of this technique to finish my sleeves and neckline in orange ribbing. Happy colours! (I cut the neckline ribbing at about 90% the length of my neckline).  This was a bit of a spur of the moment decision, I love the orange but had to trim my seam allowance to get the binding to work as instructed. The inside looks a bit messy but worst of all the sleeve hem is still flipping up in the pictures above. Arghh. Bane of my sewing with knits life.

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Then I hacked off some inches from the bottom and added a wider orange rib band (so the length ended up back to about where it was drafted, nice and long without being silly).

And the jobs a good un. And now I can wear puffins all day long! My daughter’s comment on it was “these two are talking to each other and this one is ignoring that one”…

So after cataloguing my sweatshirt/jumper fabric, next up are my knits.  Most of these were in a neatish pile in my cupboard but I sort of colour coded them when photographing and have put them back that way.

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Multicoloured wierd thick spongey knit stuff with quite a lot of lycra or similar in I think. It’s not neopreme, but it’s not normal knit fabric either, somewhere in between. I made leggings with this (which are a bit small, due I think to it’s super elastic nature) and  used the leftover on a t shirt for The Boy. Then I bought more as I was obsessed at the time with making a wrap dress from it, specifically the Gillian Wrap Dress from Muse patterns. Not sure why as I don’t wear wrap dresses! Anyway, there are two largish pieces.

Turquoise loose knit cotton with lycra – left over from my prototype tunic dress and also a cardy for The Girl. This stuff is lovely and snuggly but doesn’t wear well, or maybe that should read doesn’t wash well as I notice from rereading my old blog posts that it’s supposed to be dry clean only fabric (like that’s going to happen in this house). So I’m not quite sure what to do with it.

The Magenta next to it is the same stuff, bought before I realised that the turquoise didn’t wear well. I’m vaguely wondering about making a drapey cardy with this.

The purple was bought this year, its quite a thick knit and is slightly sparkly. I’m thinking a long sleeved top for me but bought a bit extra as it’s lovely stuff (I resisted the dark grey/black they had too and I’m now thinking that would be good for the contrast bits on the wrap dress I’m not going to make as it’s a similar weight).

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In this pic, first up is some burgandy cotton knit I bought for making leggings for the girl to wear to school instead of tights but I didn’t notice when buying online that its 100% cotton so isn’t very stretchy and therefore not very good for leggings. Not that that stopped me making a couple of pairs.

The next two are quite slinky knits so right out of my comfort zone (thinking on my experience with viscose, although they’re not viscose) and both b0ught this year. But I loved the bark effect print on this one – very autumnal and would go with the magenta knit in the pic above? I need to figure out a pattern though.

The black and cream circles I resisted buying, then it turned up in the remnants bin and my resolved crumbled. Maybe I should use it to muslin up something for the barky one?

Finally, some nice neutral 😉 orange good quality knit, already eaten into to make the boys Christmas t shirt.

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Next up, some aztek inspired pale blue and grey knit that has been earmarked for a long sleeved top for the boy for a while.

Then the super cat fabric, which I fell in love with, didn’t buy, it sold out, I felt sad, then it came back and I caved. I also have some “plain” co-ordinating turquoise cloud fabric without super cats shown at the top. I’m trying to work out if I dare make myself a garment from this. Otherwise my niece will probably end up with something. Currently  I’m leaning towards lining a hoodie with it (see, it would go with my black sweatshirt fabric. But that would make it an extra precious make, so I might need to muslin the hoodie first which would mean buying more, less precious fabric. Arrgh, I’m incoragible! And I cannot possibly justify buying more sweatshirt fabric till I’ve used some of what I have!).

The next one is recently bought and earmarked for a dress for the girl, probably for her not to distant birthday as I didn’t use this at Christmas.

Finally a metre of lovely slightly abstract large floral blue stuff, which is going to be a t shirt for me.

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Last up, the stuff I’ve just tidied out of my dining room into the cupboard upstairs. There’s some good quality black jersey on the left, which is earmarked to be a t shirt for me plus extra for general usefulness (it’s been eaten into already, mainly for this dress).

Some lovely puffin knit, which definitely isn’t too ridiculous for me (even though the print scale is fairly large). I keep being about to make me a t shirt from this, current thoughts are another Maria Denmark Kimono T shirt (but with less bodged FBA this time).

Some left over grey jersey from leggings I made, which I’m sort of hoping to make into a t shirt for The Man, not that he’d appreciate it. And some green jersey, which I also have plans for for him, even though it’s not very stretchy. Oh and it has a piece hacked out.

All in all that brings my jersey in at around 37 square metres, enough to make some t shirts and things with in 2016!

I’m slightly scared now as I seem to have about 2ce the amount of wovens as knits in my cupboard. Maybe they just don’t pack down as much??

On the 6th Day of Christmas

I’m not sure any sewing will get done today. I’m coming down with a cold and catching up on sleep after having a bad dose of insomnia last night. Plus it is very wet here, which doesn’t technically stop an indoor activity like sewing, but does mean that most of us have been inside for nearly all of the day and sewing is harder with tired bored kids under your feet. (It’s now temporarily quiet as I had the cunning idea of getting them to round up all their books that were scattered around the living room to take upstairs and put them away in their rooms. Methinks at least one of them might have started reading said books, how totally unforeseen.) This part of the UK has had it relatively dry recently, I’m aware that further north where the ground is already saturated and many areas have already been badly flooded (such as where several of our friends live) today’s rain may be more than a minor inconvenience.

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Anyway, sewing wise, I can show you two dresses I made for Christmas presents that were under wraps before. In fact these two dresses were within knot bag wrapping, can you tell which way round they went?  The first is this pink and black number for my neice. IMG_3024

I decided to remake the super hero comino cap dress that went down so well this summer as the first was such a quick and satisfying make. Except this time I chose the sweatheart seamed bodice option, so it wasn’t so quick, as I had to reprint and retape the pdf, retrace 4 new pattern pieces (front and back bodice and yokes) and resize 2 of them before I could cut them out. Pattern placement for such a bold obvious pattern which isn’t actually straight was a bit of a headache too. (Those stars aren’t all the same shape and the grid they’re on is decidedly wobbly. This is all deliberate and adds to the charm of the print, but isn’t so fun when you want your lines of stars to flow from the bodice to the skirt and also from the front to the back.)

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Then I discovered that I’d used the t shirt bodice pattern for one of my pieces, so had to do the whole procedure again for that piece. Luckily I had enough fabric left. Then I had to sew the sweetheart seam, which while not the fiddliest piece of sewing ever wasn’t completely straightforward. I think it’s ok in the end and I like the spider placement. The observant amongst you will notice I pressed the seam allowance up at the front not down, which took some pressure off on the topstitching!

The pink ribbing doesn’t quite match the fabric, but they don’t actually touch so I think I got away with it.

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I also made a sidekick dress, for her sidekick, with some fabric that I’d bought with my daughter in mind but she’d rejected. The leftovers of the main fabric got used on a t shirt for the boy. The other co-ordinating fabric I only had half a metre of, annoyingly that half a metre started and ended half way through the panel design so my leftovers of this aren’t much use.

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I cut myself some slack and did the simpler variation, but I needed to trace a different size, reduce the length, and cut the skirts in two pieces so I could have the girl catching the coins falling from heaven a the bottom.

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I think the orange ribbing really makes this dress, so glad I went with that and not boring navy.

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There was a whopping 9″ difference between the finished dresses, which rather alarmed me, but that’s just how this crime fighting duo rock. I’ve seen photo’s of them wearing them and they both fit, hooray.

So watch out evil masterminds of Scotland, your plans to take over the world are doomed…..

Baby Cthulu Dress

Oh sorry, didn’t see you there, you been there long? Come in, I’ll put the kettle on, move that pile of stuff on the sofa and have a seat.

Things have been a little busy around here, what with ill children and really very tired children and visitors galore and the whole lack of daylight thing. I’ll pop on an episode of The Bridge in a moment – shh, don’t say a word about the plot, I’m not up to date. Anyway, once The Ever Patient Man who currently has Favoured Parent Status (lucky him, apparently I smell today so cannot dish out the regulation bedtime hugs) has put the kiddlings to bed we can all watch it together.

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Ta Da

In the mean time, let me show you this dress that I made. Sorry you can’t see it amazingly well in this light, but it’s hidden away in the daytime as it’s a Christmas present for the girl. I hope she likes it, I’m a bit worried about the octopi, but hopefully the colour and the flowers and hearts will win her over. When I went to buy the fabric that I knew she’d like I discovered that they’d sold out, so I got this instead. When it arrived I wondered if I’d done the right thing. Someone tried to reassure me that they look like baby Cthulu. Now I know a few people who like to rock that kind of look, but she is not one of them.  Luckily I don’t think she’s heard of Cthulu so maybe I’ll get away with it. Fingers crossed.

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New Neckline

The pattern is the Banana Sweet dress from good old Ottobre 4/2014. The observant amongst you will notice that I missed the hood off, because hoods are not her style.  While I was at it  I decided to save myself some potential sewing headaches and miss the placket* off too, so when cutting out I simply extended the line of the neckline curve to the centre front. When I made it up I was worried it looked a bit small for her head so I widened the neckline at the shoulders slightly and dropped it a bit at the front in an entirely unscientific way. Then I bound it with ribbing, I cut mine 3.5cm wide and 70% of the neck circumference (plus seam allowance) long. Amazingly the neck looks ok despite all my random messing. I will have to see how it looks on (assuming she’ll wear it). Oh and for some reason I decided to apply the ribbing like bias binding, but hand stitching it down on the inside. Not sure why. Not sure I know how to handstich stretchily either. Oh well, I used this finish for pockets, neckline and the cuffs. Obviously I’m a glutton for punishment this week (or just really dissatisfied with the options I know of for applying rib with a standard sewing machine).

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Cuffs

Other than altering the neckline, I made it up in the “wrong” fabric (jersey not sweatshirt fabric, a fairly safe swap), added a couple of inches to the length and extended the cuffs too (it was the biggest size for this pattern and I was worried it wouldn’t be long enough, I’m pretty sure it’s wide enough by comparing it to other dresses though, presumably there’s extra ease for added for the intended sweatshirt fabric). I just managed to squeeze it out of my metre of fabric – even after realising I couldn’t place my back and front oppisite ways up to each other (there are clearly upside down hearts, so I assumed the fabric worked either way up, but on close inspection only 1 column in 4 is upside down, so it would look strange if cut the other way around).

 

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So, why choose this pattern then if I was going to change it so much. Well, for the gathers at the sides (front and back). But boy did those gathers befuddle me at times. Here’s the pattern, as traced from the magazine, on my fabric. See the slits going in?  Well, as this is an Ottobre pattern, I still have to add my seam allowance, but I had no idea how to do it to those slits. I reread the instructions several times but could find nothing to help. Just that I needed to add 1cm seam allowance to most edges. (There were exceptions but this wasn’t listed as one).

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So I bumbled my way through and as the seam allowances on the slip overlap it ended up like this, sort of like a pinafore dress. Which was fine, until I tried to make the gathers. See those blue arrows pointing in, you have to gather between those. When I tried that, it gathered the top fabric that I’m supposed to be stitching to up too. Unsurprising really when you think about it. The instructions are to sew “darts” (but they’re not marked like darts) by sewing “rows of gathering stitches along lower edges of darts as marked on pattern” (that’ll be between those arrows then) “and gather edges to fit upper edges. Stitch darts; as you approach dip of dart, stitch with gradually narrower seam allowance”. Rereading this several times didn’t help. I could only think that I needed to cut into my seam allowances but that seemed scary without more information.

 

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So I emailed Ottobre and 2 hours later I got a reply, which I think is pretty amazing customer service, especially as my email was in English as was the reply and they’re based in Finland. And what did the reply say you ask? “You need to add 10 mm seam allowance only to the beginning of darts, on the sides. Then you add gradually smaller 9..8..7..6..mm seam allowances as you approach the tip of the dart. It`s a bit tricky without having 10 mm seam allowances all the way but I`m sure you`ll get it done right. Hopefully this will help you to continue with your project!”

So, confidence bolstered, I drew a line that bisected my angle (please forgive me if I’m straying into geeky maths talk, I really cannot think of another way of putting it that’s clear). Then I cut along my new line just as far as the gathers have to go and no further.

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So then, fabric cut, gathers now just gathering the bottom half of the fabric, I sewed it together like a dart best I could, tapering to a point and tying off the ends.

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Once pressed it looked ok from the outside. Then I just did the same with the other three. So, I don’t know if that was the right way to do it, but it seemed to work.

After the gathers, it was plain sailing to make. Sew the shoulder seams, attach arms, join arms and side seams in one fell swoop, hem, cuffs, bind neckline. The pockets were a little fiddly as they have curved edges so you’re instructed to gather them around a template to press the sides under, but it was straight forward enough.

Now I just have to wait and see if she likes it.

I’m curious, what’s your favourite way of applying ribbing to a neckline (that doesn’t involve expensive machinery, trying to keep things simple here)? But tell me in a bit, after we’ve watched Saga doing some more investigating in her inimitable style.

 

 

*My friend who lectures in English once told me that placket used to be considered a rude word and now I struggle to type it without sniggering.  However I can’t bring myself to explain what it’s a euphemism for, you’ll just have to use your imagination.

 

 

Super Hero Niece

Once upon another time, in a place that isn’t here, I had quite a collection of frankly daft dresses that I loved. The floorlength grey knitted one, the red fake fur mini dress, the orange and gold crochet one to name but a few. These days, I have neither the figure nor the occasion to have such items in my wardrobe, but I do still have a love for statement clothing and I’m starting to be able to make them too.

Luckily for me I have a niece whose just finished her first year at uni, studying art no less, so it is surely de riguer for her to have something a little wacky in her wardrobe? So when I came across some pop art stylee superhero skiing themed cartoon print jersey online and was instantly smitten yet couldn’t imagine wearing it myself, she sprang to mind. And she was foolish enough to furnish me with her measurements. Mwa ha ha.

Ta Da

Ta Da

So lo and behold the red-jump-suited-skiing-“super hero to succor”-evil-cuthulu-snowboarding-fighting-camino-cap dress was born (and breathe).

topstitching a the shoulder

topstitching a the shoulder

Yup, I splashed out on a pattern rather than winging a dress from a t shirt pattern as I wanted to do things properly. Based on her measurements I added 4″ to the bodice and 1″ to the skirt, which is less alarming when you realise she’s considerably taller than the 5’5″ the pattern is drafted for.

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twin needle hemline

Other than that, my only change to the pattern was to use clear elastic in the shoulder and waist seams to stop it stretching out. (Although I did seriously consider adding pockets).

teal rib binding

teal rib binding

I cut into some unused teal knit from my stash for the bindings, it was by far my favourite from the choices available.

barrie briefs

barrie briefs

Oh and when I’d finished I squeezed out a pair of matching Barrie Briefs because superhero’s have to have the right pants don’t they?

modelled

modelled

I didn’t ask her to model those, but I did have another volunteer!

See how she's so tall she towers over sheep

Patient niece stands in cold for more photo’s for mad aunties blog

Now, teenager’s don’t talk much so I’m taking a verdict of “comfy” on the dress (that was literally, her entire comment) as a good sign. And I heard she wore it out over jeans (Scotland doesn’t always have t shirt dress weather) which is a good sign.

So I’m counting this as a success. And it was so easy to make that if she’s not careful she’ll get another one.