Like riding a bike!

It’s time for a certain little miss to lose the stabilisers on her bike.

Initial wobbles….

Bike 1

….followed by lots of concentration and encouragement…

Bike 2

…resulted in triumph.

Bike 3

She’s nearly as proud of herself as we are.

We have lots of practice ahead of us, but she’ll soon be flying solo.

And obviously the best outfit for learning to ride a bike is a tutu and hot pink accessories!

ps…we’ve promised her a new bike when she’s mastered it.  When did she get so tall?

Devon

It being half term, and the house being ripped apart in the name of safe electrics, the kids and I took the opportunity to visit Alice-who-isn’t-a-cat in her new home in Devon.

Be warned…this is a picture heavy post.

Alice & the adorable Huggie
Alice & the adorable Huggie

devon 2Devon 3 Devon 4

Devon 5

Devon 6

Devon 7

Travelling in style in Gertie.  Absolutely the highlight of their trip.

Travelling in style in Gertie. Absolutely the highlight of their trip.

Devon 9

Devon 12
Devon 10

Devon 13

 

Devon 16

Devon 14

devon17

Devon 18

and so to bed!

and so to bed!

This is the kind of holiday childhood memories are made of.

Elegance & Elephants Spring Showers Jacket – Pattern Review

I had the good fortune this week to be asked to test again for Elegance & Elephants.

You already know how much I love Heidi’s patterns.  You’ve seen them often enough here.

This time it was Boy’s turn to be my muse for Heidi’s latest delightful offering, the Spring Showers Jacket.

E&E jacket

The Pattern

This is a really cute unisex jacket in sizes 2 – 12. I made the size 4/5.  The PDF comes together really quickly and easily and each size is nicely nested to enable you to cut or trace your required size without having to squint! The instructions are well written with clear photos holding your hand every step of the way. The pattern has some sweet touches like the patch pockets with flaps:

Spring Showers Jacket 2

and a cute visor on the hood!

Spring Showers Jacket 3The Fabric

I chose this fabulous navy camo cotton drill  from Minerva Fabrics for the outer shell and a plain cotton, also from Minerva for the lining.  I lined the sleeves in a matching poly to make the jacket easier to slip on and off.

Spring Showers Jacket 5

What do I think?

No surprises… I love this pattern.  Heidi has done it again.  This is going to be a firm favourite Chez Stitches.

Spring Showers Jacket 1

I’m thrilled with this jacket.  This is the sort of garment I’d happily spend good money on, but am even happier to have made myself.

My little man is 5 but small for his age.

Spring Showers Jacket 7

This means he’s got lots of room to put a sweater underneath on cooler days, and will also get lots of wear out of this.

He loves it too.

Spring Showers Jacket 8

Bonus!

Spring Showers Jacket 6_edited-1

The pattern is available now.  If you’ve got small people I can really recommend this pattern.  I’ve got a feeling it won’t be too long before I’m making a pink or red version for a certain little lady.  She’s dropping huge hints to that effect. And who am I to argue?

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this pattern in return for my testing of the pattern and subsequent feedback.  All opinions are, however, entirely my own.  

Men at work

menatwork

To be more precise, it’s one man, working hard to get this little blog transferred to it’s own domain.

So if things are a wee bit hinky over the next few days, please bear with us him.

At times like this I’m very glad I’ve got my own one man tech support team.

By Hand London – Kickstarter

I can’t believe I haven’t made a By Hand London pattern yet.  I must be the only kid on the block who hasn’t.  But I was intrigued to hear that they have a Kickstarter project underway at the moment to fun an amazing fabric on demand service.

As well as offering a tightly curated gallery of exclusive designs, working closely with and championing emerging designers and students, you guys will also be able to upload and print your very own, completely unique, custom fabrics.

Oh my stars and godfathers!

How cool is that?

They are nearly halfway to the funding pledges they need to make this happen. If you’d like to know more, and pledge your support, click here.

I’m in.  Are you?

Happy socks

These are happy socks in more ways than one.

I'm so happy with the matched stripes!

I’m so happy with the matched stripes!

The colour palette is very spring like and makes me hopeful that soon Spring will arrive in more than name.

Happy socks

Also, they are knitted in Wendy Happy 4ply.  The yarn is 75% bamboo and 25% nylon and have been a delightfully squishy knit.  A bit splitty, yes, but not annoyingly so.  And a bit prone to tangle in the ball, but sorting that out is work for husbands…or mine at least, he’s got far more patience with these things than I.

Last but not least, a new pair of socks always puts a smile on his face, and that makes me happy too.

Happy socks

See…happy socks indeed!

Lekela blouse – pattern review and toile

Have you heard of Lekela patterns?

I’ve been aware of them for quite some time but I’ve never taken the plunge and tried them out. Originally their website was more than a little messy and their ordering system the same, and although I liked the look of some of their patterns, I really couldn’t be bothered faffing around with it all.

However they’ve recently upped their game and the site it much cleaner, more easily navigable, and the prices are super low.

I paid $2.69 for pattern 5098, which is this blouse pattern:

Blouse With Wide SleevesI chose this pattern because it’s very similar in style to a RTW blouse I’m wearing to death, that I’d like to replicate, and that I’d like to become part of my planned suite of Wardrobe Architect inspired TNT patterns.

And, frankly, at $2.69 I can afford to take a punt on this…other than a bit of time and some muslin fabric, I’ve nothing to lose.

Buying the pattern

Obviously it’s really easy to buy a PDF pattern.  5 minutes and the thing is in your inbox and waiting to be printed.

Lekela is that simple but you also get the opportunity to choose whether you’d like your pattern with or without seam allowances, which is pretty cool.  Also you get to input your own measurements so that the pattern can be adjusted accordingly.

In theory this is just bloody marvellous.  But don’t get all excited just yet…you’ll see why in a moment.

The PDF

As I’ve mentioned before, I really don’t mind the whole process of print/stick/trace that is your lot if you order a PDF pattern.  Even adult patterns.  I pour a glass of wine, arm myself with scissors, magic tape and a bit of space at the table and crack on. It’s especially fun if I’ve got episodes of The Archers to listen too.

So that’s what I did.

And I wished I’d had more wine.

I’ve had experience of poorly tiled PDFs before but nothing on this scale. Firstly there are only guidelines at the side margins to show where you need to trim the paper to fit together….nothing at the top or bottom margins.

Secondly there are no guide marks to show where the tiled pages should connect to the one next to it.  So you’re trying to match the actual cutting/sewing lines of the pattern piece.

That wouldn’t be so bad if they actually line up…but I had to do some serious jiggery pokery to make that happen.

I know you get what you pay for but, seriously, this was ridiculous.  If you were a newbie sewer, or new to the whole PDF malarky, this could really be problematic for you.

The instructions

Think Burda.  ’Nuff said.

The Toile

Having thrown the pattern in the corner to teach it some manners, I came back to it refreshed the next day to cut and fit the toile.

This pattern should be used as a teaching tool in every sewing class to show the reason why you make a toile.

Here’s a spectacularly hideous photo of me wearing the toile cut straight from the pattern with no alterations.  Bear in mind that I input my measurements for this:

2014-03-20 17.43.46

It’s just awful.  It’s waaaaaaaaay to big,  I know I’m starting to lose weight but I’ve not lost that much overnight! (Oh, I wish!)  Also, the neckline doesn’t reflect the illustration, and overall it’s too long.

This is the second toile after some adjustments:

2014-03-20 17.41.45

Toiles are so flattering…but this is so much better…and I’ve tweaked the pattern a little more after looking at this picture.

My alterations:

  • Removed 2″ from the centre front and centre back.  I crossed checked this against the inspiration blouse and it was clear that all the excess fabric was in that area.
  • Widened the neckline, again using my RTW blouse to check the sizes.
  • Dropped the neckline by about an inch.
  • Lowered the bust dart by about 1/2 inch.
  • 1/2 inch forward shoulder adjustment.
  • Hollow chest adjustment
  • Rounded back adjustment
  • 1″ removed from the hem

The forward shoulder/rounded back/hollow chest adjustments are standard fare for me, but I’ll admit to being disappointed that, having given specific measurements, the overall size of this blouse was so far off the mark.

I didn’t fit the sleeve for this muslin as there is a lot of volume to allow for mobility and I’m really pleased with the fit of the armhole.  However I will ‘walk’ the armscye and sleeve head before I cut any fabric…just to be sure one will fit the other!

So…what do I think of Lekela patterns?

I think in principle this is a great idea.  The model for this website is obviously low price/high volume.  $2.69 is a ridiculously low price to pay for a sewing pattern, but they’ve cut right back on the instructions and everything is obviously generated by the software.  Once you’ve done the basic pattern in one size, and an illustration, I’m making a fairly educated guess that everything else is automated.

However, and it’s a big however, there are still a lot of kinks to iron out.  The fit is way off and the PDF tiling is atrocious…the worst I’ve ever experienced.

I wouldn’t recommend these for novice sewists, but if you’re comfortable hacking a pattern around to get the fit, then go for it.  These patterns cost less that a small takeaway coffee so it’s a tiny investment.

I’m hoping to get a sewing day tomorrow and start actually cutting out the fashion fabric.  I’ll be using a super cheap, but really pretty poly from Abakhan for this pattern’s first proper outing.  I’ll let you know how I get on.

Wish me luck!

ps…please ignore the absolute tip that is the sewing loft at the moment.  We keep saying “let’s go and finish packing the loft up” and then settling down with a glass of wine and a movie.  It’s just such a miserable job that The Husband would rather lift tiled floors than do it, and I need him to dismantle the heavy stuff before I can do any more.  So it sits, like an albatross atop the house. And we drink wine and ignore it!