December 1st

The first day of Advent, spent suitably. This morning I finished knitting another Christmas present, socks for a friend with sore feet. The socks are soft and will I hope be comfortable. When that was done I got the Advent calendar down from the high cupboard where the Christmas decorations are stored,  I made it when my son was a baby. I used a pattern in a German handicraft magazine, it has Father Christmas in an embroidered sleigh and reindeer flying through the night sky towards a snow covered village.  There are 24 brass rings to which we tie a small parcel, one each day until Christmas. In the past I would wrap up pieces of Lego, small pencils or rubbers, stamps, sweets or tiny toys. Latterly I’ve wrapped more useful items like boxes of matches, pound coins, book tokens etc but this year with two children to help open the parcels there will be toys again. image

This afternoon was our school nativity play, I mended three donkey costumes, a camel costume and sewed the tail back onto a sheep. Then I helped small wriggling children get into their outfits and walked with them into the hall to perform in front of their parents and friends. After that it was off to Year 5 to design a meal for an astronaut.

This evening after the usual round of marking work and preparing for tomorrow’s lessons I started a tiny pair of socks for my granddaughter – red and white to match her liten fuggel mittens.

The time between the 1st of December and Christmas always seemed endless as a child, now it is the beginning of a busy time that seems to get shorter every year, but it still invokes the same anticipation and joy I’m glad to say.

 

On being 60, and Vivianna

I have loved the designs of Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe  imagefor many years, I’ve looked longingly at jewellers’ windows and coveted the watches in particular the bangle watches, the necklaces and the earrings. Actually the watches have been a constant obsession since I saw a very elegant friend wearing one many years ago. I’ve told myself many times that I would have a Vivianna watch  for this or that occasion.imageNow and again I’ve saved up some money but then inevitably other needs took priority and the savings would be spent on necessities. This year I reached the milestone of being 60, a number of friends and family asked what I’d like but I didn’t feel that asking for a present costing thousands of pounds was reasonable. Just after my birthday I spotted a vintage Vivianna watch for sale in an online auction house in Denmark. Calling it vintage is being kind, really it is a very old very well used watchimage

that is going to need some serious restoration but it’s price was well within reach so I bid on it fully expecting someone to outbid me by the closing date, today.

When I got in this afternoon there was an email waiting to say that the poor old battered Vivianna is mine. It should arrive in about 10 days and then the work will have to begin… but I am finally the owner of a Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe watch and I can’t wait to start restoring it to its former glory. Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe had quite unusual views about watches, she didn’t like the idea of watching the progress of time so most of the watches she designed had mirror faces to reflect the present instead. They don’t have numbers on the dials and sometimes only had a second hand and no minute or hour hands. Thankfully this watch has both minute and hour hands and currently the mirror face reflects nothing but dirt and rust. It is apparently in working order though so the damage is surface damage only.

Baby footwear

there seems to have been an explosion of baby shoes, pram shoes, boots and slippers for babies, both ready made and patterns. I can’t remember there being so much choice, if any, when my son was a baby. There were the little cotton sewn booties that were rather like a bag with elastic round the ankles, there were the traditional knitted booties and of course there were the leather pram shoes for the well – heeled!He wore mostly traditional knitted booties and later on had soft slipper socks made in Norway. image

His daughter at eight weeks already owns more pairs of shoes than I do, mainly fabric shoes, in all colours including a pair of silver glittery boots. Looking around the Internet for sewing patterns for her I found the Lilly Baby Mary Janes pattern for tiny felt shoes. Yesterday I spent a couple of happy hours making these. The pattern is not difficult, fiddly definitely, but

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fun to sew. The possible colour combinations are endless and wool felt makes them very soft for tiny feet. The pattern is from http://www.ithinksew.com and the wool felt I used was from http://www.woolfeltcompany.co.uk. I used the 30% wool 1mm thick felt for the outer shoes and the pure wool 1mm felt for the linings and inner soles. I bought a pack of different coloured sheets of the 30%wool felt so that I could make a few pairs in different colours. The sheets are 20×30 cms and are just big enough to make the smallest size from a single sheet with careful cutting. Sewing the straps was very fiddly, I’m amazed I still have all my fingers intact, the pattern gives instructions to hand sew the edges with buttonhole stitch but the illustration showed machine stitching so I tried that, I’ll use buttonhole stitch next time! As you can see the machine stitching on the straps isn’t very even, however the baby won’t mind and these are my first try.

Rosy dress.

this week’s make was encouraged by reading about Kids Clothes week. The idea is to sew for an hour a day and make something for a child.

I have been away from work since before Christmas with pneumonia and was due to return on Monday. An hour a day of sewing sounded manageable and despite the fact that I was very tired each evening I stuck to the plan and by Friday I’d made a dress for my granddaughter.

I used Citronille pattern Myrantine

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I made it dress length and omitted the frill at the neckline, I thought it would be a little bulky around the baby’s neck. The fabric is Liberty print Kingly Cord, Rosy pattern, bought from Truro Fabrics. I bought half a metre of 140cm width fabric and had plenty.image

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“Vintage” babywear.

When I was expecting my son I had to spend a lot of time in hospital. The nurses asked if I wanted to bring a television to watch ( the days before TVs were supplied in hospitals by rental companies) but I asked if I could bring my sewing machine instead. After a check by the hospital electricians I was told I could and a system to secure the foot pedal to the end of the bed so that I could sew while sitting in bed was constructed. I was so productive that the nurses joked that I’d soon be sewing the school uniform for the baby.

I made this little outfit of dungarees and jacket thinking it would be a pretty outfit to take the baby home in.  image

 

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The fabric was a soft cotton fabric with ducks and flowers, suitable for a boy or girl. I made the Newborn size (about 56cms) and added it to the pile of clothes in my locker ready for the new arrival due in September. The baby had other ideas and in the first week of July my tiny son was born. First size clothes were a bit big, the photo below shows the actual outfit he wore home, a Babycare by Dollycare Babygro.

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He eventually wore the outfit the following summer when he was around a year old. I found the playsuit in a box of old fabric, patterns and other bits and pieces. After a wash and iron it has been passed on to his daughter, now aged seven weeks.  The little blue Babygro wouldn’t fit her!

 

MiniKrea Spencer dress.

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My next sewing project was the Spencer kjole, a simple pinafore dress. I used a Liberty print corduroy from Truro fabrics ( Kingly Cord -Lauren in pink multi, £15.00 per metre), the pinafore took less than half a metre of fabric. The Kingly cord is very soft and fine wale making it ideal for baby clothing. The pattern is self faced to about waist height but in future I think I’d extend the facing to a full lining using a cotton fabric. It is a quick And easy make with few seams and two buttonholes which could be replaced with poppers to make it even simpler. For now it can be worn with a long sleeved t-shirt and tights but as the weather gets warmer it can be worn with a blouse or even as a sleeveless dress. I photographed it with the blouse but as it began snowing as I finished the dress I did think a long sleeved t-shirt and a cardigan would be more appropriate! image

Apologies for the poor photography, the daylight isn’t being very cooperative at the moment and it’s snowing so the sky is very overcast!

A new bundle of Citronille patterns arrived this morning so I should have some more baby clothes to show very soon and my little granddaughter’s wardrobe will be getting full!

French seams.

I have been looking forward to sewing for my little granddaughter, I loved sewing clothes for my son and had a good collection of basic patterns but had given them away when he grew up. Looking at the patterns available now I didn’t feel very inspired, most seem to be either for stretchy fleece or jersey clothes or for rather frilly fussy dresses. I began looking online for patterns for classic practical baby clothes and found a few interesting independent companies including Ottobre a Finnish company, MiniKrea a Danish company and Citronille a French company as well. I could not master French at school, I had little interest in the subject and the teaching was uninspired. I preferred Latin, that’s how uninspired the teaching was! I had no plans to go to France and saw little merit in learning it. If only someone had mentioned the Paris fashion houses, the wonderful fabric shops and Citronille patterns I might have applied myself a little more. However with the help of a French/English dictionary and many years of sewing practice I completed my first Citronille pattern today. Colombe is a simple dress or top with an inverted pleat in the centre front, rounded collar, long or short sleeves and a buttoned back.imageI made the long sleeved dress version using pink Vichy (gingham) brushed cotton bought at Truro Fabrics, http://www.trurofabrics.com . The dress took approximately half a metre of fabric for the 3 month size. The pattern is multisized, all sizes are drawn together on the pattern sheet so you trace off the one you need.image

The instructions are clear and easy to follow. image

imageThe dress was fun to sew and looks pretty. I added 5 cms to the length to make the dress version. It is still quite short but will be fine with tights.

What did I like about this pattern? It is a simple design with plenty of room for an active baby to wriggle about. It is a quick make, I spent no more than 2-3 hours sewing even though I added French seams to make the inside of the dress comfortable and tidy. It is adaptable, I can already see a version in white linen for the summer and fine corduroy for cooler days. As a blouse it would work well under pinafores and dungarees and in the summer the short sleeved version would look lovely with shorts. The sizing seems accurate although I have heard it can be a little on the small size for some patterns.

Citronille has a selection of lovely designs for babies, toddlers and children as well as a few designs for adults. I have already chosen a couple of other designs to try.

Citronille’s website can be found at http://www.citronille.fr