Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Reindeer Bimaa/Recess Raglan hack

'Christmas tops for the boys' has been on my to-do list for weeks.  I had a few ideas, but nothing I desperately wanted to make.  Then last week I suddenly thought of the couple of metres of brown jersey plush from Plush Addict I had sitting in my stash.  I bought it with animal tops in mind, and I did make one cat hoody, but the rest has been languishing, unloved, for a year or more.  Not any longer!

It's a lovely fabric for making kids' clothes.  The fluffy side is not as soft as normal plush/minky fabric, and the pile is a bit longer.  But the back is a lovely soft cotton jersey- so unlike with normal plush fabric, which is just polyester all the way through, there's no need to line this to make it feel nice on the inside.  Hooray!

My bright idea was a brown background with reindeer antlers and a red nose... Then I decided it would need eyes too.  I printed out the shapes (the antlers were a free clipart) and traced them onto bondaweb so that I could iron the pieces on.  They are all lovely, soft plush.  The black bits on the eyes are Kam snaps- I was going to use buttons but, nah, too much trouble.  I sewed around all of the pieces with a plain straight stitch.

The body and sleeves are the Recess Raglan by See Kate Sew.  This pattern is super-quick to sew, but I find the neck holes are a bit on the small side.  That didn't matter for this as I added a shawl collar from Lou Bee Clothing's Bimaa sweater, which has a nice wide neck.  Before cutting out the pattern pieces I gave them the neck line of the Bimaa.  I also shortened the body and added a band around the waist.  Both of these patterns are slim fitting (and the sleeves on the raglan always come up short on Big Cub) so I sized them up- 6T and 3T for my just-5 and just-2-year-olds.  The fit is great- they are more like loose sweaters which works brilliantly with this fabric. 

They sewed up very quickly and easily.  I used my serger throughout the construction.  The only tricky bit was sewing the front collar bit- which has a lot of layers.  A lot of thick, fluffy layers.  It
went something like this:
Yakov (that's my serger's name, of course):  I don't like this.
Me:  never mind, just this bit left.  Another inch or two left, that's all...
Yakov:  but it's so fluffy!  The fluff keeps puffing up and my knife misses it and doesn't cut it and it gets all tangled.
Me:  I know, I'm sorry, almost done...  C'mon, let's keep going...
Yakov:  no, no, I've had enough.  I can't do that last inch.  I give up!  Look, now my needle threads have both snapped!
Me:  oh, that sucks... Just a teensy bit left, let's get you threaded back up again and...
Yakov:  no!  No, now my lower looper thread is snapped, and you know that's the worst one to thread back up.  Give it up!  Leave me alone!  No more plush!
Me:  well, we just have to finish this teensy tiny last half an inch...
Yakov:  No.  Absolutely not.  Snap!  Snap!  There goes a needle thread and both loopers!  No more!  And look, I'm all full of fluffy linty dusty bits.  And you haven't oiled me in ages!  
Me:  That's unfair and untrue.  I oiled you just the weekend before last.  I promise I'll get you two nice new needles...

And at that point I gave up and tacked the last centimetre down with my regular machine, which sewed through all those layers like a knife through butter.  Lovely!  How snuggly does this collar look?   I wish the Bimaa came in ladies' sizes, I would love a top with this collar!

I tried to take a lot of photos but when they were both together they had to be stuffing their faces with sweets, or fighting...

And little cub just moved too fast to get many decent pictures!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The shiny Frozen skater dress

Oh I wish I had a picture of this being modelled!

When I was in Fabricland I couldn't resist picking up some of this shiny fabric.  I wanted to try a shiny skater/Frozen dress, what with Big Cub's friends' birthdays coming up.  Turns out they're all mad about Frozen.  Who knew?  I thought is was mostly slightly older kids who were Frozen-crazy.  I guess only having boys, it's passed me by a bit.

It's some sort of polyester holographic knit, though not very stretchy as knits go, and not a 4-way stretch.  It looked and felt like it would be a nightmare to work with, but it was actually really nice.

The pattern is a colour blocked Little Girl's Skater Dress by Kitschy Coo- the same as I used for my other Frozen dresses a few weeks ago.  I lengthened the cape for this and added a snowflake ribbon trim from the amazing ribbon stash I inherited from my Grandma.

I posted a little bit more about the construction etc on Kollabora.  But basically this was quick and easy and it looks so sweet.  Some little girl is going to be really happy with this...!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Angry Birds party bags

One thing that really surprised me when I started reading sewing blogs is that some sewing mums sew their kids' party bags.  I've seen this a few times, and at first I thought whaaaaat?  Where do they find the time? But over time people have started asking me where I find the time for things and I realised you just sort of make time for things.  Otherwise nothing would ever get done!  With Big Cub's 5th birthday approaching I decided to make Angry Birds party bags, and sure enough I somehow found the time.

These are pretty simple really (though getting them done was a real group effort).  Long-suffering husband made templates from a print out of an Angry Birds picture.  He also cut out all the pieces for my prototype bird!  My sister joined me for a trip to Fabricland to buy 2 metres of red felt and lots of felt squares for the smaller bits.  I bought all of their 5- and 6-inch red zips, plus a few green and blue too because I needed 30 and they only keep large stocks of black and white.

When I was making up the prototype bird I had the bright idea of using KAM snaps for the eyes.  They look very professional!  I had to order some in black and accidentally ordered a size smaller than the ones I normally use, but actually I think this size worked better anyway.

There was no way we could draw around all these pieces on felt and cut them out.  No way.  It would have taken forever.  Each bird had 2 eye pieces, 2 beak pieces, a tummy piece, a tail and a face.  That's 210 pieces for 30 bags!  As well as a front, a back and a strap.  So I tentatively tested a piece of bondaweb on the felt and... phew!  The felt didn't melt (Ha!  That sounds like it could be a Dr Seuss book!).  So we traced the pieces onto bondaweb and ironed them on, which made them super quick to cut out.  I say super quick... there were three of us working on this so I guess it does add up to a lot of time!  It was quicker than I expected anyhow, and we also ironed the beaks and eyes onto the faces before I sewed around them, which was easier than pinning them in place.

I cut the backs with the felt folded into 6 layers, and rough cut the fronts the same way.  No way could I have been precise enough, through all that bulk, to cut their hair too, so long-suffering husband was given the task of styling their hair by hand.  He has a flair for this sort of work and did a great job.

The handles were cut in long strips with my 50cm ruler, then folded in half and serged along the raw edge.  I made them all into one long, 12 metre strip and cut them off as needed!

Once all of their pieces were sewn on, construction began.  I sewed the zips onto the front first, along with the handles, then pinned the back in place before sewing that onto the zip too.  I placed a pin to mark each end of the zipper, so as not to sew over it and break my needle, them sewed around the edge.  And finally trimmed the edges to make sure they matched up!

They look really good.  They're not super neat, or super professional.  The zips are a bit wobbly and
the stitching is a bit uneven.  But they were fast to make and the kids loved them!  With more time I could have made them perfect, but who cares?  The party bag was the main party 'gift', rather than the party bag contents.  We just put in a mini box of smarties and an angry birds rubber and stickers.

Thanks so much to long-suffering husband, and my sister (who was also rather long-suffering in this endeavor!).  I just might keep one for myself...
 P. S. Little cub says "you know what?  I'm totally going to sit on your party bags so you can never take a decent photo of them!"  Cheeky little monkey.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Completed: Skater dresses... including Frozen dress!

 Apologies first up... I don't have any pictures of these lovely little dresses being modelled.  We don't have any girl cubs here... so these are all destined for the shop.  Hopefully they'll find lovely new homes! 

Also- more apologies for the photo quality.  I've been thinking about this more and more lately, because I read a lot of other people's sewing blogs, which always have beautiful photographs of lovely children.  And I always think... wow.  My photos are rubbish.  I'd love to take better photographs, but:
1) it's another one of those things that I never have the time to do.  Wow, there are so many thing I'd like to do- sew more, read more, blog more... but there aren't enough hours in the day so it comes down to taking no photos or taking very 'normal' photos. 
2) My little cubs are not terribly cooperative.  I've tried bribing them but they don't stay still for long enough.
3) We live in London.  It's a good place to live, but it's not all that scenic in our immediate neighbourhood.  We have a small back garden, surrounded by fences and other back gardens.  We can go to take pictures in the park, but it's also surrounded by gardens, and full of people.  We can take pictures down the high street, but nobody wants to see the window of Iceland... do they?  there don't seem to be many decent places nearby to take pictures for the blog.

So here we are.  Dresses hung up, and dresses on the lawn (mercifully it's dry today.  Well, only a bit damp at least).  I know, I know, the grass is dark long and full of terrors weeds.  The lawn is not my area of expertise, and in my defence it was cut last weekend.  How did it get to be so unruly?

Rambling aside, I'm loving sewing up these little beauties.  The pattern is the Skater Dress by Kitschy Coo.  I've made myself two Lady Skater dresses from the adult version of the same pattern (which I totally meant to blog about, honestly, it just... never happened.  Yet.)  Once they're cut out, they take about an hour each.  I have my sewing machine and serger side by side so I flit between the two for seams and topstitching which is super efficient.  As for the hems... my double needle and I had had a falling out again- but I tried to replace it, which must have made it see reason because we have reached a truce and these hems are looking goooood!

I have it on good authority that little girls are all mad about Disney's Frozen, and I was inspired to make some dresses by this wonderful post here by Cherie at You and Mie.  She has two beautiful little daughters and she makes them the loveliest things.  I loved the way she made a Frozen dress which wasn't 'dressing-up'py- more something a little girl could wear anytime, without looking like she's playing dressing up.  This is my version:

To make my Frozen dress I traced the bodice pieces for the pattern but added 2cm to the length.  I then drew a curved line across the front and a straight one across the back, to make the top and bottom bodice pieces.  I had tried a prototype where I sewed the cape into the back seam, but it was just too bunchy and wouldn't lie straight.  So I decided to attach the cape with velcro, and I'm really pleased with the result. 

The sweets fabric is also from Kitschy Coo.  If I had a little girl, I'd be keeping this one for her.  It's so unusual- wouldn't it be awesome with red tights or leggings, and some winter boots?

The other fabrics are from myfabrics, which is my new favourite source of affordable knit fabrics.  I also bought the Frozen cape fabric from there, which was a bit of a gamble as I didn't know what it would be like.  I was pleased to find it's exactly what I wanted- a little bit stretchy, a little bit velvetty (is that even a word?), not too thick or heavy, a little bit shiny, and even a little bit glittery.  And it's machine washable, which is a pretty important quality when you're making something white for children!
This pattern is definitely a winner for me, and I really hope some little girls enjoy these dresses as much as I've enjoyed sewing them!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Dinosaur Norah dress

A couple of months ago we went to a friend's daughter's third birthday party. I took her a pink starry circle skirt, which was cute... But it turns out she's mad about dinosaurs, so I kind of wished I'd made her something dinosaury, and I resolved to make her something when I got a chance.

Turns out there's not as much dinosaur fabric out there as you would think, and I ended up not getting any until a couple of weeks ago when I placed an order with They have a great range of knit fabrics, which is what I was looking for, and I bought when there was free p+p (from Germany)... and I added some dinosaur print fabric to my order.

We're seeing my friend and her little girl tomorrow and I thought I'd try to sew something up for her. I had a look at my patterns for a dress which would be quick and easy and the Norah dress by Mouse House Creations looked like it might work.
And it did!  The Norah has lots of gorgeous variations, with collars etc, but I made the simplest version possible- sleeveless, no collar.  The pattern prints over just 12 pages so it was quick to tile together, quick to trace (just 4 pattern pieces for this version!   Hooray!) and quick to cut the fabric.  I started it at 1 in the afternoon when little cub went for his nap, and by the time I had to wake him for the school run at 2.30 the dress was almost done.  I just had to sew up the back seam and sew on the button later on. 

I had a button in my box which was exactly the right size and colour. The back is not as perfect as I would like, but I did sew this up super fast!

The only change I made to the directions was to understitch the neckline. I like sewing and I don't like ironing, and in my experience the time it takes to understitch is less than it would take to press the seam nicely without the understitching.

I cut a size 3T and my model, who will remain nameless, is almost 5 and quite tall, so it was very short. But on a 3-and-a-bit year old it think it will fit just fine, and it will probably be wearable with leggings until she's 5 or more, too. I really hope she likes it!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Many many Anytime at all tees!

It probably seems as though things have been pretty quiet here at the Pocket Fox den.  Actually the opposite is true- there's been loads going in and no time to write about it!  So here's a quick look at the t-shirts my boys are living in at the moment...

The Anytime at all tee pattern by Schwin designs has been my summertime staple for the boys.  Yesterday I made four of them in preparation for our week in Austria.

This is a great pattern.  I presume it's named Anytime at all because your kids can wear these t-shirts anytime at all.  However it should really be called the 'Make it in anytime at all', because you really can.  Especially with a serger (my new toy!), although it's certainly not necessarily.  The first time I made one with my serger, it sewed up in 15 minutes flat.  It looks pretty good, even if I do say so myself.  (The Angry Birds badge is a later addition, bought from H and M- 3 different embroidered badges for £2.50- bargain!  And I sewed it on, of course, because I didn't trust it to stay on with ironing alone.  It just happened to be a perfect match).

The pattern includes different sleeve lengths and colour blocking options.  I've changed it a bit to include bands around the sleeves and waist, just to give more colour options.  I also did one with a woven section and a button placket at the top, to use up a scrap of freight trains fabric and make it match a pair of shorts I'd made with the same fabric:

And here are some action shots!

I don't know what happened with this hat...

In case you didn't already guess I can't get enough of this pattern!