I’m on a bit of a scrapbusting mission right now. My fabric stash only consists of two storage containers, but I’d really love to get it down to one. I don’t hoard many fabrics. I generally only purchase fabrics with a project in mind. However, my fabric purchasing discipline is very possibly skewed by the fact that I don’t live near a bricks and mortar fabric store. I probably shouldn’t be too smug…
I have a few precious fabrics that I’m happy to save. I also have a bunch of remnants that I’ve carted across the globe with me. I recently pulled out all those small lengths and made little piles around my cutting table, hopefully to inspire me to use them up! Five years in stash is way too long. I’m hoping that if I keep them in sight, I’ll find projects for them over the next five months.
Miss Nine had her eye on a few fabrics I’d sewn up for myself recently. She desperately wanted me to use some of my leftover leopard print jaquard to make something for her.
I didn’t have enough left for the entire pinafore, but I was able to mix and match with a bit of cotton sateen. The Mini Big Cat cotton and leopard print jacquard is from The Fabric Store. This is something similar to the jacquard. The green, cotton sateen is a very old remnant from my stash.
I used the same Japanese Pattern Book for her pinafore as I did for her Mini Big Cat top. The book is called A Sunny Spot from the Heart Warming Life Series. I sewed the pinafore one size smaller than the top. I made the top first so I had a better idea on fit for the pinafore. The fit of the top is acceptable. The pinafore fits her perfectly. She’s chuffed with the whole look. Now we just need these snow days to end so the kiddos can go back to school and I can get some more work done!
This a wardrobe staple. Everybody needs a floor length, leopard print skirt, right?!
The fabric is a luxe, cotton jacquard from The Fabric Store. I say luxe, because the print is so beautiful. The fabric though, is actually perfect for daywear. It is a lovely, heavyweight cotton blend that is easy to wash and care for. It does fray a little though, so I’d recommend serging the edges before prewashing. Otherwise, it was a dream to work with.
I decided on a skirt, but I think this fabric would also be amazing made up into a blazer or jacket. And if you are looking for something similar but for a more formal occasion, you need to check out this animal print jacquard!
I didn’t use a pattern to make this skirt. It was freestyle sewing all the way. The design is pretty simple. The top edge is turned over in a very deep “hem” which rises above the natural waist to create that high-waisted, “paper-bag” waist look. There is only one seam at the back of the dress, an invisible zipper which extends all the way to the top. It is basically one big rectangle (aside from the slight hi-lo shape at the bottom hem, which I cut away at the end).
I finished the top of the skirt and sewed the zipper in first. Then I pinned it to my body to create the perfect sized pleats at the waist. There are two big pleats at the front and two at the back. It was a very back to front way of sewing a skirt but it worked out perfectly! It fits perfectly with, or without a belt. However, I prefer the look of the skirt with a little skinny belt worn at the waist.
A short while ago, I made a long, linen dress using V9186. I love it a lot. I especially like the shape of the sleeves and collar. I like it so much that I decided to have a go turning it into a little top.
I had to modify the pattern a bit. The original pattern is asymmetrical in design so the pattern pieces are all cut flat. I simply traced one side of the pattern front and back and used those pieces to cut on the fold. I cut it to a top length and left everything else pretty much the same. The top is slightly flared and there’s plenty of ease so no bust darts were required.
It’s a very simple, cotton top. The fabric is a Mini Big Cat printed cotton from The Fabric Store. It’s a lovely lightweight cotton and easy to work with. I’ve got a little extra left over which I hope to make into a Summer frock for Miss Eight. I’m just hesitant to cut into it quite yet, given Miss Eight’s tendency to grow like a weed. I can’t find my particular print on their site anymore, but I think this option would also make a super cute top.
I like this top with jeans. It’s a simple, fresh look that I love. However, I have bigger plans for the top and you will be updated soon (unless you follow me on IG of course!).
The (slang) definition of Fly is: very good; excellent; cool; awesome. Also, as any swimmer will know, the stroke of butterfly is commonly referred to as Fly.
Therefore, it made perfect sense to name this suit after the other little swim champ in the family. Miss Eight loves swimming about as much as her ten year old sister. She is also “fly” in every sense of the word. I can see her following the same path as Miss Ten, in terms of the satisfaction she derives from achieving in the sport, and her commitment to succeed. She tries about as hard in practice and racing as I’ve ever seen anyone do. I can also see her trying to identify with a component of swimming that is her own, a niche that she excels in, above and beyond, or simply different to what her big sister can do.
Big sister’s best stroke is freestyle, and she not only has a beautiful, natural stroke, she is also fiercely competitive (as a first born often is). Big sister also does reasonably well at backstroke. She wants to be great at backstroke (probably because of her mama) but I’m not sure it comes as naturally to her as it does to Harper. Harper is very good at backstroke and is strong at freestyle, but lately, she has been doing really well in butterfly, a stroke that has not come very easily to her big sister. While she still has a very long way to go with her fly, she has pretty good timing and position in the water, and a good sense of how to pull her body forward strongly.
She won a few ribbons in fly during the short course season, and now I can see that this has changed her perspective on the stroke. She takes a lot of pride in leading the lane during butterfly sets and it obviously makes her feel good. Miss Eight may or may not become a butterfly specialist in the future. She’s only little. It doesn’t really matter, as long as it is giving her enjoyment now.
I called her Madame Butterfly recently after I saw her doing some particularly great fly in practice. And then we went home to watch some videos of the original Madame Butterfly (Susie O’Neill). She loved this. And I loved seeing my little middle child find someone or something to identify with as her own.
And speaking of sisters. Cate and Bronte Campbell are the other great Australian swim stars we follow closely in this household, for very obvious reasons. It’s a challenge finding a way to compete with and cheer for your sister at the same time. But it’s also a great life lesson that I believe we are (so far) doing well at practicing. It helps to have others to look up to who also fight that same battle. Whilst watching the recent Commonwealth Games, as you can imagine, one of the most common questions I kept getting was, “who is older…?”.
And back to this suit, you can find it in my Etsy shop. The actual suit is not the one you see in the above photo from last Summer, but the smile on Miss Eight’s face is the true representation of the joy I see in this mermaid. I am yet to make Miss Eight her own (recent) version, which will no doubt be in an animal print. The actual Harper Fly Suit can be seen in action here. But I couldn’t very well name the suit after this little six year old mischief. She tolerates swimming, and goes to practice as rarely as she can, because it keeps her water safe, and because she can have a great old belly laugh with anyone she can corrupt in her lane.
This suit is very similar in fit to the Coco Racer. My girls love this style of suit. It’s what the big (National) girls were wearing all last season, so naturally all the little kids want to wear the same.
Swimsuit sewing is ongoing here. I basically just sew the same suits over and over again, so it hasn’t occured to me to blog about the new suits. However, I will share a couple of new pictures and my ongoing analysis of the suits and fabric.
Summer Swim League for my girls (all three of them this year!) is nearly ready to wrap up. Miss Nine has a few more bigger swim meets over the next fortnight before her season winds up, and I have national titles in Early August. After that, we’ll take a break from laps and spend the remaining weeks of Summer playing and splashing at the Kansas City pools. Our swimsuits have a LOT more Summer to get through yet!
I’m still perfecting the design of my own swimsuit. It takes a while because swimsuit fabrics can vary slightly in the way they stretch. Also, I like to line my practice suits for longevity and the lining affects the fit too. I’ve purchased the same lining twice from the same vendor over the past year, and each time it’s been slightly different in terms of stretch and feel. I’m now making very minor adjustments to my pattern so that it will still work well across all these slight variances.
I’ve sewn more than a few suits since my last swimwear post. I tweaked the design on my last suit for a more secure back and a little more coverage, as you see in the photo below.
This has been my favourite suit so far. I thought it was perfect at the time, and it possibly was. I forget to take into account that my chest has grown a bit over the past few months, which may also be affecting swimsuit fit.
The fabric was from Tessuti Fabrics and I used black lining from The Fabric Fairy. I line ALL my suits with black as it means I never have to worry about the pale coloured fabrics fading. I thought I was being clever, but I recently purchased a RTW bikini from Jolyn (a label that all the cool and serious squad swimmers wear here in the Midwest). Jolyn lines all their coloured suits with dark grey too.
But back to my suit. I literally wore this suit to death, and it lasted very well. The green in the fabric faded from the chlorine before the fabric wore out. The lining held the suit together for a bit longer until I eventually had to retire it. The saggy butt look was not very attractive in the end.
Foolishly, I then started sewing another suit using the same pattern, but in a beautiful, (but completely inappropriate) fabric. The blue is fused lycra, so essentially two layers of swimsuit fabric fused together. It meant I could skip the lining, but the fabric also had less stretch than regular swimsuit fabric. The fit in this suit looks ok, but it’s like swimming in scuba gear (without stretch!). It’s amazing fabric for a bikini or recreational suit, but no good for practice at all. I wore it once.
I made a similar suit for Miss Nine using Jalie 3134. She rarely wears it, and I won’t make her as I know it isn’t very pleasant to swim in. The pattern design is good. I made a few tweaks to fit her better, but the fabric is unsuitable. Turns out, these are the only photos I have of her actually wearing it. Miss Seven is wearing one of my favourite little handmade suits, made to my own design.
Next up for me was a silver foil print version. It’s ok, but I feel like I need to increase the bust coverage a bit. I also made this version a little more high cut in the leg, but with the same back coverage (I just moved everything up a little higher). I love the higher cut leg. It definitely feels better in the water, and is more comfortable with leg motion. The back also fits a little closer over my bottom/lower back in this design.
I’m currently working on another suit for me, with a few pattern tweaks around the bust area.
Meanwhile, this leopard print suit nearly needs to be retired but I don’t have the heart to take it off her. The buzzy bee one is also on its last legs (from love!). I actually made a second copy of the buzzy bees for another swim buddy. But I do LOVE the animal print fabric, and it held up beautifully in the chlorine and sun. I wish I had enough for myself, but I’m not sure I do.
My most recent make was a return to Jalie 3135 for Miss Five, using fabrics from The Fabric Fairy. She’s super cute in it. The design worked beautifully for here. I find the crotch in this pattern a little wide in the larger sizes, but the fit on my little one is not bad. Here are my three little mermaids in their favourite suits!
I’m not sure how long I’ve had this pink faux leather in my stash, but it was always destined for Miss Six. She’s such a groovy little chickadee.
I used the Parachute pants pattern from Oliver + S. I removed the side panel, narrowed the legs a little, and lengthened them to the next size up to better fit my tall girl.
The legs are obviously too long on Miss Six right now. I was planning on hemming them, but the faux leather looks cleaner unfinished, so the extra length comes from the hem allowance that was never turned up. We’ll probably leave it as it is for now and just roll the legs up until Miss Six’s legs stretch (which happens regularly anyway!).
I hope everybody had a wonderful Christmas! We had a great day, but not a white Christmas in Kansas. However, I believe we are expecting snow any day now, so it could be a special white birthday for Miss Five tomorrow.
Santa was very generous this year. The big guy bought a joint present for all my girls, in the form of a very basic, but well reviewed, Brother XL-2610 sewing machine. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a learning machine for my kids (and I wasn’t about to share my Pfaff), but I did want them to have a machine that would be simple to use and reasonably sturdy. So far the machine is working well and the girls are finding it easy to develop confidence on. And because it’s not my precious machine, I’m happy to let them play on it alone without too much anxiety.
At the moment, we’re still working on threading the machine and sewing straight lines at a precise distance from the fabric edge, but I’m happy to report that Miss Five has proclaimed it the best present from Santa this year.
And while we’re talking about Christmas, I thought I’d share a few little sweaters I made for my girls using an old Kwik Sew pattern in my stash. I modified it slightly to block in a few different fabrics and lengthen the bodice, but otherwise I left it pretty unchanged.
Miss Seven’s sweater was made up in a size 8. It’s pretty roomy on her, but my big girls grow like weeds so I always err on the larger size with them. The bodice length is extremely short in the pattern so I also lengthened it by 2 inches before adding the bottom band. The black portion of the sweater is from a new merino jersey sweater of mine (that was too small). The ivory ruffles and tiger fabric were both small remnants in my scrap basket and specifically chosen by the recipients.
Miss Five’s sweater is mostly tiger fabric, with a little merino trim. I made this one as a tunic to incorporate the ivory trim better. I also made a standard version of this pattern for her in rainbow French terry. It’s a very simple and practical raglan pattern.