Finished Chinese Costume, initial version!

You may notice I haven’t posted here for a while – I’m afraid it’s not for lack of trying – this post was written in the first week of December, and it has taken me until now to actually get the photos in! Life, it seems, gets in the way of blogging.

A few weeks ago my daughter announced that she is going to be a Chinese child in the school nativity play (they are doing an international theme, so the kids are dressing up as children celebrating Christmas with different traditions from around the world.) The school asked us to provide a costume, and as a busy working mum, I promptly forgot about it! I then remembered, the night before the costume had to be in school. So what to do? Well, initially I rummaged through all of her clothes, then her brothers clothes, then I rummaged through my clothes, but no, we had nothing in the house that looked remotely like a Chinese outfit. I did find a red t-shirt, and I was close to cutting out and sticking on some yellow stars, so that she looked like she was wearing the flag. I didn’t really like that idea though, so instead I rummaged through my stash looking for anything that might be considered remotely Chinese! Continue reading

Finished Flo dress

Last Christmas I requested as a present some material to make a dress for my little girl. My mother-in-law came up trumps with this material from her local fabric shop. It’s a beautiful soft drapey cotton with a delicate floral print.

Small floral cotton

Small floral cotton

Along with this, I was also given a white cotton lawn to use as a lining. With the start of summer coming up (yes, you did read that correctly!) I had to decide which of my girls dress patterns to make…I narrowed it down to a couple of patterns, but left the final choice up to the little girl in question. The pattern was then chosen as the Flo dress from Love Sewing magazineContinue reading

Owl Pyjama Top

Having successfully completed the pyjama bottoms, I set my sights on the New Look Pyjama 6090 top. Fearing that all over owls would be a bit much, I used some plain cream cotton of similar weight to the owl material for the body pieces, and used the owl material for the facings and arms. Again, I opted for French seams, for the straight seams (side seams for the bodice, and seams down the arms.)Continue reading

Pink Floral Shirred Dress

My daughter is now aware that I can sew things, and she loves to watch it happen. For the first time the other day I took her to a fabric shop to choose some material for a new dress. She chose, unsurprisingly, this pink flowery cotton by Rose & Hubble.

pink floral cotton

Pink, flowery and perfect for a 5-year old girl

I had decided that I was going to make the Girls Shirred Dress from the Great British Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric book.

GBSB Fashion with Fabric book

Great British Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric Book

I have never done shirring before, and I’ve never made something without a pattern before, so this met my novelty challenge in two ways.

So, how did it go? Well, cutting out the rectangles for the dress wasn’t difficult; I simply carried out the calculation, based on her chest size, and went from there. I did, however, manage to mess up the length a bit. Maybe I changed my mind about how long I like my daughters dresses to be, as I found the final dress length to be shorter than I anticipated. That was easily solved, however, by using a length of bright pink satin bias binding, so instead of turning up the raw edge, I encased it using the bias binding. I didn’t try any stitching in the ditch, or anything, I literally topstitched around the edge of the binding.

bias-bound hem with topstitching

Bias-bound hem with classy topstitching

I did find the straps rather more difficult. I have used the safety pin idea before, and although it’s not complex, it’s definitely fiddly, so instead, I decided to use a technique I saw a while back in which you sew a length of string into the straps (sewing the rectangle right side together, catching the “head” of the string, leaving the tail of the string in between the folded edge, and the sewed seam poking out of the end of the rectangle). This did work well, apart from one thing – I’m not sure how to extract the string and make a tidy job of the sewed end.

Scruffy straps

Somewhat scruffy straps

This is the best I could do, so any suggestions appreciated! To be honest, although it’s not complex, I would probably use lengths of ribbon rather than the fabric tubes instead next time.

As for the shirring itself, I’m not sure whether it’s my machine, or the material, or my technique, or something else, but I did find that to use the shirring elastic in the bobbin I needed to ensure it was pretty much at full tension, which is contrary to the instructions. Any other way of doing it lead to very messy, not very tight shirring. Once I had discovered this though, I was well away. The material didn’t have a horizontal stripe, so I ensured that the previous run of shirring elastic stayed in the same position relative to the presser foot on my machine. This worked really well, and at the end, the shirring lined up on both side seams of the dress. Woohoo!

Nicely aligned shirring

Nicely aligned shirring

My daughter loves this dress, but she doesn’t really like the feel of the shirring on her skin, or the frilly top hem on her underarms. She now wears it over a tee-shirt, but I don’t mind; she’s wearing it, and given that it will grow with her to be a top or skirt I love it (even if it is bright pink!)