Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Shibori Emery Summer Dress

Hey there happy sewists.  If you don't recognize this dress its the Emery Dress by Christine Haynes.  I happily snatched it up from Pink Chalk Fabrics because after seeing this version from Fancy Tiger Crafts  who could resist?

I love the idea of this dress, a vintage throw back feel with that 60's housewife vibe to it.  I really don't know why I love that idea- who knows- but its a silhouette that feels fun and I gravitate toward making dresses because of the fun of wearing them.  While I love this kind of dress I also think it can borderline frumpy so my feeling is that scooping out the neck and shortening the hemline helps combat that fine line between vintage and frumpty-dumpty.

I first tried this pattern out with a vintage poly/cotton fabric and this is my second time to make it with changes for a better fit.  The first time I made a size 6 which was more in line with my measurements but it felt a little big, so on this one I made a size 4 in the chest and a 6 in the waist and hips.  I also moved the bust darts around a bit- I shorted the side dart by an inch and scooted the waist darts toward the side by about a half inch.  I like the fit better.  I wished I'd stabilized the neckline more because it stretched out a lot during construction as linen is prone to do.  You can probably see that the back waistline looks stretched downward too, I think this is because the linen stretched with the zipper application but I can't be sure because the other one I made did this a bit too.  Any of you more seasoned sewists have any ideas about why it looks like this and what I might do next time to correct it?

The fabric is a thrifted linen sheet that I've held onto for far too long.  I tried my hand at shibori tye dye and I really love the result.  I scanned a few DIY posts online about the technique and kind of winged it.  I accordion folded the fabric and bound it with a bunch of rubber bands and soaked it for a half a day in liquid violet RIT dye.  The linen was already well-broken in and soft feeling but dyeing it made it even softer.  Since the sheet was pretty aged I had to cut around some holes and stains but no biggie since there was plenty of fabric.    

These outside shots are a little dark but I had to include them.  My oldest (who is 5) took them and I'm feelin' like a pretty sentimental Momma right now.  She starts school in a couple of short days and it hit me hard today that the little voice singing to her stuffed cat in the other room wouldn't be there everyday and I'm really gonna miss her.  Waahhh!  
Choosing to stay at home with my kids has been the hardest and the best thing I've ever done.  It is a mixed bag but I don't regret a second of it even on its toughest days.  I decided to stay home because I just wanted all that time with my child- its a personal decision and definitely not for judgement AT ALL here on anyone who chooses differently.  But I am so glad I've had this extra time with this little person- she is amazing.
So I'll drown my Momma tears in some graham crackers in a minute- but now back to the sewing, if you're wondering about the Emery dress, the only other dress I've made with as many bodice darts as this one was the Colette Peony and I had to make many more adjustments to its bodice than to the Emery.  So I guess if I were to compare the two, the Emery has less fitting adjustments but the Peony has a very different skirt (less full than the Emery) that actually I prefer.  So one day maybe I'll do a frankenpattern and combine the skirt of the Peony and the bodice of the Emery.  But for now I'm loving this one and the softness of that aged linen, its really comfy and breathable in our hot southern summers.   

Linking up to Frontier Dreams: Keep Calm, Craft On.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Retro Reproduction Dress: Corduroy & Pockets

The Retro Reproduction Dress FREE Pattern is available here.
The pattern and tutorial for the Bubble Pockets are available here

Today was our cool-weather day for the week (82 degrees today, compared to upper 90's the rest of the week!), so it seemed like an appropriate day to try out a Fall outfit.  Last winter I bought some corduroy  on clearance at Joann's with the intention of making a cute jumper for my daughter-- which, of course, I never did.  But now with the Retro Reproduction pattern available I have no more excuses-- it's easy, quick, versatile, and you can do so much with it (come on, that was a great sales pitch!  Are you sold on it yet?  And did we mention that the pattern is free?!)

Anyway, the Retro Reproduction dress makes a GREAT corduroy jumper to wear with a long-sleeve t-shirt and leggings.  Perfect for those cooler months.  For this version I decided to add bubble pockets (I'm not sure if that's really a thing, but it seems like it should be) with an exposed lining and piping.

These pockets are perfect for a three year-old:  they are just the right size for all the little figurines that she loves to carry around. 

And despite the summer weather, we did test it out with the long-sleeve t-shirt and leggings.

So what do you think?  Is there enough interest to have these pockets as an add-on to the pattern? Are there other variations you'd like to see?  We'd love to hear your feedback!

Diagonal Color Blockin'

This dress may be the only thing I get done for this week's Kids Clothes Week challenge.  Its a diagonally slashed version of our Free Retro Reproduction Dress pattern.  I made some tweaks to give the dress a little different feel like bias tape finishing the hemline which let it be a little lower than originally designed, putting two buttons on each closure instead of one and of course the diagonal slashes with inserts.  I fudged the top around the neckline a bit making the point where everything comes together not quite sharp enough but I can live with it.
 We're hoping to have tutorial up for this version soon.  I'm trying to figure out the best way to explain it and or make it work for any of you who are wondering.  Its one of those things that is simple to do but might be a little confusing for a new sewist.

The blue fabric is some kind of poly-cotton chambray that was given to me and the floral is from a vintage bed sheet.  One thing I love about this version of our pattern is that it can highlight small pieces of fabric, so if you have a remnant that's languishing in your stash and just can't figure out what to do with it this might be the pattern for you!  Personally I am ALWAYS trying to find ways to use up those odd lengths leftover from other projects.

So we have been tweaking this pattern and playing with variations (Hanni has another cute one in the works) and wonder, what might you try with this pattern?  Do you have any ideas for how you might like to see it altered?  We are open to suggestions and have plans to make it in some Fall friendly fabrics as well!

Sometimes our "photo shoots" take a weeee bit of bribery and I'm not sure anything says summer quite like an orange creamsicle, a bubble mower and sidewalk chalk- did I say a weeee bit maybe a smidge more than a weeeee bit- ha!  But his little bit is getting good at having her clothes photographed at one point she realized I was taking a picture of the front of her dress and after a moment's pause turned around so I could get a shot of the back of the dress- HA HA.  She knows the drill I guess!  Happy summer sewing and I hope your projects end with an orange creamsicle like ours did!  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Retro Reproduction Dress FREE Pattern and Tutorial

We are so excited to finally get our free pattern up and going.  We have loved experimenting with this pattern and think you will too.  It is a really simple shape that has only four pattern pieces- meaning that it won't take forever to make- but lends itself perfectly to alterations and additions.  It is drafted in sizes 2T-4T.  We plan on sharing with you all our alterations and additions in the next few weeks!  I have already made four for my daughter this summer and can see this dress transitioning into fall with some tights and a long sleeve shirt underneath.  You can find previous versions of the dress here, here, and here

So are you ready to get started?  Great!  Here we go!

Here's the link for download: I Sew, You Sew: Retro Reproduction Dress

1.)  Print out your dress pattern and tape together the pieces.  The pieces that are to be taped together have corresponding numbers (meaning all the pieces labeled 1 go together, all the pieces labeled 2 go together and so forth).  When you're finished you should have one Front dress pattern piece, one Back dress pattern piece, one Front facing, one Back facing.  All seam allowances are 1/2 inch unless otherwise indicated. For now disregard the slash lines that run diagonally across the dress- they are for this version of the dress that we will soon make a tutorial stay tuned!

2.)  You are now ready to cut out your fabric. Each of your pattern pieces should be cut on the fold of the fabric. After you cut out your fabric you should have four pieces- one Front piece, one Back piece, one Front facing and one Back facing.  They are each folded in half in this picture.

3.)  Finish the bottom edges of the Front and Back facings so that they will not unravel. You can use a zigzag stitch, three step zigzag, or serge the edges.  I used a serger to finish the edges in the picture.

4.)  Sew the Front facing to the Front dress piece right sides together- using 1/2 inch seam allowance.  You will stitch from the bottom of one armhole curve to the other enclosing the armhole, top of dress and neck.  Be careful not to stitch the sides together.  You can follow the path of the pins in the picture below.  After you have stitched the Front facing to the Front dress piece repeat with the Back facing and Back dress pieces.

5.)  Trim seams to 1/4 inch, clip the curves, and trim the points off the top edge of dress.

6.)  Turn the right sides of the facings out and iron flat.  Do this for the front dress/facing pieces and back dress/facing pieces.

7.)  Now we want to attach the Front of the dress to the Back of the dress and the dress Front and Back facings in one continuous stitch.  This may seem confusing if you've never done it before- hang in there it will give everything a nice clean look.
With right sides together place the Front dress and Back dress pieces together, lining up the side seams, with the facings right sides together as well- to do this the facings will be opened out.  This will make one continuous stitch on the side seam and will give the underside of the facings a clean finish.

8.)  After you complete the side seam connecting the facings and Front and Back pattern pieces press down the facings and press open the side seams.  You may want to finish the side seams with a serger or zigzag stitch.

9.)  Next you will tack down the facings under the arm attaching the facing to the dress.  To tack the facings down use a needle and thread to apply a few stitches that connect the facings to the dress.  This will keep the facings from flipping around and being a nuisance when the garment is laundered and worn.

10.)  Time for buttons!  Hopefully your sewing machine has an automatic buttonhole feature.  Follow the buttonhole markings on the pattern for the buttons and for the buttonholes.  We recommend using buttons that are 3/4 to 7/8 inch in width but technically you can use whatever buttons you have on hand but you may need to play with the buttonhole placement a bit to get everything centered nicely.

11.)  To hem your dress first finish the raw edge of the hem with either a zigzag stitch or serger.  Then fold up the hem by 1 and 1/2 inches, easing the hem into place (the circumference of the bottom of the hem is slightly bigger, hence the easing it in place).  I find ironing it to help ease it in makes it cooperate better.

11.)  Now you can hand stitch the hem to the dress so that the stitching is barely visible from the outside.

Alternately you can fold the raw edge up 1/4 inch, press and then fold it up 1 and 1/4 inch more and machine stitch it down.  If you prefer you can try the dress on your child to see what hem length you prefer, remember that this dress is designed to be a bit short.    

Now you are DONE!  Yeah!  Now go crazy and pull out all those retro fabrics and get to work making two, three, four or five!  If you have any questions regarding construction feel free to let us know.  There are many ways to construct a dress of this sort and everyone has their own preferences so be brave- if you don't like the way we did it chart your own waters with the construction.  We'd love to see your finished projects so PLEASE link it back to our comments so we can check it out.  We also have an I Sew, You Sew Flickr group.  Happy Sewing!!

Since this a free pattern we ask you to please be respectful of our creative property.  Feel free to use this pattern to make dresses for sale in your home but please no mass production and resale of our pattern as your own work.  

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Birthday Girl Dress

My youngest child turned two in June and it was a great excuse to make this dress for her.  Its the Oliver and S Birthday Party Dress.  
 I used Kona cottons for the solid colors and a vintage baby blanket I thrifted for the side panels.  I have been holding onto that blanket for a long while just waiting for the right occasion to cut it up.  It just seemed to shout "Two year old birthday party."  Since it was so delicate and gauze like I thought it best to highlight it in a pattern rather than make it the main body of the dress.  I found the buttons at an antique store some years ago.  
 This is the second Oliver and S dress I have ever constructed.  The first one was this dress, which was the Fairytale Dress.  I loved the instructions for the Fairytale dress but found the instructions on the Birthday Party Dress a little less thorough.  For example there was one place on the construction of the back contrasting panels that made me think it wasn't finished enough, meaning that some of the seams weren't enclosed like I thought they would be.  I really appreciate it when patterns tell me exactly when its time to finish a seam and move on to the next step.  I made sure to serge all the edges of the insides in the hopes that it would reinforce the material and keep it nice and neat inside.  Any of you who make clothes for your kids know just how much wear they get and how they can look pretty thready on the inside after so many washes.  Also trying to get the pieces to line up perfectly around the center, pleated front panel was a bit of a challenge and then trying to get the pleats just perfect was kind of hard.  I finally just picked a pretty good placement and went with it.  As far as the bow in the front goes, if you make this dress for a young child you might want to tack it down since it will be repeatedly untied.
 In all it turned out to be an adorable dress and by the end of the party little girl had on a hat and glasses and was plunking away on her tiny piano like Elton John.  I'd say it was a big hit for a two year old party and she knows its a special dress, often requesting to hold it and snuggle with it.  When she sees it hanging up she points and says "birthday dress birthday dress."  I'm always so glad when they know that Mama made something special especially for them.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Culottes an Encore!

This is the second time I've made Megan Nielsen's Tania Culottes and again its a great pattern with great results.  I'm a little on the fence about my fabric choice.  The fabric is from a local thrift store and is a natural fiber, I'm thinking viscose/rayon something or other.  Breathable- check, drapey- check.  But the design is kinda busy so I'm not really sure if it has any business being on the bottom half of my outfit....but any-who the deed is done and I'm moving on.  
 I did make a few changes to this version and went back and made the same changes to my last version found here.  The first pair was a size medium based on my measurements but I felt they sat too low on my hips for my taste so I ripped out the side seam on the waistband and pinched it up by about 3/4 inch.  I tapered the side seam of the skirt a bit to mask the width I pinched out and put everything back together.
I think the next time I make these I will cut out a size small in the waist and use the size medium for the skirt because even with some of the waistband pinched out these have a tendency to tip forward in the front making the hemline appear to be off.

If you aren't familiar with culottes you really ought to be because they give you cute+coverage!  I recently noticed this pair from McCall patterns and think that the culotte trend is definitely on the upswing.  My Mom and I were discussing this pattern and she said that she once wore handmade (made by her) culottes and loved them.  She has a picture somewhere and I want to get my hands on it and share it here- so Mom send me that pic please!
Since summer is in full swing here my projects are taking longer to complete since a combination of trips and both children home all day is keeping me busier.  Summer is always busier than I imagine it will be, full, long days...good days, but at the end of the day there's usually less sewing and more resting.  And I have to tell myself that's ok, its a season after all.  Do you find yourself more or less productive during different seasons? I'd be curious to know!

Linking up to Frontier Dreams: Keep Calm and Craft On.