Totoro appliqué skirt – with mini freezer paper stencil tutorial

I am so excited today! I have finally finished the Totoro skirt that my daughter has been asking for. We looove both Totoro and Ponyo, such lovely movies, we end up watching them over and over, we’ll probably check out other Studio Ghibli ones too soon.

My neighbor Totoro poster

Back to the skirt! I was actually planning on doing a stitched on appliqué (would have loved to make it with super soft minky!) but then I realised that doing the little details, eyes, nose, patches on the belly, would have made it quite tricky and potentially end up with me continuously swearing at the sewing machine until finally giving up. Not a good plan.


I made the skirt a couple of weeks ago, and the little lady was ever so pleased when I let her help me trace the pattern on the fabric. She seems to be quickly turning into a fabric addict like mummy, I won’t go into details about the love affair she had with some organza I bought to  make her a birthday dress – they literally became friends for a few days.

Today, while agonising again over the thought of stitching tiny things onto that skirt, I had a lightbulb moment and remembered it would have been much easier and quicker to use fabric paint and freezer paper stencils instead!


With Aida being at nursery and Max having a nap, I got to work and printed out an easy image that I liked on normal paper, then traced it on the freezer paper (it’s slightly see through so easy to do), remember to keep the waxy side down!

Then starts a very tedious job: cutting the shapes out. I use a paper craft knife but if your design is not full of little details you could have a go at just using normal scissors. Remember to keep any bits you might need – for example, I had to keep eyes, nose, mouth and the big belly part. Done? Great, stick it to your chosen fabric by putting it on waxy side down (in contact with the fabric) then passing a hot iron on it.


The hard part is over now! All  you need is some fabric paint (I used Dylon Fabric Paint in metallic silver), dab it only gently, ideally with a foam brush, making sure not to overwet the paper thus making it peel off. When I finish I like to wait a few minutes and then carefully peel off the paper, using tweezers to remove the little details inside – once I tried letting the paint dry completely before removing the paper and it was a bit of a disaster as it had created a film which stuck to both the fabric and paper! Learn from my mistakes.

Eek, I forgot the details in the mouth! Quick fix with a matchstick…

IMG_20140128_115825  IMG_20140128_115924

Now, patience my friend. Wait until it’s fully dry, the put a cloth on it and iron it over to set the paint. Done! That was easy, wasn’t it? I hope to get pictures of the the little girl modelling it very soon, she’s very pleased with it – and so am I.



Toddler swingset skirt (Oliver + S pattern)

Another skirt! As you can tell, I’m going through a skirt phase. My little boy has been spared so far but his luck may run out soon.

Today’s skirt is made with a Oliver + S pattern. I’m quickly falling in love with these patterns, they caught my eye a while ago and while I didn’t think much of them there was something that just kept on taking me back to them, so I started looking for photos of finished projects and I finally saw just how beautiful they are. They’re simple designs, not complicated and difficult to make like some other big brands, easy to make yet have those little details that make them just great.

I made the swingset skirt (the pattern comes as a set with a tunic, which I may make soon since it looks like it’d look good even over a long sleeved top in winter). It’s a pretty simple skirt, I think the way the waist is made, it has elastic – drawstring – elastic, really gives it an edge and makes it fall beautifully. It is fully lined, which I was a bit unsure about at first but it actually works very well.

Without further ado, here’s the skirt!

Oliver + S swingset skirtOliver + S swingset skirt  Oliver + S swingset skirt Oliver + S swingset skirt

It’s great. I love the way it hangs and how it flows, and also how it looks feminine but without restricting her movements at all, so she can get on with what really matters!

Oliver + S swingset skirt

Friday night skirt – for me!

Over the past couple of years I’ve made (both knitted and sewn) so many clothes and little things for my children that I totally neglected myself. This was due to a number of reasons, children’s clothes are cuter (that’s a fact), they take less time and fabric to make, there are less lumps and bumps to accommodate and last but not least my shape has changed so much between pregnancy – postpartum body – pregnancy again that I knew it wasn’t really worth making something that would fit me only for a couple of months or so.

Simplicity 2451

I lost almost a stone in the past couple of months and my wardrobe desperately needs an update, so it seemed like the right time to get going again – and for once I don’t fear having to measure myself to pick the right size! I have quite a few projects in mind but I must remember that I only have limited spare time (and funds to buy pretty fabrics) so I’d best not get too excited.

First proper project, a linen skirt! I’d like to wear skirts more often so I guess the first thing to do would be to have a few. I used the Simplicity 2451 pattern, I wanted something fairly simple and this seemed to do the trick although I was very tempted by the Simplicity 1717 pattern, I think I may try that too soon.

The fabric is a pale blue linen I picked up from Ditto Fabrics, their shop is quite close to my house so I pass by there quite often, how tempting!

Pale blue linen fabric

Simplicity 2451 D

I don’t really have any complaints about the pattern. I did the view D, it was only a few pieces so quite quick to cut, instructions were ok – a bit confusing as there was a bit of back and forth between the steps for the different views – and it only took me an evening to sew up (ok, I still have to hem it, but that doesn’t really count!).

I’m quite pleased with it. It’s a tad short but not too much, the only thing that needs working on is the zip as it sticks out a bit at the base but I think it’s one of those things that is only glaringly noticeable to me. I may get round it by putting it on the side rather than the back next time!  I will also need to give up on it not having crinkles, I forgot how evil linen can be.

Simplicity 2451 D

I will make it again, very soon in fact. I had one of my babywearing wraps shortened last month and I have enough leftover fabric to make a skrit with it! I’m debating using this pattern or the other skirt pattern I mentioned above, either way I’m really looking forward to it!

Lenny Lamb Cherry Lace

Sunday night project: top and skirt toddler set

I had a productive weekend for once (amazing what you can accomplish when you stop wasting all your time on facebook, pinterest & co!), I’ve started sewing again at last and I’m so engrossed in it I have to make a huge effort not to buy tons of fabric! So many pretty things out there… but I’m being good and only buying a little bit at a time, and try to stick to only one or two projects at a time.

A friend mentioned Craftsy, I had heard of it before but didn’t think much of it. How wrong was I! It’s awesome, I’ve been on it for a week and I’m already addicted. Classes, patterns, other people’s projects to look at… I only wish there was a forum too (or maybe there is one and I’ve missed it?). This is my page/profile, though there’s nothing yet as I haven’t had the time to add anything. Will do soon.

I got an email shortly after joining with a hefty discount on my next purchase so I took the plunge and enrolled in a Beginner Serging class, or overlocker for us living across the pond. I will report later on how it’s going, I really look forward to learning to use my overlocker a bit better!

Back to yesterday’s project. I made a top with the Fishsticks Designs Charlie Tee & Hoodie pattern, it’s a great easy pattern which I’ve used a lot both for hoodies and tops.
Lillestoff Vikings blue fabricI haven’t used a pattern for the skirt, it was simply two rectangles around 20″x9″, sewn up the sides and gathered the top (it needed quite a bit of gathering!), while the waistband was a 19″x5″ strip of ribbing – I measured this to fit my 2.5 year old, her waist is about 20″ – folded over and stitched on.

The main fabric is an oldish Lillestoff print, the stripey one is some jersey I picked up in the sale from a local fabric shop over the weekend. I looove Lillestoff, if only it was a bit less expensive! But it’s soft, good quality and the prettiest designs, I will probably get more soon, I especially like the Vikings print…

Without further ado, here’s the set!



I hope to get a better action shot when we’re out this afternoon! So so pleased with it – which is unlike me as I’m usually very picky and unhappy about things I make just after I’ve finished them.

Minion dress attempt

I love love love sewing but I can’t do it during the day (apparently kids, needles and scissors don’t mix) and by the time evening comes I’m usually too tired to do anything.

I made a bit of an effort last night because I wanted to make a minion (from Despicable Me) dress for a friend’s little girl. I decided to modify a pillowcase dress, so first off I needed a tutorial for that! I use this one for Sew like my mum. Also, I wanted to make a little bit girly so instead of plain blue for the ‘body’ I got a fabric with a floral pattern, and the yellow is a kona cotton but I totally forgot which yellow it is.

I know my pictures are never great but they’re especially bad as they were all taken in the evening, apologies for that!


It was all pretty simple: I made the panels with yellow on the top and blue flowery fabric on the bottom. On one of the panels (before sewing them together), I stitched a black strip of fabric, around 2″ wide, along the length of the panel, then made two circles with felt, one grey and one white, for the eye, and a much smaller one with black cotton fabric.





I then did the rest of the dress following the tutorial. Hint: if you’re doing curved armhole as suggested by other tutorials, use bias tape. Don’t try to turn it over and over again. Trust me on this. Then of course, just as I was hemming the bottom edge and I had about 3″ to go before the dress was all finished, this happened. Then it happened again. It was getting late and I was tired, I swear the machine knew!

But, at last, the dress was done! A bit of a late night but I’m pretty pleased with it, despite a few hiccups which tend to happen when I first try out new patterns/styles anyway (does that happen just to me?). The only thing I’d change is to make it much less wide, I tried it on my 2.5 year old little girl and it was rather big, but I guess that’ll make it last longer, as a shorter dress then tunic – they’d better release a Despicable Me 3 next  year!)



Excuse the blurry pictures. She wanted to try the dress on right away (hence her head peeking in the first pic) and then decided she wanted to climb up the kitchen door. 
I’m planning to make another pillowcase dress soon for her, while at the fabric shop picking fabrics for this one she got very excited so I think it’s only fair that she gets one too!