Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Frozen" dress -- Anna

I've been making quite a few princess dresses lately. They're a big hit with the 4-6 year old crowd I sew for, and they're just so darn cute. The patterns are from Made for Mermaids, where Megan has designs from her "Everyday Princess" line. They're great because they look like Disney princesses but they are simplified enough to be comfortable, everyday wear for your little girl.

My daughter's first--and only, so far--movie theater experience was "Frozen", so she was pretty excited when I had a chance to make her a Princess Anna dress.

She was super excited about this one :)

Although she's not the princess with "freezing powers" (as my daughter calls Elsa), she was still a big hit. The pattern includes the long sleeve peasant shirt that's worn under the zip-up, sleeveless dress. There's a pointed bodice and instructions for including the gold trim and the floral detail on the front. There's even a template included if you want to paint the bodice design.

Don't be afraid of zippers--the
instructions make it super easy!

Danielle decided to have a growth spurt and not tell me, so this is the size 4 when she's actually a size 5 length now. As much as I measure my kids, you think I would have caught this beforehand!

I decided to take a couple of designs from Embroidery Library and work some Embird magic to cut and paste different bits together to make my own Anna design. I didn't feel comfortable purchasing from the site that offers "Mr. Mouse" and other knock-off designs. It was a lot of fun to put the embroidery together and I think it turned out really nice.

The embroidery placement could have been a little lower though

I was really pleased with this dress and bought some more fabric to make my daughter a dress in the right length. This version went to a dear friend of ours, and her older sister got the Elsa dress which I will share with you next time. (Maybe tomorrow--we're supposed to have snow here in the South which is funny because I am posting about a movie called "Frozen"!)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

More Christmas Gifts

Besides the laptop tote in my last post, I made a few other things for Christmas. My favorite was a personalized outfit for a little girl named Jada who loves Dora.

I used the Sugarplum Skirt pattern from Tie Dye Diva and appliqued a long sleeve shirt to coordinate. The skirt has a flat front waistband and elastic in the back, along with a big (optional) bow in the front. I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of most of the character fabric I've seen, but kids love it. This pattern offers the perfect solution--the end result is so pretty it doesn't matter what fabric you use!

For the shirt I used the Stitchy Applique Font from LynniePinnie. I think it's a neat look and would like to use it again on some stuff for my kids.

I used a single piece of fabric and trimmed afterwards.
It was a little tricky because the I put the letters so close together.

I also made two doll dresses, but my photos were awful, so I only have pictures of one to share. This is the Carousel Girl dolly dress from Ellie Inspired (who is no longer going to be selling doll patterns separately). It is beautiful, but was time-consuming to sew--the bottom ruffle was 6 feet long before it was ruffled! I used fabrics from the Bubble Gum Swing Dress I made Danielle and it turned out so pretty.

Here is the back which has 4 rows of ruffles making a bustle

I also made the Made for Mermaids Rapunzel dolly dress which had velcro along the back to close it and would be great for younger girls. It coordinates with the girl-sized version I made for Danielle for Halloween and which I finally got better pictures of to share.

Finally, I used the Made for Mermaids Cinderella pattern to make dress-up dresses for some special little girls. I have been making quite a few princess dresses, so I have lots more to say about Megan's great patterns, but I'll save them for another post :)

That wraps up my Christmas sewing posts! Coming up I have lots of princess dresses to share, including the sisters from "Frozen" :)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Laptop Tote

I guess it's past time to share my Christmas sewing! First up is a laptop tote I sewed for a special family. I used this Laptop Bag pattern from Aivilo Charlotte to make a custom-fit bag.

I love the bow detail on the front

The bag is a basic tote, with a bow detail on the front and an elasticated pocket on the back. It's made to fit the laptop but there was enough ease to get it in and out easily.

It was a pretty straightforward sew, but I made a few adjustments. First, I decided to use velcro instead of a covered button. I didn't have a big enough button that I liked and I thought the elastic loop would look too homemade. I have some magnetic snaps but didn't want to use them for a computer bag. (I had a sad incident back in the 90's where I erased the entire contents of a 3.5" floppy when I set it on my hard drive. Lesson learned--for life!). I stitched the Velcro close to the top and there is still plenty of room to fit the computer inside.

The back pocket was perfect for the cord

The measurements for the back pocket elastic pulled the sides of the bag in too much (which you can see in the pattern listing, so I made mine longer. The pocket still stays shut and the back keeps it's shape better.

Here you can see the velcro a bit better, along with the fun lining

I used a fun print on the inside. I love it and wanted to use it for the outside, but you take a chance when you sew for others so I used the more conservative polka dots as the main fabric.

This picture shows the laptop in the bag (the first photo showed the
bag empty). I was pleased with the nice,slim fit.

I looked at a lot of different bags to find just the style I liked. I wanted something that was just meant to hold the laptop, would be easy to open and close, had room for the cord, wasn't bulky, and was cute.  This fit the bill perfectly and the calculations to make a custom fit were clear and easy to follow. The instructions were a bit confusing to me, but maybe that's because I've been sewing mostly clothes lately. Overall I'm very pleased with the results.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Year in Review and Looking Ahead

Hello 2014 and hello everyone! It has been far too long since I popped in here. I have been busy working, spending time with my family, getting ready for Christmas, sewing (of course) and doing all those other life things that happen off the Internet. I wanted to do a quick year-in-review/goals for 2014 type of post, since I still have photos to take and edit of actual sewing projects:)


I tried out patterns from a lot of different PDF designers this year, and I've definitely developed some favorites. I like designers who offer clothing with good drafting and proper construction, and details like measurement charts, fabric layouts and sewing tips are a plus.

I shied away from panning designers in the past, because I don't want to hurt anyone's business. After seeing how many new designers have sprung up over the past year and the way that there are a lot of glowing reviews from testers and new seamstresses who might not recognize (or want to recognize) issues, I realized there is a bit of honest perspective missing. So here is my list of designers who make or miss the mark.

Popolok Designs - PICK!

Here is my version of the CeCe, the Nelia and the Lulu

I still love Popolok Designs. I have not gotten around to sewing any of her patterns again (except the Nelia, more on that a different day), but I will. I love her drafting and that her patterns have interesting details and options.  She's not afraid of buttons, zippers, facings, or any of those other things that some consider "hard" but I think are really just part of sewing. I can't wait to see what she has planned for the new year!

Tie Dye Diva - PICK!
A new favorite! Jen shop offers fairly classic patterns, but I love them because I can trust the fit and construction. That was especially important when I made pants for Samuel's dedication at church. I used my husband's old uniform trousers to make them, and I only had enough material for one go. TDD's Snazzy Pants pattern did not let me down! She's got some really cute patterns I can't wait to make in 2014.

(Photo from TDD)(Photo from TDD)
Ruffle Pop Skirt Pattern Ruffled Baby Sunsuit

PeekABoo Pattern Shop - PAN
I hate to include Amy's patterns here, because I love that she offers so many RTW styles. I tested several times for her and formed an opinion that makes me not want to pay money for her patterns. Sometimes the cycle seemed a bit rushed, like getting the patterns to the testers was more important than getting the pattern to fit right first. Some of the details made it clear that they were new to her, and yet she was drafting patterns that included them. Also, precedence seems to be given to people who can provide photos for listings and not those who will give honest feedback. All this adds up to a pan from me.

Schwin patterns - PAN
I made the Maggie Mae, dress version, for Danielle and loved the finished result, but not the process. I think there is a lot to be said for paper patterns, as much as they get sneered at. Though the instructions may be sparse, and a bit difficult for new seamstresses to follow, they are at least complete. I don't buy a pattern to figure out how wide or how many pleats to make myself. I have enough skill to cobble together my own patterns--I buy them so I don't waste precious sewing time trying to figure things out myself as I get a thrill from the end result, not the creative process. There are other patterns that are similar that offer better instructions--the Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress, for example. I am also looking forward to trying out this Color Block pattern by Heidi & Finn.

Whimsy Couture - PAN

$7 to make a bow? Total waste of money!

I don't even know what to say. I spent $7 ON SALE for a pattern (the Bodacious Bow Peasant Dress) that came with 5 different files (five! to make a peasant dress!), and only one pattern piece--a hand-drawn armhole cutout. I can draft my own peasant dress (see the indietutes tutorial here)--I wanted a nice pattern and I didn't realize the bow was just tacked on, separately, not part of the construction of the dress.  And the hand-drawn piece? It was sketchy. Like, lines not even smoothed out sketchy. The only salvageable part of the pattern was the bow--you can bet I will not be sending any more of my hard-earned money in this shop's direction, that's for sure.



My New Blog Design - PICK!
This took a bit of time, as my graphic designs skills extend to Microsoft Office, Paint, and a smidge of Photoshop. I'm comfortable with computers, but not so good at creating my own designs. I'm pretty pleased with the way my header turned out, and I can swap out colors if/when I get around to it.

BubbleGum Swing Dress- PICK!

Candy Castle Patterns has been knocking designs out of the park this year! Rebecca's Peppermint Swirl dress stands out as one of the prettiest and most unique dresses I've seen, and the BubbleGum Swing dress that I made during a sew-a-long was one of my most favorite items ever. The options make it really versatile, and though it can be made in knits it is a dream for those who want to use cottons--there are so many options for using coordinating prints.

I don't have any real pans of the year, unless you count my failure to set (or meet) any real sewing goals, and my lack of consistency in blog posts. I did do a lot of pattern testing and some styles were outside my comfort zone. That being said, I don't think there was a single style I really disliked. Just some fabric/pattern combinations that didn't make it into my favorites. Moving on...

2014 GOALS

I was supposed to make a quilt for our queen sized bed. I haven't even washed the fabric yet! Beyond that, I didn't have any defined goals for this past year. I want to stay a bit more focused, so I'm taking the time to set some goals for this new year.

1. Submit a project for Hopeful Threads each quarter.
Kristy was doing monthly projects, but has changed to doing them quarterly this year. That takes away any excuse I have about sewing something in time, so I commit to participating each quarter.

2. Sew for myself.
Have you seen the Mouse House cardigan? It's too cute, and shouldn't involve too much fit. I plan to lose weight this year, but a cardigan should still fit even if I do shed some pounds. I'd also like to sew myself at least 2 dresses and 2 other tops this year. Total: 5 garments for myself. I can do it!

Image from MouseHouseCreations Etsy Shop
Pattern: Julia Women's Cardigan (how cute is this?!)

3. Finish my UFOs (UnFinished Objects).
I am not sure how many partially done sewing projects I have laying around, but I do know that it's time to finish them up. There are clothes that my kids have grown past the point of being able to wear (that I will finish and find a home for), Christmas presents that never got finished and mailed, toys that my nieces are going to be too old for soon--they all will get sewn! Okay, maybe not all of them, but a good bit of them. I feel motivated for 2014!

Whew! Are you tired of reading yet? I think that's a long enough list. I hope you all had a safe and happy holiday, and look forward to seeing what you create in this new year. What are you going to sew first?
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