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Welcome to my Blog

I am a grandmother to 4 little girls. I blog about the things I make for them, review patterns, provide tutorials on how I've dealt with techniques or problems, which I hope may help others, and give links to the (mostly) free patterns I use. Every so often, I do a 'Best of..' post listing the best free patterns I've found under specific headings - babies, girls, boys etc. Enjoy the Blog!

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.