Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Kids Clothes Week - how was it for you?

If you took part in the week-long sewing challenge to make stuff for your kids (or anyone else's!) how did you get on? The flikr pool and Pinterest board (search for kcwc community) are full of amazing clothes. Check them out as they are so inspiring and original, and don't forget to pop over to the Kids Clothes Week Blog too.

If like me, you watched The Great British Sewing Bee on BBC2, I expect you have been inspired to start (or rediscover) sewing clothes. Kids clothes are a great place to start as they are quick to finish and usually much simpler than adults clothes. And hopefully the children will be less harsh judges than Patrick and May!

I have to say I'm pretty pleased with what I managed to achieve this time. It's no secret that my ambition far outweighs what is humanly possible in the time available, but I like to give it a good go! You can see my previous Kids Clothes Week challenges here, and here. I think the key to getting as much done as possible is careful planning and spending an evening cutting and prepping. That way I was able to spend the time on the following days just sewing. The idea is to spend an hour a day, but once I got going in the evenings I usually spent more time than that. Which helped make up the time on the evening I went out!

Wiss has been growing almost visibly so I really wanted to concentrate on making him some clothes this time - my aims were trousers, shorts and t-shirts. But as always, I had some gifts for other little people to make too. Baby Belle was born in November but I just hadn't got round to making her welcome sleepsack yet. These are becoming a little bit of a tradition for us: whenever a new baby is born I make a sleepsack from an old band t-shirt that has meaning for the parents. The Tom Jones one can be seen on this post, and I've made The Beatles and The Rolling Stones for some twins!

Baby Belle's parents were/are big indie kids and so her sleepsack of choice was made from a Suede t-shirt. The pattern is from 'Growing Up Sew Liberated' but you can find tutorials on Pinterest too.
>Next up on my list was a birthday present for a Star Wars mad 3 year old. I made these PJs using some Star Wars logo print brushed cotton (found on eBay) and Dana's Kid Pants tutorial. And instead of making a t-shirt from scratch I just customised a super-soft cotton long-sleeved t-shirt with the offcuts of flannel.
Last on my list of things for other children was a birthday present for a 3 year old girl. She likes pretty things and fairies but is definitely not a full-on pink girl (hooray!) so I planned to make her a Warhol Dress. I love these dresses - they're cute, simple and made from an old t-shirt. A perfect upcycling project! But when I went through my box of old t-shirts I found one that would make a great dress with only a few alterations. The plain yoke and band at the bottom stayed but I shortened the main body by about 5cm, cut new armholes, and reattached little puff sleeves.
So finally, by Thursday I was free to start on clothes for my little man! He requested a pair of yellow trousers (EVERYTHING is yellow at the moment!) and the only appropriate fabric I had was some vintage 70's stuff with a faint rib running through it. I used Dana's Kid Pants tutorial again but had a few problems making her pattern for a 2/3 year old bigger for Wiss, which resulted in a very high waistband or a rather saggy bottom! He didn't seem to mind though and wore them to nursery the next day. I added some concealed side pockets as Wiss takes a car or two with him wherever he goes at the moment!
We had an invitation to a Fairy and Elf party at the weekend (for the little girl mentioned above) and although fancy dress wasn't specified I couldn't resist making a simple costume for Wiss. Using a green t-shirt he already had as a base, I simply added felt leaves and twigs onto a striped patch which was sewn to the shirt. I used the leftover leaves and twigs to make a matching cuff and voila! One 'Tree Elf' costume (or Tree-Fu Tom if you prefer!) There's another picture of him on this SecretSunday post
The week was nearly over, and although I had cut out the pieces for a few Raw Edged Raglan t-shirts earlier I hadn't sewn any together. The pattern is from Sewing for Boys and is super-easy to make as it uses unfinished seams on the outside of the shirt. This is perfect for upcycling old t-shirts too, so Wiss will be sporting a few creations that used to be Papa's! I managed to work out how to sew jersey properly on my new(ish) machine (using the walking foot, and a slight zigzag stitch) and was able to knock this out in just over an hour.
I think the Sewing Bee must have rubbed off on me as I was constantly thinking 'I must make my top stitch neat and even', or 'ease the neck band in gently'. And just like some of the contestants, I had problems reading the instructions especially as I was setting myself against the clock. However, as I heard myself swearing and cursing every time I burnt my fingers with the steam as I pressed, or stuck a pin in my finger, I did think that maybe I'm not quite ready for the BBC!!

The week is over for another season, but that doesn't mean that I will stop sewing. I've really enjoyed getting back behind my machine, and getting such quick results is very good for morale. I have a stack of things left to finish for Wiss, and a head full of ideas of things I'd like to make for myself too. I don't think I'm going to be the only one this summer wearing some handmade creations: The Great British Sewing Bee has inspired loads of people to get making.

If you're making something then please let me know - I'll show you mine if you show me yours!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Kids Clothes Week - Spring 2013

So this is just a very quick post to let you all know that I am taking part in the Kids Clothes Week Challenge hosted by Elsie Marley, check out the new KCW blog for all the details.

The idea is simple: work on making some clothes for kids for one hour every day, for a week. The pictures in the Flikr pool are always inspiring, and for extra motivation and encouragement there is a new hashtag on twitter to follow too.

I'm going to be tweeting pictures of my work in progress (@thisiswiss) and hopefully finished garments too, and then I'll do a round-up of everything here on the blog at the end of the week. That should give me more time to actually sew in the evenings!

On my wish-list is trousers and t-shirts for Wiss, but as always there's a couple of birthdays coming up so maybe a little something for the girls too.

Why don't you join in too? The more the merrier and you'll be surprised how much you can achieve, promise!


Sunday, 21 April 2013

The London Marathon 2013

Today was a great day for London, the sun was shining and the eyes of the world were watching.

Having run the marathon myself (see last years post here) I was always planning to be there this year to support the runners. And then came the dreadful news, 6 days ago, of the Boston Marathon bombings. I couldn't believe the reports coming through - attacking the finishing line of a marathon is just the lowest of the low targets. Most participants are running for amazing reasons - personal achievements, overcoming great difficulties, in memory of loved ones, to raise money for worthy causes. And the supporters are all sorts of people: family, friends and often lots of children.

I'm sure you've all read the news reports, 3 people were killed, 180 injured, 1 campus police officer killed, 1 suspect killed and 1 suspect seriously wounded.

I'm guessing many people had reservations this week about turning out to support the London runners. To be honest, my husband wasn't keen on us all going as a family and although I understood his reasons, I felt that my support was needed more than ever. I know just how much the crowds mean to the participants. I wanted to show all the runners that have been training through this terrible winter that it was all worth it and I wanted to show the world that we can't be beaten that easily. "If the bombers were trying to defeat the human spirit they picked the wrong bunch of people to attack"(unnamed quote from Twitter, where else?!)
In the end, we did all go, and so did thousands of others! Our vantage point from Rotherhithe station was just before the 11 mile marker. We got there early in time to see the elite athletes - David Weir, Richard Whitehead, Mo Farah, and then more and more runners. I wished I could have taken more photos but I just couldn't stop clapping and cheering! In amongst them were Iron Man, The Hulk, Batman, Spiderman, a Beer Bottle, a Cockroach, a few Gingerbread Men, a guy in a suit and 3 Borats in just mankinis! I could have stayed all day, it's so hard to walk away when more and more inspirational people keep coming, but we had tested the patience of a 3 year old to it's limit so after 2 hours we had to go.

Congratulations to each and every one of the participants who crossed the finish line today. It was a difficult time to run and we are all super proud of you. I hope all the stiff muscles, aches and blisters don't take away from your amazing achievement: only 1% of the population have run 26.1 miles and you are one of them!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Life is hard. Sewing is Easy.

It feels like it has been absolutely ages since I've blogged, and those of you who follow me on Twitter will probably have noticed that I've not been tweeting as much as either. To say that life has got in the way is a huge understatement.

It feels that our family has just been lurching from one crisis to the next since the end of January. I'll spare you the details, to be honest I don't want to go there and I'm not sure I could find the words, but this little motto I read on Twitter keeps popping into my head, and seems very appropriate:

Life is Hard.
Sewing is Easy.
What with one thing and another, I've not really had the time/energy/inclination to do as much sewing as usual. In fact, I've not made any This is Wiss stock since the Christmas markets! But when my mum was taken into hospital, I felt so helpless that all I could think to do was sew a patchwork lap quilt for her. It helped me to feel like I was doing something on the evenings I wasn't able to visit her, something that would convey how much we love her, something that would bring her comfort, something that could hug her when we couldn't. Crafting really is amazing in that it can do all of these things, and more. It is a wonderful thing that gives equally to both the maker and the recipient. Magic!
The top came together quickly, and I pinned it with the wadding and backing fabric, then it sat, and sat, waiting to be quilted and bound. Again, life got in the way for a few weeks! I finally finished it last week and was in such a hurry to deliver it to mum that I forgot to take the final pictures of it. That just about shows where my head is at the moment, but I promise that I will take some and add them to this post, post-publication.
* I have now taken some better pictures of the quilt, so you can see it properly, and there is another one in this post)



The fabric is the 'Winter Memories' range from Tilda, and is gorgeous blend of fawn, mocha, duck egg blue, pale green, pink and cream.

It felt great to be back behind my sewing machine, so I'm going with it and welcoming the distraction and enjoyment making stuff brings. 'This is Wiss' will be back very soon at a craft fair near you (if you live in South London!) and I'm hoping to make some exciting developments too. But one step at a time...

Thanks for reading and I hope to be back again much sooner than before!