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.


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!


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.

Falling in Love with Corduroy!

I’ve been on a real corduroy kick lately. When I was younger I mostly bought quilting cottons because those were readily available and affordable. This was back before the boom in indie fabric production. You could by other types of fabric, but JoAnn’s mostly had polyester and it was incredibly hard to judge fabrics for purchase online. The few times I tried ordering I had very mixed results. So today I love that so many of the newer fabric companies (and many older ones too) are coming out with fabrics suited to garment sewing. Bring on the corduroy!!!

Elizabeth Olwen’s collection Floratopia from Cloud 9 is gorgeous. A lot of other lines skew too twee for me, but these are more appropriate for the whimsical adult so I purchased dress quantities in two colors ways, Go Your Own Way and Tiny Dancer.


Then I turned to the Emery Dress pattern from Christine Haynes. I saw a sample of the Emery Dress in the window at Sew LA (which recently closed, sob!) and purchased it immediately. I love it’s classic styling with fun details. Corduroy is not a recommended fabric, but I knew from sewing with Rae Hoekstra’s Small World fabric that it is light weight and has good drape. I forged on.

It is largely a very successful dress! Emery 1

But the neckline it too big. In the front it is okay. Wearable for sure, but the back bags really terribly. You can see where the zipper is flipping out and there is just inches and inches of extra fabric.

Emery 2

So this weekend I’m going to try and tackle altering the back so it fits a little more closely. I want room to move, but this is just too much. I should have made a muslin I know, but I made this for Halloween and was on a tight deadline!  Thankfully the way Christine designed the darts in the back means that it shouldn’t be too difficult to take in and hopefully I’ll be able to update you soon! Especially since I have another dress quantity of fabric to work up and the weather is actually fall-like in LA. Yay Fall!