How to Make a Waterproof Hood for a Pushchair

IMG_0153Boy 4 hates the raincover on his buggy. It doesn’t matter if it is pouring with rain. In his 1 year old boy’s brain, he would rather get wet than have his view slightly obscured by a transparent piece of plastic that will keep him dry and snug in his buggy. He hates it so much that if he so much as suspects that the raincover is even covering the hood, he will scream the place down.

Before anybody starts, yes, he can walk, and he often does. Yet sometimes it is better that he rides in the buggy so that we can be sure of getting to where we need to be promptly, in one piece and not tearing our hair out. Or soaking wet from being in the rain for half an hour instead of 5 minutes.

Being the kind of person who likes a challenge, especially the kind that involves making stuff, I set about finding a solution so that my precious little boy stays dry in his buggy without screaming his little head off.

One possible solution was to make a hood out of some kind of waterproof material that would go over the buggy’ s hood and possibly stick out a bit further to keep the little person inside drier.

So here is how to make a waterproof hood!

In order to make a waterproof hood for Boy 4′s buggy, I acquired a shower curtain, a wire coat hanger and 5 m of bias binding.

Having done this, my first task was to make a pattern. I actually had to do this twice because I lost the first one I made and only found it in the pile of unfinished projects after I had already made a second one. So annoying! And also a reason why tidying up is a Bad Thing.

To make the pattern, I removed the hood from the buggy and drew around the top part. This was trickier than I was expecting, so to make it easier I pinned the paper to the hood, folded it round the hood, then drew around it. IMG_0108Making the bit at the back was easier as this bit was quite loose anyway.

The hood on Boy 4′s little umbrella folding buggy is quite small as well as being only showerproof, so the waterproof hood needed an extra piece at the front to make it bigger. To do this, I used the pattern piece from the top of the hood and traced the front, then drew a curved line for the front of the extra piece.

Next I cut the bits out of the shower curtain. I didn’t use pins because I didn’t want to make holes in it. I considered using tape but I decided I couldn’t be bothered to look for it so I drew round the pattern with a pen instead.IMG_0124

I folded the pieces in half to make sure they were symmetrical and even on both sides.

After cutting the bits out, I joined them using the bias binding. The raincovers I have inspected are joined together in the same way. I enclosed the edges inside the bias binding, pinned it, then sewed.IMG_0126

IMG_0129To ensure that the hood was a decent fit and wouldn’t blow away if it was a bit breezy, I added some darts to the back section.IMG_0131IMG_0135

The last thing I needed to do was to sew the remaining bias binding around the outside edge and attach the wire coat hanger to the front edge so that the hood would hold its shape.

To do this, I used the bias binding on the front edge as casing. I pinned the bias binding to the front and sewed, keeping as close to the open edge as possible. I only sewed the bias tape onto the front section, leaving the rest free so that I could sew it onto the rest of the hood once I’d sorted out the wire.

Then I unwound the coat hanger, checked how much of it I needed and cut off what I didn’t need. As it turned out, all I had to cut off was the hook, which also saved me the job of straightening it out. I wiggled it through the casing until it was threaded right the way through the front section. There were a couple of dodgy bits where the casing was too narrow, but this was easily solved by unpicking a few stitches.IMG_0143

All that was left to do was sew the remaining bias binding to the rest of the hood.

I did have plans to add a loop of elastic and a button so I could attach it to the pushchair, but as the waterproof hood was wedged quite firmly between the original hood and the handles, I haven’t bothered.IMG_0151

Hopefully combined with a puddle jumping suit and a pair of wellies, the waterproof hood should be enough to keep Boy 4 dry when it rains without him screaming!

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How to Put in a Zip

Having to put a zip into something can really put you off making it.

It’s so difficult to know how to do it without messing it up.

Where do you start? Should the zip be open or closed? I don’t have a/ can’t find my zip foot. The zippy part keeps getting trapped under the foot and now it looks like a spider has been at my sewing. What on earth should I do about the lining?

It’s enough to make you abandon any attempts at putting a zip in and just use buttons instead.

Thankfully there is an easy way to put in a zip. If you haven’t discovered it yet, keep reading because all will be made clear!

 How to Put in a Zip the Easy Way

1. Make your skirt, dress or whatever in your usual way or by following the instructions on the pattern up until the point where you need to put in the zip.

2. If the zip is going into the last seam, put the garment on. Inside out is probably easiest. Pin the seam together. If the seam is at the back, you will need to find somebody to help you unless you are a contortionist. Using a pen, pencil or a piece of chalk, draw along where the pins are.

3. Take the pins out and the garment off. Repin along the line you drew. Sew right along the seam including where the zip is supposed to go. Don’t worry, you won’t be able to get into it at the moment but you soon will!

4. Press the seam flat. Line the zip up face down on the wrong side of the seam line, keeping it closed. Pin in place. IMG_0114The zip needs to be lined up perfectly, or near enough, and this can be tricky to do so keep checking that the zip is lined up with the seam.

5. If you have a zip foot, put it on your sewing machine. If not, don’t worry, just use the normal foot. Line up the zip with the edge of the foot, leaving the top part with the bumpy zippy thing free. Sew down the side of the zip. Repeat for the other side.IMG_0115

6. Check the right side of the seam. If done correctly, there should be two neat rows of stitching on either side of the seam. Using a seam ripper (or a pair of scissors if you don’t have one), unpick the part of the seam that is over the zip.IMG_0121

7. Pull the zippy thing down past where you still need to sew.IMG_0122 Pin the rest of the zip and sew in place.IMG_0123

That’s it! Easy, see?

If the top of the zip is not quite far up enough, you can use a hook and eye or a little button with a loop to finish it off.

If you are making something with a lining, you have two choices. You can either sew the lining in, then put the zip in last, following the instructions above. Or you can follow the instructions as far as Step 4 and tack the zip in, then fold the edges of the lining under at the zip, pin, then sew.

So that’s how to put in a zip. There’s no need to be scared of them any longer!

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Upcycled Toddler Trousers


I found myself in a v good situation the other day. One of Husband’s shirts had a tear in it and Boy 4 needed new trousers. Crank up the sewing machine, it’s a chance to make stuff. Hooray!

There’s a lot of fabric in a man’s shirt, especially if it’s a shirt belonging to a large man. More than enough to make a pair of trousers. Happily, it was a nice shirt, cotton not polyester, and in a fairly practical colour. I just knew the stripes would look very cute as a pair of trousers!  I’m also getting warm fuzzies knowing that a) the trousers were free and b) the shirt has not ended up clogging up landfill but has been given a second lease of life.IMG_2136

Here’s how to make a pair of upcycled toddler trousers.

1. Find some fabric. Men’s shirts are great. Depending on the prints, there might be enough fabric in an old pillowcase. A skirt or a pair of trousers might provide suitable fabric too.

2. Find or make a pattern. I had a pattern already. These are actually the third pair of trousers I have made from this pattern, and I have also made the dungarees and the top that came with the pattern. If you do not have a pattern, that’s not a problem. Trousers are basically made up of 4 pieces, so choose a pair of your child’s trousers, turn them inside out and draw around one leg, the whole leg round to the middle seam.

3. Cut out the pieces. Remember to turn your pattern piece over for two pieces. I cut one piece out of each of the shirt fronts and 2 pieces out of the back.IMG_2142

4. Take the two front pieces and, with the right sides together, sew the middle seam. Trim and press. Repeat for the back.


Ironing the shirt first is probably a good idea. As you can see, I did not do this.

5. Put the front and the back together with the right sides together. Sew up the side seams. Trim the seams.IMG_0005

6. Sew up the inside leg seam. Trim the seam and snip the curves.

7. I made a lining for Boy 4′s trousers to make them a little bit thicker. If you are making trousers for summer they will probably be alright without a lining. For trousers for colder months you might wish to line them, in which case repeat steps 3 to 6. This might be a good way to use up pale coloured shirts!

8. Pop the lining trousers inside the outer trousers so that the right sides are together. IMG_0015Sew around the top, trim the seam and turn the right way out. Put the lining back inside the trousers so that the wrong sides are together. Top stitch around the top of the trousers.IMG_0027

9. To make the casing for the elastic, fold the top down 1.5 cm, pin, then sew in place, leaving a small gap at the back for threading the elastic.IMG_0018

10. Fold up the raw edge at the bottom of the outer leg. Pin. IMG_0021Repeat for the lining so that the folded raw edges are together and the lining leg is a couple of mm shorter. Pin together. IMG_0022Sew around the bottom of the leg. Repeat for the other leg.

11. Cut a piece of elastic as long as the distance around your child’s waist plus a couple of cm extra. Using a safety pin, thread the elastic through the casing and tie in a knot.IMG_0028


This what is left of the shirt now.



Husband won’t be wearing that again unless they have a Raggedy Pirates’ Day at work. There’s still fabric in the sleeves though, not to mention the buttons, so enough for another small project or two!IMG_0050 IMG_0039IMG_0055 IMG_0047

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How to Make a Dip Dyed Skirt

IMG_2131In my last post I explained how to make a full skirt and the instructions are here. This post features Phase 2, drawing on the skirt with a Sharpie and Phase 3, dip dying it a pretty shade of blue so that marmite, chocolate, mud and vomit won’t show up on it so much.

I found my inspiration via Pinterest at Second Chances by Susan. Here she takes a white jacket, draws flowers on it, dyes it and a tired old jacket is transformed into something beautiful!

Susan is clearly very talented at drawing. I am not. When I was a teacher, once I drew a plane and the children thought it was a dog. Knowing your limits can be useful though, because it means that you don’t try something that is beyond your capabilities. So I did not even consider drawing a work of art all over my skirt. Instead I stuck to something I knew I could draw, which was celtic inspired swirls.

Here’s how I drew them.IMG_2100IMG_2101IMG_2102IMG_2103IMG_2104IMG_2105IMG_2118

Sometimes pictures explain better than words, don’t they? For those of you who are not visual learners, it’s a spiral two and half times inwards, then back on itself, then a long kind of elephant’s trunk thing to join it to the next one. I think the pictures explain it better!

The pen bled a bit on the fabric. I thought it might as the fabric was quite thin, but I was confident that the bleeding would be less obvious once I had dyed the skirt.

Susan splodged some washable glue onto her flowers so that there would be different shades of blue there, a similar (but much easier!) technique to batik where wax is used instead of glue.

So I splodged some glue onto the middle of the spirals.IMG_2116IMG_2117

Once the glue was dry I could dip dye the skirt.

I used some Dylon djollop that makes up in cold water and takes an hour.

To achieve a graded effect, I put the top part in for 15 minutes, then put a bit more in every 10 minutes until it was all in the dye. Then I rinsed it in cold water and washed it in the washing machine and, for anybody who is worried about doing this, I’ve put two loads through the washer today and my washing is not blue.

The overall effect is a gradual lightening rather than a blockier effect. It’s also a little bit mottled in places. The dying process did not receive my full attention as I was also cooking dinner and Boy 4 was “helping”, ie turning the hob off. However, I quite like my mottled dip dyed skirt! IMG_2132

I have another packet of dye so I’m keeping an eye out for white stuff!


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How to Make a Full Skirt

IMG_2061I’ve been wanting to have a go at dip dying for a while, but as I didn’t have anything suitable languishing in the heap of clothes in the bathroom ahem, wardrobe, I’ve needed to make something. Hooray!

I decided to make a skirt partly because they are smaller and also because I have made a couple of dresses recently. I saw a lovely dip dyed full skirt somewhere in internetland so I decided to have a crack at making a similar item myself and then dying it myself.

As the only dying I have managed to do so far is spilling tea on the half finished skirt (it’s on the washing line at the moment and the stains have hopefully come out!), this post is about making the skirt and I’ll write up the dying part later in the week once I’ve had a chance to do it.

In my local fabric shop (which I avoid like the plague as I do not like going in there) I found some undyed cotton fabric perfect for the job.

I used 2.5 m and the fabric was 1.60 m wide.

This is how I made it.

I took half the fabric and folded it into four. I hacked a chunk off the bottom for the waistband… IMG_1970then on the remaining fabric I drew a vague skirt shape.IMG_1975 I folded it in half and then cut it out to ensure that the pieces were symmetrical. IMG_1974My lovely new scissors cut through it like a hot knife through butter. I was very happy just cutting! And padlocking the handles together will mean that they stay that way!

Next I sewed the pieces together. I had hoped that 4 pieces would be enough, but unfortunately I am only thin in my head (ie my mind, my head is not thin) and, as I wanted to gather it, there was not enough left over when I wrapped it round what is left of my waist. So I cut out four more pieces and sewed those on.IMG_1977

I started to gather it, but as I was concerned about adding bulk to a part of me that is already bulky, I ditched the gathers and pleated it instead. To do that, I unpicked the side seam then, starting at the middle, I folded the fabric over to the right and then back again, making pleats of 2 – 3 cm.IMG_1985 I made pleats right along both the ground section and the back. Then I checked it for size, letting some pleats out where needed. I sewed across the top of the pleats to hold them in place. I then rejoined the side seam.IMG_1991

To make the waistband, I joined the strips I’d cut from the fabric before I cut the skirt pieces to make one long strip. I folded it in half, pressed it, opened out and folded the raw edges into the centre and pressed it again.IMG_1983

Next I attached the edge of the waistband to the wrong side of the skirt, checking that the pleats were straight as I sewed. IMG_1996Then I folded the waistband over with the raw edge tucked in where it had been pressed, and sewed it on the right side along the bottom edge.IMG_2001

The next step was the only remotely tricky part. I wrapped the skirt around myself and pinned where the other side seam needed to go. I unpinned it, then using the marks left by the pins, drew where I needed to sew. I sewed it up then attached the zip over the seam and unpicked the seam that was over the zip.IMG_2014

As there was so much skirt to hem, I opted for a folded hem sewn with the sewing machine. I folded up 1 cm of the raw edge then folded it over and pinned it in place. IMG_2060Handsewing the hem would have been neater, but it would have taken a lot longer so, in the interests of actually getting it finished, I used the sewing machine.

So that’s Phase 1 completed! Now for Phases 2 and 3!IMG_2061

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