Baptism Dresses

This spring felt a bit crazy for our family, so I’m playing a bit of catch up! We decided to take a family trip to Hawaii over spring break and it was wonderful. Our littlest one keeps asking to go back (like every single day, multiple times) and our older daughter loves volcanoes so she’s very interested in the eruption taking place right now. I mean how often does a 6 year old visit a volcano and then have it erupt a month later? Pretty cool in her world.

Then we got home. Our plane landed at the airport at midnight and that very same day we had to get ourselves together to attend Baptism class at our church. I’d always intended to baptize our kids, but before last June we were very infrequent attendees of services. Since June the girls and I have attended nearly every week. We love our new church home! So I started seriously looking into having the girls baptized. I opted for the mass baptism date held as part of the Easter Vigil services so that it would be easier for friends and family to attend, particularly my mother in law who would be traveling quite a distance (hi Widget!).

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Our kids were the oldest and I was tempted to make their dresses in something other than white. Delicate white fabric is not really the best for rambunctious kids who have a mother who likes to procrastinate on the laundry. Tradition won out and so the girls wore this darling white dresses.

 

For inspiration I turned to this sweet little dress at the V&A Museum. The original is from about 1870 and made with velvet with satin ribbon and lace. I just love this dress so very much.

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Poor Chi Chi. Easter is so rough on 3 year olds! Anyways I think my version of the V&A dress makes enough of a nod to the original, but these were a little easier for me to make under a deadline. Plus I just could not afford that amount of lace and ribbon times 2 dresses! I splurged on some lovely trimmings, but there is a limit to what I’m willing to spend on a one time use garment.

The fabric is some lovely super sheer shirting I grabbed at The Fabric Store. I bought 8 whole yards! Way too much, but now I have plenty of leftover for another project or two. Then I lined them with cotton lawn. The lawn was a slightly different shade of white, but it isn’t noticeable in the finished dresses.

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I drafted the pattern from The Building Block Dress from Liesl Gibson. It’s a genius little book that is well worth the cost. I’m not afraid to slash and spread a pattern, but it is nice to have a little hand holding from a trained professional. I used the basic bodice with a puffed sleeve and gathered a-line skirt. Thankfully the bodice size for both girls was the same as at Christmas so I could use those dress patterns as a starting point.

 

I doubt these dresses will be wore very frequently, but they did turn out so perfectly and I’m glad they got at least two days of wear out of them, Baptism and Easter. As for the baptism ceremony, the girls were just perfect. So happy to participate and then come home for cake and presents. Just as fun as a birthday!

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Christmas 2017

All year I was looking forward to making the girls their Christmas dresses. Lu will be turning 6 this coming spring and she’s getting more and more into big girl clothes. She still loves dresses, but not with the same intensity as her younger years. I felt like time was running out to make pinafore dresses and this Christmas was the perfect opportunity! It was a dream project for me. They were so so so darling.

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Oh my stars! Such cuteness from my silly girls. Thankfully they both just loved their Christmas dresses. Whew!

The under dresses and pinafores were both drafted from the same pattern in Liesl Gisbon’s Building Block Dress book. The book comes with a pattern for a basic dress and the chapters are instructions on how to use that basic pattern to produce tons of different styles. It goes all the was from 6 month size to a child size 12 and I can tell I’m going to get a lot of use out of the book.

For this first try I used the basic dress which has a bodice, collar, long or short sleeves, and an a-line skirt. Charlie’s is a size 18-24 months with 2T length and Lu’s is a 3T lengthened to 5 in the bodice and 6 in the skirt. Both fit pretty well right away, but could have used a smidge more sleeve length. However I also added an elastic casing to the sleeves, so perhaps the length would have been fine with a plain hem.

I tried looking for more Christmas-y fabric online, but I never did find something that seemed right. So I went stash diving and found a remnant of the blue floral and a 4 yard cut of the green floral. It would have been nice to use the same fabric for both, but the scale of the green floral was too big for Charlie’s tiny bodice piece and I didn’t have enough of the blue for both. Oh well, similar is close enough for me! Lu wasn’t super thrilled with a dark green dress, but I sold her on the little pink and red flowers in the print.

I originally bought both prints to make myself dresses. It is from the Floratopia collection from Elizabeth Olwen for Cloud 9. I did make a dress from the blue floral, but I hated the dress and got rid of it. Now with the girl’s dresses complete I think I have enough to make myself a skirt from the green floral.

The pinafores are using the same pattern, but I split the bodice into 3 pieces and added width to the middle piece to achieve the gathered look I love many Victorian and Edwardian girls dresses. I have one saved that seems to have disappeared from the original site, but trust me that the seaming is pretty spot on. The drafting and sewing process was really tedious, but the finished pinafores were totally worth it.

The fabric was the same plain white lawn from Renaissance Fabrics that I used for my Lamplight outfit and it was just the perfect weight to float over the corduroy dresses. Sadly it looks like the fabric is sold out, but they usually get in more of it. Each pinafore is trimmed with candy cane embroidered cotton lace. I’d wanted to gather it to add fullness to the hem, but I’d only bought 4 yards last summer when I went shopping at Costume College and it wasn’t enough to gather and trim two skirts. So I used the little bit I had left over to add a shoulder flounce to each pinafore. I think it worked out just right!

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And while I still have a couple things to share from 2017, my crafting was mostly cleaned up by the end of the year. The beauty of staying home for the holidays with no house guests is we’ve had ample time to sort and clean our house. A few more areas to manage, but still it feels good to start 2018 better organized. Frankly I’m happy to see 2017 gone from our lives. We had some really good times and my husband had more steady work than he’d had in a while, but on the other side we had a lot of anxiety over a potential medical issue for our older daughter. It turned out in the end, but that was a 6 month process of appointments and missing work and stress. Both girls moved up to new schools and that has been really good, but my work has become more and more stressful with each passing year. I still enjoy it, but gosh I miss the glory days when I didn’t have to say “no” so frequently. Most of all the holidays have brought a much needed break to refresh. Happy New Year.

Halloween 2017

It’s been a little while since I paid a visit to this space, but I’ve been busily working away. I’ve been spending a little less time on the internet lately and a little more time sewing, knitting, and volunteering  including joining the editor pool at the Curvy Sewing Collective. We’re also well into the busy season at Heritage Square Museum. Lots of commitments to my time, but in a good way.

When it comes to Halloween I try to keep my sewing to a minimum. I’ll make one piece for each child and then buy or find the rest of the pieces. Its worked really well so far! This year both girls wanted to be fairies, or I should say that Lu wanted to be a fairy and Charlie wanted to be just like Lu. Lu picked her costume months ago so I had plenty of time to think about how I wanted to make a couple of fairy costumes.

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I spent a bunch of time looking for a fairy costume pattern, but most of the Pinterest ideas were geared more towards the occasional crafter. I just wasn’t interested in tube tops and tying a ton of tulle strips to elastic. Both of my girls love to play dress up so I decided to make something built to last rather than for one day.

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I settled on using Rae Hoekstra’s Flashback Skinny Tee for the tops and drafting my own circle skirts for the bottoms. I did not tell the girls my plan. If I had they would have thrown a fit of unhappiness. They wanted frilly collars like the fairies in their activity book. Instead we took the girls to JoAnn’s and planted them in front of the athletic sparkle fabrics. Then I gentle steered them towards two fabric that came in multiple colorways. Lu immediately latched onto pink! Charlie took some convincing, but we got her to agree to gold.

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That one trip to JoAnn’s ended up supplying everything we needed to produce two fairies. While I waited in line to get the fabric cut, my husband and the girls ended up finding the dress up clothes area and procured 2 sets of wings and 2 sequin crowns. Not a prefect match to the fabrics but they worked out perfectly. With an armful of sequins we headed to the register and all our Halloween costume shopping was complete!

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The dresses were so easy to complete. Not my finest work, but perfect for the holiday. Charlie’s also served as her birthday dress. Her birthday is right before Halloween, so we threw a costume party at the park and our newly 3 year old daughter was super happy. It was also impossible to miss them with the sun shining off all those sparkles!

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As a wonderful bonus, we had a super generous employee at the fabric cutting counter and I now have enough left over material to make the girls something else as well. I’m thinking coordinating gymnastics leotards would be super fun. Now I just have to find time to actually sew them up!

 

Operation Sister Quilts

I’ve gotta admit I’ve been feeling pretty horrible these last few days. I’ve was slammed with a sudden flu like something and then the shooting in Las Vegas hit way to close to home. It feels more and more like the world has gone mad. I don’t write this blog to get into politics, but how I feel definitely directs my posts. I’d planned to write up a project I made for myself, but instead I’m posting a project that I’ve been working on for over two years. Something warm and happy and lovely.

I’m a pretty big fan of Heather Ross prints. I keep an eye out for her prints on apparel fabric for me (exhibit 1 and exhibit 2) and when the collection is something special I buy quilting cotton too. The Tiger Lily collection came up for pre-order when I was all high on newborn baby fumes and I was inspired to make sister quilts for my tiny and tough girls. I loved the mix of ballerinas and girls climbing trees.

Now I can finally call the project a wonderful and finished success.

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These suckers were quite a bit of work. Churn dash was the only block pattern I even really considered. It just seemed to suit the fabrics so well, but trying to figure out which prints to pair took me many many evenings. Early on in the planning process I realized I didn’t have enough fabric and had to desperately email Westwood Acres Fabric to order a bit more! I also originally thought I’d make the tops with different mixes of fabric, but I couldn’t ever quite figure out how to make it work in a well balanced way. So both tops are identical.

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Well, the tops are identical except one one very special detail. I hand embroidered their names in the sashing. Even this detail took a lot of thought. Originally I’d planned to have them machine embroidered, but then I was too lazy to actual research it after my friend with an embroidery machine said her machine couldn’t handle the size of the project. The big push came when my local yarn store announced they were getting rid of embroidery floss and I made a quick run down to buy really high quality floss while I could still see the colors in person.

In fact a lot of this project was only moved along with pushes from the outside world. I kept procrastinating the next step until I couldn’t wait any longer. The sashing? Well that was motivated by my local quilting store’s going out of business sale. I shopped there pretty frequently, but the threat of having to buy sashing fabric online was nerve wrecking enough for me to drag the squares down to the nice natural lighted store before I was left guessing shades against a computer monitor!

I was so good about piecing the fronts and cutting all the strips for the binding and then the project just sat again…for months. I hit a rut in my sewing. I wanted to piece together the backs, but we were in a tight financial place and I couldn’t afford to spend money of fabric. I dug through my scrap bin and and found the leftovers from my dark green butterfly dress. It was lawn, not quilting cotton, but that’s okay! I also found left over rose print from the dress I made to wear to my bridal shower. The colors weren’t quite perfect, but with everything gathered I had just exactly enough to eek out two twin sized quilt backs. Not matching like the fronts, but similar enough.

img_0895With the fronts and backs completed all that was left was the quilting and binding, but instead of just getting it done I stuffed it all in my sewing cabinet and forgot about it. Finally in some of the hottest weather this summer I decided to pull out all the supplies and finish these suckers. With lots of swearing and sweating I managed to mostly pin the layers together with a minimum of wrinkles. Only took 4 attempts. With the home stretch in front of me I couldn’t turn back. The pair of quilts were also threatening to take over my sewing space (our kitchen table). Once I got past the horrible pinning part hand tying the quilts was hot but easy work and the bindings went on pretty easily.

These quilts are absolutely massive in their tiny toddler beds, but I hear a bunk bed is  coming this winter! My hope is these snuggly twin quilts will be just perfect for many winters to come.

 

 

Hand Me Down Dress

My sweet baby. She’s on the cusp of turning 3 and becoming more independent with each day that passes. In this dress she looks like an angel.

The dress pattern is Simplicity 9605 which was published in 2001, but this style has been popular for decades. In fact this dress is 15 years old. I made it back when I was 20 and my cousin was 2! My aunt held onto it for all these years hoping I would have my own daughter and she could pass it down. Luckily she found it before my girls grew out of it!

She’s also lucky my kids grow slowly as I made a size 2. My cousin was also quite a tiny toddler. As you can see this dress is likely to get a lot more wear. YAY!

Oh sweet goodness. Look at that Joann’s quilting cotton. 15 years ago that’s pretty much the only fabric I used to sew clothing. Most of the rest of the store was filled with polyester (not much has changed) and the wall of pretty cottons was so much more appealing to both my wallet and my taste in colors.

Heart pocket! I’m thanking past-me for adding this sweet detail.

Underneath is a full petticoat in the same pink cotton. All these layers give the skirt a nice body that is missing from a lot of other patterns.

It was so fun looking at the guts of the dress and noticing which techniques I used finish seams and such. I don’t usually bother with much finishing work on clothes for myself, but gifts are a different story. I always make sure everything is neat and tidy. In this dress it looks like I tried to use the selvedge of the materials as much as possible. I didn’t own a serger or pinking sheers at the time.

Charlie loves this dress. We started going to church over the summer and she always wants to wear her pink twirly dress. It is just perfect for wearing to service even though she mostly goes to the toddler room. In my opinion, one should always dress for church. And nearly every week one of the older ladies stops me to comment on Charlie. So many of them made dresses like this for their own daughters and it warms their hearts to see that someone still sews up these styles.

Now I’m contemplating making this pattern again. I have some vague memories of it going together well even if more involved. I’m thinking it would make a perfect Christmas dress for Charlotte because she’s too old for the style. Maybe I’ll make something similar for Lu. Is five too old for pinafores?

Kinder Cardigan

There was a big transition for our family this week as our oldest daughter started kindergarten! Lu was just thrilled to go to elementary school and start learning big girl things. I really wanted to make her a first day of school outfit, but she is required to wear a uniform. Sure, I could have made her a blouse and skirt, but I have to admit uniform sewing is super boring. While I try to make a good chunk of the kids clothing, for uniforms I was happy to put in an order from Gap and use my limited summer sewing time for other projects.

This seems ridiculous since we live in Southern California, but I opted to knit Lu a first day of school sweater!

Gosh, she is so cute. Sure it was a high of 85F on Monday, but it was grey and cool-ish in the morning. She happily donned her new cardigan which looks quite nice with her new school shoes.

I’ve been trying to knit up some of the patterns in my library and yarn in my stash, so I shopped both to achieve a nice traditional sweater. This is the Wee Wildflower pattern from Alana Dakos. There is actually an adult version too, but I don’t think I’d ever knit it for myself. A little too twee. The yarn is Madelinetosh’s Twist Light in the color Care. Twist light is 75% wool and 25% nylon which is a good combination for a kids garment. Technically it is machine washable, but I’ll try to remember to wash it by hand. Care is a wonderful color that includes nearly every shade in the rainbow. It was a limited release color sold to benefit Doctors Without Borders. I took the time to alternate two skeins so there is very little pooling of the colors. Yay!

Choosing a size to knit was a bit tough. Lu has a 19 inch chest, but is average height for a 5 year old, so I ended up knitting the size 2 sweater with a size 6 for the length. It worked out pretty well everywhere except the sleeve caps. The sleeve caps as written have almost no height, just a lot of width. I added some extra height and it was still tough to fit the sleeves into the armcye. Lu also have very thin arms and the sleeves are tight. I cannot imagine shoving a 2 year old’s arms into such a small circumference. Could be my gauge was off, but still I found the sizing odd. The pattern also has no shaping for the shoulders in the back, so I added that too.

This finished sweater is pretty great and fits Lu well right now, but I don’t think this one is going to last long. I have a feeling Lu is going to shoot straight up this year with all the running and learning she’ll do. Just one day into the school year she’d figured out how to swing by herself and by Friday Lu was all atwitter over recycling, the solar eclipse, and science! “Mommy, I want to be a teacher when I grow up.”

Pajama Party

Last weekend temperatures went soaring into the triple digits, so naturally I spent a good chunk of it sitting on our non-airconditioned kitchen sewing new pajamas for me and the girls! Pajama party!

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First up are these matching doggie pajamas in super soft double gauze. I’m almost done sewing up all the fabric I purchased at Hart’s Fabrics back in May. This double gauze hadn’t been on my list, but Charlie started to get antsy so I let her pick out a fabric. She latched onto this Shiba Inu print. I thought it was corgis like my sister’s dogs but nope! Wrong dog breed.

Since it was the end of the bolt I bought it all instead of the 1 yard I’d planned. It was a good decision because I was able to just barely get 2 nightgowns from the yardage.

I was really torn on what style to make. I wanted something that could pull on rather than zip or button. Charlie is starting to get better at dressing herself and elastic helps the process along.

A quick glance through my patterns and I easily settled on Simplicity 2913, an It’s Sew Easy pattern that is now out of print. I’ve made the dress version before, but in order to save on fabric I used the top pattern and added a ruffle to the bottom. I could just squeak out both dresses by cutting out the original top pattern then accessing the remaining yardage and cutting it into strips for the bottom. Charlie got a narrower ruffle cut on the grain and Lu got a wider ruffle cut from the cross grain.

The pattern runs a tad bit on the large side since both gap in the back. I cut a 2 for Charlie and a 4 for Lu which is pretty in line with their measurements. I’m not fussed about it because they are kids and these are nightgowns. Most importantly the girls love these and have already worn them twice this week.


Next I turned to my own double gauze nightgown.

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It’s another version of the Fifi Pajama pattern only I’ve lengthened the top to make it a nightgown. I really like the top portion of the Fifi and even if it isn’t the most supportive thing ever it is lovely to wear to bed in the summer. I’ve followed the same sizing as my last version and I will say the double gauze is a little stiffer than rayon so I probably could have added a touch more coverage at the bust. Oh well!

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The fabric was also picked up in May at the Birch Fabrics store in Paso Robles. I try to stop in when we drive by because you never know what kind of sale you’ll find. This time I paid full price (boo!), but that’s okay. I tend to pay full price for things I really want instead of impulsing buying more fabric during a sale. Though now that I’ve worked with Birch’s double gauze I am tempted to pick up more for summer pjs.


And last up is another set of matching nightgowns for the girls.

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So silly! Of the two sets I made these simple but soft shifts were the clear favorite. I can’t blame them. The fabric is some butter yellow cotton jersey rib adorned with green pineapples. I got it in a KnitFix from Girl Charlee. I hated my experience with the Knit Fix. Really and truly hated most of the fabrics I received, but this particular fabric is perfect for nightgowns.

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Picking a pattern this time was easy and maybe even unnecessary due to the nature of rib knit. I found my copy of Made by Rae’s Flashback Skinny Tee to trace off the neckline and armscyes then cut a rough shape of a dress. Binding finished the neck and arm holes while the hem is left unfinished. Simple. Fast. Most importantly comfy and cool.

I might make a few more nightgowns in the coming weeks, but we’ll see. I want to make Lu some skater dresses, but she doesn’t need them. School starts one month from today and then she’ll be in uniforms all week. Charlie will be in uniforms as of September first so nightgowns make are logically the right thing to make. Which will win? Logic or my heart?