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Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Warm Trousers for Winter

Small children's ankles can get very chilly in our climate, when their socks roll down, or their trousers ride up in a buggy or carrier. Last year I made an extra long leg pair of salopettes out of a recycled anorak for one of the grand-daughters who was suffering the riding up trousers fate. This year, her mum asked me, should I have the sewing machine out, whether I could make some cosy trousers that could go under a dress or jacket. (My daughter knows I always have the sewing machine out!) I had bought some nice midnight blue fleece a while back, and some stripey fabric a bit like ticking, and suddenly, here was the ideal opportunity to use them.

To find out more about how I made these warm winter trousers (and how you could copy them if you liked them), read on.

Friday, 9 December 2016

My Current Top Twenty Free Baby and Toddler Sewing Patterns

I've had cause to be very grateful to people who are kind enough to put free patterns out there on the internet. People who do so ask, quite rightly, that their patterns are not used for commercial purposes. I think that's totally fair. If you are running a business and making money out of producing children's clothes, I don't think it's fair to pinch other people's ideas and patterns. If you are making clothes for your own kids and grandchildren on a not for profit basis, then it's very nice to be able to be part of a community that is prepared to share ideas and patterns. A big thank you to everyone I've linked to here, and to all the other people who share their patterns. FOOTNOTE: Every so often, I have to go back to this post, and others where I've provided links to patterns, as the links have changed or no longer exist. Hard to keep on top of it though, so please forgive me if any have changed since my last update in September 2018!



Equally, I've done lots of research myself, and produced the odd design, the results of which I've been happy to share on my blog. So I would also ask that any ideas you get from my blog, or any lists of links, are not just taken and reproduced without any acknowledgement, and especially are not used for commercial purposes.

I'm planning to go gradually through ALL my favourite patterns and post links for them. As a starter, I thought I'd do a 'Top Twenty' of the patterns I've used most over the past three years since my elder daughter was pregnant with my first grand-daughter. Even then, I'm missing out so many great patterns. In due course, I'll do posts for each of the categories, either by age group or type of pattern (e.g. dress, pants etc.) In the meantime, you can find my 'Top Twenty' free patterns after the jump.

Summer Cover-ups and Beach Wraps - Part 2

It may seem a bit odd (unless you are in the southern hemisphere) that I am writing up a post on this subject in mid-December. However, two of my grand-daughters will be travelling somewhere hot and sunny in the Christmas holidays, so I thought my best pre-Christmas presents should be useful on their holidays.

For a tutorial and how to make the pattern for this type of beach cover-up, read past the jump.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Tulip Dresses

It's taken me a long time after making them to get round producing a post on the subject. I've got caught up with writing up all the doll's clothes I made. But now that's done, I'll return to my first love, making clothes and other stuff for my beloved grandchildren.

I can now tell you about another free pattern that I've been loving making. The dress above was the first of three, and I may well make more next summer. To find out more about the free pattern and how I made it up for my three grand-daughters, read on.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Outfits for Dolly - and a New Body!

Here are just a couple of a series of dolls clothes I made recently. (The second has since been adjusted - as you can see it's too cosy a fit round her chest really.)

I must first say that I'm not really someone who is into making dolls clothes. It certainly isn't a pre-occupation, like making clothes for my little grand-daughters is. We aren't, on the whole, a very girly family, considering we have two daughters and three grand-daughters.

But one of my lovely grand-daughters, the middle one, Jane, who's had an operation recently,is currently going through a phase of loving her Dolly. Dolly gets carted around everywhere. Not only that, but Dolly carelessly lost her only outfit early on. It was taken off as part of the experimental phase, just because it would come off. (It probably needed a wash anyway, but somehow it disappeared). So, as Dolly had come naked on holiday with us, I thought it was time to make her a few quick outfits, easy on and off, super quick and easy to make. Otherwise, I feared, if I'd taken too long to make them,  the interest in Dolly might have waned by the time they were made. I've written up what I've done in case anyone else would like to make easy doll's clothes based on my very simple patterns. Dolly is a soft-bodied doll of about 15-16" tall, or about 40cm. However most of the patterns are very easily adjusted for different sizes. These are in increasing order of difficulty, but none are really difficult.

Dolly's Dungarees / Playsuit

One of the outfits I made for Dolly, my grand-daughter's beloved baby doll, was a pair of dungarees, similar to a pair of Jane's own dungarees. I had originally planned to make a short legged playsuit, as all my grand-daughters have been having playsuits for summer (you can read about them in these posts here and here.) However, we are nearing the end of summer as I write this, so I decided to make the legs of Dolly's a little longer for winter. But the pattern I devised will make either.

This will fit a doll approximately 15"-16" tall, about 38-40 cm.

You can find a free pdf pattern and detailed tutorial after the jump.

Red and Grey / White Doll's Dress and Matching Panties

More little clothes for Jane's Dolly. I've written up a tutorial and produced a free PDF pattern for this outfit.

This little dress comes with matching knickers / panties. Dolly is about 15-16" tall (38-40cm), but I think you could easily adjust it for a slightly smaller or larger doll. You can find more about how to make the outfit after the jump.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Top and Pants for Dolly

I've been busy making a few outfits for my grand-daughter's 15" doll. She's had to spend a bit of time recovering from an operation, not allowed to mix with other children until she's back to full strength. So dressing and undressing her Dolly and putting her to bed has helped fill in a few frustrating hours.

This outfit  comprises a little top or short dress, and a pair of knickers to match. I made a pattern, which is easy to copy, and I've written up how I made it up as a tutorial. It will fit a doll 15-16" - but it is quite forgiving and could easily be adapted. And they are ultra simple to make. To find out more - follow the jump!

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Dolly's Holdall

My granddaughter's Dolly had proved useless at looking after her own clothes, they were always getting lost. So I made her a holdall to keep them in (and it would also be useful should she go on holiday).

If you'd like to know how I made it (or to make one yourself) I explain it after the jump. This is for roughly a 15-16 inch doll but can easily be adapted.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Dolly's New Body

Poor Dolly's body was looking a bit sorry. She has a solid (though quite soft) head, lower arms, and lower legs, and the rest of her is a stuffed cloth body. Originally she was wearing a nice little sleep suit. But it got taken off, and somehow had disappeared. Since Dolly had been sitting around naked for quite a while, her cloth body was getting quite grubby. The instructions said - do not wash, just sponge the surface. Well, that wouldn't have made a substantial difference appearance wise. (Why don't they make dolls and soft toys more easy to clean or wash effectively?) 

So - I made her a new body. This time, it's a removable, washable one. 

To find out more about it, carry on reading.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Layered Dresses Using Widi Creations Free Pattern and Tutorial

I found the pattern from Widi Creations for the Mela Dress while on a hunt for something else. So I must first thank Preethi for the idea and the pattern. Please note that in common with everyone who is kind enough to provide a free pattern, she would not want this to be used for commercial purposes.

Being a lazy sort, I originally thought I'd make her one tier version, but once I'd started, it seemed more fun to make the three tier versions. It helped that I had plenty of material, and toning satin bias binding for each of the fabrics, as I'd just been on a run to a new fabric store in town, buying things I liked on spec. So, three dresses made, one for each grand-daughter!

The black and white one (size 4T):
The grey and jade green one (size 3T widths but with the length cut down to 2T):
And the dark blue and dusky pink one (Size 3T):

I like these combinations, of a trim that picks out one of the colours in the fabric.

I'll tell you  more about where to find the free pattern, and how I made these dresses using it, after the jump.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Easy Doll's Outfit (to Match Tulip Dress)

I had some scraps of material left after making my grand-daughter a dress, and as she currently carries her dolly everywhere, I thought I'd make Dolly a dress, too. 
Back view:

Dolly's dress was so quick and easy to do, I thought I'd share how I made it. There are also matching knickers.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

New Summer Outfits - Shorts and Tops: the Shorts!

Recently, I wrote about a beach cover-up I made for my 2-year-old grand-daughter Jane. I had started making this while we were on holiday, so she could wear it then, but it wasn't hemmed or finished. So that was my first job when I got home. Once home, I thought I'd also make some shorts and a top to match. When those were done, I started more shorts and a top for her cousin Fleur. Eventually, there was a third outfit for Fleur's baby sister Rose. Below, you can see their complete outfits.

You can read the details after the jump of how to make the shorts for these beach separates. You can find details of how to make the cover-up here. And the tops are on another post, here.

New Summer Outfits - Shorts and Tops - the Tops!

In my last post, I wrote about the shorts I made my three grand-daughters, you can find out about making shorts for toddlers here.

In this post, I'll tell you about the matching tops.

I do so like the top of Purl Soho's romper suit, by Corinne, that I used the top of her pattern to base all three of my tops on.  (You can see some of the romper suits I've already made using her pattern here.) It's such a good pattern, with such clear instructions, and I highly recommend it. 

The one above, Jane's version, was cut slightly longer than the pattern (to overlap the top of the shorts) and just has a hemmed bottom (1/4" plus 1/4").

Fleur's has two layers, with a flared frill attach to the underneath of the two layers.

And Rose's, which is a single layer, has a gathered frill attached.

You can find more about how I made these, adapting Corinne's pattern, after the jump.

Don't Make Tiny Baby Clothes for a Newborn Baby!

Maybe you're about to start making things for a baby shower. Or you are happily expecting. I'm hoping I might persuade you to make something - anything! - other than tiny size baby clothes. If I don't succeed, you'd better have a look at some of my other posts where I tell you my favourite baby clothes patterns. My mission is to offer you lots of suggestions for things you can make or sew that will be MORE APPRECIATED and MORE USEFUL than yet another tiny knitted jacket or cute newborn dress. Look at my post on Baby shower presents for ALTERNATIVES. 

Oh, I know tiny clothes are adorable, and they are easy to make, but...... well, of course, I know that you probably won't listen to me. But bear with me for now. And read on to find out why I want to discourage you from making first size clothes. 

Baby Blankets

Baby blankets are so easy to make, and make great gifts. In this post, I'll tell you some very simple (and quick) ways to make them. Whatever you make, start by washing all the fabrics you use. 

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Summer Cover-ups

A Beach Cover-up

We don't get much summer here in England, but we like to make the most of what there is. Once it hits 24 degrees, out come the shorts and sun-dresses. But - some of us can't take too much sun.

In July, we took toddler Jane,  now 2 and a bit, to Italy for a week, and there, the mercury was hitting 40 - pretty much too much for us pale-skinned weaklings. So it was either - stay inside in the air-conditioning, or - head for the water, whether the pool or the beach, and hope to find some shade.

When we did go to the beach, in the evening when it was cooler, I thought about a cover-up for little Jane and her very fair shoulders. I wanted something very simple that I could run up in a hurry, and designed the one you see below. I half-made it from material I'd taken away with us, without a sewing machine, and finished it when I got home (after she'd worn it!) 

I also made her a whole beach set including, as well as the cover-up, a top and a pair of shorts to match. More about those in another post.

Below, I'll tell you how to make a cover-up like this. This one was intended to protect fair skin. The same pattern and design, though, would work equally well for a towelling wrap for after a swim (or even after a shower or bath!), and I'll be making some of those soon as well.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Baby Dining Seat Harnesses

Home-made baby sitting harnesses (for sitting at table)

When our little granddaughter, baby I, was coming on holiday with us, we guessed there might not be high-chairs / baby seats available, either where we were staying, or in restaurants while eating out. So I thought I’d make a seat harness for travelling. Now we have 3 baby granddaughters, and, when they visit our home, our one purchased plastic booster seat is not enough. So we've also been able to use the harness at our home for the visiting babies. 

I'll tell you in detail how I did it on another post, so you can copy my ideas if you wish, and I will also give some other ideas I've found, if my approach doesn't work for you. My design, and those provided free by other people, are intended for personal use. 

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

More Finger Puppets

I did a couple of posts on designing templates for and making finger puppets earlier this year, and since then I've been making a few more. The children, especially little Jane, like to play with these atop a dolly peg (in lieu of a finger). This is what I call a dolly peg, in case you don't know. My mother used to use these to peg washing on the line, but you can still buy them.

When I picked her up from nursery this week, she randomly picked out a monkey and a penguin from my box of finger puppets, and had them chat to each other all the way home as she rode in the buggy. 

She was intrigued that Monkey has a tail, and Penguin does not. You can see Monkey and Penguin, lower down on this post. If you'd like some other ideas for children's finger puppets, or how to make your own, read on.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

A Third Set of PJs

With three grand-daughters, I often find myself making three of everything! The next pair of PJs were for Rose, the littlest grandchild. I had some nautical fabric that I liked, and had in mind for the trousers, and also some striped T-shirt fabric to make a top. 

I didn't use a free pattern for the top, as it happens. I had a Burda pattern that had been kicking around unopened for some time, so I thought I'd give it a try. It has popper openings on both shoulders. (Well, I think the pattern may have called for buttons and button holes, but as you'll know by now, I avoid these wherever possible. My husband's good with the hammer on the poppers. And I'm rubbish on the sewing machine with button-holes.)
However, there are a number of nice free patterns for T-shirt style tops available. Some with envelope necks, which I think are great for young ones, especially at bedtime. I'll do a whole post on free T shirt patterns one day. 

The trousers were from the Jereli pattern, which you can find details of here.

 You can find out more about the making of this set of pyjamas after the jump.

More PJs

Time to make more pyjamas!  I wrote about Jane's pyjamas with a kimono style top  here. So now it was the turn of  Fleur, my oldest grand-daughter. She also needed summer pyjamas. The Jereli pants free PDF pattern has come into its own again, this time accompanied by the Izzy Top. 

Izzy top in two sizes. (You'll see why two sizes, later.) The material has colourful balloons, and the yoke is lined with a bright cerise material with little white dots.

Jereli trousers, with a minor modification: fasten-up turn-ups, using fabric to match the Izzy top.

Full details of these pyjamas, made from free patterns, can be found after the jump. I'll also expand on how I made them and hopefully provide some useful tips.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Baby Shower Presents

You're a needlewoman. But I'd like to persuade you NOT to make the very smallest size baby clothes! If you want to know why, read my 'Don't make tiny baby clothes' rant, here. You'll probably ignore me, because let's face it, tiny clothes are SO cute. But bear with me. If you like to sew, there are so many things you can sew that will be more appreciated, and longer lasting.

First, here are some ideas for hand-made gifts that are not 'first size clothes'.

  • Larger size clothes! 
  • Bibs 
  • A baby towel or two 
  • Cot quilt or blanket 
  • A sleeping bag 
  • A nursing / changing bag or mat 
  • Playblocks 
  • A sounds bag 
  • A soft toy, or a ball with a bell in it 
  • A mobile
  • A playmat 
  • Toys to hang on a play gym 
  • A hanging contraption for storage of clothes or toys 
  • A soft play book 
  • A teepee 
  • A height chart or wall hanging
  • A dining room harness
I'll elaborate below with  more information and ideas for making some of these.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Storing and Organising Fabric

Jumpy title!

I've been re-organising my piles and heaps of fabric that have migrated everywhere while I've been so busy on projects with deadlines* that I never seemed to have time to tidy up. Now, everything is organised - for now!

* By deadlines, I mean that we were seeing the intended recipient of the project work over the weekend, so I just had to get finished!

I wonder how other people store their fabrics. I'm sure a lot of people, like me, fall in love with some 'have to have' fabric, without having a specific idea how it will be used. Most of these do get used eventually. Sometimes I love them so much having used it, that I want to get more - and it's then out of stock world-wide! I also have pieces of fabric that are recycled. A garment can get taken apart for some later use. Probably about half of these get used - but at the outset, I don't know what will fall in which half - will be used or binned eventually.

So here's my new storage plan. Some of the see-through bags are much bigger than others, and then they all go in stackable plastic boxes.

Box 1:
  • Felt (mostly squares, but I keep quite small pieces for my finger puppets, as they can be used for eyes, noses, beaks etc).
  • Flannel. I bought various pieces of lovely soft baby flannel when we had a premature baby in the family. Some got used, but she grew so fast that I still have some waiting for another project.
  • Knits. Some of these are purchased, some are chopped up from T-shirts or other stretchy garments. There are also a number of pieces of ribbed knit, to make neckline, cuffs, waistbands etc.
  • Fleece - at the moment there's only one (plain French navy) fabric in this bag! But I've seen some gorgeous fleece fabrics at the store. I might turn my attention to using fleece again in the autumn.
Box 2:

This is my main storage of materials for new projects. At the bottom, there are three bags of pieces. The difference between them is a bit arbitrary, to be honest:
  • Scraps bag. Some of these are really quite small pieces, especially of a favourite material. Among other things, some of them lend themselves to making appliques.You can make applique letters with a two inch square! But I have to be a bit ruthless, or I would have two rooms full of sewing stuff.
  • Larger scraps. Mostly these are left over from projects and could be used to make small items, or to add some interest to a garment made out of a plainer fabric. If you've read the blog, you'll recognise some of them from projects

  • Larger pieces, but where I know there is definitely less than half a metre. Again, most of these are leftovers, although some may be fat quarters that I bought when the girls were tiny enough that I could make a whole project out of a fat quarter. These would lend themselves to making contrasting sleeves or bodices, most would be big enough for a child's sunhat, and some of them are sufficiently even in shape that they could be cut up to make further patchwork squares.
Next, two bags of larger pieces, of about half a metre or more:
  • Bright polycottons and cotton. 
  • Light / pastel polycottons and cottons.

Some of these are cheapish stuff that would be fine for quilting projects, or to make a reversible garment. Others are better quality. I don't distinguish them in the bags, Everything goes in together, organised only by whether they are pale fabrics or bright ones.

Box 3:

Sheeting, towelling, some ready quilted materials, and batting, interfacing, etc.

Box 4:

Everything else! Satins, tartan cloth, mock leather, chiffon, velvet, plasticised material (I think this has a name in the US), and half-finished alterations to, or dismantled, adult clothing. These are mostly fabrics and projects that are not likely to get used for children's clothing.

I feel good now it is all tidied away, but I'm started to feel another project coming on. Oh yes - some pyjama trousers for the youngest grandchild to go with the top I already made her - and she needs a sunhat - and once I've made her a sunhat, I'll certainly have to make one for her sister. I also promised them ponchos / sun cover ups. And the new dinosaur fabric I bought the other day - that's begging to be something for summer!

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Names of Babies in the Blog

I've just decided to make a change to the names I give to my grandchildren in the blog. I've never used their full names, as they are not my children to take liberties with their identities. I've also always tried to avoid using their photos at the top of any post, to retain an element of privacy for them. I ask that others don't reproduce any photos of the children, either.

So for the first two and a half years of the blog, I have been calling my first grand-daughter "Baby A" (an initial of one of her names) and the second one "Baby I" (ditto). However, along came Baby A's sister, with the same initial, so she became "Baby a". (Little 'a', get it?) But now they are all toddlers, and one by one, they became Toddler A etc. Heavens, Baby A hardly qualifies as "Toddler A" any more, either - she's quite a young lady, no more nappies, a mind of her own as to what she'll wear etc. (Rugby shirts being the favoured garments of choice.)

This nomenclature has become awkward, so I'm going to rename them, using a unique name for each. From now forwards, Baby A/Toddler A becomes "Fleur". Baby I/Toddler I becomes "Jane". And little Baby a/Toddler a becomes "Rose". Lovely names, don't you think? And how much less complicated than Baby this and Toddler that.

Fleur, Jane, and Rose. How I love them all!

Later footnote June 2017: And now we joyously add Ada to the list!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Mystery of the Baby Pants Pattern Solved!!!!

At last! At last! I have solved the mystery of my unknown baby pants pattern.

I now finally know where to find it again, and it remains one of my favourite free baby pants patterns. So a huge and belated thank you to Suzy, for her pattern and web site . Here is the link to the Mystery baby pants pattern. She has this in other sizes, and several other patterns too, which you can find on her web site.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Spots and Stripes

I first combined these  multi-coloured spot and stripes fabrics when making a little dress and knickers set for my first grand-daughter nearly two years ago. Unfortunately the dress didn't survive long enough to be photographed, I assume it got eaten by the washing machine. I managed to take a photo of the knickers before their demise, which you can see on this post

However, I still like the combination, and, as there was no set to use as a hand-me-down for a younger grand-daughter, I decided to make another set, albeit in a larger size. This time, I added a sun-hat.


The details of the free patterns I used are after the jump.

Baby Hats

I fell in love with the Scrappy Sunhat pattern from Jessica at Running with Scissors a good 18 months ago, when Toddler I was Baby I, only a little baby. I made her this hat for her first holiday abroad in the sun, using the smallest size pattern (16-18" head circumference, or 40-46cm). However, I can't find that I posted about this hat, so here are the details now.

Not being a super confident sewer, I wasn't sure how this would go, but I was delighted at how easy it was. In fact, because I had to finish it while we were away, most of it was hand sewn, and even so, it was easy to do. However, even easier on a machine!!  

Read about how I made this and other hats below the jump.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Pyjamas for a Little Girl

The latest request for Toddler I was for pyjamas, so I started with my usual research and hunt for free patterns. I quickly decided what I wanted to do for my first pair of PJs, for a 2 year old girl. I ended up with two patterns, one for the pyjama bottoms, and one for the top.

I liked the idea of a wrap-over top, a kind of kimono top, and I also wanted to make both top and bottoms reversible. I used three fabrics in all. One face is all alphabet fabric. 
The other way out, (in the first picture above) the body of the top is teddy bear fabric, and so are the trouser borders, while the fabric for the sleeves and main part of the trousers is a plain toning fabric in bright pink.

Below, I'll talk about the two patterns I used to make these, and describe how I made them, with any little wrinkles and tips I picked up on the way.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Summer Rompers for Toddlers

I'm so excited about my new favourite free pattern and tutorial from the internet. It's by Corinne, of Purl Soho, it comes in sizes 2-11 years, and you can find it here. I recommend it for its ease and clear pictures and explanations. Here are my three four finished rompers.

First, for a just over two-year-old (by the summer):


Next, for an eighteen month toddler:

And finally, my version for a two and a half year old.

The first is size 2T according to the pattern, the second, a slightly smaller size 2T, and the bottom one is size 3T, made as separates. 

This is a very well designed pattern and tutorial, and I have used it with only minor modifications. Anyone who reads my blog will know that I almost always fiddle to make things work for me. Either the size isn't right, or I want to use the armhole of one with the bottom of another. So most of the time in making something for my grand-daughters is the initial planning of how to do it, and then making my own pattern. Sometimes the original is unrecognisable. However, this was not the case here, it is a great pattern, and I think the small modifications I did make could be helpful to anyone making the younger sizes. Mainly, I wanted them to work for toddlers not yet able to undress themselves quickly to use the bathroom.

So go ahead and use Corinne's lovely pattern, and follow her instructions: but if you are making for a very young child, you might want to read my blog as well! Below, I show how to make the modifications so a young child can have a nappy changed, or can easily use the potty without getting completely undressed!