Saturday, 31 December 2011

Holiday crafting: part 2

These little pyjamas were an end-of-November first birthday present for my first cousin once removed (she's already being encouraged to call me 'Auntie Nina', because 'First Cousin Once Removed Nina' is both a mouth- and an earful, really). I got my sister to bring me the Oliver and S Bedtime Story Pajamas (sic) pattern from Purl when she was visiting family in New York a couple of years ago. I'd just discovered the craft blog world and I think Oliver and S patterns were one of those trendy things that a lot of the first bloggers I read were excited about at the time. I like to think that these days I'm a little less inclined to get caught up in blogosphere hype like that, but it might only be that the effects are more subtle. Where's the line between inspiration and influence? At what point does creativity dissolve into consumerism? When does community slip into competition? And how many companies are getting bloggers to do their marketing for them?
(The trousers look oddly short here because they're attached to the hanger)
Anyway, whatever my reason for wanting it, I got it, and that (expensive!) pattern fermented in a box with so many others for some time. Various new humans appeared on this crowded planet but they did not receive handmade pyjamas - not from me, at least. And then this autumn I decided to give it a go; perhaps it was the fact that I'd gained just enough sewing experience not to feel too daunted, perhaps it was the drip-drip-drip eroding background annoyance of impulsively bought patterns and fabrics sitting 'stashed' and unused, or maybe it was the idea of being called 'Auntie Nina' one day by the new human in question...
The first hurdle was sizing. The baby's mother had no tape measure. The baby's grandmother had but the baby was very wriggly. Some well-fitting pyjamas were measured instead, and those measurements didn't seem to correspond at all to any size given on the pattern envelope. What did people do before the internet? Can anyone remember? I'd have either given up or spent precious hours sewing the wrong size, I think. But this is the 21st century, and a short trip along the information superhighway brought me to an errata page for the pattern. I haven't seen them on, but my cousin tells me that the 18-24 M size I sewed fits her not-especially-big 12-month-old very well.

The main fabric is a soft, fair trade, organic cotton sheeting that I bought from Gossypium a while ago. It was very good value at £9/metre because it's so wide. Gossypium only have a gingham pattern at the moment but if you're willing and able to pay more, there's a choice of four designs from Fairtrade Fabric (search that site for 'fine finish' to find the right stuff). The turquoise binding fabric is a Cloud 9 organic cotton print. I didn't buy anything newly for this project at all - every element was sitting there, festering to varying degrees. We can chalk this one up as a small victory against The Stash.
Wonky stitching - all part of the handmade charm, right?
A detailed pattern review seems a bit futile as the pattern's now out of print... One nitpicky gripe I had was that the neck binding and leg bindings were different widths. Next time I'd make them match - but I think there will be a next time, because generally the pattern was so simple and the result very sweet. A good thing too, since you only get value for money from a pattern like this by using it many times. I imagine the simple lines of these pyjamas would lend themselves very nicely to being made with each piece in a different patterned fabric, and the small sizes would make that a practical way to use up remnants from other projects or old clothes (I'd guess you could cut all the pieces from two medium-sized shirts).
I was very pleased with the new (to me) seam finishing technique I tried. I chose a turned-and-stitched finish from the excellent sewing guide that my sister gave me a few birthdays ago. I've not yet managed to make zigzag-finished seams look remotely neat, but this method was much easier and no more time consuming - you do have to press each raw edge back behind itself but the sewing's much faster because you use a straight stitch. After all the gift sewing, I plan to do some "selfish" crafting for myself in the new year, and the seam-finishing that'll be involved in that feels slightly less chore-like now. The Stash had better look out...