Kids Clothes Week Part 1 - A super-easy refashion!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

It's Kids Clothes Week, which means loopy women (and men?) across the globe are sewing like crazy.

Except me.

The aim is to sew for an hour a day, all week. Oh, if only I had that hour!

It was my son's birthday last weekend, which took up most of the previous week planning and creating, and it's left me behind with the other stuff - like work. (Starwars theme - We made a Deathstar lampshade and a Yoda birthday cake, among other things) 
And now sewing is barely happening.

I  have a very complicated sewing project underway, which requires thought, planning and concentration. Hopefully I'll blog about it in 2014, but sadly not in Kids Clothes Week...

Then last night - I finally managed a frenzied sewing burst - and amazingly produced something that I think will be the most wearable and valuable addition to Missy's wardrobe that I've yet made.  Warm and comfortable!

I set about refashioning a woollen jumper of mine. It looks awful on, too boxy on me, but the wool is good quality and I couldn't bear to just get rid of it.

So,  I hacked it up with scissors instead.

I shrunk it first on a hot wash in the machine. Then cut bodice pieces out of the front. I cut raglan sleeves from the existing sleeve, and used the surplus 'fabric' from the top of the sleeve to create triangular inserts in the side seams to give it a 'flippy' shape. I put two more smaller triangles in the front, again to add shape, and attempted to do something clever with the stripes. I love the swing silhouette this now has!

Two rather nice buttons, hide my sloppyish sewing.
I 'hemmed' it with red strips cut from another re-purposed woolly jumper. The zig-zag stitching has made the hem all wavey - not deliberate, but I like it.  Like a flower, said Missy.

And Voila...
Not much more than an hour start to finish, and Missy has a new cosy stylish sweater that looks a zillion times better than this ever looked on me.

And much as I love sewing beautiful dresses, this is actually the kind of thing she will WEAR....Warm, practical...and I do love the flippy triangles.!

I'm inspired! This revelation that I can sew with old sweaters has opened a whole new door for me!
Now I'm eyeing up my winter woollies in a whole new light - and am on the verge of reaching for the scissors. Snip.... snip! Woollies beware!

Behind the seams...the dress that 'doesn't matter'

Monday, 13 January 2014

This may look like a sweet little girl, in a corduroy dress...

But this is actually the result of an experiment in fabric engineering. With dubious results...

This is not a finely crafted blogpost. I'm revealing my 'sketch book' here, my less-than-perfect, creation.
This is Secret Squirrel Dress Number 1, rejected by my 'quality control' in favour of the far more successful Secret Squirrel Dress Number 2, blogged here

 Secret Squirrel is the monthly blogging series organised by Straightgrain and Sewpony with a theme.  Back in October I was took up the challenge with the themes; the Princess Bride film, Watercolours, Pumpkin Spice Latte, Polka Dots and Clock.
This dress was my attempt to incorporate the themes; the Princess Bride and watercolours in a single dress. Watercolours are represented by a patchwork band of brightly coloured silks, made from an old Indian Sari silks. And  for Princess Bride I tried to create a v-shaped waist reminiscent of mediaeval style dresses.

Except it didn't  work. I just could not get that v-shaped insert to lie nicely. It's a self-drafted pattern, loosely based on the Tinny dress bodice I think. I added pink piping (of course) to one edge of the band and was tempted to add it to both, but resisted, thinking less-is-more. And I attempted to create a box-pleat in the skirt at the centre of the 'V.'
Somehow this also doesn't sit properly.

And then there were those Indian sari silks. I cut out the squares from an old skirt of mine, and ironed them to inter-facing, before stitching them together. 

I carefully selected the colours to 'balance' across the waist, choosing a stunning purple for the centre of the band. 

Only I hadn't anticipated just quite how fragile these silks are and, of course, that purple seems the most delicate of all. Look closely at the pictures and you'll see it's already fraying. And now, after a few washes, that lovely purple bang in the middle is already threadbare. Oh, what to do? It's disappearing before my eyes...

But there are some little touches, small things about this dress, which I do quite like. I made different coloured silk button loops on the back. (These are now fraying too!)

And, ironically, because this has been an 'unsuccessful' dress, it has actually been worn more than the others. The sleeveless corduroy seems to work well with layers in winter, and I don't 'care' or 'worry' about this dress. Missy can just wear it and wear it, to nursery or out to play or wherever, and it doesn't matter. I've noticed Mr As-it-Seams often chooses it when he's dressing Missy, as if he also senses it's the 'doesn't matter' dress.

(It is so much the 'doesn't matter' dress, that I've barely 'styled' these photos. Missy is wearing an ancient t-shirt, and I don't have the motivation to re-do them).
And so I've revealled a little of my 'behind the seams' sewing - experiments that don't quite work but bring something unexpected. 
And that's what this sewing journey is all about, surely?


Take One Dress Update 
I'm still bowled over by Natalie's gorgeous creation for the Take One Dress series, and the challenge she's passed on to Marta at Do Guincho. 
And as this series is all about spreading inspiration, I'd love to see any sew-along creations. If you're inspired to sew-along, please get in touch, and I'll post a photo and a link with the next Take One Dress post on February 3. 

Take One Dress. As-it-Seams to La Gang a Nat

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Forgive me if I am a little excited - but I really am!  This is the first guest post of my very first series, Take One Dress!
Back in November, when I picked up a vintage dress on a oh-so-rare visit to New York, I had an idea of using a garment as inspiration for others. And when I  suggested the idea to my friend and blogger Natalie at La Gang a Nat, I could practically feel her enthusiasm jump across the Atlantic. And the monthly series Take One Dress was born. See my creation, and add your own at the Flickr group.
Natalie lives in Ontaria, Canada and is mum to three darling girls. Her sewing is immaculate, she has a lovely vintage and contemporary  style, and she's a full-time working mum. I'm in awe! I have a feeling that Natalie has access to a secret Canadian time-vortex where there's 28 hours squeezed into our 24...Whatever her secret, she's given Take One Dress a fabulous start. Natalie is first up, in a line-up which includes Sewpony, Groovybaby and Mama, and While She Was Sleeping. Look out for Do Guincho next, in February...
Over to you Natalie...

  Take One Dress Mara Blouse and Pleated Skirt 10

Bonjour! I am Natalie from La gang à Nat and I am completely thrilled to be visiting my friend Victoria on her blog today.
She wrote to me in early December and showed me this amazing vintage dress that she picked up in New York City in October. I loved it immediately! (And WOW Victoria!! You look amazing!!!)


And when she asked whether I might be interested in creating something for one of my girls inspired by this garment, I was all over it! This is how Victoria's dress inspired me to create an outfit for Gaëlle, my toddler:
  • vintage 60s vibe
  • solid colour
  • fabric covered buttons positioned in a retro fashion
  • striking bodice insert
  • full skirt
  • sleeves
Based on those elements of inspiration, this is what I created... Taa-daa!!!

Take One Dress Mara Blouse and Pleated Skirt 2 

As soon as I saw Victoria's dress, I knew I wanted to try out Compagnie M.'s Mara Blouse pattern. Although not triangular, the insert was perfect and definitely gave the garment that vintage feel. For the main fabric, I chose a soft green corduroy that I had on hand at home. 

I was all set on using some plain white cotton fabric for the insert but then a little package arrived in the mail all the way from England: you see, a few weeks earlier, I had won a fat quarter of Kokka fabric on Victoria's blog and it was so lovely that I knew I had to use it here. Look how sweet it is!
Walking in the frest with friend
(giggle giggle, love those Japanese fabrics, typos and all!)

Take One Dress 1 

I made zero changes to the Mara Blouse pattern as I felt it had the exact vibe I wanted for my garment. Lovely insert, long sleeves, sweet buttons, a bit of piping, some home made bias tape and voilà! (Short sleeves would have respected the inspiration dress much more but as it's insanely cold in Canada right now, long sleeves made way more sense.)
 Take One Dress Mara Blouse and Pleated Skirt 4 

I was planning on making a simple a-line skirt from the same green corduroy fabric, to resemble the inspiration dress. But after finishing the blouse, I completely changed my mind, dug through my pattern stash and came upon the Girly Pleated Skirt by Heidi and Finn. Perfect! Those darn little knife pleats took forever to make but were so worth it! I decided to add two fabric covered buttons in order to rock the vintage look even more and tie it in with the blouse.
Take One Dress Mara Blouse and Pleated Skirt 3 

I really dig how this turned out! I love how it looks on Gaëlle (who was moving so much during the photo shoot that it was completely impossible to get a full body shot of her...sigh)

Take One Dress Mara Blouse and Pleated Skirt 6
 Take One Dress Mara Blouse and Pleated Skirt 5Take One Dress Mara Blouse and Pleated Skirt 7Take One Dress Mara Blouse and Pleated Skirt 8Take One Dress Mara Blouse and Pleated Skirt 10    

My Inspiration Dress So now, in turn, I am passing on the baton to Marta, an amazing sewist from Guincho, Portugal. Marta, this is a very special little dress here... It might not look like much but I wore this dress as a little girl, almost 40 years ago now. In turn, my daughters have also worn it (as well as a small fleet of dolls along the way).

Retro Inspiration Dress1

Characteristics of this dress:
  • Style: Vintage from the early 70s
  • Designer: tag removed but was purchased at a local northern Ontario (Canada) store in 1974
  • Fabric: polyester (and a bit itchy)
  • Key features : solid pale pink bodice; pale pink and white houndstooth skirt, sleeves and collar; contrasting navy blue stitching; visible navy blue metal zipper; navy blue piping on front bodice and around collar; box pleats on skirt; peter pan collar; short sleeves folded over.
*The piping and zipper look black in the pictures but they are actually navy blue.

Retro Inspiration Dress2Retro Inspiration Dress3 

Here I am celebrating my 2nd birthday in 1974 with my cousin Josée. Her dress is really sweet as well, no? And how about that stylish wall paneling? 

Retro Inspiration Dress4 

 I can't wait to see what you come up with Marta! I know you'll give it your Do Guincho twist and it will be phenomenal. I can't wait to see what you come up with And if anyone else feels inspired by this vintage little number, sew along and show us what you created! 

Thank you so much Victoria for having me here today! 

 Bisous, Natalie XX

Thanks Natalie!
I love that you have come up with something so totally different from my interpretation! (see here)
Do come back on February 3 to see where Natalie's inspiration takes Marta of Do Guincho! And if it inspires you too, sew-along! I'd love to see your creations on the Take One Dress Flickr group. And keep track of Take One Dress over on my facebook page.

Take One Dress 

  • February 3 - Do Guincho
  • March 3 While She Was Sleeping
  • April 7 Sew Pony
  • May 5 Groovy Baby and Mama
  • June 2 Mystery Guest
  • July 7 As it Seams

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