Monday, 14 July 2014

The Cosi swimsuit

I have a confession to make... I am intimidated by stretchy fabrics. I love them, but I get anxious sewing with stretch fabrics. Which might sounds a little funny since the very first thing I made for my daughter was a T-shirt! I have made a few outfits from knit fabrics since, but my anxiety did not go away.

When Suz first published about her Cosi swimsuit I decided I was going to get the pattern once it was released and tackle my fear head on. And then Suz asked if I would be interested to participate in her blog tour! I was so excited, and at the same time I felt like my anxiety doubled. I have huge respect for Suz, and I was so worried I would not be able to make a swimsuit and let her down!

To keep a long story short, While she was sleeping I made a new swimsuit for Little Monkey using the Cosi Swimsuit pattern by Sewpony Vintage. To say that I am proud of it would be an understatement!

You may have heard people say how sewing swimmers is actually not that scary. I never believed that. Until I tried it! I would not go as far as to say it is the easiest thing to sew. I say it is achievable. Really. Even for someone like myself, who is intimidated by stretchy fabrics. Suz has put an incredible amount of work in this pattern. Before I started sewing I read the instructions, and let me tell you they are very comprehensive.

Little Monkey has been going to swimming lessons since she was 5 months old. My daughter is custom built. She is tall and skinny. Finding ready-made swimmers that suit her well was a challenge. Not anymore! The Cosi swimsuit pattern comes in sizes 6 months to 10 years, there are 7 views to choose from, so I seriously can't imagine having to buy a swimsuit for Little Monkey any time soon. Custom built little swimmers deserve custom made swimsuits!

Little Monkey is wearing Cosi in view C, minus leg ruffles. I used polyester knit fabric (95% polyester, 5% elastine). I spotted it at my local Spotlight right next to the fabric Suz used for her first swimsuit. That is how I knew I was in the right isle!

Little Monkey loves this fabric because 'it has all the colours'. Who can argue with that!

To be honest with you, I made one and a half Cosies for Little Monkey. I started sewing the first one on my sewing machine. I hopelessly stretched elastic around the leg openings. I must have not pinned it well, and it 'wiggled' all over the place while I sewed it. I could not bring myself to put it on Little Monkey, so I started again.

I took my time sewing the Cosi swimsuit again. This time I sewed it on my overlocker. I just disabled the upper knife when it came to sewing in elastic. I only used my sewing machine for top-stitching and adjustable straps. In my experience it worked much better. I basted elastic around the leg opening and at the top by hand before sewing it in place, and it made a huge difference.

What I especially love about this pattern is the way it fits around the legs. No more swimwear wedges! I also love the cross back straps option. It is especially handy if your child grows towards the sun quicker that in any other direction! I usually find cross-back straps hold the swimsuit in place really well so my little swimmer can focus on her lesson rather than adjusting her swimmers.

It doesn't look like the swimsuit fits Little Monkey very well in the photos. I just didn't adjust the straps enough. My hands are always freezing in winter, and Little Monkey didn't want my cold hands on her back. She was wiggling and squirming so much adjusting her swimsuit became impossible. It was not a battle I could win.

Suz is offering 15% discount on the Cosi swimsuit during the pattern tour (7-18 July) with the coupon code COSITOUR14.

Thank you Suz for having me on the tour and for providing me with an opportunity to finally tackle my fears. I actually want to sew with knits more now!

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Monday, 7 July 2014

Liebster award

Our sewing/blogging community is fabulous, do you agree? I love how we support and encourage each other, share and learn from one another.

Back in April  Asmita of Elephant in the study showed my little blog some loving by awarding me the Liebster award. Asmita commented on one of my posts a few months ago. I am a curious person. I love checking out other people's blogs. I got to Asmita's blog and could not stop looking all the wonderful things she has made! I may have left about gazillion comments. Strangely enough she has not blocked me thinking I was a crazy stalker!
So, have you heard for the Liebster award? It is a virtual award passed from one blogger to another to encourage, support and promote other blogs. From what I understand Liebster award originated from Germany in 2010, and the word 'liebster' means 'dearest' in German. It also sounds like the 'rules' have been transformed over time as well. I will stick with what I have been given - the person nominated for the award is required to answer 5 questions provided by the person who nominated then, share 5 facts about themselves and pass the award on to 5 other bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

So, let's do it!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

My sewing room

I love seeing other people's sewing spaces. I don't know why I am so curious to see where people work and create. It's like being able to take a peek at what is going on behind the scenes!

Christina of 2 Little Hooligans is running the Sewing Spaces series where participants show and talk about their sewing rooms, corners and basements. I am excited to invite you guys over to my sewing room today :)

Just like almost all of my sewing friends I started my adventures in stitching on our dining table. It was not very comfortable, there were extension leads running in every direction and my fabric and patterns were threatening to overtake our eating space. I started craving a place I could call my own.

We lived in a three bedroom house, and I thought I could occupy a guest room. However a spare double bed was already occupying it, and there was no room for anything else! I got my sweetest husband on my side and we got rid of the bed base and tucked the mattress under our bed where it is very happy and only comes out when we have visitors.

My sewing space evolved over time. We recently moved into a new house and I now have a bigger room (almost) all to myself! The aforementioned mattress still makes a rare appearance, but this room is much bigger and I don't need to tuck my sewing supplies away so our guests can move around the room.

So, this is my sewing space. This is where I regain my sanity while Little Monkey is asleep. This is where I stitch late into the night sacrificing my (much needed) beauty sleep. It is nothing glamorous, but I am happy here.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Perfect imperfection

I wish this was a perfect blog post about a perfect dress I made for my Little Monkey accompanied by perfect photos... But it is not.

This is not even a post about a new dress I am proud of. Because I am not.

This is a story about a girl, a little girl, who feels like a fairy in her new less than perfect dress and a lesson she taught her mother.

Rewind a few weeks back. Willow & Co released their patterns, and I instantly fall in love with a few of them. Fawn Lily tunic and dress pattern designed by Rebecca of Rock the Stitch got my attention straight away. I loved the lines, loved the 'vintage meets modern' look, loved the options... I just looooved it. So I decided Little Monkey needed one.

I shortlisted a few fabric options for this dress and let Little Monkey choose the combination she liked best. Her choice did not come as a surprise. You see, purple has always been her favourite colour. Well, apart from a few weeks when she favoured pink. When she saw these fabrics spread out on the floor in my sewing room she pointed at them straight away. She specifically requested 'flower pockets'.

So, we had fabric picked, decided on the yoke and the skirt options, my daughter got super excited, and then...

... I am not even sure what happened. First I made piping, and it ended up twisted. I was planning to add piping along the curved sides of the yoke, but it felt as if I completely forgot how to sew piping. After unpicking it for the 4th time I gave up. I thought the dress would look too purple and boring without a pop of colour, so I left twisted pink piping at the bottom of the yoke. Gr!

Then the sleeves. I did not pay any attention to how I placed them. You can see the grain of fabric running in different directions. Ouch!

Rebecca suggested light to medium weight fabrics for this dress or tunic. After I split a seam on a sleeve open while trying to pull my corduroy dress through it I understood why she suggested that. Perhaps if I sewed an A line skirt I would have not had to practice slip stitching. Bummer.

Then it came to sewing the sides of the dress. The seams where the sleeves meet the body of the dress did not match up! I was ready to cry by then.

I was very disappointed with myself and went to bed. In the morning I showed the dress to Little Monkey and she practically started jumping with excitement. She loved it!

I thought I would take her to a railway for a photo shoot, but once we came closer to the train tracks she got so scared a loud train might come past while we were taking photos! She covered her little ears with hands. She was ready to cry.

I got so grumpy! Why can't my child just stand still for a couple of minutes so I could take a few photos? Is it such a big thing to ask? By now Little Monkey's eyes were filling with tears and my husband looked somewhat concerned. I don't think he has ever seen me frustrated that much before.

We walked away from the tracks and eventually Little Monkey let us take a few photos. I thought I had a lot of bad photos of a poorly made dress. I got over the whole thing, so we finished the photo shoot and went on with our lives.

Once we all relaxed a little I realised I was a fool. The biggest fool in the crafting world. I was so focused on stitching, pattern placement, overall execution and photography I completely lost sight of what was important - my child was ecstatic about her new dress! She is three years old. She does not care if the sleeves on the dress look somewhat funny, if piping is twisted or if seams are matching perfectly. She finally got a purple dress with a full skirt, 'flower pockets', and she felt like a fairy. To her, this dress was perfect. That is the most important thing. That is why I sew.

I will make another Fawn Lily dress for Little Monkey, but I will wait until it is warm again. In the meantime if you would like to see examples of beautifully sewn garments, visit Renee, Heidi, Tasha, Meg or Suz.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

You & Me... by you!

Remember how I said I would do a round up of your projects created for the You & Me series on the 16th? Yeah, me too. I just forgot to mention that I might be nearly a day ahead of many of you! I thought it would be fair to extend that deadline by one day. I didn't want anyone to miss out.

If this is your first visit, you can read about You & Me here and see the round up of guest posts here.

Two sweet projects were added to the You & Me Flickr group.

Annie of Peaches and Bees created a gorgeous dress for herself and a twirly skirt for her little girl. Don't they look so lovely together!

You can read more about Annie's projects here.

I was also happy to see the sweetest dress Lucy of Losing my thread created for her daughter.

I am in love with this fabric. You can read more about this project and also see the most adorable muslin here.

Just about an hour ago my friend Alisa from A Stitch in Between e-mailed me a few photos of the outfits she made for herself and her children. Alisa is yet to blog about this, so I feel privileged to be able to show you her creations today. Alisa refashioned one of her old tunics into a skirt for herself and a pair of shorts for little Aleks.

You can read more about Nic's super cool Jetpack Tee here.

Thank you for joining in ladies!

Dear friends, thank you for following my first sewing series. It's been an absolute blast! Let's do it again one day, hey?

Sunday, 8 June 2014

You & Me - at a glance

I can hardly believe that the You & Me sewing series has come to an end! I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all the participants for making the past two weeks so enjoyable!

Please feel free to click on links under photos if you missed any posts or would like to read them again.

While she was sleeping
2 Little Hooligans
Nearest the Pin
Nap-Time Creations
Dotted Whale
Compagnie M.
Things for Boys
Dandelion Drift
Imagine Gnats
Groovy Baby and Mama
As it Seams
La gang à Nat

I would also like to thank Pam from Threading My Way for her lovely guest post, Suz from Sewpony and her daughter Isabella for creating the logo, my sweetest husband for helping with the codes and twenty million other things, and Little Monkey for being my inspiration for this series!

It it not too late to join a sew-along. There are already a few lovely creations added to the You & Me Flicker group. Please feel free to add your projects to the group. On the 16th of June I will do a round up of your creations here on my blog.

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Saturday, 7 June 2014

You & Me - La gang à Nat

Today I welcome my last (but not least) guest for You & Me - Natalie from La gang à Nat. Natalie is a serious professional by day, and a sewing addict by night. She sews for her three daughters without a break, and she creates the most beautiful garments! I love Natalie's version of the Spring Showers jacket. While making the Ash jumpsuit Natalie managed to turn an 'oops' into a 'wow'. I am in love with Natalie's version of the Caroline party dress. Those foxes and the collar - what little girl would not instantly fall in love with this dress? Natalie created the most stunning 20's inspired dress for the Downtown Sewing series. You all know by now how I feel about handmade jeans. Yes, Natalie made jeans for her girls! Aren't they incredible?

So please welcome Natalie!

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Hi friends! This is Natalie from La gang à Nat. When Jenya first told me about her idea for the You and Me sewing series, I loved it right away! Sewing has brought me closer to my girls in so many ways but mainly, I really enjoy creating something that brings them joy. And having them wear with pride something that I made by hand creates a special bond between us. My friend Thea made me realize recently that my sewing, photographing and blogging was creating a legacy for my girls, a beautiful memory piece for them when they are older. I love to think of it that way...

  Mommy and Me Japanese Sundress1

I have fully enjoyed how fellow bloggers in this series have taken Jenya's idea and interpreted it in their own special way. My first thought was to make a matching outfit for myself and one of my girls. Now, I have to admit, I have never made matching mommy-daughter outfits and the thought of it certainly made me giggle. Not really my style. But then again, it hit me that I did have a women's pattern that I had just been dying to make... the Caroline Party Dress. And of course, it comes in both kids size and woman's size. I had already made it HERE and HERE for the girls, but I hadn't yet found the time to make one for me. Hummmm... perhaps I could make matching Carolines that would be based on the fabric that I would choose for the adult dress? Brilliant! And so I proceeded with taping my pattern, tracing my size, pinning my fabric, cutting my fabric.... But then something starting nagging at me... every time I would toil away in my sewing room, my eyes would fall on this book. It's a Japanese sewing book that I purchased last year. I already made a couple of breezy summer dresses for Alix from it and she loves them. But from the day the book arrived from Amazon, Alix had not stopped asking that I make her a dress like the one on the cover. I had told her last year that yes, I would make one like that. And then fall arrived and it just seemed to make no sense to make such a summery sundress. Yet she kept asking me if I could make her that dress. And I would say yes.... right after I finish this or that. And next thing you know, a year went by...

  Mommy and Me Japanese Sundress8

Now we all know that when a child points to a garment that they like, they are normally referring to the fabric. At least that's the case with Alix. Although I'm sure she was attracted to the bubble skirt and the flower-shaped ribbon at the waist, what was really catching her eye was the white polka dots on the sky blue background. Luckily, sometime during the fall, I had been shopping at the local thrift shop and had found a large fitted sheet with the exact white polka dot on blue pattern. Serendipity! I had excitedly shown it to Alix and told her that now, I could make her the dress! And yet that fitted sheet still lay folded in my fabric stash 8 months later.... Do you see where I'm going with this? Jenya was asking me to show how sewing nourished the bond between mother and child. I couldn't think of a better way to show that than making exactly what Alix had been asking for, pattern, fabric, headband, ribbons and all. My Caroline dress would have to wait... Needless to say, she was beyond excited to see the finished dress and had to wear it immediately. What follows is our 6:30am photoshoot, since she HAD to wear it to daycare that day and I knew that it would never look as clean and ironed ever again, haha! So I just followed her for a while, letting her be herself...

  Mommy and Me Japanese Sundress2

  Mommy and Me Japanese Sundress3

Notice that long string hanging from the dress in the picture above? No? Me neither...

  Mommy and Me Japanese Sundress4

Mommy and Me Japanese Sundress5

 This little girl... there is truly no one like her... she's passionate, she's loud, she's fearless, she's strong, and of course, she's incredibly stubborn... Yet at the exact same time, she's also gentle beyond her years, generous, nurturing and maternal. And funny, she is insanely funny! Alix is my middle child. From the moment she was conceived, she has kept us on our toes and made her presence known. She never ceases to amaze and surprise us... In June 2009, I was in my final month of training for my third Ironman Triathlon competition. I was in top shape and confident that this race would be my most memorable yet... Little did I know how true that would be! With four short weeks to go before the race, I learned that I was eight weeks pregnant. I was shocked! Happy of course, beyond thrilled actually! But still shocked! Chaughan and I had many long conversations about the upcoming race. We spoke with doctors and sought their advice about the safety of completing such an arduous endurance event while pregnant. We concluded that since I was already fully trained for the event, and in fantastic shape, it should be fine to race as long as I kept it at a slow and steady pace, and be fully prepared to stop if it was all too much. Four weeks later, Chaughan and I proudly crossed the finish line at Ironman Lake Placid 2009, hand in hand. I was three months pregnant. And from that day on, Alix has not stopped "racing"... she moved something fierce while in utero. I was past my due date and she still wouldn't settle into a final head down position. My "unstable lie" had to be manually turned and still, she kept doing backflips, kicking around all internal organs along the way. And then, five days past my due date, there was another surprise. I had excruciating pain on my lower right hand side. I knew I wasn't in labour. This was very different. And it wasn't going away. After 48hrs of intense pain, doctors finally realized that I suffering from a torsion of my right ovary and as blood flow had been cut off, the ovary was quickly necrotizing. My dream of a beautiful and natural home water birth was instantly replaced with the harsh reality of an emergency c-section in the middle of the night. But everyone was healthy and in the big scheme of things, everything was perfect... (besides, I didn't know then but little Gaëlle would arrive two years later at home, in the water, just like I had imagined it...)

  Mommy and Me Japanese Sundress7

And today, that little Ironman baby is still racing through life at full speed, slowing down just long enough to smell the flowers or spill some milk! Fiercely independent, she's constantly surprising us (and often scaring us!) at what she's able to accomplish once she puts her mind to it....

  Mommy and Me Japanese Sundress6

And of course, by dinner time, Alix had DIYed a princess cape to accessorize with her new dress... Maman t'aime Alix!!! XXX Jenya, thank you so much for inviting me to join this beautiful and heartfelt sewing series. Natalie  

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Natalie, thank you so much for taking part in the series and sharing more about yourself and your girls. It was a pleasure to read your post. I love the dress you have created for Alix and the story behind it. I will keep it in mind that when Little Monkey shows me a photo of a dress saying she wants it, she refers to fabric!

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