Selfless Sewing: Baby Boy Rompers

Baby Boy Rompers | Pattern . Paint . PanTwo of my closest friends (who’s wedding I made this dress for) recently welcomed their first child, which of course is the perfect excuse to make more tiny clothes.

Annoyingly I didn’t have access to a printer, so I spent a while drawing out a pattern from a downloaded PDF on my tiny netbook screen. I based my pattern off this baby boy romper by Melly Sews, which is available as a free download (if you sign up to her newsletter or have a Craftsy account) in age 0-3 months, and in her shop in larger sizes. I did make some changes though:

  • Rounded the corners of both front and back straps
  • Eliminated the side seam between the front and back leg pieces to make a single leg piece
  • French seamed the front and back crotch seam
  • Added a doubled over strip for the snap closures instead of turning the edges under
  • Finished the leg hem with binding

The construction is simple enough, not that I read the instructions. I was pretty worried about the sizing because they simultaneously looked too small and too big, but my sister half convinced me they were ok.Baby Boy Rompers | Pattern . Paint . PanThe first fabric is Jungle Animals from the Makower Jungle collection that I bought from the Remnant House in Bude last summer. The shoulders fasten with buttons, and the crotch with snaps.

Baby Boy Rompers | Pattern . Paint . PanThe second fabric is A Musical Affair by Fabric Freedom in the blue colourway, from Mo’s Fabric and Dance in Rugby, my new local fabric store. I wanted something slightly less traditionally baby-ish, and had seen this guitar pattern months ago in Birmingham, but unfortunately could only find the burgundy colourway in Rugby, so ended up with the musical notes instead. I added some coordinating teal for the pocket, initial tag and leg binding. The shoulder straps are also closed with snaps.

I used sew on snaps, which is probably my only regret; I should have been organised enough to get some hammer on ones as I think they look much neater. Plus I kinda wish I’d redone the topstitching on the front pocket. But overall, they’re pretty cute. Though not as cute as their recipient!


Christmas 2014: Knitted Gifts

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 my new-found love of knitting multiple strands of DK yarn.

Owl Mittens

Owl Mittens | Pattern . Paint . PanThis was the first ‘complicated’ pattern I knitted last winter/spring, and I love mine so decided to knit each of my sisters and my mum a pair as part of their presents. I love that they are almost just extensions to your jumper/cardigan sleeve and so are totally acceptable to wear inside and out! Plus the owl is cute and the pattern is just the right level of complicated. I used 2 strands of DK yarn instead of what the pattern states. The first pair (blue) was knitted on 4mm needles and ended up a little tight for my (fat) hands (but still fine for smaller women’s hands) so for the subsequent 4 pairs, I switched to 4mm for the rib and 5mm for the rest. I also added 2 extra rows of ribbing to the top end of all the pairs. The only other change (which had no effect on the result) was where I put the stitch marker on the right hand glove, but that’s just personal preference. The bonus is that these hardly take any wool when using DK, so there’s plenty left for me to make more for myself in each of the colours I used!


Cowl | Pattern . Paint . PanThis was a ridiculously simple knit while rewatching old seasons of Scandal. The most tedious part was splitting the 2 balls of yarn so I could knit with 4 strands of DK (buying 4 balls would have been way too easy!). I added 3 sparkly buttons to match in with the headband flower and owl eyes, and tacked the two sides of the ‘v’ together. I didn’t write down how many I cast on but it’s just garter stitch with stockinette stitch accents, knitted until it was long enough to wrap around my neck and overlap.


Beaded Headband | Pattern . Paint . PanA moss stitch (totally my favourite stitch ever) headband, knitted flat with 2 strands of DK until it was long enough to wrap around my head and then seamed. I drew out the flower on matching felt and then hand sewed various beads and sequins on before hot gluing a felt back to cover the stitches. It’s attached by brooch pin to the headband.

Cowl, headband and mitten set | Pattern . Paint . Pan

Minecraft Hat & Mittens

Minecraft Hat & Mittens | Pattern . Paint . PanThis set is my first attempt at writing a pattern that involves more than knitting a square/rectangle. I used the internet for help with how many stitches to cast on and then spent too long on OpenOffice Calc figuring out the rest of the pattern. I decided to forgo any research into how to knit with two different colours of wool, so I’m not sure if how I did it is an actual method or just my own way. Basically, I just twisted the colour I wasn’t using behind the colour I was inbetween each stitch so the back was all neat and didn’t have loose loops of the colour not being used.

Minecraft Mittens | Pattern . Paint . PanAnyway, these are the mittens from the outside and inside, knitted using 2 strands each of green and black DK yarn and 3mm needles for the rib and 3.75mm needles for the rest. It is knitted flat and then seamed. The fit is good (for an 8 year old) and I’m happy with how they turned out.

The hat is less of a success as it needs more width and length. I ended up knitting another ribbed band and sewing it onto the bottom (hiding the seam with a folded up brim) to add length. But it fits him at a squeeze and perhaps wear and some aggressive tumble drying might stretch it out a little. It was also knitted flat and seamed, using double strands of DK on 5mm needles.

If anyone is interested, I can put my pattern up (plus alterations for the hat).

Fox Hat

Owl Hat | Pattern . Paint . PanThis is another made up pattern that needs some tweeking design-wise but the size is fine. It’s knitted flat as a long rectangle from back to front and then seamed at both sides, with the square corners forming ears when the hat is worn. Basically, after casting on, K1P1 rib and lots of stockinette, I put the 5 stitches at either end onto stitch holders and worked decreases (k2tog and k2tog tbl) with the remaining middle stitches to create the nose. I then transferred the held stitches to my needles and used white yarn to K5, cast on 32, K5, then moss stitched for 12cm before switching back to orange wool and K1P1 ribbing. After seaming the sides, I tacked the white and orange together at the top of the nose and added buttons. If I did it again, I’d make the nose wider, it’s a bit evil looking now!

Christmas 2014: Painted Gifts

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 various paints and tiny brushes, and ended up all being gifts for boys.

Stark Hoodie

DIY Stark HoodieMy (not-so-little) brother has been desperate for a Game of Thrones hoodie with the House Stark sigil on for ages, but they’re pretty expensive, so I decided to stencil the direwolf logo onto a RTW hoodie (I did debate sewing the hoodie as well, but in the end took the easy route). Basically, I then took the super long route and printed out a black and white line drawing found on a google images search, then converted it into a stencil, but I could’ve just used this free stencil. And then realised I couldn’t stencil it because my spray glue was at my sisters, so I drew round the stencil holes with silver metallic gel pen and then hand painted it with black Dylon fabric paint. I could’ve done a second coat in places to completely even out the amount of paint, but I think the slight variation kind of goes with the image and the edges are very defined, so I’m really happy with how it came out (and might have to make myself one to wear round the house!).

Minecraft Hoodie

Minecraft Hoodie | Pattern . Paint . PanMy oldest nephew is massively into Minecraft and after a fruitless search to find a RTW Minecraft hoodie (sold out in every store I went to due to my last minute shopping) and a frantic search for a plain green hoodie (who knew they were so rare), this came about. I drew the design onto the back using a ruler and gel pen, then hand painted it with the same black Dylon fabric paint, as it seemed quicker than faffing with cutting out a template or even using masking tape along the edges of the squares. It’s a bit giant on him (there was only one size of hoodie left) but at least it’ll fit him for more than a couple of months.

Painted ShoesPainted Shoes | Pattern . Paint . Pan

These are super cheap Primark pumps that I painted with regular acrylic paints. They’re pretty simple to make, although there’s a few steps due to using dark coloured pumps, with drying time in between. For all except the Minecraft pumps:

  1. Design, copy or trace your logo onto thick paper or card.
  2. Cut out around the outside to create a template.
  3. Use a metallic gel pen to stencil the outline onto your shoe.
  4. Use white acrylic to paint inside this line to create a base (I did 3 or 4 layers, waiting for each to dry before the next).
  5. Cut out the subsequent layer of your design (eg: for Batman, I cut out the bat logo, for Spiderman I cut out an eye, and for Superman I cut out the S).
  6. Transfer this outline to the white base layer using a pencil.
  7. Paint the rest of your design from lightest to darkest colour.

For the Minecraft pumps, work out how big your grid squares can be to fit in the Creeper face (mine were 1cm x 1cm) and use a metallic gel pen and ruler to draw the grid onto the shoe. Mark which squares are black, then fill in the other squares with various shades of green before painting the black squares.

Painted Shoes | Pattern . Paint . Pan

I did end up outlining the Superman logo in black (which was super annoying to do) and I really wish I hadn’t used such dark green right next to the Creeper face. But the kids liked them!

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