A good week and a new skirt

This week I gave up a couple of hours to help out the Buddy Bag Foundation. They pack backpacks for children who have had to leave their homes for refuges all over the UK, usually as a result of domestic violence in their home. The bags have around twelve items inside to help the children transition into their new lives, often without any of their own possessions.

Amazing charity helping children in refuges

We’ve supported our local women’s refuge since Eleanor was small, donating all sorts from clothes to our buggy, but what I loved about these bags is that everything is brand new. It’s a small thing for those children, but it can really help them feel valued and loved. The first thing they see when they open the bag is a teddy, which is so nice!

The Buddy Bag Foundation are always looking for help, so if you can donate time, money or items for bags, please contact them here.

Buddy Bag Foundation
We packed 180 bags!

The rest of this week has been pretty good too. I’ve been hiding from the sun as much as possible though because I’m possibly one of the palest people in the world. Plus, hayfever. Ugh. Aside from near-constant sneezing, I’ve managed to finish a skirt and discovered a really interesting new podcast. I also did an interview with The Green Parent magazine which was pretty exciting!

Going forward I am making a commitment to using sustainable and ethical fabrics, but I also think it’s appropriate to use up the fabric I’ve already got at home, before I start buying anything else. So, with that in mind, here’s the latest addition to my wardrobe…

Super twirly circle skirt!

This fabric makes me happy when I look at it. I won it in a competition (last year I think) and I just love the pattern and the colours. It’s like blurred chevrons, but there’s something about it that makes me think of zebras. Crazy colourful zebras. What’s not to love?

I’d put it away because I just couldn’t decide what to make with it at the time. I’d thought about maybe making a Cambie dress or something similar, but I wasn’t sure whether the print might be a bit much all over. I’m glad I waited for a while though because I think a circle skirt was the perfect choice.

I went with a full circle skirt because they’re my favourite style of skirt and I wanted to use as much of this fabric as possible. I think a circle skirt works well for this fabric too because it shows off as much of the design as possible. I also added pockets because they’re just an essential for me and definitely influence how much I wear something.

The making was uneventful, if a little slow. I used an online calculator to work out the measurements and then it was pretty plain sailing. I used my overcast foot to finish all of the seam inside, I want this skirt to last. The invisible zip caused no problems and I added a hook and eye above it too, which looks much better. I don’t know why I didn’t get a photo of the back, but it’s in the wash now.

The fabric itself is peachskin, which means it’s 100% polyester. Polyester is obviously not eco-friendly as it’s made from petroleum. I think it would be less eco-friendly of me to ditch this this rather than using it though, given that it’s been sat in my cupboard for a year at least. It’s definitely an ethical dilemma though.

I think if I hadn’t been so convinced that I’d get years of wear from this skirt, I probably would have gifted the fabric to someone else. As it is, it has such a beautiful range of colours in the design (including navy, white, mustard, pale blue, yellow and rust) that I know it will be a really versatile piece. I’ve worn it with a t-shirt so far, but it’ll also look great with a camisole, blouse or cropped sweater. This skirt will get a lot of love.

Have a great weekend!

Toria

This Is Me

One of the (many) things I took away from Blogtacular was that I need to be myself. Especially here. So, with that in mind, and because I’m feeling like finding my niche has given the blog a fresh start, this is me…

Thimble End | A sustainable sewing blog

I’m Victoria, but most people call me Toria. I’ve never liked being called Vicky. I’m from Birmingham, well, Solihull if you’re being technical, and have lived here my whole life aside from a year spent in Manchester after I graduated.

My degree was in Primary Education, with a specialism in History, and I loved every minute of it (despite the debt I’m still in over ten years later). Teaching was the only thing I ever wanted to do. I worked in a school in Birmingham, and that’s where I met Andy who was our IT guy.

I have endometriosis and was told that, without IVF, I would never have children. Somehow I managed to beat those odds twice and have two daughters, Eleanor and Phoebe. I also have a step-daughter. After Eleanor was born I made the tough decision not to return to work; childcare was too expensive and I knew that senior management were unlikely to allow me to return part-time too. I do often wonder whether I should go back to teaching, but I still don’t feel the time is right at the moment. Andy and I run our own IT business, and although it’s not my passion, I do appreciate the flexibility it gives us!

As far as passions go, I taught myself to sew when Eleanor was a baby and I’ve never looked back. I taught myself using my late Grandma’s sewing machine and I am full of regret that I didn’t ever ask her to teach me. My Grandma is one of the biggest influences on my life even though she passed away when I was 16. I miss her every day.

Little Squish | Unisex, Screen-printed, Eco-friendly

Sewing has led me on an interesting journey over the past few years. I started a business making children’s clothes, which started on Etsy, and my first blog came about because I wanted to keep track of the other things I was making. I had a bit of a light bulb moment when I learnt how to do screen-printing, which coincided with Eleanor wanting clothes that had dinosaurs on. I changed the focus of Little Squish to be unisex, bright and fairly dinosaur-based. I won awards, got featured in local press and had some wholesale customers. Sadly, life events and anxiety got the better of me and I took an extended break from the business.

After I became a parent, I really struggled with my sense of self and identity. Sewing really helped me with that – I was able to sew the clothes I wanted to wear and express myself. Don’t be fooled though, despite my penchant for loud clothing and my current pink hair, I’m not a loud person at all. I’m definitely opinionated and sarcastic, but mostly I’m self-deprecating and very reserved until I get to know people.

Endometriosis

Over the past few years, I’ve suffered with depression and anxiety. I’ve been medicated and had counselling. I’ll always be open and honest about it because I think mental health should be discussed, not hidden away. I feel like I’m just emerging from another tunnel of depression after my Nan passed away last September; it was a tough time that seemingly caused my whole family to implode. I’m still struggling with the impact of that, but it’s getting easier. One thing I can take away from this year is that although my brother and I may not see eye to eye on a lot of things, I know he’ll always be there.

Last year I discovered a new hobby, by accident. Eleanor started karate lessons and we decided to all join in as well. It’s funny to me that I willingly go to karate lessons when I was the girl hiding in the loo during PE lessons! Karate has been fantastic for both for my body and mind, and I have so much respect for our Sensei. Oss!

Thimble End - A Sustainable Sewing Blog

I started Thimble End because I wanted a fresh start and I’m so excited about how I’m changing things now because it feels like another new start. It feels right. It might surprise some people that I want to give my blog an eco focus, but actually I’ve been more and more interested in eco and ethical issues since I had my girls. We’ve used cloth nappies, cloth wipes, organic baby products, switched from washing powder to an Ecoegg, tried to buy more organic and local food produce, supported smaller companies, and more besides. I’m looking forward to give my sewing a more sustainable approach too.

Toria

 

Forward!

I wouldn’t usually blog about blogging, it’s a bit meta really, but I feel like I want to talk about what I want this blog to be going forwards. Blogtacular was almost a week ago and I honestly left with so many ideas that it’s taken that long for them to percolate. I feel the need for a new notebook coming on.

Blog planning

This week seems to have passed in a sleepy blur for me, I don’t know if it’s the effect of Blogtacular, the stress of going to London or the warmer weather. Or maybe that’s just life with kids!

So far I’ve had no real plan with this blog. It’s been a hobby. An amusement. I know that the number of people that are reading is slowly increasing, and that’s very flattering. I started a blog to document what I was making, but I’d like it to be more than that. I’m not saying I want to be a full time blogger, advertising stuff to you left and right, but I do want to write about more than the last dress I’ve sewn.

One of the workshops I went to last week was about finding your niche  and that really helped me to think about a direction for my writing, pulling together all of the things I’m passionate about.

Of course, the primary focus will always be sewing. Sewing is my main hobby and something I really am excited by and I still want to share that. I still want to blog about other creative things I get up to as well, like screen-printing and knitting, and everything else.

Did you read my blog post about reading Overdressed? If you didn’t, go check it out here. This book really is my catalyst for change.

I’ve been interested in environmental concerns for a number of years now, pretty much since I had children. I religiously read The Green Parent and I’ve made small changes to our lives to lessen our environmental impact. My children are fascinated by the natural world and long may that continue! It’s not something I’ve ever blogged about though, or particularly even spoken to people about.

Reading Overdressed, watching The True Cost (which I blog about soon) and doing all kinds of research in the past few weeks has made me realise that all of this actually does have a place here on this blog. Not only does it tie in with sewing and crafting, but it’s something I really want to share with you all.

Going forward I want this blog to be an interesting resource for environmentally-conscious sewists. I want to shout about the impact the textile and fashion industries have on the environment and on people. I want to tell you all about ethically-produced fabrics you can buy and also about sustainable clothing companies. I also want you to educate me and share what you’re doing! I don’t have all the answers as far as any of this goes, but I want to make it an interesting journey we can take together.

Toria

 

Simplicity 2226 The Stamp Edition

Going forward I am making a commitment to using sustainable and ethical fabrics, but I also think it’s appropriate to use up the fabric I’ve already got at home, before I start buying anything else. So, with that in mind, here’s the latest addition to my wardrobe…

I like Simplicity 2226. It’s easy. It’s simple. It has pockets. Winning. There will be more of these in my wardrobe for sure, they’re just good everyday skirts.

This is only the second one I’ve made though and it’s in such a loud bright fabric I don’t think I can wear it in heavy rotation. It’s too memorable. I bought the fabric last summer from Higgs & Higgs via eBay because I’ve wanted a skirt with a stamp print on it for aaaaages. No particular reason, I just think the fabric is cool.

Despite this being a really easy beginner-friendly pattern, I feel it should come with a warning: Do not attempt to sew this skirt whilst distracted by friends, gossip and cups of tea! Seriously, the mistakes I made whilst sewing this was just comical:

  • Attached the waistband upside down
  • Sewed the zip in but in the wrong place (I left out the waistband; I don’t know how)
  • Sewed the zip in perfectly on one side and then misaligned the other by about 2 inches

This is what happens when you try to sew and have visitors over. Clearly my mind was elsewhere. The second time the zip went in wrong I may have sworn at the skirt and thrown it in a cupboard to atone for its sins. It stayed there until I was thinking about what to wear for the Blogtacular photowalk and realised the bright colours would be perfect.

Of course, free of distractions, I finished it pretty quickly. I can’t tell you anything useful about what size I cut out or anything because I started this before Christmas (oh the shame!) so I can’t actually remember. I do know that ideally I should have made it a bit bigger as apparently I’ve put on weight since December. Currently it’s not the most flattering garment I own but I’ll still wear it plenty (and maybe lose weight a bit?). Here it is in all it’s photowalk glory:

Blogtacular 2017 © Amber-Rose Photography

 

Blogtacular 2017 © Amber-Rose Photography

I totally look like I’m trying to hide in that second photo. In fact I had probably spotted the camera and was hiding. I’m not a natural when it comes to having my picture taken.

So there we have it. A new skirt and the discovery that sewing around other people is not good for my sanity.

Toria

 

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Why You Should Go To Blogtacular

I’ve been blogging for a while now, first over at Little Squish, and now here but always about sewing and creativity. This year I made a leap of faith and booked an early bird ticket for Blogtacular, not really knowing what to expect or even if (as a hobby blogger) I’d get lots out of it.

Of course, if you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that Blogtacular was this weekend and I absolutely make no apologies for the number of photos and stories I shared! I had the absolute best time, even if I was anxious about travelling down to London and not knowing anyone. I’m actually feeling pretty proud of myself, I managed to travel alone, catch the the Tube, share a room with someone I’d never met and talk to loads of people. Go me!

I think I could go on for days about why Blogtacular was such an amazing experience and worth every penny, but instead I’ve summed it up for you in a handy infographic:

 

Thank Yous!

I just want to give a massive thank you and round of applause firstly to Kat, the brains behind Blogtacular. She is amazing!

The brains behind Blogtacular

I also want to thank everyone that volunteered to help out with Blogtacular, you all did such a great job of keeping the day running smoothly.

Thank you to these amazing speakers I had the pleasure of being inspired by:
Natalie Lue
Greta Soloman
Cath Dean
Sas Petherick
Emma Gannon

Blogtacular17 Closing Key Note

Also a big shout out to Jennifer, Emma and Kirsty who I hung out with a lot. You guys were friendly, inspiring and just awesome.

Meet your tribe at Blogtacular

Toria

The dress that wasn’t!

Generally speaking, I tend to sew and wear dresses that are fit and flare as I think they flatter my shape more. Recently though I’ve been looking at clothes that are a bit more, well, shapeless I guess. It started last autumn with the dress I bought for my Nan’s funeral, it can best be described as a sack dress in a viscose-type fabric. Surprisingly it was fairly flattering and I’ve worn it a few times since.

This, of course, got me looking at some different sewing patterns that I wouldn’t normally have considered and the one that I kept on coming back to is the Fen Dress by Fancy Tiger Crafts. I do like the look of this as a more casual kind of dress, and I’ve seen some lovely versions of it around the internet but I’ll admit I’m totally put off by the price.

That may not be a popular opinion, but I think for something so simple looking, it’s overpriced and I’d say the same about many other indie patterns. Of course if you DO have this pattern and can attest to it’s price-worthy awesomeness then please tell me all about it 😀

My search for a reasonably priced casual dress pattern continues, but in the meantime I decided to have a go at drafting something myself. (Spoiler alert: I failed!)

I wanted to have a go at using my black dress and tracing it off, adding in some pockets. Now, I have never in my life tried to recreate a piece of clothing and I have no drafting experience, so really what happened next was a little inevitable!

First I folded my dress in half lengthways and traced around it, adding seam allowance. Maybe if I’d left it at that it might have worked, but no, I had to try to be clever and add some pockets. Insert face palm emoji here…

So I thought I needed to split the dress into a bodice and skirt, remembering seam allowance of course and then I drafted the pockets. At this point I was feeling pretty pleased with myself, I won’t lie. I thought I’d better do a muslin, so I grabbed some large red gingham check fabric that has been languishing in my fabric pile for over a year. It’s from Hobbycraft and I bought it to make a shirt dress but it was too thin and when I pre-washed it the red ran a little. Fine for muslin-ing though.

Maybe this wasn’t actually a total fail until I got to the last bit. I was so pleased with the pockets, like ridiculously proud of my top-stitching (thanks Juki!), it was so neat.

The skirt and bodice went together fine, the only real problem I had at this point was that I should have drafted wide sleeves, they were a little tighter than I’d prefer.

Now it all went wrong. Now I was starting to see why I shouldn’t be such a cheapskate and why I should have bought the pattern I wanted. Sigh.

So, despite the sleeves being a little tight, the rest of the fit was ok. I was quite happy. But to avoid that I’m-actually-just-wearing-a-sack kind of look, especially with the gingham fabric obviously being stiffer than viscose, I decided in my infinite wisdom to add some elastic on the waist seam.

I first thought about adding a channel for the elastic, either on the inside or outside, but sadly laziness prevailed. Well laziness and children vying for my attention. Seriously, don’t sew with small people around. I added the elastic on the inside using a zig zag stitch, gathering up the garment as I went. Fail. I made such a mess of it, it looked SO bad from the outside.

At this point I considered unpicking it all and whatever, but as the sleeves weren’t a great fit anyway I decided to just bin it recycle it.

Moral of the story: Just buy the damn pattern you wanted in the first place.

Toria

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

This book will change your life

It’s not often that I read something that changes my life, but this book honestly falls into that category. I’m just sorry it’s taken me so long to discover it. If you haven’t read Overdressed by Elizabeth L. Cline, here’s a synopsis:

“Cheap fashion has fundamentally changed the way most Americans dress. Stores ranging from discounters like Target to traditional chains like JCPenny now offer the newest trends at unprecedentedly low prices. And we have little reason to keep wearing and repairing the clothes we already own when styles change so fast and it’s cheaper to just buy more.
Cline sets out to uncover the true nature of the cheap fashion juggernaut. What are we doing with all these cheap clothes? And more important, what are they doing to us, our society, our environment, and our economic well-being?”

I read this book in literally a couple of hours and I couldn’t get it out of my head. Andy must feel like he’s read it as well as I talked him to death about it for days afterwards.

I’ve never really been a follower of fashion, so I’m not someone that has ever bought into a trend only to throw it out and buy into a new one six weeks later. However I have definitely been guilty of over-shopping and treating some of my clothing as disposable in the past. A decade ago I’d have thought nothing of going into Topshop, H&M or Primark pretty much every weekend to find something to wear for a night out. Some of these things I’d wear once or twice, some a few more. I couldn’t sew back then, so if buttons came off or hems unravelled, I’d get rid of things. I had no interest in really looking after my clothes because they were so cheap. The most I ever paid for anything was £50 for a couple of Topshop dresses.

It sounds like my younger self had quite a bit in common with Cline, except my journey away from this excessive consumption coincided with learning to sew. I think this could be a similar story for a lot of the sewing community. I don’t think many of us make a decision to stop buying clothes, we just like making things ourselves and therefore take care of what we’ve made and appreciate the quality, which in turns means we don’t need to buy as many things.

Personally, I’ve never really been on a mission to create my entire wardrobe. There are some things I’m not confident in making and some things that I just don’t want to. Sewing basics hasn’t given me much joy and I’d rather chew my arm off then sew lingerie. Then there are the things I can’t sew; specific school uniform items and our karate gear. This made this book very relevant to me as I’m still a consumer of fast fashion, even if I don’t really want to be.

The frustrating thing about the fast fashion industry is that there are no easy answers. It seems to me like the genie is very much out of the bottle. Consumers expect their clothes to be low priced because we’ve all been conditioned to think like that. This means that companies can squeeze their manufacturers on price and it’s the workers who continually suffer. It’s profits over people every time. Buying high end isn’t even the answer because even designer clothes are often made in similar sweatshop conditions. Yet my assumption before reading this book was that the more expensive the clothing, the better it is for those who made it. Naive huh?

As this books lays out, fast fashion is bad for everyone except those at the top. It’s bad for the economy as so many local producers of fabric and garments can’t afford to stay in business, which in turn leads to job losses and a decline in quality of life for people. Although the facts in the book are America-centric, the same has happened here in the UK. How many factories here have closed because they can’t compete? Fast fashion is also bad for the environment as well because we’re using up all of our resources and creating huge amounts of pollution during the constant, excessive production of garments.

I was really surprised to learn about just how shady some of the biggest producers of clothing are as well. I had no idea that there are “show” factories set up in places like China which are used to show visitors around, and then the actual clothing is produced in far worse conditions. Some companies are aware of this, some just don’t care. Plenty of largecompanies seem to think it’s enough to pay lip service to transparency with a statement on their website about ethics, distancing themselves and blaming the factory owners for poor working conditions.

As sewists we can do something though. We can boycott so many fast fashion retailers by making our clothes which is fantastic. We can also use our skills to repair and refashion clothes, including second hand clothes. Sewing really can be our super power in the fight against these fast fashion retailers.

Having said that, my thoughts turned to the fabric we all buy when making our own clothes; is it actually made in better conditions than fast fashion garments? Is it good for the environment? I have to wonder whether we’re moving away from one problem to another similar one to make ourselves feel better. Buying endless amounts of fabric, that we don’t really need, isn’t exactly a solution and something I’ve long had a problem with. Every Fashion Revolution Week, which is a wonderful initiative, I see so many sewists taking great photos and telling the world that #imademyclothes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s brilliant when people make their own clothes, but is it enough to have a borderline smug attitude about that when you are constantly buying and hoarding yards and yards of fabrics that have possibly been produced in unethical ways? Fabric you buy knowing you might not even use it? I’m not saying that anyone I know and follow has this attitude, I’m just playing devil’s advocate really. I think if this is an issue that we care about, enough to give us the drive to move away from fast fashion, then as well as asking #whomademyclothes we need to be asking #whomademyfabric?

As I said, reading this book was life-changing. Shopping is ruined for me and that can only be a good thing. I can’t bring myself to buy into this industry at all and if it means saving up and spending more then so be it. I’ve been looking into retailers offering an alternative to fast fashion which I’ll blog about and I also have an amazing documentary to share with you, suggested by one of my Instagram followers, which I’ll write about in another blog post too or this will turn into War and Peace!

If you have any suggestions for further reading on this topic please leave me links and book titles in the comments. If you’d like to know more about the book, or about Fashion Revolution, scroll up and click on the photos.

Toria

 

Simplicity 1144

Poor blog. It’s feeling a bit neglected. I feel like this month has absolutely flown by though and has been very karate-centric for us, beginning with a whole weekend of training in Devon!

Devon Cliffs, UK
Devon Cliffs… absolutely beautiful on the morning that we left!
 Kawaii Karate Lottie
Lots of karate was done, even by Lottie!

I do have plenty of things to share with you though (I’ve got lots to say about reading Overdressed recently) but tonight’s is a quick post about some unselfish sewing!

Probably around this time last year, I bought quite a few Simplicity patterns in a half price sale, including 1144.

At the time I’m sure my intention to was to sew loads of lovely summery things for my girls, but as is usually the way the pattern remained untouched for ages. Plus, the weather here in the UK is not exactly great, we get like three days of summer.

As we were going on a weekend away to Devon with our karate club, I thought I’d be a little optimistic and dig this pattern out to make some shorts. Of course, it turns out that we didn’t need them as the weather wasn’t warm enough!

Sewing these shorts was ridiculously easy. Seriously, this could be the first thing you ever sew and you’d achieve it. There are two pattern pieces for the shorts, front and back, and you cut each one twice. There are no pockets or closures which makes them an even speedier sew! I decided to use the overcast stitch on my Juki on each edge so that the fabric won’t fray, and if I hadn’t done that I reckon each pair would have taken me less than half an hour from cutting out to finishing.

I was really pleased to use up a few small pieces of fabric that I’ve been hanging onto for a while too, especially the superhero stuff. I have a skirt in that and wondering if it’ll be too much to wear it at the same time to match with Phoebe. I doubt she’d be impressed.

The easiest kids shorts youll ever sew!
I’ll be honest… I’d wear them!

 

Eleanor was unimpressed that she didn’t get any superhero shorts but I couldn’t quite squeeze the pattern pieces for her size onto what I had left, so she chose the confetti fabric from Guthrie & Ghani after we’d completed their Easter egg hunt.

Super cute and easy children's shorts

Her another pair were some chambray ones; I had frayed them but didn’t like how it looked so I ended up sewing on some pom-pom trim instead.

Pom Pom trimmed shorts!

I sewed both the age 3 and age 5 shorts for my girls and the fit is spot on. As for waistband, I measured the elastic around the girls, rather than using the measurements from the pattern as Eleanor at least usually needs a smaller waist than her age. Of course, being an elasticated waist, it makes no difference if you wing it a bit here as the fit needs to be relaxed anyway.

Will I sew this again? Yes, absolutely. This pattern is going to become one of our summer staples and I’m going to draft some pockets for another version too. They love pockets for collecting all kinds of bits and pieces, you know how kids are. I’m really pleased that this pattern goes up to age 12 too, that’s a lot of life for a kids pattern!

As the shorts pattern was so good, I will make some time before summer to sew them both a top with more of my left over fabric.

Toria

A Super Easy Baby Blanket

Knit a super easy baby blanket

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen my recent knitting project already. No apologies for repetition though because I love it! One of my youngest cousins is having her first baby and I wanted to knit her something for the baby. I wanted it to be something simple (because I’m very much a beginner) and also something useful. See my last post for the other gift I made.

I know that if our Grandma were still here, she’d have loved knitting things for her great-grandchildren, so that was partly a reason for knitting rather than buying a gift too. Sadly, I realised that no relatives had knit anything for my two, despite frequent, not-so-subtle hinting from me.

I came across the Super Easy Baby Blanket by Purl Soho and immediately loved it, particularly in this colourway; it’s just so bright and cheerful. I ordered Drop Paris cotton yarn from Wool Warehouse in the closest colours, choosing cotton yarn as it’ll be easy to care for and it’s also super soft and cosy.

See what I knit with this beautiful yarn combination!

My yarn was a different weight to the yarn that the pattern was written for, so I made allowances for that and cast on 100 stitches instead.

Keeping tension consistent is important

I was a bit concerned that I’d make a mess of starting a new colour, but actually it was easier than I thought and I made sure to leave enough yarn to weave in securely after I’d finished.

The joins between each colour are not perfect at all, but I’m still happy with it.

Gorgeous colour combination
No surprise, but I love this grey yarn 🖤

Those colours! 😍

I love how these colours look together, like a beautiful sunset. I think this is wonderful colourway for a baby and it would definitely add a pop of colour to a nursery.

All. The. Heart. Eyes.

😍👌🏻🌅

Yep. I took a lot of photos. I was almost sad to post this to be honest because I was so pleased with it. Of course, Eleanor and Phoebe were very interested and have both asked for one each. I think that making them both a larger one might be a nice idea for a Christmas present; they may not have any knitted heirlooms from anyone else, but I can certainly rectify that!

A cotton yarn baby blanket

 

I really hope that my cousin and her husband love this blanket as much as I do and I can’t wait to see a photo of my new baby cousin all wrapped up in it!

Toria

Sewing for Babies and Children

Despite the fact that I’m a terribly selfish sewist lately, I actually learned to sew so that I could make things for my eldest daughter when she was a baby. Back then (almost 5 years ago!) I had no clue what I was doing and I didn’t have anyone in real life to help me.

So I did what most of us do and I relied on the internet. A few online friends kept directing me to various patterns sold on Etsy, or through Facebook groups, and I honestly found most of them to be so ill-fitting and poorly executed in even promotional images. Searching through Pinterest is hard too; if you’re in experienced how do you know which of a billion peasant dress patterns is actually drafted well with decent instructions?

25 patterns for Babies and Children

A book like Laura Strutt’s new release Sewing for Babies and Children published by CICO Books would have been perfect for me back then. It has 25 clothing and accessories patterns for ages 0-5 years old and the full size patterns in an envelope so no printing out endless PDF pages and taping them together. I loathe printing PDFs.

A quick flick through this book could have you thinking that you’ve seen these patterns on Pinterest, for free. Yes, there are baby shoes, a peasant dress, bibs, burp cloths and more that we’ve all seen before but what makes this book good is that Laura knows what she’s doing. She knows how to draft a good pattern and how to write detailed instructions. She’s definitely got a good eye for fabrics too, there are so many bright colourful choices in here which make for some beautiful photos. I really appreciate that there is a good balance between patterns for knit fabric and patterns for woven fabrics. I think as a beginner it’s easy to be put off knit fabric but for babies clothing it’s perfect.

How to sew a beautiful Peter Pan Collar dress!

My girls mostly live in leggings and t-shirts now, so in all honesty there are only a few things I would make for them from the book, including the Peter Pan Collar Dress for special occasions (I really need to use the My Little Pony fabric I’ve been hoarding before they move onto their next obsession). Incidentally I think the Peter Pan Collar Dress should have been the cover photo, I think it’s far more striking!

Super easy gift for any baby

I wanted to whip up something quick from the book (although all of the patterns are nice and quick compared to making for myself) for my cousin who is expecting her first baby very soon. I have some lovely cotton with rainbow raindrops on which was leftover from another project and it seemed perfect, especially paired with a grey quilted jersey I have leftover too. Annoyingly I didn’t have a lot left which dictated what I ended up making – a smaller version of the taggy blanket. I guess that is a good thing about sewing for children, you can use up all those bits and pieces that aren’t quite big enough for anything else.

See how I sewed this taggy comfort blanket!
I’m happy with the finished result and I hope that my cousin will be too. Love that fabric👌🏻

I think that a couple of the garments could be improved slightly by changing the pockets on them; they seem a bit oversized which looks too home sewn to me. I’d also make the kimono-style pyjamas in a knit rather than a woven. These things are just personal preference though and that’s the beauty of making clothes yourself; you can change anything you like as you go!

See what I think of this new sewing book!

I think that this book is a great starting point for someone who is new to sewing, new to sewing children’s clothes or just a quick reference for anyone else because of the full size patterns.

Toria

Sewing for Babies and Children

Disclaimer: CICO Books sent me a copy of Sewing for Babies and Children by Laura Strutt to write about, but all opinions are my own. I was not compensated in any way for this blog post. This blog post contains affiliate links.