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.