Christmas Crafting

Hello everyone, I hope you’ve all had a lovely Christmas or any other festivity you celebrate. Mine has been wonderful. Christmas day was spent at home with my Manfriend and then my mum and nan came over for Christmas dinner. Boxing day was spent with Manfriend’s family, which was good fun – it included getting cream pied in the the face playing a silly game. And yesterday I barely moved from the sofa all day, which was utter bliss. I’m off work until the 4th January and very much looking forward to some complete laziness, catching up on TV we’ve recorded, reading some books and doing a bit of sewing.

Anyway, I thought I’d do a little recap on how I did with the homemade Christmas presents that I talked about a couple of posts ago.

Crispmas Advent Calendar

This didn’t happen. I cut the fabric out but ran out of time so I individually wrapped the bags again and put them in the box from last year.

crispmas advent calendar
It’s rather more battered this year

Blogger Secret Santa present

This is one of the two extra handmade presents I mentioned adding to my list in my last post. I made a Stowe bag out of a swallow print chambray that I bought on eBay. I forgot to take a photo though. Doy! I changed up the order of construction slightly so that I could use French seams – I stitched the bottom as the last step instead of at the same time as the sides. I still don’t understand the last step fully so I just didn’t do it. I don’t think that’s very clear at all. When I was googling to try to find an explanation I came across a GOMI thread slating the bag and it did make me feel a bit stupid for buying it, when as they said in the thread there are about a bajillion free tutorials online to make a bag like it. It wasn’t something I’d thought to look for though, I just saw the pattern and thought it’d be handy for a knitting bag. You live and you learn I guess.

Mum’s Grainline Scout

I’m going to try to get a modelled photo of this but here are some rubbish quality ones for now. The fabric is a fairly crispy cotton I bought from Calico Laine last year with little metallic gold outlined Christmas trees on. I used French seams throughout and I’m quite pleased with how neat the neckline binding is. I did an appallingly bad job with the sleeves, really really bad. I just don’t get the whole ease things in thing. Only gathered sleeves from now on.

grainline scout tee
Apologies for the pants photos, I will try to get a modelled one

Dinosaur Tail

I think I’ll let the picture do the talking with this one. Adorable.

Dinosaur tail
The tiny Louiesaurus Rex stalks his prey

Dinosaur T’shirt

I used the Oliver + S Field Trip raglan t-shirt pattern and this was a lovely quick sew. It was also a nice PDF to put together. It has a grid, which I really like and it’s quite cleverly laid out to use a minimal amount of paper. That and it being for tiny people so makes it the best PDF pattern I’ve ever had to assemble.

I used some white viscose jersey for the body and leftover dinosaur fabric for the arms and neckband, I cut out a pocket too but decided to leave it off in the end. The viscose is slightly too lightweight really but I couldn’t seem to find any cotton jersey with the right stretch. The only one I did find was expensive and only available to buy by the metre and as I needed less than half a metre it seemed like a waste of money.

My pseudo-nephew isn’t 3 until April and I have no idea if he’s big or little for his age so I cut a size 3T size the plan being that he can grow into it if it’s too big.

dinosaur-raglan-tee

Lua Sleep Sack

This is the second handmade item that got added to the list of Christmas crafting. It was seeing Marie of A Stitching Odyssey’s recent lovely version that inspired me to make one for my pseudo-niece (my cousin’s new little girl). I had intended to do a contrast yoke but ordered badly and instead of matching the pinky purply dots in the print, the cotton I’d chosen (with crossed fingers and wishes) was more sludgy coloured so I didn’t bother.

It was a nice quick sew but I did accidentally put the zip in the wrong side and I struggled one of the steps. You leave a bit of a gap along the top edge of where you sew the zip in to make it a bit easier and then the instructions tell you to close it once you’ve put in the zip and sewn the lining to the zip, which I couldn’t make sense of and my sleep sack didn’t seem to match the photo of that step. From the photo it looks like I should have done it before sewing the lining to the zip so if I make another version I’ll do that.

Lua Sleep Sack close up

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Manfriend’s pyjamas

I don’t have any photos of these or the next one because I’m going to ask him to model both of his presents and then I’ll do a full post about them. I took last Monday off work and spent the day sewing his presents and getting my wrapping done, of course I still ended up finishing the wrapping on Christmas Eve but I tried. I am my mother’s daughter as she always used to wrap on Christmas Eve (whilst getting progressively drunker and sillier with the tags – getting a present from Fred Savage made me very happy) until the year we had a power cut and she had to wrap by candlelight.

I used Marvel superhero flannel that I bought from Etsy and a freebie Simplicity PJ pattern that I can’t seem to find to link to, sorry. He really likes them which is a relief as I was worried they were a bit silly as the rest of his PJs are fancy branded ones.

marvel flannel

Manfriend’s Paxson Sweater

The Manfriend loves contrast coloured raglan sleeves and marl so I made his Seamwork Paxson in grey marl for the body and teal for the arms and neckband. I’d wanted to do the sleeves in the same burgundy/maroon knit that Josie the Fabric Godmother used for her version but it had gone out of stock by the time I’d been paid. I’m going to do a full post when I have pictures of him modelling it so for now here is a photo of the overlocker offcuts or #sergerspew as I’ve seen it called on Instagram, which tickles me.IMG_20151221_142611

My Christmas Party outfit

I decided not to make a new outfit this year because if you own a dress covered in hunky, half naked Christmas helpers why the heck wouldn’t you wear it at every chance you get? Plus, last year’s Christmas party was only a small one so not that many people had seen it. I’ve lost a little bit of weight so it doesn’t fit that brilliantly anymore. I did take it in slightly at the upper chest but I think I’ll need to alter it properly if I stay slimmer (I’m a yoyo, so it’s best to be realistic). Alterations seem harder and more scary than just sewing from scratch for some reason though.

Christmas simplicity 1418
Spaaaaarkly shoes

Christmas cakes

I was quite proud of myself as I managed to decorate two cakes in one evening (we’ll ignore the fact that you’re supposed to let the marzipan dry for at least 24 hours, I was cutting it fine and had our food shop to do the night after. They’re both a bit shonky and I don’t have good photos – bit of a theme in this post I’m afraid.

Santa stuck in a chimney is my Nan’s and the ski slope is my mum’s because she prefers royal icing.

christmas-cakes

Hampers

This is the only thing I didn’t manage to get done. It was a conscious decision really as I was starting to get stressed out and panicky and something had to go. I’m still quite impressed with myself for the amount I did get done without having a breakdown – this time last year it was a rare day that didn’t see me crying for no real reason. I’m hoping to still get the mango chutney and chorizo jam made and given as belated gifts.

Well that’s it from me for now, I will be back soon with my Top 5 of 2015 posts and photos of Manfriend’s presents taken with the snazzy new DSLR camera I got for Christmas – that I have NO idea how to use yet and am too scared to take outside.

For now, here’s a photo of my nan’s dog Poppy looking seriously tired of our shit on Christmas day.

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The C Word

christmas

*whispers* Is it okay to start talking about Christmas now? The Christmas adverts have started so I’m guessing it’s okay. Side note: Everyone else bawled at the John Lewis advert right? It’s in association with Age UK and it’s the first time one of their adverts has made me cry, because it’s about a very real and incredibly sad issue. I don’t live near a John Lewis and probably wouldn’t shop there if I did because I’m cheap but I did donate to Age UK and I’d like to try to do something more practical but I don’t know what. Anyway, you’re not here for me to whitter on about charity, you’re here for the sewing shenanigans.

As is my usual way I have decided to make far too many things for gifts and should really get cracking on it – November will fly by, I’m sure. So I thought I’d share a few of my Christmas sewing plans. Mainly in the hopes that writing them down and having them public will make me actually do it.

The Manfriend loves crisps and likes to call Christmas crispmas so last year I made him a Crispmas Advent Calendar. I just bought 24 packets of crisps, individually wrapped them, wrote numbers 1-24 on them (24 was a sharing bag – he reeeally loves crisps) and put them in a box that I wrapped and decorated. But this year I fancy jazzing it up a bit, so I’m planning to make a garland style one with little pouches.

I’m going to actually make my mum the festive Scout that I was planning to make her last Christmas but didn’t get round to. I’m going to give it to her pre-Christmas though so she actually gets a chance to wear it. Her office is really hot and if she wears a Christmas jumper to work she cooks so I thought a t’shirt would be much better for her.

I mentioned my dinosaur loving pseudo nephew at the end of my last post and my plan to make him a t’shirt out of my leftover dinosaur fabric. I’ve just bought the Oliver + S Field Trip raglan t’shirt sewing pattern for it and I’ll probably use the dinosaur fabric for the sleeves.

I also want to make him a dinosaur tail. I’d seen them on Etsy before and was already considering making one and then I saw Liza Jane’s adorable version, which sealed it for me. I have to make one. Mine won’t be fancy and include a hoodie though, it’s just going to be the tail.

As well as his advent calendar the Manfriend will be getting some pyjama bottoms and a Paxson sweater, hopefully in marl if I can find some nice fabric – he loves raglan and marl.

Gosh, this is getting long and daunting and I haven’t even finished!

There’s also my nan’s Christmas cake, which I’ve already made and will just need to decorate closer to the time (after it’s had a bit more booze). I’ve been prowling Pinterest for decoration ideas and I think I’m going to go with Santa stuck in a chimney.

I made mango chutney last year that went down really well with my nan and Manfriend’s mum so I’m planning another batch of that this year. I think we’re going to make a little hamper for his family so there will probably be a few chutney type things being made. Last year I made onion marmalade, beer mustard, arancello and pomegranate vodka for hampers and I might repeat some of those.

And last but not least, there are the things I want to make for me. I’m planning a festive Scout for myself too and my work Christmas party outfit. Last year’s hunky simplicity 1418 is pretty much untoppable so I think I’m going to just go for something a bit more elegant this year. Maybe By Hand London Anna dress in some sort of slinky fabric. Or possibly a jumpsuit.

How about you? Have you made any Christmas sewing plans? Have you started? Or do you have any tips for me to make sure I actually achieve this years plans?

A Hunky Festive Simplicity 1418

Christmas hunks dress
Christmas Hunks dress in action at my work Christmas party

This right here is the reason I started sewing. So I can own party dresses that have hunky topless festive dudes all over them. I am so obscenely pleased with it. Please excuse the quality of the photos, I don’t know why they’re so grainy and it’s too dark for me to bother retaking them now. I took one outside and it’s just as bad so it’s probably camera settings rather than lighting. I will fiddle before the next time.

The pattern is Simplicity 1418, one of the Project Runway line. I saw someone Instagram their version ages ago when stalking the #sewing hashtag (I can’t remember who sorry) and immediately knew I had to own the pattern. I haven’t seen that many versions of it online but the ones I have I really like and I love my own and can see myself making more, even if it’s not the most wearable of styles for daily life.

I made this for my work Christmas do on Friday and left it far too last minute due to completing on my own house in the beginning of November and spending every waking moment since being harried, painting things, moving things, assembling things and generally being stressed out and busy. I made my toile on Sunday, cut out my bits on Monday and then sewed the dress up Tuesday and Wednesday, and hemmed it (by machine rather than my hand as I’d hoped) on Thursday – nothing like cutting it fine.

For my toile I sewed up a size 14 and it fit nicely on the bust but was too tight at the waist, the sleeves were massive and the neckline gaped front and back. So I:

  • Pinched 1.5cm out of front centre bodice piece
  • Took 2cm out of the back and then pivoted it into the waist dart, trying to be all fancy
  • Added 0.5cm to the side seams
  • Took 3cm out of the centre of the sleeve pieces
  • Cut the elastic and the elastic casing 3cm smaller too
  • I also took an inch and a half off the length to make the dress work better with my petticoat

Fit wise I think it’s okay but before making it again I will probably take a smidge more out at the front, it’s just a tad gapey still and the arms still feel a bit big but I think if the chest fit better that would help the sleeves too, without the risk of me taking more out and ending up not being able to lift my arms properly.

christmas hunks no petticoat
Minus the petticoat

I lined the bodice instead of using the facings for a tidier finish inside and because I didn’t really like the idea of finishing princess seams. This was my first go at sewing them and it went okay but not brilliantly. I am not very good at easing things in, just don’t understand it and can’t do it properly. The instructions with this pattern were really helpful for me as they get you to stay stitch the curve and then snip into it to release the tension and then the bodice pieces go together a lot more easily. And I know it’s a lot easier because on my lining I staystitched the wrong bit, which was no help at all. (I’d staystitched the wrong bit on the shell too, but quickly stitched the centre too before pinning them after discovering what a pain the lining was without the staystitching.)

I took lots of care with pattern placement but you wouldn’t be able to tell at all from looking at the finished dress. I cut out my lining pieces first so I had full versions of the bits that needed to be cut on the fold and then I used them as my pattern pieces on my main fabric so I could cut it out on one layer. I really wanted this handsome dude with the reindeer front and foremost on the bodice.

Bodice in pieces
Cut out and ready to go

I then tried to pattern match the bodice seams but failed miserably as I completely forgot to account for the seam allowances. I was quite annoyed with myself for that when it dawned on me but now it’s sewn up I still love the dress so I’m less cross with myself. I’m more cross with myself for chopping flasher hunk’s head off. When I did the skirt pieces I was starting to panic that I didn’t have enough fabric left and just cut them out without thinking about placement at all, which is really irritating as he only needed to be about an inch or two lower. Oh well, I shan’t be losing sleep over it.

The dress has a side zip so I got to have a whole hunk on the back of the bodice without having to faff with (no doubt failed) attempts to pattern match. I particularly like his defined thighs, I like a muscular thigh. (This is why I don’t whinge when the manfriend watches the rugby.)

chrismas hunks back
Hunky elf

It was my first side zip and it went okay, I got awfully confused at a couple of points but it went in okay and matches at the waist. I put in one side, did the zip up and then cut a little snip into the zip tape at the waist seam on the other side – having seen the tip on the Sew Over It Instagram account –  and then used that snip to match it to the waist seam of the dress, which worked loads better for me than trying to use a pin to mark the waist seam as I’ve done previously. It’s not really very concealed though.

I got loads of compliments on the dress when I wore it and one woman even ran after me to ask me where I got it from and excitedly asked me if I was a dressmaker when I said I’d made it. She actually seemed really disappointed when I said no. I wore it with a petticoat, which always makes me feel extra glamorous and awesome. Manfriend picked me up from the train station and I was feeling silly so I ran to meet him and kicked a leg back when kissing him hello to pretend I was in an old movie.

Oh I just realised that I mentioned altering the elastic and casing but didn’t really mention them and they’re quite an interesting feature so I probably should talk about them. A piece of 3/4 inch wide elastic gets its own little casing and then gets basted to the underside of the sleeves, I think to keep the off the shoulder sleeves a bit more secure.

Christmas Hunks dress

I love this dress so much. I love that it was a bit more challenging and I love the outcome. I’m going to wear it for prancing round the house on Christmas Day and manfriend is possibly going to wear a bow tie so he matches my fanciness.