Friday, 30 March 2012


The 'Anything But Tennis' Skirt

astronaut tennis skirt

With the weather being glorious (and therefore slightly less perilous for bare legs this week), I've ventured into skirt country. My plan was to call this 'The Tennis Skirt'. Until I asked Maia to channel tennis playing for pictures. And got dancing....

tennis skirt dancing

And boxing...

tennis skirt boxing

And golf...

tennis skirt golf

A fundamental lack of understanding of tennis.

tennis skirt winner

Until I said be a tennis winner.

Thursday, 29 March 2012


Made it in MADE

made magazine cover

Waaaaaay back in January I was contacted by the editor of a new magazine for parents in Edinburgh about being included in their children's clothing feature. And thanks to my eagle-eyed childminder who managed to find a copy, now I've seen the finished article:

made magazine feature

Unfortunately the feature was written right as I was putting the finishing touches on the new shop launch so I didn't have the shiny new website (and a current 'About Me' page) to direct her to. Slightly out of date information was taken from my Etsy profile, but I'm not complaining!*

*Much. Only here. And very graciously.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012


Turquoise and Lime. Rhymes with 'Whine'.

turquoise and lime renfrew 3

I made a second attempt at a Renfrew today. The catalogue of changes I made to the pattern include (but are not limited to):
  • Graded to size 12 at bust on front piece tapering back to 8 at waist
  • Sleeve cap changed accordingly
  • Overall length shortened by one inch at shorten / lengthen line
  • Shoulder point moved half an inch towards neckline
  • Shoulder slope reduced
  • Neckband tightened / shortened by at least two inches (and it still needs to be more!)

The result is better, but still not the ever-elusive great fit. Excuse me, God, THIS IS WHAT I WANT:

Can anyone tell me how she did this?! It is worth mentioning that she has to FBA the Renfrew two sizes (like I did) but wherefore art thou, draglines? Just look how thoughtful this is making me:

turquoise and lime renfrew 1

So thoughtful. While I have God on the line (and also many helpful readers), please can we address how to pose for pictures without looking like a complete wally? My full facial repetoire is 'pensive' (see above)...

turquoise and lime renfrew 2

And 'benign'. How do you all take natural and normal pictures when you're modelling clothes?*

turquoise and lime renfrew 4

I do relax a bit when Jamie is behind the lense, but he knows nothing about ideal lighting.

To summarise: How do you solve a problem like a Renfrew? And then photograph the results without having to crop your head out.

*Or look natural and normal as you go about your day-to-day life, in fact.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


The State of the Boy


Jamie had his operation yesterday; two little grommets went in and the residual regenerating adenoids came back out.

monkey and j

Monkey came too and even got a hospital bracelet.


The time before the operation he had probably the best time of his life. He played the new Angry Birds Space game, completed the Ward Easter Egg hunt in record time (whilst enchanting all the parents and nurses with his earnestness) and painted several hundred plaster of paris figures. And then he was called down to surgery. This time the anaesthetists were able to locate one of his miniscule little veins, so he didn't have to fret about the mask afterall. He was under for just over an hour, and in a strange episode of syncronicity I swapped messages with an American crafty mum friend whose daughter was under at the same time. I wonder if they met in the ether?

post op

On the way home he said, 'Dad, your car sounds like a jet plane'.

Saturday, 24 March 2012


Navel-gazing through the medium of Kelvins

After what feels like (and could quite possibly be) hundreds of hours of research into how to take better pictures indoors in poor lighting, I shelled out for a behemoth of a lightbulb that is especially calibrated to mimic daylight. It's almost as big as my head, which is admittedly small, but still- the lightbulb is massive enough that it can't be contained by my previous lightshade. I took some very quick test shots:

different bulbs

These are completely unedited comparison pics, straight off the camera.

different bulbs quick edit

And these were given a quick white balance adjust in Picnik.

What do you think... better, worse, indifferent?

Friday, 23 March 2012


Putting 'Pardon?' to bed


After eight months of telling everyone with a medical degree (or medical training, or people who might know people who have medical training) that Jamie can't hear again we were finally vindicated a couple of weeks ago when Jamie bombed his hearing tests. We're talking not even in mild hearing loss levels, but moderate. I told you so, doctors; there are many things I am a fantasist about but not glaringly obvious medical problems. Due to the amount of time we've been chasing this, the support of his teacher in agreeing it is a major problem, the fact that he had this operation before, and the poor hearing test we were fast-tracked straight onto the waiting list for an operation*. It was supposed to happen by the end of May, but a call came today that there was a cancellation and he's having it on Monday! At the very least it's a double-grommet insertion but it could quite possibly be another adenoidectomy as they suspect his have grown back out of spite.

The last time Jamie had this operation (please click through if you haven't read it because the immediate difference for him was so poignant and profound) almost exactly two years ago he was only four. But it turns out he remembers it vividly and he's pretty scared about the general anaesthetic. It's heart-aching to hear him describe the smell and the taste of the gas and how he woke up without me there (he was sobbing and clinging like a limpet to a random nurse when I was brought through), but this is going to make his life so much better. And ours too. Wish him strength and bravery.

*When I say fast-tracked, I mean that he didn't have to jump through additional hoops pre-op. Normally you need three failed tests in a row before they operate, which is what happened to us last time.

Thursday, 22 March 2012


And then I joined The White Stripes

If you're not my friend on Facebook, you've missed out on some epic whining this week. Firstly, I have my biannual dose of tonsilitus. But even more harrowing, I had a disastrous set of appointments at a hair salon. Why 'sets', you ask? Because first they did this:

Those are 'blonde' highlights that were left on so long that huge sections of hair turned white-grey. Because the highlights took more than three hours (including an hour when the foils were on but not checked) and subsequently I was running late to pick up the kids, I had to leave with my hair wet and I didn't realise how bad it was until later. With a friend for moral support (and to confirm that it was in fact terrible), I returned the next day to express how unhappy I was and that I would like it fixed. The good news: tonight it was fixed*. The bad news: they charged me to fix it. I don't think I've ever named-and-shamed a company before, but here I go.

*If by fixed you mean given an all-over colour not too far from my natural colour.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


Stop the world, I'm getting off

Children's apparel of the future (listing for cute shirts here)

I received an email from a company this morning with the typical 'we wrote an article you and your readers might find interesting' spiel. Although I knew there was every likelihood that clicking through would make me feel stabby, I did anyway. It was 'Ten Places We Shouldn't Mention Our Kids' Names'*. Now, people who would write lists like these normally summarise as ANYWHERE ONLINE. Curious to know what they would name for the remaining nine places, I clicked. And here they are: children's sporting events, professional sporting events, the shops, Facebook, amusement parks, the grocery store, restaurants, big discount shops (especially the toy aisle), the park, and at sports practise. Let's ignore for the moment that in order to get to the mythical Top Ten that sporting events and shops are each triple counted, and parks and amusement parks are double counted. The fact remains that this scare-mongering advice is not to speak your child's name even when they are with you because, for example in the grocery store:
...this is a really common place to hear a parent yelling at their child. Most times the child’s full name including middle name is often sternly expressed at the child. Now any stranger listening knows your child’s full name and where you grocery shop. Maybe they will go back there every day and watch to see when you shop there. They might be able to lure the kid away from you and then snatch them.
And maybe the last time we went to the zoo, a honey badger liked the smell of my kids, escaped, and is waiting for his chance to eat them. It could happen.

The vast majority (statistics say 98%+) of child abductions are done by relations or acquaintances who would already know the child's name. Am I the only person who sees articles like this at best ridiculous and at worst detrimental to having a sane and normal upbringing?

*Although I am loathe to send any traffic their way, if you must it's here.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


Know Your Knits. My Knits. All Knits. Part Two.

With the recent arrival of DeutscheHaul, I've added another couple of fibre types to the mix. Part One of Know Your Knits covered Cotton Interlock, Bamboo Interlock and Cotton Jersey, now lets update the comparison with Organic Cotton Jersey and Velour.

fabrics all

Here they are all together. As you can see, there are varied levels of curl:

relative curliness

The Appletree organic jersey (and the Robot organic jersey not pictured) has some curl, but not as much as the straight cotton jersey blends. It also has a much smoother finish, which you can't tell from the pictures but will just have to trust me on. The difference between the curliness of the cotton jerseys is mainly dependant on the overall weight of the fabric. I find the LiandLo prints (Cool Cats and Astronauts) slightly heavier than the JNY prints (clouds and stars).

velour curliness

The velour fabrics are obviously heavier than any of my other fabrics so despite the considerable spandex component (20%), the curl is minimal. Notice anything different about the curl? All of the jerseys curl to the right side, and the velour to the wrong side! How about that, fellow fabric geeks?

velour ironed

Another thing to remember with velour is that you need to be more wary with the iron. In the picture above, I folded a scrap in half and pressed it with stream as I would with other knits. As you can see, the crease is very sharp and the nap is altered (not to mention the tiny circles from the iron plate). It's hard to undo this once done. Velour doesn't require ironing very often (if ever), but if you must, iron from the wrong side with lower heat and with something padded underneath the right side to preserve the pile.

messy legs

Speaking of the pile, it does create a bit of a mess when you cut it. I don't recommend sewing in a sweater dress and black tights. Overall, both the organic cotton jerseys and the velours are a dream to sew.

Monday, 19 March 2012


Through the Velouroscope there be madness

velour stars 1

'Please look normal.'

velour stars 3

'That's definitely not normal.'

velour stars 5

'Maia- good job. Jamie- seriously?'

velour stars 7

'Jamie... please?'

velour stars 4


Saturday, 17 March 2012


Make it in a metre series: The Sandbridge Set

We've got another great guest poster in the Make In in a Metre Series, Cindy from Siestas and Sewing! Cindy has four kids to sew for, and does some nifty clothes for herself too:

I know. I don't believe she has four kids either. As well as very kindly agreeing to guest post, Cindy has also provided tutorials and patterns for what she made! Introducing The Sandbridge Set.....


sandbridge set MG

I was super excited when Amanda asked me to share a little about my experiences with knit sewing and to do a project. It just so happened that I'd been kicking around the idea of drafting a shorts and top pattern for my little girls who are almost 7 and 5. Their usual summer "uniform" is a knit top and shorts...clothes perfect for 2 very active little girls. Taking a pair of Old Navy shorts they wore last year and a favorite Gymboree top, I traced around the clothing and made my own pattern. Now, I'm not an expert on doing this. Most times, I work from an existing pattern and tweak it to suit my needs. There are several tutorials out there on how to draft patterns from clothing. Dana of Made has one
HERE. But if you know a little girl who fits in a 5/6, you're in luck!

Once you figure out what works for you and your machine, knits aren't scary. I have had some massive fails along the way but I've also discovered a few helpful tricks. Most of my knits sewing is done on my sewing machine since I don't have a serger. I use a stretch stitch (the one that looks like a lightening bolt) and a nifty stitch that seams and overlocks (my fave!):


When I do use a straight stitch for topstitching, I lengthen it from 2.5 to 3. That's to help prevent the dreaded popped stitch. Keep in mind that most seams need to have a little give in knits. Nothing is worse than having your kid pull on a top and hearing the stitches pop!

Thread is important too. You will want to use a polyester or nylon thread as synthetic thread has a little give. For hemming, I either use a twin needle with wooly nylon (bulky nylon) hand wound on the bobbin--a trick I learned from Katie--or a faux cover stitch on my machine.

sandbridge set MG sitting

The Sandbridge top and shorts are named after a favorite beach of ours. We're a beach lovin' family and spend most of our summer hanging out in Sandbridge. The Sandbridge shorts are quick to make...especially if you leave off the pockets. There are all kinds of ways to change the look of the shorts.

sandbridge pockets

On the blue/white pair, I simply pressed up the hems and stitched with the twin needle.

OD top sandbridge shorts MG

But on the pink pair, I decided at the last minute to finish the leg openings with a contrast binding. You could gather the legs slightly before adding binding to get more of a bloomer look. Or one could make a slit on the outseam hem. The possibilities are endless!

sandbridge top BK

The top is a little more fiddly since you will be finishing the front/back necklines and armholes with binding. But the end results are worth it.:)

Sandbridge set BK

The Sandbridge top and shorts do not take much fabric. I was able to get 2 pairs of shorts and 2 tops from the metre of fabric Amanda graciously sent me. I also had enough scraps left over to dress up 2 Ottobre Design Raglan t-shirts (01/06 #17). Here's everything together!


Cindy has very graciously posted the patterns and tutes for the Sandbridge Top and Shorts in Google Docs. Links as follows:

Thursday, 15 March 2012


Jesus Christ (she's a) Superstar Dress

appletree dress 20
Behold the majesty of this girl.

After a trip to our regular dentist, a course of antibiotics, and an abscess that refused to completely go away, Maia and I had a trip up to the Pediatric Dental Institute yesterday for a thorough investigation.

appletree dress 10

They had a good root around, but there was nothing for it- the tooth had to go. She endured forty-five minutes of hands in her mouth, four shots of Novocaine, anxiety that made her knees curl to her chest and tears leak from her eyes, but still she was brave enough to lie still and let them pull it. The dentists, hygienists, myself, bystanders, and angels on high collectively marvelled at this small wonder.

appletree dress 4

Second prize for Awesome People of the Day must be awarded to the dentist / hygientist tag team. They had a spiel so engaging and convincing that by the end I almost wanted them to pull my teeth out. Are you reading this, stoic dentist? Why do I never get to suction my own saliva out and push all the buttons to control my chair? When I close my eyes tight and listen really carefully, why don't you make secret snoring sounds so I think my teeth have gone to sleep? After seeing my daughter clap with delight and announce, 'I heard them, I heard them, they're sleeping!' despite just having needles jabbed into her gums convinces me that your approach is all wrong.

appletree dress 18

So to the victor goes the spoils. Six stickers from the dentist, two quid from the Tooth Fairy, and a magazine and dress from Mum. I would say that she has more dresses than she can shake a stick at now, but she is clearly disproving this idiom above.

Monday, 12 March 2012


If Peter Andre* wrote a song about these fabrics he'd call it 'Germania'

A new haul of fabric arrived from Germany today... and it's a doozie!

appletree 3

'Appletrees' is a riotous woodland scene in a bajillion colours, woven by fairies out of magic filaments. I jest... it's organic cotton jersey but it feels like it is made out of magic. So soft and smooth, and very sturdy.

robots 2

What say you to Retro Robots? 'Yes, please' and 'thank you', because you have nice manners. This is another divine organic cotton jersey.

star print velours

Gird your loins, velour lovers, never has a slightly-piled fabric felt so soft and luxurious. Probably because it's a cotton / spandex mix rather than a polyester pretender. I know that 99% of audio in a shop is irritating, but could you forgive the cooing of a dove for these ones? And they're a massive 180cm wide. Imagine the possiblities.

*Apologies to at least three quarters of readers who will not get this reference. Don't worry, it's only mildly amusing, even to me.

Saturday, 10 March 2012


The Seasonally Inappropriate Space Dress

purple astronaut dress 1

By popular demand of those who don't live in Scotland, we now have short sleeves.

purple astronaut dress 18

By popular demand of the under-five set, we also have butterfly face paint. I knew I should have taken modelling pics before the nursery ceilidh fundraiser.

purple astronaut dress 8

I wish you could see the tattoo on her arm so much. It is super-fugly cat with the words 'Pretty Kitty' next to it. When Maia picked it, I laughed out loud and asked the dad who was in charge of giving tattoos if it was from their Irony Range. He looked at me like I was mental.

purple astronaut dress 13

I didn't end up shortening the skirt, but I did decide to make a larger hem as I am getting more confident with my coverstitch machine. But not confident enough to try any of the six screw-on hemming or binding plates I bought eight months ago. Feel free to shame me.

purple astronaut dress 20

I reckon it just looks a bit shorter than Cool Cat because of the bare legs.

purple astronaut dress 24

Speaking of bare legs, these pictures have prompted me to wonder where has my baby gone? No more (okay, maybe just less) of that buddha-bellied, squeezy-legged, pint-sized toddler and in her place a long-legged and lean nearly-school girl. Yikes.