First Day Dress

Sydney’s dress for the first day of school was the First Day Dress by MADE.

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It has a swingy circle skirt (great for twirling) and a fitted bodice.  It went together extremely quickly.  The hardest part is the hem since it is a circle, but I used an old trick I learned and basted a line of stitching where I needed to fold and it makes it much easier to iron into place.  I didn’t do the full lining, only the partial lining on both of the dresses.  To ‘test’ the pattern I made the A-line version for Syd to gauge size which was spot on for the bodice fit but a wee bit short.  Still looks great with leggings though.

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I made both of these dresses during our summer vacation at the beach. It is nice to have a trip that is a driving destination so that I can bring along my sewing machine if I have a project to work on! Sydney requested her dress have cats on it so I was able to find this cute little cat print (Kitty Dreams in Cranberry) from Hawthorne Threads by Lizzy House.  Ingrid wanted bunnies so hers is made from Bunny Binkies in Fluff from Art Gallery.

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I think my only problem with this pattern would be the fact that there is only a slash back no zipper or button back which is nice to market to for the beginner sewer, but makes it extremely hard to get on and off especially if you have a layered shirt underneath.  I guess my kids are broad shouldered like their mama cause I even made our slash larger than the pattern recommended but it is still a tight squeeze.

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I may take these current dresses and sew on an exposed zip making them hip, trendy, and edgy all at the same time…while allowing us to wear them through the winter!

Matching Sundresses

UntitledOne of Syd’s favorite dresses is her ‘firecracker dress’ which is a Tea Collection sundress I picked up off a sale rack at Nordstroms a while back. Its a 4T but still fits her thanks to the forgiving fit. It’s a simple peasant dress with shirred bodice and halter straps.  I’ve made a couple of knit halter dresses for the kids but Syd really likes her cotton ‘firecracker’ one so I sat down one morning and measured it out and made one from some light pima cotton I had here in my stash! Untitled

This dress is sooo easy; is literally 3 rectangles cut out and sewn together took me only a few hours to put together! There was a fair amount of gathering which can be fiddly and the elastic shirring isn’t too difficult once you know how your machine handles elastic thread.  I actually bought a separate bobbin case that I ONLY use for elastic thread because you have to loosen some of the components for it to pull through.  Once you figure that out, I use a longer straight stitch (3 mm) and increase my tread tension (around 7 on my machine) till I get the desired amount of gathering.  The rest of the rectangles are just gathered using basting stitches and sewn together. I top stitched those seams down for durability but that step could be skipped if you want to save some time.

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Of course once I made Syd’s I had a similar request from Ingrid… and I had enough fabric left over I figured why not!  I took a few inches off of Ingrids to size it to fit her based on her height and chest measurements in proportion to what I did for Syd and it worked out pretty well!  They sure like them and I have to say the relaxed fit with the airy pima cotton does look cozy for a hot summer day!

Bats!

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This year for Halloween the girls were bats. Well Syd said was ‘bat girl’ but basically she was a bat since I didn’t go so far as to put the bat-girl emblem on her shirt. I found the inspiration from this post a long while back.

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They had a ton of fun trick-o-treating and enjoyed running around with their bat wings out.

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I couldn’t find kid sized black mask, so I drew a bat on Syd’s face which she thought was pretty cool.

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The hoods are the cozy winter hood from the Oliver + S book Little Things to Sew. This hood is turning into Halloween staple at our house.  Syd and Ingrid STILL wear their cat and mouse hoods on cold days from last years Halloween.  I’m not sure how much repeat wear the bat hats will get, but we will see.  I modified the pattern by creating a widows peak and making the ears pointy instead of round.

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The wings I self drafted using each girls ‘wing span’ and neck to knee measurement. I drew out the bat wings onto Swedish tracing paper using my french curve to connect the two measurements and then held them up to the girls to size fit.  To keep their hands free for candy grabbing I sewed elastic loops at the end of each wing so they could slip their hand through and the wing would be anchored to their wrist.  The wings were secured on their shoulders by more black elastic.  I wish I had purchased the sequins black elastic trim to do these details but time kept me from returning to JoAnn to perfect finishing touches.

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All and all I figured the wings were made special by making them out of super soft rich Velvet (found on a remnant sale pile at JoAnn) and shiny black taffeta.  The hoods were also made of the Velvet and lined with black knit from my stash.

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Another successful hand-made Halloween is in the books.  More pictures of our evening are up on Flickr.

Me Made May 2014

Me Made May has wrapped up today and I stuck to my original commitment! And holy wow am I tired of taking photos of myself!

Kelly skirtStaple Dress

I set out to wear two handmade items a week, and I averaged 18 days of wearing a me-made something. That’s 4 times a week on average!  And May is a long month!

Plantain tee, Fluted cowlGinger skirt

I found myself wearing a lot of my basic t-shirts (mostly plantain tee’s) on both the weekends and the work-day. My Kelly and Ginger skirts I’ve made thus far are versatile for both work and date nights. I even pulled out some of my lesser worn handmade items like my Darling Ranges Dress and Date Night Dress to mix things up a bit.

#mmmay14 work edition. Self drafted tank eeked out of a yard of flowy rayon found in a remnant pile. #sewing#mmmay14 alter your RTW items edition. Old top altered so it actually fits properly and pants hemmed by moi. #sewing

My casual self-drafted paper bag skirts have always been some of my favorite summer time weekend wear and they didn’t disappoint. Even though it hasn’t been that warm yet they paired nicely with long sleeves.

#mmmay14 I took the day off because I needed a day off edition. One of the first (successful) knit tops I ever made. #sewing#mmmay14 errand running edition. #plantaintee #deeranddoe with a hacked JCrew paper bag skirt. #sewing

The exercise really made me stop and think each morning to ask myself if there was something I made I could wear instead of something from a store. I noticed some gaps in my wardrobe too (dresses, shorts, pants, variety in tops) but over all  I’m pretty happy with how things shaped up. I’ve got a wide range of great items that I enjoy wearing. And have found inspiration to make more!

Ginger skirt#mmmay14 doesn't feel like summer here edition. Self drafted paper bag skirt with #plantaintee.

To see all 18 days which were documented on Instagram see my Me Made May 2014 Flickr set.

 

 

Can’t get enough Ginger

After my Plantain success a few weekends ago I moved onto Ginger. And since Ginger was so easy and flattered my figure I couldn’t stop…and I made two in the same week.

Ginger is exactly as described “This simple and pretty a-line skirt with high waistband will be a new wardrobe staple. Quick to sew, flattering to wear…”.  You nailed it Colette.  This may be the most flattering thing I own and I made it…and it didn’t require one smidgen of adjustments to the pattern. For both skirts I did View 3 (but didn’t cut on the bias due to fabric limitations).  Although the other two views have minor differences to the waist band and are cute, I will likely never use them because I feel like there is about 2 inches between my waist and my boobs so the thin waist band choice was a must.
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For the first one I used a leftover corduroy print fabric I had from a skirt I made for Syd over 2 years ago. I barely had enough to eek out this skirt as my muslin.  If had more fabric I would’ve done a better job of matching up the pattern on the front seam.
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I made a size 6 based on my waist measurement (my 39 inch hip put me at a size 8). Since the finished garment measurements for the hip were not listed on the pattern I just had to test out the size 6 and see how it fit me around the hip for the first round.

Ginger Skirt

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It ended up fitting so well…it was almost too good to be true. The first time I tried it on and zipped it up I gasped a little.
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The second one went together in 2 hours last Sunday afternoon when I decided I wanted a new skirt to wear for work that week. I cut, assembled and hemmed this beauty between the hours of 3-5 pm.
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The skirt consists of 4 pieces and a curved waistband. Unlike the Kelly skirt this waistband is curved and fitted (Kelly kinda sticks up on me since it is just a rectangle).  The closure is an invisible zipper in the back. Once I got past the spatial arrangement of the installation instructions…it went in like a breeze and I got to finally use the invisible zipper foot my mom bought for me when I was home last August!
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This fabric was one of my Mood finds when I was in NYC in October. Its a white velveteen, but pretty heavy weight, maybe even home-dec weight. The black pattern is a delicate little pattern that looks like teeny bird foot prints.  Pretty subtle, but versatile when it comes to top color coordination.
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I knew I wanted to make a skirt out of this fabric I just couldn’t decide between Ginger or a Grainline Studio’s Moss Mini. Ginger won over practicality and the fact that I already had the pattern pieces on my cutting table. 🙂 Because of the fabric weight, the zipper didn’t go in perfectly due to all the bulk at the waistband, but it still looks pretty darn good.
Another #workday that went to hell in a hand basket...but at least I looked cute in my #handmade #gingerskirt. #colettepatterns #sewing #bernina
I wore it to work yesterday (and the corduroy one the week prior).  There is something fun about hearing a stranger mumble “great skirt” as you walk by them on your way to a meeting. Puts a little spring in your step knowing that yes indeed it is a great skirt…and I made it!

More Plantains Please

Over the past few weeks or so the sewing blogsphere and Instagram feeds have been exploding with Plantain Tee’s.  The Plantain is a free pattern from Deer and Doe which is a little independent French pattern designer who I think I’m going to start paying more attention to from now on!

Plantain Tee

first yummy plantain

I was drawn to Plantain because of the neckline. I have a few snug fit ballet neck tee’s that I use for layering when I workout or go to yoga/Pilates and I’ve always really liked how they look on me. I recently wore one of those with my Kelly skirt for a night-out (and to work and for date night the other night!) and have sort of fell in love with it and now I want more…and I want them now!

Kelly Skirt

night out with my Kelly

I printed and taped together the Plantain .pdf pattern last weekend but was hesitating cutting into anything because I didn’t have the yardage required in any of the knits in my stash to make a long or 3/4 length sleeve…and since we are still in the death grip that is winter here, making a short sleeve version just seemed…rather unsatisfying.

Plantain Tee

cut back as two pieces

I’m inherently inpatient though and decided I wanted to try the pattern out sooner than I was going to be able to solve my knit stash problem. So instead of cutting the back on the fold (which takes a lot of yardage) I cut it as two pieces giving myself a 1/4 in seam allowance and then sewed them together using a 1/4 in seam and top stitched that seam down the back. Not your typical way of doing things, but it worked and now I can cut into more of my 1-yard knit stash to make a few more! Speaking of stash…I’ve had this knit fabric for so long I don’t even remember where I bought it from or the blend, although I suspect its 100% cotton. I chose this fabric for this experiment because it coordinates well with my Kelly skirt and my oh-so-comfortable grey cords which I’ve been living in a lot this winter.

Plantain Tee

back seam detail

The shirt went together really quickly…maybe 2 hours total? When I sew with knits I like to use a ballpoint needle and use the vari-overlock stitch for almost all the seaming (stitch #3 and requires the use of foot 2A for you Bernina heads out there).  I don’t have the problems of popping stitches when I use the vari-overlock like I do when I use the super stretch stitch.  For hem finishing I use a zig-zag…mostly because I’m lazy and I hate treading my double needle and my double needle often skips stitches which is aggravating.  I was a bit nervous how the neck band was going to turn out because she has you sew a 5/8 in seam (I did use my super stretch stitch on this seam) which leaves very little fabric that peaks out as the band. But after top stitching (I used a standard 3 mm straight stitch since this is a large opening) it ironed out very nice and looks very similar to the finishing of most of the neck bands on my ready-to-wear knit tops (as a side note — anyone else stare at the construction of their knit tops when bored at work??).

Plantain Tee

neck band

The fit is perfect around my shoulders, arms and bust. The design of the shirt is to be a bit billowy in the mid section which isn’t my usual style but since this fits so nice everywhere else the extra fabric around my middle isn’t as unflattering as it was when I made my Briar. The extra fabric tucks nicely which is how I usually wear most of my shirts anyway. Overall I really recommend this pattern. I made a size 38 even though I measured into a size 40 based on my 36 in bust. I’m glad I took the tip from Katie before wasting an experiment! My only complaint about the pattern is the 5/8 in seams. I prefer sewing my knits with a 1/4 in seam so that I don’t have to trim…but the few extra times I had to get my scissors out will not be enough to deter me from making another.

We have more snow heading our way so I figure some online knit shopping and more Plantains will be in my future.

A corduroy Kelly

Kelly Skirt

Monday the girls daycare was open as a ‘favor’ since they have been closed so much this winter because of snow. Since I had the day off of work, I took the opportunity to clean up my sewing room from the off-season vacation summer dress sewing frenzy and I also cut out a Kelly Skirt. I got the pattern from my friend Katie who sent me a giant box of patterns to fiddle with while she was pregnant with her third. I have to say next to a dress I made for our trip this is probably my second favorite item I’ve made myself!

Kelly Skirt

The fabric is a gray stretch baby whale corduroy I picked up at Joanne for this exact project. I used a contrasting bias-tape seam binding on the pockets and side seams to prevent seam fraying and because it looks nice.

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I had a wee bit of this colorful elephant fabric leftover from a top I made Ingrid which makes for a perfect pocket lining with a personal touch. I have to say these little details really make hand made items more fun and thoughtful than anything you can find store bought and is a big reason why I sew for myself and the girls.

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Instead of buttons for the closures I used pearl snaps.  These things are tedious to put on…I’m not sure if its really easier than buttons and button holes, but I do know that snaps make taking off your clothes way more dramatic. If you don’t believe me, just ask Royce. 😉

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The skirt is a simple high-waist a-line shape with pleats. It was super simple to put together, I started it Monday, worked a bit on it Tuesday after work and finished it this morning.  Of course the seam binding added a bit more time so if my next fabric isn’t so bulky I will do french seams to make things go along quicker.

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I’m taking a spring trip to Paris in April so I wanted something fun and comfortable to pack along. I think this will fit my purposes perfectly as it is a relaxed flattering look that will compliment flats….or tights and rain boots (it will be spring after-all).

Kelly Skirt

I’m already planning to make a few more for this spring out of lighter fabric that will transition into summer.

27 hours

It’s running joke around here that each time Royce asks me what I want for a gift-giving holiday (birthday, Christmas, anniversary etc) that my standard response is “to have the house to myself for 24 hours”.  This all started after we watched a Valentines day episode for the show Modern Family (is it still on? I’m so clueless about TV these days) where the husband excitedly told his wife he got her a hotel room for Valentines day and she quipped back “Oh thanks Honey!…Where are you staying?”…Royce looked at me and said “you would totally say that”. And yes, truth be told…I would.

Before kids…I hated being alone. I found the nights and weekends Royce worked to drag on, they were depressing, lonely, a total snooze.  I still did stuff, and didn’t mind doing things alone (going out to eat, seeing movies) but I preferred to have the company of Royce or a friend.

However, after kids I love being alone; the quieter the better.  Being alone is like this enigma that I dream of but can’t quite reach. I find that taking days off here and there from work tides me over pretty well, but 8 hours isn’t enough to usually do a decent amount of mindless futzing around along with meaningful tasks… you usually feel a bit jipped towards the end (or panicked because you feel like you just wasted 8 hours without your kids around).  I got a true taste of being alone this summer during my MHIC trip where I took a few days off so I could have a few days alone before all my girlfriends arrived.  I sewed mostly, read, I went to dinner, I stared at the walls, I napped. It was bliss.  It wasn’t home…but it was close enough (it required a LOT of prep and packing to bring all that sewing stuff!) and it was wonderful.

For Christmas though Royce gave me the gift I’ve been asking for all these years and he packed up the girls, picked them up from school early and took them to The Great Wolf Lodge for an overnight stay last night. I haven’t seen Royce for 24 hours and the girls technically have been missing from the house for 28 hours (not that I’m counting).  

So what did I do during my time?

I reveled in the silence. I turned off the radio. I just enjoyed.

And of course I sewed.

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I made the girls each a Geranium dress. Since we have a trip coming up that will require some more summer appropriate dresses I decided to go with Geranium since it works well as both a summer and a winter dress when layered well.  I cut out a 4T for Sydney (Alexander Henry Once Upon A Time Princess Kingdom Blue) and a 18-24 month size for Ingrid (Moda Marmalade by bonnie and camille in Blueberry).  For both dresses I used a piping. Syds I used standard packaged piping which I find kind of a PITA to use.  For Ingrid’s I just used a flat piping from the same fabric I used for the bodice lining (red with white polka dots from the stash).  Instead of buttons I used pearl snaps because they are easier to fiddle with on children that are in constant motion.  I really enjoy this pattern…it goes together so nicely and it super cute on the girls. It also gives enough room to wiggle since the skirt is so big…so its a perfect dress for those active girly girls among us that want their dresses to allow them to jump and run, squat and play.

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For myself…I ordered a bunch of cotton voile back who knows when and never used it so I decided to just jump right in and cut out a Staple Dress. I’ll be honest…the styling of this dress isn’t one that gets me going…it flatters about nothing on my body except for maybe my waist.  I have the same complaints about most of the other Staple Dresses I see that being made out there too in the online sewing community. Its just kinda ho-hum…no one ‘rocks it’ (unless you are maybe a size 2 with little boobies, skinny arms and stellar legs).  I have to say though…the simplicity of the styling makes it fun for a nice print, and its super comfortable.  So, for those reasons alone I can look past the styling snooze points when it comes to this.  I highly recommend making this with a flowly fabric (voile or rayon or similar) as a stiff fabric would give downright awful drape.  I cut a size small. My measurements put me in between a small and a medium, but because this dress has so much ease I opted for the smaller size.  Next time I will cut the medium sized arm holes cause I guess 12 inch bicep muscles are not standard on most women.  The only thing that gave me a problem with making this was the shirring. I hate working with elastic thread. I do it so rarely that I can never remember the settings for my machine (and it always changes depending on the fabric).  There were a lot of curse words coming from the basement…lets just say that.  It’s still not perfect…the elastic is almost too tight for me to get it over my shoulders…but I got tired of fu*king with it so this is how it shall stay.  This will be a perfect light and flirty dress for our upcoming vacation, but I do need to acquire a full slip though as this fabric is pretty much see through. Depending on how I like the how it works/looks on vacation it may stay in the rotation or it may just become a swim suit cover up — stay tuned.

As for the rest of my time alone… I also read and consumed some champagne.  But I slept like shit…go figure.

There is still a lot of other things I’d like to  make before we leave for our trip but it’s highly likely I won’t have time to get to them. At least I got these three projects done and maybe inspired myself to sew a bit more during the rare moments of down time I do get handed to me.

Mermaid Dress

I’ve had this fabric for months but a pattern hasn’t inspired me. I was wanting something with long sleeves and most of the dress patterns I have on hand are sleeveless which means we would have to layer them for the winter.

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Syd has been patiently waiting for me to make something from this fabric and would and often came down to my sewing room to look at the fabric and ask me when I would make her a dress.  I saw a tunic length version of O+S Class Picnic Blouse pop up on the O+S Flickr Group and it inspired me to do something similar.  I’ve had the Class Picnic Blouse pattern on hand for years and it really is such a simple classic styling, it almost makes me wish I would’ve used it for Ingrid’s 6-month photo shoot top!

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It went together rather simply and quickly.  I barely had to look at the instructions as I worked through assembly.  I did a few things differently when constructing the front and back yoke because I used piping.  Next time, if I’m making a dress length, I will cut the dress front and back on the fold and set it back an inch or two from the fold so that there would be more fullness to the dress. I would also not draft the added length straight down from the rectangular sides, but instead I will give it a bit of shape because my first version looked very night-gownish*. I solved this (I hope) by lopping off about 6 inches from the length and adding a ruffle tiered hem which makes it look very mermaid-ish in styling if you ask me.

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Syd insisted on wearing it this morning to ballet class and the weather was so nice out no coat was needed so we snapped a few pictures while we were downtown.

Pattern: Oliver + S Class Picnic Blouse (modified length and added side-seam pockets and ruffled hem) size 3T
Fabric: Michael Miller’s Out To Sea Mermaid Play in Blossom Pink

* This pattern would make a perfect girls night-gown it has enough ease to function perfectly…which I may use someday once footie-toes aren’t so popular around here.

Cat and Mouse

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I took today off work so you actually get a timely blog post!  Halloween was chaotic, but fun!

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The girls loved their costumes and Syd did so well with trick-o-treating.  She is really shy but still managed to mumble “trick-or-treat” and gave a polite “thank you” too.  We have a little work to do on the assertiveness, but she was independently walking up and having a grand time.

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Even Ingrid did pretty good with the entire ordeal, considering the chaos, and the darkness, and the hour.

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Syd helped me decide this year what they would be.  Thankfully, given my lack of time to sew, she kept it simple. I can’t even remember what the other options were… We seem to be on an animal theme trend around here which is fine with me. There is plenty of time for mermaids, princesses, superhero’s, and other commercially marketed creatures…I will keep the cute and simple suggestions while they are still offered!

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I drafted Syd’s costume off of a dress she had and Ingrid’s came from a pattern I had on hand from a few years ago when Syd was a monkey.  Both of the caps are the cozy winter hood from Oliver + S Little Things to Sew, I just self drafted mouse and cat ears instead of bear ears.  More pictures are on flickr!

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update: Syd and Ingrid’s costumes were featured on the Oliver + S Halloween Wrap-up Blog.  Feeling famous!

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