Pisces baby quilt

If you follow me on instagram you’re probably bored of me teasing you with pictures of this quilt buuuut it’s all done now so here it is with our resident newborn model, Kermit the Frog!

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I put Kermit on it for scale so you can see that I accidentally made it totally massive (42 x 52 inches). Oh well, the baby can use it until it’s old enough for sleepovers, plus it’s a nice size for using as a lap quilt on the sofa (as I discovered when I was hand finishing the binding in front of the TV this week!).

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This quilt is for the same baby that got those little trousers a few weeks ago. The baby will be a Pisces like me, so (even though I don’t really believe in horoscopes), I thought this mix of sea on the front and stars would on the back would suit the little one. The salt water fabrics that I used for the top are so much fun, with all manner of sea creatures (and submarines!) hiding in the patterns.salt water constellations quilt 7

I made up the pattern on the top as I went along. It was nice to take a lot more risks with quilt, compared to the last baby quilt I made where I was quite “safe” with my fabric choices and the pattern. I started from the top with full stripes of all the different fabrics, and then worked in strips down from there, epiecing the fabrics together. I started with some bits precut, but in the end I was just cutting the fabric and playing with it like a jigsaw and then sewing it together. It was fun! One thing I learnt was that some of the fabrics that I wasn’t that fond of when they arrived (like the stripes), actually looked sooo good once they were cut up into little pieces and up against other patterns.

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I ordered the fabrics online and when the arrived I was a bit worried that the two different hues of blue on the front and back didn’t really go…. But once it the top was all sewn up I took into into my local quilt shop with the backing fabric and spent my lunch break browsing fabrics. Once I found this beautiful yellow the two blues really started to sing and I fell in love.

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Here’s one of my favourite bits! I had this seagull ribbon in my stash and at first I just sewed it into the binding, but then I figured it would be nice to reinforce it so that the baby’s mum (my friend) could use it to hang the quilt up on a hook if need be.

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Here’s a better view of the backing fabric with all its funny constellations. I quilted it with a triple zig zag stitch on my machine for some more wavy-ness. I wasn’t thrilled with the way this turned out (I have got to figure out how to work the walking foot I got for Christmas!), but I think it works.

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I attached the binding using the machine for one side and then secretly hand stitching on the other. I did all this using yellow thread that matched the binding, but as I was doing the hand stitching, I realised that I should have matched the machine thread to the quilt not the binding, so that it would be less visible if any bits did stick out of the binding.

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Materials:

Front: six skinny quarters of various Salt Water by Tula Pink fabrics in the ‘aqua’ colourway from the Village Haberdashery (I emailled Annie the shop owner and she cut them skinny not fat for me so that I could do the long stripes at one end of the quilt).

Back: 1.5 metres of Lizzy House constellations night blue from Backstitch (this was the harrrdest blue to photograph ever but look at the gorgeous pattern!)

Binding: about half a metre of Kona Solids mustard yellow (I think! It doesn’t look like any of the swatches online but what does that mean?!)

Batting: Bamboo Blend 50/50 bamboo cotton batting (I bought this off a roll at my local quilt shop though).

(I really like this batting! It’s snuggly and warm but still folds up really well so the quilt isn’t too much of a behemoth. I think the technical terms to describe it are: high drapability, low loft and high resilience. The lady in the shop said it wasn’t really necessary to pre-wash it before use (unless you were making a very pale quilt – the washing is recommended to remove any traces of oil from any cottonseed husks left in the batting). It will shrink about 5 per cent in the wash for that wrinkly look.)

Time: Started after work last Wednesday, finished Tuesday lunchtime. Two solid evenings and a Saturday morning, the rest in bits and pieces.

Cost: quilt top £24 (I have scraps left over but nothing else), quilt back £18, binding £3.50 (I used half a metre of £7/metre fabric), batting £8.10 (1.5 metres of the baby quilt width). Total = £56.50 (Plus p&p on some items and three – count ’em! – three 100m spools of gutermann thread at £1.55 a pop) (two blue and one yellow) (I only finished one of those fully though)

(I put the time and cost just to show why custom quilts cost so much on places like Etsy and why I won’t be going into business any time soon! I also thinking quilting cottons might be more expensive in the UK than the US?)

My favourite quilting tutorials: All linked up in this blog post

Let’s finish this up with one more picture of our beautiful baby all wrapped up!

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I love making quilts for babies! I spent a lot of time while I was making this quilt, just thinking about this little baby that we’re all so excited to meet. One of my other friends said that maybe I should be careful of setting a precedent that everyone’s babies get quilts, but for now I’d rather work on getting faster at quilting than give up on giving them! (Ask me again in a few years though.)

Baby trousers! (Winter Pinterest Challenge)

Here’s a short and sweet post for a short and sweet project.

 Rae's basic newborn baby pant lined

Kermit loves modelling, and he’s so good at it too.

The first of my close friends is due next month and we are all SO EXCITED, yet also a little unprepared because we’ve never done this before! I plan on making the baby a baby quilt, but when one of her friends organised her a last minute baby shower dinner thing, I wanted a quick project to give her (the quilt won’t be finished till the baby is born).

 

So I turned to my pins and found this lovely free pattern from Made by Rae and got to serging (oh yeah! I did all the guts of these on my new overlocker). I was going to just make them unlined in this black and white elephant fabric, buuuut then after cutting them out and sewing them up, I realised I had cut the elephants out upside down. Ruh-roh.

So I pulled out my copy of Anna Maria Horner’s Handmade Beginnings and copied the construction of her quick change trousers to make a these into lined pair of trousers.

To do this, you make two identical pairs of trousers and sew everything except the waistband and leg openings. Then slip one pair into the other, right sides facing. Sew a seam along the top of both pairs of trousers. Turn inside out, then top stitch about half an inch under the waist band, leaving a small opening to slip quarter inch elastic through. Thread the elastic through and then zig zag stitch the ends of the elastic together and complete the top stitching so it looks all nice. I didn’t take any pictures of this but thankfully I used horribly clashing thread for the top stitching so you should be able to figure it out…. Once you’ve turn that, turn all four leg openings up quarter of an inch with the iron and top stitch all the way around. You’re done!

 Rae's basic newborn baby pant lined

And those upside down elephants on the inside? Perfect turn ups!

This post is part of the Pinterest Challenge, organised by Katie (Bower Power), Sherry (Young House Love), Michelle (Decor and the Dog), and Megan (The Remodeled Life).

Thanks guys!

Joining the Brother 1034D club

Madeira in february

The week before last, I spent a lovely week in Madeira with one of my best friends (and bridesmaids). We didn’t really know what to expect (we booked our flights last minute so just went as far south as we could without spending a fortune.

It was gorgeous, but such a funny place. It feels like you’re in Portugal (and technically you are), but you’re actually off the coast of Africa.You can be lazing on the beach in the sun and then get in the car and 15 minutes later you’re up a mountain in the fog. The food was incredible (including lots of lovely Portuguese pastries and vino tinto!). It really is a wonderful place, and the people were so, so nice. (When we couldn’t find our hotel, a man hopped in his car and told us to follow him, then drove ten minutes across town to show us where it was!)

Anyway, when we got back, Mr V told me that he’d bought me my birthday present (my birthday is next month) and needed me to check out whether it was right because it was second-hand and if there was anything wrong with it he needed to send it back asap.

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That lovely sneak had paid attention when I was babbling about wanting an overlocker/serger and found out which one I wanted and there it was! Waiting for me! (If Mr V was down with his photo on the blog, this is where there would be a “Hey girl, I bought you that sewing gadget that I don’t understand because I really want another noisy machine in the flat.”)

(I wanted this one because I’d seen it lurking in the sewing rooms of some of my favourite stitchers, including Karen, Andrea, Tilly and the Colette studio. I normally research things like this death, but I figured those guys wouldn’t have bought it if it was a duff and I really really wanted a machine that lots of other people had so there would be lots of tutorials and YouTube videos on it, plus this Pattern Review thread was really reassuring.)

I was both incredibly excited and utterly terrified. This is a complicated machine with four threads and two knives. KNIVES!  Normally I’m a real stickler about waiting till my birthday to use my presents, even if I know what they are, but after putting this back in the box and leaving it for a day, I realised I was just making The Fear worse, so I got it out and having been playing with it ever since.

I LOVE IT. Yeah, I’m still scared of rethreading it, but I’m in touch with a local sewing tutor and will be on her introduction to overlockers class as soon as it runs again (spending some the money I’d been saving up to buy an overlocker!). (Or I might buy this Craftsy class with Andrea’s 50 per cent discount.)

Anyway. My exact overlocker (The 1034D AV Limited Edition, whatever that means!) came with three extra feet (yaaay!) but nothing to catch the trimmings and lint, so I popped it on this Ikea tray WHICH MATCHES THE COLOURS PERFECTLY (I’m a leeetle excited about it). (I’d also read that having it on a tray made it easier to move around without getting your hand tangled in the threads). (That tray doesn’t seem to be on Ikea’s website anymore, but this one would look cute too!)

I wanted a little box to keep things like the tweezers and lint brush in, so I went to my stash of empty boxes (everyone has one of those, right?), and found this fancy Prada box that I rescued from an optician’s recycling bin as I just knew one day I’d find the perfect use for it.

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PERFECT! The box fits perfectly in that little nook of the machine and then when I’m using it, I just take the lid off and use that to catch the crap and use the bottom to hold all the bits and pieces I need nearby. PERFECT! I must save empty boxes from the rubbish more often!

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Those hand sewing needles are for weaving in the serger ends.

You can see in those images above that I also stuck labels all over it to help me remember what’s what (and what order it needs to be threaded in). I saw this idea on Tilly’s blog and also in the Pattern Review thread and shamelessly copied it.

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I also wanted a little pouch for all the less everyday accessories that came with the machine, so I serged one. (Like how I threw that in there all casual? Really I was grinning a manic-happy-scared smile the whole time like a 10 year old who was allowed to get behind the wheel of a bus.)

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(I added the velcro on my other machine, and no I didn’t change my thread to match).

And then to round out this weird little recap of things I did with my overlocker during its first week, here are two dusters I made out of an old t-shirt. You can wear them on your hands. JAZZ HANDS!

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No but really. I’m a proper boring grown up now, I made my own dusters and was really excited about it.

 

Giveaway winner and some wedding bits

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Just a quick post today to belatedly let you know the winner of the vintage button giveaway is….drumroll please….Ainhoa!

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Congratulations Ainhoa! Send me an email with your address and I’ll get these buttons in the post ASAP…

Bonus picture from the jewellers this weekend when we were looking for wedding rings. Do you think this band looks ok with my engagement ring? I’d like to keep them both on one finger if possible…

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My dress has arrived and is now with the dressmaker for safekeeping and a few adjustments. I LOVE IT. I’ve ordered a veil, bought my shoes (they’re incredible) and the bridesmaids are on the hunt for mismatched dresses. The church, venue, caterer, band and cake are all booked. I’ve found a local florist but not booked them yet (we’re only ordering bouquet and boutonnieres and I will DIY the rest with our mums). We think we’ve settled on what we’re doing for the honeymoon and hope to book it all down tonight. If anything, I’m a little worried about how easy it’s all been! Makes me feel like we’re forgetting something….

Vintage button giveaway!

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As I mentioned earlier this week, I’ve been spoilt rotten lately, so I thought it was time to give a little something back with my very first giveaway. (This is 100 per cent funded by me, in case that wasn’t obvious.)

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Up for grabs is a lovely card of buttons, plus whatever surprises I can rustle up before I put it in the post.

These buttons are vintage 1940s Czech glass. They’re lovely and solid, yet also glassy. I think they’d look perfect on a chambray dress, like this:

 

But! If you’re not into making clothes, you could also whip up two button up pillows using this tutorial, or change the buttons on a ready-to-wear cardigan like this. Or just hoard them with your other crafting supplies!

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There’s 3/4 inches across and have shanks.

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And they could be all yours! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post before midnight (GMT) next Wednesday and I’ll select a winner at random. I’m happy to post internationally and I always make my parcels pretty.

Sewing presents!

This is waaaay overdue but I wanted to share with you some lovely things that came in the post lately (recently would be a lie, this post is long overdue!).

First up, waaay back in November, I woke up one morning to discover I was the winner of Megan Nielsen Patterns’ incredibly generous anniversary giveaway

So I spent a little while anxiously tracking my parcel’s progress across the globe (how awesome is DHL’s tracking?!)

DHL tracking

And then my glorious package arrived! So much lovely sewing goodness!! I can’t wait to get sewing my new patterns (I chose Darling Ranges and the Banksia top and I’m so excited!) I just still have some Christmas presents to sew before I can get back into dress making for meeeee.

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All of this loveliness all bundled up in an “I make fashion” tote! Thanks, Megan.

And that’s not all the sewing goodness I’ve received lately… Thanks to KraftyKat’s sewists secret Santa, I got this lovely bundle in the post just before Christmas. (Click here to see what I sent Karen from Did You Make That?.)

Sewists Secret Santa

The green fabric is just dreamy and so perfect for making a top from and I love everything else. Thank you so much Santa! If you’re reading this and don’t mind revealing who you are, leave me a comment!

Aaaaand, while I’m on the subject, here’s a peek at my sewing-related Christmas presents (and a gorgeous tin I plan to keep sewing stuff in)….

Sewing Christmas presents

I was spoilt rotten this year…. it was ridonkulous. You should have seen the non-sewing presents I got!

So, that’s a long overdue round up of some things I’ve got lately.

I’ve felt so spoilt lately that I’ve decided to do a tiny giveaway on the blog this week to return a little bit of the favour. So check back for that…

What was your favourite present this year? I’m torn between that lovely box, a dragonfly necklace from Mr V and a collapsible washing up bowl for camping (I’m a practical girl!). I’m also over the moon to finally have a pair of pinking shears courtesy of my aunt.

Lots of elephants and a giraffe

Happy new year, team! I hope everyone had a jolly Christmas and a spendid New Year. We had a lovely Christmas at Mr V’s parents’ house with the whole family and then we whipped down to Devon to welcome the new year with my friends.

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We swam here on the 1st of January to wash the old year away! It was frrrrrreezing, unsurprisingly.

Anyway, I thought I’d just update with some Christmas sewing I did for the tiny nieces and for the homemade secret santa that we do at New Year.

First up, I made our toddler niece a dress with elephants on it.

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It’s the Every Little Thing Dress pattern from Schwin Designs, which I bought in their Black Friday sale.

Not going to lie, I pretty much hated sewing this dress. My sewing machine kept ripping thread, my gathering kept messing up, my iron got dirt on the white bit of dress… basically everything that could go wrong, did go wrong! (And most of the things that did go wrong, were my fault either that day or at some point in the past.) Eventually I called it a day, whapped some polka dot bias tape on it to cover some sins and accepted how wonky these elephants are on the back.

Every little thing elephant dress back

I was a bit aware that making clothes for babies and toddlers is more of a present for their parents than the kid themselves, so I wanted to make a simple softie to match the outfits I’d made (the baby niece got these polka dot dungarees).

So, using this Little Softies Zoo Pattern (amazing, so well designed and written!) I made big and little elephants in the same fabrics.

Little Softies elephants

I was happier with how the baby elephant turned out. It really felt like I was short changing the toddler niece as I wasn’t happy with her dress or elephant and I was thrilled with her baby sister’s dungarees and elephant. Oh well, luckily she’s only two so she didn’t care!

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I was thrilled to get this message from the nieces’ mum a few days ago: “I spent a long time this morning trying to get a picture of the girls playing with their elephants but they move too much! I hadn’t even set it up, they absolutely love them!” (She really liked the dungarees and dress too!)

I didn’t have much time to make my present for homemade secret santa so I decided to stick with the Little Softies pattern, adding a giraffe to the mix. I made them out of lovely printed felt and did a bit more embroidery on them (as they were for an adult). I still realised that I’d essentially made a 29-year-old a baby toy, but she seemed to like them!

Felt elephant and giraffe

I only managed to snap a picture of these with the iphone after I’d given them, so sorry there’s not much detail.

So that’s the last of my pre-Christmas sewing all caught up! Homemade secret santa marked one year since my first sewing project since school (pyjama cat). It’s been really fun – I’ve loved learning so much and nothing beats the feeling of making a whole new thing out of fabric and thread.

I’m looking forward to sewing a lot more in 2013. I’m also hoping to get a lot more technically proficient and make many more wearable garments.

Making the felt elephant also ignited a new love – hand embroidery – so there might be a bit of that too!

Embroidered flower

I made this last week. The really rough petals and leaves are from before I got the embroidery hoop…

Did you make any Christmas presents this year? I wanted to make more but ran way out of time (I owe Mr V some pyjama shorts!). Next time I’ll start earlier, because I’ve missed my selfish sewing.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

Hello!

Our Christmas tree theme this year? If you’re going to go fake go really fake.

Sylvester silver christmas tree

Meet Sylvester, our silver tinsel tree. We love him!

But our less tacky decorations didn’t get along with him, so we hung those on a bough cut from the bottom of Mr V’s parents’ tree, which we helped them put up a few weekends ago. (You can see this on the left in the picture below, with the Christmas cards hanging above it.) We hung our stockings from the lower shutters and stacked all our presents underneath them.

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And then Doris wanted in on the action.

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Happy, happy scene.

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Ahh. tis the season.

I hope your Christmas is filled with love, just a teensy bit to0 much food and a lot of laughter.

xoxoxo

DM Buttons in Soho

Attention all UK sewists! Do you love self-fabric buttons but hate making them? Or like me, have you never made them but suspect any attempt to do so might end up in a cloud of swearing fury?

Fear not!

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Ack, should have got my buttonholes done professionally too!

When I had nearly finished my baby dungarees, I got to thinking about buttons. I loved how the lining contrasted with the outer fabric, but felt this didn’t happen as much at the top as at the bottom, so some fabric covered buttons might bring the whole thing together.

But, ugh, the lining fabric was this ridiculously fray-prone brushed cotton fabric and I did not exactly relish the thought of making fabric covered buttons out of it (despite this excellent tutorial from Gertie).

I also really wanted sew-through buttons instead of shank buttons, just for a personal preference. So I got to googling and it turns out that DM Buttons and Buttonholes in Soho does sew through buttons in the size I wanted for just 30p – and they do it by post for an extra £2.

Here’s a bit about the history of DM Buttons, by Carol Alayne at tailoringforwomen.com: “Once upon a time Soho was home to many specialist trades but it’s more than likely that DM Buttons is one of the few survivors, trading out of the same building it was established in nearly 100 years ago… The sole proprietor is David Miller who took over the business from his father, who took over from his great aunt.”

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I excitedly popped a swatch of fabric (I eyeballed how much and think I was a bit generous) and a cheque in the post. (Then…. I did more research and realised what I really wanted was eyelet buttons, not sew through buttons – as sew through buttons are inappropriate for such a fray-prone fabric, so I emailled DM Buttons and we had a conversation and in the end we decided to go with shanks buttons after all and I’m really happy with them. Because I’d already sent a cheque, David changed my order from four sew-through buttons to five shank buttons, which I think ended up about ten pence in my favour.)

(If I ever really really want eyelet buttons? I found that Harlequin do them by post for £1.20 a pop, as well as a dizzying array of other buttons and custom haberdashery!)

So was it a waste of money to pay someone else to do something I could DIY? No. In the end I paid £3.20 for five buttons, delivered to my door. That compares well with either buying buttons or buying a self-fabric button kit.

DM Buttons

I know there’s only three buttons here – I’d already sewn two on!

 I’m thrilled with how the buttons look and I know they’ll stand up to toddler wear and tear better than if I had made them myself. In future, I’d send any teeny buttons I wanted covered off to DM Buttons and probably attempt to do larger ones myself, if the fabric was right.

Additionally, if I still lived in London I would definitely think about getting them to do my buttonholes for me on any particularly precious items. Just look at how quickly they do them! This would be worth it for me if I had used particularly precious fabric and worked really hard on a garment and didn’t want to risk ruining it on the last step… But more than the convenience and quality of using a specialist button maker like DM Buttons, I am happy to pay a bit extra to use them just because I’m so happy they’re there. Skilled and specialist artisans should be treasured. I know my five buttons won’t be keeping them afloat (Carol’s article suggests it’s mainly the local theatre costume trade that does, along with film, opera and the tailoring trade), but I love that they still do buttons by post for home sewists like me.

How do you decide whether to DIY to support a craftsman? Is there a specialist trader near you that you love giving your money to?

Dotty baby dungarees (Whipstitch Overmost pattern)

Hello long lost blog! I’d had this nagging feeling that I hadn’t updated in a while, but I had no idea it had been over a month! I’ve been really busy sewing away on Christmas stuff.

Here is my first completed Christmas present, a pair of baby dungarees for our littlest niece. It has been finished for a while but was awaiting buttons. In that time we’ve been lucky enough to have lots of visitors since I finished it, so I’ve been making them all coo over it!

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The pattern is the whipstitch overmost and it was a delight to sew. I had some issues at first assembling the pattern (it’s a PDF print out), until I realised the pattern had expected me to be using US letter paper (of course!). Once I worked this out, it was pretty plain sailing, but PDF makers: remember not everyone uses the same paper!

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The original pattern didn’t call for poppers, but my niece will be just 9 months old at Christmas and I didn’t think popper-less trousers were fair on her parents, so I used this tutorial to add them. BUT, then I read some comments on this post that suggested poppers aren’t great for crawling babies? I don’t know. I tried! I can always sew the opening closed.

I also didn’t use popper tape, I used those ones where you set them with a hammer. That was so much fun. BANG BANG BANG.

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These buttons! I love these buttons. We’ll be talking about them tomorrow. I’ll be taking two spares with me for Christmas so that I can sew them in the right place if these are too long. My buttonholes weren’t so hot, but ho hum. I should have snipped the threads before taking these pictures.

The lining is flannel. The pattern is reversible, but I’m treating it as a lining because it is sooo much softer than the polka dots and I like having the little peeks of it here and there. I wish I’d used the pink fabric for the inside of the pocket, but oh well. Next time!

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Here are some weird pictures where I stuffed the dungarees slightly with some fabric so could get a better sense of the shape (the crossover straps in the back had made them look all long and skinny.)

The elasticated waist is my favourite bit.

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At least, I think it will be my favourite bit once it’s on a cute baby’s bottom.

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Seriously, this pattern is amazing. It all comes together really well and the instructions are clear. It comes with patterns for three different types of pockets and it’s just so cute!

PS. Here it is pre-buttons with the trousers rolled up to shorts length, from instagram:

baby shortalls

PPS. I also made this baby niece a baby quilt, before she was born.