29th September 2012 Helen 2Comment

My first few weeks of leave were frustrating. I’m not used to having much time to myself and I naively thought I’d have loads of energy and enthusiasm to clear many items off my ‘to do’ list. Eh, not so! My first week was sleepy. My second hit a personal low-point where I started actually wondering what would happen to the Real Housewives of New York. Weeks three and four were all about Pinterest – which has now, in week five, resulted in a completely ludicrous wishlist of things I want to make / do / learn. Now, on the cusp of going back to work, I have a few half finished jobs and a long list of great intentions for crafty winter evenings.

One thing I successfully have achieved though is learning how to follow sewing patterns to make a few nice pressies and kiddie bits. They are not perfect or even massively original but I’m happy that I’ve learnt the basics and gotten a much better handle on what my sewing machine and I can accomplish. And (in the unlikely scenario my husband is reading) my lovely little creations are also a complete justification for my (possibly) excessive splurge on fabric.com! Like any justification is needed!

Two very cute things I made are this little skirt and a beautiful tunic for my little girl.

The pattern from the skirt came from the book 101 Great Ways to Sew a Metre. I had made a very cute little ‘Messenger’ Style Montessori bag for my son earlier which was really nice and simple, so I felt up for a bit more of a challenge. The pattern was really simple to follow and the pleats and detailing turned out really well. The only change I made was to use an adjustable waist band and button as my little girl is tall but skinny. I tried to make her model it but it looked ridiculous as its size 2T and she’s only 16 months. Also she wouldn’t stay still so a shot on the ironing board will have to suffice. The fabric is Indian Summer Hearts in green.

The skirt is great but I have to say the tunic really is fab! I have been looking around for a nice pattern for one with sleeves but when I saw a really cute sleeveless version on Pinterest I jumped in! I am not mad about frilly girls clothes – not least as my little messer feeds herself with her whole body, but also because before she started walking she was a bum shuffler and scooted along with her right leg underneath. She needed to have leggings, tights or trousers on or her poor legs ended up rubbed and dry so tunics are a favourite around here.

I got a basic pattern from a cute website called Schwin and Schwin. It was free in a size 2T.  The pattern was pretty easy to print (a series of PDFs) and stick together. I made a few mistakes in my cutting – just stupid things really, but I’ve learnt the hard way that cutting properly (and endless ironing) is the trick, so I persevered. My photo is not great but there’s a lovely round collar with a big button; piping detailing around the collar and also under the arms.  The pattern used a fairly haphazard rouching at the skirt but I copied the pleating I learnt from the little skirt above so it didn’t look bulky. The fabric is from Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern range –Fresh Poppies in rose.

I love the finished product (pictured yet again on my uncooperative model) with two qualifications. First, there’s no way this is a size 2T. As I mentioned my daughter is tall but slender and at 16 months it’s lovely and roomy but in no way big. Secondly, I was disappointed with the finish. The pattern doesn’t provide for lining so when you see the inside of the tunic it’s a bit tatty looking.

Not to be outdone though I’ve made a second one from a little friend’s birthday and I lined it and it looks great. To make the lining I just used a white cotton underskirt cut to exactly the same dimensions as the outside, with small pleats as before.  I first did the side stitching separately and then joined the ‘regular skirt’   and the ‘lining skirt’ if you know what I mean, with wrong sides facing, at the arms and also at the top.  I left out the piping detailing at the underarms because with lining this wasn’t necessary.  I hemmed the lining skirt slightly shorter and the finish is frankly a million times better.

I used another Amy Butler fabric from the same range – in Ivory / Fresh Poppies. Though the skirt is slightly bulkier the finished item is much nicer and does the amazing fabric justice I reckon.

Two photos of the lining of the tunic. A nice finish under the arm and also inside the top.

I think this will look great on our little buddy A with a lovely long sleeved top and a little pair of jeans!

In terms of learning the basis I have found a few handy tips for getting started / refreshed on the whole sewing thing. I’ve linked many of them on Pinterest – under my username busymamas on the Sewing and Stitching Board and will post links here as I …. remember!

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2 thoughts on “Sewing and Stitching 101: beginners sewing projects

  1. very cute! you’re so industrious! do you make all these things while your two kids are at home? i never made anything (except a bit of knitting i suppose) while off work with two kids…

    1. Ah thanks so much! I’m very much a learner so things probably take me way longer than they should! As for working with the kiddies – fat chance! They’re into everything so I’m reliant on their 7.30 bedtime to get my little hobby jobs done. xx

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