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

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Short trews

marina in short trousers

From a pair of unflattering shorts comes a pair of short trews for our little miss. The shorts are low rise, pegged and cut my thighs off at their widest – so rarely get worn, funnily enough. But a nice fabric and decently made, so I hang on to them for years longer than I oughta.

It’s the low-rise that does it – a few sunny weeks back I find myself thinking they are so ridiculously low, they’ll probably fit Marina in a matter of months… so I measure them against a pair of her trousers and the infinitesimal difference inspires me to make sure SOMEONE wears them before summer disappears.

A few refashioning hours later they are transformed, after I

  • remove 20cm from the overall waistband and leg width
  • fake a ruffled hip pocket from the spare fabric trimmed off
  • insert elastic into the waistband
  • insert new but thrifted button on waistband
  • remove 5cm from the legs at the back yoke seam (this brings the back waistband down so the difference between it and the front is only about 3cm)
  • reposition the back pockets, having sewn in small pleats at the top to reduce width
  • gather the leg hems into an elastic
marina stands in short trews
The shape is by eye and I make it up as I go along. The 14-month old figure is pretty straight up and down, so the side seams are at a right angle to the bottom hem. Levelling out the waistband – again by eye, but also using another pair of shorts for reference. Back pockets are pleated so they fit onto the back leg, but keep the lovely curve and point of the original design.
short trews pocket and yoke
With hindsight, it is a pretty easy project. But I am mightily pleased to have finished these, as I’d forgotten how faffy refashioning can be – realising you could have done something better, dithering over whether to unpick and redo, not measuring my daughter so not knowing how tight to make the waistband and regretting sewing while she’s asleep but knowing it’s not possible when she’s up and about. Beginner’s mistakes after decades of sewing, but they come back time and time again.
short trews fake frill pocket
But do you know what was the biggest surprise? I thought, I even wrote (see two paras above), that I dreamed this design up – the feminine frills at the pocket, the gathered rear pockets, and elasticated leg cuffs.
side by side short trews
But NO. I only realised it when I pulled these H&M jeans from the washing machine… what a rip-off!
Oops! Don’t tell anyone, will you?

Refashioned stripey dress

marina in stripey dress

Once more my sewing is inspired by kirsty of loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com. Soon as I read her post of this super-cute dress in its various permutations, I knew I had to track down the pattern – McCalls M5916 – and give it a try. Thanks eBay!

McCalls pattern M5916

A girly dress, with puff sleeves – what could be more perfect for a little girl with hair that clearly yells ‘I’m a boy!’ to passers by? I just wish I had the nerve of the lady I met in John Lewis yesterday – her 10 month old daughter was wearing a sequinned hat with fake hair extensions tumbling down her back. Quite something.

marina_with_shark

I took a Next t-shirt whose colours and buttoned neckline had wowed me into spending £1.50 on it at Chiswick Car Boot Sale, but just never suited me. I cut to keep the existing neckline, and luckily, was able to match the stripes pretty well on the body, and near-as-damnit on the sleeves.

I’m really pleased with the overall look – it’s a lovely, easy pattern to follow, and the puffed and overlapped two part sleeve gives just enough frou to be interesting. BUT I really need to go back to basics on using the overlocker, and sewing straight lines on very stretchy jersey. There’s crazy looping and wibbling going on all over the place which I just ignored and ploughed on regardless. But it bothers me.

stripe-sleeve-detail

Does anyone know of a decent online guide to no-tears-overlocking? Please share!

From scratch: baby bouncer cover

bouncer cover with bear

Following the very sage advice from Barb & Mary Nanna – for which BIG thanks – figure I *do* have a number of bags – casual, smart, plastic and some even water-proof – which can be trialled over the next few weeks to help me work out what’s really needed from a diaper bag.

Therefore abandon an Orla Kiely knock-off-inspired diaper bag last-minute-before-baby-arrives sewing project, and instead embark on baby bouncer cover last-minute-before-baby-arrives sewing project.

The bouncer seat was given us by the lovely M&F as part of their generous donation to our new family, but I fancied something a bit more monochrome, to fit in with my love of black and white furnishing fabrics – see background of most photos on this blog.

Regular visitors here may recognise the snake-charming effect that IKEA fabrics have on me & my wallet. In fact there’s an entire annexe of the stash under the sofa which consists largely of their monochrome mid-century modern prints that have won my heart.

So what better use to put this ovals-decorated fabric to, than as the star attraction in this updated bouncer. Bear seems to like bouncer. Hope baby does too. If the aesthetic don’t ring his/her bells, the bouncer vibrates at two different speeds. What’s not to like? ;-)

bouncer cover on sofa & animal friends

I faithfully copied the original cover, complete with high tech features including:

  • seat & body of cover made from fabric – wadding – shower curtain fabric – therefore padded,  AND leak-proof, we hope. Shower curtain fabric from the ever marvellous John Lewis.
  • support strap with side release buckles and twill binding from MacCulloch & Wallis (reasonably good selection of haberdashery, fixings etc – cute looking website, but in-store old-school customer service with a scowl. NO refunds NO exchanges NO credit. Oh, ok then.).

bouncer cover with bear & fizz

Oh and in case you’re wondering, baby is due today. Must prepare by wrestling bottle of fizz from bear’s paw and popping it in fridge.

oh noes! where de baby go?

cat and moses basket

 Moses basket cover, with hubby-donated icanhascheezburger-style caption.
Always thought the pet tyrannosaurus rex was a liability,
but we’ve never caught him in the act before…

See? Told you I’d been doing *something*. Exhibit number one: moses basket cover (baby still in utero, not in dino). The fabric was a cheery set of IKEA kitchen curtains my sister-in-law gave me, about five years ago. They sat in the box under the bed, waiting to meet the right breezy summer dress pattern.

Which I thought I’d found about three years ago, but did not account for a) having never tried on a dress of that shape before (sleeveless, round yoke & gathered above the bust) and it looking quite wrong on my body and b) some inadvertantly comedic pattern matching, that gave me a perky melon on each bust point. I gave up, and donated the 80% finished dress to a sewing classmate.  Wonder if she ever finished it off? Or noticed the ‘fruity-boob’ as it were?

Anyhoo, fast forward to May 2010, and this fresh and bright cotton seemed perfect for the moses basket. And, as I’m still waiting to find out if Baby is a boy or a girl, the green/yellow combo fits the neutral bill well enough, I think. 

Although a friend tells me, her 16-month-old daughter can be head to toe in pink – in a dress, no less – and still get asked how old *he* is. Must be the short hair. We are tied to our gender assumptions, aren’t we? Don’t get me wrong, there are assumptions about gender that I think are totally valid, others utterly ridiculous. But my motivations are altogether more shallow – I just find the thought of repeated conversations about Baby gender rather boring.

moses basket interior

The pattern is a complete copy of the cover that came with it, minus the frills. Takes elastic, four buttons and about 3 hours from start to finish.

If anyone wants a copy, just send me a message where I can contact you & then I can mail you the pattern & some basic instructions. It’ll be on newspaper rather than anything fancy, and if it’s after Baby comes, it may take me some time to get to the post office. I’m willing but increasingly aware that my knowledge of Life After Baby is pure theory. Not for long, though! 10 days and counting…

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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