Saturday, 28 February 2009


Elephant baby cord matinee jacket

After grading last year's pattern up to 2-3 yr, I made a sample matinee jacket out of a sweet dotty elephant baby cord with Amy Butler's Full Moon red and cream spots on the reverse. I know I should really use muslin for samples but I can't resist using 'actual' fabric!

I made wider sleeves than my original pattern because I like it when you can see the other fabric peeking out, and it gives the garment a longer life when you can roll up cuffs.

As you can see in this picture, the buddha belly is making an appearance through the front opening. I love the buddha belly.

For contrast I reversed the tab fabric, so that the tabs and buttons 'pop' and become more of a feature than just being functional. I like this adaptability, you can use the same fabric to tame down a busy print, reverse the fabrics to match with the sleeve cuffs, or you can use entirely different fabric for extra 'pop'.

I haven't been able to take an action pic of the reverse side yet, but will update this post when I have!

Friday, 27 February 2009


Folksy finds Springtime

March is almost upon us, and with March brings... Springtime! So this week's Folksy Finds features spring themed items.

This limited edition April Showers- London by Askey Illustration is a limited edition print of a digital illustration. Printed on beautiful linen effect paper, I love the simplicity with a splash ot bright colour.

This pretty Spring orbit necklace and ring set by Lucy Jackson Designs has silver plated wire interdispersed with multi-coloured glass beads.

This Soft Spring Green dish by Glassprimitif is a unique kiln-formed glass dish of green, lime, and yellow glass fused to create a patchwork of spring colours.

These divine Spring fingerless gloves by Blackberry Crafts have a lovely contrast between oatmeal and sage yarns. Perfect for the transition into warmer weather!

Made from one of my favourite Alexander Henry fabrics, this Library book bag in bird print by Dish Dash bags is a great multi-purpose bag. It's also lined in a beautiful pink and white blossom fabric with an inner pocket.

I adore this sophisticated Dotty cushion cover by Amanda Sainsbury. It's knitted in a bright yellow dotty pattern on the front with an ocean blue envelope back, you really must check out the listing to see how beautiful the back is too!

Nothing says spring like tulips and I love this close-up picture of one from Nifty Knits's handknitted pot of tulips . The three poseable tulips come in a brightly-coloured knitted vase.

This adorable Spring has sprung skipping girl pendant from A Resin Revival features a pigtailed blonde girl skipping with flowers in her hands. The picture has been encased in crystal clear resin and complimented with a daisy charms and a lucite yellow flower charm.

Taken in Aberfledy last spring, this Springtime set of prints by Simply B's has two lovely close- ups of spring flowers and one little lamb.

I love the simple beauty of this Natural linen tote bag with spring growth by Raspberry. The base fabric is pure natural Irish Linen, the fresh leaves in linen, and a lovely green dotted fabric from Amy Butler's Midwest Modern range.

Thursday, 26 February 2009


It's all going so well! (cue sinister music...)

My hours at the childminder's changed this week so that the only time I have both kids away from the house for any significant amount of time is Thursday, for five hours. As you can imagine, Thursday is my new favourite (and most valuable) day of the week, when I can get the most done without losing out on sleep time.

Here's a short play that we enacted yesterday:

Mum (skipping through the house): La la la, la la la! Only 19 hours and 39 minutes til I get some peace! I have so much to do!
Cue sinister music.
Jamie: Mummy, I no feel well.
Mum: (putting fingers in ears): I can't hear you. I can't hear you.
Jamie: Mummy, I go to doctor's. I no feel well.
Mom Suck it up kiddo. Don't you appreciate how much mummy needs tomorrow?!
Jamie: Mummy, I so yucky. I go to doctors. I no feel well.
Mum (in panic mode): You look fine. You'll be fine.
Mum takes Jamie's temperature.
Mum: See Jaim, 39 deg isn't so high. If we were in the States, that's only 102.2 deg F.
Mum strips Jamie off, sees red blotches on Jamie's body.
Mum (full denial mode): Look, Jaim! You're so lucky, you have polkadots! Bet you can't wait to show Jane tomorrow!
Jamie falls asleep on couch.
Fade away to shot of Mom crying.

The End

Jamie's little pal at the childminder's was off last week with chicken pox, so it was only a matter of time til my two got it. I was convinced with all his symptoms last night that the time had come. I let him sleep on the couch in the afternoon (for only 30 minutes I might add) and he went to sleep at his usual bedtime. Fast forward to midnight, he's out of bed full of beans, looking remarkably well. The fever has broken. He's awake and in an out of bed from midnight to almost 5AM (with little or no sleep). I lay in his doorway so he couldn't escape, and didn't get much sleep either.

And today, the rash is gone. No chicken pox. Guess I have to go to Lazytown - The Musical on Saturday after all.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009


Next up... matinee coats

This little beauty is probably my favourite thing I've ever made, for several reasons. Firstly, I am head over heels in love with the fabric. I only bought two yards and now I can't find it anymore. Story of my life... that's why I hoard fabric! I can find other colourways (orange seems to be the most plentiful) but not this lovely green. Secondly, this is the first ever little coat I made and probably the first thing I drafted that I was really proud of. Plus these were the first buttons I ever did. And the first reversible!

I called it a 'matinee coat' as it's slightly cropped, slim fitting, and with closures only at the chest rather than all the way down. Rather than a placket, it has two tabs holding the front pieces together. I wasn't too confident with making things reversible, so I used a combination of 'flipping' (around neck and down front center) and 'sandwiching' (the sleeve edges and hem are enclosed by binding).

I haven't made anymore matinee coats since this one, but now that my double breasted coat and swing top patterns are going pretty well, this pattern is the one that most people are asking for next.

So last night I graded it up to 2-3 yr (the one above is 1-2 yr) and cut fabric for a sample. I made a few changes (opened the sleeve up and set it in a bit more, and increased the tab size a smidge). I doubt I will finish the sleeves or hem with binding, although it's always an option!

I half finished the sample garment and have the perfect fabric reversed for the final jacket. I hope that the tute and patterns for 1-2 yr, 2-3 yr and 3-4 yrs will be ready for testers by the weekend!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009


What's in a name?

Friend Sarah

I made a fleeting mention on Sunday about being let out into the real world, where people are full-sized and wear clothing. And who was my chaperone? Friend Sarah. You might have thought that the only people given prefixed names are serial killers, like Bible John. Not so... Jamie also bestows catchy monikers, to less sinister people.

'Friend Sarah' is called thus because whenever she visits, I tell the kids that 'mummy's friend Sarah' is coming. So now she is just 'Friend Sarah'. And what a friend she is! She brought me three eggs from her mum, which was funny to find in my handbag on Monday (it would have been less funny if they had broken). And which will come in handy for the obligatory Shrove Tuesday pancakes tonight.

When I went to pick Jamie up from nursery on Friday, they told me about another nickname he's bestowed. Donna is the nursery worker that gave us our induction talk. They said that he always said a word before saying Donna's name, but they were never sure what he was saying. On Friday, they figured out that he calls her 'Talking Donna'. And why? When we were having our induction session, there were frequent interruptions from Jamie, so I repeatedly said things like, 'Jamie, I'm talking to Donna'. And so 'Talking Donna' was born. Wonder if he uses the same frustrated tone I did?

Monday, 23 February 2009


How to make things reversible: Bagging

Following on from my first post on how to adapt a pre-existing patterns, and my second post on sandwiching, here is a tutorial on 'bagging'. Bagging is when you sew the garment from the outside (right sides facing), leaving a small gap in the side seam open for pulling the nearly finished garment through. It's bit of 'blind faith' sewing in that you are working almost entirely from the wrong side of the fabric and when you're sewing the side seams up, the garment is being pushed towards the inside into a pouch (that's why it's called bagging). First time you do it, you'll be not entirely sure that it'll work until you pull the right sides out through the hole. But it's actually much easier than it sounds!

I use bagging when I want to make a reversible garment without sleeves, with buttons at the shoulders.

Reversible A-line dress

  1. Lay each of your dresses on the floor, right sides together. Pin along the left side seam for one fabric, and along the right side seam on the other (blue line in picture below). Sew each side seam.
  2. Open each dress up and place one on top of the other, right sides together. Match up all edges and pin along the entire top and bottom edges (blue lines in pic below). Stitch the dresses together at top and bottom edges, leaving both side edges open.
  3. Clip your corners and thin out your curves with notches (I use pinking shears).
  4. Using your open side seam, turn the dress right sides out. The green lines below show the edges that are still open. Press flat.
  5. Lay the front on top of the back, matching up the raw edges of the open side seam. Pin the two inner side seams together at the yellow dot, keeping the two outer edges (the panda fabric) out of the way.
  6. Starting about four inches from the bottom hem edge, start stitching the side seam together making sure that only the two inner fabrics (the polkadots) are stitched together by pulling the panda fabric down and out of the way. You can see from the picture below that at the hem seam the side seam of the polkadot fabric becomes the side seam of the panda fabric. Personally, I don't pin when I'm doing this, I just pull the other fabric out of the way and match up edges as I go along. I'm that kinda girl :)
  7. As you continue to sew this side seam onto the panda side, the dress starts disappearing into 'the bag'.
  8. Continue the side seam all the way down the panda fabric, over the armpit edge and back onto the polkadot fabric. Continue down the polkdot fabric but stop about six inches above your starting point, leaving a six inch gap. Your entire dress is 'in the bag' now!
  9. Reach through the hole and pull the dress out. Press all your edges again. You can see in the picture below where the one remaining opening is.
  10. Fold one raw edge of the open hole under and pull over top the other raw edge. Pin and press. Slipstitch the hole closed.
  11. Do your buttonholes and attach buttons to both sides of the shoulder.
  12. Find cute model for pictures:
  • If you want to applique or add pockets or embellishments (like my little panda on the polkadot side), do it before you start sewing the two sides together. Likewise, the interfacing for the button holes should be done before step three, as they are inaccessible after that.
  • If you find that bagging is the technique you like most, it can be used for sleeveless clothes that do have shoulder seams, at step two you would leave the shoulder edges (at yellow lines) open and unstitched:
    At the very end (when dress is right sides out), fold under the raw edge of the back shoulders, place the raw edges of the front shoulders inside the opening, and topstitch the two together. Obviously I don't recommend you do it with this particular dress as the shoulder seam would not sit on top of the shoulder, but more at the collarbone :)

Sunday, 22 February 2009


Yes, actually, I can quite believe it

Just came back home after meeting my friend in town. Jamie has already been out carousing once.

No, really. I can't believe it either.

Due to some super-rare intergalactic convergence, Jamie slept in his own bed, all night long, without getting up to pester me. For the first time since August.

Saturday, 21 February 2009


Blogs I love

The highlight of my week was finding out that I was given a 'Blogs we love' badge by the lovely Vonnie. It's so interesting to me to see what blogs other people are reading and it's well worth checking out her other favourites. So I'm passing it on with five of my favourite blogs!
  1. Indietutes: I first found Vegbee over on Craftster and I can say, hand on heart, that she is probably the reason why I started sewing and stuck at it. The fact that she taught herself to sew and makes such wonderful and interesting clothes gave me the confidence to experiment and persevere. She is so generous with her knowledge, her blog is overflowing with tutorials and helpful sewing advice. Plus her kids are so stinking cute.

  2. Made by Petchy: Another Craftster cohort. She lives in Norway and her blog is full of inspirational sewing, baking, home decor projects, photography-- all things crafty really!

  3. The Wind in Your Vagina: Bit of a shocking name for a blog, but there's a good reason! Mummy blogs are ten a penny but Daddy blogs are a rare breed. I happened across this one and I really enjoy reading it, he is very funny, occasionlly a bit off-colour but always interesting.

  4. Cakewrecks: Probably the most well-known of the blogs on my list, but I'm compelled to include it because it's just so funny. Perfect mix of intellectual snobbery and schadenfreude.

  5. Red Possum: I happened across Sarah on Etsy, and we occasionally swap convos to see how things are going. She's an Australian expat living in Dublin and makes the most beautiful baby dresses and coats. Her fabric choices and photography are beautiful.

Friday, 20 February 2009


Folksy finds Comic Relief

This week I joined Crafter...oo, a UK based craft forum. Everyone is lovely and welcoming, and generous too! The members have opened a shop on Folksy where all the proceeds of sales will be donated to Comic Relief, which raises money for projects at home and abroad for a just world, free from poverty.

This pretty Dichroic Glass Bangle by Glass Kanvas has a China Swirls pattern in lovely rich tones. This Retro Cat drawstring bag by Nicsknots is perfect for keeping your knitting or crafting projects tidy. Pennydog makes her Ice Crystal ring by manipulating semi-cured resin when in the gel stage without a mould so it looks like crystals. Innovative and beautiful!These cute Silly Foot soap by Purple Sparkle smell like black raspberry and vanilla with a bit of sparkle! I love the chocolate colour of these sweet Hand crochet baby sandals by Tahra trimmed with mother of pearl flower shaped buttons. These dangly drop Teal earrings by ARE jewellery are mottled with a kind of black ink spill look, very pretty abnd sophisticated!These Ladybird hair toggles by Incywincy have a fabric covered button with a tiny ladybird, very sweet! This stunning Green goblin lampwork bracelet by Lazy Daisy features handmade lampwork beads in green tones with yellow accents. This Soy candle in a tin by PaulineR comes with a plethora of delicious fragrances to choose from like Chocolate chip cookies or peach, and is contained in a pretty rose tin. And what would Comic Relief be with the obligatory red nose? This Red Nose headband is a collaborative effort from Incywincy and Hollingdale Designs, it fits kids and adults too!

Thursday, 19 February 2009


At an impasse...

You might be wondering what that monstrosity above is. That's 'Debutante Barbie'. And why, pray tell, would I superimpose my face onto Debutante Barbie?!

a. I'm a dork
b. I'm showing off my mad Photoshop skillz
c. I have a mental disorder
d. I want to give you nightmares
e. All of the above
f. None of the above

Okay, the reason I put my face on Debutante Barbie is because after eight months from when Kitschy Coo began at local nursery fair, I finally feel like I've 'arrived'. I've been selling online since August, and between August and Christmas I had less than 30 sales. Since I started selling my patterns, business has picked up exponentially and the extra traffic has meant more clothing sales too. I've had nineteen orders this week (13 patterns, 3 dresses, 2 coats, 1 hoodie), yikes!

While I'm over the moon that I'm finally getting somewhere after months of sleep deprivation and slog, it's also given me some things to think about. Most importantly, how can I cope with this level of business? I definitely need to find a large-scale photocopier for my patterns (at the moment I hand trace them onto butcher's paper for each order). It will cut into my profit margin but I'm spending a lot of time tracing these days and not enough time sewing and developing other patterns.

So that will free up a bit of time, but the biggest consideration is whether I have the ability to sustain this momentum long term. I currently have eight hours a week when both of my kids are out of the house at the same time. To put this into perspective, a three layer jacket probably takes me four to six hours to make. The easy answer is to get them into more childcare, but I'm not sure if the current level of orders is just a blip, will remain static, or will even grow. I'm certainly seeing a lot of 'word of mouth' orders and repeat customers, which warms my cockles no end. Childcare is so expensive that all of my earnings (if not more than my earnings) would just go straight to the nursery. So lots of hard work on my part, less time with the kids, and nothing to show for it.

I'd love to know how all you other 'mum-trepreneurs' are juggling it all!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009


Asymmetrical swing coat

By all rights, I should have posted this coat yesterday and not a picture of my son looking camp. But it was more trouble than I originally thought and took me two nights. Not because it's anything fancy, but because I had never made anything asymmetrical reversible before. Extra brain power was required to figure out how to cut out the front pieces so they'd both be facing right side out, and extra brain power is in short supply these days. The first red side assembled was wrong, so I had to reverse the cutting layout and make another one... Cut a long story slightly less long, I was right the first time so the second one I made was a waste of time. See what I mean about extra brain power?!

The coat is for spring so it's fairly lightweight. One side has polkadot corduroy and the other side is red heavyweight cotton. I made it button far to the side with two buttons.

It has a big asymetrical collar, which Steven wasn't liking. But then again he though I'd just messed a normal collar up so his right to an opinion is negated.

It has extra wide sleeves because I like to see the other fabric peeking out.

I'm almost tempted to cut the buttonholes off the coat and frame them for the wall. After months of struggling with the 'automatic' buttonhole function on my sewing machine (or laborious hand-sewing), I decided to just make them with a zigzag stitch. So. Much. Easier.