Party frocks

Sunday 29 November 2009
What a difference a year makes! This time last year this is how I looked:

Ginormously pregnant, too fat to get my wedding rings on my swollen fingers let alone squeeze my feet in party shoes or contemplate going to a christmas party! This year though, I'm all ready to partay in my new frock:
It's made from a vintage Simplicity 3918, picked up in mint condition from an op shop and sewn up in some crisp medium weight cotton purchased from ebay. The fabric has enough weight to it that the very full skirt flares out nicely without the need for a petticoat or layer underneath:

Such a simple shape dress, but made just that little bit difference by that red panel on the front neckline called a "vestee" on the pattern. It's supposed to be detachable, held in place by press studs or snaps but I decided to hand sew it down to the facing instead.

The only changes I made to the pattern were to use an invisible zip down the side instead of the awkward lapped side zip installation suggested by the pattern, and to reduce the length by 6 inches becaues this hit my mid calf which isn't so flattering on me.

And I can't not post a picture of the baby now can I? She finally fits into the little red dress I made for her quite some time ago, although it's still a little loose although it's size is meant to be for a six month old.

And to make sure she's not the Paris Hilton of the toddler set, I made a pair of bloomers in matching fabric with three rows of cotton lace across the butt. It also helps keep her nappy since she likes to take her nappy off these days!

oops, how did that happen?

Friday 27 November 2009
Turns out Anna's head isn't as big as I thought.....

No matter, she seems to think it's funny.....

It will fit her in no time. She's turning into quite the lollypop - her height is 75.5cm which is over the 97th percentile for girls, her head is in the 90th percentile but her weight has dropped down into 50th percentile. She had grown out of her hats, and being the frugalista that I am I wasn't going to pay $15 - $20 for a kiddies hat when I have enough fabric to make hats for all the heads of children in the entire third world. I used Butterick 5717 which according to the Butterick website is now OOP, but I picked it up from an op shop. I used the x-small size, but as usual the sizing of the big 4 pattern companies has foiled me again!

Hats are super simple to make, I don't know why I don't make them more often because I wear them all the time. You won't catch me outside on a barely sunny day without a hat on my head, and I have quite a collection, but like shoes and bags there's always room in the wardrobe for another!

Mochimo - Anna isn't walking yet and she's barely crawling, mostly backwards really which is good because I can see that once she's on the move she's going to need alot more supervision from me. She does like to stand though, and has worked out how to pull herself to a standing position by grabbing onto anything nearby. But you're right, time has flown by this year - I've been off work for a full 12 months now although it only feels like yesterday that I started my maternity leave. I'll be back at work February 1 which sadly is only a bit over 2 months away now! I'll only be working three days a week though so it should be manageable. I enrolled Anna in childcare for those three days a week which is costing $99 a day but it seems like a really good centre and the kids seem happy, so hopefully she'll enjoy it. Has to be more exciting than spending all day every day with me, entertaining little kids is so tiring!

Anyway enough rambling about the baby from me, I have a hem on a dress to finish while she's asleep!

snap happy

Monday 23 November 2009
Well I'm still having a merry old time using my new snap press - it's absolutely great for kids clothes, and I can see it coming in handy for handbag making as well although it's not that often I make handbags because they are way too fiddly for my patience levels.

Anyway I made a little pinafore dress for Anna from a 1974 Simplicity pattern (Simplicity 6051) which my mum remembers making for me and for my brother (the overalls that is, not the dress!). Too bad she didn't keep them and we don't have any photos either, because it would have been fun to see what crazy fabric she used given it was the 70s! I used a stretch dark denim from the stash, embellished with a line of pink ric rac across the front pocket and pink plastic snaps. It looks rather mature and serious looking, but it is a good neutral colour to offset all the girly pink clothes she has.....

Sorry for the blurry photos, it is getting increasingly hard to get crisp photos of Anna since she is just a ball of movement most of the time!

So how did all of you NSW dwellers survive the extreme heat on Sunday? We were out on Sunday and came home to a house that was 35c degrees (95F) inside and 40c (104F) outside, and even at midnight it was still 30c (86F) degrees inside. Unfortunately we don't have air conditioning and boy did we feel it yesterday! Anna was awake half the night being very upset and unsettled which I thought was because of the heat, but this morning I see she has one top tooth popped through the gum and the other just about to come through, the poor little thing.

It was my birthday on Saturday just gone, and my lovely husband gave up his usual Saturday morning golf competition round for me to have a few hours at a day spa which was just great! Actually the real gift was a few hours baby free time, the facial and the massage were just the icing on the cake..... And my lovely friends gave me one of these very cool and very me brooches by the artist Liana Kabel:

that's not a bib, THIS is a bib

Monday 16 November 2009
apologies for the lame Crocodile Dundee joke, us Aussies do sometimes trot it out when we're trying to be only a little bit funny......

Anyway, I have a stack of bib from various stores and they all seem to have one thing in common: they're either small, or very small and don't do much in the way of stopping food getting onto clothes. Lately Anna has developed a real attitude around meal times - she only wants to feed herself, but likes to rub her food into her face, hair and all over the high chair before eating it! All of her clothes are seriously food stained, and I have given up soaking them in Napisan before each wash because they just get dirty again.

But I recently bought one of these very handy snap presses from Nappies Covered:

I bought this to use snaps instead of velcro on the next lot of nappies I make since Anna has worked out she likes being without a nappy best (there's that attitude again!). And it is so simple to use, I'm trying to use it on practically everything I can. Since I have a stack of terry towelling nappy flats and more than enough decorative fabrics, I decided to make some supersized bibs to defeat even the messiest meal time.

I trialled a few different fabrics - the yellow polka dot is a plastic coated polyester cotton from Spotlight which is wipe cleanable but liquid spills roll off very quickly, the blue dotted and ladybird fabric are woven cottons which work great and were easy to sew, whilst the pink dotted is a cotton knit which works great as a bib but was a bit shifty when sewing. I used this free download pattern from Chickpea Studios, but I enlarged mine a bit.

As you can see, it covers her shoulders and her entire front:

And this is the reason why it is needed!

the grown up version of those little blue shorts

Thursday 12 November 2009
Ok, I'm a woman obsessed with using all of the stitches on my new sewing machine! After saying in the last post that I wouldn't use the decorative stitches on my own clothes, well I did, but it is very discreet and doesn't look too bad at all...

This is a fagoting stitch, used for smocking or some such thing (I actually don't know it's proper use!), but I sewed this along the pocket edge and it worked so much better in keeping the pocket bag to the inside than just a single line of topstitching.

I made some shorts for myself out of some navy blue cotton drill I had in the stash, primarily because I wanted to try out the fit of BWOF 11/08 pattern 121 if I took the pleats out.

When I made these pants previously in a grey wool the fit was great but the pleats added too much volume around my hips and thighs. And it turns out that without the pleats they are still very comfortable and look pretty good too, although a darker colour probably also helps in visually slimming the hips.

I also made little slits at the hem just for looks and not for ease of wear since the legs aren't tight.

Although I had to take the waistband in by an inch or so because I have lost a few more kilos since I made those grey pants, so I just put a centre back seam in the waistband which also helped with a sway back adjustment that I need in close fitting clothes like these. Now I have the pattern altered to a good fit so it just may become a TNT (tried and true) pattern. As much as I love trying out new patterns (and with 600+ paper patterns I should!), when it comes to tricky fitting clothes likes pants I think it is good to have something you know will turn out well without having to do a muslin every time.

So next up on the sewing to do list is a pretty frock for a christmas party, although I have washed, cut and pinned together three drops of the curtains so I should really sit down and sew those! I am such a procrastinator sometimes.....

But right now I'm off for a swim because it is 35 degrees here, far too hot to do anything else

fancy stitches

Thursday 5 November 2009
When I bought my new sewing machine a little while back that came with 70 different stitches (about 65 more than I had previously) I didn't think I'd need them all. Well as a few people commented when I bought it, I have used more stitches than I thought I would, mainly because I've gone out of my way to use them purely for decorative purposes. Although I love love love being able to keyhole button holes, I think they look great.

I haven't used the decorative stitches on my clothes mind you, I think most of the decorative/embroidery type stitches on clothes can look a little cutesy on a grown woman. But a 10 month old baby can't complain for a few more years yet, thankfully because I plan on dressing her in homemade vintage style clothes and giving her a bowl cut when her hair gets longer! Yeah, she'll probably need therapy when she's older but I've gotta get my own back for all these sleepless nights.....

Anyway I made her two more pairs of shorts because a) they're quick, b) they use up my bigger pieces of scrap fabric, c) it's getting really really hot around here and d) she's always on the floor with her butt in the air trying to crawl, so shorts are more practical. First up I made a pair of shorts from the Amy Butler Little Stitches for Little Ones book, in a size 6-9 months because I find the pattern size to run large. They're just made from some leftover white cotton, and I used the love heart stitching setting around the hem line in a contrasting pink cotton:

I also made a pair of navy blue shorts in a cotton drill that are actually cut out from the scrap of a pair of shorts I'm in the middle of making for myself (yes I'll be careful to make sure we don't wear them at the same time!) I used the same vintage Simplicity pattern I made these red shorts from, I just added a button to the pocket. On the hemline I used a little star pattern around the short legs:

I deliberately made these blue shorts to wear with a red gingham top that was a gift because she had nothing to go with it. Nothing like starting wardrobe building early in life!

And for more scrap busting ideas, check out this ultra cute partridge softie tutorial over at Retro Mama (via oneprettything) would be ideal for Christmas tree decorations. If only I had about a gajillion more hours in the day I would make heaps of these for our tree because this year may be the first year we actually get a tree (we're never home over Christmas so haven't bothered in the past).

But the ultimate scrap buster that will use up all your scraps very quickly has to be this: a 'stuff sack' filled dog bed from Molly Mutt (they sell patterns to make your own but I'm sure most of us could work out a similar thing)
This is particulary for Veronica Darling, who has the most gorgeous puppy ever! I need to make several of these because my naughty dog has a tendency to use his bed as a toy and tear it to shreds after a few months. Yes that would be this dog, who is trying to be bashful:

Thanks for all of your comments on the skirt in the previous post, I feel like the popular girl in school!

Vicki - I hope your got your curtains done, otherwise your neighbours may get to know a whole other side of you LOL! I hope you're going to put a photo on your blog soon, because I miss seeing your creations.

Rebecca - Anna is definitely chewing on everything in sight. There isn't a finger, shoulder or even my chin that is safe around her, let alone anything else in the house like the furniture, her toys or the chair legs.... Jean I haven't seen the baby numzit you mention for sale her, but I have been loading her up on baby nurofen at night time.

And thanks to those lovely ladies for commenting on my baby weight loss - don't hate me but I actually weigh a few kilos less now than I did just before I got pregnant. Which surprises me because I put on 20kg during pregnancy and haven't done any regular or specific exercise since but I think chasing a baby around plus being up walking the floor with her all night that I did for many months did the trick!