Sew easy, baby!

Um, hi?

Dear, neglected blog, it's been a while. It's been a bloody long while. What can I say, until last week, I hadn't sewn a stitch since I got pregnant, oh, over three years ago now? Meanwhile, I've just been and had two babies. TWO. BABIES. Back to back. Like some kind of insane masochist.

Sort of. They're really fucking cute. It makes up for a lot.

But I digress. This isn't about the babies, or at least, only tangentially. This is one of the few remaining things in my life that is all about me. This, and the gin cupboard.

Welcome to motherhood!

I had a point there. Let me try to get to it.

So, this dress. This godforsaken, reversible, pinafore, cross over, supposedly incredibly easy dress. This dress lured me back into sewing. My daughter (my second child!!!), received a beautiful version of this from a talented friend when she was born, but as babies do, she outgrew it. It was her first birthday(!!!) last week, and at the last minute I decided to try to make her a bigger version as a present. "How hard could it be?!" I thought. "No closures, just a few straight or gently curved seams - perfect project to get my sewjo back on track!"


I'm sure this is an incredibly easy sew to an experienced seamstress, but experienced I am not! And any experience I did have was three years and two placentas ago. This makes a difference, friends, An important one. But my first problem wasn't inexperience, it was arrogance. Or perhaps stupidity, I haven't quite decided yet.

You see, there are patterns and tutorials available online for variations of this dress, but most of the ones I could find involved buttons at the shoulders, or visible topstitching somewhere, neither of which the version she was given had. That version looked so neat and pretty that I thought I'd wing it. I decided to rub pattern pieces off that dress (never done this before), grade them up to her current size (never done this before), and then construct the garment without instructions (also, never done this before).

Long story short, it was a complete ball ache from start to finish. Those pattern designers earn their money, friends! And I am ever so happy to pay it to them!

Copying the pattern & grading it up wasn't actually that hard. It's easy to spread out on the flat and trace off, and I guess I'd seen enough nested patterns graded to different sizes about the armholes to have a vague idea what I was doing. Although, I did actually redraw the pattern because I wasn't entirely happy with my first version, so in future, I'd just follow one of the probably millions of online tutorials on how to create this kind of cross back from an existing a-line dress that fits your child. D'oh.

But, the construction, friends. The construction. That was a puzzle and a half! In retrospect, it was obvious, but going into this chronically sleep deprived, with a monster cold that the children gave me (because small humans are basically vermin), sewing in snatched moments of time when the magic of simultaneous naps (or naps plus telly) happened, and having not really finished a thought for the best part of two years, meant that I unpicked this dress at least three times, possibly more along some seams, before I finally pulled it together. It was actually taken out of the bin by my husband at one point, following a snotty, sweary, melt down on my part, bless him, and thank goodness he believed in my ability to finish this, because I did not.

 And that's the thing... TMI klaxon, but ironically enough, I came into sewing because of babies. We'd tried for a baby for years with no success, and were finally eligible for IVF, so I went part time at work to facilitate the treatment. There were suddenly huge swathes of time in my week that had previously been filled with a very stressful job that were, well, free. All mine. Open space for hobbies, for exercise, for reading, for friends, for day dreaming, for whatever the fuck I wanted. It was magical. It was life-altering. For various reasons, I chose to fill many of the hours with sewing, and this blog was born. And in my childless state, I had the time to sew in long, leisurely, considered chunks, entire days! I completely threw myself into the creative endeavour, and then a few months later, just as we were due to start IVF, I got pregnant... and again a few months after having my first, I got pregnant again... and here we are. (On top notch contraception. But I digress.)

We've moved house recently, and had some major changes in our life set up (as if two babies wasn't major enough) that seemed to finally open up a chink of space for me to think about sewing again, and I was so glad to find myself dusting off my machine and getting back into it. The pleasure of making something with my hands, the joy of seeing it worn, has not abated. But the way I sew now has changed. It's had to. Toddlers and pins, irons, shears, etc don't mix. Sewing is a pretty lethal hobby for a parent of tiny humans with a death wish. It makes me think profound and profoundly muddled thoughts about mixing motherhood and creativity, about the adjustments you have to make to the creative process, about letting go of perfection and embracing good enough.

I haven't got there with the last one yet (see, bin and unpicking, and dogged determination to figure out how the hell to put this damn thing together without topstitching), and maybe when I get the chance to finish one of those profoundly muddled thoughts I might revisit them here.

But for now, I have a finished object! And my daughter has a pretty pinafore! The crazy blue flowered cotton came from a sale at Joel & Son Fabric years ago (they no longer carry the same, but you can easily go wild with the mad florals over there, should the budget allow). The ditsy red floral cotton was a piece I picked up from a local fabric shop to use as a lining for a potential (never made) project. If anyone else out there has the same brain fail that I did trying to put this together & would like me to explain how I did it, I'd be happy to show the steps next time I make one for her. (I've got ideas for a wintry one using a black & white paisley that's in my stash.)

 So... I guess I'm back? I actually have two very nearly completed makes that have been hanging shamefully in my cupboard all this time - a By Hand London Flora dress, and a Sewaholic Gabriola skirt. They're both in stunning fabric, so it kind of makes me want to cry that neither of them really fits my current frame - it's probably no surprise to anyone but myself that two babies has put a considerable number of inches on my waistline - so they may not appear on ze old blog soon. But I have a much more forgiving Grainline Hemlock cut out (also for 3 years - whoops!), and more recently, the tres chic Republic du Chiffon Ludivine (because why go for something easy when you can choose something with minimal instruction in a language you don't speak). I've sifted through my stash and identified a bunch of new patterns (loose shift and cocoon dresses for the everlasting win) that I want to sew to match my new figure and life and needs.

Here's to not-so-easy, easy sews, and learning new skills, and cute, dribbly babies, who are incredibly less awkward in front of the camera than I ever was. Here's to remembering how to rethread the machine. Here's to unpicking and trying again (and again, and again), to doing the best you can in whatever available space there might be, and to making do. Here's to following the creative drive, whatever form it takes. And here's to sewing a damn cute dress.


  1. I had a similar story, with my second also coming very soon after the first. They are now 17 and 16. Be very careful - we went and had another one who is now 12!

    Congratulations and wishing you well!

    1. Thank you! And haha, I've heard the story about the late third child enough times now to be quite wary for my future self. ;) They are pretty wonderful though, so why not have more!



Who, me?

Who, me?
Hi, I'm Ellebougies. I'm brand new to this sewing lark, but boy am I ENTHUSIASTIC. I also enjoy knitting things. One day I'll stop whinging about the weather.

Work in progress

Work in progress