Thursday, 17 April 2014


Calling All Kids: Stars and Stripes (and Soapboxes)

Calling All Kids

I'm really, super excited to be posting for Alida Makes's Calling All Kids Series today!  This is a series about breaking down stereotypes about 'what girls like' and 'what boys like' and instead celebrates kids' individual likes and unisex design.

Calling All Kids

The 'gendering' of childhood is a subject very close to my heart and actually one of the reasons I started this business.  I'm so tired of (and angry about!) the marketing of toys, books, fashions, etc on a gender divide.  At its most explicit we get divisions in shops or the labelling of toys and books with 'For Boys' and 'For Girls', but more pervasive are the assumptions made about kids based on their gender.  That all girls like pink, or princesses, or makeup, or domestic play based on cleaning one's house; that all boys like blue, or sports, or dinosaurs and diggers, or messy play (they're just noise with dirt, amirite?!) or aggression based play.  Insidious messages that tie identity to gender and provide a nebulous framework of the 'right' and 'wrong' ways to be girls or boys damage both genders.

Calling All Kids

I admit that I've found (and find) this a really hard part of being a mother to a daughter, particularly a daughter that identifies with more 'girly' interests than I ever have.  I was considered a 'tomboy' growing up, and had little interest in dolls or princess narratives- instead I was heavily involved in various sports and preferred construction-based play like building forts in the woods or obstacle courses in the garden.  I'm not going to shame or discourage her (you like what you like!) for wanting to play princesses, or bedazzling jewellery boxes, or the million apps about applying makeup that she always wants but I am going to call her out for linking it to her gender.

Calling All Kids

Even as a toddler Maia would verbalise so many 'boys are' / 'girls are' tropes and gender stereotypes that I found it a mixture of terrifying and hilarious in a funny-not-funny way.  I joked to a friend once that I should've named her Patriarchy for all the things she said: from girls don't like science, to boys are better at sports, to telling me I should always wear makeup because I looked prettier with it.  Those millions of tiny messages are getting through, and at a younger age than I expected.

Calling All Kids

It's intense, and it's ongoing, but we've come a long way.  One of my proudest mum-moments was when she and a friend were looking at magazines and the friend said, 'This is a magazine for girls' and Maia said, 'That's a magazine for people who like princesses'.

Calling All Kids

I've spoken about this many a time before, but my mum is an all-around bad*ss and inspiration.  She sews, she's an amazing knitter, she makes glorious stained-glass, she does woodwork, makes furniture- you name it, she can do it.  She officially retired this year, so obviously she's relaxing and enjoying her down-time by building a second house in their upper lot.  Her mum / my grandma was also a bad*ss and Maker of All Things (her furniture making in particular was amazing), and could often be found hauling around huge rocks and building stone walls until she was almost 80.  One of my favourite memories of her was when I was enlisted as a teenager to help her stack a huge pile of wood that had been delivered and despite being in her seventies and all of 4'10" she was OMG SO COMPETITIVE about being faster than me.  A couple of years ago me and my mum were chopping a tree down for Christmas, lying on our stomachs in the snow with a crosscut saw, and she said her mum would be smiling down on us.  Women doing it our own bad selves.

Calling All Kids

So we sat down last weekend and I told Maia about the Calling All Kids series and showed her some of the projects that people had made for it.  We got a notebook out and made a big list of all the things she'd heard about the differences between boys and girls.  She helped pick out the fabrics, and we brainstormed about what kind of outfit would break down bias and appeal universally.  Blue and green- check, star print- check, sporty- check.

Calling All Kids

The top is a unisex Dolman tee shirt with shoulder princess seams and contrasting striped side panels.

Calling All Kids

The shorts have a yoga waistband for comfort and allow a lot of freedom for movement.  I also made some knee socks (which I should've made a couple inches taller in hindsight because the stripes don't have much vertical stretch).  An outfit for movement and action, not a outfit for adornment.  Phew, a bit of a novel for a quite simple outfit!

Calling All Kids

The tl;dr version: gender is not identity.  Maia might like a tonne of things society associates with female-ness (and that's okay) but she should never be limited or defined by it.  For every dress or skirt that I make her, for every princess-print I might use, I'll make her a dozen of these more gender-neutral pieces.  Be strong, be confident, be without limits.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


Krazy for Kat Harlequin Baby Set

Understatement of the year, but I'm crazy for Kat from Sew Chibi. Not only is she super-talented with one of the most innovative sewing styles around (sewing with liquid and candy! sewing with lights! sewing paintings of her dad's!) but she's also one the hands-down sweetest people and someone I'm massively lucky to count as a friend. One month ago, she welcomed her third daughter, Akira, into her gorgeous family and we're having a virtual baby shower today to celebrate.

Krazy for Kat top 1 

I had a really hard time figuring out what to make someone who sets the bar so high.  I knew I couldn't compete with her imagination or daring, and I am but a medium geek to her uber-geek. But I could make a tribute to her in colour!  Kat loves riotous colours as much as I do, so I made the mini-est of Mini Pennys with a harlequin stripe for the from and back middle panels.  I turned the stripes vertically for the the neck and sleeve bands, and omitted the hem for vertical stripe band instead.

The turquoise I used for the side panels and sleeves I chose because it's a close colour-match to my all time favourite of her hair colours!  So pretty.

Krazy for Kat bloomers

And lest the little lady need some coverage for her lower half, I also made some coordinating bloomers by shortening my slouchy bottoms pattern and adding big cuffs.  It's been the longest time since I've sewn anything quite so small.

Krazy for Kat set

That is some next level Rainbow Brite right there.  I hope you like it, Kat, and much love!

Sunday, 13 April 2014


Kids Clothes Week: Pony Bloom Dress

KCW: Pony Bloom dress

A second make for Kids Clothes Week complete!  For this I used the incredible Pony Bloom fabric.

KCW: Pony Bloom dress

It's quite a large scale print that I didn't want to break up, so I decided to omit as many seams as possible.

KCW: Pony Bloom dress

I combined my basic a-line dress block with my Dolman Top pattern so there wouldn't even be sleeve seams.  Just side and shoulder seams and as much uninterrupted ponies as possible!

KCW: Pony Bloom dress

For a little bit of visual interest, instead of a normal scoop neck I switched it out for a V-neck.

Friday, 11 April 2014


Kids Clothes Week: Tangerine and Turquoise

Kids Clothes Week outfit 1

Would you believe, blogging *and* sewing just for the fun of it? Maia is in desperate (theoretical) need of new Spring and Summer clothes, and with this season's Kids Clothes Week happening at this very moment I thought I'd seize the opportunity to fill some gaps in her wardrobe.

Kids Clothes Week outfit 1

The top is a turquoise and orange organic cotton knit from my shop, using my Dolman Top pattern. I used the stripes horizontally for the body, but as it's a four way stretch I flipped it vertically for the neckband.

Kids Clothes Week outfit 1

The skirt is my free Tennis Skirt pattern in the coordinating Happy Whales.  This is the only skirt that fits her at the moment, when I said 'gaps in her wardrobe' I wasn't kidding.

Kids Clothes Week outfit 1

The leggings are store bought but, fortuitously, a perfect match for the charcoal whales.

Kids Clothes Week outfit 1

The shoes match nothing.

Kids Clothes Week outfit 1

Wednesday, 26 March 2014


Straight Lines and Angles: Rainbow Pennant Dress

SLAA Kitschy Coo

I'm participating in a really fun series today from If Only They Would Nap.  It's called 'Straight Lines and Angles' and the challenge is based on geometric-inspired design.

SLAA close

As soon as Jess asked me I signed up right away because having fun with shapes and lines is right up my alley.

SLAA jump

I started off with a basic a-line block, and slashed it back and forth diagonally (as well as vertically down centre front) to create panels.  In the smaller pennant-shaped panels I sewed in plain rainbow colours in descending order and in the larger polygons I sewed in stripes.  Right side polygons are horizontal and left side are vertical.

SLAA close 2

I wanted the panoply of intersecting seams to be as comfortable as possible to wear so there is a tonne of topstitching framing each piece.  So many thread changes.

SLAA back 2

The back was given a centre seam and I cut the stripes on the diagonal and mismatched it across the seam for visual interest.

SLAA side

And also because I had zero interest in trying to stripe match across the side seams, haha.

SLAA bands 2

Arm and neckbands were cut to emphasise the stripes and frame the whole thing.  In hindsight, I think I should've made the left sleeve striped to coordinate with the stripes on that side of the bodice.

Oh Maia

Playful, colourful, and a little bit crazy.  Being partial to a bit of crazy, Maia loves it too.

Thanks so much for thinking of such a cool concept and having me as part of the tour, Jess!  There is also an associated giveaway if you want to jump over after leaving a comment here so I know someone is reading.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014


Perfect Pattern Parcel: Lady Skater / Ava Mashup into Wonder Woman Dress

Ava / Lady Skater mashup

You've probably seen people blogging about the inaugural Perfect Pattern Parcel everywhere over the last ten days!  The brainchild of Rachael from Imagine Gnats, Jill from Made with Moxie (as well as her techie husband Danny), Pattern Parcel collects together patterns from Independent Designers and makes them available as a bundle for two weeks only.

Not only does PPP aim to support indie designers, but a portion of the proceeds also goes to the charity Donors Choose, an amazing organization that matches up the needs of teachers and their students for specific projects with willing donors. The funds raised from each Pattern Parcel sale will go to help K-12 students in minimizing educational inequality and encourage a community where children have the tools and experiences necessary for an excellent education.   Not only does the buyer get to choose their own price for the bundle, but they also get to choose how that price is proportioned between designers / organisers / charity.  Neato, right?

Ava / Lady Skater mashup

I had such a hard time choosing which pattern to make!  Obviously I wanted to use knits (because I am nothing if not predictable) and although the Ava Dress / Top from Victory Patterns is supposed to be for wovens after I saw Adriana Crafterhours's knit Ava I knew I must do it.

Ava / Lady Skater mashup

And I must do it ridiculously.  Achievement unlocked.

Ava / Lady Skater mashup

So, a laundry list of the changes I made to the Ava to start.  Based on my measurements and finished garment measurements I started with a straight size 8.  I reduced the seam allowances from 5/8" to 3/8" because you couldn't pay me to use 5/8"s with knits.  After a first fitting, I removed an additional 1/2" to the shoulder height because of my petite upper body, increased the under bust darts by half an inch each, and removed 2" from each side seam in width at the bust tapering to nothing at the bottom edge.

Ava / Lady Skater mashup

I added a 3" waist band as I wanted it to hit less at empire height, and more at my natural waist.  To compensate for the extra travelling distance over the bust, I had to make a sway back adjustment to the back bodice of about an inch before attaching the waistband.  It still hangs a little bit lower to the back.

Ava / Lady Skater mashup

The original plan was to leave it sleeveless (as one of the pattern options) but all of my bras come up so very high under the arm that sleeveless garments are generally problematic and more hassle than they're worth to perfect.  So I also drafted sleeves, and banded them with yellow.  The neckline I dropped by 1.5" at centre front, and banded as well.

Ava / Lady Skater mashup

The Ava skirt is a similar shape to the Lady Skater skirt but it is panelled and I literally had a half a metre left of the blue stars.  So I used the Lady Skater skirt instead and narrowed the sweep until I could fit it in my tiny fabric piece.  I'm happy with the less full skirt as it makes it more casual and less costume-y.

Wonder Woman shoes

The real stars of this photoshoot (if really there is such a thing*) are of course my shoes!  If I wore my Wonder Woman bathing suit and this dress and my shoes, that'd be three full layers of dorkery.

Ava / Lady Skater mashup

For all the people who've been making fun of my interchangeable facial expressions, this is why.  I'm not angry, this is just my face.

So if you haven't already, head over to Perfect Pattern Parcel to get your bundle!  It's only available til Friday night (21 March).

*This is my first time using my tripod and remote outside.  The only thing more embarrassing than taking pictures of yourself in a Wonder Woman dress in your shared garden is taking pictures of yourself in your overcoat in a field overlooked by the entire estate before taking your tripod and camera home in a huff because you couldn't get it to focus.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014


Introducing The Trifecta Top!

Trifecta Top line drawings

At very long last, the Trifecta Top is now available!  Named thusly because of the three neckline heights, three sleeve lengths, and three optional extras.  From the official description:
The Trifecta Top is a versatile wardrobe builder with loads of customisation options! There are three necklines (high scoop, low scoop, and scooped V-neck), three sleeve lengths with hem or band finishes (cap with hem or band, elbow length hem or band, long sleeve hem or band), and two shirt lengths (a hit-at-the-hip hem length and a marginally longer waistband length). Fitted through the bust, there is gentle side seam shaping through the high waist before skimming through the hips. Scrap hoarders will be delighted that there are also options for a tiny pocket, contrasting shoulder insets, and a centred triangle inset to showcase those small scraps you can’t bear to part with. With easy to sew raglan sleeves this top is a perfect introduction to sewing for yourself and testing the sewing-with-knits waters; a super fast sew and straightforward to fit. More experienced sewers will enjoy the myriad customisation options and more challenging insets and V-neck. Colour-block the sleeves and body for a sporty baseball style, utilise the inset neckline triangle for a retro sweatshirt look, or throw something fancy into the shoulder insets for dress up occasions! There are eight sizes included in the pattern, ranging from a 30” to 44” high bust, and a 24” to 38” high waist.
Here is but a few of the ones I've made through the testing process...

Amanda Trifecta Collage
Not pictured: Another six

One of these things is not like the other, amirite? Remember that time on Facebook I said using my new tripod and remote to take pictures inside would be a game-changer?  Unless that game is called Grainy Pics, it hasn't changed at all.  Lucky for me my friend Clare was free to take some pictures in the garden this morning.

TrifectaTester Collage

Speaking of pics, how about them testers?!  As per usual, best in the world.  Additional mega-props to Susan from Crafterhours for her nifty digitisation and general awesomeness.

So without further ado, you can get The Trifecta Top here!  From now until Sunday at midnight you can save 20% on two or more patterns using TRIFECTA at checkout.  I've just changed the listing for the Reversible Zippy Hoodie to include all sizes from 18m to 8y as well.