Friday, 3 March 2017

Spring Sewing Plans & Fabrics

I really wanted to title this post "March Sewing Plans & Fabrics" but I suspect I'd be over committing myself a little! I thought I'd share which patterns I'm planning to make over the next couple of months and the fabrics I've chosen for them. Hopefully writing it all down here will make me a little more accountable to use up these pieces of stash rather than being distracted by the new and shiny. Who am I kidding?

Starting at the top of the heap... 

Juliet's 1st Birthday Dress - Geranium

My little baby is one in just over a week - how did this even happen?? I made the Geranium Dress from Made by Rae back in December for Juliet, it's such a perfect basic little girl's dress, well worth the investment. I find with baby sewing it's the fabric that does the talking and the simplicity of this pattern means that those gorgeous prints can be shown off.

The above fabric is by Lewis and Irene and I picked it up in my local fabric shop recently. I'm planning on using the white base for the bodice and the blue for the skirt. I'm going to sew View A and add the ruffle sleeve, once I've made it up I think I'll pop to the local market and see if I can find some cute trims to add. I'm thinking maybe some tulle underneath and a little ric rac around the bottom, is it even possible to be OTT with a first birthday dress? Of course not!

Spring Carolyn Pajamas - Closet Case Files 

How beautiful is this cotton?! I picked it up on a trip to Harrogate last summer with my Mum. I've already made a pair of Carolyn Pajamas and the pattern is just amazing. For my second pair I'm thinking short sleeves but long legs. I can't wait to wake up on brighter mornings in these!

Floral Tulip Skirt - Sew Over It

I made the majority of this skirt back in September! It's been languishing at the bottom of my sewing basket since then, waiting to be finished. I am a terrible procrastinator when it comes to finishing, especially if it involves hand sewing. All I need to do is slip stitch the waistband down and it's ready to wear, so a quiet evening in front of the TV should sort that one out. The fabric is a gorgeous stretch cotton which again came from my local market last year. Pattern is the lovely Tulip Skirt from Sew Over It.

Pink Heather Dress - Sew Over It

This pattern joined my collection when I joined the Sew Over It PDF club. The fabric is a lightweight sweatshirting from my stash which came from Abkhan in Preston some time ago. I no longer buy from the remnant bins in Abakhan, despite their amazing potential for bargains I've had my fingers burned too many times with poor quality, strange marks and misprints. I know that this is the risk you take but I'd rather invest a little more if I'm putting the effort in to sew a whole piece of clothing.

I'm a little nervous about the fabric choice but I guess I have nothing to lose given that it's from deep stash. I've folded it back a little in the first photo to show you the reverse side, it's loop backed and a very pretty colour so fingers crossed it should work out.

Upcycling - Grandma's Nightie

This last entry is unusual for me. Upcycling is something I have never tried but my Mum passed on this beautiful nightie of my Grandma's recently and suggested that I made it into something for Juliet. I love the baby blue and the scalloped hem would be stunning on a baby dress. I think whilst I have the Geranium pattern out I'll have a fiddle and see what I can come up with.

What are you sewing this spring? Let me know in the comments - I'd love to hear from you!

Hopefully I'll be reporting back soon with some finished sews.

Until next time :-)

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Sewn : Moneta

If you're a sewist and you've opened any of your social media accounts recently, you can't have missed the Moneta Party that's taking place this weekend.

If you haven't heard about it - it's an Instagram party running from February 24th - 26th, organised by Elle from Sew Positivity, Rachel from Rach Against The Sewing Machine and Abigail from Sew Abigail. You can read all about it over on the Colette Patterns blog. Basically, all you need to do is sew your Moneta dress, snap a pic and tag it on instragram with #monetaparty to join in the fun and with the chance of winning some amazing prizes.

Now I don't usually allow myself to get swept away by these sorts of bandwagons but this time I just had to succumb. I've had my eye on the pattern for a little while as I tried on this cute jersey dress in Cath Kidston in December (allbeit with 3/4 sleeves), however for the best part of £50 even in the sale I couldn't bring myself to buy what was essentially a t-shirt with a gathered skirt. I'm sorry Cath, I love you but not that much. I've had major issues with the quality of Cath Kidston clothing in the past so I walked away.

I'm not usually a speedy sewer but I am a deadline motivated person (i.e. last minute suits me just fine) so on Tuesday I printed the pattern and headed for my local fabric shop. Despite buying 2.5m of fabric I managed to squeeze my dress out of just 1.25m, partially helped by omitting the pockets, I don't really need them on a jersey dress.

It only took a couple of evenings work to pull together the dress. I sewed most of it on the overlocker, with the exception of the hems and gathered elastic waist. This was my first time using clear elastic (I got mine here at Guthrie & Ghani, it came really quickly too, thanks guys!) and I'm really pleased with the result, so much lighter than ordinary elastic and it creates a great structure, just like you'd find in a RTW garment. 

I finished the hems with just one row of stitching, (so overlock, turn, press and hem) as I can't use the twin needling function on my machine just now as my spool pin is sadly broken. I did topstitch a second row of stitching around the neckline to give the effect, but how I could love a coverstitcher!

I'm really pleased with my finished dress and will certainly be making more variations. I adore sewing and wearing jersey so this pattern is a perfect wardrobe staple. It could be dressed up for the office or just for a comfy day doing my Mum duties.

You'll find me as JennyStitches over on instagram - hop on over and take a look at all the amazing competition entries!

Until next time :-)

Monday, 20 February 2017

Sewn : Vintie Overalls

I'm quite a selfish seamstress, but recently I have sewn a couple of little pieces for Juliet, after all I'm so grateful to have a little girl again, I'm making the most of her whilst I can!

Juliet is now 11 months old and a speedy little crawler. As much as I adore a sweet little baby dress and tights they tend to hold up her crawl pace, or make her slip and slide on our wooden floors. Also pale coloured tights tend to get quite grubby as she scoots around.

For this reason I decided to make her a pair of little dungarees. I came across this gorgeous fine needle cord on our local market stall a few weeks ago but hesitated as I didn't really need to buy it. The next time I visited I decided to go for it as I often walk away from purchases and regret it later, luckily for me there was 0.8m left and just enough to squeeze this little project out of it. There's a little bit of growing room but they are comfortable enough for her to wear right away. 

The dungarees came together quickly enough but my sewing time has been limited in the last few weeks. Jack has recently celebrated his 5th birthday so we have been busy with visitors, presents and commitments as a result. I've mostly been baking birthday cake in my spare time, or so it feels! I'm hoping to get back to my machine once half term is out of the way and getting going with a few makes for spring. 

Size sewn : 1
Fabric : Needlecord from Barrow market hall (I'm unsure of the manufacturer, sorry!)

Until next time :-)

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The Garden : Late Winter

It is freezing. Looking out of the window on a windy and overcast afternoon doesn't grip me with the urge to work in the garden as it does on a warm summers day but I know from experience that the work I put in now will be repaid once the season gets underway.

Once outside (and wrapped up in several, layers, gloves and hot tea in my insulated mug) it's really not so bad. Digging, weeding and numerous trips to the shed keep me warm enough to stay out for an hour. 

I'm a big believer in what I call the "half an hour here and there" approach to gardening. There's no way I could devote a whole day, or even afternoon to working outside, so I try to grab short bursts. This helps me keep on top of things and stay in touch with what's going on outdoors.

It's not all bleak though, those new shoots are forcing themselves up into the cold air, you just have to look for them. I've seen peonies, aquilegia, dicentra, catmint, salvia, alliums and many more starting to make their return. The roses are forming new buds too, ready to be pruned and shaped to come back even stronger this year, I hope.

In the vegetable garden I am busy preparing. Planning which crops to plant, ordering seeds and trays, planting bare root fruit (raspberry canes and blueberries pictured here) and getting the ground ready for spring planting. It's tempting to start sowing seeds but it's too soon, so I'm holding off for the time being and concentrating on getting this years structural changes implemented whilst i can see the bare bones of the garden.

There's lots of planning and looking forwards to do. One of the reasons I love gardening is the ongoing sense of anticipation, waiting for the shoots to pop up, the seeds to germinate, the plans to take shape and the sights and tastes to be enjoyed. At this time of the year its good to have an excuse to get outdoors and take in some fresh air and daylight. It's also nice to come back indoors and get warm by the fire!

Until next time :-)

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Sewn : The Brooklyn Hoodie

Well hello there! A little while has passed since my last post, I've been living my life in a blur of nappies, housework, gardening and getting myself back on track with a few things. Hopefully I'll post a life update shortly but for now lets have a finished sew!

I've had these photos sat on my hard drive for around a month now, and the hoodie was finished probably a month before that. The reason why I've been reluctant? I felt enormous. I'm just being honest here, I chose to make a nice cosy hoodie as my first post baby sewing project as it wouldn't need to be fitted, so I could get back to my machine as quickly as possible. Also, who doesn't love a comfy slouchy hoodie?!

However, when I had finished I asked my husband to take a few photos and promptly burst into tears.  I'm not being hard on myself, just a 6 week post partum body is a pretty scary place, it's probably not a bright idea to have photos taken.

Fast forward another month to when these were taken and I was feeling much more myself, I've been back to exercising and clean eating and settling back down to my pre baby figure. There's another post in that one I am sure! It turns out that if you spend 9 months eating all the Reese's peanut butter cups you end up with some erm, excess timber. Who knew?

Anyhow, onto the hoodie! The pattern is the Brooklyn Hoodie by Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick patterns. I made the medium size, in this gorgeous light weight sweatshirting from Backstitch. (You can find it here if you'd like some of your own). There's a great series of sew a long posts on the SBCC blog too which are really helpful.

Sourcing notions was a bit tricky for this one. I live in a small town on a Cumbrian peninsular and our shopping options are fairly limited. We have one or two sewing shops in town and a couple of haberdashers on the market but it can be difficult to get bits and pieces, though I try to shop as locally as possible it can be frustrating.

I love it! I've now lost a bit more weight than these photos show and it's probably on the too big side but it's still lovely to snuggle up in when an extra layer is needed. I really wanted to get it finished in time for James completing the Fred Whitton Challenge back in May, which I did! Cycling is a big thing for the boys in our house.

I'm modelling here with scruffy post workout hair! Apologies for the less than brilliant photos.

Hopefully I'll be back soon with some more completed projects and an update on our little family.

Jenny xxx

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Introducing Our New Arrival

Well, as promised I am here to let you know that our beautiful third baby, Juliet Joy, joined us on March 11th.

I'm sitting here at the breakfast bar quietly tapping out this post as she naps in her pram after a long walk.  It's taken me a couple of weeks to get around to posting due to the usual business that surrounds a new baby, midwives, health visitors, family, friends, neighbours, our house has been a hive of activity and excitement and we couldn't be happier.

James has returned to work today (& starts a brand new job role, which is also very exciting for us), Jack is in nursery as usual so it's just us girls. It's going to take some getting used to being at home with a baby again!

So, details. I went into labour on the Friday evening and everything happened quite quickly. From feeling some cramps at around 4pm I made tea, put our little boy to bed and ran myself a bath. I knew from previous labours that this would be it but things were definitely not yet established so I decided to relax and hope that the night wouldn't be too long. After I got out of the bath at around 8pm, contractions started in earnest so I had James hook me up to the Tens machine kindly lent by my friend Emma and went downstairs to watch TV and pace around the room. By this point my Mum popped home to get her overnight kit to watch Jack when we went to the hospital. I called the labour ward to let them know that I was in labour but not yet ready to come down, I also asked if when I did come, I could use the birthing pool, as I did with Jessica.

By 10pm I was considering running another bath. Contractions were coming thick and fast but I really didn't want to rush to the hospital after only a couple of hours of labour and be told to come home again. My Mum suggested I rang them and asked their advice, on hearing me speak the midwife said "you sound in a lot of pain, how far apart are the contractions?", "oh, they're just like one continuous one really", "right, I think you'd be best coming down now"! Looking back I am glad I didn't get in the bath again, it could have been a home birth!

Once we arrived at the hospital the midwife examined me and confirmed that I was 6cm dilated. Thankfully the Active birth suite was free and the pool was already filling. I climbed into the pool and after a further 30mins of contractions, with a little gas and air (which made me feel drunk and horrible) I knew I needed to push. 10 minutes was all it took to meet our little baby who I caught in the water at 11.01pm.

I sat in the water gazing at this tiny, calm little baby who appeared to be simply snoozing on my chest, no crying, no fuss, just happily sleeping away. I took a quick glance down below and in my post birth haze I saw something between the legs and declared it was a boy. In the following five minutes we made a few jokes about how I wanted a second bathroom in the house so I could use a clean toilet of my own without "boy wee" everywhere. We explained to the midwives that although we didn't find out the gender of the baby at the scans we had felt all along it would be a boy, as we couldn't imagine being lucky enough to have another girl after losing Jessica. However we were happy, a healthy second child was all we asked for. At that point the midwife looked a little quizzical and suggested we check again. Imagine my surprise when I looked properly (and didn't mistake an umbilical cord for something else) and discovered we did in fact have a daughter! There were many tears of happiness, as I'm sure you can imagine.

We returned home the following day and have been in a bubble of pure happiness ever since.  Whilst in no way does Juliet replace Jessica, our arms feel full with the joy of family again, I don't think I appreciated quite how redundant I felt only having one baby to care for. Having a girl is the icing on the cake, it allows us to grieve for Jessica as the person she was, rather than grieving for the both her and the loss of a daughter. Now we can look towards the future and know that all our hopes and dreams for a little girl can happen.

Since her birth, many people have been in touch and remarked that her arrival must have been "bittersweet" or "very emotional". Of course it was emotional, giving birth always is! But bittersweet, definitely not. The way we grieve for Jessica is the same whatever day of the year or occasion it is. Juliet's arrival can only be positive and happy, it couldn't possibly be anything else.

Jenny xxx

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Life : Lately

It's been a busy few weeks here as we get closer to my due date. Baby is holding out, despite me feeling like it's arrival will be imminent for a few weeks now!

Our little man turned four at the start of the month, which was a surprisingly emotional day for us.

We are so proud of the little boy he is growing into, always smiling, chatting, a constant blur of movement and noise yet simultaneously affectionate, sensitive and well behaved, I couldn't be happier. I often find myself taking those Mummy moments, where you sit back and think wow, this is my child and look how lovely he is! I always wanted a "little James" and the pair of them are definitely two peas in a pod.

We kept his actual birthday fairly low key and celebrated at home with family and a couple of his friends from down the street. I imagine this is the last year I will get away without organising a proper kids party so I'm making the most of it!

Jessie on Jack's third birthday, with her Aunty Helen
The day was also unexpectedly emotional as I couldn't help but feel Jessica's absence, probably as Jack's third birthday was the last time a lot of people saw her, as she passed away 11 days later.  Grief is a funny old thing, it really does sneak up and grab you when you least expect it to, for example Christmas passed relatively easily, however a day which should technically be all about Jack was filled with thoughts of Jessica. Early February was definitely a time for the "this time last year" game.

So what else has been happening?? I've been growing a small human! Pregnancy has been kind to me in so far as I've been lucky enough not to have any major issues, but I certainly haven't escaped the usual complaints! I don't think I've had a full nights sleep in weeks now, the pulling of my belly on my back just means that I can't get comfortable in bed regardless of how many pillows I prop myself up with. I am definitely at the stage where I feel I'd rather have the baby here now! However, it won't be long and I am so excited to meet this little one.

I paid a visit my wonderful best friend Emma who has recently opened her own photography studio in Preston.  Whilst it isn't her usual line of work, she offered to take some maternity photos for me before bump becomes a baby.  I couldn't be happier with the results, she's an incredibly talented photographer and even brought along a make up artist for a little confidence boost, which made a lovely girly day out for me!

I finished work for maternity leave in the middle of February, which I was very much ready for. It's been a relief to have a couple of weeks where I don't *have* to rush in the mornings and can take the day at my own pace. My lovely colleagues treated me to some beautiful flowers, lovely chocolate (I guess I must have spoken at length about my love for Reese's this pregnancy...) and some vouchers for Cath Kidston. I'm really going to miss them over the next 12 months, I enjoy my job and am lucky to be part of a really great team where we all get along really well.

I had the biggest surprise on a snowy day in February when Emma arrived clutching a large wrapped gift for me from a group of friends. I assumed it would be something baby related, imagine my surprise when I opened the paper to find a beautiful Kitchen Aid stand mixer! I'd said that I really didn't want a baby shower this time around so they had taken it upon themselves to arrange a surprise which was just so thoughtful and touching. I've already given it a good workout, I've been baking cakes and bread and it came in very handy for whizzing up batches of pancake batter!

Being at home has of course given me some time to start work on the garden for this year.  I'm feeling really eager to get out there on some warmer days and start making a few changes and getting seeds sown but for the time being I've managed to get my seed potatoes out to chit, the grass mown and a little clearing of weeds and old growth from the flower beds. I've created a planting plan and ordered all of my flower and vegetable seeds for the summer, James and I are also planning how to overhaul our broken patio and completely change the bottom area closest to the house which should create a really exciting new space for us.

Inside, I've been nesting like only a third trimester pregnant lady can. I'm happiest wiping down my worktops, mopping floors and running the hoover around! I'm completely in love with the smell of cleaning products and laundry powders (something I've had all 3 times!). I am a bit of a neat freak at the best of times so it has been a new level of clean and tidy in here!

We've also been working hard to get things ready for baby, our little bedroom is now a nursery rather than a home office and whilst it's awaiting some finishing touches once we know what gender the baby is all the furniture is in place and we are good to go. Hopefully once everything is in place I will put together a nursery reveal post.

I've spent a little time crafting for baby, and finished a couple of little knits which I'll share in another post - they deserve their own blog space!

A big part of getting ready for baby has been getting established with the CONI scheme. CONI stands for "Care of Next Infant" and helps parents who have lost a child to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome to deal with the inevitable emotional difficulties of having another baby. So far we have met our new health visitors who have been really lovely, we have been given lots of information about the support available, and even had a baby CPR demonstration and been given a set of weighing scales and an apnoea monitor. My feelings are very mixed at this stage about how much extra support we will want or need but we are taking the approach of setting up as many support channels as possible and we can choose whether or not we want to use them as the time comes.

If you've made it through all this waffle, well done! Hopefully I'll be back soon to share the news of our new arrival.

Jenny xxx