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!

Buksedragt

Minikrea 10450 Buksedragt or Playsuit.

A Danish pattern this time, the Playsuit is a relatively quick make, MiniKrea patterns are well designed and include the basic model plus ideas and templates for some alternative styles.

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I chose to make the basic version in a lovely soft baby corduroy from Truro Fabrics. The Playsuit has just two buttons to fastenat the bib, if I was making it again I’d alter the crotch seam to open to make  nappy changing easier. The multisized pattern comes drawn out on paper, once you trace off the required size you need to add seam allowances, 1 cm is recommended but I added 1.5 cm simply because I’m used to using that amount and knew I’d probably forget to use the smaller allowance once I got to the sewing machine. What do I like about the MiniKrea patterns, they are simple classic designs with interesting ideas included to make variations. Patterns include a few different sizes in each package. The instructions are clear and include photographs. I can read the instructions in Danish but English translations are available online at MiniKrea’s website (www.minikrea.dk) in pdf. format. What would I change? Just the lack of easy access for nappy changes.

 

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Underneath the Playsuit is another Broderie Anglais blouse, from a 26 year old Woman’s Weekly pattern, made in the final piece of 26 year old fabric left over from my son’s cot quilt.

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

This time last year…

I was sitting in Manchester Royal Infirmary waiting for a kidney transplant. The kidney finally arrived around 11pm and I was taken down to theatre shortly afterwards. So today is my official anniversary of getting Sidney the kidney. What a year it’s been, the transplant went well but in the weeks and months afterwards I became severely dehydrated and had to be hospitalised, developed Leukopenia due to one of the anti rejection drugs (leukopenia is a severe lack of white blood cells, dangerous because it leaves the patient seriously at risk of infection.)

By the summer I was feeling better and enjoyed the first half of the summer holidays sewing, gardening and attending weddings. I was due to attend my nephews wedding on the 15th of August but woke on the 13th with a temperature of 40.5degrees, shivering and vomiting. Our GP came to visit and immediately called an ambulance, probably saving my life in the process. Arriving at the hospital I was given fluids and started on antibiotics. Over the next two weeks I had two further episodes of very high temperatures, rigours and vomiting, in each case my blood pressure dropped dangerously low and more fluids, steroids, antibiotics and oxygen were needed to help me survive. Once home I suffered a further relapse less than a week later and returned to the A&E department of the hospital where I required resuscitation as my blood pressure dropped so low. I’m now home again recuperating, the sepsis had left me with difficulties standing, walking, poor balance, I have difficulties concentrating for long and get tired very quickly. I am however very aware that I am one of the lucky ones to have survived sepsis with only minor problems. The infection came not from my transplanted kidney but from one of the old kidneys which may need to be removed once the infection is finally gone. I will need to take strong antibiotics for some weeks yet to ensure that it is destroyed. During the weeks in hospital my transplanted kidney did lose some function but the fluids, steroids and other treatment  protected it as much as possible and the function is gradually improving again.

So it’s been an eventful year, I marked today’s anniversary by walking round the full block with my walking stick, the furthest I’ve walked for the past couple of months, in the sunshine. I thought about the donor and gave thanks for his/her generosity in registering as a donor and that of the family for carrying out those wishes in the difficult hours after the death of their relative.