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.

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Goodbye 2016!

2016 has come and gone. Last night we had storms passing through, but today has arrived cool, clear, and with a beautiful bright blue sky. Like many others 2016 was not my favorite year. Beyond the political landscape, it was just an okay year for our little family. We got by fine, the kids grew and thrived, but it wasn’t an easy year. By the end of it I felt quite worn down by the routine but also by the instability.

There was a lot of good stuff coming out of our house as well. I spent a lot of time on my sewing skills. I now have a much loved skater-style dress I make and wear frequently. I also discovered I do better when I work off the Gertie block then the Cashmerette block (for wovens). I’m sure in the coming year I will buy more patterns, but I also hope to make my own block again. I have a lot of ideas of dresses I’d like to make, but I think making my own block would really help me spend less time fitting and more time designing.

I made some misses too. A few poor fabric choices and a few patterns that just didn’t work for my shape. And sometimes things turn out okay, but they fail to make it to the regular rotation. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a sewer who doesn’t have a few flops every year.

And then there are my sweet girls! Not as much sewing for them as with previous years. Mostly because Charlie can wear so many things I made for her sister and she’s stayed quite tiny. Partly because Lu finally grew enough that she can wear commercially produced school uniforms! I ordered a select number of skirts and dresses in August and Lu’s been set for school since. I am incredibly proud of their swimsuits and plan to make them new suits for next summer. So much fun and really simple.

What’s next? I still have some quilts to finish. One for my bed and the girls matching quilts for their room. We moved all the baby stuff out over the winter break and we’re contemplating bunk beds this summer, so I’d like to get those quilts done. Otherwise I’ll just keep looking for new inspiration. I organized my fabric stash a bit this week and remembered I have fabric to make the Sewaholic Pacific Leggings, my SIL bought me the Decades of Style Lara Dress pattern, and I have more wool jersey to make a skater style dress. Maybe I’ll get to those things, but if I don’t it is okay. I can’t wait to see where 2017 takes me!

Out of Time Out

Let’s talk about Colette. Their pattern block is somewhat less than desirable for a large portion of the sewing crowd, but several years ago there weren’t as many competitors on the indie scene. Like many others I purchased a few Colette patterns. I loved their vintage inspired esthetic.

Then I made these patterns and they were pretty much flops. I blamed myself. As a largely self-taught sewer I figured I just didn’t have the skill. Now I know that I am not alone!  Colette patterns are notorious for their wide shoulders, odd sleeves, and flat butts. Ahhhhhhhh. It all makes sense now.

I am by no means an expert, but I think I do okay at getting things to fit. I like to experiment, but last year I got really fed up. You see, I attempted to make Colette’s Dahlia. Gosh I love the way the pattern looks on the original model. I’m linking the sew-a-long because Colette has changed the pictures on their site.

But making the pattern proved to be very frustrating. I’d searched pattern reviews and only found nice versions! But when I put on my finished dress the shoulders were so big they stood up and touched my ears. I was dismayed. I was upset. I knew someone who had made the dress and her’s turned out great, but mine was unwearable.

So I gathered the neckline, turned the binding under, and then stitched it all smaller. I still hated the dress. Pissed off and disappointed I threw Dahlia in a corner and forgot about it…until today.

I pulled it back out because I was going to use the skirt fabric along with my leftover yardage to makes a blouse! But I thought I should try on the dress one more time and photograph it. I put the dress on and well, it looks pretty good!

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I mean sure, it’s not perfect. The neckline looks pretty crappy, but a cardigan is going to hide all those sins. Still a little wrinkled in these photos, but not bad over all. I remembered I really liked the skirt and waistband!

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I have zero memory about what size I made or what alterations I made to the pattern. None. Oh well. I’m unlikely to try this pattern again anyways.

I do remember this fabric.

I’d bought it at Michael Levine’s for maybe $5/yard. It was labeled 100% cotton, but it probably a cotton/poly blend. I really need to throw a slip on underneath so the fabric glides more freely! But another reason this fabric stands out in my mind is because as I was watching Modern Family I saw Cam wearing a shirt from the same fabric!

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Hilarious, right?

For now I’m just happy to come to peace with my version of Dahlia. It’s not what I originally wanted, but far from the wreck I saw in the mirror last year.

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Narwhal Dress

Did you know there is a whole world out there of specialty printed fabric organized through Facebook groups? No? I wasn’t either! One of my parenting group friends started posting pictures of her daughters in all these cute outfits so I asked her where she found the fabrics and now I’ve been sucked into the Facebook group scene!

So far I’ve only ordered through one company, Sahara Fabrics. It is similar to ordering through Spoonflower in that there are a bunch of prints posted that you can order, but to cut down on the costs they only offer a select number of designs at one time. The companies keeps just a small stock of any item and generally once it is gone that’s it. Some of these companies specialize in science themed fabric, fan art fabric, and fabric to make knock off Lularoe leggings. Many of these companies also offer fun and different PUL fabric for the cloth diaper scene (oh if only I’d know about this when we were cloth diapering!). Sahara stocks a lot of cloth diaper supplies, but they also offer a lot of cute cotton/lycra prints and some bamboo knits as well. Most of the designs are suited to kids, but a few will appeal to adults too.

The fabric for Lu’s dress came to me through a mix up at the post office. I’d ordered this print for my narwhal obsessed friend who welcomed a son earlier this year. But then the package was lost in the great and powerful USPS system. Sahara and I waited the required number of days to declare the package lost and then Sahara graciously sent me out a new package. Well imagine our surprise when the original fabric bundle re-surfaced and arrived at my doorstep! Sahara told me to keep the fabric and so I got a little bit of narwhal fabric to keep.

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Lu’s dress is cut from 1 Narwhal Magic Panel. This is a specialty product in which there is a graphic print and a coordinating print all on one length of fabric. The panel measured 30 inches tell x 58 inches wide making it just less than a full yard of cotton knit.

I sat on it for a few months while trying to figure out what I could make from it. But as the weather has turned cooler at night I realized Lu really needs long sleeved nightgowns and dresses. This could be both depending on her mood.

I used all but a few scraps to make this dress. The front was centered over the narwhal. The back was lined up with the first two lines of stars. The neck binding was from the bottom row of stars (I think mine was missing the very top row above the narwhal). And then I cut the sleeves, skirt, and ruffle from the striped fabric.

The skirt is a little on the narrow side and Lu and I both thought the length was not quite enough. So at the very top of the skirt I added a thin strip of solid navy that was from just above the narwhal on the panel. After cutting the main pieces I had this awkward narrow strip of stripes that I cut into smaller segments then sewed end to end to make a ruffle. It’s the kind of detail that I think really makes the dress more fun!

The base pattern is Made by Rae’s Flask Back Skinny Tee. All I did was cut it shorter so I could make it into a dress. I love this tee pattern. So simple and basic and adjustable. All the traits I love in a hack-a-ble pattern!

And clearly Lu loves the finished dress! She took it straight off the sewing machine to wear to bed last night. Such a great feeling as a mom!

Houndstooth and Distraction

I have a new dress to add to my stack of Washington dress hacks! This time a mash up of the Washington Dress from Cashmerette for the bodice and sleeves, the Moneta from Colette for the neckline, and a self drafted half circle skirt.

My husband was out of town, so I had my enthusiastic four year old take photos for me. It’s something she loves to do. “Do a pose mommy!”

The dress overall turned out pretty great. I love the fit, but oh that pattern placement. As I was cutting the fabric the dog was walking back and forth over it and the four year old was standing over my shoulder asking me for snacks. I did great at placing the pattern for the sleeves and top, but the skirt is off. Dang! I totally forgot to make sure the center fronts lined up.

Hello photo bomber!

The fabric is Ann Kelle Remix Knit from Robert Kaufman. It is a 100% cotton interlock. I’ve used this fabric a few times before and this is the most success I’ve had. Why? Well I took a step away from my serger and made the entire dress on my regular machine using something like a baseball stitch. It has become my go-to stitch for knits since I don’t have the lightning bolt option.

I really wish I could fix the pattern placement. I suppose I could, but the fabric doesn’t take to seam ripping very well. I’d ended up having to cut all the pieces apart and deal with having the lengths of the skirt and bodice be too short. So I think I’ll just leave it and try to take the misplacement as a reminder to slow down when I’m cutting. At least the fabric only cost me about $9 at M & L Fabrics and about 2 hours of my time.

And here is what it looks like at the end of the day. Stretched out for sure, but a run through the dryer will tighten the fabric back up for the next outing. And I at least have one more nice heavy weight knit dress for winter!

Lovely Linen

Nothing says the end of summer like finishing a sun dress on Labor Day!

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But that is exactly how I spent my weekend when I wasn’t focused on potty training our toddler.

I love this dress. After so much frustration with getting something to fit I am thrilled I gave it one more try before moving onto another pattern.

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This is a mash up on my heavily modified Gertie bodice with the gored skirt from Cashmerette’s Upton Dress. When I made my Liberty dress a few weeks ago I made the mistake of lowering the bust darts way too much. This time I did all the same alterations only I lowered the bust dart 1/2 inch. Such a difference.

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Still not 100% perfect, but oh so close. Once I tried it on I had to take it in 1/2 inch at the under arm. No big deal and easy to adjust on the pattern piece.

But damn this fits my bust well.

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And in the back I got the back adjustment just right in the upper back. But then I forgot to re-add the width to the waist. Whoops! Also easily added to the pattern piece for next time. So you can see a bit of pulling there.

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The fabric is a linen/cotton blend from The Fabric Store. I purchased it right after the Upton pattern came out, but then it sat in timeout while I battled my fit issues. The fabric is quite open in weave so I lined the entire dress with some bright apple green Free Spirit voile I purchased when my local fabric store went out of business. The lining took just 2.5 yards, so I still have another 3 yards of voile for another project.

Thankfully here in Southern California we’ll have warm weather for another 2-3 months so still plenty of time to wear this beauty through fall!

 

Stretchy Fabric Strikes Again!

Well, I’m still continuing on my journey to learn about stretch fabrics. My latest project is a testament to why I need to slow down and think a little more. Probably a reoccurring theme on this blog. I’m not a process sewer. I want a finished item and I want it NOW! So sometimes (most of the time) I forge ahead even when things don’t seem quite right.

So here is another one of my Washington Dress Hacks.

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Oh hey! That doesn’t seem too bad. And really the dress looks pretty good in the photos. So why am I unhappy? Well this fabric is SO STRETCHY. The first time I used this fabric I made a Moneta (post here) and it stretched all crazy out of shape. I thought it was the pattern. Now I’m thinking it was the fabric choice.

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This is some crazy cheap fabric I found at M&L Fabrics in the $3/yard section. It’s a Robert Kaufman interlock as part of a Valori Wells collection. I love the print. I’ve been hoarding it for a year deciding what to make. But it is also totally different from the Valori Wells interlock knit I bought that was from Free Spirit. So confused!  I’m guessing she switched companies between collections and suddenly I’m shopping the discount bin and finding things from a long while ago. Whoops!

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Anyways, to make matter worse this fabric is also 100% cotton and has zero recovery. So while it drapes beautifully it wouldn’t be so great for something that needs to snap back throughout the day. I’d contemplated making a wrap dress, but I’m glad I went with something simple. Even sewing this fabric was a total pain. I had to wash and dry it just to make it wearable post stitching.

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Regardless I will keeping wearing the dress. Probably only over the weekends. It is really comfy even if I’m not in love. It makes my bust look down right saggy as shown in this photo my mom snapped while we were miniature golfing.

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Plus the weight of the fabric pulls it all forward. Not a huge deal on the putt putt course, but not exactly appropriate for the office!

I’m pretty certain I’m going to take it in at the side seams a touch. The fabric has the stretch and I lowered the arm hole depth on this version so the space is there. Maybe it will help anchor the dress to my body. Worth a try?