The next project off the bat for the Harry Potter bedroom was Cornish Pixies. Happily, I did not have to draft a pattern for these as a quick internet search led me to Mieljolie’s Cornish Pixie pattern on Etsy. Not having to draft this pattern made it totally worth every cent that the pattern cost, plus I have another idea of what I may be making very soon, also using this pattern.
I went to my local shop and found the perfect fabric for 22 Malaysian Ringgit (about AU$7) per metre. I am not very familiar with knits as I find them very scary, so I couldn’t tell you what it is…. except that it’s shiny on one side, and only has a little bit of stretch, which was perfect for me. I would guess that it’s maybe a thick lycra? I know I should have used a ballpoint needle for this, but I didn’t have one handy and besides, it won’t need to actually stretch at all. This was my first time making a jointed doll and I learned the hard way that you really need to pull the thread tight so that the joints are stiff enough. Two of the poor pixies have very relaxed legs and can only sit down! I wasn’t able to get safety eyes, so I had to make do with shank-buttons for eyes.
For the wings, I had to “wing” it a bit myself. I couldn’t get access to a laser printer, nor could I get the brooch backings. So instead, I got some clear plastic sheets (like you used to use on overhead projectors at school) and traced the design on with a fine permanent marker. Then I used a large needle to punch four holes in the wings and sewed them to the body with black thread. Now I just need to get a cage for them! (This is a lot harder than it might seem!)
Something very sad happened as I was finishing the third pixie. My machine started making a horrible clunking noise, and it wasn’t fixed by any regular fixes! And the nearest service centre is 3 hours away so I’ve been patiently waiting for almost 2 weeks to take it to get repaired. I’ve almost gone out of my mind, but instead I’ve channelled my energy into the worst sewing job of all, cutting out. Now I have 3 projects that I don’t have to do any more cutting for. It should be some compensation for 2 weeks with no sewing… I hope!
The day I have been waiting for since my children were born has finally arrive…. My kids are Potterheads. For about 8 months now, we have been reading “big boy” stories to Master 6, and Masters 5 and 3 when they feel like it. We started with Roald Dahl and then, at Master 6’s request, Harry Potter. And he loves it. We are about to finish Prisoner of Azkaban and his love for the stories and characters is only growing. We have received our posting home for January and we will be moving into a fairly small house, which means all 4 kids will share a room with 2 sets of bunk beds. Like a Harry Potter dormitory. So, to get them excited for it, I offered to make their room Harry Potter themed, and the suggestion was met with epic enthusiasm. Since then, they’ve each chosen a house, and thought of ridiculous (and largely unachievable) decorations they’d like. I do have an ulterior motive here, and it is that I plan to make some of the elements their Christmas presents. See, Christmas with 4 kids and one paycheck can get a bit stressful, not to mention that kids get stuff they never use and it clogs up your house. So, we decided to give them things they would love, that we were going to give them anyway and kill two birds with one stone. So watch this space for a lot more Harry Potter themed sewing!
The very first thing I decided to make was a grindylow. To be honest, it wasn’t the first thing I decided to make, but it was the first thing I actually made. We had an old fishbowl floating around and I thought it would make a cool little decoration for the room. I looked high and low for a pattern but to my dismay, none seemed to exist, so I had to wing it. I started by searching the amazing internet for pictures, and found these horrors:
Using this, and the fishbowl for size guiding, I made a pattern by first drafting the shape I thought I needed, then cutting it out of paper, and taping together to check the 3 dimensional shape was what I wanted. Then I added seam allowance and got to constructing my critter.
I didn’t want to buy any new supplies for this project, so I decided to use some olive “dupioni silk” (I use this term loosely as that’s what it was labelled in my local shop, but I’m 99.95% certain it was not- it was very cheap and nasty) for the body, and some pale pink cotton for the tentacles on the head, and the arm and leg tentacles. Because of the very fragile nature of the “silk”, and the very small seam allowance I was working with, thanks to the small parts, I used fusible interfacing on the back of every piece, sewing pieces together, and then trimming off excess fabric so that the seams were still interfaced.
To make the “tentacles”, I used my free-motion foot and sewed hundreds of little circles onto the fabric along lines drawn with water-erasable marker. To be honest, having used interfacing, I mistakenly thought there would be no need to hoop the fabric, as I thought it would be sufficiently stiff. It wasn’t, but by not hooping it, it puckered in the most fantastic way that really gave the “suckers” the perfect texture. It’s all about the details, right? I also used my free-motion foot to embroider on some shadowy looking eye sockets with little black eyes in them, then I pieced together the head, which I won’t pretend wasn’t a fiddly job. Actually, this whole creature was fiddly.I added felt teeth to the mouth so that I didn’t need to worry about finishing the edges. Once the head was complete, I stuffed it, ready to attach to the body.
Next I made the arms, put a pipe cleaner through them so they could be posed, and then began the mammoth task of doing the tentacles. These were very narrow tubes, and were very difficult to turn. If I was ever to make this again (too fiddly! But I’ve said that before and repeated so…) I’d use either a slippery fabric, or something with a slight stretch, for ease of turning. I started by sewing the tentacle tops and bottoms together, then sewing up the sides of the body, with the arms pinned between the side seams. I had to leave one seam open above the arm as there was too much bulk with 2 stuffed arms and 6 empty tentacles to turn. I turned each tentacle individually, inserting pipe cleaner and then stuffing as each was turned (a straw, chopstick and a lot of patience helped with this) Once all the tentacles were turned, I twisted the pipe cleaner ends together to ancho them and enable the tentacles to be posed, sewed the body side seam above the arm, then stuffed the body. Finally, (and very happily), I sewed the head onto the body, and he was complete!
I now have 3 very happy little boys and one happy girl!
Back in January, I found myself kid-less and husband-less for a few days and spent approximately 75% of that time browser-shopping new patterns and fabrics. In my searches, I came across the Violette Field Threads pattern, the Rose dress. It appears to have been removed from their site now, which is a shame. It was on sale, and so pretty! The dress features options of a peplum pencil skirt or three tiered skirt, sleeveless or with small pleated sleeves, and optional ruffle around the bodice and neckline.
I bought some gorgeous mint coloured cotton a while ago, and some beautiful lace I had intended to use down the centre of the bodice, but when I laid it on the fabric, the fabric was too pale to show the detail of the lace. So, I went to my lace drawer and after some hunting, found some interesting lace, buttons, and cream fabric (ok, calico) to make flat piping from.
Assembly was pretty straight forward for the bodice and sleeves; the only challenge was positioning the sleeve pleat so that the edges met at the seam line. The skirt was similar to so many I have made before, but with the addition of a placket. I really liked the finish it gave, although the dress did gape a little below the bottom button due to the bulk of the skirt, so I hand stitched in a hook and eye closure low down to keep the bodice edges together. Next time I make this dress I will use a zip to close instead. Usually I gather multiple skirt layers individually but this time I was feeling a bit lazy – plus the pattern suggested using topstitching thread, so I tried it and it worked well! It might be my go-to method for similar dresses in the future.
As with many VFT patterns, I found this one a little small for sizing. I made this in a 3 for my 2-year-old-tomorrow, and it hasn’t got much room at all in the bodice. There is plenty of length on it though! If she grows out of it too quickly I think I will remove the buttons at the back, sew the back placket shut, and put buttonholes where the buttons were and lace it up to get extra wear from it. For a dress I wasn’t keen on to start with, I love it now!
For about 5 months now, I’ve had this idea in my mind about a skirt I’d like to make for Little Miss, honouring the new Beauty and the Beast. To my total joy, she adores the new movie. Any time she is upset, she wants to watch the first big song of the movie, and she will happily sing along to all of the songs. After the strain of the monster wallets, this was the sort of pick-me-up that I needed for my sewjo. So my vision for this was a yellow skirt, that ties up on one side, to reveal a pettiskirt underneath with Mrs Potts and Chip (original movie, not 2017 version) peeping out.
I bought a plain yellow cotton ages ago when I first conceived this idea. I used the Violette Field Threads Scarlett Skirt pattern for this project. This is a beautiful little pattern with a couple of different options for outer skirt and pettiskirt. For this skirt, I made the pleated outer skirt with tie up option. I want Little Miss to be able to get a lot of wear out of it, so I made the size 3 skirt with a size 4 waistband, but I used the elastic for size 3. Little Miss has a big tummy, and I often find the VFT sizes on the small side, but this way she has plenty of room to grow. And when the skirt is too tight, I can simply replace the elastic with a longer piece! So, I assembled this and then got on with the more challenging component, the pettiskirt.
For the pettiskirt, I used the width measurements for the ruffled skirt. This is not as full as the “full pettiskirt”, and since I wanted Mrs Potts and Chip to be peeping out, I didn’t want too much fabric to get in the way. Once the skirt was constructed, I layered it underneath the yellow skirt, to see where Mrs Potts needed to be positioned to let her show. Now, using a picture I found on the internet, I traced and cut interfacing and fabric for the pieces of Mrs Potts and Chip. Then, slowly, I pieced them together, first attaching each piece to the skirt with a small zigzag stitch, then, once all the pieces were in place, by using my free-motion foot to sew around the outlines and add details, such as the eyes. This whole process probably took me about 5 hours, but thankfully it was much more enjoyable than the hours spent on the monster wallets.
Little Miss absolutely loves her new skirts, and so do I!
After the epic effort of sewing for a fussy tween, school holidays, and endless festivities, I opted for a small project off my to-do list: monster wallets for my boys. We often go to “car boot sales” with the kids to support my husband’s work, and we usually give the kids a little bit of money to spend each. It’s small and inconsequential to us, of course, and they always buy awful mangy soft toys, but it does teach them about the finite value of money, budgeting, and here, they also learn haggling. The other thing that prompted me to make wallets was that during Raya, the month-long celebration at the end of Ramadan, kids are often given small pouches with a little money in it, called “duit Raya”. This way, they would have somewhere to collect their stash.
I self-drafted this pattern by making two large rectangles 19cm x 11cm (one in the main fabric and one in the lining), and (all other pieces are from lining fabric) 2 more rectangles 19cm x 10cm. I sewed these together on one long edge, turned and pressed so wrong sides were together.I used a 5mm seam allowance for all of the sewing on this project. Next, I cut 3 rectangles 8cm x 9.5cm. I folded these in half so they measured 9.5cm x 4cm and ironed in place, then finished the raw edges. I placed the first of these on the large rectangles that were sewn together, 1cm from the top and aligning the left sides. I sewed around the sides and bottom, then layered the next piece 1.5cm down from the top of the last, keeping the left sides aligned, and again sewed around the sides and bottom. Finally, the last piece is sewn over the others so the left side and bottom align with the large rectangle, and sides and bottom are sewn. This created the “card” pockets.
Now, I made the coin pouch. I cut two crescents about 9cm wide, and 4cm tall at the highest point. On one crescent, I sewed a small strip of velcro which will serve as the closure for the coin pouch. On the other crescent, I sewed crazy eyes. I cut a string of “teeth” from felt, sandwiched it between the two crescents, and sewed around the edges, leaving a gap to turn, then turned and pressed. For the pocket itself, I cut a rectangle 9.5cm x 9cm. I folded the top down by 5mm, then another 1cm and stitched down. I finished the raw edges, folded them under by 5mm, then pressed. I sewed a small Velcro strip (opposite side to the piece on the pouch flap) to the centre of the pocket along the top edge. Now, I positioned the pocket so it was 7mm up from the bottom, overlapping the card pouches, and stitched around the edges, leaving the top edge open. Next I placed the pouch flap along the top edge of the base rectangle above the pocket, so the Velcro aligns, and stitched it down. Next, I put this large rectangle on top of the single lining rectangle left (the largest rectangle), aligning it at the bottom and sides, and sewed around these three sides.
To make the face on the front, I started by cutting out face pieces from felt. You can use whatever shapes you want, but remember, you’ll need to leave space for the clasp strap, and also that your face will need to fit entirely on the right half of your outer piece. I cut two pieces from outer fabric that measured 6cm x 3cm. I sewed around 3 sides, leaving a short side open, then turned out the right way. I used corduroy for my outer and in hindsight I could have used something a little lighter in weight, and also something less textured (turning small corduroy pieces is horrible. Now I pinned this to the outer fabric, on the left side, halfway down, and placed my lining on top, with all the pockets touching right side to with the outer fabric. I sewed around the outside leaving a gap of about 8cm to turn, trimmed the corners, turned and stitched up the gap. and they were finished!
My boys loved these, but honestly, they were so fiddly, I couldn’t wait for them to be finished so I could do something fun again. Now their plentiful duit Raya has a safe home, guarded by hungry money monsters!
So, as you learned in my last post, my step-daughter arrived without her suitcase, which drastically limited her wardrobe choices. Luckily, we only had to worry about hot weather here, so really, the biggest limitation on what I could make her was time (you know, without 5 kids hanging off me). After going through a heap of patterns, and my stash, she decided she’d like the Berry Bubble Shorts by Rebecca Page, in a navy with white swiss dot cotton. Ok, time for a confession…I may have steered her towards these so I could see how they would look on an older kid. Why? well, I’m planning to make myself a pair with the women’s pattern with the leftover fabric from my silver dress. I’ve made several pairs of these, always with the bubble hem, for Little Miss, so I wondered how the straight hem would look, and also what the length was like. As a sidenote, I always hate shopping for Miss 11 because I find the store-bought shorts are always SO short for girls. Spoiler alert: I was so happy with the length and cut of these.
I didn’t make many modifications to this pattern at all. In fact, the only modification I made was to cut the leg bindings on the grain instead of the bias. This was less of a stylistic decision and more of an economising one; I had less than a yard of this fabric and it was a real struggle to get the pieces out of it! Also, instead of making the leg binding 1/2 inch wide, I made it 3/4 inch. I did this by folding the binding piece in half, then instead of folding the edges in to meet in the middle, I only folded them halfway. I did this to make the cuff slightly longer because I was worried about the length, which I needn’t have, but as it turned out, I prefer it a little wider, especially since I also added piping to the binding (and also at the pocket binding).
These shorts seem a bit fiddly and a lot of effort to make. I know the first time I made them (albeit in a teeny size), they seemed to take forever. But even with the extra fiddling of the piping, these didn’t take too long to put together at all. I promise, once you’ve done it once, it gets so much quicker and easier.
These look like they pull a little in the crotch, thanks to these photos, but it’s just the result of an awkward 11 year old trying to pull “model” poses, and a clueless husband not bothering to straighten things out. We went to a kids playground right before these photos for a birthday party and she played long and hard in them, claiming they were “super comfortable”. And I, for one, love the “sailor-y” feel of these.
My 11 year old step-daughter recently came to spend 3 weeks with us, and she forgot her bag. How this is even possible, I just don’t know, but it happened and she was too far from home to go back and get it, and still make her flight. So, she arrived with the clothes on her back. Of course, living in South East Asia, there are plenty of very cheap options for kids clothes. The problem is, that my step-daughter is a fussy little fashionista at the best of times, and then we live in a very Muslim part of the country, where most 11 year old girls wear long sleeves and pants. And it’s 33 degrees and humid every day. My step-daughter was not going to go for that. So, I bought her a few things to get her started, then the day she arrived, I showed her some of the dresses I’ve made myself, and asked if she’d like anything like those. She really loved my second Cinema dress, but mostly for the fabric. When we looked at the cut alone, she preferred the silver dress. Fortunately for her, Oliver + S, also created by Liesl Gibson, has the Hide and Seek dress, which is basically a kids version of the Cinema dress. So we hurried off to the local fabric store, and after a painful length of deliberation, she chose a white cotton with navy polka dots. The thin nature of the cotton, and the dress shape she desired, meant that I decided to fully line it, cheat’s style (like I did for the second Cinema dress) to give it more structure. It had the added bonus of also allowing any underwear choices without fear of show through!
With Little Miss, I rarely bother to make muslins, as I sew so often for her that I am usually just moving straight up to the next size. I haven’t sewn for my step-daughter for a while, plus she’s very fussy about the fit of her clothes, so I bothered to make a muslin, and it was a good thing I did, because she asked me to lower the neckline a little (she had opted not to have the v-notched neckline). Since she wanted a skirt like my silver dress, I added 4cm to the length of the bodice muslin, then measured the circumference of the bodice bottom to get the width of the skirt. To this (I now forget what that was….), I added 80cm to allow for 8 inverted box pleats, each taking up 10cm. I sewed the centre back seam of the skirt and hemmed the bottom edge, then I started marking the placements for the pleats. First I marked the centre front and back, and those pleat positions, then the side pleat positions, and finally, the front and back side pleats. These were the trickiest as I had to measure the distance from the centre front and back to the bodice seams.
And finally I attached the skirt to the bodice. The whole dress was very quick to make; with 5 kids running around I managed to get it done in a little less than 2 days, whilst also having a life outside my sewing room. In these photos, the dress looks a bit large, and whilst it is true that the fit is a little roomy, I think it’s the best for kids with wovens, as it allows them to move. She says it is super comfy, which is a big compliment from a kid who wouldn’t wear a dress 12 months ago!