Friday, 1 May 2015

A Butterfly Birthday Ballet Bag

Remember the Railroad Tote?

I made a not-quite-new-year resolution to sew things which would be practical and much-used - rather than fanciful things which get forgotten in wardrobes. It's been a success, I use my tote every day, and have moved on to making them for friends and family. 

The only small glitch was with the one I made for my Dad - he didn't realise it was a gift and returned it, neatly folded, the following week.

("Awkward",  muttered son#1.)

Lesson learned: presents need to look the part.

So when my daughter turned five, I made her a pretty bag, and wrapped it up with ribbons and sparkles 
and bells and whistles.

She uses it all the time.

But then I signed up for the size 5 project and I had to make a dress as well...

It's for the sew-along on the Oliver+S blog - is that a good enough excuse for a little bit fanciful sewing?

Friday, 20 March 2015

A longer lazy day

So, there I sat, scissors in hand, fabric in mind, all set and ready to start on a lazy days skirt.

The pattern says:

 Determine how long you’d like the finished
length of the skirt to be; then add 2" to that measurement

Did I measure my daughter?


(she moves too fast)

Did I measure one of her skirts?


(they were in another room)

I just cut.

Did it turn out the right length?


(it was tiny)

Another hour, a lot of fiddling, and a couple more inches made it it right.

Note to self: 'lazy day' applies to the wearer, not the sewer.

Still, the skirt is a hit.

She needs another one now,

 a bit longer next time, please, mum.

Monday, 23 February 2015

February Resolutions, and sewing for happiness

I'm not good at New Year resolutions - not good making them, let alone keeping to them. 

January seems like the wrong time for big strategic decisions, when we've all just tumbled through Christmas, and the house is still full of cake and chocolate, and the outside world is cold and bleak and dark. New year is decluttering season for me. I enjoy taking down the decorations, tidying and rearranging - but it's the moment for small scale domestic reshuffling, and not at all auspicious for long term planning.

Sewing-room storage heaven (mostly thanks to IKEA)...

Anyway, that's my excuse.

By February, though - when the cake has been eaten up, the days are a little bit longer and the rhythms of normal life are back in place - it's time to make plans.

Sewing plans...

Here's what Tilly Walnes, of 'Tilly and the Buttons', says about realistic sewing in her book 'Love at First Stitch':

"Making fancy frocks is lots of fun... but you want handmade to be part of your regular lifestyle, make some stuff you're actually going to wear on a daily basis".

Common sense? Definitely.

Also a helpful wake-up call to stop me making party dresses which my daughter doesn't need, and to look instead at what I actually use. And it turns out that the winners, in terms of everyday hand-made usefulness, are not clothes, but bags - lots of them - which I reach for all the time without even registering that I stitched them.

So instead of cutting out a fancy frock I started the year with a tote bag which had been waiting on my wish-list, thanks to my sewing friend Justine at Just Me Jay. She's been making beautiful versions of the Purl Bee Railroad Tote, and she promised it would be a satisfying pattern. It really is - there's enough detail to keep it interesting, but it's still a quick sew that's easy to finish in an afternoon.

With a nice new pattern like this, it's hard to stop at one...

So, on reflection, my 2015 resolutions are about choosing activities which lead to long-term happiness - starting out by balancing the instant gratification of sewing a pretty frock (which might languish in the wardrobe) against the long term satisfaction of using my lovely railroad tote every day for the rest of the year.

Thank you, Justine and Tilly.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Last-minute dot Christmas

I realised a long time ago that procrastination is all about perfectionism - because the circumstances tomorrow might be just the little bit more auspicious...

It took me a whole lot longer to recognise that this is A Bad Thing, and that a task not done for the best of reasons is still essentially a Task Not Done.

So now I try to keep my inner perfectionist on a very tight rein, and she really only gets to express herself here in my blog where I hardly ever write anything. She was certainly well suppressed back in November when I found myself with a tiny slice of time and an old cocktail dress which was crying out for an upcycle.

I muddled this skirt together in a twinkling, knowing that my four-year old can carry off the tulle-and-sequins look a whole lot better than me, and that she won't be troubled by grain line issues and dodgy top-stitching. I even felt a glow of satisfaction at having started my Christmas sewing while there were still leaves on the trees.

And then the very next week O+S released the Onstage Tutu Skirt, an actual pattern for exactly the thing I'd been trying to achieve. And it was free. And showed me clever solutions to all the glitches I'd encountered.

My inner procrastinator was delighted: the universe was clearly on her side. 
Consequently all the rest of my seasonal sewing has been done in last-minute flurry.

For son#2, an Art Museum vest modelled on Bilbo Baggins' waistcoat (with some linen PJ trousers to match, in case he wants to go for the full Hobbit look).
Oh - and the lining is gold silk from that cocktail dress.

For son #1, who has grown so much in the past year that he won't fit last year's PJs, new pair in soft houndstooth with fancy buttons (because real men dare to wear pink)

Next year, I'm going to remember some sensible words from my friend Rebecca:

'Christmas', she said, 'is a predictable event'.

She was encouraging me to crochet a reindeer jumper, which may or may not ever happen - but I'm going to hold on to the reminder that there will be another Christmas in 367 days, and another in 732, and another... and so on.

So there will always be another chance to do the thing perfectly.

And if it's not quite perfect this time, that will be ok.

A very happy Christmas from runcibledays.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

All quiet at runcibledays

It's been quiet for too long at runcibledays. Some things get harder to do the longer you delay - writing a long-overdue letter, making belated apologies, cleaning behind the fridge - and also blogging, it seems. The longer the silence, the more pressure to break it with something amazing.

Instead, I'm going for the 'aaah' factor with a sweet little jacket (though it's not nearly as sweet as the gorgeous baby it was made for). It's from Simply Crochet magazine, issue16, and it was a joy to make.  The background fabric is a pram blanket from way back when my babies were babies, and it still makes me smile. 

After a summer of crochet (did I mention you can crochet on the sofa? in front of the television? or while having a conversation? by the pool on holiday? - that's still very exciting to me) I was a bit afraid that sewing might also have crept into that category of hard-to-pick-up activities, and that having not stitched anything for so long, the pressure would be on to create something extraordinary. I wasn't sure how to break through the perfection-barrier, and had started dithering about rearranging my button storage. Luckily my sewing friends have come to the rescue with a reminder that some projects just won't wait.

Remember these tiny bubble dresses? They was made for my little runciblegirl when she was a baby, and were the start of my obsession with O+S patterns.

Their original patterns - the puppet show, the tea party, the swing set and of course the bubble dress - only go up to size 5T.

And my runciblegirl will turn five in the springtime...

So it's time to leave the sofa, step away from the crochet hook, and start catching up.

But first, while I'm still in baby mode, just one more 'aaah' for that cardigan...