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.

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Caftan Season

I’m about 3 years late on the caftan party. You’ve seen the memes and gifs and click bait articles on how to get your body ready for caftan season. I saw them too and giggled. I should have made a caftan in 2014! Three years ago I was pregnant in the summer and was so damn hot all the time, yet 2017 is the year a caftan entered my life.

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My biggest hesitation is that I’m not a fan of maxi dresses in general and I like shapeless dresses even less. But then Closet Case Patterns put out the Charlie Caftan pattern a few weeks ago and the sample sucked me in. It looked glamorous and had some shape to it. I bought it almost immediately and spent a hurried lunch break racing through Michael Levine’s finding the perfect fabric.

And then in took a week for the pattern to arrive and I was having second thoughts. A caftan? Really? Me?

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As you can see I went through with my plan. The fourth of July was so damn hot. It always is, but somehow year after year the heat is surprising in its intensity. I made the Charlie Caftan while sweating and swearing in our non-airconditioned kitchen in the days leading up to Independence Day. The swearing in my opinion was justified. Most of the pattern goes together sweet and easy, but the inset center panel made me want to light my caftan on fire. I was so mad. I figured out how to stitch it in correctly, but it felt like there should have been an easier way. Or at least a clearer way to word the directions.

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Because I don’t love it when strangers ask me if I’m pregnant, I lower the inset panel by 2 inches to my natural waistline. In hindsight, 1 inch would have been perfect, but that’s okay. One caftan is all my life requires. I didn’t make any other adjustments other than blending sizes starting with a 16 at the shoulders and a 20 at the hip. Based on the finished garment measurements this seemed necessary, but again it wasn’t in the end. The pattern said there are 5 inches of ease at the hips on the size 20, but it feels like more.

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The fabric I selected is Cloud 9’s Batiste in the Frolic collection. I loved the scale of the print. Tiny, but also sort of patriotic. One of the employees at Trader Joe’s complimented me on my subtle nod to the 4th of July holiday. The fabric really is light as air but a tad see through so I do need to wear a slip underneath. I picked up two more slips a few weeks ago so I was plenty prepared.

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In the end, caftans just aren’t my thing, but I am glad I experimented. In the last month I’ve worn it twice and it feels like a costume. I think I’ll hold onto my Charlie Caftan as a bathing suit cover up or my next trip to Palm Springs, but for my daily life…just not my thing. Though if my sister reads this…want one? Now that I know how to sew the damn inset panel I could make one again with less swearing.

Kids Clothes Week: Day 4!

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Yeeeeeesssssssss. Look at this corduroy. Isn’t it pretty? I was really really looking forward to cutting into this length of Small World fabric by Rae Hoekstra. I have the Lemon Drop and Small World prints too, but these umbrellas named Signin’ in the Rain really called to me to be sewn first.

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Sadly it was also printed a little off gain.

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I know little rain cloud. It is sad. But the resulting skirt is anything but sad. I cannot wait to buy buttons for it so I can have DD1 give it a twirl!

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I did a search for patterns this morning and ultimately decided on the Hopscotch Skirt from the amazing Liesl at Oliver + S. Her patterns create the most professional garments and this was no exception. It only took any hour and a half to cut it out and sew it all together sans buttons and buttonholes.

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I thought this would take two nights to complete so now I get to pick out a new project for tomorrow. Lucky me!!!

kid's clothes week