People presume as I am 'The Crafty Lass', I can do it ALL. Everything - ALL the crafty things. Well... I can't!
I cannot sew a zip. Although I can easily sew on a button, I do not know how to sew a button hole. I think there is a setting on my beloved sewing machine to even do it for me - but I wouldn't know, because I haven't even tried!
I have made 'baby bibs' before, and lots and lots of bunting, tried some fairly complicated makes before like lined Christmas stockings - but just nothing that required a 'pattern'. So, it's a confidence thing. People often ask and presume I can and do make my own clothes - the honest I answer is I would LOVE to - but I don't, as I haven't got a clue where to start! Even the word 'pattern' - eeek, isn't it complicated?! Well, I suppose if I've never tried... how would I know?
Inspired by some of the amazingly talented Craft Cotton Co bloggers I work with and of course, The Great British Sewing Bee, I wanted to give something a go. It would need to be super simple, yet test me!
I decided to make something for 'bump'. As apparently... there is a baby there! I cannot quite get my head around that; that there will be another beautiful little person arriving in the next couple of months. I did the same with Freddie. Yes, I know I am expecting - and yes, I am getting bigger everyday (and it isn't just biscuits) and, yes I know there will be an actual baby, but it is sometimes weirdly hard to connect the two!
So, what to make? I sought advice and suggestions from my fellow bloggers - and from lots of ideas - "baby shorts" and the word "easy" stood out. A few commented that OF COURSE I could do it - so with confidence at a small high on the dressmaking front, I thought would give it a go...
I had a rare morning free whilst little man was at nursery - and although I could have easily done another 101 things like chores, various work related things, or sleep, I thought I would give the shorts a go while it was fresh in my mind. I hunted down a basic pattern - which in hindsight (ha, now knowledgeable?!) I don't think was particularly good as the back is the same size as the front and surely you need it to be slightly larger to, erm - contain that cute little bottom and nappy too?! Anyway - I forged on and decided I would be learning no matter how they turned out.
I had picked out some cute little circus print fabric from Craft Cotton Co from Hobbycraft and actually, although I needed 2 x 'emergency' calls to Bernadette (fellow Craft Cotton Co Blogger) ... I DID IT! And, I really, really enjoyed myself. It WAS easy - IF and only if, you know how. They may not be 'perfect' in that I am sure the inner seams would be better and stronger if I owned and used an overlocker - and I am sure that Patrick from The Great British Sewing Bee would have his tape measure out checking the two leg lengths - and, the print pattern doesn't quite match up on the legs, but - they 'work'! It is a lovely little print design and - with a baby, I am pretty sure he will wear them for 2 seconds flat before requiring a change of clothes anyway!!!
Most importantly, I gave it a go. I did enjoy myself. They do actually look like shorts! I learnt. I learnt how to read a (albeit basic!) pattern. I learnt how to construct a garment together. And, how to insert elastic!
Buoyed by my new found skills, I decided to look for another new challenge. I delved into The Bramble Patch, Weedon and all their lovely fabrics - and inspired: bought some new Makower, Moda, Northcott and Camelot fabric designs (as I needed more fabric, right?) and decided to get stuck into a baby sun hat! This even included something called 'interfacing'!? As our little one is due at the start of Summer - and I had been looking round to buy a cute little mini sun hat anyway, I thought... why not MAKE one!
Once I worked out that the pattern was simpler than it sounded, I was away! I had constructed the whole thing in around 3-4 hours and although I have since realised the hat is for a 6-12 month old baby, and he won't be able to wear it this Summer anyway (!), but again - I have learnt! And, he'll be able to wear it NEXT summer when he is by then, 1. Not that I am wishing time away... And to be honest, I am sure that he COULD wear it this year - he just might look abit daft with it being too big - but it would at least protect his little delicate skin!
So, I am not sure what the next dressmaking challenge will be - but, I am rather partial to a cute little baby dungaree... I just need to find the right pattern and potentially it will include buttonholes so that will be another new skill learnt! Not sure I will be applying for The Great British Sewing Bee yet, but I can just continue to learn, one step at a time. And, I am not sure I will have time for much sewing from June onwards - I think I may be quite baby busy by then!
Sometimes, I get an idea in my head – and that’s it, the idea HAS to be done. It doesn’t matter whether that is going to take me all day and all night (and then all day and all night again) to complete whatever hair brained challenge I have set myself, or whether it is something with a long-term plan – it will go on ‘the list’.
The husband does laugh, as he is aiming to be ‘paperless’ – using apps to write lists, schedule and remember tasks, whereas I HAVE to have my notebook. And it is currently an Anthropologie notebook that says ‘the best is yet to come’ and, my bright, happiness bringing, lime green Lamy fountain pen. So specific! However, writing everything down in that notebook that needs to be done that day, week, month, year – it makes me focus! I cross off what has been achieved and I remember what I need to be doing next. Heaven forbid if it ever got lost!
My ‘crazy’ crafty ideas often surface at about 2am when up resettling our little man whilst trying to stay awake in the bit once he is asleep, but I cannot leave the room. The trouble is, I then can’t stop thinking about it – so I drift off again at 3am still wondering about things like ‘but how would I make that?’ or ‘I wonder if Hobbycraft sell X, Y, and Z’ – ‘maybe I could get there tomorrow somehow…’
That is precisely what happened with World Book Day.
A simple poster spotted at nursery – a reminder to come as your favourite book character on Thursday 7th March - World Book Day!
Well, challenge accepted.
First I was thinking, what do we already have that could be worn and fit in to one of his many favourite book themes? Or, could maybe be slightly tweaked? Then, out of nowhere came the idea that I could try and replicate The Very Hungry Caterpillar Butterfly… Well, once it was in my head – there was no going back. I had set myself my own high standard challenge and I HAD to make it. I started to think about all the colourful fabrics we had in the studio and how I could incorporate lots of prints and patterns to try and match the beautiful and eclectic drawings in the Eric Carle iconic children’s book.
In the morning, I measured our little man to see if I could then make the wings to his ‘full height’, like the illustrations. I raided the remnants bin, and started to cut the shapes out. Effectively, trying to 'draw' with fabric.
It soon became apparent I had set myself quite a task to cut and applique on all the different shapes, colours and patterns, but I was enjoying myself… and isn’t that kind of the point with craft?!
As the day and then evening wore on, the first wing began to take shape – and I could see how big it was going to be! I started to wonder if the wings really could be worn by a toddler… As much as they would match his height – maybe they would be just a pain for him to carry round? (That’s if I could even get him to put them on!)
Evening 1 = 1 wing completed. One to go…
The beauty of the amazing artwork in The Very Hungry Caterpillar – is they are so unique, and the two sides of the butterfly don’t match! So, I could be creative with what fabrics to pick and choose for each side.
Evening 2 = 2nd wing. Done!
Once the wings were now initially made, the next challenge was how to make them into something that could actually be worn. I thought about ribbons to pull around the shoulders. But, they would likely slip off the shoulders. So then, maybe attaching them to an outfit could work? But as I wanted them to be worn by either toddler, or likely adult, it needed to be something flexible.
The next day, off to Hobbycraft we went... elastic! – I suddenly thought about how fairy wings are assembled – and decided I would make a central panel to attach the wings to, and some elastic loops to swiftly enable the wings to be taken on and off as and when pleased!
I also found some Vilene fabric interfacing. Normally used for things like curtain pelmets – but it was perfect! This could be attached to the fabric wings to make them stiff, and essentially make the design stick out like actual wings! I also picked up some really bright blue felt – lovely and soft, and a nice plain contrast to the rather crazy ‘front’, to put on the back behind this new interfacing.
Evening 3. I lay out the fabric wings on to the interfacing and backing felt, then sewed around the edge and then basically just trimmed to the shapes required!
Evening 4. The final evening (also note, the night before World Book Day so it had to get finished come hell or high water!) I made a small and simple rectangular panel out of some coordinating fabric, with elastic loops tucked inside to allow the arms to go through. I also used some more of the interfacing inside to make this panel nice and strong – before simply sewing the edges of the wings on to it. DONE!
It really isn’t my ‘finest’ of sewing – most of the fabrics have ‘raw’ edges, and there are places where it could be improved – but does it really matter? It hopefully looks like the book, it will hopefully bring little man some joy - and importantly, I really did enjoy making them!
I then did honestly proceed to wear them round the house for about an hour – for no reason other than because I could! Within this hour, I also tried to work out what I could do if he wouldn’t wear the wings. I mean, in all honesty – no secret about it, I would love to wear them for nursery drop off – but it would actually mean he didn’t have a costume! And, I am not sure the point of all of this, is for the Mummy and Daddy's to be dressed up, but the kiddiwinks not!!!
Aha – well, I found his green trousers, and we definitely have a green stripey top. Perfect for a little caterpillar. AND THEN – I remembered (and then very handily FOUND!) that we were given a Very Hungry Caterpillar hand knitted hat for when he was a baby. Would it fit?! Unlikely but I could give it a go if needed in the morning…
World Book Day.
I asked little man to try on the wings – he looked at me like I was crazy but did let me put them on him. What he actually wanted to do was take them off and look at all the colours! He looked so lovely with these huge colourful prints emerging from his beautiful tiny body. But, within 5 minutes – they were off. I put them on, and he laughed – so, if it made him smile – that I suppose was worth it in all reality – who cares who wore them. He was happy.
Into the green 'outfit' for him, and by some crazy knitted-stretchy miracle, the found Very Hungry Caterpillar baby hat did indeed (just!) fit!
So, we rocked up to nursery with him as a caterpillar, and me as the butterfly. It kind of worked! #teamwork
I left the wings at nursery for staff to use for the day if they wanted, and apparently lots of the children liked all the colours and textures on them! 🙂
So, that is it for this year, World Book Day – done! It has been crossed off 'the list'.
The trouble is, I have now set a precedent. What will I make next year?!
In the meantime, at the point of collecting him from his day at nursery, the World Book Day costume sign had come down – and a new one put up in it’s place.
'Dress as a Disney character – Friday 15th March!'
I had best get my thinking cap on…