Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mommy and Me Dresses

I'm not normally into the Mommy and Me dress styles.  But back in February, after I made my Macaron dress, I had enough fabric left over to make a dress for my daughter.  And the Maggie Mae tunic/dress by Shwin Designs seemed to be the perfect companion dress. 

Like the Macaron, the Maggie Mae has a contrasting yoke with a rounded top edge, and with the addition of a belt-- voila-!-- a perfect pair of matching dresses.

 I made a 4T for my daughter, which turned out to be a little big around the neckline, but someday she'll grow into it! I also added a fabric flower on her sash.  I need to add some belt loops to help keep the sash up, but I'm sure that will end up at the bottom of my list of things to do! 

And finally, one more photo, I asked her what she wanted to do for the picture, and she said "Jump". So here we are jumping!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Dress 4.0

Happy Day after Easter!  In typical me-mode, I was working until late on Saturday night to finish my daughter's Easter dress for this year-- I'm always more efficient under pressure!  But it was worth it-- the results were beautiful (if I may say so).

For this year's Easter dress I used the Oliver + S Family Reunion Dress pattern.  I made this dress once before, about two and a half years ago for my daughter's dedication dress.  Since Oliver + S patterns are sold in two separate size packets, I wanted to be sure to use the pattern again before she out grew it.

The design is a lovely, simple A-line dress with lots of detail and professional finishes:  pintucks, a front button placket, and decorative stitching along the hem band.  In addition, I added piping around the neck band and button placket.  

I found the fabric at Sarah's Fabrics in Lawrence, Kansas.  This is one of the best fabric shops in the area, and although I don't make it there very often, it's worth the 45 minute drive.   It's like walking in to a fabric wonderland.  It's hard not to buy everything in sight.   This fabric is Tula Pink Fox Field Foxtrot Sunrise (found here).  It seemed perfect for  an Easter dress: in addition to the pinks, pops of aqua, and floral, it had rabbits and birds and foxes hiding throughout the design. 

While I did most of the sewing and construction on the dress, I had some help this time.  My grandmother, who was visiting for Easter, did the buttons on the front and back, as well as some amazing blind hem stitching by hand on the sleeves (seriously, it is amazing.  You would never even know the stitches are there.  I have a lot to learn!)

And we ended up with perfect weather for Easter--sunshine and 70's.  The Easter bonnet was from Target, a last minute addition to the outfit.

And here is a picture of my daughter with my grandmother, making each other laugh as we were taking pictures:

And finally, it really wouldn't be a photo-shoot without a few moments of an uncooperative child, would it?

Friday, April 18, 2014

When Easter Dresses are done early!

What do you do when your Easter dresses are done early?  You stuff a bunch of plastic eggs with marshmallows, drag your children out into the cold drizzly rain, plop them down in the middle of a wildflower nature preserve (aka your unmown lawn) and do a photo shoot of course!

For the five year old...
I used the Oliver and S Fairy Tale Dress Pattern in a size 5.  It fit perfectly and she loved it...two wins! I used a cream colored cotton eyelet and a hot pink voile for the lining.  The eyelet I bought at Joann's ages ago and the hot pink voile I picked up at Hancock fabrics.  They worked perfectly together with little flashes of hot pink under the tulip sleeves and peeking out of the eyelet pattern.  The instructions for the dress were impeccable.  I don't think I've ever worked with a set of pattern instructions that incredible.  I did not have to reference any other sources when making this dress and it had an invisible zipper (which I'd never previously done) and I had no invisible zipper foot.  I can't say enough about how wonderful the instructions were, so thorough.  This was my first Oliver and S pattern and I highly recommend them! I did fudge the pink piping on the back a bit but I'm sure it was because it was cut on the bias and stretched as I applied it to the dress.  you can see the uneveness on the back at the zipper line but no where else.

For the 21 month old...
I used McCalls 6015 and it worked great.  I used the option with tulip sleeves and added yellow grosgrain ribbon around the bodice.  I used a yellow seersucker from Hancock fabrics and for the lining I used cotton in the bodice and some leftover lining for the skirt.  I had originally planned on using cotton for the skirt lining but that would have been way too bulky.  I'm not sure about the specifics of the lining, just that its lining fabric, meaning its thinner and it gave a floaty quality to the skirt.  The pattern was super simple to work with and it was interesting to contrast the methods used to construct this garment versus the construction of the Oliver and S dress.  The O and S dress tulip sleeves were cut from one pattern piece while the McCalls pattern had two pattern pieces...(are you thinking boring sewer detail?- it fascinates me!).  I used the size XL and it was kind of roomy around the chest.  My daughter is tall and trim so a little hard to get the fit just right.

A small detail I did for this dress was to finish the hemline with lace hem tape.  I got the idea from a hand-me-down Lilly Pulitzer dress we have on hand.  Here's the Lilly Pulitzer version:
And here's my version:
And since you asked about the details...oh what you don't want the details?  Well anyway, I'm telling and guess what, you're still reading...The hem is first ironed up the desired finished length. next the edge is serged. Then the hem tape is sewn on top of the serged edge (this would be the right side of the turned up fabric)- the top of the tape being even with the serged edge and sewn at the top and bottom of the tape.  Finally you slipstitch the hem down to the dress hiding the stitching in the lace hem tape.  I love picking up fussy details like this from ready-to-wear garments.  If anyone ever wants a tutorial (please no on inundate me with messages ha ha) on this method I'd be happy to do a picture tutorial.  It provides a beautiful finish.  So what do you sew or do when your Easter dresses get done early?      

Linking up to Sew Much Ado, Frontier Dreams, and Peekaboo Pattern Shop. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Pintuck Dress

What I'm about to show you has been quite an experiment/learning process for me:  the first pattern that I have ever designed and drafted myself.  And somehow, it seems to have turned out exactly how I imagined! (With the exception of the wrinkles.  There were no wrinkles in my imagined dress).

For now, for the lack of a better name, I'm just calling it the Pintuck Dress, because, well, it has pintucks. Lovely pintucks that I'm quite proud of.

So just a few notes on the details.  It's a narrow A-line dress with pintucks, Peter Pan collar, and flutter sleeves, and piping.  It is constructed in three main sections, the bodice, skirt, and hem band.  My other version is color-blocked, with the skirt portion a different fabric from the bodice and hem band.  I love the simplicity and straight lines of the dress, as well as the vintage feel.  The dress was drafted using size 2 measurements, but is really about a 3T.

And here's the dress in action!

It fits my daughter perfectly, and is even comfortable enough to run around in.  I have to say, I'm really proud of how this dress turned out, and I can't wait to do some variations on it.  I'm also in the beginning stages of making it into a retail pattern, but it will probably be some months before it would be ready.  So if you would be interested in being a pattern tester and/or purchasing this as a pattern, please continue to follow our blog and look for future announcements.  And please, these are all very new skills for me, so any encouragement is appreciated!

Kids Clothing Week Sewing

The spring Kids Clothes Week sew along is this week and I completed two summer tops for the kiddos and a top for me this week.  This top is a vintage pattern, Simplicity 9095 made from Anna Maria Horner voile and chambray.  
The lines remind me of the Made by Rae Ruby top with the exception of a button down placket in the back.  My daughter picked out the buttons.  

This voile is so light and airy, perfect for summer tops.  I hung on to this fabric for about a year for some crazy reason and thought it was about time to cut the fabric!  That's a motto I have to say to myself sometimes "cut the fabric, cut the fabric!"  Another motto of mine for nicer fabrics is "enjoy the fabric, enjoy the fabric!"  
For the 21 month old I made this little dress.  Its Simplicity 3509 and is out of print now.  Thanks to my tendency to buy a couple of the same patterns when they're on sale I had an extra copy for this dress.  Its the 18 month old size which fits my daughter perfectly, she's kind of trim but tall.  
We went on a picnic and took these pictures.  My girls love to find a water source and chunk rocks and sticks into to it but as my Mom would say "I never saw a kid that didn't like to do that."  My littlest ended up in a pile of washed out rocks digging with a her new dress no less!  But I'd much prefer my children to be happy at play and dirty than concerned about their clothing.  
We spent part of our time eating, part of our time in the creek and the rest of our time feeding this beautiful (but territorial) swan.  
I made a top for myself as well out of the same voile.  Its the Made by Rae Ruby top I mentioned earlier with the Made by Rae Washi expansion pack sleeve.  
 I shortened the sleeve and next time I may try to take some of the fullness out of it.  I've made several other Ruby tops before in rayon challis and I think I prefer the drape of those over the voile.  I once read that if rayon challis drapes like water, voile drapes like air and that makes a lot of sense to me.
The top turned out very floaty and very light weight which will be great for our hot southern summers.  
This girl can always get a big smile out of me, she was a little tired of wearing her matching shirt and resorted to this comfy t-shirt dress.  Well what can you expect from a modeling staff that works pro bono.  These are probably going to be my only entries into the Kids Clothes Week pool.  I usually have such high hopes for that week but I'm pretty proud that in the midst of sewing Easter dresses I completed these tops too.  So are you sewing for Kids Clothes Week at the same time that you're working on Easter dresses?

Linking up to Frontier DreamsThe Life of Jennifer Dawn and  Peekaboo Pattern Shop.  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Easter Dresses

I was about to title this post "Dresses of Easters Past", then realized why that name was so catchy, and apparently, unoriginal.  So I just want to say, Elizabeth, you inspire me.  Consciously and unconsciously.

 My daughter's birthday is in early March, so she was just a teeny, tiny, four or five weeks old when she celebrated her first Easter.  Somewhere in those weeks, and I'm not sure when, I found time to make her an Easter dress.  To the best of my recollection (my memory is slightly faded and sleep-impaired from those days), the pattern was Simplicity 1448.  It was a sweet, A-line gathered dress with a peter pan collar. Even at the smallest size it seemed large on her.    I made her a matching bonnet from this tutorial from the Cottage Mama, and the shrug had been my mother's when she was a baby.

The following year, I used another big-pattern company design whose name and number I now can't remember.  The fabric was a hand-me-down vintage floral print in light blue, and was the perfect ruffly, airy, girly Easter dress.  You can see that even at thirteen months my poor little girl was still bald-- so a flower headband was the perfect distraction.  The dress was large enough that she was able to wear it the following summer!

And here's a picture of Elizabeth's oldest daughter and my daughter together that same year.  Two sweet girls!

Finally, last year's dress.  A few weeks before Easter 2013, my husband traveled to Myanmar (Burma) for work.  He brought back a lovely dress for our daughter, which seemed perfect for Easter.  It was a beautiful white and blue floral print, with a two-tiered skirt.  Her hair was just starting to grow out last spring (at two years old!), so we still accented the dress with a large floral headband :) 

I have this year's dress pattern and fabric ready to go, so please stop by the blog the week of the April 14th to see this year's fashion trends! (or something like that!)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Easter Dresses from Easter's Past

About this time every year I gear up to make Easter dresses for my two girls.  Its something my Mother did for us every Easter so I guess its kind of in my DNA to feel like there should be beautiful dresses made at this time.  I remember so well the times my Mom consulted me on dresses, asking if I liked certain patterns and fabrics.  I still remember when I loved Little House on the Prairie books and specifically asked for "calico" fabric because that was what Laura's Mom used to make her clothes.

Here are a few of the dresses I've made for Easter's past.

Easter 2011

This dress is one of my absolute favorite McCall's children's patterns.  Its pattern 6269 and it just so happens that its out of print!  I love the cross over front, the contrast hem and bow.  The sleeves also have a cuff and I sometimes find that finishing hard to find on little girl dresses, often they're just finished with elastic which I'm not a fan of.  It is just a lovely little dress and looks so adorable on.  Why oh why does it have to be out of print!! 

Easter 2012

This dress is Simplicity 2461 and was super simple to sew.  The thing that I loved about this dress was the height of the yoke.  I just love that flowy look you get in little girl's dresses that have the high yoke line.  Also the peter pan collar was so sweet.  I added lace trim at the yoke and a few inches above the hem.  

Easter 2013

This was the first Easter that I sewed two dresses!  The first one is Simplicity 1921.  I had some problems with the neckline, it was drafted for a collar that I omitted only to realize the piping I added at the neck wouldn't play very nice with the bias tape finish.  Had to hand sew that down and I avoid hand stitching like the plague.  

The second dress was Butterick 3762.  I liked this dress for the most part.  If I ever sew it again I will take a considerable amount off of the hem.  It turned out a bit on the long side which, as I think back now, might have been my fault.  I think I added length since my daughter is on the tall side.  It was an easy sew as far as I remember.  

It inspires me to look back at old pictures of these dresses but also makes me realize I don't take quite enough pictures of my kiddos in them!  I will fix that problem this year!  So anyone out there gearing up for Easter dresses?  I'd love to hear if you are planning on making any Easter dresses this year.