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Three children *** One big, grey dog *** Two parents *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010.

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Just a thought….

“A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe.”

 

Life

Thank you….

  • Kate Thanks for sharing your tips. Put cream on the strawbs and you will be fine 26 Jul
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Time to smile

"God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles."

- J B S Haldane

Debs Random Writings

handmade clothes for children

A shirt with dogs. Plus flying bikes

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt back

Seeing as it’s the summer, I offered to make the Boy a shirt. It’s the one time of the year that I can sew something for him, that isn’t going to spend most of its time hidden under layers of warm clothes. I love sewing for him. He always choses such fun prints for his fabric and has just as much fun wearing them.

I’m a big believer that boy’s clothes don’t have to the boring. When his older sisters were little, I used to feel sorry for the boys’ clothes sections in shops. They always seemed to be full of muddy, green coloured clothes, as if they already anticipated the colour the garments would turn after a day outside on the back of an adventurous boy. What did they think washing machines were for? Also, why the girls weren’t supposed to join in, I really don’t know. Judging by the colours in their clothes sections, their world was brighter and cleaner.

Then the Boy arrived in our lives and I found myself searching out brighter colours. He wore a lot of red and brighter blues. He has his share of darker clothes, but he has a sense of fun, so why shouldn’t his clothes reflect it? Least when I sew, I can add that in.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt with skeletonBack to this summer’s shirt.

He suggested a long sleeve shirt this time round.

Gulp. That means a pattern with both a collar and two cuffs. At the same time. OK. Time to get the big scissors out.

He chose a dog print. We have big dogs so of course he adores small dogs. His ultimate favourite are dachshunds. It’s the paws and the way they walk. Everything, really.

We couldn’t find a dacksy print in cotton, but we did find one with Boston Terriers, Beagles, Basset Hounds and Pugs on it. Close enough.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt

I love that blue.

Turns out the cuffs weren’t as hard as I thought. The instructions walked me through it without a problem. Only two niggly points. I thought the cuff would be bigger. More like a grown-up shirt covering more of the wrist. Next time, I’ll cut them out twice as big. The other problem is that somehow the sleeves are a bit too short. I thought I’d measured. I think this is my error and not to do with the pattern.

He loves the sleeve length. I can see how it stops them draping in paint and food, which is a good thing, but I am really tempted to cut out bigger cuffs and swap them for the smaller attached version. It wouldn’t take too long and it would mean he could wear this shirt next year.

We’ll see.

I added buttons to the cuffs that look like cufflinks and he is as pleased as punch that they look like his father’s, without being as fiddly.

dog fabric and shirt instructionsThe collar wasn’t too different from the usual shirt pattern I make for him. I still paused. Misunderstood. Understood. Added notes to the pattern for next time and moved on. Am I the only one that adds notes? I do it in recipe books too. Amazing how I manage to forget in between and then am glad of my scribblings.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt matching frontAs always I like a matching front. It would have looked weird to have dogs cut in half in the centre of the shirt. I really think it is worth taking time at the cutting out stage to get this right. I took the advice of the fabric shop on how much extra to order, to allow for the repeat of the pattern, so it would match. I wasn’t keen to repeat the same mistake as last time.

I did manage to sew all the buttons on in the wrong place, as I did it late at night. Out came the unpicker and they were sewn on again. When will I learn!

The buttons are simple, half inch shirt buttons. I have my Grandmother’s collection of buttons. Bringing up four sons, she was a resourceful lady. I have a tube of these buttons which show signs of being cut off other garments. Presumably once the shirts were worn out, they were turned into dusters or rags, while the buttons were saved for another shirt. Nothing was wasted.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt Pultney Bridge weirSo the shirt is made and being worn. The Boy could not be happier. I took the children into Bath for a bit of back to school shopping and a hair cut for the Boy. It’s the height of tourist season, although that is pretty much all year round for Bath.

I don’t usually take my camera on shopping trips, but this time it was too good an opportunity to take some photos of the Boy in his new shirt. Bath is a fabulous setting.

I thought I’d fit right in with my camera, while we did our shopping. Its true. You cannot walk anywhere without dodging a good number of people holding a phone or camera. One person even walked straight into me as she filmed her whole trip around Bath. She will have captured the moment when she startled an English woman. Weighed down with shopping bags and a camera.

flying bikes in BathMy daughter was less than pleased when I stood in the middle of the shopping area and snapped the flying bikes. Why not? There was a bunch of tourists doing it. Why not a local too? I could hardly resist flying bikes now could I?

Anyway, the sewing details….

Details

Pattern: Simplicity 4760
Fabric: Dog Print cotton Poplin in Teal

Notes and alterations to the pattern

I made view A in size M. I added a bit of length to the shirt as the Boy is tall, but slender. He is age 9.

I liked the folded pleats where the sleeve meets the cuff. It adds interest and also a bit of room in the sleeve. There is also a little loop and button at the top of the front, which closes the top of the shirt. Presumably useful when wearing a tie, although I don’t think the Boy will use it.

I would add length to the sleeves next time.

The repeat is big. To match the pattern, I was adviced to add an extra 30cm. This turned out to be plenty.

I used french seams, instead of the suggested ones, as I think they give a better finish.

Would I make it again? Yes.


Disclosure: Minerva Crafts supplied me with the fabric and pattern, in return for a review. All opinions and words are my own, and honest.

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Retro car top is ready to go

back of retro car shirtThis is the second time I’ve used the McCalls 6951 pattern, so I thought it would be straightforward. A quick sewing project.

No.

Turns out I had set myself a bit of a challenge on this one. I made a real Rookie mistake. I had underestimated the repeat (the length of the fabric until the pattern starts to repeat) and ordered too little fabric. It was not going to be easy to cut out all the pieces and match seams at the same time.

I’m a stickler for matching seams. Especially the front and back. My needlework teacher’s story about sitting behind someone in church, with a non-matching back seam in their dress, has haunted me ever since.

front of retro car shirtI spent the best part of a Sunday morning rearranging the paper pieces on the fabric, until I came up with a creative solution. I cut out the front pieces so they matched. There was no option. It had to match at the front.

The back part was designed as a single piece. My fabric was not big enough. My solution was to cut it in half and also add a yoke using a different fabric. There wasn’t enough for the stated seam allowance. Fortunately, my daughter is willowy and I could get away with less fabric, and added  binding to reinforce the seam. Looks very neat on the inside too.

A bit convoluted, and involved more seam matching, but every thing matches, so I’m happy. I’m not sure Middle daughter was bothered either way.

mccalls m 6951 back view

There wasn’t even enough fabric for the collar. I really did get it wrong. I used the same blue fabric to cut out the under collar, which works.

Strangely, I love the changes I was forced to make. It adds touches that I would not have thought to add. Most importantly, Middle daughter loves the blouse too. She’s the one that will be wearing it after all.

buttons of retro car blouseThe retro car blouse story does not end there. While wearing it on the first day, unfortunately a rather boisterous, big pup, who will remain nameless, became too excited and caught the back of the hem. Leaving the worst kind of tear to mend. Yes, an L-shaped tear.

After much discussion, we came up with a solution. A patch in the shape of my favourite vehicle.

patch to cover an L shape tearIt’s not perfect, but maybe it too adds to the quirkiness of the piece.

Moral of the story. Order more fabric when the repeat is big and don’t play with big, boisterous pups. There. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Details

Pattern: Mccalls 6951
Fabric: Retro cars Print Cotton Poplin
Buttons: Local shop

mccalls m6951 view A front floral

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A homemade birthday blouse

mccalls m6951 view A front floralWhile I add the finishing touches to my latest sewing project, I admit, I do ponder about the best place to photograph it. Take the latest blouse I’ve made for Eldest. It’s floral. I couldn’t help thinking that a beautiful garden in full, flamboyant bloom would fit the bill.

So. This week we revisited Bishop’s Palace in Wells.

Bishops Palace Wells CathedralApart from the wonderful waterside views, it does have beautiful flower gardens. Perfect.

mccalls m6951 view A side floral

Sewing Details

Before I talk about the gardens, just want to say that I’m really pleased with how the blouse turned out. Eldest is too. It’s made using the pattern McCall’s M6951.

A tiny word of warning about the pattern. There is a “Girl” size and a “Girl Plus” size. If your children are willowy, like mine, go for the “Girl” size. Might sound obviously. I assumed it was the difference between a tween and a teenager. My mistake. Should have checked the measurements. Oops!

mccalls m6951 view A back floral Fortunately, nothing had been cut out before I realised my mistake. The pattern is easy to follow. Not too many pieces. Only part that made me think was attaching the collar to the collar band. Got there in the end. Don’t be fooled by the photo above. There is no tuck in the back. I should have made sure it was flat, before the photo.

Fabric quantities seem to be out as well. I ordered fabric for view A. It calls for a contrast fabric for the back. Turns out I had enough to do the whole garment in the floral fabric, with some left over. Not sure if the suggested lace is meant to be an overlay. I’ve double checked in case I’ve made a mistake, but I seem to be right.  Admittedly, I seldom follow the suggested layout, so that might help to explain. But then again, who does?

willow dog bishops palace

This is going to be a popular blouse. She has asked if I’ll add an extra button, but otherwise it is perfect. The fabric is scrummy. I loved sewing with it. I’m told it’s lovely and soft to wear too. Very comfortable. Making it an ideal choice for a day out.

leapfrogging willow structure bishops palace wells

Bishop’s Palace, Wells

As for the venue, Bishop’s Palace has two new exhibitions on at the moment. They have willow sculptures by Elaine Marks, dotted around the grounds, and in the Palace there is an exhibition by a local artist Chris Lee, that I was keen to see. Children loved seeing both of these as well as the stained glass wings from last year.

willow statues at Bishops Palace

 

While some like to sketch what they see, others like to express their own interpretation of the sculptures. Hmm. Still figuring out this one.

willow deer head Bishops Palace

They all enjoyed it. Inspired by all they saw.

mccalls 6951 view A floral

This girl turned into a teenager this week. Would you believe it? I, of course, can’t believe how the years have flown, and may demand a recount. Quite relieved that her new blouse was ready for her birthday. Yeh!

Details

Fabric, pattern and thread: Minerva Crafts  (tulips flowers cotton poplin dress fabric)
Buttons: Local fabric store

Have a look at the talented Shirley’s version of this top. She’s used lace on the back.


Noticed as I went through the photos that all the children are wearing at least one homemade piece. Middle has a pair of leggings, which I don’t think I’ve blogged. Youngest is overacting in his new car shirt and hand-me-down recycled trousers. Nice to see my handiwork still being used and appreciated. Smile.

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