The Niva has landed!

I’ve admired Sansahash‘s cool patterns for a while now and when they put a call for new pattern testers to join their testing team I jumped in with an application. I was delighted to be invited to join the team! The first chance to test a pattern was for their Niva Leggings. This lovely simple pattern was the perfect opportunity to settle into some New Year pattern testing.

This is Sansahash’s first free pattern and you can get it via their blog here, or by heading over to the pinned post in the Sansahash Sh-ew & Tell Group on Facebook!!

No.3 has grown out of many of last summer/autumn’s sewing so I was delighted to make a few new pairs of leggings for her. The pattern is designed to be sewn with stretch faux leather, and this certainly creates a superb look, and also works perfectly with knit fabric with 25-50% stretch. I had a look around local fabric shops but couldn’t find any appropriate faux leather so instead raided my stash of jersey fabric.

Stunning Elvelyckan Design fabric from my (ever expanding) stash!

Mgeni (the boss over at Sansahash!) paid very close attention to the accurate blending of pattern sizes by the testers. This approach ensures accurate testing and feedback on sizes, hopefully ensuring a really well working pattern! She was also able to advise on the adjustments needed to the full-rise to accommodate a nappy. For a simple pattern great care has been taken to achieve a really good fit.

It proved a little tricky to achieve a good fit to the calf area of the leggings for every tester, as children can have very varied leg proportions. One of the testers suggested the inclusion in the tutorial of a table with calf measurements. This great was a great suggestion ensuring really good fitting leggings can be achieved for all shapes!!

The leggings of course need pairing with a top half and I chose to make two final sets, both made up of the Niva Leggings paired with Sansahash’s Lilah Top. I added a bit of length to the back of the skirt part of the Lilah Top, giving a lovely high low look; maintaining the higher front, thus still showing off the Niva Leggings, while affording a little more growning room!!

A while back, during their sale I “invested” in a big (for me) order of fabric from Elvelyckan Design. For my first Niva/Lilah combo I used their “Leopard – Ginger (024)” printed jersey for the Lilah top paired with their vertical striped jersey. It was my first time sewing the Lilah pattern and it came together beautifully. I had never used the “burrito” method to sew lining into a garment before. The instructions were very clear and I was delighted with the result.

The addition of some length to the back will hopefully give a little more growing room!!

A beautiful sunny winter’s morning made for some lovely photos of No.3 in her gorgeous new outfit. Here’s hoping spring arrives soon so she can get some great wear out of it!

Check out some of my fellow testers’ amazing makes!!

One of the things I love about pattern testing is getting to “meet” lots of like minded makers and getting inspiration from all the different approaches to the same pattern! Check out some of the stunning work below with links to their own blogs/insta accounts!! (Links under images running left to right.)

Cael Sewing
Sewed By Anja
Because of her Boutique
Miss Maakt
Lily Rose Boutique
Soul fed on Thread
by dagbjort
Hip en Eigenwijs

If you scroll down to the end you’ll find some more fellow testers’ Nivas. But now it’s time for a little wannabe astronaut…

“One small step for Niva…”

Who knew they had Cheerios in space??

One the first lovely jersey fabrics I bought, about a year and a half ago was some space patterned jersey from Madeline de Stoffenmadam and I still had a little left in my stash. Just enough to make another pair of Nivas.

Beautiful winter light falling on this lovely space-themed set of Niva and Lilah.

I appliqued a little spaceman from this fabric onto the front of her Lilah, and an little rocket onto the back lining. The white sweater fabric came from Quilt Yarn Stitch and I used grey interlock from Elvelyckan Design for the skirt and the lining. All so lovely and soft!! Perfect for wearing with her favourite dressing up item – her brother’s astronaut helmet.

Space sharks too!!

I really enjoyed testing the Niva pattern; a gentle warm up to this year’s sewing!! Huge thanks to Mgeni for the opportunity!! I’m looking forward to the next chance to test for her and looking forward to another great sewing year!

The pattern is released today, 4th February 2019, and tomorrow I will be hosting a giveaway of a free copy of the Lilah pattern on my Instagram page!!

Now relax and browse through some more of the wonderful variety of Sansahash outfits made using the Niva Leggings made by my fellow testers.

van leentje
happy button

An Appliqué Addiction Brewing…

A few people have expressed an interest in how I recently went about creating three animal themed appliqués. So here is a little insight into my very limited appliqué experience to give a bit of context, finishing with some of the steps I took to make my favourite piece to date; that Rhino sweater.

(I am pretty inexperienced in appliqué work and am certainly still learning as I go. Would love to hear any tips you have to share to! I love to learn!)

No. 3 admiring her “daddy rhino” sweater.
Pattern: Jolie Sweater by Misusu Patterns paired with their Easy Cuff Leggings

How I started.

Up until recently my efforts at appliqué have been intermittent and very modest. A polar bear made an appearance on a cosy sweater. A snail and a ladybird became best friends, a space alien landed and a lion roared. I’ve added little fish to quite a few makes; from tops to toys; jumping out of water to hiding behind a penguin or an octopus. I’ve adorned necklines with a sun and then a flower.

A pair of self drafted cosy penguins, with a sneaky little fish hiding as best he can. (There were three, but one must have flown (what?!) away!) I used a zigzag stitch to attach the teddy fleece and the white fleece face to the grey fleece front panel then sewed them together. The little felt fish was added by hand to the rear panel.
A hand sewn felt octopus with another stealthy fish.
No.1 modelling his uncooperative little brother’s polar bear sweater.
(I’ve since discovered the wonders of bribery to get them to stand for photos!)
Pattern: Raglan Tee: 34 by Brindille and Twig
I used appliqué to add detail, colour and textures to the Space Alien based on a wonderful drawing done by No.1, then 5years old. (I wrote a whole blog post about this Space Alien Inspiration!)
It is hand sewn, made primarily of felt with a bit of fleece for the cosy factor. I loved the process of translating his super drawing into 3-Dimensions!! He was utterly delighted and took great delight in seeing all the little details, even counting all the eyes, that were included.

Bondaweb is your friend.

In the springtime of last year I discovered the wonders of Bondaweb – essentially a fine layer of iron on glue that fuses two layers of fabric together. I was introduced to it by Deirdre Osborne, if you haven’t already discovered her stunning work go and check her out here on Instagram. She’s an amazing creator of delightful children’s clothes with the coolest appliqués full of inventive humour. I love seeing all her posts when they pop up on Facebook and Instagram. As well as the inspiring designs she comes up with, and beautiful combinations of fabrics, colours and patterns, she was also very generous in giving some tips when I enquired about her creations/methods sometime last year. (I can’t remember exactly when and the interaction is now lost in the world of a zillion Facebook posts.)

She suggested the use of Bondaweb (Deirdre may have suggested a different brand, but this is what I can get easily here in Dublin). It’s an appliqué game changer! It makes the sewing them so straightforward!

I have found that it has more than a few benefits:

1) It sticks the layers of fabric together so they can’t slip about when sewing. This includes holding the cut edges in place allowing you to sew closely to the edge with confidence;

2) It stabilises the fabric quite a bit, eliminating some of the stretch. This might not always be a positive but it certainly helps you to sew them with a normal straight stitch on your sewing machine. I’ve not yet had to worry about the stitches ripping. This does mean you’ve lost some of the stretch of your main fabric, but there is still plenty of give in it. I haven’t yet had a problem;

3) It makes it easier to cut your appliqué pieces out with accuracy. Because the fabric has been stabilised it can now be cut much more easily and correctly – without pulling it out of shape as you cut.

My first use of Bondaweb!
A sunburst of French terry and some fleecy fish on this happy sweater. Pattern: Crop Sweatshirt: 116 from Brindille and Twig, paired with their Culottes: 117

Deirdre also suggested the use of cotton interlock fabric as a good medium for appliqué. It is a lovely soft, flat fabric that, most importantly doesn’t fray. Nor does it curl up much at the edges, even after plenty of washes. I’ve yet to find a local (or even Europe based) supplier of a wide range of cotton interlock but Elvelyckan Design has a small, but beautiful selection of interlock shades, and this is what I have used where the colours work for me. In the absence of the right shades have used French terry, which has worked just fine too. Of course you can use whatever fabric you like; different fabrics bring their own texture and life!

If you really want to read a clear tutorial on applique from someone who knows her stuff go read Deirdre’s post on her blog here. It is so very clear, not like this muddling exploration!!

Honestly it’s difficult to look at the flowers with that gorgeous belly peeking out!
Pattern: Crop Sweatshirt: 116 from Brindille and Twig, paired with their Culottes: 117

A Snail, a Ladybird and a Lion.

Last summer a spot of pattern testing for Misusu Patterns had me sewing pockets onto Piper Tank Tops which forced me to practice some topstitching. This in turn gave me the confidence to make a very special appliqué patch…

Based on a gorgeous drawing of a ladybird holding hands with a snail drawn by No.1’s first ever school friend, I made a special Piper Tank top for that same friend (modelled here by No.1 before we handed it over to his charmed buddy).

The sweet little drawing that came to life.
The patch assembled.
The ever helpful (eh, well, a lot of the time anyway) No.1 doing his modelling duty before we wrapped up the gift for what was a delighted and very proud (and rightly so) young man.
Pattern: Piper Tank Top from Misusu Patterns.

This was the trickiest appliqué I had attempted with lots of little pieces. Without a doubt the use of bondaweb made it feasible.

Most of the appliqués I have done have been based on my own drawings. The exceptions being the lovely hand-holding pair above and this miniature feisty lion below.

“The lion says ROAR”

A few years ago I purchased Soledad Bravi’s “the noisy book” for No.2 and it is loved in this house. All three children have thoroughy enjoyed it and I really love how the phonetically spelled sounds really make sense/sound right as you read them aloud.

Inspired by the illustrations I was delighted to make this little gift for a friend of mine who was then pregnant with a baby boy. But you know what? Small fiddly appliqués are tricky!

A Whale of a Time!!

So, a few weeks ago the real appliqué fun started for me!! I’d had this idea floating around in my head for months… About six months ago I reckon, while doing some drawing with the children I was asked to draw a whale. This is what appeared and to my surprise it was a pretty good looking humpback whale! The tale fluke wasn’t quite right but I stuck it on the fridge thinking that it could make a cool appliqué.

A couple of weeks ago Fiona Murphy (a super sewist I who’s makes I look forward to spying on Facebook and Instagram; see her gorgeous stuff here!!) posted a really cute little appliqué of a dog on a sweater that sparked my imagination again! Being part of a sewing community really is a wonderful side of Facebook – there are some super sewing groups out there. I love the inspiration, encouragement and comradery found within!

I found the whale sketch under a pile of other drawings hanging off the fridge, googled “humpback whales” and worked on getting the shape a bit more life like. I don’t feel under pressure for it to be perfect, but there is something satisfying about getting the overall form feeling right. I also knew I wanted the tail sticking up out of the water, so needed to move things around a little.

Part of the plan in my head for this was to crack out my Bobbinhood screen-printing kit and print a silver/golden moon and stars in the sky. (I bought it for myself from my husband for my birthday back in August and have yet to use it!) In the end I decided that the pink and grey contrasted so well against each other that I didn’t need the gold/silver paint. An idea I will save for another project!

I kept the pink theme running through and cut out a few little inquisitive fish to have a chat with the whale. I like how the little fish give scale to the enormous whale, echo the reflection of the setting sun, and help balance the overall design.

My favourite part of this project are the little lines of stitching that give an impression of the textured lower jaw of the humpback. And that little eye that I imagine is looking back at those little fish.

I was concerned that No.1 would react against the pink colour in the t-shirt, but he didn’t comment on it at all – just said “Oh Wow! Not bad! Mama you invented something – a jumper with no sleeves!” Ha ha ha!!

My beautiful No.1 in his (very oversized! Plenty of growing room here!!) Whale T-shirt.
Pattern: Rowan Tee by Misusu Patterns. (It’s a free pattern!)

Narwhal for No.2

My middle man is an animal lover, and is particularly fond of “swimmers”, so he immediately requested a top of his own. We decided on a narwhal and I got to work.

What I like about drawing of any kind is that it makes you really look closely at what you are drawing and notice those defining features/shapes/colours/textures/details. Narwhals have a pretty simple form. They have that defining tusk and a particular shaped tail fin. They can be quite mottled in colour so I added some little pieces of fabric to try and represent this.

The first sketch of the narwhal layout. It didn’t work out exactly like that. I like the idea of using just stitching to represent the iceberg under the sea… another idea parked for later!

With the whale top I colour blocked it simply with just a dividing seam across the chest. This time round I got a little more adventurous and added some curved colour blocking to try and represent the rolling seas. This took quite a while for me to figure out as I had never done it before – but it worked! Success!

Figuring out the layout on the pattern pieces. I stuck the front and back pieces together to get the overall shape of the front. Then some more tracing to get the placement of the elements/shape of the colour blocking.
The messer of all messers loving his Narwhal Sweater.
Pattern: Jolie Sweater by Misusu Patterns

A narwhal would seem more than a little lost without some ice, so this fellow is looking out across the sea to some distant icebergs. And here are the little nosy fish again!

Appliqué in Action! Rhino Style!

My littlest wanted in on the fun and she loves visiting the rhinos in Dublin Zoo; next appliqué decided!! This time round I took some photos of the process. I couldn’t possibly call it a tutorial, but it might be interesting to some!

No.3 looking for a little bird.
Pattern: Jolie Sweater and Easy Cuff Leggings by Misusu Patterns

For the Rhino I used google to find some pictures to sketch from. Those days I spent copying pictures of dolphins and butterflies from Encyclopaedia Britannica are paying off! I traced over the sketches a good few times to get the shape right and then to even out the lines.

Once I was happy with the main rhino image I cut out the sweater pattern. I used the Misusu Patterns’ Jolie Sweater pattern again. I loved the shape of it on my skinny mister No.2 and couldn’t wait to make one for my littlest, lengthening it a little to give it a bit more coverage for winter wear.

I used the size and shape of the front main panel to figure out and get the scale of the appliqué correct. I lay the early sketches over it to check the scale. When I had the sweater fabric cut out I checked it again, remembering to allow for the seam allowances.

When I had the size and position of the rhino right I did one final trace so that I could safely cut out the shape and not lose the original for reuse.

I cut off the pieces that would be separate; the two horns and the back ear, leaving an extra couple of mm on the main panel at the horns which would sit over it. When I cut out the fabric horns I added the couple of mm back in at the bottom so that they were the correct length and would overlap with the main piece. For the ear piece it was the opposite as it sits under the main panel. I cut along the drawing line then added the extra onto the ear for overlapping.

It would be easier to just trace the individual pieces separately adding the overlap extra where needed. Noted for next time!!

I ironed all the rhino parts onto the sweater front (above) and then copied the lines onto the rhino (below) using water soluble marker. I just eyeballed where the lines should go, but there is probably a way to use transfer papers of some kind to get them in the right place.

Rhinos are remarkably grumpy looking. Their mouths are set in a permanent frown. I took a bit of “artistic licence” and curved that mouth up a little. He’s now a happy Rhino!

My sewing machine came with this foot on it and I use it almost all the time. I really like that it has a clear plastic part in the middle which allows me to see where I am stitching.

When I stitch along the edge of the applique parts I keep the edge of the fabric in the middle of the clear part to the right of the needle and this gives me a nice even 1.5/2mm spacing to the edge.

Bit by bit I follow the blue lines around. For the sake of neatness I don’t backstitch at the start or finish of each line. Instead I leave enough thread on at each end so that I could sew the ends through to the back of the fabric and then sew them into the back neatly to secure the threads. It is a bit time consuming though, I wonder if there is a faster way to do it while keeping it neat?

You can see here in the ear I went off course a bit. Perfection is far from important. As long as the stitches don’t wander way, way off I’m happy leave it just how it turns out.

I got distracted from taking photos as I worked at this point. Too caught up making some final decisions/changes of mind…

Next I ironed on the three dark grey pieces of interlock for the nose, eye and ear, and stitched them.

I had cut out the little bird a little too big so had to trim it down and then when I went to place it on the rhino’s front horn it didn’t look right. No. 1 suggested it should go on the rhino’s back, and he was absolutely right! I probably should have positioned it a little closer to centre though.

I had intended using the orange fabric for the bottom waistband and light grey ribbing for the neck band, but when I had the rhino finished he was a little lost looking. So I used the same yellow French terry that I used for the Oxpecker bird to make some grass for the rhino to stand on. This then led to another change of plan; to use matching yellow ribbing for the bottom waist band and the neckband.

I think the grass is very effective, the colours all tying together beautifully, and I’m delighted with the overall result!

All done!! I love the simple palate of contrasting colours.

Wow, that was a long post. I need an editor!! Well done if you read all the way to the end and thank you for your interest!! I’d love to hear your thoughts so please feel free to leave a comment! And please pass on any tips of your own!!

I’m still very new to this sewing lark, and especially appliqué, but I am really enjoying adding another layer of texture and colour to the clothes I make. I wonder what animal to add next?

Some very special DIAmond Sewing

When Misusu Patterns called for testers for the DIA patterns a very special project immediately came to mind. I had never before sewn something for Marlie, my mum, nor did I have any photos of me, my daughter and my mother together. As it worked out I couldn’t test the ladies version, a trip to Romania got in the way (oh poor me!), but got my hands on the pattern as soon as it was ready, thank you Elles! Once the kids testing was done I got cracking on a sweater for myself and my mum.

A DIA for me!

I had fallen in love with the little pink DIA I had made for No.3 as part of the Kids testing and luckily had just enough left to make one for myself.  (I gently encouraged my mum to select other fabric from my stash for her sweater. Sneaky of me I know…)

Me in my trusty, threadbare favourite jeans and my lovely new pink and grey High Low DIA sweater. Fabric from Guthrie and Ghani.

A DIA for Marlie!

Marlie chose another fabric I had bought on that one splurge made on Guthrie and Ghani‘s website; a heathered pink quilted sweater fabric. I decided to mix it with some of the lovely soft white sweater fabric from Quilt Yarn Stitch, (I had restocked my stash with more of this fabric when I visited their super stand and this year’s Knitting and Stitching Show). The use of the white sweater fabric really lifts the overall result and the second colour allows for a bit of play with the asymmetrical colour blocking potential of the DIA pattern.

Marlie in her asymmetrical colour blocked DIA.

I didn’t quite get the pieced diamond as perfect in Marlie’s sweater as I would have liked. I’ve found that you get the best results in the DIA when all the fabrics you use in one garment have an equal weight but more importantly an equal stretch. In this case the quilted fabric was a good bit more stretchy than the white sweater fabric, so it is a little tricky to keep all the seams lining up perfectly evenly.  The overall effect is pretty successful so I’m happy enough, and more importantly Marlie seemed thrilled with it.

It was a bit of a challenge to photograph the three of us in our DIAs. I got a few of Marlie and Julianne playing with some recently acquired wooden toys (Pojga toys from that trip to Romania and some Ostheimer Toys from Nimble Fingers). That wasn’t too hard, she’s mad about her granny and sure who doesn’t love a few new timber toys.

It was then time to get the kitchen counter and timer button on the dSLR set up! Usually it is a case of hoping the day will be bright enough to get good clear photos, but as our kitchen window faces south east on clear days the low winter sun can play havoc when trying to take pictures. I figured out a solution! A few meters of light weight muslin was just enough to take the harshness out of the direct sunlight and actually provided lovely, gentle variation and highlights to the light. It took a while, and poor Julianne had enough of the pair of us by the end!

Thanks Marlie (and Misusu)!

This sewing experience has been an extra special one. Firstly, the Misusu Patterns DIA is one hell of a pattern. I’m a big  fan of a high-low cut, the slightly cocoon shape and the construction of the pieced waistband finishes this sweater pattern perfectly.

But more importantly, I’m so grateful for the opportunity it has afforded to make something unique for my mum, daughter and myself and for the chance to photograph together these two most special ladies in my life. Marlie is an incredible woman, an inspirational mother, full of energy, resilience, generosity and joy. She is a wonderful grandmother to her 13 grandchildren, including my littlest here, the youngest of them. I’m looking forward to doing lots more sewing for both of them.


DIAmonds for Divils

Misusu Patterns have just released their updated DIA Kids Sweater and Tunic pattern. The size range has expanded and an amazing number of options added (I personally love the high-low hem option that has been introduced). And what’s more; Misusu has now released a DIA Ladies version!! It is their first ladies’ pattern and what a super pattern to start with!!!

This post here is all about the DIAs for my pair of divils – more on the ladies to follow!!


“I do declare this is a FABULOUS FLORAL FEAST of a sweater!!”

I was delighted to get the chance to test the new children’s version. I must, here at the outset, admit to previously having been daunted by the pattern; it looks a bit tricky. When you’re trying to squeeze sewing in around the busy routines of life sometimes a pattern that requires a little effort can feel like a step too far. But this is why I love pattern testing. You’ve got to make that extra effort. Any by goodness this DIA pattern is worth every bit.

If, however, you’re still daunted Misusu have added both a basic front, a simple diamond piece and a constructed diamond piece. So you can decide to jump in with the full constructed diamond option, or take it easy and sew some lovely simple sweaters with some great hem and seam shapes. Pattern perfection for sure!!!

Misusu’s patterns are incredibly well conceived and constructed. The tutorials are detailed and comprehensive and when you follow the instructions the pattern just falls into place. Yes without doubt the constructed diamond requires careful attention to keeping your seam allowances even, but other than that there are no difficult techniques at all. Just a little patience. Which, when it comes to sewing, it turns out I am developing!!

“Yes, I love my puff sleeves, but I love my jelly more.”

For my first test version I decided to jump in with the constructed diamond and puff sleeves on the high low sweater version. I used quite stable sweater fabric, a combination of a purple/aubergine sweater from Metermeter and a floral liberty sweater fabric from Guthrie & Ghani. The little puff sleeves are very cute, though I reckon would be more effective in a slightly lighter fabric. A pretty perfect fit from the outset and my little diva was delighted with her DIA!

We love CANDY!!

A contrasting candy coloured delight!!

Next up I decided to go or the tunic length version, high low again, and this time used a combination of three contrasting French terry fabrics. The yellow and rust colours from See You At Six and the pink from Elvelyckan Design.

No. 3 is also wearing here Easy Cuff Leggings, also from Misusu in some denim look jersey from Dress Fabrics.

I love this bright candy coloured combination!! The tunic length is just great for those chillier days when an extra bit of cosiness is needed. Pretty damn stylish too!!

Pink perfection!!

The last test version I made is perhaps the most perfect little sweater I have ever made; a high low sweater in a soft, light but stable double sided French terry fabric from Guthrie & Ghani.

I love the subtle high – low hem.

The front of the fabric is a soft flat sweater finish while the “reverse” of the fabric is a pink looped finish. The stability of the fabric really helped achieve those perfect diamond points. I found it makes it so much easier to keep the seam allowances even and the seams lining up when there is not too much stretch in the fabric.

No.3 can get impatient when she sees a new jumper ready to try on…

The high-low hem created by Misusu, isn’t just a simple hem on a slightly longer back, but a carefully detailed pieced waistband that results in an shape that works beautifully with the diamond theme. Subtly angled side seams meet those waistband seams delightfully. It is so satisfying when it all comes together at the end!!

Neon Diamond Maddness!!

Neon madness!!!

I had finished my testing makes but No.2 was feeling a little neglected in the sewing stakes so I decided to make him a DIA. From his measurements I should have graded the pattern to make it narrower, as he’s a skinny tall chap. But with my pattern tester hat no longer on I was back in lazy mode and just went with his height measurement. So plenty of room for layers under this snuggly neon fleece DIA!!

My beautiful No.2.

I went with the straight waistband option for this one and used some neon polar fleece from Fabrics Ireland combined with French terry from Elvelyckan and See You At Six! You might need sunglasses for this!!! The grey ribbing was a little too heavy for the main fabric along the waistband, especially at the back, so ended up swapping it out for some lighter weight See You At Six ribbing.

A pair of DIAmond DIVILS

A pair of Diamond Divils.

No.2 is madly in love with his sister. She tolerates him most of the time, but deep down loves him too. They have the craic together, that’s for sure.

Brotherly love.

With a bit of reciprocation.

As always there was a great atmosphere within the DIA Kids testing group and the quality and inventiveness of my fellow testers was incredibly inspiring!!! A huge thanks to Elles for having me on the team; it was super experience once again!! While I didn’t test the DIA ladies pattern, I did get my hands on it as soon as it was ready (thanks Elles!) and straightaway got to work on a very special sewing project… more of that in a later post.

This post goes live right in the middle of the madness that is the Black Friday/Cyber Monday long weekend. Misusu Patterns are holding a big giveaway over on Instagram and there is 25% off all their patterns from the 23rd to the 26th November 2018!! 

LANA for me!

When Olga Becker from Coffee and Thread asked if any of the Lana KIDS testing team would like to join a Lana Pattern Tour I put my hand up immediately! Anything to encourage a bit of selfish sewing and with such a lovely pattern how could I refuse!

I intended making myself a Lana Dress, as I could definitely do with a few more Me Made dresses in my wardrobe (I have only one!!), but ended up making a couple of casual tops that are immediate favourites.

Love that ruffled drop sleeve detail, almost as much as I love that shade of yellow!

First, I made a t-shirt using some of See You At Six‘s latest collection of fabrics. I wasn’t supposed to buy any more fabric when this collection came out, but couldn’t resist those flying geese on such a lovely shade of yellow.

Grey and yellow – a great combination! I can just about get away with this shade of yellow and love it with my grey linen Calyer Pants by French Navy Patterns.

I sized up to allow for the french terry fabric that has a little more body than the jersey fabric intended for the pattern. It’s a relaxed fit on me and the lovely soft fabric makes it nice and cosy. Honestly, it will get more wear next summer than over the winter months but already has had quite a few outings, layered up as necessary.

Pretty cool with blue too! This time with my Cleo Skirt by Made By Rae Patterns in lovely linen by Merchant and Mills.

I can just about keep wearing it on those not too chilly days layered up with one of my favourite RTW cardis.

For Round Two I promised myself I’d make a dress, but then came across this lovely soft white sweater fabric in my stash and knew that it needed to become a jumper.

Lovely soft white sweater from Quilt Yarn Stitch. Yes, I am aware how mad it is to make something white in a household with three filthy little-uns.

The sweater fabric came from one of my favourite Irish fabric shops Quilt Yarn Stitch and I married it with more of that yellow See You At Six ribbing and some striped organic cotton interlock from Fabwork Mills. Yellow, White and Grey. Yum!!

I love the long sleeves with the gathered shoulder. Just enough detail to lift it from the ordinary without being too fussy.

I used the ruffled short sleeve and hacked it to an extra long sleeve with a yellow cuff to keep it practical and cosy. Olga has actually added a straight long sleeve to the pattern that can be used by itself or with the ruffle piece layered over it, but I wanted just a gather to the main sleeve so gave it a go. Not perfect but I’m happy!! (Notice a pattern developing? I love a cosy top!) I added a waistband to finish the bottom.

I spent a while thinking about the arm fabric. You don’t often see a jumper with a different coloured sleeve and was worried it would look weird when it was made. I wanted to used the lighter weight fabric to avoid the sleeves being too bulky and love the soft white and soft grey combined with the yellow. I’m delighted I risked it!!

Sleeve success!!!

I must say I was delighted with myself heading off to the Knitting and Stitching Show the day after I made this sweater in my largely Me Made outfit. This sewing addiction of mine is so rewarding! Even if it results in a lighter bank balance and neglected household…

Off to the Knitting and Stitching Show (where I bought more of that gorgeous white sweater fabric from the lovely ladies at the Quilt Yarn Stitch stand) in my new jumper along with my self drafted bag and Sylvia Coatigan. Yeay!!

I’m so thrilled to have been able to join so many talented seamstresses on this pattern tour. If you check out @coffeeandthread over on Instagram you’ll see all the fabulous work. So very inspiring, and I love the comradery fostered in the Facebook sewing groups!

Over at Coffee and Thread there is a 20% discount on all their patterns for the duration of the Lana Pattern Tour, 5th -16th November 2018, code: ‘lanatour’; so well worth a visit!!!


Need more Coffee and Thread for the children? Here comes LANA!

A couple of weeks ago I spotted a call on Instagram for pattern testers to test a new children’s pattern being released by Coffee and Thread; the Lana KIDS Dress and Tee. It looked like a gorgeous little pattern, within my skill range and so I decided to apply! Low and behold I was selected. Yippee! Cue some more late night sewing…

I had admired their adult Lana Top and Dress pattern and it has been on my wish list for a while, so was delighted to get the chance to test a children’s version. I applied to test the Lana Gathered Dress version for my little No.3. and she measured perfectly for the 18 months size.

Perfect flutter sleeves on a dropped shoulder. Jersey fabric from Quilt Yarn Stitch.

I must admit to being a little nervous at joining a testing team for a new designer. My experiences with Misusu Patterns testing have been wonderful and I was worried that this experience wouldn’t measure up. I am delighted that this turned out to be another great experience. Coffee and Thread are based in Chicago and the testing group was made up of lots of sewing folk who I had not encountered before, so a lovely way to discover new people. Olga was great to test for; super engaged and so very helpful with advice/suggestions. Very gentle in her admonishing of those of us who hadn’t pressed our seams (yes, that would be me, oops!)… and more than a few good sewing tips thrown in too!

A beautiful rainbow of colours.

There are always a few surprises when testing patterns and this was no exception. The construction of those lovely little sleeves was a bit tricky to master. And I was nearly pulling out my hair at one stage, but thanks to the great support and ideas from Olga and the other testers I figured out a good method and conquered them! This is why I do pattern testing. It’s a great way to push my sewing boundaries and to learn from the experience of others! The most useful tip was to stay stitch the corners of the shoulder and snip into the corners a bit before pinning the sleeve on, sniping in a little more if needed. I found I needed to be quite careful when serging this seam, pulling the sleeve fabric as needed to avoid grabbing too much fabric. It is so satisfying when you master a new skill!!

Conker hunting in red flamingo print jersey from The Fabric Counter.

The pattern comes with three versions. A Gathered Dress, a Tee Dress and a Top. I tested the two dress options and love them both. It’s a relaxed fitting pattern and much of the focus of the testing was to get the fit just right; relaxed but not too loose.

Best buddies.

I made a couple of gathered dresses for testing purposes early on. The first (as modelled by Gorilla here!) was in a lovely green organic cotton interlock combination and was a little too wide. The fabric is quite loose in weave, and so gave it an even looser fit.

No.3 and Gorilla

The second (as modelled by the Gorilla’s beautiful friend) is the blue jersey version made with some lovely Elvelyckan Design jersey.  A tiny bit long (not a problem for me – always happy for growing room!) was my only comment! 

Next up I got stuck into a Lana Tee Dress.

Such a comfy dress and this really soft jersey is just perfect for it.

This first version is made using the softest jersey from Quilt Yarn Stitch. I have a good bit of it left in my stash, and have used if for a few other projects. It has a lovely generous stretch, and is really very soft. And those clashing blue and green stripes are just super!

I love the dropped shoulder detail in this pattern. The curve to the shoulder is just perfect and ends with a beautiful fluttered sleeve. I think Olga had older girls in mind with this Tee Dress version – but my goodness it is cute on my little maggot.

Belly, belly!

Who is at the door?

I called into The Fabric Counter during testing and was seduced by this gorgeous flamingo print jersey. It is just perfect for the Lana Gathered Dress version.

The Gathered Dress in gorgeous flamingo printed jersey from The Fabric Counter.

I learnt a new sewing tip during the course of this testing. I’ve made dresses with gathered skirts before but this was the first time a pattern called up adding a 15mm strip interfacing to the bottom of the bodice where it meets the skirt. And it works a treat! It prevents the bodice rippling along this seam and keeps it lovely and neat looking!

“Four, three, two, one, ready or not! Here I come!”

Another super comfy dress for my littlest sweetheart.

The pattern calls for the use of a knit fabric; jersey or similar. As we are settling into autumn here in Ireland I decided for my last version I would use some sweater fabric for another Tee Dress. And what a super fabric it is! Oh my, those colours! It’s a Liberty sweater fabric I bought from Guthrie & Ghani, a UK based fabric shop. I splurged a little and bought it with a sweater for myself in mind, (I’m thinking another Bel’Etoile Isa Sweater) and think I’ll have just enough left after eating into it a little here…

Liberty Sweater fabric from Guthrie & Ghani.

I was concerned that the heavier weight sweater would make the dress a bit too constricting, but I needn’t have worried, it fits great and No.3 was well able to run about and hunt for conkers in it. Combined with some Elvelyckan Design ribbing for the neck band and the ruffled sleeves it’s pretty much perfect.

Out and about collecting conkers in this gorgeous dress! Plenty of run to run and jump and root about.

Stunning colours, perfect for this simple dress.

I’ve really enjoyed making the Lana Dress versions and suspect No.3 will get a lot more in the future – along with some Lana Tops! I might even have to embark on some rare mum and daughter twinning too and invest in that adult Lana pattern for myself!

A huge thanks to Olga for inviting me to join the testing team! I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Lana KIDS Top and Dress is released today, 2nd October 2018, and it is on sale for the duration of the week of release (2nd October till 9th October 2018) and can be snapped up here for $6.50, instead of $9.00 after.