Thursday, June 2, 2016


 I haven't been posting much but I have been sewing, maybe not as much as my normal but still sewing.  Projects like this one have been on my mind and finding time to complete them, scarce. 

I have had this Fabric Mart plaid for maybe a couple of years.  Its a JCrew fabric, cotton with a crinkle to it.  I actually had to iron the fabric with starch to get it to submit to cutting and sewing.  But it is a really nice light weight, soft cotton- perfect for summer heat. 

I had my husband snap these pictures really quickly before work so I wasn't thinking about changing the camera settings, that's why there's a blue tint. 

The pattern for this top is a good one,  it took some concentration to figure out the fly button closure but in all the instructions are good.  I love the details of this top and truly hope I can make one more before the summer is up. 

Other projects are slowly being completed but sometimes there's too many other fun things to do when your children are small and the summer days are long... so until next time, happy sewing!!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Easter Dresses

These are the Easter dresses for my girlies, they are posted late here, made on time for Easter and one was not even worn out until the Sunday after Easter because of illness!!  So it goes...

These were made entirely from my stash which made me feel proud since I have desperately been trying to bust that stash of all kid related fabrics.  Who bought all that fabric anyway?!

 First up is my seven year old.  She is wearing Simplicity 8064.  
It went together very well, and the only real issue I have with it is the elastic configuration at the small of the back.  Some how it plus the button at the back of the neckline are supposed to hold the dress up but in reality it all relies on the button at the neckline.  That is a lot of dress to hold up on your neck.  I even cinched the elastic and took it up a good bit but in the photo below you can see it needs more taken up.

There's a cute little peter pan collar hidden under the neck bow, but I felt the dress really needed that extra green splash of fabric to break up the pink.  

I used a cute little heart button for the neck.  Seven year old approves of the dress which is a win!  I fully underlined the skirt and the top portion includes a lining. 

Next is the three year old.  This is an out of print McCall's pattern that I made for my other daughter when she was three.  It is pretty adorable and I probably should've made the front a sash instead of a bow but the fabric was cut out and people, Easter was coming fast and this needed to get done!  So two bows it was, one in the front and one in the back!  

Two year old approved and I love this tea set fabric, love it.  So not too much to say this pattern is OOP, it was a good one with a full lining which I love.  You can't tell it from this picture but the bodice has a lapped front and the illusion of being a wrap.  Sweet dresses like this are my absolute favorite for my kids.  Ok thats about all I have to say! 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Two Knit Dresses

I completed two knit dresses for my Fabric Mart post this month and I have to say that I think I will live in these dresses this summer!  They are comfy and don't take an exorbitant amount of time to complete- win, win!

I posted all of the photos on that site that don't include the full extent of my two girls shenanigans, but for fun I thought I would post all of the outtakes here!

 Spontaneous hugs and floating fists often make an appearance in my pictures!

 We are covered in pollen during this time of the year and you can see a nice big pollen laden hand gave me a hug. 

 I have a model mimicking me in the background!

 Your arm is a perfect frame for my face and then Mom turns around to say "ok that's enough!"

So many bloggers seems to accomplish such professional pictures, for my part I am just lucky to be alone in a few pictures!! Ha!

Sewing details for those interested:

Black dress:
  • The black dress is McCalls 7348 made in a gorgeous black rayon/nylon/spandex blend from Fabric Mart.  
  • The changes I made to 7348 include narrowing the skirt portion of the dress so that it would fit on two yards of fabric.  I ended up removing 7 inches of circumference from the bottom edge of the pattern.
  • I didn't hem the sleeves or hemline.
  • I shortened the neckline binding pattern piece by about an inch. 
  •  Used size 10.
Aztec blue print dress:
  •  McCalls 6886 in a cotton/spandex blend from Fabric Mart, soft and so breathable. BTW this fabric is on sale on that site for just 4.00 a yard!  Here's the link.
  • Graded pattern from 10 at bust, 12 at waist to 14 at fullest part of my hips. 
  • Shortened neckline binding a bit, had to "draft" my own since this is not an included pattern piece.
  • Miscut the sleeves therefore stripes don't line up but I'm ok with it since the pattern is so busy. 
  • Did not hem the sleeves but hemmed the bottom hem.  
So happy with these two makes, two great fabrics and two easy patterns.  The end products are very comfy to wear and I know that there will be another maxi dress like the black one soon!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Mini Spring Wardrobe

Every time Pattern Review has a Wardrobe contest, I love perusing the storyboards of the participants and dreaming up my own mini wardrobe. It's so inspiring to see how other sewers interpret a pattern and fabric choice. And for me, there is something so fun about taking all of my patterns, spreading them out and then taking my fabrics and laying them alongside the patterns and matching them all up. I consider it the sewing person's version of Sudoku- at least that's how I try to explain it to my husband. 

I tried making my own storyboard this time by pasting the line drawings from the patterns to a Word document, it worked so-so and I'm sure there is a better way to do it, but its fun to see all the shapes in one spot. 

For this months Fabric Mart Fabricista project I chose four fabrics to mix and match and make a mini wardrobe. I noticed a lot of yellows on the Fabric Mart site and was enamored with a couple of prints that I found intriguing.  As I was choosing my fabrics I double checked with Julie at Fabric Mart to make sure that they coordinated as I envisioned they would and she was able to steer me toward some combinations that worked better than others, that's always soooo helpful when choosing fabrics online. I know that they would be happy to help you coordinate should you have the same questions!

Look Number One:

I am kind of an eyelet nut, I love, love, love anything eyelet so when I started planning my mini wardrobe I chose this yellow eyelet as the foundation of my collection. The eyelet is a Maggy London fabric and is available here. This a beautiful eyelet, great quality, and not only am I an eyelet nut I am also an eyelet snob, I will not sew with cheap eyelet. I made that mistake once with an Easter dress for my daughter and I was so perturbed when the eyelet pattern snagged on everything and began to unravel from the fabric. Therefore, if I detect a cheaply made eyelet I will just do without rather than spend my time lovingly crafting something only to have it poop out after one wear. This eyelet is the good stuff, no worries about snagging the pattern.

The pattern for the skirt is a Simplicity Cynthia Rowley, number 2215. This pattern doesn't include a lining piece so I jimmied one myself, can't say that I recommend my method, but it worked for me this time! Next time I need to properly reference a book on constructing a lining but for this one I folded out all the pleats and cut a front and back shape roughly the size of the skirt minus some of the pleat volume. It gets the job done and still looks decent on the inside. The pockets on this pattern are a great addition and the construction for the invisible side zip with the pocket are great.

The top for this look is McCalls 7285. The fabric is a really beautiful J. Crew cotton/linen voile. It is very sheer so lining it is a must- that is unless you make an awesome kimono from it or a shell top and pair it with a silk camisole! It is a very light and airy fabric- it floats like a voile, rather than puddling like a challis. I lined the bodice with a poly lining and left the sleeves without lining. I love the abstract botanical motif on this fabric and the print works great with this skirt. 

Look Number Two:

The fabric for this top is a poly/cotton Maggy London Jacquard print.  I picked some of this up awhile back for apparel and when it arrived I immediately ordered a bunch more for curtains! I love a floral jacquard and the coral color is one of my favorite colors. The beige is sheer so I used a lining for the bodice but left the sleeves without. The pattern is Butterick 6175.  I used the view with the bell sleeve and I love the way this top turned out.  

Does your photographer ever say "hey you have a long string on you" and then snap your picture?  Mine does, but its a great way to show off the shape of your sleeves!!

Look Number Three:

This is my husbands vote for favorite look. The fabric for this top is another Maggy London print, and is found here. It's a poly twill, which I wasn't quite sure what that would mean when I chose it, but it's a thicker fabric than the others used here and has good drape as well as a slight stretch. The cut edges do fray a bit so you will need to serge, zig zag or use pinking shears to finish them I did a little of it all when making two garments from it.

The pattern here is Vogue 9109. I've used this pattern before and was excited to envision this fabric as this tank. 

Look Number Four:

Now this is where I need the most help from all of you...I am not sure if this outfit is a success or a big old pattern!? Can I wear this out or is it just way too much for the eye? My husband says, "ummmm its nice." Which is sweet, supportive husband speak really means "oh dear me, please don't let her wear that on our next date, please God please." After looking at these pictures I like the look, I do think it might be a bit much for a small town- I'm not sure the twinset trend has made it down here yet, but I'm ok with looking a little different.  

On a side note I am teaching my dog, Buster, to talk when I say "speak" and I asked him for his opinion since he was so determined to photo bomb my pictures (and he's usually so camera shy!). The first time I asked he smiled at me, the second time I asked he refused to look me in the eyes....not sure how to take it.    

The culottes are McCall 7133 and I like them pretty well, I turned the box pleat into a single pleat, just a personal preference. I suspect they need a little more back crotch length because they pull weirdly to the front a smidge when I walk.  I am still working out how to make pants that fit, its definitely a longggggg and winding path.  But culottes are a safe place to start since the fit is more forgiving.  As far as a culotte pant, this pattern is a very easy pattern to sew and has center princess seams down the middle back of each leg. I also added pockets.         

I know when you're avoiding my gaze Buster! Are you pouting because you haven't been to the groomer's lately?  I guess thats a possibility!

Look Number Five:

There's not much to say here that I haven't already said but I love to print mix and although these two might not be a perfect match I'm good with them!

Look Number Six:

Again not much to say here except, I hope this culotte trend hangs around for a few years because they are really comfortable and easy to sew.

One thing to note, I'm planning to sew so many pieces in a short amount of time I purposely chose patterns that I felt were very easy to sew. So if you are a beginner I'd recommend each of these patterns. There aren't many pieces involved, probably the culotte had the most pieces and the shapes are pretty forgiving. 

Well that's my Mini Spring Print Mixin' Wardrobe and I hope I've inspired you to try your own! I am thrilled with the results. The fabrics were beautiful to work with and now I am all set for the Spring! Yippee!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Perfect Sheath Dress

I finally found my perfect sheath pattern!  Butterick 5947 has princess seams on the front and back of the bodice that make the fitting process much easier for this area.  I made a few small changes to get the exact fit I wanted and I've listed them below:

1.  After reading a couple of reviews of this pattern on Pattern Review and trying on the muslin, I decided to lower the center front neckline by 5/8 inch at the center front narrowing out to nothing before the shoulder.
2.  I also made a small narrow shoulder adjustment shaving 1/4 inch from each shoulder, I think next time I will shave off 3/8 inch.
3.  I took up about an extra 1/4 inch under the bust point for a little more definition there.
4.  I made my usual size 10 at the bust, 12 at the waist and 14 for the roundest part of my hips. I ended up pinching more out around the waistline and eliminating the front skirt darts. I eased in the fullness of the darts and it worked beautifully with this fabric- it was a very well behaved fabric!
5.  And finally I raised the waistline on the bodice only by an extra 1/4 inch so stitching line on the bodice was at 7/8 in. 


 I decided to fully line this dress since, well wool, and I love the feel of bemberg rayon.  I used an invisible zipper and hand stitched the lining to the zipper.  

In making this dress I used two "new to me" sewing techniques, tailor's tacks and hong kong seams.  Tailor's tacks are used when you can't make markings on your fabric or you don't want to risk marking up your fabric.  For a good tutorial on tailor's tacks check here.

For Hong Kong seams I searched the forums on the Pattern Review site and found a helpful tip about how to apply them to armscye.  I used that to guide my process but another helpful article on this technique can be found here. 

My full post on this dress is over at the Fabric Mart Blog if you are interested in reading more.

One more thing to note, I recently bought two ten yard fabric bundles from Fabric Mart for the first time and thought I would share what I received.  Below is a picture of what was sent to me.  The bundles are deeply discounted and often go on a half price sale.  Admittedly some of the pieces are nicer than others but I think I can find a use for each of them.  Its a fun purchase and my girls immediately claimed the green sparkle knit for mermaid tails!  

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Christmas/New Year's dress number two!

 The is the second of the two Christmas/New Year's dresses I made this year.  I did a little ranting about sewing with velveteen in the last post and I won't do that again in this one!  I think I've forgiven the fabric a little! This dress was made for my three year old from Vogue 9042.  The pattern came together pretty smoothly save for the zipper insertion at the bottom and the pleat included there.  I had some trouble understanding exactly how they wanted the zipper included in that pleat so I went my own way.  Also I used an invisible zipper and the pattern did not call for one- why I can't imagine. 

 As far as sizing goes, I made a size 3 with a size 4 length.  My daughters are a little tall, I am so glad for them!  The size feels just right, its not too roomy and the size 4 length worked perfectly for my three year old.

 Both the satin and the velveteen are from Hancock fabrics.  They are beautiful, I would say that this was the better behaved of the two velveteens I worked with but the sleeves undoubtedly gave me the hardest time with both dresses.  If you are looking for nice velveteen I can recommend Hancock's.  I completely lined the inside of the dress and the pattern included lining pieces- oh thank you, thank you, thank you Vogue for including those lining pieces so that I did not have to jimmy one myself. 

This dress is really darling and in a cotton would be easy to whip up.  I love sweet little dresses like this with yokes, peter pan collars, pleats and gathered sleeve heads.  By the way she loves the dress too.  At first she declared it "not pretty" when I was making it but when she put it on she loved it!  My oldest liked her dress too, she was a little challenging to photograph.  My three year old was very cooperative about these pictures (surprise!) and she really wanted to show off her new tricycle- doesn't everyone ride tricycles while wearing velveteen dresses! 

Ok well there you have it, its a sweet little dress if you are in the market for a pattern like this one and it sews up fine apart from the confusing bit at the bottom of the zipper!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Sewing Velveteen (aka Belated Christmas/New Year's Dress)!

 Last year I took it upon myself to make two Christmas dresses for my girls that were a little outside of my sewing comfort zone.  I used taffeta last year to push past my sewing comfort zone and this year I used velveteen.  After all velveteen is lush, it is soft, it is classic, it sings sweetly of wassail and beautifully wrapped packages tied with satin ribbons and it also happens to be a real pill to sew.  If you've ever sewn with velveteen you know that it is a fabric that likes to shift ALL OVER THE PLACE.  For someone who likes accuracy in sewing it can test your patience!  I ended up using three tricks to get my velveteen to behave (at least as much as you can manage to make velveteen behave).

 Tip One: Use a walking foot, if you don't have a walking foot, in my opinion, don't bother.  The pile or nap on velveteen when you try to sew it to another fabric makes it shift like crazy, things won't line up properly if you don't have a walking foot to help the top layer of fabric walk through the sewing process at the same rate as the bottom layer of fabric.  Now there is probably some other way to manage velveteen without I walking foot but I wouldn't want to be caught in that torturous place.  Even with the walking foot, setting the sleeves in was a real challenge as well as lining the sleeves.  I must have pinned and ripped it all out three times before I gave in to the process of the sleeves not being perfect. 
Tip Two:  Hand baste your seams together, especially if you are easing fabrics together or have multiple layers like gathers and pleats.  For this dress I only had to hand baste the sleeves into the bodice but for my 3 year old's dress I had to also hand baste the pleats.  I have yet to take pictures of her dress on her but will probably tomorrow.  The hand basting kept everything together in addition to pins and the walking foot.  Like I said this fabric shifts and you want to minimize the shifting as much as possible.  Hand basting is a pain but it beats sewing and ripping out stitches multiple times.
 Tip Three:   Lower the pressure on your presser foot.  My machine has a dial that lessens the pressure of the presser foot and this can be helpful in managing the fabric, you might have to play with that a little because on some seams it seemed to help and on others it didn't.  But its worth a try.

Final Tips:
Insert an invisible zipper when using velveteen, I used a regular zipper at first and it looked terrible so that was ripped out and replaced.  Funny enough the Vogue pattern I used to sew my 3 year old's velveteen dress didn't call for an invisible zipper either and it was drafted with velvet in mind- go figure.  But believe me when I say a normal zipper will not look good.

Accept that it will not be perfect, I can get a little crazy about wanting accurate, even seam allowances and absolutely no puckers anywhere but I found it ok to have some spots that were less than perfect by meditating on something a seamstress once told me.  As I was contemplating fabric choices and the various as-sundry little details of a project for one of my daughters, in talking it over with a sewist at the fabric store she said to me "well I always gave people this advice when I worked at a sewing store that taught classes on smocking children's dresses- can you tell the difference on a galloping horse?"  She went on to explain that putting a garment on a child is like putting something on a galloping horse and you probably aren't going to be able to tell the difference in whatever discrepancy your worrying about when its riding past you on a galloping horse.  That piece of advice helped me just move on when a seam puckered a bit or a seam allowance didn't look perfectly even.  Good advice.  Sage sewing advice.  Advice for a Momma to live by!

A few parting details about this dress, my daughter is 7 years old and tall, so I sewed a size 7 dress with size 8 length added.  Its Simplicity 1174.  The pattern is great and I highly recommend it.  I fully lined the dress but lining pieces aren't included in the pattern.  The bottom portion of the dress is satin from Hancocks fabrics.  The velveteen was from a local quilt shop.  This dress would be a breeze to sew in a nice well behaved cotton.  If you've read this far, thank you for indulging me in my velveteen rant!  Its a beautiful fabric, no doubt, and it will definitely push you out of your sewing comfort zone!