Sewing for Small People

When it comes to sewing for kids, I’m torn. The home sewist in me loves the idea of cute and quirky unique clothes lovingly made by hand. But my practical side wonders whether it’s ever really worth the effort. Perhaps I’m guilty of a nostalgia for my own distant childhood of homemade clothes. I mean, what’s not to like about pink knitted balaclavas with pom-poms on?! Let us not even mention the brown crimplene flares with white crosses on that worked like bully-magnets. My sister and I won’t have been the only ones to have spent their childhoods in highly flammable apparel.  I guess what I’m saying is that there seems to be a perennial mismatch between mum-made childhood clothes and the gratitude of the recipients. Should I really expect my fickle small people to appreciate the work that goes into the clothes they request on a whim?

GBSB Shirred Dress

So, I’m still waiting for my youngest small person to decide whether she wants to try on her new GBSB Shirred Elastic Dress from the Fashion With Fabric book. It’s hard to gauge her impressions as yet, but I am rather pleased with this little number. It was my first attempt at shirring, and it was far easier than I ever thought. The whole project was an evening’s work.  I used elephant/mammoth print cotton lawn bought on Goldhawk Road, which I’ve seen on a few other blogs. See Amy of Almond Rock’s blog for a more grown-up take on the fabric, and a discussion on whether it’s an elephant or a mammoth!

GBSB Shirred Dress

More success has been had with these fantastic reversible sun hats. In fact it was hard to get my hands on them for the photo! The pattern is from the Oliver & S book, Little Things To Sew, and was really simple to follow.The topstitching around the crown and on the brim give this hat a really high quality finish. I made both hats up in left-over quilting cotton: Amy Butler’s Tumble Rose pattern, and the hyacinth one is an old Kaffe Fassett. The sizing comes up a little small, so perhaps they won’t last as many years as I’d hoped.

I found the pattern online for free:

Pattern and instructions: http://www.melaniefalickbooks.com/storage/STCCraft_OliverS_BucketHatPattern_.pdf

So, are your homemade gifts received with compliment or complaint? And will they one day grow to appreciate them, or should I just give up now and go back to selfish sewing?

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GBSB Casual Trousers

Thanks so much for your lovely comments about the fate of Sew South London. It’s really wonderful to hear that you enjoy the posts. I feel motivated to continue, but at a different pace. I’m really looking forward to writing some more varied posts. With all the sewing I’ve been doing there’s not much mental space for anything other than finished garment posts. I also think I might re-brand as Sew South East Asia!

I’ve been having a push on summer clothes as it’s been glorious spring weather here in South London, and as you know I’m soon to head out for the horizon. Of all the patterns in the GBSB: Fashion With Fabric book that I most wanted to try out (after the drapey dress) was the casual trousers. The original pattern was for a playsuit. Brave as I am, there’s not many than can pull off a good playsuit look once you get past 18 months old.
GBSB casual trousersThe pattern took half an hour or so to trace off, then maybe the same again to cut out. The sewing didn’t take long either! Sometimes you just need some instant sewing gratification. The first pair are black with white polka dot viscose purchased from The Wimbledon Sewing Shop in Tooting. The drape is fantastic on these trousers, but the downside is that they do look (and feel) a little like pyjamas. In fact when I wore them, my personal stylist (aka Mr SSL) politely enquired which train I would be taking to work. He then informed me that he’d be on a later train. He literally could not believe that I would wear pyjama bottoms to work.

GBSB casual trousersPair number two were made with delicious Indian cotton from The Cloth House in Soho, purchased with my final batch of birthday vouchers. I didn’t try to pattern-match the block print, other than to line up the pattern pieces at the same point on the hem. As luck would have it, there’s one point on each outer leg seam that matches perfectly. As the seam tapers in, there’s no chance of matching the print the whole length of the seam.

GBSB casual trousersThe cotton paid drapes differently and create less of a clown-like silhouette. Both pairs are comfortable to wear. The elasticated waistband was quick and easy to insert, but to avoid the granny-trousers look I think you need to have a top covering it.

The light’s not great in these photos. To incentivise my photographer I told him he didn’t need to leave the sofa. All credit goes to my clever pre-schooler who took the photo at the top of this post!

Grainline Archer. Warning: Contains Graphic Images of Topstitching!

Happy Almost Easter, fellow citizens of the stitchosphere! I’ve got something a bit more demure to show you this week, so no need to adjust the colour setting on your digital device!

A shirt! With topstitching! The Archer by Grainline Studios has been a labour of love these past weeks. After steaming through a cluster of Bonnies and trousers, I relished taking on a project that involved numerous steps, each taken lovingly and slowly. I dialled up the Archer Sewalong, and settled in with laptop beside sewing machine and overlocker to be led through the construction. I used cotton chambray from Classic Textiles on Goldhawk Road, which was a bargainous £3 per metre. Archer The fabric pressed easily and behaved beautifully, so it was easy to be accurate. I used a water soluble fabric marker, which you can see around the buttonholes on the photos. Overall, it was a pleasure to sew with. I went back to the textbook and used the used the overlocker to finish seams inside. As recommended, I pressed the seams to one side and topstitched along the seams on the right side to mimic the flat-fell seams typically found on a denim or chambray shirt.

After a bit of research on collars, I decided to follow Four Square Wall’s tutorial for assembling in a different order for a more accurate finish. I’d recommend it – I was really pleased with the way it went in.

Archer So far, so good. It was all going so well until it was time to stitch the button holes. I felt the anxiety levels rising – I had a few dry runs then went for it! After five perfect buttonholes, you guessed it –  it went mad on hole number six, and got stuck. What a mess! It’s not too noticeable. But then things got worse: I cut through the top buttonhole with the stitch ripper!

archer

And then…. I realised i’d put the buttonhole on the wrong side of the cuff, so had to stitch it back together and add a buttonhole to the other side! So after ten long days of tender loving stitching i sabotaged the shirt with my finishing touches. Isn’t it always the way?