Hey there. I hope you've had a good weekend. Today's finished project is something special - a brand new pattern by the Bag Making Queen, herself, Lisa Lam.
I've no idea how her publishers got hold of details of my little blog, but I am pretty pleased to have been asked to take part in a blog hop to promote the patterns. There are some of my favourite bloggers taking part!
I've been making things using Lisa's patterns ever since I rediscovered my love of sewing as an adult. Her blog was the first sewing blog I ever read - she must take a big share of the responsibility for getting me well and truly hooked! I used to enjoy all the free tutorials she put on it - I can clearly remember the rush of pride I experienced when I put a hidden zip pocket inside my first bag, all thanks to Lisa's clear instructions.
My husband would joke she was like the sewing world equivalent of a drug dealer - tempt a person in with a few easy to achieve projects with nice beginner friendly colour photos for each step and let them gleefully realise sewing is something they can do; have a shop that sells all the shiny bits and pieces you need to make your bags look professional; write a book just in time for when your sewing groupies are ready for something harder; then another... you get the idea.
But, if you are reading this and in need of one, Lisa is a great dealer to pick. I was flabbergasted when I once had need to call her shop over something, and realised it was the Bag Queen herself willingly answering my bag making questions in such a friendly and patient manner. As a result, I always tell the girls and guys who come onto my courses that when looking for a project beyond basic cushions, that you cannot go far wrong with a copy of The Bag Making Bible and a couple of contrasting half metre pieces of fabric that you love.
But hang on a minute, you say. There's not a bag in sight in these pictures. Correct. Lisa has become a mummy, and, like a lot of mums who sew, has found it impossible to resist the lure of making something lovely for her gorgeous little one to wear. So, she has turned her pattern designing talent towards children's clothes. Her aim in doing so, is to help us all create something that will be totally unique, and, I think, special enough to earn status as an heirloom piece to be handed down the family.
There are two pattern booklets to choose from, both designed for girls aged 2-6 years old. Each includes three options so that you can vary your makes a bit and get good value for money out of the designs. I have made something from both booklets - and, at the risk of cuteness overload (for that read `waffle') in one post, will be showing you the Dance With Me Dress I made for Charlotte on Wednesday.
My littlest big girl was with me when I opened the email inviting me to take part in this blog hop. Sensing my excitement, she asked what all the fuss was about, and then wasted no time in telling me which of the patterns she liked the best. Half an hour later, she and I had chosen the fabric for her playsuit - it is called Foxtrot by Michael Miller, and the plain contrast is Mustard from Bella Solids, both are from FabricRehab. I adore this shop. (If they are reading, I would be so happy to be sent something lovely to make another something lovely out of. Just saying...)
This took me a little longer to sew than my usual children's makes. That said, I like the finished result. And more importantly, the littlest big girl does, too. You can see from the photos that she has tested its play credentials. And also, she was extremely careful not to spill her dinner on it yesterday, so that she could wear it again today when she went to pre school. Now if that is not a ringing endorsement from a child, I don't know what is.
As already hinted, this took a while to make. I cut out the pieces on one day, and did the actual sewing over a couple of evenings. If you are doing the same, I'd recommend labelling all the different pieces for the ruffles and trims, as I managed to confuse them at one point, and sewed the wrong bit onto the neck.
I made one adjustment, and that was to swap the two straps (that were meant to tie in a bow or knot at the back of the neck) for a single strap that fastens at the front with some Velcro. I think most children in the age range the pattern is intended for would struggle to be able to wear this outfit and dash to the loo and independently do it back up again. The solution I have come up with works - but, if I was making it again, I would try a slightly approach of adding some elastic into the neck strap casing (as well as the Velcro), so that there was a bit more ease around this area.
The instructions for the patterns are every bit as good as I have come to expect from Lisa Lam. There are plenty of clear colour photos of each step that support the written instructions nicely.
Although the actual designs themselves are a bit more fiddly than I would normally bother with for children's clothing, there is nothing difficult about it. Given that I might have overlooked this pattern (mainly because I have plenty of basic children's patterns to draw upon already) I am glad the opportunity to make it landed in my lap - I think the finished garment is worth the effort, and (more importantly) it stands up to the test of being fun to play in.
Both the bigger sisters now want playsuits! Lisa, if you're reading this, an option for an almost eight year old girl would save me some time trying to size up the pattern myself... ;)
And finally, you want to see that first ever bag, don't you? Well, I think the bag has long been lost (probably in our house move last year), but here is a slightly blurry picture of what it looked like.
The patterns are available to buy now. I've also just noticed that Lisa's second bag book is currently massively reduced in price here (I already have it, and am plotting the bike bags to go on my pretty new set of wheels).
I'm sure you'd like the chance to get your hands on both sets of patterns for free, wouldn't you? The publishers have kindly offered to send one lucky reader this prize. To enter, just leave a comment below. And, for a second chance at entering, come back and see me on Wednesday, where I'll be showing you how Charlotte looks in the Dance With Me Dress.
In the meantime, the next person on the blog hop is Follow the White Bunny - tomorrow. Enjoy!