Category Archives: Children’s Clothing

Improvisational pleating, folded

I’ve been working on the Tinny dress from Straightgrain for her improvisational pleating contest and today I finished my entry.

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem - Mrs Winter Creates

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem – Mrs Winter Creates

My improvisational pleating technique was to create deep pin-tucks in the red fabric with folded pieces of the contrasting floral fabric wedged inside. This is then folded to one side and creates a small flap. I featured this detail on the cuffs and the hem of the skirt and decided not to use it on the collar.

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem - Mrs Winter Creates

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem – Mrs Winter Creates

The red material I used is a light and soft cotton fabric, matte on one side and slightly shiny on the other. It is lightweight while the floral print is medium weight and this caused some difficulty with the finishing on the feature pleats, but all in all, I think it worked quite splendidly!

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem - Mrs Winter Creates

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem – Mrs Winter Creates

The floral fabric is called Breezy and is by P&B Textiles. The flowers are from a watercolour painting and they are bright and soft. I don’t usually go for such bright fabrics, but sometimes it is worth living a little on the wild side.

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem - Mrs Winter Creates

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem – Mrs Winter Creates

I made a size 2 as soon enough Miss K will be growing out of her mountain of 12-18 month old clothing and I need to prepare. I didn’t quite manage to make the zip invisible somehow, but I am telling myself that this will give it a bit more room for future growth spurts…

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem - Mrs Winter Creates

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem – Mrs Winter Creates

I put piping on the sleeve end, around the waist and at the hem. I think the hem would have finished up better if I had put it on both sides of the pleated detail. The fabric’s shouting colours tend to draw the eye from the dress’ imperfections, thank goodness.

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem - Mrs Winter Creates

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem – Mrs Winter Creates

As I chased Miss K around the park, the dress got quite a few comments. It is rather nerve-racking chasing a socialite toddler around a park with lots of water. I’m glad I made the effort and went outside – it was a glorious, mild day and we met some new friends.

Thanks to An of Straightgrain for this fun task, it’s my first ever contest entry and I think the result was worth the effort. On the 21st (that is in 4 days) she will be opening a link-party, where you can see what other people have done and vote for your favourite. I hope I’ve made myself a contender, I’m also really looking forward to seeing any nifty pleating techniques that others have created to use in my future projects.

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem - Mrs Winter Creates

Straightgrain Tinny dress with improvisational pleating on cuffs and hem – Mrs Winter Creates

And dear reader, you still have a few days to get your own project underway and finished! Maybe I’ll see you at the link party?

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Easter blessings and Polish Easter cake

Today was the day that I had been preparing for. After her nap, Miss K was extatic to find that Nan had come to join us for lunch. After performing her lunch to our guest, I dressed her for the Easter blessing.

Dressed for the Polish Easter blessing - Mrs Winter Creates

Dressed for the Polish Easter blessing – Mrs Winter Creates

My mother had bought Miss K that impressive head-piece to match the dress and necklace and it looked fantastic together. It is traditional Polish dress for girls to wear such flower wreaths in their hair.

Polish Easter costume - Mrs Winter Creates

Polish Easter costume – Mrs Winter Creates

We drove to the church and got there just in time for a very short blessing. If we had been but a few minutes later, we should have missed the whole thing!

After the blessing of the eggs at the Polish church - Mrs Winter Creates

After the blessing of the baskets at the Polish church – Mrs Winter Creates

With the sun beating brightly down, we decided the best place to go afterwards was to a near-by, shady playground, where we enjoyed pączki and bits and pieces from my Easter basket (a bit of a no-no as we should have been continuing our fast for Lent), including a piece of the Easter cake I made.

I didn’t make a plain pound cake, I wanted to add apple, pecans and spices to it for taste. Here is my recipe…

Ingredients:

200g self-raising flour
150g of soft butter
150g of sugar (I used coconut sugar)
3 eggs
2 apples
1tsp of cinnamon
1tsp of gingerbread spices
a handfull of pecan nuts
some water or rice milk to create the right consistency
butter

Polish Easter cake - Mrs Winter Creates

Polish Easter cake – Mrs Winter Creates

1. Preheat the oven to 200°c (392°f) 

2. In one bowl, mix together flour and spices. In a second bowl, cream sugar and butter and then add eggs; mix well.

3. Rub the dry ingredients thoroughly into the wet mixture.

4. Add the pecan nuts and mix through evenly. Vigorously mix in water or rice milk until the mixture is sticky, such that it droops on a spoon and falls back into the bowl.

5. Butter a bundt-cake tin and put the mixture in. Thinly slice the apples and press the slices into the top of the mixture.

6. Cook for 30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

 

Happy Easter!

Preparing for the Passion

Easter is just a few weeks away. That was quick.

We don’t celebrate it big in our little family, but the memories of childhood make me feel that I would like to create that magic for my children too. I come from a Polish, Roman Catholic family, and though we did not continue going to weekly mass after I was about 11 or 12, we kept alive the Polish traditions and customs right into my siblings and my adulthood.

Some of my dearest childhood memories are of Easter time: taming my desire for something chosen during lent, days of preparing the feast for a large brunch after the fast, dying and decorating easter eggs and preparing easter baskets for blessing, dressing in the traditional costume posted to us by my babcia (grandmother) from Poland, the joyful Easter Sunday mass and blessing festival attended by family and friends,  sharing the egg before the feast and giving blessings to each other, celebrating with what family we had here in Australia and the friends who had become our family. These memories weave together a feeling of richness and depth, meaning and reverence, and it is something I find I miss in every-day adult life.

I do sense that now I have a little person to cherish and share with, some of these traditions will live on. Last year I was still too new to motherhood to be able to contemplate the preparations, this year I feel quite excited about getting together the basket for blessing and going to the Polish church with Miss K to experience the festival. I don’t expect to celebrate as large as we did when I was a child, but I am taking the first real steps towards a nourishing tradition for the Winters.

Hem of Easter dress for Miss K

Hem of Easter dress for Miss K

The last few days I have been getting Miss K’s costume ready. My auntie made her a dress out of an heirloom european pillowcase and I’ve been hand stitching a decorative border to it that my babcia in Poland gave me when she gifted me her treasury of lace and edgings from since she was young.

Hand stitching on heirloom decorative border lace

Hand stitching on heirloom decorative border lace

Traditionally, girls wear strings of spherical beads, red or in other colours. I decided to be a little different and make Miss K her own block and chain necklace to match the decorative border on the dress.

Block and chain necklace for Miss K

Block and chain necklace for Miss K

I’ve also started on a handmade Easter basket in which to put all the important things (mainly food) that need blessing. You can begin yours too by following my video tutorial on how to make coil baskets.

This is just the beginning of my preparations for the Easter celebration. A number of you have requested that I post a tutorial of how to dye easter eggs with onion skin the way I was taught as a child, I will gladly acquiesce to your request!

I will also post on what preparations are necessary for a great easter basket – a symbol of abundance and life, of plenty, of spring.

Of course here in Australia the seasons turn toward autumn, or the Nyoongar season of Djeran, the season of adulthood, which is the precursor to Makuru, the season of fertility in June and July. In this part of traditional Aboriginal Australia, fertility occurs in what is commonly called winter. This is because water is needed for fertility and summer has a way of drying and burning the landscape to a gold against a sky of relentless blue. We certainly do not have that sense of abandon and creation as one feels during a European Easter time, but as the heat subsides, green appears after autumn showers and with it the possibility of a mild and habitable landscape is once again here.

I hope you will join me during this last part of Passiontide. To explore the good and meaningful moments that busy hands can create. To remember what it is to be deep in the service of others, no matter what our belief; or as Leunig wrote:

“Let us live in such a way
That when we die
Our love will survive
And continue to grow.

Amen.”

 

Playsuit with a pleat from Elegance and Elephants

I’ve been making this awesome playsuit since Miss K. was about 9 months old. I think the one I finished today is about my 5th. It’s an easy to follow and adorable pattern. It might seem impractical for a baby without the snaps at the crotch, but I would like to try and convince you otherwise…

When Miss K. was born in November in Berlin, when outside it began to snow and I had my mother placing tea, chicory coffee and water by my feeding chair every few hours, I would dress baby almost exclusively in footed overalls. When a baby is so new, the bonus is that such clothing doesn’t squeeze on their delicate little tummy.

As she has gotten older, she has especially loved playing in sand and as you know, that stuff gets everywhere. With a properly legged playsuit, that particular problem is pretty much solved. Sure, it isn’t as easy as taking off some pants or leggings for those less than desirable parenting moments, in winter it takes some practise getting the straps undone under her jumper or jacket, but it has it’s perks and is called a playsuit for a very good reason. I would also generally rate clothing as easier to clean than sand sticking to a soft baby bum.

Pleated Playsuit from Elegance and Elephants

Pleated Playsuit from Elegance and Elephants

This design from Elegance and Elephants is an easy and enjoyable sewing project. It is actually the first PDF pattern I have ever made and has exceeded my expectations. It is so much easier to follow the instructions given with photos and I’ve traced multiple sizes of the pattern onto baking paper. Best of all, I reckon the finished playsuit is a great gift for other little people.

The first one I made in all peach fabric with just the straps, lining, pockets and cuffs in a contrasting fabric. It was the size 12 months version. Here are some photos:

The first Pleated Playsuit (Elephants and Elegance) I made for Miss K

The first Pleated Playsuit (Elephants and Elegance) I made for Miss K

Strap detail of Pleated Playsuit from Elegance & Elephants

Strap detail of Pleated Playsuit from Elegance & Elephants

It actually still fits on her, albeit rather tightly, 6 months later. Sadly, I don’t think I will be using it again, so I needed to make another. I decided to skip the size 18 months and go straight for size 2. It is definitely too big, so I guess I will need to make an 18 months one as well.

The Pleated Playsuit (Elephants and Elegance) I made for Miss K

The size 2 Pleated Playsuit (Elephants and Elegance) I made for Miss K

As you can see, I got a bit creative with the fabric combinations. That’s because I don’t see the point in hiding a brilliant Nani Iro print and I wanted it for all to see on the bodice. If you are wondering where to get Nani Iro fabric from, I highly recommend buying it from Frances at Miss Matatabi on Etsy. Although I’ve never met the lass, she is very helpful and stocks an excellent range.

Nani Iro print in Elegance & Elephant's Pleated Playsuit

Nani Iro print in Elegance & Elephant’s Pleated Playsuit

As the bodice is contrasting I made the straps and lining in the pant material and the pockets and cuffs in the beautiful double gauze Nani Iro print. The pants are made of a thicker, but still fairly soft, cotton for wear and tear.

I’m making another at the moment for a friend with Liberty print in the same way. In fact I really like how you can show off a nice and delicate fabric in a not so delicately used item of clothing.

Pleated Playsuit (E&E) in use. A reclining Miss K.

Pleated Playsuit (E&E) in use. A reclining Miss K.

Time to play!

What are your favourite PDF patterns. I’d love to try some new projects.

Cracking the 1953 girl’s pattern

I love collecting vintage and antique children’s clothing patterns. I say collect, because thus far that is all I had done, but now I have made one. Rather, I should say, I have drastically altered one as it has been a bit confusing every step of the way. The pattern is for a toddler’s smocked coat and bonnet. I wanted to make a dress and I wasn’t going to do any smocking.

I will preface this blog entry by stating that the use of patterns is a rather new thing for me. Before last year I just made my own; which often times worked and sometimes not. As the sharp instinct of not wanting to be told what to do has become a little more blunt in me, I feel more willing to try things such as patterns and choirs and other such activities where I might need to conform or listen. Gasp.

This is why I was not too phased when a pattern for a 6 month old from McCall’s (2217, c1953) appeared to be more suited in size to a 3 year old; and a wide one at that.

I had an old, favourite, muslin dress and some Nani Iro fabric I wanted to use. I took the buttons and button holes straight from the dress to decrease workload and increase the quality of button holes, which I’m not that great at.

My worn-to-death summer dress

My worn-to-death summer dress

The pieces cut out looked like this:

Pieces cut out from 1953 vintage pattern

Pieces cut out from 1953 vintage pattern

I began sewing, made and sewed in my own piping (first time ever, go me), put in pleats instead of smocking, joined the back and front and then realised how huge this thing was going to be. That is when I stalled. I had to think on it a few days and nights.

I changed it in a few ways.

1953 girl's pattern with major alterations

1953 girl’s pattern with major alterations

1. I put the dress back to front. This means it is now buttoned down the back. I thought the buttons down the front were resembling a nightgown and that didn’t work for me. Also the collar was interfering with their aesthetic.

2. I made the front and back less wide. Sewed the button (green) colour-block piece shallower, reshaped the (now) front yoke and added a pleat to the front yoke skirt.

3. I shortened the sleeves and finished them off with contrasting piping.

Hacked 1953 girl's pattern side view

Hacked 1953 girl’s pattern side view

There was a lot of unpicking involved. Even with the alterations it is still too big for Miss K, but that isn’t too much of a problem as she will grow into this one in the foreseeable future. I am very happy with the end result, but I don’t think I will use this pattern again anytime soon.

Hacked 1953 girl's pattern by Mrs Winter Creates

Hacked 1953 girl’s pattern by Mrs Winter Creates

Any one else have sizing problems with vintage patterns? How did you deal with it?

Grey baby jacket with butterfly skirt

Finally I write about a finished sewing project as promised!

grey baby jacket and butterfly skirt

grey baby jacket and butterfly skirt

I have a shirt that my good friend gave me for Miss K. It is so light, bright and versatile that we use it all the time. I am guessing that it was made in India.

More about that skirt later...

The shirt. More about that skirt later…

I copied the pattern to try make my own, but somehow it ended up being a serious looking jacket rather than a cool and sun covering summer shirt.

grey baby jacket and butterfly skirt

grey baby jacket and butterfly skirt

I made it from an old pair of men’s linen Versace trousers. I guess I should have expected it to look like business… that is why I went for a flouncy skirt to accompany it rather than pants as I was first thinking.

grey baby jacket and butterfly skirt

grey baby jacket and butterfly skirt

The shoulders are quite wide, but that was the aesthetic of the original shirt too. I find it cooky and do like it, but I also look forward to trying the pattern with a gentle fabric to see if it might come out looking more suitable for a one year old.

My favourite things about it are the pocket and sleeve details (with contrasting fabric) and the sleeve style.

grey jacket, sleeve detail

grey jacket, sleeve detail

Once I have made a few and I iron out the not-so-great bits, I’ll put up a tutorial. If you have a blog and would like to try out this prototype to review and give me some feedback, let me know. It is only in one size so far, 12-18 months.