knit | sew

The Just In Times…Shirt, Skirt, Shawl and Shield

December 30, 2014

OK, so this one is my last Christmas making post, the final wrap-up, the things just finished, just in time.

IMG_5557I finished sewing the buttons on this linen shirt for My Man two days before Christmas. The linen comes from Lithuania via The Drapery in Adelaide and was a glorious 160cm wide. It was my first experience of ordering fabric online and The Drapery was wonderful. The package arrived very quickly with a wee Shanghai Lil and the Scarlet Fez soap, one I hadn’t tried before!

IMG_5553The pattern was an old Simplicity pattern 7330. It is misleadingly called the Three Hour Shirt. It does not take three hours to make. Maybe if you don’t grade or finish any seams, clip any curves or iron anything, it might take three hours. Anyway, it took the time it took and I took the time it took, to make it the best it could be but still managed to put the buttonholes on the wrong side. I really don’t understand how this happened. Luckily My Man has a masculinity unfazed by what side the shirt buttons or perhaps he loves me so cos he is wearing it lots already! The buttons came from the ones I saved from his old work shirts.

IMG_5513I try not to buy new cotton fabric, but I couldn’t resist 30 cm of this Star Wars comic fabric for a skirt for Our Dear Girl. Our Dear Boy was getting Darth Vader Tshirt and the skirt seemed like a perfect companion. Our kids are both very excited about Star Wars, the old movies, the new ones and the animated series.  They KNOW stuff, I will never know.

Princess Leia was a princess we introduced early to Our Dear Girl when we realised we were going to have to engage with the Princess phenomena in some way. Leia was our way. She is grumpy and decisive, politically powerful and handy with a laser blaster. I knew I had made the right thing when Our Dear Girl did that special intake of breath kids do when they open a present they really like.

IMG_5490A while ago, in the winter I think, Our Dear Boy had asked me to knit him a shawl to wrap himself up in while he read.  I thought for a long time about an appropriate shawl, one that would not be embarrassing after a while and one that he could perhaps take into adulthood with him, maybe not as a shawl but perhaps a throw or a blanket. I settled on Hansel,  Gudrun Johnson’s version of a traditional Shetland hap shawl.

This used up most of my stash of Shilasdair which I had bought in England as part of my Great British Yarn Quest.  This yarn is dyed on the Island of Skye from natural dyes. I used yarns dyed with Meadowsweet and Tansy overdyed with indigo. I added some Jamieson and Smith 2ply jumper weight from Shetland left over from Half Happy, cos that seemed so appropriate and looked brilliant against the greens.  I had originally intended this yarn for a Whippoorwill but I am so very, very happy it became a Hansel for my Hansel.

IMG_5244I cast on on the drive to Adelaide earlier this year and it went camping and to numerous swimming and piano lessons. The border was finally finished by the river the week before Christmas.

IMG_5383It was blocked on a makeshift shawl stretcher of back veranda, bamboo garden stakes hastily pulled out of the earth and okkie straps from the car boot. This process could definitely have been done more thoroughly and precisely but hey, I was making Christmas cakes and chutney and gingerbread and well, I feel grateful to have got it done at all! Our Dear Boy knew exactly what it was as soon as he opened it and happily posed for its posterity pic.

IMG_5509When we were in the UK, a couple of years ago. Our Dear Boy had a got a sword from Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland. Our Dear Girl got a small sword that now really only looks like a dagger, as she has grown so much. This necessarily puts her at a disadvantage in sword fighting with her brother, so she got a proper sized wooden sword this Christmas. Then I got all excited about squire tunics and shields as we have been reading Sword Girl for bed time reading. A week before Christmas, I realised I was going to have to let go of the tunics but I stuck with the shields.

IMG_5506I purchased the plain plywood shield shapes earlier and painted them up with the kids’ acrylic paints, picking out the edges and features in gold paint. Our Dear Boy got the design he painted on his cardboard shield some time ago and Our Dear Girl got the Tudor Rose. Those marvelous interwebs showed me not only twenty different versions of the rose sigil but how to construct a pentagon with just a circle and ruler.

IMG_5507Up close it looks a bit wonky but as whole sigil, it has come up rather nicely.

IMG_5504The arm grips were cut from $1 leather belt from an op shop and fastened to the shield with nuts and bolts.  They fit firmly and can be replaced with a larger grip as the kid’s grow.

And that brings me to a cup of tea and lie down really. I hope you are happy with all that you did and found peace with all that was not done.


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  1. Rebecca, I was breathless with awe reading this. You are amazing and so thoughtful. The skirt, the shirt, shawl, shields…all so lovely and lovingly made to suit the recipients. I could hear the sudden intake of breath that a child makes when he or she is excited!

    Thanks too for pointing me to another men’s shirt pattern. I remember reading on a blog that someone had made a shirt in three or four hours and I couldn’t imagine how that could be possible. My first one took at least two days to sew! PS Terrific photographs, too.

    The princess phenomenon must be a difficult one for parents to deal with. Many of my colleagues refer to their daughters as “little princesses,” which always surprises me, but not having kids myself I don’t understand the pressures. Princess Leia seems to be a great compromise.

  2. Oh Rebecca – it is such fun to read about all the different stuff you whizzed up in the pre-Christmas mad rush – so impressive and so creative. And it sounds like you had fun and your kids and man are having fun! Happy days!

  3. A well deserved cup of tea and a lie down, my clever friend!! Incredible efforts, beautiful gifts that shall be long-cherished. Please feel free to explain to me why it matters which side your button holes are on, I have no idea what you are talking about!! The shields (and swords) are still being talked about with much delight in this household….thank you and your lovely children for letting my dear boy have such a lovely play with them xx

    1. Dear Carla,

      Shirts have a girl buttoning side and a boy buttoning side. You only really notice if you put on a boy shirt and doing up the buttons feels wierd…or when you are sewing them!

  4. You manage to get so much done, Rebecca!! It looks as if all the recipients really loved your beautiful work. And now, my dear, what did you make for yourself!!??
    Happy New Year with Peace throughout the world.

  5. I grinned when I read of your Girl’s dagger … my Granddaughter O received a Hello Kitty cross bow set up. I have pictures of her crouched on the floor in her leopard print tights under a billowing pink skirt with matching shirt, cross bow at her shoulder, aiming at something down the hallway. Ahhh, confident girls! 🙂

  6. A lovely post. A present regarding presents! I am one happy reader.

    Not that you should feel any pressure in the coming year, BUT keep up the good work herding those words into wonderful moments, Head Shepherdess of N & S.

  7. Each of these beautiful gifts are so very special and thoughtful. I can well believe there were very happy recipients around your Christmas tree.
    I love your take on Princesses. And that you chose the Tudor Rose for Dear Girl’s shield.

  8. That shawl is absolutely stunning and will be treasured. How lovely that he wanted to be snuggled up in your knitting! I have the 3 hour shirt pattern and was also incredulous about the timeframe! I made several short sleeved shirts in aboriginal prints when we lived in the NT. So in awe of all your making! Happy new year

  9. This is SO late………in fact I am trying to catch up sitting here going all the places you are taking me, eating jellies and Dang if I didn’t’ forget to put the bread in the oven!!! It’ll live.
    That was an inspiration for all of us…for next year 🙂
    Buttons…….tried to look up the things I had heard about sides of clothing and maybe I’m making it all up!! I thought I remembered men’s clothing opening/buttoning on the side they could get to their sword quickest and someone else told me All Chinese clothing buttoned on the same side, men or women! I give up 🙂 The other things I have just read in looking this up do not make any sense at all……….haha Happy New Year!!

  10. Ah Rebecca, how lovely to steep myself in the variety and beauty of all your various makings over this past year. You certainly deserved that cup of tea- and many more. And I loved your wisdom about being happy with things done and making peace with what is not. Good wishes for 2015 and all your creations.

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