Saturday, 24 September 2016

Monsters-and-snacks Pyjama Pants: PLUS, that myfabrics.co.uk discount code one last time!


Here's my third and final project for The Cheeky One using knit given to me by myfabrics.co.uk, plus the last reminder about the month-long discount code that they have kindly offered my blog readers in UK and Ireland. 


Pattern:

Now I must admit that Dolores had nothing to do with picking out this final fabric selection. I just really liked it and *hoped* she would too when she saw it. When it arrived, she actually reacted rather neutrally to it, so I decided to introduce it into her wardrobe in a fairly neutral way: as pyjamas. Therefore, if she suddenly took an aversion to them (could happen), I can shrug my shoulders and pack them away for the mini-dude to wear when he's big enough, without having to see the awesomeness go to waste.


As I'm typing this in mid-September, it's still really warm here in UK. So I thought a pair of jammie bottoms that will be suitable for the transition from summer to autumn would be a good plan. Enter: my trusty stash of Ottobre design magazines!  Like the Spring 1/2013 issue, I also initially regarded the Summer 3/2013 issue to be a bit of a dud. Again, I was wrong. 


The Easy Piece jersey pants pattern looked suitably quick and simple to make, and comfy to wear. I combined the size 92 for the width and size 98 for the length, then decided to add an extra 2cm to the length of the legs so that the bottom-leg cuffs would be lower and less likely to get caught on her knees when she bends her legs. The time spent tracing the pattern pieces and adding seam allowances was paid back by a quick and easy construction process. Alongside these knit projects, I've recently been working on a pretty involved sewing project (to be disclosed in a month or so), so I needed these to be speedy or they might not've happened given my current size and energy levels.  


Fabric:

As with the lightning flash and pirate knits, this mental monsters-with-snack-foods print knit is also a medium-weight single jersey with excellent stretch and recovery. It also has quite a soft handle, all of which makes it perfect for kid's nightwear. Unfortunately, it looks like the colour way with the white background has sold out, but the pink version can be found here


The pattern calls for ribbing for the cuffs and waist band, but I only have grey and navy ribbing in my stash, so I used some solid red jersey instead (leftover from my leggings). It worked out pretty well, except I should have added a bit of width to the waistband as it has come out a little tight, probably because the red jersey doesn't have as much 'give' in it as a ribbing would. It's fine for now, but I was hoping these jammie bottoms would last Dolores a year or so. I reckon I'm going to have to remake and replace the waistband at some point in the spring. 


Thoughts and discount code:

It's been so fun choosing and sewing with these knits, I'm very grateful for myfabrics.co.uk for the opportunity. If I got to do this another time, I'd probably focus on their selection of GOTS certified organic jersey and poplins that I only just saw that they stock. They've got some really cute printed poplin that would have been fun to work with, as I've only used organic knits to date and I'd like to see if the extra softness that organic knits seems to all have is true of organic wovens as well. 

So if you fancy splashing out on some of their stock, remember you have until the end of this month (September 2016) to use the following code: SoZo16 to receive £10 off your myfabrics.co.uk order (minimum order £60). The fine print is that the code can only be once per order, and once per customer, and not in combination with other vouchers.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Floral Cordelia Maternity Camisole Undies Set


Around Week 35 of this pregnancy I started to feel pretty physically uncomfortable, and therefore a bit sorry for myself. So I decided to cheer myself up by making a new undies set designed to fit my current frame. These pics are of me at Week 37 rocking the camisole (no one needs to see me in the pants!).


Patterns:

I'm sure it won't shock you to learn that I used my recently released Cordelia maternity camisole pattern for the top half. I already have three of these and wear them all the damn time at the moment, including as I type this. I basically wear them all the time when at home and want to feel comfy, as well to preggers yoga classes and to sleep in. I'll probably be wearing one when I'm in labour and giving birth. Therefore I could justify a pretty new fourth version! 


I've got Cordelia's both with and without the optional bust support panel, but I definitely prefer the extra layer of fabric over the bust that the panel provides if I want to be bra-less. The pic above shows what it looks like inside. 


You've got another shock on the way: I made the pants using my free downloadable undies/pants/knickers pattern. This jersey is pretty stretchy, so I stuck to my regular size (14) even though my hips have expanded a bit over the last few months. However, I made sure that didn't tug the fold over elastic too much when I applied it round the top edge and they haven't ended up too tight. The pants pattern is quite low cut and 'hipster', which make them ideal for wearing during pregnancy when higher cut pants would most likely cut in to your belly uncomfortably. 


Fabric:

I'm not a very floral-y person, fabric-wise, but this aqua blue film grain roses jersey stole my heart when I saw it on the Girl Charlee website. Apparently it's some 'designer overstock score' stuff (who knows exactly what that means? It sounds excitingly shady though doesn't it?!) that has a really lovely soft handle, four-way stretch and a spandex content that gives good recovery. Girl Charlee kindly sent me a length for free that I was originally intending to use whilst developing my maternity leggings pattern. I'm so glad I didn't because I think this fabric lends itself far better to undies.  


Thoughts:

This close to b-day, this project definitely marks the end of my personal maternity sewing. I'm so glad that I made these items as they make me really happy whenever I put them on, separately or together, and they're the comfiest things I own. I'll be able to use the pants after pregnancy, and I guess I'll donate the camisole to whoever I know who becomes pregnant next. 


Cost:

Fabric: £0 (I was sent a sample length for free but you can buy it here for £9.95 per metre. 1.5m would give you way more than you needed for a Cordelia camisole and SoZo pants set.)
Patterns: £0 (these are my own patterns so obviously they were free to me, but you can buy the Cordelia maternity camisole pattern here for £7 and the pants/undies/knickers pattern is free here, where you'll also find a free non-maternity camisole/vest/singlet pattern which is similar to the Cordelia.)
Fold over elastic: approx. £2's worth from a bundle I bought on a stall at Walthamstow market.
Total: £2

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Pirate Dress: Plus, that myfabrics.co.uk discount code again!


All together now, 'A band of naughty pirates stole some jewels from me...' etc. As predictably obsessed with princesses, ballerinas and fairies as Dolores currently is, she is also equally into pirates (and the CBeebies programme 'Swashbuckle' by association). So when I found this pirate printed jersey on the myfabrics.co.uk site that actually featured a girl pirate in the design (can you believe?!) I knew it had to be in my selection.


Pattern: 

As with my first make using myfabrics.co.uk knit, my first port of call was my small but trusty stash of Ottobre Design magazines. They always have lots of knit options in each issue so they're great for finding something a bit different to a basic T-shirt or leggings pattern.    


For this project, I thought it'd be fun to interpret a potentially stereotypically 'masculine' fabric into a dress. This is the Circus Horse dress pattern from the Autumn 4/2013 issue of Ottobre. It looks super comfy, with long raglan sleeves, gently gathered cuffs, a drop waist and gathered skirt. For me, it also had the benefit of being a pattern that I'd already traced out the pieces for as I've already made a garment from it just over a year ago. It's hilarious to see those pics where I made a tiny not-yet-two-year-old model a dress that still looks a bit big on her a year later! Despite that Paris fabric version still being big (I combined the size 92 width with size 98 length), Dolores loves it and requests to wear it all the time, so I hoped I was on to another winner with a pirate version. 


Fabric:

This is my second choice of free fabric kindly offered to me by myfabrics.co.uk in exchange for writing an honest review about it. It is a medium weight single jersey knit with the same soft handle of the lightning flash fabric. I received 80cm from which I could comfortably cut this dress, plus there's enough left for either some cute accents on another garment or a couple of baby dribble bibs or something.


I decided to break up the onslaught of pirates with some solid red jersey sleeves (using leftovers from my maternity leggings), plus I was feeling lazy so decided to bind the neckline and wrist edges with some fold over elastic from my stash rather than making and applying knit bindings. This meant that I could skip the step that suggested gathering the bottom edge of the sleeves with clear elastic before stitching on the wrist bindings: with the FOE I could gather and bind in one single step. 


Thoughts and discount code:

A real success! BTW, my current definition of 'success' in this context is a garment that Dolores will just agree to put on, without weeks of having to cunningly 'offer it up' in a limited selection of garment options every morning until she finally bites. It's very tempting to sew A LOT of these dresses, as she can move and play in them without restriction whilst simultaneously not needing to scream 'I WANT TO WEAR A DRESS, MUMMY!' when she looks down and finds out I've duped her into jeans and a T-shirt. I'd like to make a crazy patchwork one that uses a mix of print and solid knits for all the different pieces of the garment.

As for the knit, at £14.40 it's not the cheapest fabric out there on the internet, but I can genuinely say that it IS excellent quality that seems to be very comfortable to wear and washes brilliantly. If you've got small people to sew for, this would be ideal as a small length can go a long way, especially if you can combine it with other solid pieces from your stash. 

If you are tempted to buy some of this knit, or anything else from their website, don't forget that you can the code SoZo16 during the checkout process to receive £10 off your myfabrics.co.uk order (minimum order £60). The fine print is that the code can only be once per order, and once per customer, and not in combination with other vouchers. It is valid until 30/09/2016, but I'll be reminding you of this voucher code once more time before the end date.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Podcast / Audio Post #4: Sewing Vs Kids


"So Zo attempts to define her entire life in sewing while barely awake at the behest of sewing widow Mr. SoZo. It all breaks down when D-Lo refuses to stay in bed. Can Zoe Edwards survive in the cut throat world of home sewing bloggers when not one but two little people have invaded her home and are both refusing to leave? Are any non-parents still following her blog? When was the last time she blogged a new stunt dress with a cocktail in shot?

Who even is she anymore?"
     

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Lightning Flash Leggings: Plus, myfabrics.co.uk Discount Code


This is the first of three posts that I'll publish over the next few weeks that feature awesome printed knit fabric from myfabrics.co.uk. The site is the UK and Ireland's wing of the wider chain of 12 European online fabric shops. I first had the opportunity to sew with their fabric after an IRL-friend of mine bought a load from their site with the intention of making stuff for her baby daughter, but never getting round to it and donating it all to me! I made her daughter some leggings and bibs to say thanks, and happily enjoyed the rest for myself. 


Earlier this year myfabrics.co.uk got in touch to offer me some fabric to blog about, plus a discount code for my readers. I spent a ridiculously long time trying to choose, but with the help from Dolores I eventually picked three lengths of printed knit that I've been having fun turning into wearable and comfortable garments for her. Here's the first...


Pattern:

Knit trousers make so much sense for toddler-wear. I hate the idea of kids' play being restricted in any way by the clothing their parents provide them. But making basic leggings (of which I feel I've made about 300 pairs now) gets a bit boring so I was looking for an interesting variation on the leggings theme that would still provide a good canvas for this fun lightning flash printed jersey. With this self-set brief, I hunted through my stash of Ottobre Design magazines


The Spring 1/2013 issue previously seemed a bit of a dud to me: there was nothing in there that appealed at first glance, and since I got a year's subscription in 2013 I haven't used any of the patterns in this one. 


Somehow, I must have been overlooking the Chillax unisex jersey pants pattern, which seem to fit the bill pretty damn well. The pattern look super comfy to me, with a slightly baggier, lower crotch style than regular leggings. A fairly simple pocket detail which requires only one extra pattern piece also elevates this pattern from basic leggings without too much extra faff. I used the size 92 width and size 98 length to get the maximum possible wear from them, and cut the waist elastic a centimetre or two looser than Dolores's current waist measurement would indicate for the same reason. 


Fabric:

All three knit fabrics I chose were printed single jersey which are comprised 95% cotton and 5% elastane. They are a medium weight which feels to me to be pretty perfect for leggings, knit dresses, T-shirts or undies. I pre-washed them all and I was relieved to discover that none had faded. I don't know if all myfabrics.co.uk knits are from the same source, but I found that the other knits I got from my friend laundered well and stood up admirably to the abuse and frequent laundering that baby and toddler wear is prone to. 


So whilst I was trying to make the selection, I was really drawn to this lightning flash print. The other two I chose are very busy prints, so I liked the relative simplicity of this design as a contrast. I gave Dolores the choice of colour way and amazingly (and thankfully), she chose the purple over the pink option! I also love the teal colour way. 


It feels quite stable and was lovely to sew with. I used my overlocker for the seams and my regular sewing machine for the pocket binding, stitching the elastic into the waistband and for hemming. I also found a fancy stitch on my regular sewing machine that vaguely replicates the look of a coverstitch machine for topstitching the pocket piece down (see below). 


The fabric did seem like it would be liable to roll a lot if cut into thin strips, plus I thought a contrast binding at the pocket mouth would look better anyway so I went hunting through my stash for something suitable. In the end, I sacrificed a ratty old sleeping vest that was made of ribbed knit and I think it looks pretty awesome. 

Thoughts and discount code:

Ah I love these leggings! However, due to her current obsession with wearing dresses, they might end up as pyjama bottoms. But they'll be the nicest pyjama bottoms in town! I still have a sizeable piece of the original 80cm that I started with, so if they do end up as night wear, I reckon I can scrape a matching sleeping t-shirt out of the remainder. If she does adopt them as day wear, then the leftovers will become a pair of baby trousers for her little brother. I'm also hoping that one day he'll be able to wear these too, as I think the style and colours are definitely gender neutral.

On to the important bit: something for you!   

Use the following code: SoZo16 to receive £10 off your myfabrics.co.uk order (minimum order £60). The fine print is that the code can only be once per order, and once per customer, and not in combination with other vouchers. It is valid until 30/09/2016, but I'll be reminding you of this voucher code twice again before the end date (unless this baby decides to come out earlier than expected). 



Saturday, 27 August 2016

New Dolores Maternity Dress Pattern WIP: Plus, A Shout Out For Testers


Let me introduce you to my new favourite dress! The shape may well look familiar because it's based on my Dolores batwing pattern, subtly reworked for a third-trimester pregnant figure, and I couldn't be happier with (or currently more reliant on) the result.


A new pattern is born

If you read my previous post, you will have seen that adapted versions of the regular Dolores batwing pattern featured heavily in my four-to-seven month maternity wardrobe. However, towards the end of that period I found that those dresses stopped being suitable: the mid-section was starting to stretch out of shape and the side seams ended up curved to accommodate my growing belly, and the hem was no longer even. So around the time I finished drafting my Cordelia maternity camisole pattern, I began work on a specific maternity dress version of the Dolores pattern which took all those issues into account, as well as a couple of other bits I wanted to change. After extensive fitting to multiple third-trimester bodies with both long-sleeved and short-sleeved options, I'm hoping I've nailed it.


Tropical knit

So lemme tell you about this Hawaiian/tropical fabric. Back in May, the 12-year-old, but admittedly new-to-me, online craft shop Sew Essential got in touch offering me some fabric to test and blog about. You know me, never one to turn down free fabric, so I asked for a couple of metres of this vibrant John Kaldor slinky knit and they kindly obliged. Sadly, the pink colour way seems to be currently out of stock, but they have it here in blue, as well as some other lovely prints.


My initial intension for this fabric was to make maternity leggings after receiving confirmation that it has a four-way stretch. But when it arrived I discovered it was was too lightweight and slinky for that purpose. Then, when the development of this new Dolores maternity dress pattern called for some slinky, drape-y knit, a massive AHA! occurred, and a beautiful marriage of pattern and fabric was born.


Pattern details and testers please!

Like it's predecessor, the Dolores maternity dress pattern has two sleeve options, long and short, making it a versatile pattern for different climates and occasions. It looks epic in a fun, crazy print, and also elegant and work-appropriate in a more subtle fabric choice.


This is a super quick project, because who's got the energy when your very pregnant?! After you've assembled the PDF pattern and cut out the pieces, construction should take approx. 2 hours, if you already have a bit of sewing experience. It requires just 2m of light-to-medium weight knit fabric, ideally with a drape-y/slinky quality. The sizing and corresponding body measurements are below (please note: these measurements relate to a pregnant, third trimester body):

Size
8
10
12
14
16
Bust
85cm/33½”
90cm/35½”
95cm/37½
100cm/39½
105cm/41½”






Hip
95cm/37½”
100cm/39½”
105cm/41½”
110cm/43½”
115cm/45½”



So, as the title of this post suggests, I'm on the hunt for willing pattern testers. If you, or somebody you know, are currently in your/their third trimester of pregnancy (27 weeks +), you would like to try this pattern and are able to give me your feedback by 18th September, then please send me an email to sozoblog (at) g mail (dot) com. Testers will receive a zip file including a PDF pattern file (that will require printing out and taping together), a PDF instructions file (that you can read from a screen if you prefer to save on printer ink) and a list of questions to help formulate your feedback. If this appeals to you, please get in touch, I'm aiming to send out the files on 1st September. Thanks so much in advance! 

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

My Maternity Wardrobe: Four to Seven Months


During both my pregnancies I've written a few blog posts about my maternity sewing plans, and then during my first pregnancy I wrote a couple of posts about what I actually wore (see the six month one here and the eight month one here). A few lovely readers have commented in recent months that they found these posts really useful for getting their heads round preparing for their own pregnancy wardrobes, and one reader asked me to do an update on what I have been wearing this time round. So here you go: a summary of the (predominantly handmade) items I wore between being four and seven months pregnant during my second pregnancy.

Four months onwards is really the time that I found that only the most smocky, stretchy or over-sized garments in your regular wardrobe still fit. This is the point that you're probably going to need some specific maternity garments, whether they be mass-manufactured or homemade. 

Obviously, one woman's maternity wardrobe requirements may vary wildly from another's. But for me, as a self-employed person-slash-SAHM living in a temperate climate during late spring and summer, these are the items I wore during the four-to-seven month maternity period (plus some jackets and cardigans).


Dresses/tunics (pictured at the top of this post):

The black and nautical short-sleeved jersey dresses were both made during my first pregnancy and based on what was to become my Dolores batwing pattern. They have been leant out to several women over the last few years before coming back to me for my second pregnancy. If I recall correctly, they were made by grading out from a size 12 to a size 14/16 at the side seams from just below the bust. I've worn both on their own as dresses, but also layered on top of my leggings when the weather demanded it.

The stripy faux-Boden tunic was almost always worn with leggings underneath, and I'll probably take all three of these dresses/tunics in at the side seams one day so that they will have new incarnations as post-natal garments. 

I'm not really into wearing full skirts, but I have seen other women wear Vogue 8728 (Jennifer Lauren Handmade highly recommends this one for maternity wear) and the Colette Patterns Moneta dresses during this stage of pregnancy too. 



Tops:

Knit/jersey is always going to feel better, particularly when you're expanding! And that is reflected by how many tops I own for this stage of pregnancy that are made from woven fabric (i.e. one) compared to knit.

The denim Tova top looked great with all the maternity jeans and trousers I borrowed, plus when it was chilly I wore the long-sleeved stripy T-shirt underneath as well.

The long-sleeved stripy T-shirt and bird print T-shirt were made from a self-drafted pattern, but I'm sure the Grainline Lark T-shirt pattern would make a great basis if you're looking to make something similar.

It'll probably come as no surprised that the jazzy print short-sleeved tunic and the Peter Pan collar top are both based on my Dolores batwing pattern, and made by blending out the size at the side seams (as specified on the dress section above).



Leggings:

As I've mentioned before, I tend to prefer garments that sit under my bump rather than over so I developed my own maternity leggings pattern that I hope to release in PDF form one day. I did also wear a rather ratty second hand black pair that a friend leant to me that sat fairly low under my bump, but I stopped wearing those entirely once I'd made these two pairs.



Trousers/jeans:

I had vague plans to refashion some existing jeans into maternity jeans by cutting away the front section and adding a panel of jersey, but I ultimately decided that life is too short. Instead I put a shout out on Facebook in case any of my friends and acquaintances had some maternity trousers or jeans I could borrow. About five lovely ladies stepped up, and I received a total of 15 pairs to use during this pregnancy! I have worn several of the others, but the four pictured above have been the ones I that saw the most action in the four to seven month period. If I had been shopping for maternity bottoms myself, I wouldn't have gravitated towards any of these, either because of their style or colour. But I've really enjoyed wearing each of them, as well as being pushed slightly out of my stylistic comfort zone. 

Rather than making (yes, there are specific maternity trousers sewing patterns out there!) or refashioning maternity trousers or jeans, I really recommend trying to borrow some or, failing that, buying them secondhand (eBay is a great source for secondhand maternity wear).


Other garments:

My navy and mustard Cabernet cardigans have been amazing through out my pregnancy, I'm so glad that I made them. My Woodland stroll cape provided a cosy layer when it was chilly, and my slightly over-sized Sailboat raincoat kept me dry at times too. At night I wore large dude-T-shirts and my usual jammie bottoms. 


Summary:

I'm lucky that my work and childcare responsibilities during this part of my pregnancy meant that I could dress pretty casually. I learnt a lot of lessons from my first pregnancy, like sticking to one predominant colour, in my case blue, so that mix-and-matching is easier, and that no one will notice if you wear the same handful of items in different combinations all the time. And I was able to reuse a number of the items that I made for that first pregnancy too. All the clothes I made during this pregnancy that I wore up until seven months in are either suitable for non-maternity times (like the Tova top and Cabernet cardigans), or can be easily altered to fit a non-pregnant form (all my Dolores dresses and tops and the faux-Boden tunic).

If you're preparing your own pregnancy wardrobe, I wish you a smooth ride and all the best.
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