The nearly PR&P entry – Fun, function & forever.

It has been so exciting taking part in season 22 Project run and play competition. This week was the final, sadly I didn’t make it through to officially publish my entry for the competition. Quite early on in the planning for this competition I knew I needed to be well on the way if not finished with the next rounds outfits before the results were announced. So I had this made and photographed but not quite written up by the time I knew I was out. It seemed a shame not to share it anyway.

This weeks theme is ‘signature style’. I called my entry Fun, function and forever which I think sums up my design style in particular for kids.

Fun: I think childhood is a time to have fun and learning through fun is so important. With handmade clothing you can reflect your child’s interests, tastes and individuality. I also like clothing to allow them the comfort and freedom to move about and have fun.

Function: Practicality and function are really important to me. Clothing made from easy care robust fabrics, with simple fastenings allowing as much freedom as possible. I have to say I am also guilty of making clothing one size to big…to make it last longer!!

Forever: I draw inspiration from my own childhood, a time when cheap imported clothing hadn’t been introduced to the UK. My mum made all her clothes as well as clothes for me and my sister, including school uniform. When I look back I remember so many outfits including the process of getting inspired and shopping for fabric and patterns. The resourcefulness and endless creativity of my mum are skills that I saw through her sewing and are a constant inspiration to me. This legacy is something I want to pass on to my children. There is so much more to a handmade outfit!

In terms of styling I usually start with the practical and functional elements. Design wise I love simple understated styling, utility and Japanese influences. For this collection I decided to give it a bit of a 70’s flavour with a nod to my childhood and the values that underpin my sewing .

Ella’s dress

Ella’s dress is based on my Mary pattern which happens to be named after my mum. It is also by far her favorite dress style which she chooses to wear all the time at the moment. So a good starting point for her style for this collection.

The first sewing pattern I published was the Rosie dress, the original dress happened when Ella was around 3 years old. Rosie has an option to be reversible. When trying to get a reluctant 3 year old dressed the idea of a ‘secret dress inside’ was quite a good selling point. Making getting dressed fun. So I decided to make this Mary dress reversible. One side is yarn dyed Essex linen with a bib front pocket.

I added stripes of the co-ordinating fabrics to the upper edge of the pocket. I wanted to incorporate colours from Josephs outfit so I added the tan French terry. To prevent the French terry from stretching and distorting I used a light weight fusible interfacing.

I deliberately staggered the hems to give a border of the pink from the inside. I think this looks better than trying to exactly match the hem levels and provides an additional feature to the dress. The pockets are finished with a simple ‘e’ freehand machine embroidery.

The other side is made from Kona craft weight cotton, the two fabrics individually are quite light for this style dress but together they make the ideal weight. This side also features the narrow stripe paneling using fabrics from the rest of the outfits.

Generally I like dungaree clips on this style but as I couldn’t find easily switchable clips so I opted for buttons. Usually I would put the buttonholes on the bib and buttons on the straps. However the bulk of the pocket prevented the buttonhole foot from stitching where it needed to. Switching it round worked well.

To complete Ella’s outfit she is wearing star print Frances leggings and a plain light teal long sleeve t-shirt.

Josephs jacket

I don’t think I have made anything reversible for boys before and this jacket got the best reaction. When I gave it to him to try on his eyes lite up and he said “ooh mummy is “inversible”!” Clearly you are not to old to have secret internal garments that are now referred to as inversible 🙂

This shape is based on the jacket from entry 2 which was where I worked out it could indeed be fully reversible. I made both sides in French terry, this fabric is so versatile and as its slightly lighter in weight than classic sweatshirt fabric, the jacket has a sturdy feel but not overly heavy.

The sleeve, front and back are panelled. On this side I added kangaroo pockets faced with the burgundy fabric. It was tricky to find a reversible zip. Jaycotts seemed to be the only place selling them and they also had a good range of colours.

The other side of his jacket features welt pockets and three wider stripe panels on one sleeve.

The skinny joggers I adapted for the third time for this competition. Joseph doesn’t like the restraint of jeans or woven trousers. One of the things I think about when looking at adding patterns to my range is a pattern that is versatile and hackable. Though the shape remains the same the three entries show three different versions.

This version has the three bands on one leg and a triple elasticated draw cord waist.

Despite not getting to the final I loved being part of this process, it was great to meet 4 other extremely talented designers and to design and make these outfits. The kids are officially kitted out for a little while now too!

Thank you to Minerva crafts for sponsoring all of us and to Audrey for organising it all. I’m looking forward to watching the future seasons of this competition.

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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...

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