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Friday, 15 December 2017

Winter trousers ideal for skating 2017

The latest winter trousers. One of my grand-daughters really doesn't want to wear trousers - she's sooner wear a dress every day, no matter the weather - preferably as close to a tutu as possible. This makes her parents despair, as it gets colder and colder. Ok, then, I thought, I'll try and make you a really feminine pair of trousers that will keep your warm! She loved this vaguely Parisian fabric, and I'm pleased to say, she has worn the trousers I made from it, albeit oftentimes with a dress over the top. But at least her knees aren't getting frostbite!

To find out more about making cosy warm trousers for winter, read on!

Sunday, 5 November 2017

My Free Patterns

Here you can find links to some of my own patterns (for which there is no charge). You are welcome to use them for non-commercial purposes, i.e. for your own use. I'm always adding to this collection, so it's worth clicking on the tab at the top of the blog, as well, to see what's new. Some of them require only measurement, whereas for others, there are free PDFs for you to download. Where I make PDFs, I sometimes draw them initially on grid square paper, so that you can check the printed size corresponds to my original. 

Check them out below.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Free Pattern for Baby / Toddler Bolero or Waistcoat

A number of times, I have wanted to make one of the grandchildren a little waistcoat, either for dressing up, or as a little bit of extra warm or style. Each time, I've made my own pattern, so I thought it was time to share the patterns. This would be suitable for a boy or a girl.

Free Pattern - CLICK HERE for the first page and
 CLICK HERE for the second page.


Above you have the links to the pattern, in 2 pages. It's free, and it shows a one inch square so you can check the printed size is correct. If it isn't, you could use some squared paper and redraw it. On the two pages of the PDF, BOTH SIZE PATTERNS ARE SHOWN. Pattern #1 is the smaller one, for approximately 9-15 months (more about sizing later). Pattern #2 is for approximately 18-24 months. However, boleros are quite forgiving, size wise, as they don't tightly enclose the chest, and the length doesn't need to be exact, either. I suggest if you have a small person to make a bolero for, you measure the patterns down the back fold, and across the back armpit to fold. Then measure your small person from neck to  waist or hip, and from armpit to armpit. Halve the latter measurement. Then see which of the patterns looks the best match, depending on whether you will need a seam allowance.

For the tutorial and more information, read on.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Free PDF Patterns for Children and Babies

I've thought for a long time about committing my research for free patterns to a post, but I've always been too busy using them to make clothes for the grandchildren to find time to write about them. I did manage one post a while back with my (then) favourite free patterns. Those were all ones I'd used over and over again for my grandchildren.

But I really want to make an attempt now to produce something that would be useful to others looking for free patterns for babies and children. It will take several posts. I have several hundred links on my spreadsheet, and there are several worksheets on it covering dresses and tops, pants and trousers etc. Then there are all the different sizes. Where to start?

To find which I think are some of the most useful web sites, and links to them, read on. Please recognise I have put a lot of work and research into my patterns reviews, so please don't just copy it all into your own web site without acknowledging the source. Thank you.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Replacement Padded Covers for Baby Car Seat or Buggy Straps

When my daughter found to her delight that she was pregnant again for the second time, it was time to get Jane's old car seat out of storage. Oh dear! One of the covers that should wrap round the shoulder strap to protect the baby from the strap chafing had gone missing.
Image result for car seat
It wasn't actually this model car seat, but you can see the padded covers for the straps clearly on this picture as they should be. Two of them. 

So the next sewing request was for a new set of strap covers. (A set, because, of course, you want them to match.) To find out how I made these (easy as pie), read on.

Easy Sunglasses (or Glasses) Case

In the middle of packing a holiday case (yes, I'd left it that late) I realised that none of the cases I had were big enough in depth for either of my two favourite pairs on sunglasses. 

So I had to make a new case, pronto. It had to be able to protect my sunglasses in the suitcase, and when out and about, but I didn't want it to be too heavy.

I knocked up this case in about 7 minutes. You could do a much better job in 15, but I didn't have 15 minutes available!

Friday, 6 October 2017

The Fat Quarter Challenge

I have always tried to squeeze as much as possible into the material I have. Probably comes from my Mum, who lived through the hardships and shortages of the Second World War. Her favourite recycling mantra was 'make do and mend', and she never threw anything away. So I recently took it as a personal challenge to see what I could make from fat quarters. With a new grand-daughter expected any day now, I thought I would start there.

A fat quarter is a small piece of material which is effectively a quarter of a square yard of fabric (or metre, if you are lucky). So they are popular with quilters, who can cut several six to nine inch (15-20 cm) squares from each. In practice, few bolts of material these days are exactly a yard or metre wide:  41"-42" or 112cm are the standard for the types of cotton and poly cotton from which most fat quarters are cut. So a fat quarter is usually more like 18" by 21".  Hence the name 'fat' quarter, I suppose.

Here's what I made recently from a few fat quarters: a kimono wrap dress or nightdress for newborn; a sun hat, a diaper cover, a play suit for c 3 months, and a circular skirt age c 3 months. You can find out more about squeezing tiny garments from a minimal amount of material below. Of course, if you have just a tiny bit more fabric, it will be a little easier!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

My Dining Chair Harness

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

In an earlier post, I wrote about some ideas for making home made harnesses. I also mentioned that none of them were 100% right for my needs, and that I had made my own based mainly on the Canadian Living example, but with some modifications. This is what I came up with.

Here's how I went about it, including the adaptations, and a link to my pattern.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Snappy Top

As I look through my photos, I see there are  projects I photographed but didn't blog about - too busy at the time! But I like to write up my experiences / efforts, especially when trying a new free pattern.

Here's one from May 2015.

This is made from the Snappy Toddler Top pattern from Prudent Baby.  Below, you can find out more about this pattern, and the dress I made from it.

Recycling Adult Clothes for Baby Things

Once adults have no further use for their clothes, they may give some of them to the charity shop.  Sometimes, the clothes may be in such bad shape that they just need to go into the fabric recycling waste. But sometimes adult clothes on the throwaway heap may still have some good fabric in them. My husband throws away a shirt once the collar corners have started to curl. If there is usable material, I put them in my stash, until I find a further use for them. (Often to my husband's protests that I already have too much fabric. Is there such a thing???) Often, there will be enough to make little garments for small children. In this post, I'm going to recap on some of the uses I've made of rejected clothes over the past couple of years that have enabled me to fashion new garments for nothing or next to nothing. If any of them strike a chord, there are links to the more detailed descriptions or tutorials.

Making Baby Leggings from an Adult Vest

My daughter's newborn baby was too long for the newborn clothes - the leggings she had been given didn't reach her ankles. So I thought I'd have a go at making her some bigger leggings.
I was pretty happy with the results, will definitely make some more. To find out how to make these easy little leggings, read on.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Quick Quilts

I needed to knock up a couple of extra child size quilts for the visiting grand-children, with limited time available. I came up with two quick solutions. For the real thing, (i.e. proper home made quilts) see my posts on children's quilts here and here. But for a quick make, how about these two ideas?

This has to be one of the fastest quilts I've ever made. It's super lightweight, more of a blanket, really, but May and June were exceptionally hot here. 

You can read about how to make this, and another simple quilt, below.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Swing Top for Child with Back Wrap Feature

I promised I would give some ideas for how the wrap top I made for Fleur could be made if you don't happen to have a convenient wrap beach skirt of the right length hanging around (or any other bit of fabric you can recycle). 

Back view
Find out how to make this top below. 

Friday, 15 September 2017

Another Skirt and Top

In my last post, I wrote about Fleur's new skirt and top. Fleur's little sister Rose couldn't be left out, so I made her a new skirt and top this summer as well. She's 2 and a half, but the top pattern was age 4, so it was nice and loose for summer. 

Again, the skirt was a simple gathered skirt. It looks a bit long in these pictures, in fact both the skirts do. This is mainly due to the fact that these two little girls had not had lunch yet, and so their waists were a little skinnier than normal! So the skirts had slid down a bit below their waists. I offered to tighten the elastic, but their Mummy said no, just wait till they've eaten!

For details of the free pattern I used, and how I went about making these, read on.

Summer Skirts and Tops

I've recently posted about one of my grand-daughters who only wants to wear dresses, and my attempts to persuade her into shorts. One of her cousins, Fleur, is the complete opposite, and will only just be persuaded to wear a dress for church. The rest of the time, she wants to wear trousers or shorts. But her Mum thought she might consider a skirt and top. So I set out to make her a skirt and top (and of course, eventually, one for her sister).

The top was a recycled adult beach skirt, with a nice wrap around feature at the back, and the skirt was this nice whales and sailing boats thin knit fabric, which was an on-line purchase. You can find out how to make similar clothes after the jump.

Free Pattern for Baby Dining Harness

Assuming you have come to this page from my other pages on dining harnesses, go ahead and click on THIS LINK to see the pattern, and download to your computer. If not, please go to THIS PAGE for the tutorial, and THIS PAGE for more information on Baby dining harnesses generally.

Now read on for how to use the pattern.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

More 'New Baby' Clothes

I've probably bored all of you to death as I exhort you NOT to make first size clothes, but probably, like me, you can't resist, and then you may regret it afterwards. In my last post, I wrote about making baby dresses for my newest grand-daughter, and how some of them were too small from day one. In this post, I'll continue on the same theme a bit, but with a few other baby clothes.

They are all easy to make. I'll give you some ideas about free patterns that work for a small baby (though not that small!)

Read on for more information and ideas.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Easy sewing case - a little project

As I expect is the case for many sewers, I frequently have to take some of my sewing kit with me. I've even bought a small portable Janome sewing machine that's easy to lug around. But as I've been SEW busy recently, I came up with the idea of having a nice little sewing kit ready for me to pick up and throw in my handbag at a minute's notice. And here it is.

It was so easy to make, and easy for you to copy if you have any double-sided pre-quilted fabric. (If you don't, don't worry, I'll give you an alternative.) It would also make an ideal stocking present for anyone who likes to sew. If you'd like to find out more, read on.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Back to Baby Dresses - Don't Make Them Too Small!

I haven't had to make baby clothes for a couple of years now, so it's nice to have a baby to make things for again.

Unfortunately, I don't often enough heed my own advice. A few months ago, I urged readers NOT to make first size baby clothes for a baby shower. Suffice it to say, I ignored that advice. But - I repeat - don't make first size clothes for babies!!! See my earlier post .

In this post, I'll review some of the baby dresses I've made for Ada from free patterns, and show you my tips (and my mistakes).

Friday, 28 July 2017

Shorts for Small Girls (2)

In my last post, I wrote about some shorts I'd made this summer for my grand-daughters, using the Craft Passion Kids Shorts pattern. Nice though it is, the shorts from that pattern hadn't entirely worked to my satisfaction. I think the pattern probably works better for boys. 

In fact, Jane completely rejected her pair. And normally, she loves the clothes I make her. But shorts are just so practical for these hot sunny days, So I thought I'd have another go, making something she would think a little bit more feminine. (She wasn't supposed to be a pink, frilly girl. But her childminder has several daughters older than Jane, and I think the girliness of these older girls has caught her imagination.)

Well, she looks happy enough with this outfit - and did actually agree to wear it for an outing to Ham House. I'd used a different shorts pattern this time, and I think these shorts do seem a better fit. To find out more about these shorts and the top she's wearing with them, read on.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Shorts for Small Girls (1)

I made these shorts for Fleur over two years ago, when she was about 18 months old. I loved the pattern I used, Summer Shorts by Caila Made (and recommend the pattern and tutorial). It's basically an Age 2 pattern, although it is suggested that you can try printing it bigger or small for different sizes within reason.

However, all my grand-daughters are growing! Where did the last 2 years go? So I thought I should do some research on alternative free patterns for shorts.

The first one I came across seemed perfect, size wise, so I launched into making new shorts for the girls. In this post, I'll tell you about my experiences with the Craft Passion Kids Shorts pattern, in size 3 and size 7. In the end, I think this pattern probably works better for boys than for girls, but the pattern and tutorial are offered free, and are straightforward to make up, so I still think they are worth a look. So read on to find out about my experience with this pattern.

Adapting Pattern Sizing - How I Resized a Shorts Pattern

Recently, I made a number of pairs of shorts using the Craft Passion kid shorts pattern. It is only made in sizes age 3 and age 7 (and the author says the sizes may be small, as they are for an Asian sized child). I decided the age 7 would probably work for Fleur. She's only 3 and three-quarters, but very tall for her age, and mostly wearing age 5-6 clothes. So if an Asian size 7 would come up small, that would probably be OK. Rose is 2 and a half, but I figured the age 3 would work for her. But what to do about Jane, who is 3 and a half, and now starting to grow  into size 4-5 clothes? I decided a bit of interpolation would be needed. It doesn't usually work to just take an even amount off, or add an even amount on all the way round a pattern. In this post, I'll show you how I did it, in case you have a pattern you need to alter size-wise. 

Here is the first pair of shorts made from the size 7 pattern.

Age 7

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Child's Apron

I've previously posted about baby bibs and aprons, and aprons for toddlers, but I realised the other day there is still a need for aprons for the girls now they are older. The occasion was a teatime snack for Jane. We'd found some huge, delicious ripe cherries on sale at a price that did not require us to take out a fresh mortgage, so of course we bought lots. And Jane was offered some for her snack. As soon as I started splitting them to take the stones out, I could see a problem looming.  These were really juicy black cherries. Jane (aged 3) refused to take off her pretty dress (too cold) and initially refused to wear any of the aprons I found in her Mum's drawer. One was her sister's, one was too small, one was Mummy's - well, eventually I got her to wear Mummy's, having checked Mummy didn't mind. (Of course she didn't.) But it WAS far too big for her.

So the next day, I looked out the instructions and pattern measurements that I'd used before, free from John Lewis. See the earlier post. And in my stash I found this sturdy cotton fabric, with a great jungle animals print, which had just been waiting for the right project. 

Great, isn't it? To find out how I made it into an apron, read on.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Yet More Summer Dresses for Little Girls

Yesterday I posted on the subject of the Suncadia knit dress, which is a free PDF pattern and tutorial from Sew Much Ado. Today, I'm trying to do some catching up on the other dresses I've made so far this summer. Two of them have been from the Izzy Top pattern from Climbing the Willow, I have written about those here. And now, in this post, I will write about a couple more dresses for 3 year-old Jane. Her baby sister was due at the end of June (and is now, delightfully, with us). I felt that Jane might feel her new sister was going to get a lot of attention, and so she should have some nice new things too. So both these dresses have gone down well.

Hang on, I hear you say - aren't there three dresses here? Well, yes,  the tiny matching one WAS for baby sister. She'll be known as Ada on the blog from now on.

To find out more about this rabbit dress and elephant dress, read on.

Monday, 17 July 2017

More Summer Dresses for Little Girls - Suncadia

I've been busy making summer dresses for my 4 grand-daughters. Yes, that's right, number 4 has arrived! So I'm now making in sizes from age 5-6, down to 0-3 months.

I will do a separate blog on the baby clothes. This summer, I've had to be hunting for patterns for little girls who are no longer babies or toddlers. Here are some of the ones I love, and I'll tell you below and in my next couple of posts, how I made them, and any tricks or tips I can add.


All of them were made using free PDF patterns from the internet. Those shown above come from 4 separate patterns, which were chosen for their versatility. (Virtually all were modified from the original pattern.) These were all made in sizes 3 to 5 years old (for three grand-daughters, between 2 and a half, and a tall 3 and a half). Read on to find out more.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Izzy Top as a Dress

The Izzy top makes not only a pretty top, but can be made a bit longer as a dress. I am a real fan of the free pattern and tutorial by Climbing the Willow. Many thanks to Teri, who was kind enough to put it on-line as a free PDF. However, I now modify it slightly to make it a more comfortable fit (or easier to get on and off). Here are two of my granddaughters in Izzy dresses.

Read more below about how to convert the Izzy top into these lovely and easy to wear dresses.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Extending an Opening Below the Yoke Line - A little tutorial

A couple of the patterns I've worked on have had a back opening to a dress or top, but on the pattern or instructions, the opening only goes down to the seam line where the yoke joins the gathered skirt part. On both of these, I have wanted to extend the opening down beyond that seam line to make getting the garment on and off easier. The challenge is not that the opening is insufficient to allow the head through, but that the seam line itself causes a constriction when it comes to getting shoulders and elbows through. Just a little further opening down below the seam is a help.

So below, I'll give you two different methods.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Busy Busy!

From time to time, I have a period of a couple of months or so in which I have lots of sewing to get done, and no time to write about it. This April and May have been very busy months, after a March devoted almost exclusively to making maternity clothes. A lot of catching up to do, as well as projects I wanted to get done before my new grand-daughter makes her appearance very soon. I've had no time to blog about these projects while in progress - that will have to wait till later. A few examples out of 20 things on the list. 

If you are interested in what was on my list (now completed) which kept me from the blog for a while, read on!

Monday, 17 April 2017

More on Making Maternity Clothes - Using Maternity Patterns

I've recently written a number of posts about adapting non-maternity patterns to work for maternity clothing. These were all for tops. You can find the main link to them here.

I was more nervous about adapting trousers, so I did buy a couple of the very few patterns around. In fact, two of the patterns I bought are vintage ones.

So this post is more of a review of 'proper' maternity patterns, and what I've learned while making them up.

I really did find it very disappointing that the pattern manufacturers seem to have lost interest in making maternity patterns. In fact, they have far more patterns for fancy dress! And overall, they seem keener on making vast shapeless sacks than anything stylish. But if you really hunt around, you can find patterns that work. Below, I'll give you some ideas, and I'll also show you the results.

Adjustable Elastic for Maternity Trousers (or Growing Children!) - A tutorial

I recently made a couple of pairs of trousers for my pregnant daughter. For one pair, the pattern I was using required you to thread elastic in through the waist band. This was to be via the usual method of sewing up the waistband apart from leaving a couple of inches not sewn, through which you can thread the elastic with a safety pin, sewing the two ends of the elastic together, and finally sewing up the last bit of the band.

However, I was concerned that if the elastic was tight enough to hold the trousers up early in the pregnancy, it would be too tight later on.

To find out how I have solved this, read on.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

How to Make Your Own Maternity Patterns

Well, the New Grandma who wants to sew is taking a temporary break from making things for the grand-children. And guess why? Well, one of their Mummies is set on expanding the brood! So it's time to think about clothes for the Mama-to-be.

In this post, I'll tell you how I've adapted non-maternity patterns into patterns for maternity clothes. But I will also tell you more about making maternity clothes with free or paid for maternity patterns in a later post. See here.

Having done a serious hunt for new patterns, it seems that most of the manufacturers are no longer interested in maternity clothes. In fact, one of the books had a huge section on dressing up clothes, and only one page of maternity patterns! Pah! I've had to get a couple of vintage patterns from our local fabric store that re-cycles patterns. However, all is not lost. There is a lot you can do to adapt non-maternity patterns, especially tops.

How to choose a suitable pattern?

What you need for a maternity top is a garment that will expand to allow for a waistline much bigger than normal, but which will also hang nicely before the bump is huge. So you are looking for something that is, or COULD BE, a more-or-less trapezoidal shape.
There are various non-maternity patterns that will lend themselves. I've given some examples below  of adaptations, and you can see the results on some of the other posts, for a tent-style top, an empire style top, a top with a yoke, and tops made from other non-maternity patterns

Converting a Non-maternity Dress or Top Pattern to Use as a Maternity Pattern

In this series of posts, I've been writing about maternity patterns, and especially, how to make any pattern for a top work as a maternity top. I showed how to convert a yoke-style pattern, an empire-line pattern, and how to make a tent-style top or dress. You can find more thoughts and ideas on this topic here. In this post, here's how to adapt a loose-fitting top pattern - and some ideas for using any just old top pattern as a base.

So before you buy maternity patterns, look through the patterns you already have. Almost any loose fitting top pattern can be used, and, depending on the style, it may need a little adaptation. So read on, for ideas on how to adapt it. 

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Making a Tent-style Maternity Top

I've been making more maternity clothes than baby clothes lately - though hopefully that will change in a few weeks' time! Most of the clothes I've made haven't required the purchase of a specific maternity pattern - read about some of my ideas here.

 Here's another non-maternity pattern, which would probably not need any adapting to make it fit a growing midriff! You could probably make a top like this from an unwanted circular skirt. Hang it round your neck and have someone cut armholes!

But if you don't have a pattern like this but would like to make a maternity top in this sort of style, read on. 

Matching Watermelon Maternity Top and Toddler Top

No, the fruit doesn't refer the the girth! I had had this nice two way stretchy material printed with watermelon slices for a year or two, waiting for the right project, and then it came into its own as a sleeveless maternity top.

Front view:

Back view:

This top was made from a maternity pattern. I've commented elsewhere on how difficult it is to find good maternity patterns, and how easy to adapt non-maternity tops. However, trousers is a different matter, and having finally found a maternity pattern which included trousers, I thought I'd give the top a go as well. (However, if you don't want to spend money on a specific maternity top, I've given lots of ideas for how to adapt other patterns, here.

Adapting an Empire Line Pattern to Make a Maternity Top

Continuing my search through my existing patterns to find ones I could adapt for a maternity top, I found this one, which, indeed, I had used before to  fashion a maternity top for my older daughter. 

It isn't a true empire line dress, which is what I had been looking for, but my efforts to convert it would work for almost any pattern with a below the bust seam / empire line style.

Here, bellow, is what I mean by a true empire line. Some empire line tops or dresses already have the skirt part gathered into the below the bust line, others may be more fitted. As you can see, this is an example of a fitted style from a vintage pattern.

 And here's how you can adapt it to work for a maternity dress of top. 

Adaptation of a Yoke Top Pattern to Make a Maternity Top

When my daughter first announced her second pregnancy, I didn't have any patterns specifically designed as maternity wear, so I thought I would adapt patterns I already had.  (If you want to know more about different ways of adapting patterns, see here.)

This sleeveless top (sorry, not a great photo) was converted from a pattern with a yoke, which does make the conversion very easy. As you can see below, this was a New Look pattern 6871, but you could do it with any top pattern with a yoke. You can also make a dress by just making it longer.

Read on to find out how easy it is.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Carry cot for doll

When Jane's baby sister was imminent, she started taking more interest in her doll again, wanting to put it to bed like the new baby would be. So, for her birthday, I made her a carry cot, which enabled her to do that. 

I couldn't find quite the pattern I needed on the internet (at least, not for free, and that's what my blog is all about). So I had to design my own. You can find out how I made it by reading on. There was a bit of trial and error involved, so you are getting the nitty gritty here!