What do sewing bloggers do with all the clothes they make??

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This is a question I’ve been pondering for a long time, most of the blogs I read make an average of two pieces of clothing a month, that’s 24 a year so if you’ve been blogging for say 3 years that’s 72 items of clothing!!!! I’ve found that I don’t keep all the things I make, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this on here before, but I’m almost the opposite of a hoarder. If it’s not being used, isn’t greatly sentimental and wasn’t a gift then I just don’t feel the need to keep it any more. This goes for clothes, books, cosmetics, well everything really.

When I make something I don’t end up wearing I either give it to charity or sell it on eBay to try and recoup some of the fabric costs. Of course there are also loads of pieces I’ve made that I love and wear regularly. Anyway I thought I’d pose this question to some of my favourite sewing bloggers to find out what they do. I’m so grateful to all the lovely ladies who got back to me with such thoughtful and helpful replies. Here are the blogs I got in touch with, if you don’t follow them already, do it now as they’re all amazing!

Dreaming of Avalon
Handmade Jane
What Katie Sews
Buttons and Birdcadges
Charity shop chic

I’ve been mulling over the best way to share all the helpful tips, somehow copying bits of the messages seems a bit creepy? So I decided to just make a quick list with the key answers:

  • Refashion –  Where possible try and fix what you don’t like about a garment or re-use the fabric.
  • Giving to charity – This is a popular option because you don’t really have to worry about the quality of your sewing, however it can be quite heartbreaking when you’ve spent hours and a serious amount of money on fabric making something to just give it away without knowing how it’ll end up.
  • Giving to friends/hosting a give away – I remember reading Handmade Jane’s post where she gave away some of her handmade wardrobe (If I was smaller I totally would have entered too!) and it was a real success.  Jane mentioned in her reply how nice it was to give them to other sewers who could appreciate the amount of work that went into making each individual garment. I also love the idea of giving to friends and family. However there is a flip side, I remember reading a post on a sewing blog a few months back (I’ve searched and searched but I just can’t seem to find the original post) where they listed all the pitfalls of sewing for family & friends.
  • Selling on Etsy/Ebay – A good way to recoup your costs, but it can be a struggle to make enough money to cover the time you spent making the garment.
  • Keep them – If you have the space, then this is a good option because personal style can evolve so in time you might fall in love with something your just not that keen on right now.

I hope this is helpful, it’s the kind of list I wish I’d seen last year when I was just starting out. I think I’m now finally starting to work out which fabrics, colours and cuts work for me so hopefully I won’t have quite so many bits I just don’t know what to do with!

Just Like Me Knits by Brandy Fortune

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The unique concept behind ‘Just Like Me Knits’ by Brandy Fortune is to give knitters the opportunity to make matching clothes for children and their favourite toy. There seems to be a real craft movement online at the moment for making clothes for dolls, honestly I don’t really get it. However I thought I’d give this book a try as my youngest daughter has her favourite teddy glued to her side at all times, so I knew she’d absolutely love to wear matching clothes with him!

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I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is actually one of the first children’s knitting books I’ve seen full of cute wearable patterns. There are no block garter stitch jumpers (yuck!) or mini baggy granny cardigans (double yuck!!) just adorable patterns designed with kids in mind. Also the wool choices are stunning and although I never get round to buying the exact wool in the exact shade featured, I’m really tempted to here! Oooh and there is a good selection of patterns for boys too, a real bug bear with craft books.

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My only real gripe is that I’m not sure why it suggests to use circular needles to knit everything! Of course this is an easy problem to solve, you just use the corresponding normal needles, but it did take me a few reads through to realise everything wasn’t actually knitted in the round.

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So far I have made one sock and two cardigans and not noticed any mistakes in the patterns, my sock did end a bit weird but that’s because I didn’t place stitch markers, I just didn’t realise how totally essential they are for socks! Both projects were knitted with the intention of them being for Lily, even though Lily is tall for her age and has big feet I’d still recommend sizing up as there is nothing worse than spending hours knitting something to realise it only just fits and they’ll have grown out of it a couple of months (which is why it’s great to have two girls!).

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Although I’d tried to jump on board with making something for Mr Bear when it came to the knitty gritty of actually spending real time making something for a toy, I kind of lost my enthusiasm and doubt I’ll do it again (unless Rosie begs me of course).  However there are other patterns I will be knitting up for the girls. I’m really impressed with large age range covered (2-10 years), it makes sure its not one of those book where they will outgrown all the patterns before you get round to knitting them.

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The dolls recommended are cute, but rather expensive at around $200. I stopped getting excited about dolls and teddies in my teens so I just don’t get the whole Blythe/Bamboletta thing. That’s why its helpful that included in the book is a really clear guide to grading the patterns to fit the toy your knitting for, as you can see I managed to size down Mr Bears cardigan and I’ve never done pattern grading before.

hats(Such cute hats!)

Brandy Fortune used to host a knitting podcast, which I never even knew existed but now i’m excited to check out what’s out there! She has a blog called Pixie Purls , if you want to see more of the projects included in the book and finished ones then check out the Ravelry page here.  

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‘Just Like Me Knits’ by Brandy Fortune, Published by Potter Craft, RRP £12.99, Available on Amazon UK here.

A trip to Goldhawk road

IMG_2638Recently I’ve read quite a few brilliant blog posts about fabric shopping in London, usually I just stick to a few shops that I know so I thought it would be nice to branch out and see what else is on offer. So on Thursday we headed to Goldhawk road, as it’s only a half hour bus ride away it seemed the perfect place to start.IMG_2637-horz

There certainly are a lot of shops, and some bargains to be had. I’m going to be honest though and say that even though everyone seems to rave about how amazing it is I couldn’t help feeling disappointed. Yes there are a lot of shops, but most seem to stock the same fabrics (at different prices!) which if your looking for a specific plain fabric in certain weight or texture is perfect, but if your after something special, a stand out print not so good. Of course they are there, but you have to rummage (not an easy task with two kids in tow even when your mum comes to help!) and then you have no idea how much they cost.

I also found the level of service was pretty hit or miss, I think that stuff matters especially because I don’t have a lot of spare cash at the moment, which means I have to save up to buy fabric so I want the experience to be a positive one. In one shop a man followed me everywhere literally at my elbow (which always makes me cringe!), while another tried to charge £5.99 a meter for a low quality printed poly-cotton which is almost double everywhere else I’ve seen. I guess that is a bit unfair because for the most part the shop assistants were both helpful and friendly. And also almost everyone cut the fabric on the generous side.

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Maybe once you learn the shops that work for you it’s a more pleasant experience, but I don’t think I’ll be going back any time soon. I’ve been spoilt by my local fabric shop which stocks the most lovely prints in good quality fabrics, is always welcoming and the girls can play with the toy basket. I’m not giving up on exploring what the other fabrics shops around London have to offer though, Walthamstow market sounds great and definitely on the cards for a visit sometime before Christmas!

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Anyway I did buy loads of lovely fabric and my mum treated me to some to, which of course makes up for it not being as fun as I’d hoped it would be.

IMAG0219Offcuts bin synthetic blend chiffon fabric – 1.5 m

IMAG0216Another synthetic blend chiffon from a different off cuts bin – 2.3m

IMAG0224Cotton voile – 1.6m

IMAG0233Lightweight denim – 1.65m

IMAG0228silk blend – 2m
IMAG0226viscose – 2.1m

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Cotton Lawn – 2m

IMAG0218cotton voile – 2m
IMAG0235As you can see I’ve tried to lean more towards the colours I like to wear (mainly blue!) and simple repeat prints. I’ve found that although I love the bolder colourful fabrics when I’ve actually made clothes out of them they don’t really suit me and I end up not wearing them.

Ooh and here are the bits my mum picked out for herself and grandchildren:

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Sorry if this post was a bit moany, maybe its just me I tend to find to much choice overwelming. I’m less kid in a candy store, more kid at reasonably well stocked tuck shop window.

Hawthorn – Take Two

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I finally got around to making my adjustments to the Colette Hawthorn pattern (you can see my first attempt here). This time I decided to make view 3, which is the sleeveless dress variation. The fabric is from a slightly faded vintage bedsheet I got at Wimbledon car boot for £2 with my dad (yes I treat him to the most glamours London hot spots when he comes to visit!)  a few weeks ago.

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I used a chocolate brown as an accent colour as pink and brown is one my favourite autumn colour combinations. I’m really happy with the fit, it’s a little lose but I like my clothes to be comfortable and to be able to sit down without them bunching everywhere because they’re so fitted.

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For me it’s always a bit of a nightmare to get a smooth finish on a really curved hem, there are a number methods I’ve never tried so I used this project as an excuse to try one out. I used an elastic lace to hem the bottom, this seems to be a really popular at the moment and although it gives a pretty finish to the inside, it didn’t work as well I was hoping. I think that might have been my fault, perhaps I pulled the fabric through the machine a little too much? It does look cute though!

IMAG0161 IMAG0163IMAG0200(Struggled again to take good full body pics of the dress, might have to ask my mum to help out next time!)

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Ooh and I just wanted to share a new sew-a-long announced today which I’m really looking forward to joining in with called ‘Fall for Cotton‘ hosted by Rochelle from Lucky Lucille and Tasha from by Golly by Gum (both brilliant blogs!). It’s all about embracing fabrics made from 100% cotton and making something with a vintage vibe. I missed out Rochelle previous 1940s sew along ‘Sew For Victory‘, but loved looking through the flickr pool, it was really inspiring! So even if you don’t want to join in sewing its well worth just following along and seeing the amazing things I’m sure people will make.

End of Sew Lily Week

This week has just flown by and I haven’t posted half the things I’d hoped too, to be honest the girls have been keeping me crazy busy! They seem to be constantly arguing and throwing everything we own on the floor at the moment and if it weren’t for strong coffee and paracetamol I’d probably of had a break down by now! I didn’t manage to make nearly as much for lily as I would have liked to, but here are the few I did manage:

Space Pinafore Dress

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My mum brought this fabric back from america for me, I was planning on making Lily some simple pj’s with it, but as soon as she saw it she asked for a space dress. I didn’t think it would work as a dress, but I think that’s because I was picturing something a little more formal. I’m totally in love with this pinafore though! I didn’t use a pattern as a base,  it’s pretty simple construction with simple box pleats at the front and a shirred elasticated waist at the back. It was so quick and easy to make, I’m visioning a lot more pinafores in lily’s future!

Umbrella top (pattern – women’s realm WR393)

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I’ve had this pattern for ages now, isn’t it great that whoever bought it originally put the magazine advertisement inside?! I love how simple and quick children’s clothes are to sew I literally knocked up this whole top in a morning, the zip (love vintage metal zips!) did give me a bit of trouble, but I’ll leave off fixing it until I get a new zipper foot.

Drinks top

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This top is made from the left over fabric from this dress (which was my first go at shirring!). I made my own basic pattern block using one of lily’s shop bought tops as a base, a really useful method for kids clothes as they are pretty shapeless so you can get away with drawing round them without unpicking the seams. I decided to learn how to do bias facing on the armholes, I still need a little practice but I think it looks quite smart and much more practical for kids clothes than proper facings.

It was a real nightmare to get Lily to let me take any pictures of her wearing the clothes, I’m not sure how other bloggers who sew for there kids all the time get them to do it? bribery?

Sewing Lily Clothes Week!

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I feel like I’ve been a bit of selfish sewer so far this year hardly making anything at all for the girls, now the summer holiday has come round I’ve really noticed how few practical clothes Lily actually has. Since she started school full time, I’ve mostly just been adding to or replacing her school uniform with only the weekends to worry about casual clothes. We have another five weeks together before she goes back so she definitely needs more things to wear! I’ve decided to dedicate this week to sewing Lily as many clothes as I can and work my way through some of my stash of smaller lengths of fabric.

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So today is these button up shorts, totally influenced by Ashley from Sew Ashley Sew’s lovely take on Oliver + S sailboat pants pattern. I love Oliver + S patterns they are simple yet stylish, but way too expensive to buy in this country!

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I decided to draft my own using a 1968 Style Pattern (2124) as a base. I used floral needle-cord fabric left over from this dress which I posted about year ago tomorrow (which is my Blog anniversary!).

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My pattern was a slight fail and it’ll need quite a lot of tweaking before I use it again, so I ended up winging it a bit while sewing the shorts together.

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Which is why the pleats at the front were more of a necessity than a style feature and little bit off centre.

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 They fit her well and she loves them, really that’s all that matters and now I know how to fix the pattern so there aren’t as many mistakes next time. I’ll keep you updated with how I get on with ‘Sew Lily Week’, now I’m off to watch ‘Tales from the Royal Bedchamber‘ on bbc4 and order some Gok Wan knickers à la Bethany from Arched Eyebrow.

The Belle & Book Book of Craft

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Belle and Boo are nostalgic fictional characters created by the talented illustrator Mandy Sutcliffe, they appear in a number of children’s books always playing and going on sweet adventures. Belle & Boo is now also a gorgeous kids brand specialising in high quality, vintage inspired pieces for children, you have to check out their shop, if I could I would literally buy everything!

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The Belle & Boo Book of craft contains a number of projects to help bring the world Sutcliffe has created to life, including a pirate play tent, a stunning quiet book and a cute playtime headdress. There are also ideas for homeware projects inspired by their adorable fabric line, I especially like the idea of making a quilt from old baby clothes and using just a small amount of one their prints to tie the whole project together.

Here are some of my other favourite projects from the book:

IMAG0047Camera Bag

IMAG0042Meadow Picnic Blanket – Totally in love with this simple idea to jazz up a plain green blanket!
IMAG0034Explorer Satchel
IMAG0032Snowflake Mittens
IMAG0029Little Helpers Apron – You can never have too many Aprons!

Soap Ice lolly

Lollipop Soaps – To be honest I’m not too sure about these soap lollipops for kids, I just know my girlies would try and eat them and end up with mouths full of bubbles! However I do have a couple of friends who would love these and I think they would make great bathroom decoration (totally in love with little wooden boats too!).

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As always I attempted one of the projects from the book and of course I had to make a Boo for Rosie! She’s always loved teddies,  forever picking a favorite which has to come everywhere until it gets lost (which is why we have so many back up favorites!).  Rosie’s Boo is made from a vintage pillowcase and some fleece I had left over from another project, I love the suggested idea of felting an old jumper but as most of mine are acrylic blends it wouldn’t have worked so well! I couldn’t find toy eyes at any of my local craft shops so I just made some simple felt ones, I’m really not happy with how they turned out (they look a little creepy!). So next time (Lily wants a Boo too!) I will definitely seek some out and probably even add them to this one too. All the pattern piece templates are actual size, which is so helpful as it means I didn’t have to battle with the photocopier at the library! Also the directions are clear and simple making them easy to follow, all I would say is that it would have been nice to have a little tutorial on french knots at the back of the book along with the other stitches needed. I’m forever forgetting how to do them properly! But this is only a tiny niggle as a quick Google search uncovers loads of brilliant tutorials (like this one).

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The next thing I made isn’t actually a set project from the book, but that’s the great thing about good craft books you can just take elements and inspiration from projects and make up your own! A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I wanted to make a little feature wall in the girls bedroom of needlecraft pictures and since Boo is so cute I had to add him to the collection!  It’s just  simple embroidery using some of the templates at the back of the book, I then made a crochet frame to add a little more detail (if you want to make your own crochet picture frame there is a great free pattern here).

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As you can see from the pictures of this book, it really is stunning and would make the most wonderful baby shower gift for a crafty mum. The other great thing is how uni-sex most of the projects are, the problem with a lot of craft books aimed at making things for children’s is that they tend to just totally forget about little boys, but this has loads of  bits they’d love.

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The Belle & Boo Book of Craft is published by Quadrille, RRP £14.99, available here from Amazon UK.

The Belle & Boo Book of Crafts -Photography © Laura Edwards