Sunday, 5 November 2017

Take a Bow, Cape Winslet, Santorini & more + Birthdays, Bows & Big News!

Welcome friend! It's nearly Summer here in Australia and I'm excited! (Winter has been dragging on!)
Firstly let me talk about two of the latest pattern tests I had a pleasure being a part of (for Duchess & Hare,) then onto some other recent sews, plus I have some exciting personal news!

Take a Bow & Cape Winslet

Take a Bow is a PDF dress pattern for sizes 6 month to 12 years (approximately.) 

Designed for special occasions and with medium weight fabrics in mind, Take a Bow is the perfect festive dress. As you can see, I used cotton instead. I couldn't find any lovely medium weight fabric that wouldn't look like she might be wearing a curtain! (Apologies Bernadette!)
Although, as you can see, even in cotton, this dress is tea party worthy and will make for the perfect dress to wear to her Uncle's wedding mid summer!  

With an optional large tie-at-the-back bow, it takes this dress from casual to formal. The bodice has optional princess seams - which I chose to add piping to (an easy modification.)

In the hem is 2" horsehair braid, something I had never used before and was very excited to try! I did find it difficult to source and I would recommend ordering online in advance. The horsehair braid is optional, although it really makes for a stunning hem line if used!

Take a Bow has two skirt options, double or single circle skirt. This dress is fully lined and has a side dress (or invisible) zip for dressing ease.

For the perfect pairing, sew up the "Cape Winslet."

Cape Winslet is a gorgeous, quick sew and is the perfect accompaniment to the Take a Bow dress, but really to any dress for that matter! For us, Cape Winslet (and hey, isn't the name of this pattern AWESOME?!) Was all about keeping the sun off her shoulders, but many testers sewed her up in faux fur and they all looked stunning in the fur!  

My Cape Winslet is sewn in satin & coral fleece

Cape Winslet comes with sizes XS to L (for sizes 6 months to 12 years approximately.)

Cape Winslet is an excellent beginner sew and the hardest step you may find is putting a buttonhole into special occasion fabric. My top tip is to use some freezer (or baking) paper.

The bows in Miss A's hair and on the front of her dress are the FREE bow pattern from Duchess & Hare. Go get your copy now!! (It's a bargain!)

To find out more or get your own copy of Take a Bow and Cape Winslet, please visit the Duchess & Hare website.
To see more inspiration, join the Duchess and Hare Facebook group.

Santorini Sunsuit by Little Luxe Pattern Co

To celebrate our warmer weather, I decided to sew up a pattern I have had for some months, the "Santorini" sunsuit.
Little Luxe patterns are new to me and this is one I've purchased so have no qualms about being upfront about. My views are my own and reflect my own experience.

The Santorini comes with sizes 18 months to 10 years included.
The pattern has a few variations on how to tie your back straps, but aside from that, this pattern is for a romper or shorts only. I had heard rumours of a dress hack, but I haven't tested this out myself yet.  

Things I like about this pattern:
  • Trendy looking back and front
  • Great summer wear
  • Shorts option
  • Looks fabulous on if you don't mind the exposed back and front (much like swimwear.)
Things I dislike about this pattern:
  • Tutorial is not detailed and I wouldn't recommend this pattern to a beginner
  • No option for crotch snaps (kind of important for those toilet training or in nappies still.)
  • Is tricky getting on and off for toilet breaks - I needed to help and the easiest way is to untie the FRONT ties!
  • I found despite measuring my child well, the back elastic was a little large (easy to fix, but just saying!)
  • You need to make your own bias binding (or is recommended.) I just found this tedious - but maybe a personal thing!

After all this, I was still happy with the end result. I really love the look and I will make another one or two for her for summer. However, I was disappointed with the tutorial. (I know, I'm spoilt for choice....but so are you! And we vote with our dollars!)

Pineapple sunnies from Cotton On

Birthdays & Big News

I didn't get to post about Miss A's birthday! So here I am, making amends! Our littlest child turned 4 and next year she will be off to school! (No more babies at home. *sob*)

A Frozen(or Elsa) themed birthday party was requested, so the perfect dress for the occasion was called for. This is my modified "Alice" by the Handmaiden's Cottage.

I enjoy cooking, although cake decorating isn't a strength of mine, but none the less, I try! This is a homemade ice-cream cake with "ice candy" shards.

Happy 4th Birthday my princess!

Hop, Skip Jumper by Handmaiden's Cottage

While we are on the Handmaiden's cottage mention, here is the latest pattern from them, the "Hop, Skip Jumper."

This gorgeous beginner sew includes sizes 6 months to 8 years, plus 18" doll pattern! (Sadly we don't have this size doll readily available in Australia!)

This dress features easy knot-tie shoulder straps and sweet front patch pockets.

I tied my version quite high up, but this dress sits just above the knee if tied as directed in the pattern. This dress has been a hot favourite of mine (and Miss A's) since she broke her arm. To get on, you just need to step in and pull it up, then tie! No awkward manoeuvring into armholes!  

To see more on the Hop, Skip Jumper pattern, please visit the Handmaiden's Cottage.
Or to see more inspiration, please join the Facebook group.

Other news. . . .

Me with my very special birthday gifts from my parents and brother

So this is me. As I mentioned afore, Miss A is off to school next year and I too need to fill my time (sadly with more than just sewing!) 

You won't know this most likely, but my oldest child was born with a serious, life-threatening chronic illness. This was 9 years ago and it really changed my world. Not in the normal way a new baby changes our lives, but in a heartbreaking, life altering way.

We didn't know whether he would survive in those early weeks and we needed to let go of what we thought might be the life and future for us and our son. Life was going to be different forever. Not bad, just different.

We have regular specialist appointments every year and Mr I's life is very medicalized and carefully monitored 24/7.

Having a child with high medical needs changes you, it makes you stronger, more thankful, more alert! But for me, it changed the direction of where I wanted my career to go. I wanted to pay it forward. All the staff we encountered at the Children's Hospital inspired me, gave me the drive to become a nurse.

So next year when my last child is off to school, I too will be off to school! I start my registered nursing degree full time in February! It was a proud moment to receive the offer from my first choice university.

This will mean less sewing sadly! However I will do my best each month to post a sew and I certainly won't be giving up sewing completely.....but it will have to take the back seat! I know you understand! *wink wink*

P.s. I also turned 30 recently........ this was my special cake! Isn't it amazing?! (No. . . . . I did NOT make it! lol!)
Happy sewing! Until next time. . . .

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Zahara & Nilah by Sansahash PLUS bonus hack tutorial

Greetings sewing friends!! A lot has happened since my last post (you'll see some of that "excitement" wrapped around Miss A's arm there!!)
I'll catch you up more next post, this time I want to focus on the newest patterns by Sansahash, "Zahara" peplum & dress and the "Nilah" dress.
If you are here to check out the hack tutorial, please scroll down now! (It's true, I take a lot of photos, plus I like to talk. So no hard feelings reader if you want glaze over the specifics.)


This PDF dress & peplum pattern was designed with glamour in mind! Zahara is the perfect special occasion dress or top and works wonderfully with those luxe fabrics.
I made my dress from sequin fabric and lined with poplin.
P.s. Yes, I am pleased with that invisible zip! 

This pattern is packed with helpful tips and clear illustrations. So don't fret over that invisible zip!

The layered pattern pieces make grading and printing a breeze.

Zahara comes with sizes 6 months to 12 years included. There is also instruction on how to modify the bodice for those young ladies in the larger sizes who need some bust allowance.
The dress features princess seams, circle skirt, unique back bodice, full lining and an invisible zip. (Please don't be scared of invisible zips! Get yourself an invisible zip foot and you'll be cooking with gas!)

Bow pattern by Duchess & Hare (it's a freebie!! Go get your copy!)

Now, you may have noticed the tulle in the dress? Well, follow the Sansahash blog to get this bonus mini tutorial! (Trust me.... you need to sew this one with the tulle at least once!!)

Not only does Zahara make a perfect party dress, but she also looks amazing in cotton for everyday wear. Below is my first version - the peplum top. (I added an inch to the original pattern - but it didn't need this added length.)
Paired with the Imari shorts, this is a perfect summer play outfit!

My little lady actually broke her arm this day and was rushed to hospital wearing this Zahara......and my did the nurses gush over this top!! She was the perfect princess tears in the ED and behaved so politely (a proud mummy moment right there!) This is why you see her wearing cast in the above photos!



Nilah is a knit dress pattern, great for beginners learning to sew with knit.

Like all Sansahash patterns, excellent tutorial and layered pattern pieces. (Trust me, layered pattern pieces are now a must, but really still feel like a luxury!)

This sweet dress comes with several sleeve options, sleeveless, short, 3/4 and long.

Sizes 6 months to 12 years included.

Nilah also features a cute high-low style skirt with curved detail.

My version is sewn using sport spandex - with the idea that it can be whipped on after swimming. A great, functional, everyday wear dress that WILL actually be worn. A staple for your pattern collection.


BONUS Nilah-Zahara pattern hack tutorial

After chatting with Mgeni - one of the duo behind Sansahash patterns, I decided to mash Nilah and Zahara plus add my own twist!
 Please visit this link for your chance to WIN the Nilah and Zahara patterns!
This hi-bred dress features the circle skirt from the Zahara pattern and the sleeveless bodice from Nilah. BUT, as you can see, I have scooped out the back bodice and added a lace up feature!
This hack will also work with any of the sleeve options from the Nilah pattern and quite frankly, would look just gorgeous with long sleeves too!

What you will need

Knit fabric - use the Nilah pattern as a guide for fabric requirements although you will need to allow up to yard extra approximately
Turning tool
Sewing machine - serger/overlocker not necessarily required
Note: This hack is aimed at sewers with intermediate sewing skills. Some sewing experience with knit a must. 

Step 1.

Print out your pattern pieces. You will need to select the sleeved or sleeveless bodice option from the Nilah pattern. Print ONLY the circle skirt pattern piece from the Zahara pattern.

Step 2.

Modify your back bodice pattern piece. From the bottom of the bodice piece measure up 1 3/4" (4.5cm) make a line across the pattern piece. (Please ignore my extra lines!) 

Next mark you will need to make is from the outer edge of the neckline. From the top of the shoulder measure all the way down vertically on your pattern piece.

Now, either free hand or using a circular object, round off that sharp corner.

Your back bodice pattern piece is now ready to be cut! Cut out the scoop using the marks you have just made, following the curve. You will still need to cut your fabric on the fold. Cut two back bodice pieces - one main and one lining.

Step 3.

Make your cord and loops. For a size 4 height I needed 3 pairs of loops. For the larger sizes you will need to add an extra pair or two. This is up to you! The more loops, the tighter your weave/lace up feature.
You could also use elastic in lieu of your own loops. You need to allow 2" per loop. For 6 loops I cut a piece of fabric 1.5" x 12". Right sides together sew down the LONG raw edge. Turn your loop piece and cut into 2" pieces.
At this time, in the same fashion, create your cording. For my version 12 month width with a 4 height, I used a piece of fabric 1.5" x 60". I had excess cording, although I would add approx. 3-4" of length for each size above 4. You can always trim your cord as needed! I haven't tested the bigger sizes, so you may need to make an executive call here! Finish the short ends of your cord by tucking them in and stitching.  
NOTE: If you find turning your fabric impossible, you can alternatively press your strip to form your loop piece. Simply iron your strip wrong sides facing so your long raw edges meet. Open up. Using the pressed mark as a guide, iron each long edge to meet the centre pressed mark (wrong edges facing.) Then press your strip together so your first pressed edges are sandwiched within. Sew down your long edge. You can choose woven fabric for your loops and cord. This step is much like making bias binding.

Step 4.

Using the original pattern piece, mark on your main scooped fabric pieces where the original back neckline would have been. This gives you the first mark for where your top loops need to be.
Measure approximately 1" up from the bottom of the scoop on each side, this will be where your lowest loops will sit. Depending on how many loops you are adding, either attach your middle loops centrally or measure out even intervals between the top & bottom loop marks.
Using a stretch stitch, secure your loop pieces (loop pieces to be folding in half, raw edges lining up with the raw edge of the scoop.) Use a 1/4" seam allowance. 

Step 5.

Following the Nilah bodice instructions, attach your main and lining bodice pieces together.

NOTE: When sewing the sleeveless version, the 12/18/24 month width can be fiddly. I recommend using a 1/4" seam allowance when sewing the outer seams. I wouldn't attempt this hack with the 6m width.


Step 6.

Follow the Nilah pattern tutorial to complete dress. Instead of adding the traditional Nilah skirt, you will be adding on your circle skirt from Zahara. Gathering of the skirt shouldn't be required - the knit fabric will allow you to ease your skirt in.
I highly recommend adding the clear elastic as stated in the original tutorial so the skirt is supported.

Step 7.

Insert your long piece of cording through your loops, crisscrossing your way up (or down should you choose!)
You're now complete!! Get your favourite little person to try it on!!

Poor photo I'm afraid! But I had to share that twirl factor!

If you try this hack, please do let me know how you go! To see more inspiration, please join the Facebook Sansahash pattern group.
A huge thanks to Mgeni & Christine of Sansahash for allowing me to test and sew the Nilah & Zahara patterns. Beautiful work ladies!
Until next time, happy sewing!