Being a grown-up

I turn 36 in a few weeks, but I still find it very difficult to think of myself as a grown-up.  It seems that other people don’t agree though, and I was hugely honoured and moved to be asked to be godmother to my friends’ baby girl back in March.  I’ve known A since I was a kid – we’re not entirely sure when we first met but it was somewhere between the ages of 10 and 13 – and I met his lovely wife K when I moved to Edinburgh 13 years ago.

There was a blessing / naming ceremony a few weeks ago, and I knew I wanted Little Lion to have a gift that she could keep for a long time, an heirloom. I looked around for ages, and discovered there are some really tacky baby gifts out there! K and A have impeccable taste, so tacky wasn’t an option…..  I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me to make something, but once someone suggested it I realised it was the perfect solution.  K is a really talented maker, and has trained A well, so I knew that even if what I produced was imperfect, they would appreciate the effort.

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I’d purchased a kit to make this lovely felt rabbit as a total impulse-buy at the regular quilt show held in Edinburgh.  It’s from a company called Cool Crafting who have lots of lovely kits – I’ve got my eye on the fox as well, maybe for Little Lion’s brother…..and I love the Mae doll as well.

The rabbit is made out of some gorgeous wool felt, this is high quality stuff, and is entirely hand stitched.  The foot pads and ear linings are Liberty tana lawn, all provided in the kit along with matching thread, embroidery floss for the face, buttons for eyes and shoulder joints and grey wool for the fluffy pompom tail.

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Here she is without her dress on, you can see the leg and arm seams, and the buttons joining the arms to the body.  The buttons mean this toy is probably not for playing with just now, but hopefully in a few years time she will become a favourite.  The ears and lining, the base of the body, and the foot pads are all sewn in back stitch, right sides together, and the rest of the seams are overstitched wrong sides together.  I really like the detail of these exposed seams.

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The button shoulders mean that the arms are moveable, which helps when putting her clothes on, and is another nice detail.  I wasn’t sure about the pompom tail, but once I’d sewed it on I was convinced – it’s very cute.

The dress is also Liberty tana lawn, also included with the kit, and was pretty fiddly to make.  Mostly sewn on the machine, some finishing touches hand stitched.  Worth the effort though, it also has some really nice details.  I changed the construction order slightly from the instructions, the main change being that I hemmed the sleeves before setting them in – I didn’t fancy wrestling these tiny tubes on my machine!

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The bow is designed to be detachable, but I was struggling to sew the brooch back on, I wasn’t sure how secure it would be for small fingers, and I thought the neckline and collar didn’t look quite right without it – so I just sewed it on permanently in the end.

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As per the instructions, the legs are stuffed until they’re quite firm, so she does stand up – as long as she’s leaning against something.  The tiny button on the back there is decorative – the closure is actually a couple of poppers.

I really enjoyed making this toy – I do like a bit of handstitching as an alternative to knitting when I just want to sit on the sofa.  I also have a pattern and fabric for a different dress and a gorgeous wool felt coat, and I might try knitting some tiny jumpers or making some other clothes as well.   I thought that building up a little wardrobe for this bunny would be something I could do for various birthdays etc as Little Lion gets older – a bit like buying charms for a bracelet only with more fabric.  I still feel slightly gobsmacked that I’m considered godmother material, but I’ve decided I’ll do my best to encourage an appreciation for the handmade, cricket, tea and gin.  Possibly not all just yet…..

A(n awesome) Gabriola Skirt

I think we’ve established that I’m short.  Proportionally a lot of my lack of stature occurs between my shoulder and my bustline, but my legs are also pretty short – enough to mean that I have to take up most RTW trousers, and I haven’t even contemplated a RTW maxi skirt or dress for years.  I think I’d convinvced myself that floor length skirts just weren’t for me, until it suddenly dawned on me that if I made a long skirt, I could make it the right length…..really not sure why it took me so long!  (Pun not intended…..)  All of which is a long-winded way of saying that I’ve made a Sewaholic Gabriola skirt…..and it might just be my favourite skirt ever.

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I managed to persuade Mark to take some photos in our local park so you get much nicer scenery than usual….

This fabric came from Remnant Kings online, it’s a woven viscose that’s drapey and cool-feeling and the perfect weight for a skirt.  It feels fabulously swishy when I move and it’s heavy enough not to be blown about in the wind – very important in an Edinburgh summer.  It wasn’t expensive either, and it seems to be on sale now – I’m seriously considering buying more because I’m completely in love with the print.  My favourite neutral is grey, and the background colour of this is a gorgeous silvery-grey, with random splodges of a teal-y shade, all overlaid with pretty much every type of animal print you can imagine.

P1010334The only downside to the print is the fact that the yoke seamlines are completely obscured – but I really don’t care!  I do think I might make another Gabriola in a slightly less busy print, because I really like those seamlines.  This is the first Sewaholic pattern I’ve made, and the fact that they’re designed for a pear shape really made a huge difference fit-wise. There was no grading required between waist and hip sizes, and it fit perfectly with no adjustments at all – apart from the 10cm I took out of the length of course….

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This skirt just makes me happy every time I wear it.  When I’m standing still, it drapes in these lovely folds, and when I walk it does this:

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Possibly not the easiest thing to photograph, but it billows and wafts around my legs and makes me smile.

I am a bit lacking in tops that go well with this shape.  I generally like loose-fitting and boxy tops which don’t work that well – as you can see with the blue jumper I’m wearing.  The only more fitted tops I have are all sleeveless, and I want to be able to wear this skirt through into autumn so I think I’m going to investigate some more fitted t-shirt patterns, maybe the Renfrew, seeing as this Sewaholic pattern was such a success.  It’s another one that scores highly at work – I do have some fantastically enthusiastic colleagues, so wearing anything new that I’ve made always results in people stroking fabric (with my permission encouragement obviously…).  I’m even learning to take the compliments gracefully, rather than saying ‘oh, but the hem’s really uneven / I made a mistake here’ etc etc.

Finally, no blog post about a skirt like this is complete without some twirling….I discovered that my camera has a ‘burst’ mode which we put to the test – I had a lot of fun, ended up slightly dizzy, and ended up with some pretty good action pictures….

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