Renfrew Maternity Hack in floral

Our exciting (read: overwhelming, a little scary and physically uncomfortable right now) news is that we are welcoming another member to our family…any day now!

Besides the mental preparation, financial and logistical considerations and general nesting, what it has also meant is that I’ve had zero clothes to wear especially since my first pregnancy was during a very hot Sydney summer and this one was mainly through winter.  I have borrowed most of my wardrobe and bought some key pieces but, of course, couldn’t really justify spending much money on clothes I’d only wear for a few months when I have piles of fabric that are aching to be made into something wearable.

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First up:  The Floral Renfew Maternity Hack.  I love this pattern from Sewaholic and have made a few versions that have been well loved.  I decided that this was as good a place to start as any.  I then did a bit of research on how to adjust a pattern for maternity.  There are differing schools of thought on this one and the clearest tutorials I could find were from Melly Sews.  She provides two options with the first probably better for a more flowing style and the second option I decided would suit the Renfrew better and work well with the waist band under my belly.

The fabric I chose is a nice light-weight cotton knit I had left over from my Beach Dress.  It’s a fun floral and although probably more suited to summer clothes, worked well for this in-between season top.  I chose the three-quarter sleeves from the Renfrew pattern which means the top can swing to the warmer or cooler side depending on what’s needed.  Versatility – woohoo!

I followed Melly’s steps and caught the main gist but my pieces didn’t quite line up like they were supposed to.

Any way, I made it work and then set about cutting it out and sewing it up.  Once again, with the help of my trusty old lady overlocker, this came together pretty easily.

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I reinforced the shoulder seams with swimsuit elastic.  I also added rouching in the side seams so that the extra length of the t-shirt is taken up on the sides but sufficient to get over the ever-growing belly.  I created the rouching by just stretching elastic through the lower portion of the side seam and letting the elastic create the rouche. This is probably the lazy way of doing it and really you should sew channels along the side seams and then thread a long tie of fabric through the channels so you can gather as little or as much as you want.  I also should have measured the stretch of the elastic a bit better because the sides aren’t 100% even.  Oops!

This has been a great go-to top during my pregnancy and even now at 38 weeks I can JUST fit into it!  But phew…I’m ready for baby to arrive now!

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Pattern: Sewaholic’s Renfrew adapted for maternity thanks to Melly Sews

Fabric: Lightweight floral cotton knit originally from a fabric store in Marrickville, Sydney

Alterations: Maternity adaptions to the pattern plus side rouching

Do it again: Always room for another Renfrew… Not another maternity one though!

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Made by me gifts

When I have the time, I really like to make my own gifts rather than finding something at the shop.  As well as being thrifty (sometimes) and creative (sometimes!), I like to think the time, effort and love that went into the gift is more than it would be if I’d bought the gift and… it means I don’t have to go near a mall – a huge bonus for me!

Christmas is usually crunch time with many many gifts to make, buy, think of.  This past Christmas, I managed to make quite a few of the family gifts for the women (women are so much easier than men!) and my go to idea was a zipper pouch.  I made some in cotton Shwe Shwe off cuts and then also some in a cream canvas that I had hand printed with the girls previously as part of an “art project”.

The pouches are all lined (sorry no picture). The Shwe Shwe ones are lined in bright green cotton and the hand print ones are lined in PUL left over from my nappy making.

The pattern is basically one that I’ve figured out as I went along but there are hundreds of tutorials out there and I particularly like the ones by Ros from Sew Delicious because they are clear with great pictures and it looks like she’s made a few thousand pouches in her time!

When I started running out of time and energy for sewing zipper pouches (and realised that my family has increased in size since I’ve returned to South Africa!), I fortuitously came across some plain canvas shopping bags.  I them snapped up and had lots of fun making hand prints with the girls.  I did consider trying to be a bit more creative (I’ve seen fun versions where hands are turned into owls, feet into butterflies etc) but my artistic skills weren’t going to extend that far.

Here’s little B demonstrating how it’s done: 

The gifts were very well received and I had fun putting them together.  Now for ideas for this year…?

Chevron hand-printed Christmas Tops

For Christmas, I wanted to make outfits for the girls but of course I was quickly running out of time and my sewing agenda was focused on Christmas presents and christening dresses (more on that later).  I was cute Christmas tutus in the shop and thought “I can make those” but my smart husband made me realise that the time and fabric cos would be far more than just getting them at the store…which is what we ended up doing.

Nevertheless, I was determined to add my own little bit of spice so, after the success of the Halloween t-shirts, I decided that painting Christmas t-shirts would be fun.

But this time I also wanted to get the girls involved in helping me make the shirts :-).

I used electrical tape (only because I didn’t have any masking tape) to tape off a chevron design…

…got the girls geared up in the their Ikea ‘hazmat’ suits (fantastic plastic coverall aprons) and set them loose on the t-shirts with hand printing.

Our lack of green paint meant that our Christmas Tree design came out quite red with a bit of blue in there too.

I peeled off the tape, added a stenciled yellow star (not pictured), and voila! We have modern, designer chevron Christmas t-shirts!  It was a really fun project and so great to get the girls involved in the creation.

Twinkle Twinkle Halloween outfits

Despite all the current chaos in our lives, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make something cute for the girls for Halloween. 


I was inspired by a cute onesie I saw at Cotton On but they stopped at size 12mo so my big babbas weren’t gonna squish into those. So of course I decided to make them! 


I have never screen printed anything or even done much in the way of fabric painting but after this debut, I’m hooked! Why didn’t anyone mention how fun it is to paint stencils onto fabric?! I got some fabric paint from the hardware store plus some contact plastic (the heavy duty type you use for drawer liners) and then two plain white vests.  

I drew some test designs (ok I traced from the screen of my phone!!) and then cut them out of the contact plastic with a craft knife. I stuck the plastic onto the fabric and painted using a sponge to dab the paint on. Let it dry and voila! 


Next was to create the text for my Twinkle t-shirts. A little more difficult and fiddly but I got it to work. Same procedure but just made sure the yellow star stayed away from the black paint. I reused the same stencil for both shirts and it worked fine to use the same one twice. In my early experiments I used he same stencil multiple times and I think the limit it three times. 


And voila! Two little Twin(kle) tops!

I made sparkly skirts to go with them. A simple circle skirt with while fold over elastic sewn in at the waist band. And the fabric didn’t even need a hem! Hoorah! Super easy and fun and my little ‘B’ loves her skirt! Little ‘A’ who is still crawling doesn’t love it as much 🙂


Our short trick-or-treat escapade was a fun little outing. And I had to show fellow twin mom the shirts.



I’m definitely keen to try more screen printing! I’m not sure I can even classify his simple stencil paint job as screen printing but it’s fun nonetheless.

A big move and a small sewing project

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Apologies for the radio silence from me. Not only have I been juggling twincesses, full time work and general wifing, domestic goddessing (or not) and pure survival but back in June, we moved across the world. For anyone who has done this with small children, you can hopefully understand the complete chaos that we lived through and are still living in!  Needless to say, we made it safely across to the beautiful Mother City of Cape Town and are slowly finding our feet and building our nest. But all fun sewing projects are on pause and I’ve just been fixing blinds, sorting out things for the girls and just general boring “admin” sewing.

For now, all I have to share is a quick fix fitted cot sheet that I made in haste when I realised I only had one fitted sheet.  I was given a lovely flannel receiving blanket complete with crochet edges as a hand-me-down from my sister-in-law.  It was a good size for our travel cots (yes my dahlings have been sleeping in travel cots for months!) and with a quick addition of elastic zig-zagged along the edges, I had a great fitted sheet that works a charm!

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Sew Must Go On: Forgiving Floral Shirt

Soon after the birth of the munchkins I realised that I needed many more button down shirts for quick nursing access.  Also all those cute little nursing for discreet breastfeeding weren’t really going to work with the twin feeding that was taking up most of my time.  As much as I like my pattern for the Lesley blouse, I figured, I needed something that was a bit more forgiving and hid some of the mamma ‘magic’ that was still sitting around my waist. And so the Forgiving Floral Shirt was born.

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The pattern is an adaptation of my Lesley Blouse: I left out the waist darts, made the sleeves less fitted and the cuffs not as wide (more normal!). Everything else is pretty much the same but I used quite a light interfacing for the collar and the lightweight fun floral makes a whole shirt much more casual.

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Needless to say, it took quite a while to come together and even longer to photograph and upload here but I think it came out pretty well and I enjoy wearing it.  The photos above makes it looks like the bottom doesn’t line up properly but I think that’s a function of not properly ironing the shirt (who has time to IRON??!!) rather than a terrible sewing faux pas – although it’s highly likely it doesn’t line up 100%. The other thing I don’t really like about the finished product is the button holes: I tried to forego interfacing on the button stand and instead fold over the front piece fabric to create some stiffness. But I think the fabric is too light for that and my button holes don’t look amazing. They work but they look a bit home-made…if you know what I mean?

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The fabric was a piece given to me that initially I thought was Liberty of London but I think it’s just pretending to be such high class!

Fun shirt…that I hope to wear more this winter.

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Pattern: My own Lesley Blouse pattern with a few key alterations

Fabric: Lightweight Floral cotton from the fairy godmother stash. Thought it was Liberty but actually think it’s just wanna be Liberty

Alterations: No waist darts, re-drew the cuffs to be narrower, less fitted; Double checked the shirt was long enough and the shaping at the bottom provided enough slit on the side.

Do it again: Perhaps…but watch out for the non-interfaced button stands if using lightweight fabric.

Nappy factory

For a long time (ie many years before the girls were born), I had thinking about, researching and even buying supplies to make my own modern cloth nappies (MCNs) – diapers for you yanks out there.     

 
I know it’s a bit of a weird thing to have dedicated so much creative energy to way before I could even use such things, but I was intrigued and quickly became committed to the idea for environmental, cost and health benefits. Also I think the modern cloth nappies you can get these days are so much cuter than disposables. When I discovered I was having twins I still wasn’t deterred even though people thought I was crazy and made comments like:  “You must really love doing laundry!”. But the challenge was set and I embraced it whole heartedly. 

I did lots of online research on patterns and fabrics and made a bunch of prototypes before the girls arrived. Then once I had actual models I could tweak designs and figure out what worked best for us. Once I had a pattern that I liked I spurge do on some awesome outer fabrics (waterproof PUL) and made about 12 nappies that are still in every day use. 

   

Each time I hang up a load of clean nappies I think: “Another pile of nappies that didn’t go to landfill – yay!”.  

Ps I realise that I may need to do another post on nappies with more of the technical details…for now just enjoy the pics!