Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Hello Kitty Birthday

My sweet girl turned 5 recently and I wanted to make her a special dress. For her birthday, I like to do something a bit "more"--more ruffly like last year's dress, or more twirly and more pink like this year's. :)

I chose the Peppermint Swirl dress from Candy Castle patterns, so I had Danielle pick the Hello Kitty fabric she wanted for the main print. She chose a sweet pink gingham Hello Kitty fabric and I used a sparkly pink to coordinate. I also used a tone-on-tone white and a hot pink fabric with white spots on it (that reminded me of the strawberries) to round out the flounces.



I didn't get the best pictures--I was sick that week and was rushing to get the dress done on top of the party preparations. That's okay though, birthdays are more important than blog pictures :)

I used a size 4 slim bodice with a size 5 length. It's slightly empire, with a sash between the bodice and the skirt. And oh that skirt! There are 16 flounces, each made of two pieces. I got excited to make her a dress with a 9 foot hem, thinking it would be super twirly. In the middle of hemming it, I wondered why it was taking so long...then I realized I had read the bias requirements too quickly--I used 9 YARDS, which meant the hem was 27 feet around!!



It makes for one very twirly dress! She loved it and it was over-the-top enough for a birthday :) The fit was good but the dress was a little longer than I expected. It hit an inch or two below her knees. That's probably a good thing though--when she gets to spinning, the dress lifts up quite a bit!




She loved her dress and so did a lot of the moms at the party. One of them said she was going to talk to me about a dress for her daughter's birthday. I think she will be scared off when I tell her what I would charge for a dress that takes 4+ hours to make and uses several yards of fabric! It was totally worth it to see my daughter shine on her special day though (cue cheesy/creepy photo effects):



And just because, here's one more picture of that pretty skirt:


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Ruffle Pop Skirt

As always, so much to share, so little time! I was asked this weekend how I found time to sew. I guess it comes at the expense of blogging :) It used to feel like an item wasn't really done until it was blogged about. Now, that's kind of lessened as I have other ways to share what I work on (the ladies at work are oh-so-patient with me!) But since this blog acts as a sort of journal for me, I'd like to do better and play catch up. For real life, as my now-5-year-old would say.

This is a little outfit I put together for one of Danielle's friends at school. She was having a Hello Kitty themed birthday party and I noticed the birthday girl and her sister often wear appliqued shirts, so I thought handmade would be appreciated.



I have been really wanting to make Tie Dye Diva's Ruffle Pop skirt, and when I found a hot pink coordinating print for that bright blue HK print, I knew it was a match. Some eyelet lace made it an even quicker sew. I didn't feel up to embroidering a shirt so I went with the suggestion of some online sewing "friends" and added a plain t-shirt to go with it. Danielle picked the pink and I like it.

To round it all out I made a headband. I used some ruffle elastic that I found while looking for inspiration for the baby gown I made recently. (I wish I could have ordered it in time to use for that outfit). I ruffled a long strip of the blue fabric and used this Kitty Feltie design from GGDesigns to add a Hello Kitty-ish kitty to the middle.

The design comes with a no-mouth option, but I also left
the ear detail off as well.

I glued the ruffle onto a felt circle, then sandwiched the seam of the headband (which was just the ruffle elastic with the ends sewn together) in between the base felt circle and another piece of felt. A little glue on the bow, and more hot glue to put HK in the middle, and I was done!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pink Knit Dahlia

I have so much to catch up on blogging about that I had a hard time picking one to start with! Since I've loved sewing with knits lately, I decided to share this top I tested for Golden Rippy. It's called the Dahlia top and it's a quick and cute sew.

Ignore the floppy flower, mkay?


This pink heart knit material is one of the first knits I ever bought. I didn't know much about knits, so I randomly bought different kinds back when fabric.com still sold fabric for $1.95 a yard! I lucked out, because this knit is super soft and has great recovery. The edges curled which made it tricky to do the bands, but a little starch and patience and it all worked out. I got it about 4 years ago, thinking I would make shirts for my nieces, but they are a bit older than my Danielle and may have outgrown pink and hearts. My girlie 4 year old still loves both though :)



The top has cut-on sleeves, so it's just a front, a back, and some bands at the neck, arms and hips. I don't know if the designer shortened the neckband at all in the final version, but you can see in the picture above that it's a wee bit long. I love the length and the easy look of this top!



The flower is a cute touch.


I used felt for the base and just pinned it to the shirt--I don't think it will be a permanent addition for this version. You can find the pattern here: Golden Rippy Dahlia Top

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Winter Street Dress Blog Tour

If you've popped over here for the blog tour, hello! I usually sew for my kids, but I have made it a goal to sew for myself some this year. So when Deepika was looking for ladies to test a dress, I thought it would be the perfect motivation for me. This is the Winter Street Dress, designed by Deepika, the found of PatternReview.com and drafted by Maria Denmark.

I actually made two versions. My first try was in a ponte knit, and while it's an appropriate fabric for the dress (see Detective Houndstooth's gorgeous version using ponte), it didn't work for my figure. The structure of a stable knit highlighted my curves in a very unflattering way.

I wrote Deepika, feeling very discouraged and thinking this silhouette just would not work for me. She suggested that maybe it would work in a drapier knit. There are inverted pleats that offer a little tummy camouflage if needed, without extra fullness if you're slim. The skirt has a tulip shape and the pattern is drafted for a C cup and an above the knee hem. So, in theory, it should have worked for me. She didn't pressure me to re-do it, but I decided to try again and I am so glad I did!!




The neckline--the part that I need the most practice with when sewing with knits--has a wonderful method of construction which leads to a nice-looking, no gape neckband. Deepika includes a link to a video showing the method, or you can also read about it in her tip on Pattern Review: Narrow Binding on necklines and armholes for knits




I did make some slight fit tweaks. The dress actually turned out pretty good in the size made by using the measurement chart (L top, blended to an XL waist, with an XL skirt), but since my first attempt was so horrible I thought I should use it as a muslin and learn a bit about fit in the process. I have an ample bum, so I increased the width of the back skirt by 3/4" (on the fold) in order to make deeper pleats in the back. In the ponte they looked like they were straining, but the increased depth of the pleat and the drapier knit make them behave much nicer.



I also made a swayback adjustment, though I imagine the bunching I get at often get in the small of my back is due to my bum curve and not necessarily a sway back. Deepika sent me this swayback alteration for knits to check out. I traced the size I needed for the back and then marked a dot 1/2" up from the bottom on the center fold line. I used a ruler and drew a line from that dot over to the bottom corner of the outer edge. I did something similar for the skirt, removing a wedge that was a 1/2" deep in the center back, tapered to nothing on the outer edge. The result was great! I have some store bought knit dresses I like to wear with a belt, but they always bunch up--you can see this doesn't. The only issue I had was that I used the same pattern piece to cut out the front skirt and accidentally made a sway-front adjustment, oops!



So I have to wear the belt with this version, but the dress looks super cute without it--check out Sew Crafty Chemist's version.

A few other adjustments I made--I added 1/2" (on the fold) to the back bodice as a cheater broad back adjustment. I don't know if I actually needed this. Trumbelina's post on her dress has great details and illustrations on how to do one properly and is another super-cute, non-belted version.  I also added 1/2" width to both sides of the sleeves, as my arms often feel like sausages in RTW clothes. I probably didn't need that extra room but it's so nice not to have snug sleeves! I took a smidge off the sleeve cap to account for the extra length of the armscye from my width adjustment--the sleeve should fit in the armscye without gathers.



I also made 3/4 length sleeves by adding some length to the cut line for the flounce. We're entering spring here in the South but our office is air-conditioned, so these will be perfect. 

I did not change the hem length and found in my first version that I would not need to change the hem length of the long-sleeves either. I did not change the bodice length either. I'm only 5' 2", so keep that in mind if you are not so short! It looks high in the front in the next picture, but it hangs straight in real life.



I do not love the side view quite so much, but that is not the fault of the pattern--this is actually the most flattering dress I've worn since having kids! My mummy-tummy combined with a once-petite, now-full hourglass shape can be difficult to dress in one-piece garments. I thought that I could only wear dresses that were super full on the bottom or were empire-waisted. This dress has a seam at the natural waist and the fullness is due to the inverted pleats, proving me wrong. I already plan to make another version of this dress!

Thank you, Deepika, for your help and encouragement in making this dress. And thank you for understanding that women want to feel nice in their clothes, even if they are not in perfect shape :)

Be sure to catch all the version of this great dress on the blog tour. Here's the whole schedule:

Sew Crafty Chemist 4/2/2014
Detective Houndstooth 4/3/2014
How Good Is That? 4/4/2014
Trumbelina Sews 4/5/2014
danikate Designs  4/6/2014
Sherril's Sewing Saga 4/7/2014
Sharon Sews 4/8/2014
Stitchin' in My Kitchen 4/9/2014
sewing forward 4/10/2014
Hellou's Handmades 4/11/2014
Crafted By Carrie 4/12/2014
Greetings from Beyond the Basic Block 4/13/2014
JanMade 4/14/2014
Julia Bobbin 4/15/2014

**A note--My dress seems to be fuller in the front and fit differently from some of the other versions (and the line drawing). I did select the XL waist and XL skirt sizes based on my measurements and using the chart in the pattern. The tutorial has you use clear elastic at the waist seam to stabilize it. I don't believe I stretched the knit to make it look gathered, though that is possible. Rather, I think it's just the way my weight is distributed and the way the knit hangs. I assembled the back skirt the same as the front and you can see that looks a lot smoother. Regardless of the reason, I'm glad for the way the dress hangs in the front on me!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ready for Warmer Weather!

I'm not going to lie--I felt like a total superstar when Laura from Ellie Inspired asked if I wanted to be in her tester group for her spring pattern line. It was a no-brainer--I said "yes"! Sleep, schmeep. Who needs sleep when there are cute spring dresses to make?

Garden Party Dress pattern by Ellie Inspired


See?! (Okay, pattern testing might be a problem, but it's not as big as my fabric buying issue so I'm going to overlook it for now...) This is the Garden Party dress that was just released last week. I made a bit of a boo-boo working on it late at night, but a sash saved the day and the pattern now includes a sash option :)

The photo on the left shows how I traced the wrong size for the BACK bodice piece.
The photo on the right is where I tried to cut the extra off the FRONT bodice. Doh!


When my bodice side seams didn't line up, I realized that I had traced the wrong width/length for the back bodice piece. Easy enough fix--I could just trim the extra bit off since those sides weren't sewn yet. Except that whole sewing at night thing meant that I cut the extra off the front bodice. Oops. I seamed some fabric to the front and then carefully cut the extra off the back, finishing the dress with no further mishaps.

The boo boo seam is on the bottom left of the bodice


The seam isn't super visible, but I think it definitely needs the sash to hide it. I love the Minnie Ta Dot fabric I used for the bodice, so the sash just gave me more to love :) I really do love this fabric combination, especially with the contrast band on the skirt. Speaking of the skirt, those pleats took quite a bit of time. But they are so sweet!



I really love how this dress turned out. It fit well and it's so modest and pretty. And those cap sleeves are awesome. I don't know if I've ever made cap sleeves before, but it was really neat how the lining and construction was done. I made this dress last weekend and ever since the weather has been really beautiful here (70 to 80 degrees). Coincidence? I think not... 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Baby Gown

One of my co-workers was having his second baby this week, and I made a gift just in time--I got this gown to my friend on Tuesday and little Sadi was born on Wednesday!!



I found quite a few tutorials and pictures for onesie gowns online, but none of them were quite what I wanted so I ended up combining several ideas.

My biggest concern was keeping the stretch of the onesie--I don't make many clothes for bitty babies because I want the clothes to be as comfy as possible and to me, that means knits. I just prefer to have soft, stretchy, cotton fabrics against a baby's skin when they're still little. That problem was solved by attaching the skirt fabric to some stretchy elastic and sewing it on top of the onesie--the knit is the layer closest to the skin and the elastic ensures the tummy area won't be restricted or tight.

 My secondary concern was appearances. I planned to monogram the onesie, but I thought the gown would still look too plain without something near the skirt/bodice seam. I saw some super cute versions that had ribbon sewn around the seam (the skirt wasn't overlapped on the bodice in those versions), but that eliminates the stretch (see concern #1). Solution: I made a cute little belt of sorts out of some ribbons and elastic.

I think the belt would also make a cute headband!

The gown can be worn either way--I tried to stitch as neatly as possibly (while stretching elastic, no easy feat!) so that the belt is optional. I didn't want anything that would tie (safety concern) or be restrictive. I made some elastic ribbon by layering two kinds of ribbon on some elastic and sewing it to be the same length around as the onesie so it would stretch equally.The belt needed a little something more, so I made an organza flower. I am now totally addicted!



These are just different sized circles, layered and sewn together with some pearls in the middle. I used primarily organza but then I read you can use any synthetic so I threw in some hot pink satin as well. You use a heat source (candle, lighter, etc) to melt the edges enough so that they are sealed and the circles curl up. Super easy, super fun! (I might have run out and bought a dozen colors of organza after making my first flower...)


Font is the 2" size Monogram 1 from 8Claws

As you can see, I also added some embroidery to the onesie. I cut the onesie off and monogrammed the baby's initials before attaching the skirt. It was much easier to embroider that way, but a little trickier to determine the placement (this is why I like patterns and instructions--I'm not a big fan of trial and error--too much rework!)


I love the finished result, almost enough to want to have another baby to sew for! I will stick to sewing for friends--several of them have new babies or babies on the way ;)

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Pretty Paris Dress

So I said no more princess dresses (for right now), and I mean that, but I need to be honest. This next dress is actually from a princess pattern. I just didn't have the right colors for a Tiana dress in my stash, and I wanted to see what the pattern would look like in "normal" fabrics.



I am absolutely in love with this pattern (it's the Tiana Dress pattern from Made for Mermaids). It's a peasant style dress but the bodice is shaped, like a good peasant dress pattern should be (that means the front and back have different necklines and aren't just blocky). It has a sash which means a better fit for my slim girl. And the skirt, oh the skirt!


These pictures don't do it justice. There is an underskirt that hangs just the right amount below the overskirt. The overskirt is split in the front and back and the curve at the side seams is PERFECT. It is just such a pretty shape and is drafted to meet up so nicely. I love the way this dress is suited for using coordinating prints. (Oh, and it looks so beautiful as a Tiana dress that I went out right after making this to pick up the fabrics for another princess dress!)



I just think this is such a sweet, modest, pretty dress. It's simple enough to make (it is a peasant style), but it has some interesting details and it's just so pretty!! I need to go back and try some of my other "princess" patterns with non-princess fabrics now, to see how they turn out!
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