The Secret Beauty of Mistakes

A few months ago I got on a plane bound for England. I was taking my little Australian children back ‘home’ to meet a new baby cousin and to spend some time with my family.  I decided that I would take some knitting projects on the flight and get a (very) early start on some Christmas presents as a way to make the epically long flight go faster.  I did get plenty of knitting done, both on the plane and in the days afterwards, but because of the tiredness and the jet lag I made a couple of mistakes. Not terrible ones. But the sort that once spotted can’t be un-seen.  I could have gone back and fixed them but I decided not to and not only because I didn't want to have to face unravelling a lot of work, It was because the mistakes said something. They spoke to me of the circumstances surrounding their occurrence.  They said ‘Oh, hey, remember that time you flew to England to meet your new niece and you were exhausted but you couldn’t sleep on the plane because you were too excited to see your family again and you couldn’t stop thinking about how lovely it would be to spend some time with them…?’ And I realised that I didn’t want to erase that.

So I left them there and I wrote a little letter to go with the gift.  I wrote about how it wasn’t perfect, and how there were mistakes. But I also wrote about how I was feeling as I made it, about my tiredness and my excitement and about how there was love and anticipation knitted into every stitch. I wrote of how I hoped that the recipient too would treasure those mistakes as a reminder of the time that I flew halfway across the world with two small children in tow, just because I loved them so.


Honeycomb Dress - Pattern Review

I made a thing!  More shockingly, I blogged a thing!  I have been meaning to make this beautiful Cocowawa Crafts Honeycomb dress for months now so having it finally finished is a wonderful feeling.  

Cocowawacrafts Honeycomb Dress Pattern Review by Willow and Stitch

There are so many things to love about this pattern, though the waist ties are particularly special.  I decided to make a sleeveless version for summer, although I know it’s going to work really well layered over long sleeve tees on cooler days.

Cocowawacrafts Honeycomb Dress Pattern Review by Willow and Stitch

Making it sleeveless also gave me an opportunity to use some gorgeous Japanese cotton bias binding which gives such a lovely finish. I’m a big fan of using ready made bias binding for projects, rather than the main fabric, just because it saves so much on the fabric requirements and means that I usually have enough left over for a skirt or top for my little one too!  Better still is using other small, irregular pieces of leftover fabric to make your own bias binding, although I was too lazy in this instance. Or rather, more accurately, I saw these pretty bias bindings at Fibresmith (my favourite Melbourne fabric and supplies store!) and couldn’t resist buying them!

Honeycomb6.jpgCocowawacrafts Honeycomb Dress Pattern Review by Willow and Stitch
Cocowawacrafts Honeycomb Dress Pattern Review by Willow and Stitch

I sewed a size 3 and the fit was pretty good for me, although I did reduce the size of the armholes after making a muslin.  The main thing that I changed was to swap the collar for an open style. I’m weirdly unable to stand it when my clothes touch my neck so even though I love the look of the honeycomb collar I knew it wasn’t going to work for me and I didn’t want my dress to end up unworn.  So, I took inspiration from Sew Liberated’s Matcha Top and shortened the collar piece, gathering the front bodice to meet it at each side. This adjustment meant that I only needed 3 buttons on my front placket and I also found that I needed to shift the position of the top button (and consequently the others) down a little to give the neckline the open look that I was after.

Cocowawacrafts Honeycomb Dress Pattern Review by Willow and Stitch

I feel like this dress is yet another reminder of how your favourite fabric is SO much nicer when you’re wearing it than when it’s just sitting on your shelf, looking pretty and receiving the occasional pat!

I am utterly obsessed with this Atellier Brunette Stardust Double Gauze.  I’m sure I’ve raved about double gauze before but to my mind it really is the perfect fabric.  Natural fibres, so soft against the skin, drapes beautifully and is a dream to sew with. What more is there?

Cocowawacrafts Honeycomb Dress - Pattern Review by Willow and Stitch

P.s. don’t you just love those ‘me made’ labels? They’re by Kylie and the Machine and she has so many amazing label designs it’s almost impossible to choose!  I bought these on my latest visit to Fibresmith too but they are now happily stocked in lots of stores and also online! yay!

Millie Dress International Blog Tour

Millie Dress in See You at Six French Terry

I've had my eyes on this beautiful Millie Dress pattern for a while now. I even went and downloaded the original version but my little beanpole of a girl outgrew the size range before I had a chance to make it.  Happily for me the lovely designer, Nicky of Mix it Make it, has updated the pattern and it now comes in sizes 2-12 - Hurrah!  When she asked whether I would like to be part of the international blog tour to celebrate the release of the English version of the pattern I quite naturally jumped at the chance! 

Millie Dress International Blog Tour

Summer is in full swing down under so I decided to hack my Millie Dress a little to make a sleeveless version.  It was a really simple alteration - I just turned the seam allowance to the wrong side and stitched it down, exactly the same as the neckline.  Super easy.

Millie Dress in See You at Six French Terry

I used a beautiful soft See You at Six French terry which I have recently become completely obsessed with.  I blame MaaiDesign for introducing me to it and enabling my addiction!  It's just so lovely to work with and so heavenly to wear.  Each time I make something from it my kids put the clothes on and say 'Oooooh, yes! I love this one!'  I can't get enough of this beautiful pink with gold paint strokes on it.

Sleeveless Millie Dress in See You at Six French Terry

I think this may well be one of Ella's favourite things that I have ever made for her.  Pretty, Twirly, Comfy. What more could a girl want?  

The pattern is beautifully drafted and the instructions are clear and simple.  I made the mistake of getting a little over excited and accidentally cut the front and back bodice along the ruffle insertion lines before joining them at the shoulders.  I spent about 2 minutes kicking myself and then decided to just try sticking them back together with washi tape before sewing and what do you know - it worked a treat!  Washi tape for the win every time!

There will certainly be more Millie Dresses in our future.   I've already got a long sleeved version planned for autumn in this lovely April Rhodes fabric.  Any dress that makes you want to dance and twirl is a winner in my opinion! (Click through the images above to see more dancing and twirling!)

If you'd like to see more Millie Dresses go and take a look at the beautiful creations by the other lovelies on the Millie Dress Blog Tour:

Kneesocks and Goldilocks | Just Add Fabric | Van Jansen

Groovy Baby and Mama | La Folie Sewing Booth | My Petite Sophie

Vogue Deep V Kimono Dress - V9253

V9253 Vogue Deep V Kimono Dress in Teal Milled Linen

It has taken me so long to get around to photographing and blogging this dress that I can hardly remember any of the making details by now.  So, consider this fair warning if you’re hoping to be informed; this blog post is most likely going to be a combination of pretty pictures and pointless ramblings!

V9253 Vogue Deep V Kimono Sleeve

I made this dress for Melbourne Frocktails after seeing lots of gorgeous versions of it crop up in my instagram feed and becoming completely obsessed with it!

V9253 Vogue Deep V Kimono Dress

I wasn’t brave enough to go for the full deep V, so I just sewed it up to a point where I felt comfortable. I probably should have sewn an extra centimetre or so to stop that pesky bra peeping out, or perhaps I’ll just take it as a sign that I need to spend some time this year learning how to make pretty bras that are worthy of peeping at!

V9253 Vogue Deep V Kimono Dress front pleats

The fabric is a beautiful teal milled linen from The Fabric Store (this shade is called Blue Lagoon), I've already used this fabric for several other projects, and I love the look and feel of it and how easy it is to work with (I’m soon going to have a wardrobe full of this linen in every shade!)

I had a major freak out halfway through making where I became convinced that I didn’t actually like it at all. Fortunately all those fears disappeared when I put it on - I LOVE this dress. It’s so simple yet elegant and I’ve worn it a handful of times already.   

V9253 Vogue Deep V Kimono Dress back zipper

It was actually my first time sewing a vogue pattern - I mostly use indie designer patterns and it really highlighted for me the differences between them and ‘Big 4’ patterns. Firstly it was really expensive ($25!) and also quite hard to find - I had to DRIVE around to SHOPS (say what?!) - no simple internet download for this one.  

I also found the instructions very different, much less detailed and there were no helpful video tutorials or explanations of techniques.  While it wasn't hard to work out what to do, I did spend a lot of time hoping that I was doing it correctly, and not feeling very confident.  It’s made me realise just what a wonderful thing indie designers have done for sewing. I am essentially self taught in my sewing and all of it has come from buying sewing patterns which teach me new techniques, they don’t require you to know those techniques, they teach them! How great is that?! Thank you to all you wonderful designers out there, without you I probably would have given up on sewing before I’d ever even really started to learn!

V9253 Vogue Deep V Kimono Dress front pleats side view

One of the reasons that it's taken me so long to get around to blogging this dress is that I find taking photos really difficult.  I just feel so self-conscious and awkward in front of the camera and it shows in the photos which look awful and that in turn feeds back into a terrible loop of looking and feeling bad about myself! 

One of my resolutions for this year is to learn to feel more comfortable in front of the camera.  One of best ways seems to be to just have a little fun with it and get a bit silly.  I'm going to leave you with this gem because it just cracks me up so bad! Enjoy!

IMG_7182.JPG

See You at Six French Terry Groove Dress

I thought all of my dreams had come true when Maaike from MaaiDesign contacted me and asked if I'd like to play with some of her beautiful, beautiful fabrics!  I was completely spoiled for choice but eventually chose to make this amazingly soft, completely adorable, beach / swim cover up from the fish print of this See You at Six french terry

I'm sharing lots more photos and a few more ramblings over at MaaiDesign today. Go and take a look and say 'hello'!

Groove Dress See You at Six French Terry Fish 1.JPG

Reindeer Mask Tutorial - Bonus Pattern Piece

Reindeer Mask Tutorial

Can you believe we’re halfway through November, moreover, that it’s only 5 weeks until the Silly Season starts?!  I can’t, but that’s mostly because I live in topsy turvy land these days.  I’ve been in Australia for 12 years now but I still can’t get used to Christmas and Spring occurring at the same time.  I really need those environmental clues of the Northern Hemisphere, the autumn leaves falling, the nights drawing in, the chill in the air, to get me into the christmas spirit.  I pine for snow and log fires, sledding and hot chocolate, mittens and hot water bottles.

That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a hot christmas.  It’s a lovely holiday here, full of light and the joys of early summer.  Little girls in white dresses, cherries and stone fruit, seafood and cocktails, bright sunshine and cool breezes.  We throw open all the doors and lounge around in the garden, enjoying balmy evenings under twinkling fairy lights.

Nonetheless, I do find that it requires more of a conscious effort on my part to make December feel festive, and because I am determined that my children should find it as magical as I remember the holidays from my childhood being I tend to overcompensate by going all out with the decorations, music, christmas craft activities, and, of course, handmade gifts.

One of my favourite Christmassy things to make are these little Reindeer masks. I’m heading to Swagger Child Design Market this Sunday so I have been busy stocking up on them, and today I’m offering you a free pattern piece so that you can make them too.  The cute little fawn in my Woodland Creatures Sewing Pattern can be transformed into a festive Reindeer with the addition of these antlers.  Download the pattern extension piece here and scroll down for the tutorial.  If you don’t have a copy of the Woodland Creatures PDF and would like one then you can purchase it here.

Tutorial:

1. Download the bonus pattern pieces and print out.  Make sure that you set your print settings to 100% or select ‘no scaling’.  Measure the 1” square on the page to check that it has printed correctly.

2. Cut out the pattern pieces and pin them to a double layer of felt.  Cut around each piece and then sew the two layers together, sewing 5mm (¼”) from the edge.

Reindeer Mask

TIP:  For a neater finish and an easier time sewing, draw around your pattern pieces while they are pinned to the felt.  You will need a white marker or chalk pen to do this on the dark brown felt.  DO NOT cut the felt out.

Instead sew 5mm (1/4”) inside your drawn line and then cut along the white line once you have sewn the two layers together.

Doing it this way stops the felt from shifting as you sew which can be a particular problem when sewing around curves.

Reindeer Mask Tutorial

3. Sew your fawn mask following instructions on the PDF pattern.  When you come to sew the 2 layers of the face together, sandwich each antler between the 2 face layers, positioning each approximately 1cm (½”) from the ear, and letting the base of the antler extend at least 1.5cm / ¾” into the mask.  Pin in place before sewing around the face.

Reindeer Mask

As you can see I use the same technique for sewing all of my masks i.e. I sew before cutting wherever possible - It's quicker and gives a much nicer finish!

Well, that's it.  You're done!

Happy Holidays.

Reindeer Mask

Macrame Plant Hanger Goodness

Modern Macrame Plant Hanger

Oh my goodness.  I LOVE this latest project.  

This has been on my 'To Do' list for months now and I kept putting it off because it just seemed like such a big project, but funnily enough, when I actually got down to doing it it was done in an afternoon!  

It was probably a bit ridiculous to choose such a large project as my introduction to Macrame but I just fell in love with the design of it and have been looking for something to break up this massive expanse of blank wall in our new extension (which has 4.5 metre high ceilings!).  The pattern was an Etsy purchase from Boho Journal Shop and it was great.  Easy enough for a complete beginner to follow and I think the end result is just beautiful!  Besides, I've never been one to do things by halves....

Modern Macrame Plant Hanger / Wall Hanging

I can totally see myself getting addicted to making variations on this theme.  I need to build up my knotting repertoire, it so far consists of square knots in various forms and that's about it. Luckily I bought about 250 metres of rope so I should have enough to experiment with!

Sorry to those who know me - you're all getting a 70's Macrame plant hanger for Christmas, if anyone objects you'd better let me know in advance! 

Modern Macrame Plant Hanger / Wall Hanging

A Playtime Dress for Ella

Oliver + S Playtime Dress by Willow & Stitch

First make of Kids Clothes Week is complete!  I'm really happy with this lovely little dress.  The pattern is the Playtime Dress and leggings from Oliver + S.  I added these gorgeous little triangular leather elbow patches which I'm pretty sure I've seen somewhere (probably on Pinterest) and shamelessly copied, but I have no idea where I saw it!

Oliver + S Playtime Dress | By Willow & Stitch

The back view.  How cute are those elbows?!  And the gathers!  And the messy curls!

I really liked the topstitched peter pan collar, so much so that I'm almost wishing that I'd done it in more of contrasting colour - you almost can't see it!  (Also, don't judge me on my poor ironing skills...)

Oliver + S Playtime Dress | By Willow & Stitch
 Love the silhouette of this dress..

Love the silhouette of this dress..

 Molly (who has been renamed 'pillow' for some reason) came for a walk with us, as usual.  (Guess who had to carry her home though....)

Molly (who has been renamed 'pillow' for some reason) came for a walk with us, as usual.  (Guess who had to carry her home though....)

Both the dress and leggings were a big hit with the little lady.  Fortunately, because I cut into my precious Art Gallery Wanderer Knit for the leggings and would have been really annoyed if she hadn't liked them!  I actually cut them upside down (aagghh!) - I didn't realise the print was directional until I spotted those tiny little upside down horses.  So frustrating. Still, I'll probably be the only one who ever really notices!

 I have pretty bad outfit envy with this one.  I also reeeeally want a pair of those gold toe capped shoes! 

I have pretty bad outfit envy with this one.  I also reeeeally want a pair of those gold toe capped shoes! 

Also, It's not technically a Kids Clothes Week make because I finished it last week but I finally got some nice pictures of the boy in his 'I solemnly swear I am up to no good' hoodie.  He refused to try it on for days, until I lost patience and practically wrestled him into it.  Once the tantrum was over he decided that actually he REALLY likes it. So much so that he has been sleeping in it and refusing to wear anything else.  Mama always knows best...!

 Living up to the quote on his jumper!

Living up to the quote on his jumper!

I solemnly swear that I am up to no good | Harry potter quote stencilled sweater by Willow & Stitch

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Wild Things - A New Safari Mask Sewing Pattern

Wild Things - Safari Felt Animal Mask PDF Sewing Pattern from Willow & Stitch

Are you ready for the kids to go totally wild?  Want to take a safari without ever leaving home?  Watch your backyard become the African savannah or turn the living room into a water hole with these lovely dress up masks.

This Wild Things Mask Sewing Pattern features patterns for Lion, Tiger, Giraffe, Zebra and Leopard masks.  You can even make the Leopard into a Snow Leopard for a mountain adventure. 

Wild Things - Leopard Felt Animal Mask PDF Sewing Pattern from Willow & Stitch

I'm so pleased with this pattern.  I think the designs are my favourites so far and I've put a lot of extra effort into the pattern and tutorials.  I've come up with a better (and easier) way of sewing the eye holes, and added whole sections explaining each technique used to make the masks.  There's information on how to resize them to fit dolls (or newborns), printing guides and notes on materials to use.

Wild Things - Snow Leopard Felt Animal Mask PDF Sewing Pattern from Willow & Stitch
Wild Things - Tiger Felt Animal Mask PDF Sewing Pattern from Willow & Stitch

The patterns are just as easy to follow as ever and are perfect for beginners.  They're quick to sew and make a perfect gift or stocking filler.  I think that practically all of the children Ella's class have gotten a couple of these masks for their birthday this year!  I had a particularly amusing / gratifying experience this last weekend when I took Ella to a 'Superheroes' party for one of her school friends (you can see pictures of her freezer paper stencilled Wonder Woman costume here) - I looked around the room and realised that about half of the kids were wearing masks that I had sewn and Ella had chosen to give to them for their birthday's.  It made me giggle and warmed my heart!

Wild Things - Lion and Zebra Felt Animal Mask PDF Sewing Pattern from Willow & Stitch

Anyway, back to these little wild things; we had so much fun shooting these pictures.  I can tell that these masks are going to get a lot of play time.  The leopard and snow leopard were particular favourites with my little testers. Anything that ROARs was a big hit too of course!  (Any excuse to make a lot of noise really!)

 Roooooaaaar!

Roooooaaaar!

Wild Things - Giraffe Felt Animal Mask PDF Sewing Pattern from Willow & Stitch

As with all of my other PDF Mask Sewing Patterns this one contains bonus printables of all of the masks.  You can print these at home onto card then let the kids colour, paint or decorate them however they like.  Whey they're finished you simply cut them out and thread them with elastic.  It's one of our favourite rainy day activities and is also great as a birthday party craft activity.

 Colour...

Colour...

 Cut...

Cut...

 Play!

Play!

To celebrate the pattern release, I'm offering free copies of not only this pattern but the ENTIRE collection of Willow & Stitch mask patterns to two lucky readers.  One here and one over on Instagram.  You are welcome to enter both giveaways as many times as you like.  Good luck!