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….. Making pretty things
….. Simple living
….. Growing a family

Three children (17, 15, 13)*** Two parents *** one dog *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010, about everyday happenings that bring us joy.

Just a thought….

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


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homemade clothes for tween girls

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.


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.


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

mccalls m6951 view A front floral

Previous top

A Purple Pumpkin Tunic

Purple tunic Simplicity 2156

I’ve been sewing again. If you follow me in Instagram, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this make has taken me months. The actual sewing took a few hours. The decision making took weeks. I really couldn’t make up my mind which direction the vine like pattern should take. Should it run up and down the tunic, or wrap itself round the whole garment.Purple tunic Simplicity 2156 pumpkinsIn the end, Middle One said that she wanted it to wrap around. OK. Maybe I should have asked her first, seeing as it was her tunic.

She had requested a purple tunic. A girl with definite ideas, she knew which tunic pattern she wanted. It’s one I’ve used before (here and here) but this time, she wanted slight alterations to it. The sides are straight, so we took them in a bit. The result is that it’s a little bit more fitted, and there is a definite swish.

Purple tunic Simplicity 2156 pumpkins outakesThe purple is quite vibrant. More so than my photos seemed to capture. It’s calling out to be put with orange. Fortunately, I finished it just in time for our annual trip to collect pumpkins. No matter that we grew our own pumpkins this year, we still had to go. A family tradition is a family tradition.

Pumpkin stall

Purple and orange just go so well. And the pattern seems to echo the pumpkin’s tendrils. A purple pumpkin, maybe.

Purple tunic Simplicity 2156 in the pumpkin wheelbarrowSewing details:

Pattern: Simplicity 2156
Fabric and thread: Purple ‘Jacquard Jersey’ Stretch Polyester/Lycra Dress Fabric from Minerva Crafts

I used the knit stitch on my sewing machine, as I don’t have an interlocker and I hand sewed the hems. Fabric drapes beautifully and was easier to work with than I expected. Simplicity 2156 is straightforward. Just six pieces to sew together. Nothing complicated. It really took me no time to sew. Just weeks of procrastination!

Orange tunic finished

orange chequer top length

For me, one of the joys of dressmaking is how one paper pattern can be used to make so many different versions of the same garment. With the huge variety of fabrics and prints to choose from, and a little imagination, the same pattern can be used over and over again. The resulting garments could look quite different.

orange chequer top shoulders

To be honest, making identical tops would completely bore me. I like a new challenge, which is handy, because my children prefer a more varied wardrobe. This week, I finished BL’s orange chequered top. I teamed it up with grey leggings. I have made a few leggings using this pattern. Two pieces, sewn together and the leggings don’t shrink the first wash, like every single bought pair seems to for us. Or is that just me?

orange chequer top pocketThe top is a pattern that I’ve used before for BL. This blue top from last year, which BL still wears.


This time I added length to the top, to make it more of a tunic. Also added a little pocket. More decorative than practical. Although it will hold a hankie as she has already shown me.

orange chequer top yoyos

Also added five yo-yos, or suffolk puffs, to the neckline. The details make it a garment of its own. I also left the neck-band wider, so that it stands out more.

BL loves her new outfit. She says that the leggings are warm and more comfortable than ever. I’m not sure she has taken the tunic off yet. They had a charity mufti day at school yesterday, followed by a birthday party. She knew exactly which outfit she wanted to wear. One proud mamma, for sure.

Making clothes for the children becomes harder as they get older. Handmade outfits are not the norm in our village. Their friends are more aware of brands, as their own shopping habits grow. I admire that BL had no worries about bucking the trend at school. She said that it wouldn’t bother her if people knew that I had made it. In fact, she was proud that I had.

So the details:

Pattern: Simplicity 2156 size 7 – 14
Stretch fabrics:Minerva Crafts (bought back in the summer)

Started making this as part of the KCW, but utterly failed to finish it within the week. Hey, better late than never. Right?


Joining in with the last Craft Schooling Sunday for the year over at Creative Jewish Mom. How can it be the last one??? Lots of crafting loveliness already linked up. Take a look.




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