Monday, 20 February 2017

Secret Valentine Exchange 2017 - Giving and receiving

Keeping up the happy feeling that came from giving away copies of Sewing Happiness in the last blog post, this one is also all about gifts.

In its fourth year the Secret Valentine Exchange was very, very big (I can't bring myself to use the word "huge" anymore). I followed the #2017sve hashtag on Instagram and everyday there were more, and more, beautiful things being made. Then, the excitement as packages started arriving on doorsteps all over the world.....

My gift came from Shana ( in the U.S.A. It arrived the day before Valentine's day but as I was having a mopey sort of evening I opened it up to cheer myself. And it did!

One of the things I love most about the gift exchange is we all have our own skills or talents (or ambitions to have skills, but more on that later) and so the gifts are varied in their media.

Shana had drawn some lovely note cards and envelopes and handstitched a little Bike Me Valentine heart as the card (I love that it reads as bite me at first glance!). But the main piece was this gorgeous mini canvas of me, in my See You At Six dress and with my old 1980 steel singlespeed bike. I LOVE it. - thank you Shana.

The distribution of Valentine swap partners is meant to be random, but I had found a project that I desperately wanted to make, and had an idea of just who I would make it for...

After I'd filled in my own details for my swap partner (obviously I mentioned bicycles and my pet goldfish!) I fired off a begging email to Ute asking if she couldn't play Cupid and set me up with my Valentine of choice. You see I wanted to make this: (warning: Blog post saga approaching)

And I was pretty sure I had the right target in mind for Cupid's arrow: Pips, aka @magdalenesmuse or The Girl In A Teacup.

I already had some 1mm (or so I thought) khaki macrame cord, and so I bought a reel of black and then hit up Maria's Beads & Trims for the red jasper cabochons and the smaller beads. The stones she had to hand where close to perfect but didn't measure exactly the same - her casual suggestion that I "just change the number of knots" had me breaking out in a cold sweat. I had no idea what I was doing and I sure wasn't going to start improvising!

We set off for a late January holiday and took everything with me, and a little bit of linen and some embroidery thread just in case I needed a plan B.

The first step was wrapping the stones. And above, my first attempts were looking pretty good. Then, the instructions were to insert knotting threads and here was where it all started to go awry. The instruction was to insert a thread at the top of the stone from left to right, then another of the same length below it. Then insert three longer threads then ten shorter threads, in the same manner, on each side.

That confused me. To do it "in the same manner" would have the threads going from left to right across the back of the stone. How then do I correlate that with the instruction to do it "on each side". I went with the "in the same manner" interpretation and blithely stumbled on. Only after I had done the row of khaki knots that came afterwards did I get to the next step and realise I had nowhere near the right number of knotting threads.

Oh, and by now I had a pretty mean blister! I was typing some rather vitriolic emails to the author of the book and becoming more hysterical by the minute as the really bad Wifi at the motel kept timing out on my email before it could be sent (you're guessing right if you think that was a blessing in disguise!).

With a deep sigh, I unpicked it all and went back to the beginning. This time I did the first two threads "across" the stone, but then next thirteen threads on "each side". That gave me the right number of threads and I now see there is no error as such in the pattern (check that outbox and phew the email never did get sent), although I maintain it is not absolutely clear as an instruction. :)

I was getting it right now, but it was becoming obvious that my thread was too thick and it was just not going to work. The scale was all wrong and it was impossible to fit all those knots around the stone's perimeter. Set it aside and give up time...

Plan B: A cup of tea and some handstitching...

I had thought that I might make the Forget-Me-Not Jewelry Pouch pattern from the Straight Stitch Society

There was no doubt that anything with Liesl's instructions would be a joy to sew and I thought if I did the embellishing while on holidays I could sew it up quickly once I got home. - When I opened the pattern and saw point 6 from the Manifesto: "Sometimes a glass of wine really does improve your sewing. Or at least your attitude. Same difference." I knew I'd come home!

the pattern is an absolute delight to sew. After the instruction is given as to how to create a petal, instead of something as dry as "repeat for all other petals" the instruction tells you to do the same thing again, and again, and again, and again, and again.  A laborious step made funny.

The bottom of the pouch has a little circle of quilt batting sewn in to give it a proper little base.

The fabrics were from my stash and were as close as I could get to Pips' declared love of black, cream, purple and dark florals. Since it was my stash after all, she got grey, beige and murky green florals :)

The inside of the pouch has a large, central compartment and then these little ring or earring holding pockets around the edge.

I was wondering what to do for a drawcord when I rummaged through my ribbon-y things bag and found this little sample of cord that was included as a gift with a fabric order (thank you Mamzelle Fourmi) and what do you know, it's kind of purple!

I was delighted with the jewelry pouch, but the unfinished macrame necklace was bugging me... I had no other use for the cabochons if I didn't make the necklace, and I knew the necklace was not something that would suit me - it had to be for Pips.

Back to Feeling Inspired for thinner macrame cord. I found some that certainly looked thinner but had no numbers anywhere (in English at least) on the packaging. I asked the shop attendant and he told me it was 1mm cord. But that's what I bought lat time I said... Ah the difference is in whether it's measured as 1mm diameter (the too thick stuff) or 1mm circumference. How one is to ever know that is beyond me. Sadly there was no bronze, khaki, beige, cream or neutral colour in the right thickness, so I bought a red for the section around the stone. In hindsight I think it was the wrong choice, but I wasn't risking buying cord off the net and getting a third interpretation of 1mm.

With the right number of knotting cords and the right cord thickness it started to become enjoyable again. I worked on it most evenings in that week. There were still plenty of mistakes and a fair bit of unpicking of knots.

I seriously botched one side of the choker, but when I considered out loud whether I should do it over again the family looked ready to take out an intervention on me. it was time to say near enough is good enough and get it packaged up and in the post.

Threading the beads was quite tricky and I found the only way to do it was to use a cigarette lighter* to melt the end, then quickly grab the melted end with a pair of tweezers and pull it out into a thin, stiff thread. If only I could have wrangled the camera phone while doing it I would have taken a video as my cut and melt technique for the thread ends got quite proficient by the end. The backside of the necklace is a little scratchy due to the melted ends, but I imagine it would be even worse if I had used a cotton thread and had to superglue all the cut ends in place.

*I now have a purpose bought cigarette lighter in my craft supplies toolbox

Well, what better excuse to try something completely new, out of my depth and potentially disastrous, than in order to give it away! As I'd hoped, Pips was delighted with her gift and I supsect is about to fashion a gamrent specifically to go with her new necklace. What a sweetheart!


Macrame Necklace:
Pattern: Red Jasper Choker pattern from Bohemian Macrame
Materials: Red Jasper cabochons and bronze beads from Maria's Beads and Trims. 1mm polyester cords from Feeling Inspired
Jewelry Pouch:
Pattern: Forget-Me-Not Jewelry Pouch from Straight Stitch Society
Materials: Linen (beige and grey), floral cotton, quilt batting, drawcord and beads all from my stash.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Sewing Happiness Winter Tour - and double giveaway!

Every now and then a crafty, internet event comes along that I am really happy to take part in.

A long time ago I was asked (or possibly I begged, let's not split hairs) to help pattern test for Sanae Ishida's upcoming book - Sewing Happiness

I'm not going to kid myself that I'm "introducing" Sanae to anyone. You already know who she is. You may have already seen her books, or followed the American launch for Sewing Happiness, or maybe you're a Secret Valentine Exchange devotee. In short, if you read my blog and don't know Sanae, you simply haven't been paying attention!

But here I am, and I'm super excited to take you inside the book, oh, and to give you the chance to win a copy for yourself!

Sewing Happiness is unique among craft books that I've seen to date, in that it is as much a biographical tale as it is an instructional sewing pattern book. In the same way that really good travel writers can tell a great story at the same time as making you desirous of travelling to wherever it was they found themselves, Sanae gives us the tale of how she arrived in sewing-land and makes us want to join her there.

Ok, so how she got there wasn't entirely pretty, but that's often the case with travel writing too, and I found her story to be very honest and quite gripping. I read the story parts of the book in one evening, curled up on the couch and the feeling was very much that of having a companion there, telling you their story.

What are these little cushions? This was my pattern test for Sanae, back when the book was in its infancy. They are little tooth fairy pillows, and my brief was to sew one and check the instructions for the others. Of course, as soon as I saw the patterns I couldn't decide which to make, so I made the four of them.

One of the over-riding tenets of Sanae's book is that things you make don't have to be perfect; so when her wolf looked a little like a fox, and quite a bit like a dog, it didn't get redesigned, it got renamed! The Dwox (dog/wolf/fox) tooth fairy pillow is my son's favourite, and kids totally get that kind of logic!

Of course I had to test them for an international audience, so out came the left-over-foreign-currency money bag:

The Australian 50cent coin was the only one that didn't fit, so with my brief note to Sanae that tightarse Aussie parents might be disappointed, my pattern test was complete and I eagerly awaited the book's completion...

The book is divided into four seasons (my tooth pillows are from the Summer chapter), and while the story shifts focus with the seasons so do the projects. I suspected I would enjoy reading Sanae's story, but I'll confess I was unsure about just how much I would use the patterns in the book. We've all been there, right? Thumbed a book, decided there's one or two projects of interest, but we could probably make them without guidance anyway, then put it back on the shelf...

Fast forward a year and Christmas was fast approaching. I had my new copy of the final book (and a spare for you! - hang in there) and I thought Sewing Happiness might give me some inspiration for making gifts.

As if to prove to myself that sometimes the seemingly simple project is exactly the one that you do want a pattern for I chose to make the Triangle Eco Bag (also a Summer project).

This is a delightful tote bag that's perfect for taking to the market. It's infinitely more stylish than those green supermarket branded things I carry and I think I need to make one for myself now! This was a gift for P's teacher - the first of the teachers to declare their love of purple which sent me scurrying to the fabric shop to fill a purple coloured hole in my stash.

The bag is cleverly folded and sewn from a rectangle. The maths is all laid out to give you the correct dimensions before adding seam allowances. That meant my fabric, which was slightly too narrow for the proposed bag size, could be easily measured and cut to produce a bag about 90% of the intended size.

The absence of a pattern sheet and strict rules works well here. Whatever your fabric allowance, it's easy to measure up the right rectangle to fold the bag and have it come together perfectly. My fabric had a horrid, plastick-y backing and so I simply sewed a lining face to face with the outer fabric, turned the rectangle through a small hole, then continued as per the instructions. The hemming allowance was already included so I didn't need to make any changes to my fabric dimensions in order to have my Eco bag lined.

Here it is next to the Genoa Tote:

While it's a simple concept, the bag really is lovely and P and I were both delighted with the gift.

A few other projects in  Sewing Happiness were starting to catch my eye, but I knew that my daughter would adore a felt flower crown...

I found the perfect little flower centre thingies at L'Uccello where I also bought a couple more squares of nice, wool felt. In the floral crown instructions (Fall chapter), Sanae says that the feel of wool felt is so lovely that the synthetic stuff is just never worth troubling with, and I completely agree.

This one is a hand sewing and glueing type of project. The examples in the book are stunning, but every floral crown will be different. The colours can be bright or subtle, the flowers sparse or thickly clustered. The pattern gives the petal and leaf shapes and then instructions on how to create the flowers and the twisted wire headband. The exact design is left entirely up to you, but the images are wonderful inspiration and could be copied if you want the perfectly tasteful versions shown.

I wish I'd taken a photo that showed the back of the crown as it's bare of flowers and I covered the wires in some leftover, metallic grey bias binding from my Koos jacket. It gives it a fabulous magic-twig appearance!

While I could recommend Sewing Happiness just as a pleasant tale to read, I can also put my hand on my heart and say that it is a really good craft book too. All of the projects would be achievable by people with some sewing experience, and most of them by people with absolutely none. But more importantly, the cynical page thumbing type (me, and maybe you?) will also find plenty of projects to make, to gift and to cherish.

Ok, So here's the thanks for your blogpost reading persistence, and a chance to win not just a signed copy of Sewing Happiness, but also a 45 Euro gift card from 1000Stoff  (seriously great fabric!)

Sewing Happiness - 2017 Winter Tour Giveaway

Enter to win using the Gleam widget above, and then check out all the other blog tour participants listed at the bottom of this post, as there will be multiple giveaways running throughout the Winter Tour.
...As you read that sentence, I'm off on vacation for the end of summer school holidays. I probably have a beer in one hand, sausage in bread in the other (it is Australia Day after all, barbecues are compulsory today) and my feet in the river. It's definitely not winter here. Sanae was going to call it her World Tour, but predictably, humility won over and she renamed it. I'm claiming it back for her. It's a World Blog Tour alright!

And because today is Australia Day I have a second giveaway of a copy of Sewing Happiness which will be posted from my place to a lucky Aus/NZ resident. If you're resident in this little bottom half of the world then you can enter both the international giveaway above and this next one as well.

Sewing Happiness - Downunder Bonus Giveaway

I've been very flattered to be in such great sewing company and I strongly encourage you to check out all the other Sewing Happiness tour participants.
January 23 - Ute + Lara
January 24 - An of StraightGrain // Instagram
January 25 - Trine of Groovy Baby and Mama  // Instagram
January 26 - Shelley of Bartacks and Singletrack // Instagram
January 30 - Annika of Näh Connection // Instagram
January 31 - Olu of Needle and Ted // Instagram
February 1 - Emi of Just Add Fabric // Instagram
February 2 - Eva of With Love - by Eva // Instagram
Thanks to Sanae for involving me in her book right from the beginning, it's a real gem, and to both Sanae and Lara (of 1000Stoff) for their generosity in making these great giveaways available. Good luck everyone!

Monday, 16 January 2017

Christmas craftiness

Leading up to Christmas I kicked up a gear and started making things as gifts. Mostly because I find it easier, and far more pleasant, to make gifts in the evening than to devote my few free daylight hours to trawling shopping malls looking for gifts! Yep, selfish Christmas crafting is totally my bag!

Speaking of bag(s), let's start with one...

Following Blogless Anna's inspirational lead, I made a Genoa tote bag as a teacher gift. It was the gift that kept on giving, as Anna gifted me the strap and rivet set, then I bought the pattern, then gifted the bag to A's teacher. In turn she has given us the wonderful gift of a year in which my little girl has delighted in starting school. She absolutely adores her teacher.

tooling around with my backdrops and not quite getting that floor/wall line convincing :)
A's teacher had been absent from school for a few weeks towards the end of the year and the kids were desperately hoping she'd come back for the last week. As was I, as I needed to know her favourite colour.

Turns out it's purple. Now that's not a colour that I ever have in my fabric stash, but as it happened I'd bought some purple fabric for P's teacher gift as that was her favourite colour. Luckily there was just enough left over for a Genoa tote!

 The outer fabric is a synthetic something or other that has a sort of plastic backing. I suspect it will be semi-waterproof and perfect for a tote bag. The lining fabric is a poly something or other. Both came from Super Cheap Fabrics on Sydney Rd, and the two bags were made from about $6 worth of fabric - just don't tell the teachers that. :)

I underlined the outer fabric of the bag with some of the stiff, sew in interfacing that feels like a sort of paper-felt. It gives this tote bag just enough structure (it can almost stand up on it's own) but isn't rigid or prickly at the seams like a horsehair interfacing. Thinking I had a big collection of "purse" length zippers I didn't buy one. Turns out this aqua one was the only one in the stash, but I like the happy accident of a pop of colour.

I love the key fob, and using the rivets and setting tool that Anna supplied was a breeze. Nothing like the frustrating, bound to fail, crappy rivets I've tried previously.

The pattern (realised through Pattern Fantastique) is a delight and I'm sure it will get plenty of use. I'll have to try and keep notes on who gets gifted one for fear of repeating myself!

I'll show you the other teacher gift bag next week, but now, another Pattern Fantastique gift. I made my mother in law the Lucent Visor. Here's me trying to model it:

Again, I bought the Lucent Visor Kit along with the pattern so that i would have all the correct notions. The main thing to source is the milliners plastic wire and little ferrules. I'm sure I'll find them easily enough when I have time, but buying the kit was a great time saver. The good stiff interfacing was also included in the kit.

All I had to supply was the fabric, and I'll confess it was all from the stash. The one seam that could end up being seen is on the inside where the brim meets the front hat, and my overlocker was really struggling with both the curve and the thickness. So I used some self adhesive cotton tape from Daiso to bind the seam allowance.

This was my first attempt at the pattern, and I suspect my next one will be neater. But, my mother in law loved it, and to prove that it is much more her thing than mine, here she is in her natural habitat (a chair on a balcony overlooking the beach) modelling it perfectly!

Then, quickly, before we headed out to the country I sewed a pair of pyjamas for my nephew. When I saw the fabric in Spotlight I knew I had to do it - they're heading up to Queensland to live by the beach for a while and I thought a knowledge of what might eat them in the water was essential! Hence, shark pyjamas:

He's about six months older than A, so i went up a size from the shorty pyjamas I made her recently. These turned out a bit big (he's almost exactly A's size) but they'll fit him for this Australian summer, and again through the European summer when they go home.

Leaving a big mess of fabrics piled up and cotton reels on the shelves, we headed out to the country for Christmas.

We got there about 4 days before my brother, sister in law and nephew, and so I made my sister in laws gift while we were there. Second Christmas is the one that atheists get to have when not everyone is around for the first one, and there's still food to eat and fun to be had. I don't know that it's really her thing at all, but she was very polite about it, wore it, and it really did suit her. Anyway, I enjoyed making it and that's what Selfish Christmas Crafting is all about. Right?

Oh, and if you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen that I also made a mini macrame wall hanging for Rodger. :)

He pitched his tent in the garden as the "inn" was full and joined us for our second Christmas. I thought a little macrame wall hanging might make his tent more homely, but he seemed genuinely delighted with my "joke" gift and I suspect it might get a hanging in the real house. What a sweetheart!

A couple more things were made as gifts, but they came from a very beautiful book that I'm going to share with you next week. Stay tuned as there will be a copy to give away. 'Til then.

Genoa tote:
Pattern: Genoa Tote by BloglessAnna
Size: Medium
Fabric:  Cheap stuff from SuperCheap Fabrics
Notions: Interfacing and zipper (stash). Genoa tote kit - clips, leather straps and rivets from BloglessAnna

Lucent Visor:
Pattern: Lucent Visor by Pattern Fantastique
Size: Medium brim width
Fabric: Spotty cotton and aqua quilting cotton from stash (via Spotlight)
Notions: Lucent Visor kit

Patterns: Oliver + S School Bus T-shirt and Oliver + S Playtime Leggings
Size: Size 6
Modifications: Shortened leggings and cuffs as per my cuff tutorial on the Oliver + S blog
Fabric: Spotlight printed cotton/elastane knit. Grey ribbing from stash

Macrame necklace:
Pattern: Bohemian Macrame book
Notions: All from Feeling Inspired

Saturday, 7 January 2017

2016 review and tidying up

Hi. Happy new year!

Today I posted off the Building Block Dress Book to Stephanie, the giveaway winner, and I'm excited to say that I've got another beautiful book to giveaway later this month. Meanwhile I've been tidying up both physically and metaphorically.

Every new year I like to make a mosaic (or five!) of the things I've sewn the previous year. First up is all the kid's stuff using only Oliver + S patterns.

And then this year, the number of things I made with "other" patterns took over and exceeded the Oliver + S count. Although that wouldn't be the case if I was to take out the Liesl & Co and Lisette for Butterick patterns, so it's pretty clear were my pattern inspiration comes from. Cheers Liesl!

There are quite a few unblogged items in both of those pictures that were completed in the mad December sewing frenzy that always precedes Christmas. I'll catch up soon.

Meanwhile I did some sorting out of my Oliver + S pattern stash, and my many, many traced off patterns.

I trace my patterns onto the cheap lightweight "trace and toile" interfacing from Spotlight. Then put them in a clear plastic pocket, label them and store them in folders. All the Oliver + S folders got a tidy up, were sorted alpahabetically and were labelled. Just try asking me to find you a size 3 tracing of a Sailboat Skirt and watch how fast I am!

I realise it will only last as long as I can use the less used patterns more, and the often used patterns less. Otherwise I'm going to get some very full folders!

But what is much more useful, and I thought might be of use to anyone else with an enormous Oliver + S paper pattern collection are these dividers I made:

They're designed to be printed on A5 card stock and are set up for those of us who keep our Oliver + S paper patterns on a bookshelf. Every paper pattern is included and the full files are available on my google drive site. Click here and help yourself!

What are my plans for this year? Well of course my kids do insist on growing, so there will still be plenty of kid's sewing. Naturally, heaps of that will be Oliver + S.

For me? I've thoroughly enjoyed my forays into challenging Vogue designer patterns (one, two and three) and I have a few more I want to try. I still have some fabulous coat and dress patterns I want to make for the first time. But right now, this hot weather is making me want to bust out another Butterick B6182 dress. Flipper has still never received the long awaited for perfect-custom-cargo-shorts and I'm excited to get back to the Lazo pants now that they're released.

But right now, the machines need to go off for a service. I'll catch up on blogging and plan for my Secret Valentine Exchange. Have you signed up?

Friday, 23 December 2016

Back to the Boy Part 2

It's been such a long time since I made these clothes and I've been so busy and distracted, but in an endeavour to catalogue 2016's makes in the remainder of 2016, here goes...

After the success of the Burda jeans round 1, I launched straight into round 2 with a lighter weight, pale blue dyed denim.

Same pattern, Burda 9406. Same size: 8 with length of 9. Same mistakes regarding zip and fly shield length (NB: this size needs a 1" shorter zip than the pattern recommends and about 1" longer fly shield - or I mucked something up, who knows)

They're topstiched with grey thread, and I used a silver jeans button and some little iron on silver faux rivets. I think between this jeans pattern and  the Art Museum trousers I've got boy's long pants covered until he's an adult!

We were having such a cold, wet spring and I was getting so sick of seeing that Zander hoodie everyday I figured he needed another long sleeved pullover type top.

Back when I bought the Zonen09 Lars coat pattern I also bought the Ole pullover. I'd thought to use the free additional zipper conversion, but the instructions, all in dutch*, required a bit too much tinkering and I wasn't entirely sure I understood what I'd be doing. So I bailed and just went with the standard button up version.
*Note: the main pattern instructions are in English and are very well written, it's just the zipper tutorial that's Dutch only

I was going to have the cardigan close with snaps only on the inside, but the lining fabric I've used is a merino knit and it would never have had the strength to hold fasteners of any sort. Then I found these comically oversized buttons in my stash that matched my ribbing nicely so buttonholes were the solution in the end.

The merino lining makes it fabulously soft and cosy, but it is very hard to get his arms in the sleeves. I had anticipated it being worn over a T-shirt on spring/summer evenings, but this kid is a serious desert dweller. He seems happy in long sleeves and long pants no matter how hot it gets.

The outer fabric is a ponte from Spotlight. Technically leftover from a dress I made myself, but also used recently for A as well. Except that my dress doesn't fit and really needs to be passed on to charity, there could be some seriously dangerous multi-matching going on.

Size was the 128 standard size with no alterations (that I can remember, although it's possible I arbitrarily added sleeve length for monkey boy). I learned my lesson from the Lars coat that the Zonen09 patterns seem to run quite slim fitting. This one's certainly not baggy and I think is best suited to lightweight knits as a substitute long sleeved top rather than a real warm pullover.

I still have all my Christmas gift sewing to document, but time has got away from me.

We're heading out to the country tomorrow until after the new year. My Building Block Dress Book Giveaway will end, and you'll just have to hold your breath until I get back to find out who wins it. :) Sorry.

I've got plenty more to share next year and look forward to some more blog reading time as I feel hopelessly behind in following what you've been doing. Hope everyone has safe and happy holidays!


Thursday, 15 December 2016

Building Block Dress Book - Giveaway!

For those of you who don't know, I have a semi-official job as the Tinkerer-In-Chief with Oliver + S.

They make fantastic kid's clothes patterns and I fiddle with them then share ideas and how-to's on the Oliver + S blog. Sometimes it's hard to find the exact pattern you want, especially when you dress  your kids as Evel Knievel, Elle Driver, or a giant Parmesan Cheese. Anyway, the point is, you can search for, then pay for a pattern, or you can work with what you've got.

Now we have a guide book for tinkering and fiddling. Liesl Gibson, of Oliver + S, has produced the Building Block Dress Book, which is an invaluable resource for those of us who want a dress a "bit like that one but not quite". And of course the first thing I did with the book was something that's not technically in the book. I made the basic silhouette dress in a knit fabric.

The Building Block Dress book gives a basic pattern then shows various sleeve adjustments, pockets, silhouette changes, necklines, finishes etc. I've shown which dress options I chose and given more details about this dress on the Oliver + S blog, Click here for the blog post.

I liked the idea of making a T-shirt dress and using various solid knits from the stash. All of these fabrics are what are known as "dry knits" - they're synthetic, lightweight with lots of drape and a nice matte finish. Oh, and they're cheap. These were all various $2/metre finds. The green has already been used for a T-shirt for me, the purple has been used as a dress for A, and the blue and brown were just mellowing in the stash.

I think she's pretty pleased with the twirliness of the skirt!

The Building Block Dress as it's meant to be sewn in a non stretch woven, has a button placket at the back. There are instructions for altering to a zipper finish, various other back closures, or even moving the opening to the front. Of course, in a knit fabric I just eliminated the opening altogether.

The pockets and neckband were bound with a double folded strip of knit fabric - another technique that's covered in the instructions of the book, although using bias strips of woven fabric. once the pockets were sewn the dress came together very quickly on the overlocker. The sewing machine only came out again for the twin needle hemming - which is looking a bit tunnel-ly here, but the dress has come straight off the drying line and been put back on without any ironing.

I detest ironing, which is probably why I've grown to love sewing with knit fabrics for the kids! Speaking of poor ironing skills, my snazzy new photo backdrops that I bought on Ebay have come creased and folded and will take a lot of ironing and hanging to get completely wrinkle free. They're fun though, and a new backdrop definitely helped us to power through this photoshoot on a busy Saturday morning.

Ok, so that's enough pictures of a kid in a T-shirt dress, right? You read the word give-away in the title and you've come this far, I need to let you in on the plan.

When I ordered my copy of the Building Block Dress Book, I figured the postage can be such a big cost, I may as well get two copies and share one with an Aussie/Kiwi as a little pre-Christmas blog gift from me to you. I was going to try and define my postage range a bit better and thought about FIFA World Cup Groupings, but since we left Oceania and joined Asia, it all got confusing and it seems a far stretch to say that postage to Turkey is affordable. Let's just say, if you're in Australia, or believe you're a close enough neighbour, then feel free to enter.

Building Block Dress Book Giveaway

If only I had time I would make a dozen of these dresses, they are so easy for her to wear, fit perfectly and look great. Plus I have a LOT of knit fabrics that need to be used up.

You can find all the posts I've written for Oliver + S via my "Off Track" page on the blog navigation bar at the top, or by clicking the Oliver + S See Me Elsewhere button. Or, on the mobile phone viewing platform, right here. I'm unashamedly in favour of these patterns as they are so exceedingly well written, in addition to great drafting and nice designs.

The Building Block Dress Book is like a huge bundle of Oliver + S patterns all in one place. OK, so it take s a little bit of effort to alter pattern pieces and get the dress you're wishing for, but once you learn how to do it, the world is your oyster.

...and there's an idea for a costume! - Flipper and I were invited to an Alice in Wonderland party ages ago, and I did consider dressing him as the Carpenter, me as the Walrus and the kids as little oysters. I wouldn't be surprised if I needed to make an oyster costume and found some of the necessary techniques in this very book! Did you see Liesl's daughter as Don Juan? Crazy good costume

And now I'm just going to add all the other photos 'cause I can't choose which to leave out....

Good luck!

Pattern: Oliver + S Building Block Dress: basic silhouette
Size: 5 with length of 6
Fabric: various synthetic knits