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?

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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.

Upton 2.0

This week I decided to tackle the Upton Dress again. I thought my last version was too big so this time I went down one full size to a 12 in the shoulders/bust and a 14 waist/hip. But before I talk about the outcome, can we admire my fabric choice?

I looooooooove this fabric, a cotton sateen I bought on sale at JoAnn’s. It’s not often that I find something so wonderful in that big box filled with disgruntled employees. In fact I’d been all ready to compare JoAnn’s to purgatory, but then I had the best visit I’ve ever had. I found this fabric, the customer services was down right friendly, and they actually had almost everything I needed in stock.

Anyways this is a stretch sateen. It was marked hand wash/dry on low and I almost passed it by because I’m not hand washing my dresses. But it was inexpensive and I decided it wouldn’t be a huge loss if I washed it and ruined the fabric. Thankfully it survived the maiden journey just fine.

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And the dress turned out quite lovely, but I have a couple grumbles. This is the smallest size through the shoulders and still feels wide. I know others loved the open neckline, but its maybe a touch too much for me. It is still a hair too wide in the back.

My other grumble is the skirt feels much narrower than 64 3/8″ through the hip. I roughly measured and it came up more like 58″, but I’m not going to stress about it. As you can see in the photos it looks good. But it feels constricting though the stomach even though the fabric has good stretch for a woven. What is likely the issue is that my hips go out in a dramatic fashion. Much faster than the hip curve of the pattern. And most of the tester versions I’ve seen are on ladies who have slimmer hips than my build. So the gored version just isn’t as nice to wear as the pleated skirt.

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The back turned out totally awesome. I’ve really been nailing the invisible zip installation recently and I’m a huge fan of the V neckline in the back.

So I’m going to wear this a few more time and see how I feel before I made another. I have a few yards of some linen that would be just perfect for this pattern, but I want to feel more confident before breaking it out. Maybe the solution is a 12/14 back and a 12/16 front. I think also a different dart shape for the front lower bust darts. All easy fixes when I’m ready.

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Also, I realize I’m nit picking. This dress is about 1000% better than anything I could buy commercially. We went to a party last night and someone who works in fashion complimented my dress! It was really exciting.

 

 

Art Deco Separates

My love affair with separates continues! And mostly it is thanks to the patterns from Sewaholic! Having skirt patterns pre-drafted to a pear shape is making my life so much easier! I have many pretty blouse patterns I’ve never made because finding commercially made skirts is so frustrating! I’ve tried making skirts too, but the all too often looked homemade. This is the year I change that trend.

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This is the Gabriola skirt. You might not recognize it because the pattern is for a maxi length skirt and its supposed to be made with a drapey fabric. But I like to make things my own, so I hacked a ton of length off the bottom and made it in denim. Rules? What rules?

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And because my goal is to make my skirts appear less homemade I put in an exposed metal zipper. It is not my best zipper installation of all time, but it looks pretty good. Then I top stitched every single seam. And I love the lines of the skirt! It reminds me so much of those 1920s and 1930s bias cut dresses!

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Here is where you can see the combination of denim and this front point isn’t perfect. But whatever. Most women seem to think leggings are appropriate to wear out on public, so I’ll forgive a few oddly draping spots in my skirts. Still way way way better than anything I’ve seen in a store in many many years.

And I’ve wanted a jean skirt for quite a while. Summer at my job is very very casual and heck even during the year a dark denim skirt wouldn’t be out of place. So I picked up this fabric at JoAnn’s on sale figuring I could use it for another Hollyburn skirt. But recently I’ve really enjoyed wearing skirts that fit closer through the hip. It seems more flattering to my shape. That’s when I decided to go for the Gabriola instead.

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The blouse is also new! It is Jennifer Lauren’s Afternoon Blouse and another lovely nod to retro shapes. The hardest part of this pattern is taping all the pieces together! Sigh, I love a printed pattern so much more than a pdf, but this pattern kept calling to me, so I took the plunge. So glad I did. Jennifer currently drafts her patterns for a D cup, so I cut a straight size 18 and it worked perfectly. Plenty of room in the cut on sleeves (so rare for me) and I’m happy with the fit for a casual summer blouse. The fabric is from the collection London Calling from Robert Kaufman. I’m pretty sure I bought it to make the girls something, but too bad. Mine now.

I’m tempted to make the dress version, but I can’t decide if it will just end up looking like a tent. I’d say I should try it for a weekend dress, but I have plenty of those already. I think I’ll ponder a little longer.

Really I like both of these pieces a lot and I know they will get plenty of use once our weather warms again (its only in the high 60s right now). I have some striped chambray set aside for another skirt and some Liberty of London yardage for another blouse. I’ll get to them eventually.

And hey! The outfit even gets a thumbs up from Charlie!

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