I know a little girl* who loves dogs. She is obsessed with them. She spends her pocket money on dog toys. Not toys that look like dogs or toys that have dogs on them but toys that are actually meant for dogs.
Introducing Charlie by Mingo & Grace
When I first saw Charlie I liked her, I thought she was charming, uncomplicated and chic. She was bound to have style coming from Farrah of Mingo & Grace. If you check out her blog you’ll see what I mean. Great photography, clean typography and lots of elegant white space. A woman after my own heart. Charlie was everything you might expect from a woman who I’m sure agrees ‘there is beauty in simplicity’.
I thought Charlie would be a doddle to sew, in many ways she was, but when it came to finishing the neckline and arm holes, I went through bias binding hell and back and I’m not afraid to admit it.
When Jenn of A Jennuine Life invited me on her Pattern Tour I accepted without even seeing the pattern. Crazy me! What if I didn’t like it, what if it was full of ruffles and frills (are ruffles and frills the same thing?) and so sugary sweet that it would make me want to vomit?
Luckily it wasn’t, phew! It was in fact the Matinée Dress and Peplum Top which features a pseudo bateau neckline with a plunging open back. So I had nothing to worry about, or did I? Jenn’s instructions were to “adjust or enhance the pattern however you see fit”. Argh!!! Panic. This was going to take some thinking about.
I looked at the list of other blogs on the tour… Heidi & Finn (OMG! I’ve bought a few Heidi & Finn patterns, she definitely knows about style), Charming Doodle (What! she designed the ingenious knight hoodie, she’s one talented lady), Nearest the Pin (Stop it! Have you seen that Ash Jumpsuit? totally awesome!), La gang à Nat (Are you serious? EVERYTHING she makes is amazing), The Crazy Tailor (crazy indeed, she never swims with the tide, she adapts patterns as a general rule) and the list goes on. I can not even imagine what delights all the other participants will have in store? Amongst 20 experienced and talented ladies I had my work cut out. I didn’t want my matinée dress to stick out like a sore thumb, time to really panic.
I checked my ever growing collection of fabric to see if there was anything suitable. I’m certainly a fabriholic, but recognition is a step closer to cure. I found a yellow and black stripe cotton that I’d bought from John Lewis. Two colours that go extremely well together, any bumble bee will tell you. Coincidentally I had a plain yellow cotton that matched the yellow stripe, how lucky was that? So in a light bulb moment I decided that the skirt would
bee be in the stripes and the bodice in the plain yellow.
With the fabric decided for the matinée dress, it was time to shake it up, give it a little Needle and Ted spin and spit it out. I wasn’t keen on the sash running through the front of the bodice, so I decided against it on my version. Also as much as I like low cut backs for adults I’m not sure it’s appropriate for children, but I was willing to give it a go.
So what was I to do to shake things up? I considered shorts instead of the gathered skirt, but with such a fitted bodice I wasn’t sure it was going to work. What I wanted to achieve was a casual, dressed down version of the matinée dress. I chose a bubble skirt but a subtle bubble so that it can be more of an everyday dress (weather permitting), not a party dress.
So here it is, my version of the matinée…
Jenn’s instructions were well written and her illustrations were easy to follow, so it didn’t take me long to get the dress sewn up. I’m delighted with the end result, even the inside is admirable. What’s more, I’m glad Scout didn’t end up looking too much like a bumble bee. I’m also convinced that the low back in the matinée dress is suitable for children, it’s what makes the dress unique, in fact hiding it with a bow is not doing it justice, it doesn’t slip off the shoulders without it, so I’m tempted to remove it (less is more and all that).
I’m normally one of those people who allows growing room when choosing which size to sew, much to the annoyance of some designers. But on this occasion I didn’t size up because I didn’t want any gapes around the back. The result, a perfect fit.
If you would like to make your own version of the matinée dress, head on over to A Jennuine Life and you will receive 20% off your purchase during the tour with the code “matineetour20″. This is the last day of the tour, so hurry.
If you actually got to the end of this rather long post, then you could be in for a treat…
Jenn has organised nine marvellous prizes to be given away.
UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed.
Don’t you just hate it when you open a website and music comes blasting out of your speakers? Especially if you’re at work, in a really quiet office and you were sneakily surfing the net when you shouldn’t be. Well, if I wanted to be really annoying, right now, blasting out of your speakers would be ‘The best things in life are free’ by Janet Jackson & Luther Vandross. Because yes, this delightful wrap top you see before you was made from a pattern by Craftiness is not Optional that was free, yes, that’s right, you heard it, ‘free’.
I really appreciate it when a designer gives away a free pattern, I know a lot of work goes into designing a garment, drafting and grading a pattern, writing and photographing /illustrating a tutorial etc, etc. So I would like to say thank you to Jess of Craftiness is not Optional, this is one of my favourite patterns. What’s more, as it’s reversible, you get two for the price of one (even if you didn’t pay for it in the first place).
The fabric for both sides comes from the ever reliable Ikea. The peach geometric cotton was a duvet in a former life, I have lots left over so you’ll be seeing more geometric peachy numbers in the future.
The reversible wrap top was quick and straightforward to sew, even for me who could quite easily take 2 hours sewing a pillowcase with my friend the unpicker.
I’m eager to make another one and get a bit creative, a curve at the bottom perhaps?
If you’re interested in more great patterns and tutorials, follow my steadily evolving Pinterest board, it includes adult patterns too.
Please let me know if you find any others I can add to my collection, the best things in life are free…..
I think we would all agree that it is much easier to find cool clothes for girls than it is to find cool clothes for boys. But if you have a sewing machine and you aren’t afraid to use it, there are some awesome patterns for boys out there. So why not make them yourself.
Sewing from a pattern may be easier than you think. Independent designers do a great job of making their patterns easy to follow. With clear step by step instructions and easy to understand illustrations or photos to guide you through the whole process. Most of them are also just an email away from answering any of your question incase you get stuck or need some advice.
The satisfaction, sense of achievement and pride you will feel when you have made something yourself can not be matched with any clothes you buy from the shops.
When you see the patterns below I know you’ll be tempted.
My top 10 patterns for boys
In no particular order…
- Triangle Pants by See Kate Sew
Watch this space to see how I used this pattern to make a dinosaur costume fit for a wedding
- Theo Shirt by Zonen 09
This pattern includes versions for beginners and advanced, the instructions are in Dutch but that’s where Google Translate comes in handy
- Super Skinny Pants by Blank Slate Patterns
Girls can wear them too, hurrah!
- Rascals Pants by FelicityPatterns
These slouchy pants are very easy to sew, no tricky bits at all
- Small Fry Skinny Jeans by Titchy Threads
For ages 0-12 years. If you’re sewing for a 2 year old, you’re in luck, download the free pattern
- Hooded Dragon Vest by Puperita
Easy to sew and available in newborn baby size all the way up to age 10. I’ll be making one soon, keep your eyes peeled
- School Bus T-shirt by Oliver+S
Quick and easy to sew, with several different style options
- W Pants by Blank Slate Patterns
These are so cool, I may even try a girl version with a slim fit
- Jude Jacket by Shwin Designs
Can be made in wool, fleece, cotton… the list goes on
Last but not least…
- Knight hoodie by Charming Doodle
Here’s one I made earlier…
About the knight hoodie
This was the first time I had sewn with sweatshirt fleece, now I’m a big fan. It’s so smooth to sew, like rollerblading along the banks of the Serpentine in Hyde Park (yep, that’s what I used to do on a Friday evening, many, many years ago).
The topstitching makes a huge difference, it makes it come alive. After each piece I topstitched I found myself sitting back to admire what I’d done. I’ll certainly be using sweatshirt fleece again, I have some in grey (surprise, surprise) and I’ve been plotting and scheming as to what to make with it.
What would you make if you had some grey sweatshirt fleece?
I absolutely love this knight hoodie pattern, it’s so darn clever and has instant WOW factor. Believe it or not it’s a doddle to sew. The only slightly tricky bit being the zip and trying to get The Machine to sew through all the layers of fabric.
It took me a few evenings to complete the hoodie but I thoroughly enjoyed every minute. I felt kind of sad when I had to depart with it and give it to my nephew, but it was his birthday present and it was 2 months late (oops!), so alas, I could keep it (to look at it and admire) no longer.
I would love to make a girl version one day, I wouldn’t change a thing apart from the colour. This pattern is perfect just the way it is.
… not me, I came 5th.
There were some beautiful entries to compete against, my absolute favourite was the origami pleated persimmon which I think is stunning, but I also loved the pintuck stars tunic dress which is clever and unique.
To everyone that voted for me, to everyone who encouraged and supported me, to everyone who sent me lovely messages or wrote kind comments, to my new followers and old, to my friends and family…