And then there were three

Following my daughter-seal-of-approval of the sunshine yellow skirt, I’m on a secret operation to make a bunch more. But shhhh! Don’t tell anyone, because it’s a… you know! Operation Sunshine Yellow begins…

First step: preparing the fabric. An overnight soak in the bath removes the starch from the fabric – which is used to literally stick the threads together while it’s being woven. Then into the washing machine with some Dylon machine dye.

Next step: refining the construction process. While making up three skirts in three different sizes I learn:

  • my overlocker blade gives up the ghost when cutting through more than four layers of fabric. So I precut some of the side seams before overlocking
  • my labels melt if I iron them at maximum temperature. So I’ll give that a miss next time.
  • put pockets on before doing the side and back seams. Otherwise, you’re working in a tube of fabric that’s only 25cm wide – very fiddly!
  • I should consult my commercial patterns fffffor construction methods – a slow learning curve at this stage impinges on my fffffmotivation and satisfaction.
  • I need to ffffffffix the ‘f’ key on my keyboard. It’s sticking and makes me express myself in fffffunny way.

All in all – this is a good place to be. At the end of my first week, I’ve run up three trial skirts in sizes 18m, 2y and 3y. Next steps – getting my numerous toddler friends to try them on and see how they fit!


Sunshine yellow skirt – finished

Yellow skirt final An amazingly sunny day, and instead of rushing out to the park to enjoy it, I finally completed the sunshine yellow skirt. I tried to sew quickly and efficiently, and sort of failed. Don’t get me wrong – the finished item is a good bit of sewing, but my thought processes were super-muddled and I did LOTS of staring into space. My muddledness included: sewing on the yoke upside down. Three times. Sewing the faux pocket flaps on the back instead of the front, as per my design. Then realising they look better on the back and sewing them back in place. Cutting the waistband 10cm too short. And instead of focusing solely on drafting the pattern and making the skirt, getting sidetracked, halfway through, into a poorly executed and fruitless tidy-up of the hall cupboard – abandoned after 35 minutes, annoyingly. Pocket flap close upBut I’m happy with the finished item – it’s as I envisaged, pepped up a little with a contrast floral fabric on the pocket flaps and the waistband facing. The adjustable elastic on the waistband looks about right (see, I’m very scientific about these things. Measurements are for wimps). Yellow skirt waistband Next step – seeing if Little Miss will wear it. The photographic evidence is…. Yes! She likes it – strikes a moody model pose! putting on yellow skirtYes! She tries to put it on, voluntarily, before I’m quite ready with camera! Yellow skirt and matching shoesHurrah! Selects coordinating shoes! yellow skirt washing hands Praises be! Wears it while washing hands! yellow skirt with dinosaurGadzooks! Confronts dinosaurs in it! yellow skirt at playgroupand finally, wears it in public at playgroup *sniffs* To say I’m pleased is an understatement. Thanks Marina. I made your skirt, you made my day.

Sunshine yellow skirt

grey day

I’ve waited months for a day like this – grey, drizzly, unwelcoming weather. And the best bit? I’m at home to enjoy it.

And, what’s even better, there’s *just* enough of this bright yellow fabric to make Marina a skirt that’s been on my mind for quite some months now.

yellow fabric

So, the plan is…

  • draft a rough pattern using a GAP skirt for overall dimensions
  • find buttons for the pocket flaps
  • pop a couple of buttonholes in some elastic in to make the waistband adjustable
  • dig the sewing machine out
  • and get sewing.

pattern idea sketch

The big question is will she wear it? Drop by tomorrow next week for photographic evidence….

Update: sewing halted by life events… more soon.

Swan t-shirt

marina in swan tshirt

A train journey, some minor preparation and FINALLY I’ve put the broderie anglaise to use.

A few years ago, a friend spotted a skip full of ribbons and other adornments, allegedly outside Luella Bartley‘s workshop, post-bankruptcy. One of the spoils was a 6m length of beautiful broderie anglaise, about 4 inches wide. And she was kind enough to give it to me!

broderie anglaise

NB – the google suggests that this might not be broderie anglaise: it could be either the cambric and organdy shown on Juan Boluda’s website. I have to say, I wouldn’t know the difference. Any suggestions?

I’ve imagined a billion projects that it could adorn, but none of them felt right or came to fruition. Until I met a funky-dressed 18-month-old at my local children’s centre, sporting a swan-embellished t-shirt, tail feathers fashioned in net. Aha. My swan shall have Bartley tail feathers.

swan in progress

I drew the swan from a google picture, and cut it from a scrap of white fleece. Beak from a scrap of yellow dyed canvas (‘duck‘ actually, which pleases my pun-loving heart no end). Folded the tail feathers by eye. Both body, beak and tail feathers handstitched, using blanket stitch, on a train trip to Devon. Took over an hour to do, but afforded me some real satisfaction and quality thinking time… Sometimes handsewing gives you so much more than the finished article.

swan close up

A little project with a big return on the effort, an effective way to use up scraps, and a most pleasing symmetry: the tshirt design that I ripped off  gave me inspiration, was H&M. Check the label and you’ll see….the black t-shirt I embellished is by…. H&M.

And the biggest bonus of all? My daughter WEARS it.

swan tshirt finished

M is for… marimekko

marina in marimekkoSnaffled a lovely child’s Marimekko t-shirt at the Chiswick Boot Sale last weekend, only to find small hole in the front. So rustle up plan to hide it in a reverse applique ‘M’. I get busy while the little one slumbers and take

  • one vintage pillow-case, from a Secret Thrift Shop up north
  • one reverse applique tutorial – gazillions out there!
  • fusible interfacing from stash
  • embroidery thread from Brick Lane
and …
  • choose a design – I use a capital ‘M’ from the Eames stencil font. I measure out 10cm on a piece of paper, pull the ‘M’ up on screen and enlarge it until it is about 10cm wide, then trace directly from the screen.
  • draw ‘M’ onto the WRONG side of interfacing. Note: I get this wrong so my final ‘M’ is actually the wrong way round. I realise this WELL past the point of no return – but am saved by M’s symmetry – phew!
  • fuse the interfacing to the WRONG side of the applique fabric
  • cut out ‘M’ +3-4mm
  • pin to the WRONG side of the tshirt. Make sure I cover the hole!
  • sew with a straight stitch around the ‘M’
inside the reverse applique
  • on the RIGHT side, handstitch a running stitch in embroidery floss along the machine stitch line
cutting out the m reverse applique
  • snip out the tshirt fabric 3mm inside the embroidery line
Next time I do it I will
– make sure my letter/pattern is the right way round – FIRST time
– attach interfacing more carefully – it took me three goes because I ironed too vigorously and smooshed up the interfacing
– make sure my design actually COVERS the hole – I cut one ‘M’ way too small
– consider purchasing an embroidery hoop – it would make the handstitching easier.
Once done, grapple with the thorny challenge of a small, determined model, who is capable of wriggling, running and roaring independent movement.
Thanks Daddy for taking over on the camera!

action shot of marina

About me

I started this blog to help me Get Things Done: sewing and knitting mostly.
But now I have a daughter! So I continue to daydream in enormous detail about what I'd like to make, but squeeze the 'doing' into precious naptimes and evenings.

Can I keep it up? Time will tell!

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