Christina Sparkle

  1. Category Archive: Style

  2. How many clothes should I buy for baby?

    Taking stock for the babe #winterbaby #genderneutral

    A photo posted by Christinkerbell Sparkle (@xtinasparkle) on

    When I was pregnant and buying for the baby it was really hard to know how much to buy. I devised a little capsule list of baby clothes so that I have everything the baby would need, but also have room for gifted outfits from friends and family.

    For each age range I bought the following…

    2x Hoodies or Cardigans
    1x Denim shirt (goes with everything)
    1x Coat (or Snowsuit if you’re a pram lover)
    4x Sleepsuits
    3x Leggings (plain colours like navy, red and grey)
    4x White baby gro (Kimono style ones are the best)
    4x Patterned baby gro
    3x Hats
    6x Socks (one pack of multiple colours)

    My list is based on Jessica Hische‘s baby list but with my own twist on things. We don’t have the luxury of San Francisco weather, in fact I needed to consider  British winter for when Sacha was born.

    There are some lessons I have learned since using this list. Firstly, you don’t really need to buy outfits for the first three months; most people just keep their babies in sleepsuits at this age. I was usually the only one with a baby in seperates. Lots of people keep the sleepsuits up past three months too but I got too bored by that stage – I wanted cute outfits!

    Secondly, European sizes rule! 0-3 months is a massive range; babies probably double in size during that time. Instead I preferred H&Ms sizing of 0-1 months, 1-2 months, 2-4 months and 4-6 months. Some other shops follow this sizing too including Polarn O. Pyret and I found some things in TK Max too but unfortunately not enough for me to use this sizing exclusively.

    Thirdly, if you going with patterned tops and hoodies stick to plain bottoms. I have found loads of cute leggings in funky patterns but they are so hard to pair with other things because my tops and hoodies are mainly patterned too. If you don’t mind a clashing baby then go ahead but I like things matchy matchy!

    Fourthly, don’t rely on your baby fitting in the same size tops and bottoms at the same time. Sacha is currently in 6-9 month tops and 3-6 month bottoms. Thankfully following this list to create a capsule means that the different age ranges can be mixed.

    Finally, I tried to go for gender neutral items so I can reuse them (IF there is a) next time or easily resell them to anyone. Most gifted outfits were very much blue for boy though so Sacha doesn’t dress gender neutral all the time.

    By following this minimal list means I can keep everything from each age range in one Malm sized drawer and I was able to buy almost a years worth of clothes while I was still pregnant, spreading the costs across several months. My only difficulty now is that I really miss the baby designs – the older he gets the less I like the outfits that are made for his age range – I’m dreading age 2 when it all seems to be garish cartoons and Star Wars!

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  3. Free crochet cloud baby hat pattern

    Here’s a super cute hat pattern for a baby boy or a girl complete with cloud appliqués. I’ve included 3 sizes; newborn, 0-3 months and 3-6 months. Enjoy!

    You will need:


    HAT

    Magic ring

    Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as first HDC), 9 HDC into ring, sl st into second ch of turning chain to join – 10 HDC

    Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as first HDC), 2 HDC into each HDC around, sl st into second ch of turning chain to join – 20 HDC

    Round 3: Ch 2 (counts as first HDC), HDC into same st, HDC in next HDC, *2 HDC in next HDC, HDC in next HDC; rep from * around, sl st into second ch of turning chain to join – 30 HDC

    Round 4: Ch 2 (counts as first HDC), HDC into same st, HDC in next HDC, *2 HDC in next HDC, HDC in next 2 HDC; rep from * around, sl st into second ch of turning chain to join – 40 HDC [for newborn size stop here and jump to the round 7 instructions]

    Round 5: Ch 2 (counts as first HDC), HDC into same st, HDC in next HDC, *2 HDC in next HDC, HDC in next 3 HDC; rep from * around, sl st into second ch of turning chain to join – 50 HDC [for 0-3 months size stop here and jump to the round 7 instructions]

    Round 6: Ch 2 (counts as first HDC), HDC into same st, HDC in next HDC, *2 HDC in next HDC, HDC in next 4 HDC; rep from * around, sl st into second ch of turning chain to join – 60 HDC [this round is for 3-6 month size only]

    Round 7-16: Ch 2 (counts as first HDC), HDC in each HDC around, sl st into second ch of turning chain to join – 60 HDC. Fasten off and weave in ends. [for newborn size this will be rows 5-14, for 0-3 month size this will be rows 6-15]

    CLOUDS

    Ch 10

    Round 1: SC in the second chain from the hook, SC into each ch across, turn – 9 SC

    Round 2: Ch 1, sk first 2 SC, 5 DC into next SC, sk next SC, sl st into next SC, sk next SC, 5DC into next SC, sk next SC, sl st into corner SC, sk edge of SC, 5 DC into corner Ch, sk next Ch, sl st into next Ch, sk next Ch, 5 DC into next Ch, sk next Ch, sl st into next Ch, sk next Ch, 5 DC into last corner Ch, sl st into first DC to join. Fasten off with 20cm tail, appliqué onto the hat and weave in ends.

    To make the hat your own you can add other appliqués to compliment the clouds. I used these raindrops, you could try a rainbow or lightning bolt too.

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  4. First mother’s day

    Last Sunday was my first Mother’s Day as a mama. Seeing it from the other side I have a crazy amount of respect for anyone who has experienced the extremes of emotion and sleep deprivation that having a newborn has brought us. I guess nothing could have prepared us for the reality but I’m so glad to have made it this far.

    I printed photos of the baby and framed them as gifts for my mum and Andy’s mum. We gave them both cards from ourselves and Sacha too. It’s so cute to write cards from the baby for them.

    We spent the weekend visiting family but Andy still managed to make sure I got breakfast in bed. He also bought Sacha and I matching tshirts from Type on Top. My shirt says “Exhausted”, Sacha’s says “Exhausting” – so perfect for us right now!

    I’ve also ordered myself a very special gift from my lovely friend Kenda Kist Jewelry; hand stamped pendants with the latitude and longitude coordinates of the hospital where Sacha was born and the location of our wedding. I can’t wait to get them.

    Mucho love to all the mamas out there, I have no idea how you do it but I know you are doing a great job.

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  5. Coco: week 4 finished!

    black-white-coco

    Ta-daaa! Here are my final Cocos photographed on a blustery day in Bedford.

    In my final week I attached the cuffs to the black and cream striped top, and hemmed both to finish. I hemmed with a double needle, rather than zigzag like the pattern suggests. I far prefer this finish and is much easier than I expected it to be. It is scary at first but even my old 1960s Bernina handled the double needle with ease – just remember to make sure you are set to straight stitch not zigzag every time.

    Luckily I have been able match the stripes on all side seams and sleeves which I wasn’t expecting to happen. When I cut them out they were distinctly wonky but I guess the stripe is just the right size to match up and then be able to hide uneven hems easily.

    The only place I wasn’t able to match the stripes was on the collar as you can see in the above photo, they actually match alternatively so cream meets black, black meets cream. I actually quite like the checkered effect, perhaps I’ll try that on something else with the fabric remnants?

    I’m not sure I would make this pattern with a collar again, I do like the effect but (perhaps due to the weight of the fabric?) I haven’t quite found the right position for the collar. It doesn’t roll over enough to cover the understitching and seems to weigh down the neckline. After a few more wears I will hopefully find the right way to wear it.

    grey-black-coco

    The grey and black version I think will get the most wear. This is the most simple version of the pattern, no pockets or added detailing and therefore the most flexible. I’m wearing it here with a new Clemence skirt that is almost finished (more info on that next week).

    The fabric on the grey and black top is thick and more stiff than the black and cream version. This results in a top that holds its shape really well.

    Both tops are loose fitting, I may try a size (even two) smaller next time, but I think the pattern is supposed to fit loose. I’d be interested to try a more close fitting pattern to wear with full skirts, perhaps the Nettie? Before that though I have quite a pile of patterns and fabric building up that I want to get through.

    Things I learned this week: a hot iron will flatten out any bumpy hem.

    I hope you like the photos that actually include my head! Usually I take photos of me wearing my makes before leaving for work when I haven’t done my hair or make up yet but I made a special effort with these and went out on Saturday so that Janet could feature them on her blog. It’s very strange taking photos in the street while people are walking around.

    It was a lot of fun taking Janet’s course and I would highly recommend it. I’ve been teaching myself dress making from books and bits and bobs on the internet but there is so much you learn from having someone show you. I’ve also made two lovely friends in Janet and Charlotte – it’s really good to start getting to know people in Bedford. I’ve signed up to Janet’s Christmas course to meet some more people too.

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  6. Coco: Week 3

    coco-stripes

    They are both coming together so well now. The sleeves and side seams are now finished, next week will be hemming and then I’m all done.

    Last week when sewing the collar on to the black and cream top I zigzagged the seam allowances to the top, as per the instructions but this didn’t work out right at all. Firstly the zigzag stitch was too tight which resulted in a wavy effect, nothing a good press couldn’t iron out but still, not ideal. Secondly, the idea is that the zigzag would be covered by the collar but that really wasn’t the case on my top.

    I decided to unpick, painstakingly, and then redid the understitching with a double needle. This has resulted in a much nicer effect, far more professional looking.

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  7. Coco: Week 2

    coco-week2

    Second week of my Coco course with Janet from Kitchen Table Sewing and now I have started to put the pieces together. For my black and cream top I am going to make the version that has a collar, a sixties style rolled neck that reminds me of the collar on my bridesmaid’s dresses. For my grey and black top, which I’m making on my own at home, I’ve gone for a standard neckline and this will be the most simple version. I’m not even going to do a pocket on the grey and black top because breast pockets are just a no-no with a bust like mine.

    Things I’ve learned this week: how to use a double needle for hemming (never ever try to zigzag with a double needle); it is important to hold onto the threads when starting to sew on a modern sewing machine (I’m so used to my 1960s Bernina); unpicking stitches in jersey fabric should be avoided at all costs (I’ve been doing it as delicately as possible!).

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  8. Autumn Capsule Wardrobe 2014

    fall-2014-capsule

    This is the third year in a row that I’ve done a capsule wardrobe for Autumn or Fall. It seems to be the season that I plan for the most, and I love having a capsule of items that all go together, especially for work. I know all the items go well together, and I will always look put together. This capsule has a nice variety in colour and pattern that I’m really happy with, the tricky part when creating a capsule is to make sure the outfits don’t look too samey.

    This year, instead of buying most of the items that I don’t have yet, I’ll be making them! The black pussy bow blouse in the capsule will actually be the blouse I made a few months ago. I also plan to make a white polka dot blouse, black skirt and the Breton stripe top.

    I have some white graphic dot fabric that I bought from John Lewis a while ago, I’m hoping this will work well with the Mimi blouse from Love at First Stitch, perhaps sleeveless with a black collar?

    I’m booked on the Coco course with Kitchen Table Sewing which will hopefully result in a perfect striped tshirt for me to wear during Autumn. I have picked up some jersey from a local fabric shop but it is quite thick so I’m hoping to find a more standard jersey weight while I’m in Germany this week. If not, Dragonfly Fabrics have a nice selection which have been recommended to me as excellent quality, but it is quite pricey.

    I also plan to make a black skirt but I’m not sure what pattern to use yet. I have the Delphine and Clemence skirt patterns in Love at First Stitch. I don’t think the Delphine is really my style, the Clemence skirt is a nice, easy pattern and I think in a longer length than I made last time it would be a great option. I also have Miette skirt pattern that I haven’t made yet, I bought it when Tilly Walnes was having a sale.

    One item I do need to buy is jeans. I wore out my last pair a few months ago and have been doing without. That was fine in the summer months but I definitely need a new pair for Autumn. I’ve heard good things about the Gap 1969 curvy skinny, as well as the high-rise skinny. Forever 21 jeans also seem to be a favourite for curvy girls so I plan to try those on while I’m in Berlin. I’d love a high waisted vintage-looking pair of jeans but when you have a tummy I’m not sure it’s really an option.

    Here’s my cat *helping* me with to pick items for the capsule.

    Here’s a selection of outfits that can be made using the capsule I’ve created. I made this using Polyvore and a little help from Photoshop. You can check out the Polyvore collection here, and follow me on Polyvore if you’re a member.

    fall-2014-capsule-outfits

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  9. Wardrobe remake: day dress

    wardobe-remake

    This week I have remade one of my wardrobe favourites, a go-to dress for so many occasions. I bought the original dress in New Look, for about £15 last summer just before a trip to Berlin and I intended to use it as summer dress. In reality I have worn it for parties, to work and so many days at home working at my computer. It is comfortable, easy to wear and a very flexible piece in my wardrobe. Unfortunately, it is also has pilling, it is cheaply made (the facing refuses to stay put), it is too tight across the bust and it is too short – there is no way I could wear it without leggings, it constantly rides up when I’m sat down.

    photo 1

    A couple of weeks ago my Granny picked up this fabric for me from The Fabric Guild in Leicester. I’m not sure what fabric it is exactly but it is medium weight and has some stretch to it which hopefully means it will be comfortable to wear.

    I set to use the fabric to make a replacement for a dress, and to hopefully find success when making a Megan dress from Love at First Stitch. I have tried to make a Megan dress before, but it’s too big and I want to adjust it. Hopefully making the new one to the right size will help me to adjust the first one I made.

    photo 2

    I also decided to make this new dress with a lining to improve the quality, and hopefully the longevity. Basically, I made two dresses – one in the patterned fabric, and one in a lining fabric. I used a few Youtube videos to help with the sewing together of the two dresses, in the end I have joined the dresses at the sleeves, neckline and along the back seam. It did take a few attempts to get this right, especially as the lining fabric would get caught up in the machine but the result feels great.I even managed to sew the seam allowances to the lining help make sure that the lining doesn’t show when it is worn.

    photo 3

    I made the skirt in a size smaller than the top in order to better fit my measurements. The stretch of the fabric meant that with a few extra pins I was able to stretch the skirt pieces slightly to meet the bust pieces. This has definitely produced a better quality dress with a much better shape and length for me. I still have some bagginess at my chest so I might try to create some darts at the neckline like the original. I’ve worn it once so far and got lots of compliments. I’m not sure it will replace the original for flexibility, the lining and longer length makes it feel a lot more formal, but I am super happy with the result and love the fact that I’ve been able to recreate one of my wardrobe favourites.

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  10. Mathilde Blouse

    image_2

    A couple of weeks ago Tilly Walnes announced a sale on all of her shop items to try and shift some stock ready for a studio move. Of course, I couldn’t leave that offer to just go by, so I picked up all three of her patterns that aren’t included in the Love at First Stitch book.

    The first of the patterns that I have tackled is the Mathilde Blouse which was quite tricky again, I get the impression that blouse patterns in general are quite tricky. It involves pleats, a yoke and button holes. All of which I hadn’t learned yet. It also features French seams, which I had tried before, and sleeves which I decided not to do because they’re just not my style.

    I bought the white polka dot fabric on Milton Keynes market in a pre-cut 5 yard bundle for £5. A great bargain. I don’t know for certain what the fabric is, I suspect a polycotton, but it is probably a little more sheer than I would have liked, especially because I only have black camis to wear underneath. It’s hard to argue at £1 per yard though!

    image_1

    The pleats were tricky to get right, I don’t think mine are as straight or even as they should be but overall I’m quite pleased with the result. I really love the buttons down the back too. I originally added some smaller buttons that I had at home already but they were just too small and the blouse kept popping open when I tried it on. I swapped the buttons for some new buttons that I bought from Hobbycraft in a mixed mixed button jar.

    The next pattern I’m planning to tackle is the Miette skirt, probably in red or green. I also have the Megan dress to take in, I’m just a little too scared about that.

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  11. Floral Clemence Skirt

    clemence-skirt

    I did plan for my next make to be the Megan Dress from Love at First Stitch, and I did make it, but it’s too big. I’m really not sure how to take it in but I’m going to try. Hopefully I’ll post about my attempts soon.

    Moving on from the Megan dress and the Delphine Skirt that were both too big, I decided to soldier on to the Clemence Skirt. This skirt doesn’t actually have a pattern that is measured in sizes, you make your own pattern. Measure your waist and hips and cut according to your own personal measurements following Tilly’s calculations. Much better for me it seems!

    The fabric is from CallyCo in Cambridge, the lady in there was absolutely lovely and so helpful. They have a very beautiful range and I saw some designs that were stunning, but my budget didn’t stretch to everything that I saw. I’m saving up to buy more soon.

    My fabric wasn’t actually wide enough for the full skirt that Tilly’s calculations plan for but it turns out, that’s OK. My skirt just isn’t as full as it would have been. The gathering that is required to create the fullness of the skirt does take some patience to get right. I found it was hard to get the balance right when smoothing out the gathers so they are even, but keeping the correct length for the waist band. I got there in the end.

    I love the final result – it’s actually more flowery than I would usually go for – but the fabric just looked so beautiful in the shop. Plus, it’s pink and green which is all that matters to me. My mum said I look like Sandra Dee in the skirt, which is a huge win in my book.

    floral-clemence-skirt

    After I had been to CallyCo I popped in to John Lewis to buy some embroidery floss, they were having a huge sale on vintage-style fabrics which again were hard to leave. I bought some graphic black and white fabric (of course!) which I’m not sure what I’m going to do with yet.

    On the same day I also picked up a bargain at the Cambridge market from The Little Fabric Stall, four metres of red polka dot cotton at a fantastic price. I’m hoping to use that when I begin a sewing class with Janet from Kitchen Table Sewing. Here’s a pic of all the fabric drying after the first wash (please excuse the grotty carpet in our rental property!).

    fabric-drying

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