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 up...you 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.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Flower Girl Dress

For the past week my life sewing has been occupied with creating this:   a flower girl dress for a seven month old baby girl.
 
 
I consider this dress my opus, my masterpiece.  Or something like that.  But seriously, this dress was a lot of fun to make, caused only a few tears (something to do with an almost-finished dress and a large hole cut into the bodice by my serger), and turned out beautifully. 

To make the dress, I used the Chloe Dress pattern by Violette Field Threads for the skirt.  Despite having a three year old daughter, I had never before worked with tulle or made anything this fluffy, so I thought having a pattern with detailed instructions would be helpful.    I love the look of Violette Field patterns, but they are not very practical for every day wear, so I was thrilled to have an excuse to by this one.    I'm already envisioning a black version with this fabric as a witch's dress for Halloween.

The skirt has seven yards of fabric in it.  Yes, you read that correctly:  seven yards.  Two yards of chiffon, two yards of netting, two yards of tulle, and a yard of lining.   The results are a perfectly poofy skirt.
 

Rather than using the pattern bodice, I instead did a shirred satin top with decorative straps.  The flowers were made with alternating strips of satin and tulle-- I love how they turned out!  I may do a tutorial for those at some point, although I know that there are quite a few of fabric flower tutorials out there already. 

I wish I had more pictures to share, but organization and time were not on my side this morning, and the dress has already been delivered.  This project was a lot of work, but the results were worth it!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Bitty Girl's Summer Kitty Top

This is the Oliver and S Badminton Top.  I originally intended this to be a birthday dress for my Bitty Girl but I only had the smallest portion of this kitty fabric left in my stash and since Bitty Girl really loves cats it had to be made into this top. 


I made the 18-24 Month size and she is 2 years old.  It fits her wonderfully and I love how clean everything looks with this pattern- meaning everything came together really smoothly.  The instructions were wonderful and completely thorough.  The one change I made to the pattern was to finish the hem with bias tape instead of folding it up a couple of times.  It seems both of my girls need that extra length- they're slightly on the tall side.    


If you've been thinking about an Oliver and S pattern I would highly recommend them.  I purchased this one from a locally owned quilting fabric store called The Stitchery.  As a person who sews garments I try to support this shop as much as I can- I'm sure its really hard work to keep a quilting shop going and I love the assortment of adorable prints they have at ours.  All of that said I really wish the quilting fabric industry would put out more apparel friendly fabrics.  It probably isn't as profitable for them to do so but some of those quilting cotton prints are so cute and I'd love to see them in some other fabrics.   

I've set myself a loose goal this year of trying to aggressively use up a lot of the quilting cottons I've accumulated.  I bought almost exclusively quilting cottons when I first started sewing and they are languishing in my stash and cluttering my mind- so this may just be the year of using them up!  So you will probably see quite a few posts about that here in the next 6 months or so!  How about you, are you overwrought with quilting cottons?  Are you seeking projects to gobble them up like I am?



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Shibori Emery Summer Dress

Hey there happy sewists.  If you don't recognize this dress its the Emery Dress by Christine Haynes.  I happily snatched it up from Pink Chalk Fabrics because after seeing this version from Fancy Tiger Crafts  who could resist?

I love the idea of this dress, a vintage throw back feel with that 60's housewife vibe to it.  I really don't know why I love that idea- who knows- but its a silhouette that feels fun and I gravitate toward making dresses because of the fun of wearing them.  While I love this kind of dress I also think it can borderline frumpy so my feeling is that scooping out the neck and shortening the hemline helps combat that fine line between vintage and frumpty-dumpty.

I first tried this pattern out with a vintage poly/cotton fabric and this is my second time to make it with changes for a better fit.  The first time I made a size 6 which was more in line with my measurements but it felt a little big, so on this one I made a size 4 in the chest and a 6 in the waist and hips.  I also moved the bust darts around a bit- I shorted the side dart by an inch and scooted the waist darts toward the side by about a half inch.  I like the fit better.  I wished I'd stabilized the neckline more because it stretched out a lot during construction as linen is prone to do.  You can probably see that the back waistline looks stretched downward too, I think this is because the linen stretched with the zipper application but I can't be sure because the other one I made did this a bit too.  Any of you more seasoned sewists have any ideas about why it looks like this and what I might do next time to correct it?

The fabric is a thrifted linen sheet that I've held onto for far too long.  I tried my hand at shibori tye dye and I really love the result.  I scanned a few DIY posts online about the technique and kind of winged it.  I accordion folded the fabric and bound it with a bunch of rubber bands and soaked it for a half a day in liquid violet RIT dye.  The linen was already well-broken in and soft feeling but dyeing it made it even softer.  Since the sheet was pretty aged I had to cut around some holes and stains but no biggie since there was plenty of fabric.    

These outside shots are a little dark but I had to include them.  My oldest (who is 5) took them and I'm feelin' like a pretty sentimental Momma right now.  She starts school in a couple of short days and it hit me hard today that the little voice singing to her stuffed cat in the other room wouldn't be there everyday and I'm really gonna miss her.  Waahhh!  
Choosing to stay at home with my kids has been the hardest and the best thing I've ever done.  It is a mixed bag but I don't regret a second of it even on its toughest days.  I decided to stay home because I just wanted all that time with my child- its a personal decision and definitely not for everyone...no judgement AT ALL here on anyone who chooses differently.  But I am so glad I've had this extra time with this little person- she is amazing.
  
So I'll drown my Momma tears in some graham crackers in a minute- but now back to the sewing, if you're wondering about the Emery dress, the only other dress I've made with as many bodice darts as this one was the Colette Peony and I had to make many more adjustments to its bodice than to the Emery.  So I guess if I were to compare the two, the Emery has less fitting adjustments but the Peony has a very different skirt (less full than the Emery) that actually I prefer.  So one day maybe I'll do a frankenpattern and combine the skirt of the Peony and the bodice of the Emery.  But for now I'm loving this one and the softness of that aged linen, its really comfy and breathable in our hot southern summers.   

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

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Retro Reproduction Dress: Corduroy & Pockets

The Retro Reproduction Dress FREE Pattern is available here.




Today was our cool-weather day for the week (82 degrees today, compared to upper 90's the rest of the week!), so it seemed like an appropriate day to try out a Fall outfit.  Last winter I bought some corduroy  on clearance at Joann's with the intention of making a cute jumper for my daughter-- which, of course, I never did.  But now with the Retro Reproduction pattern available I have no more excuses-- it's easy, quick, versatile, and you can do so much with it (come on, that was a great sales pitch!  Are you sold on it yet?  And did we mention that the pattern is free?!)

Anyway, the Retro Reproduction dress makes a GREAT corduroy jumper to wear with a long-sleeve t-shirt and leggings.  Perfect for those cooler months.  For this version I decided to add bubble pockets (I'm not sure if that's really a thing, but it seems like it should be) with an exposed lining and piping.





These pockets are perfect for a three year-old:  they are just the right size for all the little figurines that she loves to carry around. 

And despite the summer weather, we did test it out with the long-sleeve t-shirt and leggings.



So what do you think?  Is there enough interest to have these pockets as an add-on to the pattern? Are there other variations you'd like to see?  We'd love to hear your feedback!