Monday, July 21, 2014

Retro Reproduction Dress FREE Pattern and Tutorial





We are so excited to finally get our free pattern up and going.  We have loved experimenting with this pattern and think you will too.  It is a really simple shape that has only four pattern pieces- meaning that it won't take forever to make- but lends itself perfectly to alterations and additions.  It is drafted in sizes 2T-4T.  We plan on sharing with you all our alterations and additions in the next few weeks!  I have already made four for my daughter this summer and can see this dress transitioning into fall with some tights and a long sleeve shirt underneath.  You can find previous versions of the dress here, here, and here

So are you ready to get started?  Great!  Here we go!

Here's the link for download: I Sew, You Sew: Retro Reproduction Dress

1.)  Print out your dress pattern and tape together the pieces.  The pieces that are to be taped together have corresponding numbers (meaning all the pieces labeled 1 go together, all the pieces labeled 2 go together and so forth).  When you're finished you should have one Front dress pattern piece, one Back dress pattern piece, one Front facing, one Back facing.  All seam allowances are 1/2 inch unless otherwise indicated. For now disregard the slash lines that run diagonally across the dress- they are for this version of the dress that we will soon make a tutorial for...so stay tuned!

2.)  You are now ready to cut out your fabric. Each of your pattern pieces should be cut on the fold of the fabric. After you cut out your fabric you should have four pieces- one Front piece, one Back piece, one Front facing and one Back facing.  They are each folded in half in this picture.



3.)  Finish the bottom edges of the Front and Back facings so that they will not unravel. You can use a zigzag stitch, three step zigzag, or serge the edges.  I used a serger to finish the edges in the picture.



4.)  Sew the Front facing to the Front dress piece right sides together- using 1/2 inch seam allowance.  You will stitch from the bottom of one armhole curve to the other enclosing the armhole, top of dress and neck.  Be careful not to stitch the sides together.  You can follow the path of the pins in the picture below.  After you have stitched the Front facing to the Front dress piece repeat with the Back facing and Back dress pieces.



5.)  Trim seams to 1/4 inch, clip the curves, and trim the points off the top edge of dress.



6.)  Turn the right sides of the facings out and iron flat.  Do this for the front dress/facing pieces and back dress/facing pieces.



7.)  Now we want to attach the Front of the dress to the Back of the dress and the dress Front and Back facings in one continuous stitch.  This may seem confusing if you've never done it before- hang in there it will give everything a nice clean look.
With right sides together place the Front dress and Back dress pieces together, lining up the side seams, with the facings right sides together as well- to do this the facings will be opened out.  This will make one continuous stitch on the side seam and will give the underside of the facings a clean finish.




8.)  After you complete the side seam connecting the facings and Front and Back pattern pieces press down the facings and press open the side seams.  You may want to finish the side seams with a serger or zigzag stitch.


9.)  Next you will tack down the facings under the arm attaching the facing to the dress.  To tack the facings down use a needle and thread to apply a few stitches that connect the facings to the dress.  This will keep the facings from flipping around and being a nuisance when the garment is laundered and worn.


10.)  Time for buttons!  Hopefully your sewing machine has an automatic buttonhole feature.  Follow the buttonhole markings on the pattern for the buttons and for the buttonholes.  We recommend using buttons that are 3/4 to 7/8 inch in width but technically you can use whatever buttons you have on hand but you may need to play with the buttonhole placement a bit to get everything centered nicely.






11.)  To hem your dress first finish the raw edge of the hem with either a zigzag stitch or serger.  Then fold up the hem by 1 and 1/2 inches, easing the hem into place (the circumference of the bottom of the hem is slightly bigger, hence the easing it in place).  I find ironing it to help ease it in makes it cooperate better.



11.)  Now you can hand stitch the hem to the dress so that the stitching is barely visible from the outside.



Alternately you can fold the raw edge up 1/4 inch, press and then fold it up 1 and 1/4 inch more and machine stitch it down.  If you prefer you can try the dress on your child to see what hem length you prefer, remember that this dress is designed to be a bit short.    

Now you are DONE!  Yeah!  Now go crazy and pull out all those retro fabrics and get to work making two, three, four or five!  If you have any questions regarding construction feel free to let us know.  There are many ways to construct a dress of this sort and everyone has their own preferences so be brave- if you don't like the way we did it chart your own waters with the construction.  We'd love to see your finished projects so PLEASE link it back to our comments so we can check it out.  We also have an I Sew, You Sew Flickr group.  Happy Sewing!!

Since this a free pattern we ask you to please be respectful of our creative property.  Feel free to use this pattern to make dresses for sale in your home but please no mass production and resale of our pattern as your own work.  




Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Birthday Girl Dress


My youngest child turned two in June and it was a great excuse to make this dress for her.  Its the Oliver and S Birthday Party Dress.  
 I used Kona cottons for the solid colors and a vintage baby blanket I thrifted for the side panels.  I have been holding onto that blanket for a long while just waiting for the right occasion to cut it up.  It just seemed to shout "Two year old birthday party."  Since it was so delicate and gauze like I thought it best to highlight it in a pattern rather than make it the main body of the dress.  I found the buttons at an antique store some years ago.  
 This is the second Oliver and S dress I have ever constructed.  The first one was this dress, which was the Fairytale Dress.  I loved the instructions for the Fairytale dress but found the instructions on the Birthday Party Dress a little less thorough.  For example there was one place on the construction of the back contrasting panels that made me think it wasn't finished enough, meaning that some of the seams weren't enclosed like I thought they would be.  I really appreciate it when patterns tell me exactly when its time to finish a seam and move on to the next step.  I made sure to serge all the edges of the insides in the hopes that it would reinforce the material and keep it nice and neat inside.  Any of you who make clothes for your kids know just how much wear they get and how they can look pretty thready on the inside after so many washes.  Also trying to get the pieces to line up perfectly around the center, pleated front panel was a bit of a challenge and then trying to get the pleats just perfect was kind of hard.  I finally just picked a pretty good placement and went with it.  As far as the bow in the front goes, if you make this dress for a young child you might want to tack it down since it will be repeatedly untied.
 In all it turned out to be an adorable dress and by the end of the party little girl had on a hat and glasses and was plunking away on her tiny piano like Elton John.  I'd say it was a big hit for a two year old party and she knows its a special dress, often requesting to hold it and snuggle with it.  When she sees it hanging up she points and says "birthday dress birthday dress."  I'm always so glad when they know that Mama made something special especially for them.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Culottes an Encore!

This is the second time I've made Megan Nielsen's Tania Culottes and again its a great pattern with great results.  I'm a little on the fence about my fabric choice.  The fabric is from a local thrift store and is a natural fiber, I'm thinking viscose/rayon something or other.  Breathable- check, drapey- check.  But the design is kinda busy so I'm not really sure if it has any business being on the bottom half of my outfit....but any-who the deed is done and I'm moving on.  
 I did make a few changes to this version and went back and made the same changes to my last version found here.  The first pair was a size medium based on my measurements but I felt they sat too low on my hips for my taste so I ripped out the side seam on the waistband and pinched it up by about 3/4 inch.  I tapered the side seam of the skirt a bit to mask the width I pinched out and put everything back together.
I think the next time I make these I will cut out a size small in the waist and use the size medium for the skirt because even with some of the waistband pinched out these have a tendency to tip forward in the front making the hemline appear to be off.

If you aren't familiar with culottes you really ought to be because they give you cute+coverage!  I recently noticed this pair from McCall patterns and think that the culotte trend is definitely on the upswing.  My Mom and I were discussing this pattern and she said that she once wore handmade (made by her) culottes and loved them.  She has a picture somewhere and I want to get my hands on it and share it here- so Mom send me that pic please!
Since summer is in full swing here my projects are taking longer to complete since a combination of trips and both children home all day is keeping me busier.  Summer is always busier than I imagine it will be, full, long days...good days, but at the end of the day there's usually less sewing and more resting.  And I have to tell myself that's ok, its a season after all.  Do you find yourself more or less productive during different seasons? I'd be curious to know!

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

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Retro Reproduction Dress: Kansas City

UPDATE:  the free, basic version of this pattern is now available here

One of the reasons that Elizabeth and I started this blog was so we could share our sewing projects with each other.  Since we now live over 700 miles apart, it's a little difficult to get together for an afternoon of sewing, or fabric shopping, or collaborating on other creative endeavors.  This blog gives us an alternative space to do some of that, as well as makes us conscientiously carve out time for joint projects (which, as moms, can be so hard to do for anything that's not kid-related).   But the point in saying all of this is that projects like the Retro Reproduction dress are why we blog:  Elizabeth was inspired by a style, drafted the pattern, made several versions (here and here), shared it with me, I digitized and graded, and here is my version.   And all of our collaboration was online!  And now we get to share it with anyone else who might be out there reading!

So without further ado...





 I had been wanting to make a color-blocked dress like this for, oh, eight or nine months now, so this was finally a great excuse to do so.  When we release the free pattern, we'll be sure to include a tutorial on how to make this variation.

The multicolored fabric was a thrift store purchase-- about four yards of 60" wide for $1.00.  I love finds like that!

The back of the dress has the same pattern as the front:


 And I love the geometric sides!



Most importantly, for a three year old, the dress is great for running around and playing:





 We are working on making this into a free pattern (sizes 2T-4T), and it should be available within the next few weeks.  So check back with us soon!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Our Favorite Sundress and Retro Reproduction Dress

Update:  the free pattern of the Retro Reproduction dress can now be found here

I know a pattern is a "keeper" when my daughter wants an exact replica of a dress she wore the summer before...that is the case with this red polka dot and floral sundress.  Last summer I made Simplicity 2469 out of this same floral/fruity fabric and a different red polka dot.  She wore it constantly and it has quickly become her "go-to" sundress this year as well.  We pair it with these shorts and we are good to go!

This is really a tried and true pattern for us.  I also made one in Crafty Chloe fabric by Heather Ross.  I haven't seen this fabric line featured anywhere on sewing blogs but it is super cute and based on an illustrated character drawn by Heather Ross.  You can see below the Simplicity pattern made up in Crafty Chloe fabric.  If you want to know more about the Crafty Chloe character go here.  Its an adorable blog with crafting ideas for kids.  We have this book in the collection and really enjoy it.  



It warms my little Mommy heart when I get a request for an exact replica of a dress I've sewn before and its also great when the pattern is at hand and I have yardage left over from the first time I made it!  


Now on to Bitty Girl's dress (below).  This is the dress that I'm now calling the Retro Reproduction dress since I copied it from a vintage dress that both of my children have worn.


In my last post about this dress I said it really lends itself to applique and you can see that here.  The whale applique is from an old crafting book I have and its hard to distinguish but I added water spouting from the top of it with black stitching.


Again I LOVE this shape on tiny ones, their little legs sticking out and bloomers peaking out...Love it.


I said in my last post that I would try to offer this as a free pattern and I still plan on doing that, I've got the original scanned into the computer and now to clean it up and create a pattern that is easy to use!!  It will happen soon, its just that most of the time going out for ice cream, playing in fountains and in general nurturing little human beings comes first!  Plus this week my youngest is turning two!! Two!- I tell you, so hard to fathom how the days are long but the years are short!  

So tell me, exactly how interested are some of you in making this pattern, any ideas for what you'd like to applique on the front of it?  My hope is to offer it before mid-August.  Starting with sizes 2T and 3T (with Hanni's help of course-right Hanni!?).  

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

Monday, June 16, 2014

Washi Dress

So I know that I am really late to the Washi Dress party-- but better late than never, right?  I've actually owned this pattern since last October, and it only took me a good eight months or so to get around to making it.  I don't know if I have much to add to what's already been written about it, but hopefully it will be of some use to someone who is considering the pattern.  So here it goes:




 Overall, this is a very simple dress: no buttons, no zippers, nada.  I used a lawn cotton from Joanns, and while the drape is lovely, it is also a little see-through for a dress-- so to make things easy (haha) I decided to do a full lining on the dress.  Which, like any good sewing project, turned out to be more complicated than I anticipated.  Using the directions from the expansion pack, view C, I hemmed and hawed and hacked my way through the full lining.  And the results are decent, and the parts that are not so decent are at least hidden. 





There is always a fear with an empire waist that it looks too maternity-ish, but I think the belt really helps decrease any mid-section poofing.  Overall, it's a great dress, one that can be worn casually or dressed up a little, and I'm glad it's part of my summer wardrobe!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Bitty Girl's Retro Reproduction Dresses

Update:  the free pattern for the Retro Reproduction Dress can now be found here

When my first daughter was a toddler I found the most adorable vintage dress at a thrift store in Kansas City.  The tag in it said "Debby Dare" size 2.  I've tried to research this brand and all I can turn up is a reference to it on the Kansas City Garment Museum website.  I had no idea KC had a garment district and related museum!  Danny and Debby Dare was apparently a children's clothing line produced in Kansas City.  My oldest daughter wore this dress until she out grew it and I sooooo wanted to reproduce it at the time but didn't have the sewing skills I needed.  But now I do!  And I've gone a little crazy reproducing this dress for my youngest daughter.

This is my oldest daughter close to two years old wearing the dress (above). 

And this is my now 23 month old wearing the same dress (above).  Can you imagine the quality of this garment since it still looks wonderful after all these years of wearing by small children?  Incredible.  So different from today's clothing.  
Back to my reproductions of this dress.  I've made three so far and love them to pieces.  
This one is made from a piece of vintage sheet given to me by my Mom.  She shortened our bed sheets when we were little and never threw away the pieces.  Lucky me!
 I guess you'd call this an A-line jumper.  I adore the shape of it on Bitty Girl and just put little bloomers underneath.


 We are supposed to be feeding the geese but she always eats the bread so we make sure there is a good piece (without mold) on it for her!

Now here is the next version (below).  This is also a vintage fabric from my thrifting stash.  The dress really lends itself to an applique and I have another version with a whale on it.  I will try to share that one soon.
These dresses have been some of my main go-to items to dress Bitty Girl in this summer and I've been toying with the idea of scanning the pattern into a document and offering it for anyone interested.  It would be a great beginner garment if you're new to making clothes for your children.  If you're interested let me know and maybe that will be the motivation I need to take the plunge!

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

I Sew, You Sew