Tuesday 30 April 2013


What's New In Skater Dress Land

Lots of exciting news to share about the Skater Dress pattern!  First up, did everyone see this lovely little girl sporting a miniature Skater Dress?

'But wait, Amanda, surely she's too little for your Skater Dress?' you plaintively ask.  Not so!  I have graded the pattern down for sizes 6-12m and 12-18m, and you can get them for free here.  It's just the pattern pieces to download, if you want the instructions they come with the pattern for the bigger girls. Many thanks to Max California for testing it out and writing such a sweet post, and also for being the co-creator of that delicious baby. Nice work, my friend.
In other Free Skater Dress News, Katie drafted an adorable flutter sleeve for all sizes and is gracious enough to share both the pattern and the instructions! Seriously, one of the kindest people around, Katie is.

Finally, my heart grew at least two sizes last week seeing all of the awesome Skater Dresses pop up in the Kids Clothes Week Flickr pool.  There were heaps on Instagram too!  Love seeing all the variations from appliques, waistbands, pattern mixing, flutter sleeves, peplums... and see that little gentleman top left? Lengthening the bodice of the Skater Dress yields awesome tanks and tees!  Keep on keeping on, peeps.

Saturday 27 April 2013


KCW: Hosh Pants and Colour-blocked Tee

hosh pants close text

It's been more than a year since I've gotten Maia to wear woven trousers for more than an hour or two.  They're too tight! They're too itchy! They're too uncomfortable!  To be fair, she has a very valid point;  We have had zero success with store-bought jeans or woven trousers.  Largess in the hip department (for reference she has the same waist to hip ratio as I do) means that despite fitting through the legs, jeans and trousers can rarely be pulled up past her bum even with a fly.  It's an exercise that flies uncomfortably close to body shaming and, ergo, one best avoided. 

hosh pants full 3  

Enter EmmyLouBeeDoo's Hosh Pants pattern!  The cut sounded very promising for Maia's body- slim through the legs but with extra room to the rear, a nice higher rise, and an elastic to the back to eliminate the dreaded gapping. The pattern only goes up to age five but I graded it up to a six for length and used Maia's measurements through the hips to adjust the back section and rise.  The result... woven trousers that got a full day's wear!

The fabric is a lovely stretch sateen that I had left over from the Catriona Dress.  I also made a colour-blocked dolman tee as she's seriously lacking non-patterned basics.  Wondering what that is on the ground?


This weather is killing me.

Thursday 25 April 2013


KCW: Contrast Shoulder Tee

plane shirt close

First boy-make for Kids Clothes Week complete!  I know I said I wasn't going to make the same old things I always do, but being too short on time to draft something completely new (or trace out an Ottobre), I'm allowing myself the compromise of playing around with the details of my tried-and-trues.

plane shirt full

For this, I split my raglan sleeve where the shoulder cap falls and switched out the top section for a contrasting print.  While the airplane print is a nicely drapey interlock, the star print is a hefty french terry with a bit more structure.  My inspiration came from the uber-stylish leather insets from Groovybaby and Mama.

plane shirt full 2

With Kids Clothes Week more than halfway done and tolerance for photoshoots waning, can I suggest setting up a sibling in the window for amusement?  In related news, Maia has learned how to use a pane of glass to make piggy noses.

Wednesday 24 April 2013


Tutorial: Skater Dress Peplum Pattern Hack

***Admin note: Can Sandraled please send me an email? You won the Doli giveaway and I've tried with no success to find a way to contact you!***

rainbowphant peplum with text

I made her another one, I couldn't resist.  So cute, so twirly.

rainbowphant peplum close

Want to transform your own Skater Dress* into Skater Dress Peplum?  Piece of cake!  And the whole top uses very little fabric, I fit this one into a 60cm cut of fabric with a lot of width to spare.

1 quarter marks

Set aside your bodice pieces and (if applicable) the sleeves.  Those aren't changing.  Grab the skirt piece and overlay it with a piece of tracing paper.  Trace the centre front line, waist curve and side seam.  For the 5/6 size, I chose to make the peplum 8" long (including seam allowance).  If you're making a different size, just measure from the belly button down to where you'd like it to end and add seam allowance.  Mark this distance down the centre front line and the side seam line.  Divide the waist seam into quarters (doesn't have to be exact, just roughly is fine).  From each of the quarter marks measure down the same distance at a right angle to the waist seam and make a mark.  Draw a line between the dots, you'll need these lines later!  Then divide each of those sections in half and repeat.  You should now have a curve plotted along the hem with dots.  Connect the dots and then smooth out the hem curve.

 2 slash and spread

Carefully cut through the hem line and up towards the quarter marks on the waist seam following the lines you drew. Cut almost up to the waist but leave a tiny bit intact to act like a hinge.  Repeat so that you have divided the whole into four sections with three hinges.  If you still have paper above the waist line (as I do) you'll also need to cut lines down from above toward the little hinges.  On top of a larger piece of paper with plenty of room to the top, lay your slashed peplum down.  Tape the pattern to the paper at the centre front line only so it doesn't move when you start to spread the sections apart. 

Start by spreading the first slash apart by approximately 5cm and tape in position.  Repeat for the next two slashes, taping them equidistant apart.  As you can see, the hinges keep the pieces together; above the waistline the slashes overlap while at the hem they open up.  The 5cm I mention is not set in stone, this results in an extra 15cm per quarter / 30 cm per half / 60 cm total which works out as nearly a circle skirt for the 5/6.  If you want to make a full circle, after taping the centre front in position, swing the side seam portion all the way up so it is perpendicular to the CF line, then arrange the two middle sections so they are uniform.

 After you have finished spreading you should have something like this:

 3 all taped

Fill in the hem curve between the slashes so it's nice and even.  Smooth out the curve of the new waist seam.  And now you have your new peplum piece! 

 4 redraw curves

Sew it up as you would a normal Skater Dress.  It'll be a little bit more fiddly to sew the peplum than the skirt because of the increased curve on the waistline and hem but nothing a few extra pins and a steamy iron can't tame. You can do it.

rainbowphant peplum high five

*Even if you don't have the Skater Dress pattern, the principle of drafting a peplum is universal.  Grab a t-shirt pattern that you like and shorten it to around belly-button height with a slight curve.  Measure the width from centre front to the side seam.  Approximate the shape above using those measurements and slashing and spreading.

Monday 22 April 2013


The Skater Dress goes peplum

peplum top full 

My focus for Kids Clothes Week is to make clothes for my kids that aren't destined for the shop and to stray away from the tried and true makes that I keep doing over and over and over.  I'm calling day one a success!

peplum top close

Okay, so I'm a little bit of a cheater as I started with the skater dress as my block, but I switched out the skirt for a peplum.  Maia and I might have had a (mock) fight over who loves it more.

peplum top side

There's a lovely full drape from the side which pleases me, but the real reason she's in love...

peplum top twirl 2

The twirling.  Least painful photoshoot ever.  I'm definitely going to make a tonne more of these as her shirt drawer is pretty spartan due to a recent growth spurt.  And I'll tell you how to use the skater dress pattern to do it tomorrow!

Saturday 20 April 2013


This just in: Everything

New Lillestoff Collage 2

It took me all day by jove but the mega haul of majestic gloriousness I received yesterday has now been added to the shop! Except the ribbons, I'll need to do that tomorrow.  Unlike previously, I'm not going to run through each one individually as there are too many and that would be tedious for you, but go have a look for yourselves!  Interesting (for me) thematic changes from previous orders:
  • Greys! Not come across a lot of grey fabrics before and suddenly there's heaps. I approve.
  • New palettes: Quite a few have also introduced shades of coral and seafoam green that while very popular in the American fabric world are not something I've seen a lot of in the Euro fabric world.  Other zeitgeisty things: Triangles! Pseudo-ombre! Scribbles!
Now that we have gotten our intellect-thinking out of the way, thar be dragons!

Friday 19 April 2013


A Scooter Shirt and Kids Clothes Week

 scooter 3

I made each of the kids a last minute item of clothing for our recent trip Stateside; Jamie a long sleeve Dolman in this scooter print and Maia an as-yet-unphotographed skater dress.  She now has thirteen skater dresses, I do not consider this excessive.  But with temps in Connecticut firmly at or below freezing, I never had the chance to get proper pictures outdoors.  Surely the weather in Edinburgh mid-April would be more cooperative?  Not exactly... 

scooter 4

The four day windstorm we've had this week (that also misrepresented the lovely cut and drape of Maia's Doli tank), also gave Jamie's longer hair a old man comb-over.  He will make an adorable old man.

scooter 2

Comb-overs are funny, but not as funny the transformation of his mod cut into a 1980's mom cut.

scooters 1

No words.  You can caption this one yourselves.  In other news, he has finally lost a second tooth.  He's been patiently waiting for all his loose teeth to literally fall out of his mouth by their own accord, but not before they get stuck in the backwards position (true story).


Is everyone geared up for the Kids Clothes Week spring challenge?  There is a dedicated blog space this year which is rapidly filling up with inspiration and enthusiasm.  I am determined this year to play along (oh, how I always say this...) and even more determined to sew SPRING CLOTHES.  Not cruelly-extended-neverending-winter clothes, spring clothes.  'If you make it, it will happen', right?  What are your plans for Kids Clothes Week?

Wednesday 17 April 2013


The Doli Tank Review (and giveaway!)


I was really excited when Sarah from EmmyLouBeeDoo asked me to pattern test her newest pattern, the Doli Tank.  The tank is designed for lightweight wovens (like lawn, rayon challis, lightweign linen etc) and I used some of the delicious voile I picked up on my latest trip Stateside.  The pattern is available in sizes 12m to 6yr, the size I tested.

The tank has a slightly high-lo hem, easy-fitting shape, ribbing trim, and an exaggerated racer back (this is my favourite bit).

It's super neat on the inside too with french seams all over the place.  You might have noticed that my trim isn't sitting exactly flat which is my fault for using a hefty cotton lycra because I don't follow instructions because I didn't have a coordinating ribbing.  Sarah also narrowed the height of the trim post-testing, so it should sit flatter even if you use a cotton lycra like me.  Now that I've shown you how the Doli Tank would look if you live North of The Wall and there's a gale force wind blowing, here are some pics which more accurately reflect the lovely cut and drape.

And the very best news is that Sarah has generously offered a giveaway copy of this pattern for my readers!  To enter you don't even have to like Sarah in real life (although you totally will as she's one of my favourite people), you just need to like her Facebook page.  Or follow her blog, or follow her on Instagram.  After you do one of those things (or all of them as I recommend), leave a comment on this post.  The giveaway winner will be randomly selected on Sunday night.

**GIVEAWAY CLOSED! Congrats to Sandraled!**

Sunday 14 April 2013


Skater Dress for grown up ladies in hot climes (named Amanda)

Sleeveless skater dress

For the non-Instagrammers, I wanted to quickly update with the heady progress of the grown up Skater Dress. Making no changes to the version one pattern (save omitting the sleeves), I whipped up version two from ye olde stash fabric to test the behaviour of interlock and to see how it works sleeveless.

Sleeveless skater dress

As you can see, there is some gapping under the arm but that is easily fixed by taking in the side seam at the armpit.  Interlock is not my favourite fabric for clothes for me; I find the lack of lycra means it can pull across the chest where there's negative ease and it also relaxes from its intended shape through wear.  However, overall I'm happy with everything and will start the grading up and down this week!  Exciting / nerve-wracking times.
In tangential good news, I also now have two wearable muslins.... However, seafoam green and pastel pink are the absolute worst colours on me (unless I make a pastel yellow one and that becomes the absolute worst) and I want to do something to the fabric to liven it up.  Inspiring things I've seen recently are Alida's Casual Lady Fabric Sharpie treatment, Delia's mind-blowingly awesome Fabric Sharpie-ing of all the things, and Jess's hand-carved fabric stamping.  Or even not carving the stamps myself, but buying stamps.  Or another possibility would be freezer paper stencilling.  What would you do with these dresses (other than burn them in a fire)?  Any ideas?

Saturday 13 April 2013


The Pettiskirtery

pettiskirts 3

Last Saturday my good friend Clare got married as the sun made its first springtime appearence.


It was a small service up at the registry office but Maia and I took the bus up to catch them as they came out as married people.

Clare and Steve

Not just to share the joy of these happy, lovely people but because I made the flowergirl pettiskirts!

pettiskirts 2

Not gonna lie, these were a labour of love.  Three different colours, four separate pettiskirt layers in each...

pettiskirts 6

The bottom tiers are a massive three metres in length (that's almost 10ft imperial fans) pre-gathering, and I did that twelve times.  And then the next tier twelve times, and the next tier twelve times. So much gathering.  Remember when you played too much Tetris and lay in bed at 2am thinking about how to fit your furniture together and make it disappear? I lay in bed thinking about gathering All The Things.

pettiskirt 1

The waistbands are made of gold silk shatung and I handstitched bows to the back.  This is testament to how much I love Clare, I never handstitch anything.

pettiskirts 8

The mother-of-bride / grandmother-of-the-girls embellished the cardigans and wands to snazzy them up and tie everything together.

pettiskirts 7

And the shoes! Oh my goodness, the shoes.  Have you ever seen anything so cute?


Thursday 11 April 2013


Skater Dress for grown up ladies (named Amanda)

Let's do this thing #isew #neverendingskaterdress

At very long last and after much pestering, the Skater Dress is going grown-up! 

Well, if nothing else the Big Girl Skater Dress has a perfect neckband #isew #neckbandporn 

So far so good.  Majestic neckband, check. 

What say you, IG? #biggirlskaterdress #isew 

And here's the finished front view...  (promise the sleeve isn't weird and bunchy, it's a photo-abberation)

Side view #biggirlskaterdress #isew 

And the finished side! Not too shabby for a first attempt, no?  Apologies for the picture quality, these are all filched from Instagram, where I reveal all top-secretness first because I am in love with it.

Wednesday 10 April 2013


The Casual Lady

Casually Suspicious

I don't suppose anyone could have missed the Casual Lady Tops and Dresses popping up all over the blogosphere?  Andrea from The Train To Crazy / Go To Patterns just released this fantastic knit pattern and everyone is collectively excited and sewing like mad.  And the best bit is that the proceeds from this pattern raise awareness of global sex trafficking victims:
This pattern was designed especially to raise funds and awareness for global sex trafficking victims. Proceeds from this pattern will fund a Sewing Collective in India for single mothers escaping the sex trade industry as well as a safe house for children in Cambodia at risk of being trafficked. We hope you enjoy and share so we are able to fully fund our projects. We are hoping to raise $15000.
A great pattern and a social conscience? Where do I sign up.  I originally tested this pattern for Andrea while I was in the States.  Without a fabric shop closer than a 90 minute drive away, my dad and I set off to Walmart in search of clothes large enough to salvage for fabric.  Cue a multitude of side-eyes as we wandered around comparing the relative fabric yields of XXXXL men's shirts with XXXL ladies' nightgowns.  Unsurprisingly, the shirt we chose was so far off grain that my testing feedback was little more than 'Nice instructions'.  I'm sure Andrea will be using me as a tester again soon.  And now I'm home again with a room full of knits and an internet full of other peoples' awesome, the pressure was on...  Could I be as casual as these Casual Ladies?!  And I thought: I could be twice as casual.

Casual Side
 Disclaimer: Not pregnant / just blowing a gale.

Because the Walmart-muslin was so disastrous, I wanted to use ye olde stash fabrics to confirm that the alterations I'd made to the pattern* worked.  I didn't have enough of either of these retro-style flower prints (circa Ebay-2007!) to make a single top, but I could use one for the front and one for the back...

Casual back

And then I thought I might as well use the front pattern for both so it could be worn either way! Nobody Everybody is always telling me what a lovely upper back I have so the scoop in the back is no big deal. And then you just need to...
Casual Lady Collage
And you have the perfect tank to wear in your garden when it's two degress above the point at which water freezes. 

casually wistful

Or to wear when you're casually wistful about blogger problems.  Seriously, guys, where do the hands go?  Mine are derping every which way.  After you answer that, go buy the pattern!

*I franken-patterned several different sizes to accommodate my unusual torso, using the upper bust length of the XS for my freakishly short upper chest, the width of the L under the armpits for my large bust (cheater knit FBA), the waist width of the M and the hip width of the S. I could probably shave some of the width off at waist and hips for a closer fit if I wanted to.  I also shortened it to the overall length of the XS as my torso is very short but I'll make it a bit longer next time.