Goodbye Granny

Sorry for the silence this past week, but I had to take an extremely-last minute, emergency flight back to the States last week to attend my grandmother’s funeral (as in “book me a flight for tomorrow“). Her last gift to us all was to prompt a family reunion, and I really felt strongly that I had to be there, so it was good to have some family time despite the circumstances.

Granny and I at our wedding reception in 2010

Granny has been in the background of my sewing for pretty much my entire life, but there were a few times when she featured heavily on this site, in particular when I refashioned her wedding gown into mine in 2010, but also earlier the same year when I made her a blouse from some vintage fabric in her stash (and which my mom said she was still wearing regularly right up until the end).

If you’re a new reader to this site and haven’t yet seen my wedding dress project, then really, I urge you to just stop for a minute, click through and take a look. Granny was so immensely proud that I looked so beautiful in “her dress” and she continued to show our wedding album to everyone she could. I had so many relatives come up to me at the funeral saying how much they loved that I turned her gown into mine.

Overall, this weekend really reinforced to me how much “making” is in my DNA – I knew Granny had been quite crafty, but I hadn’t realised that she was actually a seamstress in her early life before going back to school as a young mother and becoming an insurance underwriter. She continued to quilt and sew clothing throughout her life, but also knit and crochet, too. Happily, I was gifted a very modern-looking yoked cardigan that she’d knitted years ago (I actually wore it to work yesterday!) since I was the only one in the family it really fitted (ditto to a gorgeous pair of sage green leather gloves and an astonishingly beautiful vintage coat).

The funeral stationary was quilt-themed!

Over the course of the weekend, the family went through some of Granny’s most cherished items, and my granddad asked if I’d like to see her sewing machine. Of course I did, and before I knew it, I had it humming away fixing a tear on my sister-in-law’s trousers!

Steeplechase Shorts for an active tween

On Friday I showed you the full-length version of the Steeplechase Leggings pattern I made for my niece, Megan, but as soon as I finished making those, I decided to throw in a shorts version, too, so she can wear them in the warmer Virginia summers.

I’d measured her in person when I had to return to the States briefly in January, and I made and posted them over in time for the pattern launch. Since I’d already cut out her size (XS) for the longer leggings, the only difference I had to make for these was just to cut along the Biker Shorts hem line instead!

All together now, the pattern description is:
These leggings have no inseams! Instead, a curved, outer seam runs from the back of the ankle up to the centre front, where it joins a separate yoke piece. There’s an optional, hidden back pocket, elasticated waistband, and your choice of three lengths: biker short, capri, or full length leggings.

These were a little bonus gift, but I still wanted to make them stylish for her so she could wear them for play, sports, or school if she wanted, so the main fabric is the very last of my adored Eclipse “Hint of Mint” supplex (which you may remember from my Mint X Back Workout Top or my Multi-Print VNA Top), but I made the yoke from offcuts from my Animal Magic Steeplechase Leggings, which I was cutting out for myself at the same time. Like the afore-mentioned VNA Top, I really like the mix of the prints here even though they weren’t designed to go together.

I love how well these shorts stand up to all the movements a 12 year old can throw at them – running, jumping, diving at the football (soccer ball) – they aren’t shifting for anything!

Steeplechase Leggings – in the saddle!

I hope you’re not sick of seeing all my versions of my latest Steeplechase Leggings pattern yet, because these are the pair I’ve been most itching to show you!

Ever since I started designing something special for equestrians, I knew I wanted my niece, Megan, to be my athlete-model. I’ve sewn for her on and off as she’s grown up, but living so far away, it’s difficult to get accurate measurements before she goes and grows again! But my impromptu trip to the States in January meant I could measure her in person, and post them over in time for the pattern launch.

To refresh your memory, here’s the description:
These leggings have no inseams! Instead, a curved, outer seam runs from the back of the ankle up to the centre front, where it joins a separate yoke piece. There’s an optional, hidden back pocket, elasticated waistband, and your choice of three lengths: biker short, capri, or full length leggings.

Once I was back in London, I sent her the Funkifabrics url, let her pick whatever she wanted, and she chose the black and white Solar System print, which I think is a pretty mature choice for a tween!

I made her the full length leggings, and used the same fabric for the yoke and the body, though you can only barely see the yoke in these photos as she’s wearing a teeshirt over top. I thought that we’d be able to arrange photos much earlier so I could show you how these work in the saddle before the pattern release, but alas, there was another death in the family and the horrible East Coast weather also severely disrupted her Saddle Time.

But the upside is that you get to see photos of Megan riding her horse at the local stables in gorgeous sunshine, and in only a teeshirt on top, too! Since I made and posted these before I had any feedback from my pattern testers, though, you can see that the knees are a little baggy on her – this was a common issue with my testers and was adjusted for the final release version.

One of my pattern testers, Kelli, is a keen rider and gave me so much amazing feedback on the 5 (? or was it 6?) pairs she made during the 2 week testing period, that I really wish I could’ve applied those lessons to Megan’s pair, which was made before I knew!

Designer-inspired Colourblocked Sheath Dress

I started planning this dress way back in the first week of December when I got your opinions on all the different colourblocking options, and it should tell you everything about how crazy busy I’ve been that I’ve only actually been able find the hour or two to make it last weekend.

You may recall the story of this “pattern” from when I made it in a solid, mustard-yellow ponte the first time around – I had a very well-loved ASOS dress that I traced off so it actually wasn’t from a pattern at all. (Others have asked if I’ll release it as a pattern, but it doesn’t really fit with my brand sorry!)

What I didn’t show you is that I tested my few pattern changes afterwards with a version of this pattern colourblocked in random ponte scraps from my stash, shortened to top-length, minus the CB invisible zip, and with a teeshirt-bound neckline instead of a facing.

It actually works quite well as a top (though I think the pieces near the hem could be better thought-out), but I wasn’t quite sold on the colourblocking choices, which were mostly decided based on fabric scrap sizes. It felt a bit… starfleet commander. And that’s a look only Catherine Daze can pull off!

But the original goal was to make another dress similar to the mustard-yellow version, inspired by this Chalayan dress that’s been hanging on my sewing room wall for ages:

I had the perfect teal viscose ponte leftover from a client commission, but I went out and bought a half metre of white and a metre of mustard ponte at Goldhawk Road to make up the other pieces. I really wanted the yellow at the waistline curve, but that would’ve meant having the white at the hem (instant grime!), so I ultimately went with the second colourblocking option!

I finally got a few minutes to cut out the pieces in mid-January (having been ill for the entire Christmas holidays!), but then I had to fly to the States for my Granny’s funeral a few days later, and the pieces were waiting for me when I got back. I finally had two hours spare last weekend to close myself into my sewing cave, so this was a great pick-me-up to get me back on track.