Christmas 2014: Sewn Gifts

Apologies for the complete lack of posts recently; life, and a dodgy internet connection have gotten in the way, but hopefully I’ll be better at posting now.

I’ve split my handmade Christmas gifts into a few posts (all with equally dodgy photos taken too late at night before my mad wrapping session).
This post involves needles, thread, fabric and lots of buttons.

Heart Cut-Out Girls Dress

Heart Cut Out Dress | Pattern . Paint . PanI told my only niece that I’d make her whatever dress she wanted, and this is the (slightly toned down) result! I self drafted a bodice and added a heart cut out at the back, slightly squared off neckline and flutter cap sleeves with a scalloped skirt hem to make a dress that’s wearable for more than dressing up!

Heart Cut Out Dress | Pattern . Paint . PanThe main fabric is a cotton and the skirt and sleeve lining some kind of poly, both from a visit to Tahim’s Drapers in Coventry (online store here), with a scrap of pink cotton from my stash for the bodice lining and hem, and a navy scrap for the waistband and sleeves. I used pearl-ish flower shaped buttons on the full length button placket at the back.

Berkshire Blazer

Velvet Berkshire Blazer | Pattern . Paint . Pan This is my 4th Berkshire, and it’s definitely my favourite yet! However, it’s been over 6 months since I last sewed this pattern and I had totally forgotten how annoying the pattern is. Seams don’t match and there’s so much ease in the sleeve cap. Anyway, I’ll draft my own pattern next time. This is navy cotton velvet from the same trip to Tahim’s Drapers, with navy and white striped polycotton lining and some ancient store bought navy satin bias binding trim. I decided to use the bias binding as I thought it would make the welt pocket easier as it’s so much thinner than using velvet for the welt flaps, and it worked; I think it’s probably my best welt pocket yet. I added the bias binding to the top of the patch pockets and at the sleeve hem too. Velvet Berkshire Blazer | Pattern . Paint . Pan

Campervan Shirt

Campervan Shirt | Pattern . Paint . PanAnother nephew is campervan-crazy and saw this cotton fabric while we were at the Birmingham Rag markets back in the autumn. I didn’t buy it then, but found it again when I visited Tahim’s Drapers. The pattern is a RTW rub-off I made for the first time last Christmas but that still fits now. I tried to make it easier for myself by not having a proper button placket and didn’t add a back yoke or front pocket as I thought they’d just get lost in the print.

Campervan Shirt | Pattern . Paint . PanThe underside/inside of the collar, collar stand and cuff, and the cuff placket is plain blue from some ancient Ikea fabric, and the button placket on both sides and bias hem is a scrap of cream polycotton. I really thought it’d be way too crazy, but I think it’s actually quite cute, and I’m quite happy with all my pattern matching, despite the headaches it gave me at the time!

Personalised T-Shirt

Personalised T-shirt | Pattern . Paint . PanThis was meant to be a super quick make to use up some iron on letters my sister bought years ago, but due to my serger refusing to serge more than 2 layers of fabric, it turned into one of the most rage-inducing projects ever! I nearly chucked out the whole thing since I was pretty sure my sister had totally forgotten about the existence of the iron ons, but I eventually persevered, mainly because I really liked the personalised back yoke. I used grey jersey scraps and a navy t-shirt in my up-cycle box, so essentially this was a free project!

Christmas Pyjamas

Boys Christmas Pyjamas | Pattern . Paint . PanThese weren’t a Christmas present as my sister bought the brushed cotton stag fabric and asked me to make my nephews new pyjamas for Christmas Eve. My guestimating on how much fabric I needed (£3 per metre from Birmingham Rag Market back in the Autumn) meant I needed to add contrasting panels using some dark grey jersey I’d bought to make myself another Lady Skater variant, but I think they actually look better with the stag pattern broken up a bit. I drafted a cross over neck design into the front yoke, and a matching back yoke. I learnt my lesson and serged all my pieces before sewing them together so my serger couldn’t have a sh*t fit. The sleeve hems are finished with self fabric bias tape, and the leg hems are turned up twice and machine stitched. The trousers in the photo are pre-elastic which is why the waist is so straight. Apparently they are the most comfy PJs ever, so that’s a definite win!

Selfless Sewing: Double Trouble Outfits

Selfless Sewing | Pattern . Paint . PanIn the few years before I moved to Cornwall, one of my nephews has been the recipient of more of my sewing creations than anyone else, including myself. I’ve graduated from endless bandana bibs and fabric shoes, to dungarees and t-shirt rompers, to full on big boy clothes. I always feel kind of guilty that his elder brother doesn’t get much, so I decided to make them both outfits, which unfortunately aren’t matching due to their virtually opposite styles.Selfless Sewing | Pattern . Paint . PanFirst up is 3 year old Baby Bear. When I was last at Birmingham Rag Market with my sister (his mum), she picked out a brown checked fabric for £4 a metre for me to sew another Berkshire Blazer as his green velvet one gets worn a lot. I used an assortment of polycotton scraps left over from the bandana bib making for the crazy lining, added some navy pleather elbow patches and a requested hanging loop. The outer fabric was such a loose weave that I didn’t think welt pockets would work, so there are some dodgy faux welts (AKA fabric strips) on the front instead. I also cut the back piece on the fold and left out the front darts because of the loose weave and my laziness.Selfless Sewing | Pattern . Paint . PanThis is the third Berkshire I’ve sewn and although I love the results, there’s a few things I’ve found with the pattern. The fabric requirements are generous; in the two previous versions I’d used fabric that was much more expensive than I’d ever bought before, and was left with quite a lot, and with this version I got the blazer and waistcoat out of 1.3m. The instructions don’t mention when or where to interface; I’m not sure if it’s because it’s classed as an intermediate pattern though. Also, I almost ran into trouble on the wool mix blazer (not pictured on the blog) when sewing the buttonholes as the fabric layers were so thick, so you might need to think about bound buttonholes.Selfless Sewing | Pattern . Paint . PanThe waistcoat was self drafted and uses more scrap fabric as lining for the back piece, this time some blue winceyette from a Mario costume I’d previously made for Big Bear. The front and faux notch collar (is that even a thing??) are one piece, lined with the same fabric and then folded back on itself. I bit the bullet and did proper welt pockets seeing as the faux ones looked a bit crap and this kid loves pockets.Selfless Sewing | Pattern . Paint . PanWhile we were at the Rag Market, Baby Bear decided he wanted to spend some of his money on three white plastic elephant buttons (I think he wanted a reason to use my “sewin’ ‘chine”) so I drafted this pullover shirt with a stand collar and button placket, and played with stripe placement. I tried the continuous placket cuff method, with a very narrow cuff and stashed button. I’m pretty happy with the sewing and stripe matching in general, but it could do with being a bit bigger as it’s a bit of a squeeze getting it on and off. Selfless Sewing | Pattern . Paint . PanThe cord trousers were upcycled from a pair I’d made Big Bear for Christmas. They were without a doubt the most professional looking item I’d ever made, all french seamed and nice contrasting waistband and pockets, but I must have snipped too close on the faux fly, because after Big Bear wore them continuously for 4 days, a hole appeared where the fly curve meets the front seam, and my heart broke a little (just like when Baby Bear painted acrylic paint on his Christmas gift handmade shirt). Anyway, the only way to fix them was to unpick multiple seams, cut them down and make them Baby Bear sized.Selfless Sewing | Pattern . Paint . PanBig Bear is much more picky with his clothes than his little brother, and, if given the chance, would live in tracksuit bottoms and hoodies because he hates anything itching his skin.Selfless Sewing | Pattern . Paint . PanThe Christmas cord trousers were acceptable probably only because his favourite aunt had made them and then told an exaggerated story about how the shop lady said this was the softest fabric in the whole shop. So, I found a perfectly sized cord offcut at the Remnant House in Bude and raided my stash for pocket/waistband fabric, matching ribbon for the hem, and elasticated waist buttons. I bias bound the front and back crotch seam and french seamed the legs. The fly is another faux fly because that’s what he likes. I added an angled back yoke, but ran out of fabric for patch pockets, so I think it might look a bit girly.

I drafted a raglan sleeved t-shirt and upcycled a charity shop man’s t-shirt with a fine grey and white stripe. I unpicked and reused the ribbing from the neck, but stupidly didn’t make the back neckline higher, so it looks a bit rubbish. I serged and then topstitched all the seams to hopefully stop whinges about itching.Selfless Sewing | Pattern . Paint . PanI found a lightweight jumper dress in the same charity shop that I upcycled into a hoodie. The original arms were pretty thin so I just cut a new sleeve cap. I sewed then serged new side seams, shoulder seams and then the sleeves. The hood was made from the top back of the dress and sewn to the neck with a stretch straight stitch. To be honest, the more I tried to match the stripes, the less matching actually happened, but I doubt a 7 year old really cares.Selfless Sewing | Pattern . Paint . PanWe did a quick photoshoot when they came down to visit, and I now have complete respect for all those sewing bloggers who manage to get amazing photos of their child models!Selfless Sewing | Pattern . Paint . Pan