Sloper Series @ Curvy Sewing Collective

If you are interested in how to make a sloper, I have a new post over at the Curvy Sewing Collective! It is the first part in a new series I’m writing for the site. The goal is to show how to use a sloper to design your own patterns, recreate patterns that don’t come in your size, or alter patterns to fit.

And just for giggles I tried on some ready to wear dresses this weekend. I haven’t purchased a woven (non-maternity) dress in 5 years and now I remember why!

The pink dress is the smallest size in Ashley Nell Tipton’s line for JCPenney and was several inches too large though the bust even though by the size chart the OX should have fit in the bust and waist and too tight in the hip. The lemon dress is from Liz Claiborne and the size chart put me in a 14 bust/16 waist/18 hip. I picked the 16 to try and you can see that as the size chart predicted it is too large in the bust, but going down a size would have meant this dress is too small everywhere else.

So while sewing takes up a good chunk of my free time the results are well worth it! And with a sloper you can make clothes even more customized without playing the retail sizing game. I call that a win!

Easter 2017

Yay Easter! A holiday with few expectations of gifts but lots of potential for adorable dresses. Less that 3 weeks ago I had zero plans to make new Easter dresses this year. Surely I could skip it and have the girls wear something from their drawer.

Wrong!

While looking for flower girl dress fabric at Michael Levine’s I spotted a lovely small scale floral lawn out of the corner of my eye and the next thing I knew I’d had 3 yards cut. I’m so so glad I impulse purchased this fabric. (No longer on the ML website, but available here.)

img_9446What a couple of silly sisters! Don’t they look adorable? In a total reversal of personalities Charlie ended up posing for all the pictures while Lu sulked, but thankfully I’d captured Lu’s dress the day before when she was in a more willing mood.

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For Lu’s dress I used Olive + S’s Library dress pattern. I’d owned it for years and never made it. What a shame! It went together so beautifully and had plenty of potential for color combinations. I had some white lawn in my stash I almost used for the collar. White collars are such a classic choice for a little girl’s dress, but I went ahead and used the floral print so the only trim is the pink piping along the midriff.

I really love Oliver + S patterns, but the sizing it always a challenge. Lu is quite slim and tall so her measurements put her in a 6-12 months at the bust and a size 5 for length. I went with something in the middle, a size 3 with 2 inches of extra length on the skirt. This seems to have worked pretty well. A tad large through the shoulders, but not terribly so. The pattern I own stops at a size 4 so for now I might keep adding length to the smaller sizes until I really need to buy the next size grouping.

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And Lu really liked her dress. “See my skirt!” She was super happy to wear it two days in a row, Saturday for the museum’s annual Fashion Show and Sunday for Easter.

Charlie got a haircut on Good Friday so now we can actually see her face instead of just a mess of hair. The cut also lets her curls really come out!

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Charlie’s dress was also made with an Oliver + S pattern, this time the Family Reunion Pattern. I’ve actually made this one before when Lucy was not quite 2 and I made the 18-24 month size then.

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As you can see both sisters have suffered the wide neckline of this dress, though Charlie is nearly 2 1/2 and wearing the 18-24 size. This one must just run wide because Charlie wasn’t that much smaller than the size chart. She usually wears a size 18 months or 2T depending on the cut of the clothing and I almost made the size 2 Family Reunion. Thankfully I did size down so it wasn’t enormous.

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The pattern doesn’t call for trim around the yoke, but I adding pink piping just for fun and I’m so glad I did! Isn’t she a doll? This is the look she gets when she sees her dad. Such joy!

She also tested out her modeling skills to adorable results.

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Being the second child means Charlie just doesn’t get as many new things, but I was so pleased to make her this new dress that she should be able to wear all summer long.

Lastly, not to be outdone by the girls John wore his new hand knit socks for Easter.

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And I have no photographic evidence of my own outfit, but I wore the butterfly dress I made for Easter 2016 when I missed the festivities due to injury and illness.

With Easter complete I must go full speed into preparations for my sister’s wedding. 3 dresses to go!

Cinderella Cardigan

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      “Shiver and quiver, my little tree, Silver and gold throw down over me.”
    -Cinderella by the Grimm Brothers

At last a sweater has escaped my knitting needles. This was 10 months in the making and took far too long, but the results are pretty nice I think.

Cinderella is my favorite fairytale, so when one of my favorite yarn dyers, Astral Bath offered up a lavender dusted with grey called Cinderella, I knew I had to own it and put in a custom order. Silk blend bases only for this color and well worth it.

The yarn arrived quite true to the description, as if Cinderella has been hard at work in the ash, but what pattern would work well with the dark patches in the yarn? I dove into my Japanese stitch dictionaries and found a simple stitch pattern that reminded me of little specks or cinders.

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I also knew I wanted to try patterning the sweater around the waist so I set out playing with the spacing of each dot and doing math to figure out how to get the spaces just right at the waist. Thankfully I have CustomFit to make the knitting pattern. I just had to apply the stitch pattern how I wanted.

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Overall I’m happy with the finished product and I’m sure I will wear it a ton. The wool, silk, and cashmere blend is light enough for spring and also to ward off the summer office air conditioning. However it isn’t quite as perfect as I’d hoped and for a couple reasons.

For one my bust has shrunk over the last year by 2.5 inches. So the fit is a little bigger than I’d like up top.

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The sweater is also just too long. The large bust, silk content, and pattern calculation errors joined forces against my desires. CustomFit makes great patterns, but there is also a bit of learning curve to modifying the patterns it creates. I know I like my sweaters to be about 13-14 inches from underarm to hem, but when I request that length in the software I get a cardigan that is 15-16 inches instead. This is not the software’s fault. If I were to button the cardigan the negative ease at bust and hip would bring up the length. However since I wear my cardigans open and now own a smaller bust this sweater isn’t what I hoped.

My next sweater is already on the needles and I’m exited to see if I’ve improved on the fit. Hopefully it takes me fewer than 10 months to complete!

Dartmouth Double Take

Yay! I had unexpected sewing time! Boo! It was because of a sick kid. She’s totally fine, but Lu and I have both been limping along with our colds and adding vaccines on top of her cold meant a miserable little kid for a day or two. I wasn’t terribly sad to stay home and have a little down time for myself. Plus I came home last Wednesday to find a new pattern in my mail box. So nice I made it twice!

This is Cashmerette’s new pattern the Dartmouth Top!

So far Jenny’s knit patterns have worked really well for me, so I was pleased to see her come out with a fixed wrap top. I totally love wearing this style on the weekends or as a pajama top. So comfy, but not quite as casual as a typical t-shirt pattern. I also think they work particularly well on a figure like mine with a full bust, narrow waist, and full hips.

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My first crack at the pattern was using this heavier weight cotton/lycra fabric from Sahara Fabrics. After shrinkage in the wash I only had a 46 inch length to work with and I could just barely fit all the pieces in the yardage if I used the short sleeve and cut the neck band in 3 pieces.

Overall I really like this shirt. I really rarely wear separates, but on Friday I had a mammogram after my doctor found some thicker tissue in my breast. Having this new, fun, and colorful shirt to wear really lifted my spirits. It was also a lot more practical than my usual dresses. (And thankfully my boobs got a clear bill of health!)

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The Dartmouth Top wasn’t quite perfect straight out of the envelope. Besides grading between sizes (14/16/18) I made no alterations. But the front hem was a tad bit on the tick side since there is 4 layers of jersey there. Sure, it would have been easier if I’d used a thinner knit, but 4 layers is still a lot. I’m also going to need to do a sway back alteration of future versions. I think Cashmerette patterns usually have a sway back built in, but I need more.

So we had the feverish 5 year old, my cold, my boob testing, and oh did I mentioned pink eye for the 2 year old? Yeah. It’s been one of those weeks. On top of all of that my husband and I also had our first weekend away from the kids (shout out to my parents for babysitting)! It was an awesome weekend away for a friend’s wedding and then I came home and made a Dartmouth Dress.

As soon as I put on my finished top version I knew I had to attempt a dress version. The hip curve perfectly covered my widest part so I wouldn’t even need to add fullness. Sweet!

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I dove into my stash and pulled out this ugly ass plaid jersey. It was purchased in one of those Girl Charlee Knit Fixes where you get a bunch of ugly fabric for cheap and is some sort of thin cotton jersey/mystery fiber blend. I’d guess polyester. Basically I hate it so much that I figured if the dress was a total fail then I’d have a soft and lightweight nightgown.

But it wasn’t a total fail even though I made it into a mock wrap.

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I spent all weekend mulling over the ways to make the Dartmouth have one layer below the waist and finally determined I’d trace off just the shoulder and see how it worked. I also shortened the neckband.

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This is still going in the pajama pile since it is thin and needs a sway back fix, but my experiment worked pretty darn well! I even got the plaids reasonably matched up despite having just 2 yards of material.

Now tomorrow I pack away my machine while we have family visiting, but I think I’m going to pull out more of my ugly mystery knits to make up a few more of these as a nightgown while I play around with some minor alterations to the pattern because the Dartmouth Top is a fun and simple sew!

A Very Disney Birthday

Five feels like such a milestone age. Five! A year of transition as Lu moves from toddler to kid and preschool to kindergarten. She’s learning to read and makes some rather fantastically creative art work. To celebrate we treated the girls to their very first trip to Disneyland.

Sure, I could have bought them t-shirts at Target or grabbed something from their dress up closet, but where’s the fun in that? Naturally the sewing momma had to make them something special.

First up, the birthday girl’s dress.

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I started with the idea of a dress with a circle skirt and a big ruffle. The base is my favorite girl’s pattern the Geranium Dress from Made by Rae. The bodice was lengthened and the skirt swapped for the circle. I grabbed plenty of this Princess Emoji fabric from Michael Levine’s one rainy lunch break. I find a lot of licensed Disney fabric to be pretty ugly, but this was cute and some quick texts to my mom for her expert opinion confirmed I was making the right choice.

Lu’s dress was tricked out with rick rack and piping at the waist and hem. Quite cute! I had a hard time picking trims without spending a small fortune.

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I purposefully picked something sleeveless because March is really hit or miss weather wise. Two days before out trip it was over 80F, but the weather cooled drastically by our trip to the park. Thank goodness I also grabbed some organic cotton knit in bright pink to make a t-shirt and leggings.  Poor birthday girl would have been cold without them.

So, what about that ruffle I mentioned? Lu didn’t want it! I was left with about a yard of leftover fabric! Naturally that meant Charlie got her own dress too. I made a really basic Geranium dress for her as well and dressed it up with a little rick rack I found in my notions box. Lucky little sister. A red school shirt and pair of tights rounded out her princess look without needing to spend anymore money. Hooray! Disney is expensive!

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Lucy showing Sleeping Beauty the Aurora emoji on her skirt, priceless.

Those dresses would have been enough, but I still have a couple more tricks up my sleeve.

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This sweet little dress was made for Valentine’s Day. Charlie loves Minnie Mouse, so she was wild for the fabric. Plus she’s decided her favorite color is pink just like Lucy. Charlie’s in a sister worship phase that is so cute and sometimes frustrating.

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The pattern was the Geranium Dress you’ve seen a million times and the fabric was from JoAnn’s. Just a nice basic yet fun dress she can wear any day of the week.

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I made Lu a Valentine’s skirt too, but she didn’t get to wear it since her school requires uniforms. The Doc MsStuffins’ tiered skirt came in handy for our day at California Adventure. It rained sideways for two hours, but I don’t think Lu even noticed after meeting 6 princesses at breakfast.

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I never did get a great picture of her outfit, but she is wearing a hand knit sweater with her new skirt, so plenty of mom-made clothing on display.

Our trip was wonderful, if exhausting. Special shout out to my mom, sister, and brother in law for tagging along as well as my husband for wrangling the two year old so I could geek out with my newly 5 year old girly girl Lu. It was totally magical.

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In other sewing news, I’ve been working on a big project for myself, a new sloper. The sloper itself is done and just needs a write up and my first dress using it is in the muslin stage. Exciting, but slower work on top of the never ending cold I picked up at the Happiest Place on Earth.

Rainbow Girl

Our super busy spring is in full swing now. I can’t remember the last time my weekends we’re so full! Recently my mom, the girls, and I all headed up to San Jose for Stitches West. A lot of my knitting friends head to Rhinebeck in the fall, but my group on the West Coast heads to Stitches instead. Usually I spend more time at the event itself, but this year I spent more time with my family because my sister is getting married!!!!

Oh how Lu loved those wedding dresses. She loves all thinks sparkly right now and was pretty happy to see Aunt Kat try on pretty dresses. Now Lu is plotting what she will wear for the wedding for her important role as flower girl.

It felt kind of silly going to a knitting event when I’ve barely knit anything recently. I spent so much time cross stitching this year during my evening tv time. However one of my knitting groups started a challenge for the year. Every quarter we set our own goals and for each goal met we get one entry into a lottery for a prize. I don’t qualify because I’m the one buying the prize, but I’m still finding the event useful for focusing my time.

I’ve already posted about my first goal (pussy hats) and now I’m posting my second goal, a new sweater for Lu. She wears a sweater every day to school and all of hers were looking rough. So many pills. So much dirt. So well loved.

I started planning this sweater in the fall of 2015. I knit a baby dress with a rainbow mini skein kit from Neighborhood Fiber Co. and had way more yarn left over than anticipated. Not enough to knit a whole kid sized cardigan, but enough to alternate with a coordinating color.

I headed to my local yarn store and picked up a skein of Knitted Wit in a grey. Turned out to be a perfect coordinate to the rainbow, don’t you think?

For a pattern I dove into my library to find something simple and near the gauge on my swatch. I settled on Cricket which had a slightly tighter gauge.  By knitting one size smaller at a looser gauge the finished sweater is around a size 4. I’ve knit this pattern once before (also as a school sweater) and I think I won’t knit it again. It is very square and very wide in the shoulders. I’ve knit other patterns that suit my tall and thin girl better.

Of course Lu just loves the finished sweater. It’s really so fun and cute and looks good with her navy and red school dress code. I still had leftover rainbow yarn so I sent it on to live with my friend. I made 3 projects with that rainbow set! It was like the yarn in the book Extra Yarn. I’m pretty sure I could have knit a mailbox cozy and a dog sweater, but instead I’m sharing the rainbow love as my rainbow itch has been satisfied for now.

Story Time Sampler – Little House Chart!

The last time I shared this project was waaaaaaay back in March of 2015. I love cross stitch. It is the craft I’ve done the longest, but it is slow. Slower than knitting. I have this problem with buying kits and then losing steam. The Story Time Classics stitch-a-long from The Frosted Pumpkin was a project that started off great. I completed the first 3 clues right on time, but then it got put aside for over a year.

Looking back at Instagram I now see I started working in the sampler again in July of 2016. Cross stitch is a good summer time project. The light is better and holding linen on your lap is much more comfortable than wool. I finished Story Time back in September 2016 and it has been patiently waiting to be framed ever since.

Sorry sampler, your wait just got a lot longer. In December The Frosted Pumpkin announced a 3rd sampler in their book series AND I got the kit for the 1st sampler as a Christmas gift so at this point I think I’ll wait and frame all 3 at one time.

I’m a pretty big fan of The Frosted Pumpkin style. It is cute and their taste in books really connected with me. So many of the stories were loved by my childhood self. I mean they even put my besties Anne and Jo right next to each other!

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However I’m not the biggest fan of their original pick for August (Phantom of the Opera). So I swapped in another one of my favorite characters, Laura Ingalls. I’m a huge fan of pioneer fiction and it didn’t seem right to leave Laura out of the party. I took to excel and managed to work out my own pattern for August. Picking a part of the story that would fit in the frame was tough, but I settled on Laura and Jack following the wagon train as a recognizable scene.

If you’d like to swap Laura into your own Story Time Sampler just follow this link. The lovely ladies at The Frosted Pumpkin said it was okay as long as I only posted the part I designed. One tab with has a design with Jack and one without.