Monday, September 22, 2014

"Eggplant Purple Retro Reproduction Dress" or "How I Stash Bust"

Once again I've made a Retro Reproduction dress!  Surprise! Surprise!  This is another circle pocket version made up in corduroy.  The length of corduroy was left over from a project last year and I didn't have enough length to cut out the front and back of the dress so I slashed the front across the breast and added piping.  This is a great way to eek out another dress from a small or odd shaped piece of fabric.  

The piping and bias tape are me-made and are the reverse side of black and white striped fabric.  I started to use the right side but didn't like how sharp the contrast was, when I turned the fabric over I realized the stripes appeared to be gray which I loved.  This is one of the sewing tricks I like to use when I'm not 100% satisfied with a fabric in my stash, I just turn it over and see if I like the reverse side or "wrong" side better.
 I'm thinking that the next iteration of this dress might just have to have some gather or pleats on the center front under that slash line...  The bottom is bias tape finished and that adds a little extra length that this growing tidbit needs.

 You may notice those awful bug bites on little girl's arms and legs - those are from the massive amount of mosquitoes in our back yard.  We have battled and battled those darn critters but they are the meanest mosquitoes I've encountered.  They care nothing about any kind of "gentle" kid friendly repellent.  Hopefully they will subside soon when the weather cools.  
I just had to include this picture of little bit bending down, it really puts me in the mind of Eloise Wilkin drawings.  Her illustrations are always my favorite.  Well, here's to one more Retro Reproduction dress to transition into fall, I'll say it again, its such a quick make that its really sew little trouble to add pockets and bias tape.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bubble Pockets Pattern and Tutorial

Back in July, I used the Retro Reproduction pattern to make a corduroy jumper for my daughter.  To change it up a little I added bright "bubble" pockets:  large pockets that had an exposed lining and were gathered at the bottom, and were accented by piping.  After reading lots of positive feedback (thank you!), it seems that many of you would like to be able to add bubble pockets to your Retro Reproduction dresses as well-- so here's the pattern and tutorial.

Click here for the pattern.

Just as a note, I only drafted one size bubble pocket, and it was originally used on the size 4 Retro Reproduction dress.  Since the pockets don't affect the fit of the dress at all, they can really be any size you'd like.  So to make the pockets larger or smaller, simply change the scale when you print the pattern pieces.

So without further ado...

Bubble Pocket Tutorial 
The pockets should be added to the Retro Reproduction Dress before the side seams are sewn together

1.  Print and cut out the patten pieces.   For each pocket you will need one pocket lining and two pocket exteriors.  For the lining: fold your fabric with wrong sides together.  Place pattern piece on top of the two layers, pin, and cut.  Now you should have two pieces, mirror images, for the left and right pockets.
For the exterior:   Fold your fabric with wrong sides together. Place the pattern piece on top of the two layers, pin, and cut.  Repeat for the pieces for the second pocket.  You should have four exterior pieces, two sets of mirror images. 
Be sure to cut the notches in the exterior pieces, this is where your gathering stitches will go (see step 2). 

2.  On the top edge of the pocket lining, fold over 1/2 inch towards the wrong side and press.

3.  On both exterior pieces use a gathering stitch and sew between the notches, 1/4" from the edge.  Do not gather the stitches yet.

4.  Next prepare your piping. At one end of the piping, pull the cord out approximately 1/2 inch, and then clip the cord.  This will allow you to tuck the piping into the seam allowances later on.

5.   With the right side of the fabric up, line up the unfinished edge of the piping with the unfinished straight edge of the exterior piece.  The end of the cord that you clipped should be inside the casing.  This end should line up with the end of the straight edge, with the empty casing extending beyond the fabric. 

6. Baste the piping to the exterior pocket piece.  Using the stitch lines on the piping as a guide, sew as close to the cording as you can without stitching on it.

7.  With ride sides together, pin the two pieces of the exterior pocket together.  Make sure the side with the piping is on top.  The piping will now be sandwiched between the two pieces.  Sew the two pieces together, stitching on top of the basting stitches.  This will allow you to sew as closely as possible to the piping without seeing it.

8.  Open the two pieces, fold so that the wrong sides are together, and press. 

9.  Pull the gathering stitches on both the top and bottom pieces so that the exterior pieces fit the curve of the lining.  The straight edge of the exterior pieces should run diagonally through the lining, meeting at the opposite corners.  On the top corner, tuck the piping casing behind the lining.  Using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, baste from the top right corner all the way around to the bottom left corner.

10.  Prepare the piping by again pulling out the cording and cutting off approximately 1/2 inch.   Line up the piping with the top right corner, with the empty casing extending beyond the top of the fabric .  With unfinished edges aligned, pin the piping along the entire curved edge of the pocket.  Baste.

11.  On the front of your Retro Reproduction dress, mark along the side seam where you want your pocket to be placed.  Pin the unfinished straight edge of the pocket along the side seam of the dress.  Baste.  Turn the edges of the piping and pocket to the wrong side, so that the seam allowance is in-between the pocket and dress, and just the piping is exposed.  Pin.

12.   Starting at the top inside corner, top stitch along the folded top edge of the pocket, and then "stitch in the ditch" between the pocket and the piping. 

And you're done!  When you sew the front and back of the dress together the raw edges of the pocket will be enclosed in the seam allowance. 

We'd love to see what you're creating with the Retro Reproduction pattern!  So feel free to link up your creations to our flickr page, found here.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Grainline Alder Number Two!

This is my second Grainline Alder dress and its sewn up in a quilting cotton that I've been saving for just such a project!  When I saw that this dress could be made in quilting cotton I knew immediately what I would use from my stash.  I've been saving this print not wanting to use it on my kid's clothes because after all they would only wear it for a season and I can wear this for- well a long long time!!  I'm showing it belted and unbelted because I always appreciate seeing dresses like this both ways.  But I prefer it unbelted.

The last one I made was a size 4 in the shoulders and size 6 from the bust down but with this one I kept it a size 4 in the shoulders, size 6 in the bust and shaved off some of the width from the waist and hip.  I also lowered the hem at the side seams by 1/4 inch since I felt I needed just a bit more coverage.  

The pose above is called "come back here we're not finished with pictures" and "look there's plenty of dirt to dig in right here- not over there!"  Pictures outside are always a bit trickier with an on-the-move two year old.  
And this smile is called "that's right- there's where I want you to play!"  I can't think of much to say about this dress since I blogged about my first one here.  but I am looking forward to wearing this year round since I plan on wearing leggings and a cardigan with it this winter and I think it is the perfect pattern for a great summer sleeveless shirt.  My quilting cottons better watch out because I'm still on a stash busting craze and I'm eye-balling all those piles of fabric!!  Be afraid my little crazy stacked mounds of fabric, be very afraid!


Monday, September 1, 2014

Oh, the Cuteness! Aster Cardigan Edition

I will be the first to admit that I have a children's pattern buying problem.  I have purchased way more patterns than I will ever have time to sew, and so I always hesitate to buy another one.  But with a pattern like the Aster Cardigan by Willow & Co, there is no guilt involved-- it is a pattern that is cute AND practical and I know it will be made and worn often.   

The pattern is a simple cardigan with 3/4 length sleeves and a Peter Pan collar-- great for the cool weather that lies ahead here in the midwest.  The peplum bottom, sleeve button tabs, and heart applique were my own additions.   This is an easy pattern to modify or embellish, so there are many possibilities to make it your own style.  And I always love patterns that allow me to highlight a little bit of fun printed fabric!

Here is a view of the back with the peplum bottom:

And finally, because my daughter is three, we ended up with a number of pictures like these!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fall Retro Reproduction Dress and Aster Cardigan

The Retro Reproduction Dress FREE Pattern is available here.

By now, if you follow this blog, you know that we have a great free dress pattern we call the Retro Reproduction Dress.  This outfit for my two-year-old is another iteration of this pattern with added half circle pockets and the Aster cardigan from Willow & Co. patterns.  Fall is just around the corner and the sun is starting to cast those nostalgic shadows while the leaves are just giving hints at the colors to come.  So I felt the urge to make something that will transition in Little Bit's wardrobe into the next season.  

The Retro Reproduction is made up in some medium weight denim from my stash.  The hemline is finished with bias tape for a bit of extra length (this girl is getting tall).  The pockets are half circles finished with me-made gingham bias tape.  Since this dress is only made of four pattern pieces making additions like these pockets feels like no burden- in fact I usually still have time and energy to add a little something extra to this dress since it is so simple.  I envision Little Bit wearing it with golden yellow leggings this fall when there is a chill in the air!
Now on to the cardigan.  This cardigan was in fact made from the most homely turtleneck one could ever behold.  It was a bit worn and sad but I just love that cranberry color for fall so it was destined to be reborn into this cardigan.  If ever I hope to save a knit garment I sometimes use the "wrong" side of the fabric as my new "right" side so that any pilling or fading is inside the new garment.  The bias tape used as flat piping here is some gingham cotton and I simply basted it to the collar before stitching the collar together.  The buttons are sewn on and instead of using buttonholes I used snaps.  The pattern has instructions for buttons and buttonholes but my fabric was too bulky to fit under my buttonhole foot.  

This worked fine for me and probably is better anyway since buttonholes on knits can sometimes look wonky and stretch out over time.  The pattern was good to work with and knits always sew up so fast.  This is a size two for my two-year-old so the sizing seems right.  I think I may lengthen the sleeves this winter so that she can wear them when its colder but this length is perfect for putting on top of all those sleeveless summer clothes that she still fits into right now.  

I really love fall colors and love the way that both of these pieces came together.  I have been trying desperately to pare down my stash fabrics and making clothes for my two-year-old is perfect for pieces that are too small for adult clothing like this denim.  
This is just the beginning of my fall sewing (my favorite time of the year) and fall colors are my very favorite colors to coordinate.  I have lots of plans for some of my fall looking quilting cottons, I definitely think a few more iterations of the Retro Reproduction dress are on the docket.  If any of you are interested in a tutorial for these pockets let me know and I may add that to the bill this fall, until then, happy sewing!
Linking up to Frontier Dreams Keep Calm and Craft On.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Alder Fan-wagon

 Another Grainline Studio pattern for me here.  When I saw the teasers from Jen, the architect behind these patterns, I knew that I would want the pattern for a Mother's Day gift.  So I told my husband "don't buy me any Mother's Day gifts, I'll take care of it."  And when the pattern was released there I was ready to buy it! See a sewist makes her husbands life easier- right!!

Back to the pattern- its the Alder Shirtdress and since I've had success at fitting my body to these patterns I knew I would be happy with the results.  I read on a couple of other sewing blogs that the fit of this dress was different from the fit of the Archer button down shirt by Grainline so I was careful to choose a size 4 for my shoulders grading to a size 6 at the bust, waist and hips.  This seems to have almost worked perfectly for me except for a few puckers around the upper bust.  Not sure what those are I think it might be from the pockets since they have to fit around the front bust darts??  But don't really know- they seem to point to the third button but when I button the next button up they disappear.  Not something I'm too worried about, more curious.     

The fabric I used was some pink shirting type stuff I thrifted.  I know its cotton but it is like a nicer, thinner shirting, crisp and has a crossweave of pink and white threads.  It shows all kinds of weird looking wrinkles in these pictures so its not the most fluid fabric.  I really like the A-line shape of the dress but my husband isn't such a fan, he suggested a belt (always makes me laugh when he gives styling advice) and I had to agree with him this time that a belt might make this one look a little better.  I think a heaver, drapier fabric wouldn't need a belt.  

As far as sewing this have to use a tailor's ham or rolled towel to mimic the chest under the front of the dress panels when pinning the pockets in place because they are shaped on top of a dart.  If this is confusing the Grainline website is having a sew-along right now that will eventually cover this step.   The construction wasn't intimidating for me since I've made the Archer button up shirt twice but if you've never done a button up I, again, recommend going to the Grainline site for help.  Also I finished my hem with gingham bias tape.  Which gave me a smidge more length- not that the dress is too short, I'm just careless when bending over to help my children so any extra coverage is usually to my advantage. 
Now this is not the most flattering angle- I admit- but I only think it fair to let other sewists see even the "is she going out to her mailbox in a muu muu" angle pictures.  I personally think that all the other angles on this dress look perfectly fine, its just this one that is screaming for a belt.  Its fair to say that I am probably going to have to make every single variation of this dress that is covered in the Grainline sew-along because they all look adorable.

I'm linking this up to a sundress sew-along hosted by Heather at Handmade by Heather B which has been fun to participate in and Frontier Dreams Keep Calm, and Craft On!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Less Than Perfect

Sometimes there are sewing projects that I make that I feel may be just a little less than perfect.  Something about them feels not quite what I hoped it would feel like and I'm unsure about it for some reason that I can or can't put my finger on.  These are three such projects.

I read once on one of those "Better Blogging Tips" post by a successful DIY blogger that you should never, ever post projects that don't represent the best of your work and I think that maybe that thought has lingered in the back of my mind ever since.  Don't you hate it when you read something like that and then realize it has been shaping the way you think!!  I do, I especially think that in the sewing blog world it can be even more helpful when we post makes that didn't go quite like we planned because it may help a fellow sewist out there that is trying the same pattern.

So here I am today posting three makes that didn't quite "make the cut" when I was considering blogging them and now I think its time to bring them out of the shadows and take a look at why I didn't quite think they were up to snuff and why I now feel pretty good about them!

The first is this Colette Peony.  It was the first Colette Peony I completed after I made a kajillion alterations to the muslins (here's my second version if you're interested).  A couple of factors led me away from  posting this dress.
1.)  I made it from some linen in my stash that I had dyed with black dye to tone down the crazy ikat print on it.  I think I decided I shouldn't post it because of how dark this whole ensemble looked.

2.)  Secondly the fabric didn't take the dye evenly so I think I decided it just wasn't quite up to my best work.
But now looking at it I don't think it looks so bad and I actually plan on wearing this dress this winter whenever I have the chance!  I really love the shape of the Colette Peony, I still feel a bit ambivalent about how all the darts ended up on the bodice but the overall affect is good.  So here it is in all its glory to be hidden no longer!!

The second is the Made by Rae Washi Dress.  I have made the Washi dress twice and this one is made up in Anna Maria Horner Voile.  I know exactly why I felt I shouldn't post this dress, several reasons.
1.)  The first being easily fixed, I felt the hemline on this dress was too long and unflattering.  I wore it with some tall boots one day and when I realized how close the hemline came to the top of the boots I felt it just didn't work.

2.) Another mistake with this dress was the neckline, I underestimated just how much the voile would stretch out of shape and didn't properly stabilize it so its kind of wavy and doesn't lay flat.  That just annoys me.

3.) And the final reason I felt some ambivalence about this dress has to do with my deep aversion to maternity clothes and anything that looks like it might even in the teeniest way resemble maternity clothes.  Even to that point where someone might look at a dress and think "is she, isn't she."  I felt the empire waist and tucks around the front waist line might give the dress the smallest hint that it was maternity wear and I just didn't want anything to do with that! Ha ha!
But nooowwwww as I look at it I don't feel quite so judgy about it.  For one, taking up the hemline is an easy fix and as far as the "is she, isn't she" quality...meh (shrugs shoulders) I guess I'll just put a belt around the waist.    

And the third make that has languished in my unblogged photos is this Deer and Doe Plantain Tee.  And again there are a couple of reasons why this went unposted.
1.)  The first being that this shirt was the result of a total mistake in cutting fabric.  Some how I was working on this top at the same time as a Grainline Hemlock and ended up cutting out the sleeves that I intended for this shirt with the Grainline Hemlock sleeve pattern piece and aaarrgghhh they definitely weren't going to frankenpattern into this top and I was out of yardage to cut more sleeves.  Hate it when that happens, note to self- no more than one set of pattern pieces on the table at a time! So I had to fudge the armholes and try to make them work as a tank top.  It didn't turn out even or pretty, I would try it on, mark it, trim the seam and do it all over again and finally folded the seam under and topstitched it.  They still aren't even and the seam flops around- ugh.

2.)  The second reason it went unblogged was because of the neckline.  Its quite low and I felt a little false showing this picture of me wearing it with a mini skirt as an everyday piece because that's not how I wear it IRL.  Because the neckline is so low I can't wear it day to day because I am no where near careful enough not to flash people, especially when reaching down to pick up my two year old.

However I do wear this shirt often when I exercise.  It works great with my sports bra and feels really light and airy which is a must for me when working out in the southern heat.

So there you go, three projects I've hidden because I was unsure about them but now, mehhhh (shrugs shoulders again) I think its better to share even our mistakes in the sewing world, because that's how we learn right?!

Linking up to Frontier Dreams, Keep Calm and Craft On.