Monday 31 May 2010


New underpants linked to hysteria

I made another two pairs and the kids literally went nuts for them.

Thank you all for your enthusiasm about the pattern and the pants themselves. To answer some of your questions:
  • Emmy: I bought the bamboo from The Fabric Fairy in the US. Sadly, I can't find it here either.
  • Little Birds Fly: I finished the tute today! See below....
  • Sister: To my knowledge, there is no universal Scottish slang for boys' bits. We use 'wee man' in this house.
  • Pickled Weasal: Yes, 'bahookies' is an ace word and yes, the singular is 'bahookie'.
  • Mimesy: I am assured by the husband and the internet that breeks is acceptable for both trousers and underpants. Phew :)
  • Louiz: We have trouble with builder's bum too, I'm baffled by the short rise they use for little girl trousers here. There's not too much you can do about it if they're store-bought ones (other than not buy them and send the company hate mail), but if you're making the trousers yourself increasing the back rise is a fix.
I've graded the pants for sizes 2-3yr, 3-4yr and 4-5yr, and the tutorial has been written. It'll be a pdf pattern because the pattern pieces are small, and the only thing I have left to do is scan them in. So, lovely testers o' mine, leave a comment here if you're interested, with the size you'd like to test. I will absolutely adore you if you could do it this week, all you need is some knit fabric (bonus points for fabric with lycra) and some stretch needles. Anywhere in the world because it's emailable! Speaking of which, please leave your email address :)

As an aside, if I was to sell the pants themselves, how much would you pay for a three pack?

Sunday 30 May 2010


Sometimes I'm just overwhelmed

By the beauty of this little face.

Saturday 29 May 2010


Hallmark, DO NOT steal our ideas

Me: Hey, Maia, why don't you make a thank you card for Jane for your birthday present?
Maia: Okay.
Me: Why don't you draw a picture of Jane?
Maia: Okay. Maia: Look, I drew her boobies!
Me: She's going to love it.

Friday 28 May 2010


Good news and modelling

lil kingdom peasant top

Yesterday was a very exciting day as my tutu pettiskirt tutorial was featured on U-Create and on Craft Gossip. Cue lots of extra visitors and some new followers too. *waves at new folk*

This morning we went to Elsie's house to drop off her Lil Kingdom peasant top and pettiskirt. The pettiskirt went on first:

modelled pettiskirt

And then the top:

peasant top modelled

Cue some manic twirling!


Maia is enchanted with the staggering girliness of this fabric... princesses, fairies, castles, unicorns, ballerinas, flowers:

lil kingdom detail

So has claimed the rest of it as her own. What else should I make with it?

Thursday 27 May 2010


More breeks for big bahookies

disco pants
Disco pants

Or, to translate from Scottish slang: more underpants for big bums. You're probably thinking, 'Wait a minute... didn't you make her heaps before?' Why yes, I did. But when we were going through the astrological poop drama, she did so many terrible things to her pants outside the house that most of them were thrown in the bin. So she's been back in store bought pants, which are minuscule, and consequently spends 14 hours a day fishing them out of her bum or bits. It's not a good look. Just have a look at this:

Lilliputian store bought pants

Those are the pants I made on the left, those are store bought pants on the right (in size 4-5yrs no less!). When she wears the purple pants, she looks like she belongs on Copacabana Beach. Before you think that my version must be gigantic, not so:

strawberry front

Yes, a bit roomy between the legs but that's not surprising as I drafted them with unisex in mind. And there's no fabric going spare in the back:

strawberry waist

The legs are very low cut so hopefully they'll be nary a wedgie in sight. The waistband and leg bindings for the strawberry pants are my organic bamboo knit, the first time I've used it. God, it's nice fabric. Give me strength not to buy heaps more.

Wednesday 26 May 2010


Tutorial: How to make a tutu pettiskirt

Since there has been some interest in a tutorial for the tutu pettiskirts I've been making, here we go then. This is a three tiered pettiskirt with a number of twirly girly skirts coming out from a drop waist and a lining skirt underneath. You can use all the same tulle as the picture above. Or different colours as below.

Some explanations as to the design. As you might have read, I was a reluctant convert to the toddler tutu. Beyond being more girly / princessy than this tomboy mum could handle, I just didn't like the proportions of a gigantic pouffey skirt on such short little legs. This is why I've made mine drop-waisted with all the swishy pouffey bulk from the hips down. And you can use a fashion fabric for the top tier for a bit of character. And it saves some gathering time. Triple win. The other feature I've added to the pettiskirt is a lining skirt to the same proportions underneath. Many reasons: tulle can be scratchy so this protects the legs, it gives coverage so there's no hint of underpants showing through, and it also gives it structure so you can get away with making perhaps less tulle skirts than you would have without it. Which means less gathering time again. Hooray. You can also use fabrics like voile or organza but bear in mind that you will have to edge finish everywhere because it unravels if you so much look at it, and you'll also need to add a hem allowance to the height of the bottom tier.

Off we go then. I'm including the calculations for drafting your pieces with your own measurements, but will include the actual numbers I used for two year old and three year old skirts as well.

Pettiskirt pattern pieces drafted

These are the three tiers you'll need. If you have a smaller child with straight up and down shape, use the waist. If you have an older child (or you're doing it for an adult!), use the larger of hip of waist circumference or you won't be able to get it on. When I say a minimum of 6" ease, feel very free to increase this but beware that it will increase the fabric required (and that pesky gathering) for Tiers B and C quite a bit. When I say a minimum factor of 'times two' for the widths of Tiers B and C, depending on the fabric you are using you might want to make it even more. In general, the density of the tulle (i.e. the size of the gaps in the webbing) means that you might not be able to see the true colour unless you have either tightly gathered it or you have a lot of layers. I prefer denser tulle / netting with a smaller weave for this reason.
  • Elsie is two with a 20" waist circumference and I want the finished length to be 10.5". Tier A will be 26" by 4", Tier B will be 52" by 4" and Tier C will be 104" by 4".
  • Maia is three with a 22" hips circumference (bubble bum!) and I want the finished length to be 12". Tier A will be 28" by 4.5", Tier B will be 56" by 4.5" and Tier C will be 112" by 4.5".
And now for the cutting of the pieces in various fabrics. Rather than using huge pattern pieces based on the widths of Tiers B and C, I only use one pattern piece based on Tier A for all Tiers. Having the extra seam lines will also help you get your gathering evenly spaced. Piece A is your measurements for Tier A, but half the width so that you are making a Front and a Back with side seams at both hips.

pettiskirt pattern pieces cut

You will probably need to make a minimum of three tulle skirts, but more depending on the density of your tulle. I used four for the one that is being used for this tute, but six for the one above that uses two different colours.
  • For Elsie: Piece A measures 13" by 4".
  • For Maia: Piece A measures 14" by 4.5"
If the width of your tulle allows it (and it should because they tend to be wide width), fold in half matching the selvages and then in half again so you can cut two layers at once.

1- fabric folded

It is helpful once folded to pin the layers together at the selvage side so they don't shift around. In this picture you might be able to see the pins on the right side, and on the left side is the fold encorporating two layers. Cut pieces as required from your calculations.

2- bundles

Divide your cut pieces into skirt stacks of Tier B and Tier C. Making four tulle skirts means four stacks of six pieces (two for Tier B and four for Tier C). Dealing with each stack individually saves a lot of confusion.

3- sew edges

Sew the short ends of two pieces together. Sew quite far from the edge or your machine will eat it and you will swear like a sailor. Repeat on the other side. You now have a Tier B. Sew the short ends of four pieces together, paying very good attention to make sure that all the exposed edges will be facing the same direction. When you sew your final seam to make it a loop, double check to make sure the long length hasn't twisted around. Again, it saves on crying / swearing time. You now have a Tier C that is massive.

4- trim edges

Trim all of your seam allowances close to the stitch line to make them less noticable.

7- mark quarters

Fold your Tier B in half, matching the side seams, and place pins at centre front and centre back (far right in this picture). Repeat these steps for all four skirts, but keep them in their separate stacks.

5- gathering stitch

Run gathering stitches along the top of Tier C, starting and stopping a new one at each seam (i.e. four separate gathering stitches) as this is much easier than a single gathering stitch. Turn your tension up and your machine will gather for you but make sure you leave long tails at both ends because it might over-gather.

6- gathering done

This is what it looks like after you run your gathering stitches.

8- pin bottom tier

Right sides facing (as in no exposed seams to the inside), pin each seam line of Tier C to the corresponding quarters of Tier B (as in seam line, centre front pin, seam line, centre back pin). Pull on your gathering stitchs in Tier C to gather more or let them out to match Tier B for all four sections.

9- lots of pins

Adjust the gathers evenly and pin copiously.

10- sew bottom tier on

Sew the layers together with the gathers facing up so you can readjust a bit while you sew if required. Smooshing the gathering down with your left hand as you sew will help them not to shift. Make sure you sew either right along your gathering stitch or to the inside of it so it won't show when open.

11- pull up

Once you have sewn a whole revolution, remove pins and pull layers apart. Tug both sides gently and inspect the whole way around to make sure you have caught both layers. Repeat these steps for all four tulle skirts.

12- pin all layers together

When all four skirts are finished, place one inside of the other (with all right sides out) and pin all four layers together at both side seams. Make sure no skirt is twisted in the inside.

13- all pinned

Then pin them together along the entire top raw edge, making sure you get all four layers captured and that they are even. Run gathering stitches along the top edge (again, two separate stitches stopping and starting at the side seams).

14- pinned to waistband

Sew the two Fashion Fabric Tier A pieces together (right sides facing) along the short ends to make a left and right side seam. Sorry this bit doesn't have a picture but it doesn't really need one anyway! Right sides facing, pin the top raw edge of the tulle multi-skirt to the bottom edge of Tier A at both side seams. Make sure that if your Tier A is directional that it is facing the right direction! And then pull your gathering stitches to match the width of Tier A and pin evenly.

15- stitched to waistband

Sew them together all the way around either on the gathering stitch line or inside it so it doesn't show when pulled down. Put aside for now so you can make the lining skirt.

16- satin skirt cut

Cut the lining skirt pieces for all three tiers as set out in the table at the the top. This picture is slightly confusing because there are four stacks instead of three, but from top to bottom they represent: 2 x Piece A on fold for Tier C, 2 x Piece A on fold for Tier C, 2 x Piece A on fold for Tier B, and 2 x Piece A for Tier A. Sew the short edges of Tiers B and C together just as set out above. I'm using satin for this one, so the unravelling hellish nature of the satin means I've switched to my serger. You don't need a serger, but you will need to edge finish if it's an unravelley fabric, like with a zigzag.

17- satin skirt rolled hem

Once Tier C is in a big loop, hem the bottom edge. I roll hemmed this one, but you can double fold up or even bias bind if you're truly hard core. The end result should be slightly less in height than the Tier C of the tulle skirt though, because you don't want it to stick down further and be all exposed. No sir-ee.

18- satin skirt done

Keep following the process that you did for the other skirt and you will end up with this.

19- waistbands pinned

Now you're going to put the tulle skirt inside the lining skirt, match at the side seams and pin them together along the raw edge at the waist. It's decision time for you. The lining skirt can either be sewn in so the right side is facing the legs (no exposed seams for the legs and potentially reversible) or you can sew it so the right side is facing out like the rest of the layers (if you don't have many tulle layers or it's particularly sheer this is the best option). Up to you! But it will determine which way you pin the skirts together. If right side is facing the legs, pin the two waistbands together right sides facing. If the right side is facing out, pin the wrong side of the lining skirt to the right side of the fashion fabric. For this one, the lining skirt is facing out, and you can see how the wrong side of the satin is pinned to the right side of the Fashion Fabric.

20- waistband sewn

Sew them together all the way around.

21- waistbands opened

When it's pulled open it looks like this. Push the lining skirt into the tulle skirt, smoothe down along the top edge (press if needed), and pin so the layers don't shift.

22- channel sewing

Starting half an inch away from the side seam, sew around the waistband one inch away from the top, stopping half an inch before the same side seam.

23- opening left

You must leave that one inch gap to get your elastic in.

24- elastic added

Cut a piece of elastic that is one inch shorter than the waist circumference, and thread it through the channel through the gap between the two skirts.

25- elastic closed

Overlap the ends a half an inch each, make sure the elastic is not twisted and then sew them together securely.

26- opening closed

Close the gap. Adjust the elastic so it's even. Tack the elastic down at the side seams so it doesn't roll over. Cut any dangly threads anywhere.

You're done! Don't forget to post it in the Flickr group.

Tuesday 25 May 2010


Lil Kingdom Pettiskirt

lil kingdom pettiskirt

Maia's little friend Elsie is turning two this week and her mum requested a birthday outfit using my Lil Kingdom fabric. It's adorable:

lil kingdom detail

A matching peasant top will follow, and then Elsie can celebrate not only another year, but the title of Girliest Outfit Ever.


Have I mentioned how time consuming tutu pettiskirts are? Making one takes longer than a coat does. I must get a ruffling foot.

satin lining skirt

This one has five underskirts, including a satin one right next to her little legs.

side detail

I'll post the tutorial tomorrow!

Monday 24 May 2010


The day I participated in the Edinburgh Marathon more than I planned

This is my good friend Liz. She is the mother of these two poppets:

Yesterday morning, Liz got up early, had a hearty breakfast, dressed in her exercise clothes and lathered herself in sun cream. She put on her sensible and broken-in running shoes. She was ready to run the marathon.

Yesterday morning, I got up early, didn't eat breakfast, put on a corduroy dress, eschewed sun cream, and put on shoes that I bought the evening before. I was ready to watch Liz in the marathon.

My original bus was late so I must have missed Liz at the start of the race. Being tenacious, and keen to show Liz my Good Friend Credentials, I started walking to get another bus to a later section of the race so I could catch her there. I walked eight miles before finding a bus to get on. Dropped off at mile twenty, I patiently waited an hour and a half in the blazing sunshine with my Crimson Sunburn of Death before spotting my friend. My camera wouldn't turn on but she heard me cheer. 'Thank goodness,' I thought, 'Now I just have to find a bus to get home.' Limping along in my brand new shoes, sporting blisters on top of blisters on top of blisters, I walked all the way from mile twenty to the finish line at mile 26.2 before finding a bus to get on. Some days I am made of Fail. But at least I can give Liz this commemorative poster to celebrate her achievement: