The Lionheart Nightgown (Simplicity 1504): my latest Minerva Make

Just a quick post to link to my latest make (Simplicity 1504) for the Minerva Blogger Network, and this time it’s an unselfish make for my gorgeous girl, Daisy. Who is going to be a teenager tomorrow. Eeek! I’m feeling really old now…

Lionheart nightgown Simplicity 1504

The story behind why she needs a button front nightie is up on the blog post (clue: it involves impending heart surgery) along with a fairly detailed post about the pattern. I really enjoyed making this one up, and it’s one of those patterns that fits from Gabriel’s age to adult, so I’m sure I’ll get more of these made. The pj version for Gabriel, natch. Although I’d totally make him a nightshirt if he wanted one. I’ve made them for my dad before, after all.

The fabric is definitely worth a mention as I’ve never worked with cotton broadcloth before, but it’s absolutely lovely stuff! Seriously, I want to sew with this all the time. I want shirts made out of it. And summer dresses. Maybe even a nightshirt of my own.

Right, I’m struggling to write this with a snotty baby on my lap and an equally snotty pre-schooler asking me if monkeys have red tails, so that’s it for now. I’ll be back with more finished makes soon, though. I’m building up quite the backlog!

xx

PS, there might be a style analysis post too. I’m getting seriously into reading all I can about different systems. I think it’s to make up for the fact I have little sewing time, but plenty of time sitting up in the middle of the night feeding a baby. Hooray for smartphones and 24 hour wifi!

The Not-So-Boring Black Dungaree Dress

Hello everyone!

I’m just swinging by because I realised I still haven’t linked last month’s Minerva make, and my next one will be up in the next few days! No, there really isn’t much time or headspace to sit at the computer and get on with this sort of thing these days. Children. They’re cute, but they’re smelly and steal all your time.

Anyway, last month’s make is this gorgeous (if plain) black twill Cleo dress, which I’ve been wearing loads as none of my old Cleos fit me at the moment. You can find out more details over on Minerva’s site: https://www.minervacrafts.com/blogger-network/post/the-not-so-boring-black-dungaree-dress

I’ve been sewing when I get the chance (finished my first bra–so proud!) and doing plenty of wardrobe planning. I had myself the perfect little autumn/winter capsule planned using patterns from my stash and have bought most of the fabric I need. Then I discovered the Kibbe types and they made a lot of sense to me. I reckon I’m a classic face on a dramatic body, which explains why dramatic (and dramatic classic) clothes look great on me, but the necklines are sometimes too harsh. I think I can get away with classic and probably even some soft classic necklines (like sweethearts and cowl necks) so long as the rest of my outfit is pretty dramatic in style/colour. It’s got me thinking about my capsule plans anew, particularly in terms of necklines and knitwear. It’s also got me wondering if I should rejig my rockabilly librarian style board…

Hopefully I’ll find time to do a more detailed post on this soon (and blog some more of the things I’ve been sewing), but until then, anyone else gone down the Kibbe rabbit hole and come up for air?!

Ciao for now!

xx

The Tropical Scout Tee (and a return to blogging!)

Grainline Scout tee in tropical double gauze

Hi there; long time, no blog! I’m not apologising because that’s just the way of life with a newborn. However, Lauren is now four-and-a-half months old, Gabriel is back at nursery and Daisy at school, and finally I’m starting to find a wee bit of time here and there to get back on the computer.

I actually have a fair old backlog of projects to blog, including my first button up shirt for Andy, some cute baby clothes, and a few things for me, as having a tiny baby to look after didn’t actually stop me from sewing. It slowed me right down, admittedly, but for sanity’s sake I managed to find the odd few minutes here and there to sew a seam or do a bit of pressing. I’ve also done a fair bit of knitting too. Yay!

Anyway, first up for sharing is my first Grainline Scout Tee. Yes, I know I’m late to the party with this one, but that’s just the way I roll. Totally unfashionably late! It’s my Minerva Blogger Network post for last month and actually went live on their site weeks ago, but when I went to share it here I somehow managed to break my website. Yep, every single page gave a 500 error. Wah!

After going away and crying for a bit I eventually pulled up my big girl pants and went searching for solutions. I’m not all that techy really (not sure why I didn’t stick to WordPress.com rather than this self-hosting lark, but there we go) but once I figured out what had gone wrong (a bad pinterest plugin) it was remarkably easy to fix. Go me!

So, if you want to find out more about making the Scout tee then head on over to Minerva. The tee was pretty hot off the machine when I wrote it and I’ve since had more time to see how it fits into my wardrobe. At the moment I’m unsure. I’ve worn it a fair bit and love the comfort–I definitely want to sew with double gauze again next summer–but I’m not convinced this print suits me. I’d love to try this top again in a monochrome polka dot print–perhaps in a drapier fabric too to see if the silhouette is more flattering that way.

What do you all reckon? Is this top “me”?

I’ll be back in a few days with another Minerva make. Until then, what are you working on at the moment? And have you ever sewn with double gauze?

Me Made May – my thoughts on 2018’s challenge

#mmmay18

This was my third year of taking part in Me Made May, and probably the most challenging yet, what with having a baby part way through! Yes, I’ve had to deal with going from a pregnant belly to a post-baby body, and was already struggling with a very limited selection of clothing that fit me, let alone me-made clothing that fit.

This was my pledge:

‘I, Anna of annajosews.com (@anna_jo_sews), sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’18. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made item (garment or accessory) each day during May 2018. I also want to spend the month assessing which of my clothes will work for life with a newborn, and to plan a breastfeeding-friendly capsule wardrobe to sew for the summer.’ 

In the end I did fulfil the pledge, with the exception of the day I gave birth when I didn’t wear any me-mades at all (but I’d made a baby!). I didn’t get all that many photographs, though, for various reasons I’ll go into. First, though, I’m going to share the ones I did take.

Me Made May Day 1 Erin skirt Meghan Nielsen Patterns

Day 1: the only me-mades here were my striped Erin skirt and a polka dot headband, but I really liked the overall outfit.

Me Made May Day 2 Agnes Neenah dress and Jalie Drop Pocket Cardigan

Day 2: really chilly start to the day, so layered up my Agnes/Neenah dress with a Drop Pocket Cardigan. Not a great look, but it kept me warm!

MeMadeMay2018 day 3

Day 3: Much warmer, so I wore my Amber dress.

MeMadeMay2018 day 4

Day 4: My floral Agnes top got its final outing over the bump! This picture was taken about half an hour before we left for hospital, so please excuse the ropiness.

MeMadeMay2018 day 5

Day 5: I got one last pic of the bump in the hospital garden, while being induced. The weather had turned absolutely roasting! Wearing a self-drafted jersey maxi skirt I’ve never blogged, which I normally only wear around the house as it’s gone quite bobbly. Super comfy, though!

MeMadeMay2018 day 6

Day 6 – no me-mades–just little baby Lauren! This was my most popular post of the month over on Instagram 🙂

MeMadeMay2018 day 7

Day 7- back home, and trialling my Colette Wren dress over my deflating tummy. Really comfy and lovely in the heat, but didn’t cover my bust adequately. Would need an FBA to wear this pattern at the moment!

Day 8 = a bit cooler, so I wore that Drop Pocket Cardigan again, with a me-made jersey scarf.

Day 21 – bit of a jump in time here! I’m wearing my Erin skirt again, with a self-drafted hacci kimono. Also wearing Lauren!

Day 22 – An old broomstick crochet cardigan (pre-blog), with a me-made headscarf.

MeMadeMay2018 day 26

Day 26 – Demonstrating how easy it is to feed Lauren while wearing my pink tee from the Craftsy Sewing with Knits class (affiliate link). Also wearing the Erin skirt again.

So, that was the outfits I documented. The other days I wore pretty much the same mix of garments, which was why I didn’t feel particularly inspired to get photos. But there were other reasons the photos didn’t get taken too. I lost my favourite photo locations, because Andy has been digging up the patio to join in the ensuite in our new bedroom (garage conversion) to the existing waste system. There are slabs up everywhere and quite frankly my entire courtyard is a mess and doesn’t make an attractive backdrop. I could have taken indoor pics by the door and window I usually use (see the first four days above!), but that would have meant tidying the floor and vacuuming. I just didn’t feel much like that with a newborn to look after.

But documenting isn’t what Me Made May is really about. It’s about your relationship with your handmade wardrobe, and for me, sorting my clothes and planning my summer sewing was the most important part of the challenge. I did this bit, and have put all this lot into storage:

Admittedly, the box of winter clothes also contains gloves, hats and scarves belonging to the rest of the family, but I was still amazed at how many of my clothes I can’t currently wear (there’s another under-bed box of too-small clothes, but ones I reckon I’ll fit into first as they’re probably a size UK 12/14 rather than the size 10 that went into the loft). I don’t remember it being this bad after having Gabriel, but I suppose it was winter then, some of the clothes I wore then have worn out and are no longer with me, and much of what I’ve sewn since then is small and close fitting.

This is now the current state of my wardrobe:

The clothes on the right are the ones I can fit into. Those to the left are ones I didn’t want to squash into a box, plus a couple of party dresses that should fit now. Oh, and an unfinished coat project I really should work on this autumn…

That’s not all my clothing. I have scarves and bulky cardigans on the top shelf there, and I keep camis, tees and lightweight cardigans in my bedside drawers, along with undies, lounging clothes and workout gear. Still, I think it’s fair to say that my current selection of clothing I can wear is extremely limited and I’m bored to tears with it all. There’s lots of plain black and very little variety in styles. I’m stuck with a small selection of RTW jersey breastfeeding dresses or camis and maternity skirts. Yay.

Out of interest, I decided to check my current measurements against my pre-pregnancy size, and here they are:

Pre-pregnancy: Full bust 36″, High bust 34″, Waist 29″, Hips 40″, Bra size 34 B/C

Current measurements: Full bust 40″ (+4″), High bust 37″ (+3″), Waist 33″ (+4″), Hips 43″ (+3″), Bra size 36 DD

It’s no wonder not much fits, especially as I tend to favour close-fitting clothing 🙂

I know that this state of affairs won’t last forever. I will get back to my old size (I’ve managed it twice before!) but it’s going to take time and exercise, along with sticking to healthy food and not overdoing the carbs. I’ve just started week one of the Couch to 5k to get me back into running gently, so I reckon I’ll be in the size 12/14 clothes in a month or so, and hopefully back to my old size by the end of the year. Any clothes I make now will need to work for a variety of sizes, or be easily adjusted when I lose weight.

FWIW, I feel I should point out here that there’s nothing wrong with having a “mum tum”, and I know many women never get back to the size they were before having a baby (took me 7 years after Daisy!). However, I would prefer to get back to the size I feel happiest and healthiest at, and I know it’s achievable as I’ve done it before.

Now for the planning part. I’ll admit, I haven’t found time to design the perfect capsule wardrobe for summer, but I have identified a few key items I’ve found myself wishing for when getting dressed:

  • Maxi skirt – I definitely want one in black, in a lightweight swishy woven viscose. I’m thinking a simple elasticated waist would be best. You can get waistband elastic that’s designed to be exposed, and I might go for that. Should be a super fast sew that way! If that goes well, more maxi skirts in patterned fabrics would be great.
  • Dungaree dress – Something lightweight again. Possibly in dark chambray or a deep plum colour. I  like the look of the new pattern from Helen’s Closet, but might draft something myself as money is tight and I hate assembling pdfs.
  • Looser fitting tees – until I lose the baby tum these are what I want to wear! Perhaps just a couple: one plain (plum?) and one striped or polka dotted. I could use the Deer and Doe Plantain tee as that’s close fitted at the top, but looser over the waist and hips.
  • Tropical print kimono – Something lightweight with a colourful but dark background print. For a bit of fun, and an easy way to add some colour to my current all-black outfits. I could draft this myself.
  • Another Amber dress or two – prints, this time! Polka dots, tropical florals, bright colours. Something to cheer me up.

Not sure I’ll get around to sewing all these as time and money are in short supply, but we’ll see. It’s a good exercise in planning, at any rate 🙂

So, that was my Me Made May, and it was fairly challenging! Did you take part? If so, what did you learn about your handmade wardrobe?

 

 

 

 

 

May round-up and June’s sewing plans

May was pretty much dominated by the arrival of the little lovely pictured above! (the baby, not the blanket, although I did finish that too)

If you didn’t catch the news yet, Lauren was born on the 6th, making her just over a month old now. She’s a really sweet baby and most nights she lets me get a reasonable amount of sleep, so I have actually managed to start a bit of sewing again. Woohoo!

I did manage to wear me-mades pretty much every day of Me Made May too, although my photo documenting fell by the wayside after Lauren arrived. I’ll be doing a round-up post soon, though, as I still learnt a fair bit from taking part.

Blogged in May:

Anges maternity top, Eastern Jewels persian tiles crochet blanket

L-R: my final Maternity make, the Dark Floral Agnes Top, and my Eastern Jewels crochet blanket for Lauren.

Sewing done in May:

Vogue V8759 and Eastern Jewels blanket

I knew it was unlikely I’d get much done in May, but I made some progress with Andy’s  Vogue V8759 shirt (the yoke, collar and one sleeve partially finished) so that’s something. And I know it’s not sewing, but I also finished that gorgeous crochet blanket I might have mentioned once or twice already 😛

Money spent: £0.00

Cheapest month yet!

June sewing plans:

Cloth nappies, Satturland Rivers top, maxi skirt, Bucket hat Oliver & S

I want to do some really practical sewing this month, and make myself some washable breast pads (breastfeeding essential) as well as some trial cloth nappies. I made some cloth nappies when Daisy was a baby, but my sewing skills were nowhere near what they are now and I’m sure I could do a much better job this time around. It helps that there are so many more excellent free patterns and tutorials available now, and I still have some supplies to make them (elastic, PUL fabric, fleece fabric). I’m currently using prefold cloth nappies with Lauren, but I much prefer the fitted styles and all-in-one pocket nappies for ease of use and their poo-containing abilities! Making these might sound somewhat dull, but I’m looking forward to it as I love making things that I know will get loads of use and make my life easier 🙂

I’m also going to finish Andy’s shirt (getting there!) and I’m seriously contemplating taking part in this year’s Outfit Along (#OAL2018). I reckon I could find a place in my wardrobe for the knitting pattern, and I would swap the Landers for a self-drafted black maxi skirt, something like the RTW one pictured above but with a better waistband. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to make the Landers, but I’m not going to until I’ve lost the extra inches off my waist, hips and thighs as I know if I make something fitted there now, it will be falling off me by the autumn.

And if for any reason I find myself with more spare time for sewing (ha! I doubt it), I’m going to make Lauren a sun hat using the free pattern I made for Gabriel last year, and some leggings for her too if I can find a suitable pattern (or draft one myself). And I might get going on that Jalie 3131 nursing bra if there’s still more time. It’s all stuff that’s needed, so I’ll see if I can make time somehow. If you know how, do let me in on the secret!

What are you planning to make this month?

Nappy photo credit: MissMessie A Few More via photopin (license)

The 10×10 Wardrobe Challenge: what I learnt from taking part

Okay, I actually wrote this post about taking part in the 10×10 wardrobe challenge last month and thought I’d scheduled it to post automatically, but clearly I didn’t! Then I forgot all about it what with the excitement of Lauren being born, so here it is feeling a bit out of date, but hey, I’m posting it anyway. At the very least, it gives you a few more looks at some of my maternity makes and how I styled them in the final trimester.
10x10 Wardrobe Challenge days 1-5

10x10 Wardrobe Challenge days 6-10

I’ve been thinking about taking part in a 10×10 Wardrobe Challenge ever since I first heard about them. Basically, you take ten items of clothing (not including bags, accessories and outerwear) and try to find new outfits to make out them for a whole ten days. Documenting on Instagram with the hashtag #spring10x10 was I suppose optional, but I imagine most participants did so. This particular challenge ran in early April.

The Challenge was thought up by a couple of fashion bloggers and wasn’t originally aimed at sewists, but a few have started to take part using the extra hashtag #sewist10x10. The original idea was something to do with taking a minimalist approach to creating a capsule wardrobe and focusing on finding new ways to wear your favourite clothes, but I think you can make this challenge your own and use it however you want. You can find an excellent guide post over on the Unfancy blog here, by one of the two creators of the challenge: http://www.un-fancy.com/10×10-wardrobe-challenge/spring-remix-10-items-10-days-10-outfits/

I wanted to use the challenge to get out of a wardrobe rut, as I’d spent most of the winter wearing the same four maternity dresses in rotation. They were all long sleeved with high necklines, and I was getting really sick of them. Also, as the weather was hopefully warming up I wanted to experiment with some of the maternity separates I’d been sewing and find new ways to wear them.

My maternity wardrobe has been kept small by design as I really didn’t want to spend too much time and money on clothing that would only get a few month’s use (this child is definitely my last!). As a consequence I have a fairly boring selection of basics (mostly RTW from the last pregnancy), and I was hoping to find ways to jazz them up and make them feel fresh again.

My 10×10 items

My items were the following, with the number of times I wore each item afterwards:

Me mades:

RTW:

  • Brown Chelsea boots by Earth Spirit – 10
  • Lace cami (maternity) from Red Herring by Debenhams – 2
  • Denim skirt (maternity) from Next – 2
  • Black tie-front bolero cardigan from Wool Overs – 4
  • Black long sleeved top (maternity) from Mamas and Papas – 3

Initially I had chosen two pairs of shoes, but I swapped out the zebra Converse shoes for the lace cami after a few days when I realised it was going to be cold and rainy for the duration. I know it’s not great to wear the same pair of boots day after day as they need an airing, but since I’m in the house in my slippers most of the time I figured it wouldn’t matter too much. Plus they’re the easiest pair of footwear for me to put on at the moment, what with this huge belly getting in the way!

What I learnt from this 10×10 Wardrobe Challenge

  • I need more footwear to suit autumn and spring weather–namely ankle boots or shoes that are okay to wear with socks/tights. I’m thinking a pair of black ankle boots and perhaps a pair of two tone brogues in black and white.
  • This challenge is tricky to do with our typically unpredictable British weather! I normally layer up as much as I can so I can add or remove layers when the temperature changes, but with only ten items to play with it was tricky getting warm enough. I got around this by not including leggings and thermal tops/camis worn underneath others, but I wished I’d included a thick jumper as one of the ten!
  • The tops and skirts I chose were too similar in silhouette to get dramatically different looks with them. That’s partly because I’m not really into the boxy look so most of my tops are close-fitting, and partly because my maternity wardrobe is limited to classics I know I’ll wear lots.
  • I did end up nearly running out of ideas and then tried wearing the Erin skirt over my tops (and even over the dress on the last day). I’m not convinced it’s the best look on me, but it was certainly different.
  • I really appreciated the pops of colour from my purple cardie, the floral top and the scarves I accessorised with. I think you need this when dressing in “boring” basics (ie, mostly black and denim)

Thoughts for next time

  • Three tops with different sleeve lengths and necklines would really help to achieve a variety of looks.
  • A button-up shirt would be a really useful thing to have as one of the ten items, as there are so many ways you can wear them. Buttoned up as a top, open as a shacket, tied at the waist, sleeves rolled up… I’m sure there are more, too! Good thing I plan to get into shirtmaking this year.
  • A sleeveless knit vest would also be really useful for layering. I’m thinking I might need to knit or crochet one.
  • I think those of us with kids probably need to take at least one “laundry day” break, as I find I often can’t wear clothes more than one day in a row as they get child gak all over them. Washing these clothes so I could wear them again was a bit of an extra challenge for me!
  • I could do with getting hold of some more colourful and/or patterned lightweight scarves and warm cardigans–not just for this challenge but for everyday outfit creation. I’ll have to consider whether I’d be better off buying or making these.

***

I’m definitely interested in taking part in a 10×10 Wardrobe Challenge again, and they seem to run twice a year (spring and autumn). However, it’s the kind of thing you could do just for your own interest at any point. It’s like a mini Me Made May, with a really sharp focus on creating a capsule wardrobe.

I’ll leave you with a pic of my fave outfit from the ten days, and I think it’s no coincidence it’s one of the most colourful!:

Would you take part in this challenge with your me-mades?

The Eastern Jewels Heirloom Crochet Blanket… and the baby I made it for!

Eastern Jewels crochet Persian Tiles Blanket Janie Crowfoot
Welcome to the world, Little Lauren!

Yes, I finally finished two projects: making the Eastern Jewels crochet blanket and gestating my third child! Lauren was born on the 6th May and is a gorgeous, sweet-tempered and healthy baby. Not gonna lie, it was my toughest labour yet as she’d swivelled into a back-to-back position at the last minute without anyone realising, and I had to be induced with only gas and air as a painkiller. In the end the consultant had to tug her out with a ventouse cup. But look, what a cutie!

Baby Lauren

Anyway, difficult labour aside, she’s here now and that’s what’s important. And so is her blanket! You can read the details of that make over on the Minerva Blogger Network here.

Eastern Jewels crochet Persian Tiles Blanket Janie Crowfoot

I used the Stylecraft Eastern Jewels Blanket Pack (affiliate link), and I can thoroughly recommend this pattern even for relative beginners to crochet. It looks incredibly complex, but is actually based on a very small number of simple stitches so if you’ve made a granny square, you can make this! It just takes a long time, but you’ll have mad crochet skills by the time you’ve finished! Hop on over to the Minerva post for all the deets.

I’m going to be back tomorrow with my write up of the 10×10 wardrobe challenge I did back in April, and then again in a few days with my monthly update post. And probably a Me Made May post too. I have so many ideas, and so little time to bring them to fruition!

Until then, happy stitching!

Anna-Jo x

The Dark Floral Maternity Agnes Top

Floral Tilly and the Buttons Agnes Maternity Top

This is now my third time making up the Maternity Agnes pattern from Tilly and the Buttons,  but it’s my first time making it as a top. You can find my previous dress versions here and here. The photos were taken back in early March, but this still fits perfectly over my huge “almost there” bump.

I feel like I’ve already said much of what I want to say about this pattern already in those two posts, but there was one thing I did a bit differently this time around. I’d noticed a drag line between the armscye and bust in my last two versions, but wasn’t sure what to do about it other than some kind of complex full bust adjustment, which I didn’t really feel like figuring out as I have never had to do an FBA before!

But after reading a post on the regular Agnes top by Sew Becky Jo, I realised that the problem might actually be with the large armscye, as a lot of people seem to have the same issue with the Agnes top (whether they’ve noticed or not).

I thought back to my TNT fitted knit top, the Knit Sweetheart Top from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual, and looked at pictures to confirm I didn’t get that crease/fold with Gertie’s pattern. Then I compared the two paper patterns and sure enough, the armscye on Gertie’s pattern is significantly higher and smaller. It’s not the easiest thing to spot seams in this fabric, but you might be able to see how high the underarm seam is below.

So this time instead of just hacking on the neckline from the Knit Sweetheart Top, I went for the whole upper portion of that pattern including the sleeves. I think this has worked as I now have a much better fit both in the armpit and the bust. I didn’t actually bother with retracing a pattern as I figured this is the last time I’m likely to make the maternity version, so I simply cut the fabric for the Gertie bodice down to just below the bust, then laid the Agnes pattern over the top and carried on cutting with that version. There was probably a little blending/grading at the join, but it’s been such a time since I made this I can’t remember which pattern was the larger!

The only other thing that made this more of a challenging make for me was the fabric I used. Now don’t get me wrong–I adore this fabric and it’s incredibly soft and comfortable to wear… But (you sensed there was one coming, didn’t you?!) it’s not the easiest to sew. I picked it up from the Girl Charlee stall at the Great British Sewing Bee Live last year, as I’ve been wanting to work more bold florals into my wardrobe. The colours really appeal, although yellow isn’t something that suits my skin tone at all. However, this minimal amount of yellow mixed in with the black and turquoise really works, I reckon.

So, the fabric looks and feels gorgeous, but boy, it does not want to co-operate on the cutting table or under the machine. It’s a rayon/spandex/cotton blend with significant 4 way stretch. The drapey rayon combined with all that lycra made it shift about like crazy. I had to cut on the single layer with my rotary cutter (which I usually do with knits anyway), and put tissue underneath while sewing seams or the lightweight fabric got sucked down into the machine. I also had to use lightweight stretch interfacing strips on the neckline band and the hems to stabilise them.

I’m just glad I’ve had plenty of experience sewing viscose and stretch knits, but if you haven’t I wouldn’t recommend this fabric. Not unless you’re a bit of a sewing masochist and want to stretch your skills, that is! That said, it is beautiful to wear and I’m really glad I went for it. Often the fabrics I love wearing are the biggest bastards to sew.

I’m really happy with the finished top and have worn it loads. Originally I thought I might hack it down to shorter sleeves once the warm spring weather hit, but we’ve had such a cold spring I’ve needed that sleeve length! At first I thought I’d only be able to wear it with my plainer bottoms, like a denim skirt, jeans and a black pencil skirt. But then I remembered a fabric I love with a floral on a b&w polka dot background, and figured why not try it with my polka dot maternity skirt? I’m so glad I did as I love the combination, and it’s given me more confidence with print mixing, which can only be a good thing.

One of the things I really like about this top is the generous length. It fits nice and snug under the bump, which means there’s no risk of those awful top bands on my maternity jeans and denim skirt peeking out from underneath. It also covers up the maternity support belt I’ve been wearing while walking for this last month. I didn’t go for the optional ruching cords included in the Agnes instructions as I figured this fabric was probably too lightweight and tricky to make them work, but it turns out they haven’t been necessary in a fabric with excellent recovery like this one.

This is one of those maternity makes I love so much I’m planning on refashioning so it has life after pregnancy. It should be simple enough to let out the side seams, remove the ruching and the extra length on the front, and then redo the seams and hem. I didn’t do my usual neckline treatment with the pleats to turn it into a sweetheart neckline as I thought there was probably enough going on with this fabric as it was, but I might consider adding those for life after maternity. We will see…

 

The deets

Pattern: Tilly and the Buttons Maternity Agnes Top frankenpatterned with the upper portion of the Knit Sweetheart Top from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual (affiliate link)

Size: Complicated! Size 3 waist from the Tilly pattern, graded to a 4 hip, and a size 6 for the top portion.

Fabric: This gorgeous viscose cotton spandex blend floral fabric from Girl Charlee UK.

Modifications: The frankenpatterning, obviously.

Time to sew: 1 hour 37 mins  (this doesn’t include pattern tracing, cutting out, threading up machine, trying on for fit purposes, and general waffling!)

Costing: 

  • Pattern: £2.38 (originally £7.13 in Black Friday sale, but used three times)
  • Fabric: £12 for 1.5m (special GBSB Live discount price)
  • Notions: £0
  • Total: £14.38

What do you reckon: would you mix florals and polka dots like this?

Disclaimer: some of the products linked above use affiliate links, meaning if you follow the link and make a purchase I will receive a small referral fee (at no added cost to you). Any extra income to help fund my sewing habit is greatly appreciated, but rest assured I only recommend products I love and think you might find useful too 🙂

April round up and May’s sewing plans

Spring cherry blossom

Ah April, you’ve been a funny month. We had a surprise scorching hot weekend, but then it went straight back to cold, windy and rainy. Very disappointing spring this year, it must be said. On the plus side, since I can’t really sunbathe at the moment anyway (can’t lie on my front or my back!) or do much gardening (bending over hurts!) I suppose I haven’t missed much. At least I’ve had plenty of time inside to get on with sewing and crocheting.

I also took part in the #spring10x10 wardrobe challenge over on Instagram, which I’ll be posting about here later this week, I hope. It was an interesting experience and definitely got me thinking about wardrobe gaps.

Blogged in April:

Kinder cardigan and V8888 dressing gown robe

L-R: The Disco Kinder Cardigan and the Lesser-Spotted Dressing Gown

I also blogged my Me Made May pledge here.

Sewing done in April:

Vogue men's shirt and Eastern Jewels Persian Tiles motifs

L-R: A Vogue Patterns V8759 shirt for Andy, and my crochet Persian Tiles Blanket

You’ve already seen the dressing gown, which took longer than I anticipated to make. Before that I spent a week or so working on cutting out and fitting Andy’s new shirt. It’s not finished by any stretch of the imagination (just the torso tacked together at the moment), but it hopefully will be very soon.

I’ve also spent plenty of time with my feet up, crocheting away at the Eastern Jewels colourway (affiliate link) of Janie Crowfoot’s Persian Tiles Blanket. It’s been such a fun project!

Money spent: £40.03

Patterns: £0 , Haberdashery: £40.03 , Fabric: £0

Haberdashery splurge inc Simflex gauge and buttonhole chisel

 

Yep, after a few months of spending next to nothing I decided to use some of my birthday/Christmas money to treat myself to a few bits and pieces to make my sewing life easier–especially for the projects I have coming up (shirtmaking!). From Jaycotts I bought:

  • One of those Simflex gauges for spacing buttonholes I’ve been coveting for ages.
  • A handy little hem gauge (I love this so much already! Do they make them in metric, I wonder?).
  • Another water erasable marking pen in white (my blue one doesn’t work on dark fabrics).
  • Some beeswax in a holder for treating thread for handsewing.
  • And some more Fray Check liquid because my last lot went cloudy and gloopy after many years of good service.

I also ordered a couple of things from eBay sellers: a loop turner (where have you been all my sewing life?!) and a small buttonhole chisel.

I’m really pleased with these purchases as they’re things I’ve wanted for a while, and I know they’ll all get used plenty over the next few months. Assuming I find any time to sew, that is!

May sewing plans:

May sewing and crochet plans

I’m keeping my plans for May pretty minimal, as I know I’ll be having a baby at some point in the next eight days. If I can finish Andy’s shirt and the crochet blanket I’ll be a happy bunny. I think I might also cut another short-sleeved nursing top using the Megan Nielsen Amber pattern, as I have plenty of stashed jersey I could use. Whether I’d then get it sewn up is anyone’s guess…

What are you planning to make this month?

The Lesser-Spotted Dressing Gown – Vogue V8888 pattern review

Vogue V8888 Dressing gown robe spotty viscose challis

Last week I had another make up on the Minerva Blogger Network: this gorgeous polka dot dressing gown from Vogue Patterns (V8888).  You can find out more about this make over on their blog–it was a complicated sew in some ways (blame the viscose challis!), but I had a lot of fun paying attention to giving it a fine finish with lots of French seams and couture touches.

I haven’t actually had any opportunity for wearing this just yet as the weather took an unwelcome turn for the cold again, but I’m sure it’s going to come in useful over the summer. Assuming we actually get a summer in England this year…

I’ll be posting again this week, I hope, with my final maternity make I keep promising: an Agnes top in a gorgeous dark floral jersey from Girl Charlee UK. Better get it done quick before I have this baby!

Ciao for now, peeps!

The Kinder Cardigan goes DISCO!

Kinder Sequinned Cardigan Wendy Ward Sewing with Knitted Fabrics

This week I’m finally able to share a make from January with you–the popular Kinder Cardigan–as my post for the new Wendy Ward book (A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics – affiliate link) has gone live over on the Minerva site. Go and check it out if you want to find out more about both the cardie and the book as a whole 🙂

https://www.minervacrafts.com/blog/product-reviews/the-kinder-sequinned-cardigan

I did try to wear my cardie today but the weather got too hot, too quickly. We seem to have gone straight from winter to summer–just last week everyone was wearing coats and scarves and today it was all shorts and flip flops! I’m sure the cardie will get some wear over the spring and summer, though, even if only in the evenings.

I’ll be blogging another Minerva make next week–a gorgeous summer dressing gown (Vogue V888) in polka dot viscose challis. Just got to finish off making it and work out how to insert inseam pockets in a French seam!

Here’s a sneak peek of it on my cutting table:

Adios, amigos x

Me Made May 18 – my pledge

#mmmay18

I wasn’t sure if I’d be taking part in Me Made May this year–after all, my due date is May 9th so I’d be spending part of the month heavily pregnant, then giving birth, then dealing with a newborn (plus a three-year-old and a twelve-year-old). Let’s face it, I probably don’t need any more pressure!

But then I remembered how much I’ve enjoyed the challenge the last couple of years, and that it’s a personal pledge with no obligations to up the ante each year. I’m keeping my pledge really simple, and hoping it will encourage me to spend just a little time on myself each day (easy to forget to do with a newborn around) and to help plan my summer sewing.

Here, then, is my pledge:

‘I, Anna of annajosews.com (@anna_jo_sews), sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’18. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made item (garment or accessory) each day during May 2018. I also want to spend the month assessing which of my clothes will work for life with a newborn, and to plan a breastfeeding-friendly capsule wardrobe to sew for the summer.’ 

I’ll be going through all my clothes and packing away clothes that I won’t be able to wear for the time being, sorting them into the following five categories:

  • Maternity clothes that can be altered for future non-maternity use.
  • Maternity clothes for donating to a charity shop.
  • Dresses with no nursing access (to be reviewed when no longer breastfeeding)
  • Out of season clothes (to be reviewed in the autumn)
  • Clothes that currently don’t fit (to be reviewed when I’m back to my pre-pregnancy size)

In previous years I’ve managed to get a photograph of my outfit each day, but that might not happen this year. However, I’m hoping I can at least get a quick selfie most days, even if it is with a sleeping baby on my lap! I’ll share those on Instagram, and do some kind of round-up post here at the end, although it probably won’t be as comprehensive as my posts in previous years have been (here’s the final posts for 2016 and 2017).

Right, that’s me. Are you taking part in Me Made May this year? If so, what are your goals?

March round-up and April’s sewing plans

Dandelions in a glass

After a pretty rubbish start to my sewing year, I feel I’ve managed to regain my sew-jo this last month–and just in time for the end of pregnancy when I really don’t want to be sewing myself any more clothes to fit the bump–doh! You can see last month’s plans here, and I didn’t do too badly with them, all things considered. Here’s where my crafting’s been at:

Blogged in March:

Blogged March 2018

L-R: Megan Nielsen Amber Maternity Dress, Megan Nielsen Erin Maternity Skirt.

Sewing done in March:

Persian Tiles Eastern Jewels crochet motifs

Okay, so the eagle-eyed among you will have spotted that’s a picture of some crochet, not sewing, but hey, you’ve already seen the sewing in the form of that Amber dress. There was also a RTW dress refashion I finished off for Daisy, but I don’t have before and after pics of that one. I have a pile of dresses needing refashioning as my Mum keeps buying them in charity shops, deciding she doesn’t really like them, and passing them on to Daisy. Of course, they’re all much too big around the shoulders, but I guess I can sort them all out. Eventually…

As for the crochet, that was the state of play on my Persian Tiles blanket a week or so ago, and I’ve made more progress since then. I think I’m on track to get all the motifs made by the end of the month, then I can put them together and do the border in May. As well as having a baby. Heh. Totally doable, amiright? #overambitious

Money spent: £0.00

My cheapest month to date, methinks! I’m actually looking forward to treating myself to a pattern and fabric (and possibly haberdashery too) this next month. It’s been a while, and I have birthday and Christmas money saved for that purpose 🙂

April sewing plans:

April 2018 Vogue sewing plans

I’ve already got April off to a good start by repairing three items of clothing yesterday: a button fly on Andy’s jeans that had completely torn apart, topstitching down the zip tape on Daisy’s onesie (it kept getting caught in the zip), and giving Andy’s lounging shorts new elastic as the old had perished. I know repairs don’t make exciting blogging–or even exciting sewing, come to that–but I always feel really satisfied when I’ve managed to fix much-loved items of clothing and given them a new lease of life. Anyone else feel the same? Or would you rather stick needles in your arms than actually repair things?!

In terms of other sewing, I’ll be making two Vogue patterns: a black and white polka dot viscose challis dressing gown for my Minerva make, and I’m really looking forward to getting going on that as I’ve never made one or worked with challis before. I’ll also be having a go at traditional shirt making for the first time, as I’ve finally traced out Andy’s first shirt: Vogue 8759, and I have some old striped cotton shirting in the stash I can use for the trial run. This week I’ll be cutting the fabric for both those projects when the kids are at my mum’s. Cutting out with a good podcast on and no little fingers trying to steal my rotary cutters–bliss!

If I feel like a simpler project between those, I might make up a final Megan Nielsen Amber top, as it would be great for breastfeeding this summer and could also be worn in the last little bit of pregnancy. I have a few knit fabrics in the stash and might make it out of a mauve viscose knit. Alternatively I might make that Railfence Quilt I’ve been planning for Gabriel. I don’t want to put any pressure on myself in this last few weeks of pregnancy, though, as that’s no fun, so I won’t worry if I don’t get around to either of these.

And yes, there’ll be plenty of sofa time crocheting the rest of those Persian Tile motifs. I have another 13 Octagons (3 are half done), 6 squares and 10 triangles to go. Gulp. I can totally do that, and it does give me the excuse to do lots of chilling in front of the telly, which is probably good considering how much effort moving around is taking these days.

What are you planning to make this month? Anyone else thinking summer clothes already?

The Erin Maternity Skirt – or the Barcode Skirt #2

Erin Maternity Skirt in stripes - Megan Nielsen Patterns

I made this Megan Nielsen Erin Maternity Skirt back in December, took the pics in January, but am only now blogging it as it’s hardly had any wear so far. That’s by no means a reflection on how much I like the skirt (spoiler: I love it!) but more on our exceptionally cold winter this year, and the weight of the fabric I used.

Megan Nielsen is one of the few pattern designers out there with a range of maternity sewing patterns to choose from, and so far I’ve made this and the Amber Dress, both of which I love. They are all classic, knit garments that make excellent basics, and each have a range of options to give different looks. The Erin skirt has two length options (knee and midi length) plus an optional hem ruffle if you like that kind of thing. Ruffles aren’t my thang, but hey, maybe I’ll change my mind at some point. Probably once they’ve gone out of fashion, knowing me…

While a knit pencil skirt is one of the easiest garments out there to make and I already have a TNT pattern for one which I could have adapted for maternity wear, I chose to buy this anyway as it looked like there was some interesting shaping going on at the top. I’m glad I did as the pattern drafting is really clever, with different shaped back and front pieces so you get plenty of extra fabric going over the bump. There’s also some side ruching with elastic, although unlike other ruched maternity wear where the front panel is the only one gathered, the Erin skirt gathers are made after sewing the side seams, so front and back both get gathered. I can’t say as it seems to make much difference in how the skirt looks, and it’s certainly easy to sew that way.

I’ve been missing my favourite striped knit pencil skirt, so I went searching for some medium weight striped stretchy jersey and found this navy and beige fabric on Minerva’s site. It was good value, a polyester/viscose/elastane blend, and seemed ideal. However, when it arrived it felt much thinner and more drapey than I was expecting. I don’t think the description is wrong–viscose does weigh more than cotton–but I now know to be more careful when choosing viscose fabrics for bottoms! This is absolutely perfect for a spring/summer skirt with bare legs underneath, but not right for wearing over tights or leggings in winter. The skirt rides up too easily when walking.

I think the fabric would be fabulous for tees and summer dresses, though, as it’s so soft and drapey. Maybe I’ll buy some more for something else, and I should have enough scraps to make a tee for Gabriel.

In terms of making up, this was a really simple sew. I deviated from the instructions only when sewing the elastic waistband, as I much prefer to overlock the elastic to the top edge, fold and stitch than go to all the faff of making waistband casings. I also hate the way waistbands can get twisted inside casings, and there’s no chance of twisting with this method. And check out how high this skirt goes up!

When I’d finished the skirt I tried it on before hemming, and realised it was too long to walk in comfortably. This could partly be down to the cheap elastic I used for ruching the side seams, which stretched out and didn’t fully recover so ended up 4cm longer than it should have been. In the end I lopped 8cm length off the bottom and it’s ended up just above the knee.

I do love my Erin Skirt and I’m looking forward to the weather being warm enough to get lots of wear out of it in my last weeks of pregnancy. However, I reckon it will still be useful over the summer months while I work on getting rid of the baby flab, and it could always be converted to a regular pencil skirt after that, so it should get a fair amount of wear eventually.

I probably should have made another Erin skirt in a thicker fabric for the winter, but I’m not going to bother now as I have so little time left. However, I’ll hold onto the pattern in case any friends fall pregnant and fancy a cute skirt making for them 🙂

These photos are now a couple of months old, but I’m currently having a go at the 10×10 wardrobe challenge over on Instagram, and this skirt is one of my ten picks. I’ll post a round-up and my thoughts on the challenge in a couple of weeks so you’ll be able to see the skirt over my current much larger bump then–or hop on over to Instagram if you can’t wait!

Erin Maternity Skirt

The Deets:

Pattern: The Erin Maternity Skirt from Megan Nielsen Patterns. I made the midi length version (version 2)

Size: M

Fabric: This Stripey Stretch Jersey (affiliate link) in navy and beige from Minerva.

Modifications: Reduced the length by about 8cm for ease of walking, so it’s ended up being knee length after all.

Overlocked elastic to top edge, folded and topstitched rather than making a casing.

Time to sew: 1 hour 11 mins (this doesn’t include pattern tracing, cutting out, threading up machine, trying on for fit purposes, and general waffling!)

Costing: 

  • Pattern: £7.55 (in Black Friday sale)
  • Pattern printing: £2.70
  • Fabric: £4.99 for 1m
  • Notions: £0.00 (elastics from stash)
  • Total: £15.24

Other inspirational versions: While plain, I love these classic black and white versions from Poppykettle and The Gingerthread Girl. And you can’t beat this patterned version by Holli, modelled over a 39 week bump no less!

What are your thoughts on striped skirts? Are they a wardrobe staple for you too?

Coming next on the blog: My April sewing plans!

Disclaimer: some of the products linked above use affiliate links, meaning if you follow the link and make a purchase I will receive a small referral fee (at no added cost to you). Any extra income to help fund my sewing habit is greatly appreciated, but rest assured I only recommend products I love and think you might find useful too 🙂

The Snakeskin Amber Dress

Amber maternity nursing dress Megan Nielsen

Hey everyone! I’ve got another Minerva make to share today, and it’s another maternity dress. Not the Agnes this time, but the old Simplicity version of the Megan Nielsen Amber Dress. I’ve actually made it twice before (here and here) so this is truly a TNT pattern for me.

I do still have a couple of maternity makes to blog, and I’ve got pics taken so hopefully they’ll go up in the next couple of weeks. After that… I’m going to have to think hard about what will be worth making. Fitting a rapidly changing body is a challenge!

The full write up of making this dress is on the Minerva site, but something I forgot to add to the post was the time taken to sew, which was 2 hours. That’s not bad considering there were 13 pattern pieces to deal with, and the fabric was challenging at times (although seriously gorgeous to wear!)

Right, that’s it for now. I’ve been dealing with an ill toddler the last couple of days (conjunctivitis) so I’m tired and haven’t got much done. At least I’m making some headway on the crochet blanket, though 🙂

Back soon with  another Megan Nielsen pattern: the Erin skirt! Sneak peek:

Erin Maternity Skirt in stripes - Megan Nielsen Patterns

 

 

 

Bumper January and February round-up, plus March’s sewing plans

snowflake cookies

“Bumper” might be a bit of a misnomer, I admit. The fact is, for quite a few weeks I was feeling really low in energy. At the time I put it down to the pregnancy, having a bit of a cold and general exhaustion after the trip Andy and I took to Berlin in the half term, but it turns out it was anaemia all along. You’d think I’d recognise it by now as I’ve had it several times in the past (including at this stage of pregnancy with Gabriel and Daisy), but it always catches me unawares.

Anyway, for a few weeks I didn’t have the physical or mental energy to do any sewing or blogging. I’m not apologising for that, btw! I did what I needed to do to conserve the little energy I had.

I’m pleased to say that the high-strength iron I’ve been prescribed is now starting to do its work and I’ve had a decent surge of energy this past week. And I’ve got back into sewing and blogging again. Yay!

At the moment we’re on our second “snow day” in a row, and I’m really feeling the lack of options for warm weather clothing in my current wardrobe. However, I think spring is just around the corner so there’s little point in sewing any more cold weather maternity gear. I’ll just have to put up with rotating the same few outfits (and one coat!) until the weather warms up. I have to admit, I did cave and buy a couple of cheap RTW long-sleeved maternity dresses and a pair of leggings from Lidl. They’re made of organic cotton jersey which feels incredibly soft, so although they won’t get worn for long I don’t consider it a waste of money as I’m planning to use the fabric to sew some tees and shorts for Gabriel and maybe some stuff for the baby. We’ll see 🙂

Blogged in January and February:

Jan-Feb round up and March plans 2018 4

L-R: The Cowl Necked Maternity Dress, The Baggy Bump Maternity Trousers

I also did a lot of blogging in the new year–the #SewingTop5 round ups and my #2018MakeNine posts. I love writing those kind of posts!

Sewing done in January and February:

Jan-Feb round up and March plans 2018 4

L-R: The Kinder Cardigan (I haven’t actually photographed my version yet) and a dark floral Agnes/Gertie Sweetheart top (finished today, but most of the sewing was done in February). Also the Baggy Bump Trousers and Cowl Necked Dress, pictured in the blogged section.

I might not have sewn everything I planned to, but considering the anaemia I’ve been dealing with, I’m impressed I got that much done. Yay me!

Persian Tiles crochet

I did get a bit of crocheting done too. I’m making the Persian Tiles blanket in the Eastern Jewels colourway as one of my future Minerva Makes. I have to finish it by mid-May, so lots of crochet hours in my future!

Money spent: £4.50

Patterns: £0.00 , Haberdashery: £4.50 , Fabric: £0.00

A thrifty couple of months, make no mistake! I’ve had to be thrifty in pretty much everything after Christmas and the kids’ birthdays. Even that £4.50 I spent (on elastic) used a gift card so wasn’t real money 🙂

I have been given some money for Christmas and my birthday, though, so I have something to spend over the next few months, should I wish. I’m going to sew from stash as much as humanly possible, though.

March sewing plans:

Amber nursing dress - Megan Nielsen patterns

I have a dress cut and ready to sew for my Minerva make this month–it’s the Megan Nielsen Amber maternity dress, although I’m using the OOP Simplicity version of the pattern. I think I might make a summery top version of this pattern too as I know it’s great for breastfeeding, and for covering that flabby post-baby belly I’ll be sporting for at least a couple of months after the birth.

Other than that I’m hoping to finish a few alterations (those velvet maternity leggings I’ve mentioned before), a dress for Daisy, and a pair of skinny jeans I’m hacking into a maternity/post-baby version.

I can’t see the point in starting any more maternity makes at this stage, so any remaining sewing time this month will be spent prepping a shirt for Andy, a summer dressing gown for me, and a quilt for Gabriel.

I’ll also be working on my crochet Eastern Jewels Persian Tiles blanket, which may or may not end up as a baby blanket. We’ll see…

What are you planning to make this month?