Fleur and Dot Dress

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A quick post about my daughter’s birthday dress! I’ve been making quicker than I can blog recently so I’m going to post a few projects with less waffle. This is made using the Fleur and Dot Peter Pan Collar dress pattern (it’s not quite finished in the above photo!).

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I bought this gorgeous fabric as soon as it came out last year. It’s from the Lavish fabric range by Katarina Roccella. It also comes in a beautiful white and pink colourway. I made a small change to the finishing of the cuffs as I wasn’t happy with having the overlocked edge showing, so I turned the edges over twice for a neater edge instead.

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I cut a size 5 and my daughter just turned 4. She is tall for her age so although it’s a little bit big now I’m happy she’ll get some decent wear out of it. The pattern was straightforward with only a few pieces to cut (bodice, collar, sleeves). The measurements were provided for the skirt. I was a bit unhappy about the very small age ranges provided for a not inexpensive pattern. This was a preschool pattern which came with sizes 4,5 and 6. Infant size and Youth are available separately. I don’t plan to repurchase the Youth size but will probably look for a similar pattern with a wider age range.

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I finally bought a tool for adding the popper fasteners which is a huge improvement to hammering them in with the little plastic tool that’s provided. I did put the buttons in the wrong way round at first though! Luckily my husband was on hand to get them out but I don’t recommend doing this!

Altogether it was a fairly quick sew. I learned a few new skills and am less intimidated by press studs!

Akita Top

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I just subscribed to Seamwork which is a brilliant sewing magazine. The best thing about it that you get two downloadable pattern credits a month, and all the patterns are designed to be quick to make. I have seen lots of these beautiful tops on Instagram and had looked at the link before but didn’t want to pay for the individual pattern. I used one of my credits to get this pattern and the second for the Moji trousers pattern. This is a link to subscribe to Seamwork which will give you the first month for half price, which makes it an even more amazing bargain!

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The fabric is organic cotton voile from the Palos Verdes collection, Cloud 9 fabrics. It is much lighter than most of the clothes I wear but is nice as a layer under a cardigan or for wearing at home instead of a t-shirt.

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I am not a huge fan of bias tape especially as I had to make it myself, but it didn’t actually take a terribly long time. I misunderstood the instructions and had to unpick the seam and the bias tape seams on one side which slowed me right down. I plan to make a couple more of these as I have a lot of one and two yard pieces of fabric in my stash. It is possible to make the top out of one yard of fabric by seaming at the shoulders.

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This is a straightforward pattern and I’m sure my second attempt will be quicker. I’m looking forward to trying more Seamwork patterns soon.

 

Why Muslim women should learn to sew

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I’ve been sewing on and off for about 10 years now and although I still consider myself an adventurous beginner I have found it to be a fulfilling and enjoyable creative process which has brought me a lot of pleasure. I have sewn my own clothes on occasion and many times for my children and feel I’m ready to take the next step and make more clothes for myself.

I’d like to share that process here as well as make it easier for other Muslim women to make their own clothes. I enjoyed watching Rumana‘s stellar performance on Great British Sewing Bee  – with some relief, as a friend applied on my behalf a few years ago and I didn’t make it past the interview stage! I don’t think I could have managed a lot of those challenges, especially in front of a camera. I also realised that there was a lot of interest in sewing and dressmaking, but that many people feel like it’s something that they won’t be able to do themselves.With the explosion of hijab blogging and modest fashion for Muslim women, I’ve often been interested but also feel that it taps into the disposable and commercial nature of fashion blogging – looking for the next thing to keep pulling in readers and continuing to perpetuate the myth of looking perfect and having endless clothes and accessories to wear, which most people can’t aspire to. In addition it occasionally doesn’t fit into the ethos of hijab and being less materialistic, but seems another way to display one’s sense of style. This is not by any means a criticism of all Muslim fashion bloggers, who I am often slightly intimidated by!

For myself, sewing is a creative pastime but is also very practical. I personally believe sewing is an essential life skill, in the sense of being able to hem a skirt or sew on buttons. In addition, there are a lot of other benefits, especially for Muslim women who feel they may have less choice on the high street (although many companies are remedying that – Inayah is my favourite). Here are some thoughts I had on the benefits:

  1. Choice – I hear a lot of people complaining about the length of sleeves,  lack of suitable ankle length skirts or dresses. For example, often the fabric and colour will be perfect but the neckline may be too low, or the dress may have short sleeves or a slit. By choosing to make your own clothes, the ball is in your court.
  2. Quality – By and large the quality of high street clothing is now quite poor compared to what it used to be. A lot of clothes in affordable shops are made of cheap synthetics which lose their shape, bobble or fade quickly. Your £15 could go on a beautiful organic cotton jersey rather than on a polyester blend t shirt.
  3. Ethical concerns – We should all be concerned about where our clothes come from. A friend of mine recently visited a clothing factory in Bangladesh run by a well respected organisation yet there were very young looking children laboriously embroidering clothes in silence. By making our own clothes, the labour involved is not a source of guilt, but a source of satisfaction.
  4. Cost – the cost of high street clothes is going up all the time, while the quality is decreasing. Sewing can be expensive or can save money depending on the fabric you buy, but there are many bargains to be had. I do believe that well made clothes are more equivalent to quality designer wear than the high street, without the price tag.
  5. It’s easy! – OK, haute couture is not easy to achieve but the majority of clothes most people will wear are simple to make. T-shirts, blouses, dresses and skirts are all achievable by beginners with the right pattern. There are also many free sewalongs which walk you through from beginning to end, making it even easier. You can also easily achieve much nicer finishes, such as French seams.
  6. Tailored to you – for me,  being shorter than your average European, shopping is often frustrating as sleeves and hems are too long, the waist is in the wrong place or pockets are too low for comfort. You can make clothes to fit you, rather than a standard size.
  7. Slow fashion – by making your own clothes, you appreciate the effort and work that went into them and treat them with more respect. While it’s not practical to assume you will make all your own clothes, throwaway fashion becomes less acceptable.

Convinced? I will be posting some patterns that are hijab friendly or easily adapted to be shortly. In the mean time, please use the hashtag #hijabisewist on Instagram or Twitter so we can find your posts!

 

Kids Clothes Week: Mustard Paris Skirt

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I managed to miss the last KCW – even though I knew it was happening there was far too much going on at that time to even think about sewing! It’s still fairly hectic here but KCW always gives me a bit of momentum..its also very satisfying to be able to get a small useful item done in a short space of time. 

I had to abandon my first KCW project – a cord polka dot jumper dress, as one of the fabric pieces has mysteriously disappeared into thin air and there isn’t enough to cut another. Hopefully it will appear before the end of the week, but I have given up searching for it now to preserve my sanity! 

This morning I pulled out a mustard coloured cotton which I bought on Etsy a while ago, and decided to make a skirt. I had pinned the Paris skirt tutorial a few days ago and it seemed like it would work with the fabric so used that. The little bit of maths at the beginning is very simple and makes it so easy to customise the skirt – my daughter was asleep so I estimated her waist size and the final skirt turned out to be a good fit with a bit of room to grow. 

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will have to remember to cut those thread before photographing next time! 

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I have some plans for tops to match this skirt – a lovely white and red polka dot Nani Iro double gauze and a charcoal floral print. I’m sure I’ll be making more of these skirts too – I think it would be great in a floral cord or quilting cotton too.

Book Review : Labour of Love

I have recently purchased Lullaby Knits by Vibe Ulrike Sondergaard, after seeing Labour of Love at Loop last year. Labour of Love caught my eye with its beautiful cloth bound cover and vintage style photography, and most importantly, wonderful patterns.

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The patterns are mostly intermediate to advanced, although there are a few simpler patterns that an ambitious beginner could try.

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The pattern on the right is my favourite in the book – the textured yoke and rows of cabling are time consuming but will result in a stunning piece of work that will be treasured.

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The cardigan below is also beautiful, the lace pattern and edging are delicate but it still looks warm and practical. The little model is sweet too!

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This feather and fan jacket is also a pretty piece which would look lovely and work up quickly.

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There are several shawls in the book as well including this mohair scarf.

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Not all the patterns are to my taste however, such as the loopy waistcoat and a couple of the skirts, but overall this book represents amazing value for the quality of the designs and the presentation. It would be an ideal gift for a knitter with a little girl. My only reservation at the time was that the patterns were sized for 3-8 year old girls, so it would be a long time before my daughter would fit into anything! Lullaby Knits is therefore perfect for me at the moment as the patterns are for babies up to 2 years old.

Voile Bubble Romper

ImageI made this little playsuit for my daughter a few weeks ago. The weather was incredibly hot at the time and I thought the voile would make a beautiful, lightweight garment that would keep her cool. By the time it was finished though, the the sun had disappeared entirely and has only just come out again! I made a 9-12 month size which is a bit roomy but not so big she can’t wear it.  The fabrics  are both cotton voiles by Amy Butler and Joel Dewberry.  I used pearl press studs for the crotch closure. 

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I used the Sis Boom Carly Reversible Bubble Romper pattern to make the playsuit. This is a great PDF printable pattern, which comes with several options for sleeves. I must admit to being a bit intimidated when I realised the PDF was 30+ pages long! However, this is mainly because she provides highly detailed instructions and illustrations for each step. An added advantage is that you could use the pattern to make a dress instead by simply lengthening the pattern and cutting straight acoss the bottom edge, which makes it even more versatile. 

Here are a few photos of the playsuit in action:

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Camping

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We’ve just returned from our first ever camping trip! We went to The Secret Campsite, a beautiful site in Sussex. The owner, Tim, has done a fantastic job at making the site feel private, with  wildflowers and grass allowed to grow tall between each pitch. Although the campsite was fully booked, from our tent we couldn’t see anyone at all.

I did go a bit overboard with trip planning considering it was just for 2 nights, but having all the right equipment and preparing food in advance definitely helped to make things go smoothly. I did manage to forget to take a sharp knife though, so we ended up slicing bread etc with a very blunt plastic knife!

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I also decided we absolutely needed some bunting and a picnic mat, so managed to make these in 3 days before the trip. The picnic mat was made mostly with Anna Maria Horner’s Good Folks fabrics and a laminated cotton backing (Summer Totem from Loulouthi collection). It measured approx 55″ square. Due to lack of time, I didn’t bind the edges or quilt it but might tie the quilt when I get the chance. I also made bunting using the same fabric. The 2 2.5m bunting garlands went round the living area of the tent nicely.

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The weather was great when we arrived but we woke up to pouring rain and fairly strong winds on Saturday which left us feeling a bit apprehensive about the rest of the trip, however it cleared up enough for us to take a long walk down a disused railway path where we saw rabbits, frogs, bright blue dragonflies and a field of cows.

Unfortunately I didn’t take my SLR to save space but think I will take it next time as the scenery was so beautiful. I’m already planning our next trip!

Kids Clothes Week : Star Pyjamas

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I finished these this morning – another quick and easy project. These are the pyjama bottoms from Sewing for Boys. I made them before and I love the fact they have extra length in the hem – my son is still wearing the ones I made a year ago! The flannel fabric really stands up well to repeated washing. 

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We just had time for a couple of quick snaps before school – these were taken before folding the hem. The pattern says to use bar tacks but I find it neater to just hand sew the inside of the hem after folding. I also used my overlocker to finish the edges then sewed 1/4″ either side of the seam to make a more durable hem. 

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Kids Clothes Week : Geranium Dress

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I made this little dress as part of Kids Clothes Week 2013, hosted over on this blog. As I mentioned previously, I always miss out on KCW but this time I was ready and prepared and have got off to a flying start!

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The pattern is the beautiful Geranium dress by Made by Rae. The construction is simple, with only 3 pattern pieces, so it is a great pattern for an advanced beginner. Rae gives lots of detail (and plenty of photos) in the instructions so its very easy to follow. I didn’t make any changes (I made Dress B) but in order to get a neat finish on the waist, I basted my lining after pinning so I could take the pins out before sewing in the ditch on the outside. I also basted a line of stitching to mark the hemline so I could make sure I had a neat and straight hem.

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These buttons are simple but have a nice art deco shell detail. Buttonholes are not my strong point but they turned out ok. My Pfaff machine has a really simple method of doing the buttonholes so its just a matter of ensuring they are all the same size (which they nearly are!).

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The fabric makes it really special – its an Indian block printed fabric from Lulu and Nat. The colours and details in the print are wonderful, it looks so summery! They have a great selection of ready made bedding and other items too.

I have lots of other projects to get through, the weather is lovely though so I’m not sure I’ll manage them all!