Easter Dresses!

I started early, because sewing deadlines seem to sneak up on me.

Actually, the dark purple dress was started in November, intended to be worn to the girls’ cousin’s baptism.  But I didn’t get it fully complete and didn’t have time to start the second. So it stayed next to my sewing desk for months.  Purple is a great Easter color.image imageI modified the Geranium pattern using the sleeveless version, but lengthening the bodice.  I made the pleats first and then cut out the bodice.  It wasn’t exactly planned as a drop waist, but after the hem was made based on how it fit the child, the waist was equidistant from neck to hem.  It didn’t look right.  I already knew I wanted to make a contrasting sash with the other purple fabric I picked for the second dress (coordinating, not matching), so I have it sitting above the stitch line between the bodice and the skirt.  So it looks more like a drop waist.

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Here is the second dress.  I went with a straight Geranium pattern, no modifications.  I used a pleated skirt to coordinate with the look of the first dress and made a coordinating sash with the contrasting fabric.

To make the sashes, I ironed on interfacing, so the bow would stay stiffer instead of drooping.  Then sewed one end closed, and up the side, with right sides facing and turned it back right side out by poking the closed end inside the tube.  I tried first with a tube turner but it just bunched up and made ironing all the wrinkles out a mess!  I hand sewed the open end closed.  The measurements I used were based on measuring the waist of the bodice and then making a bow with my tape measure and adding those two numbers together.  I also used the tape measure to eyeball how wide I wanted it to turn out, then added 1/2 inch for the 1/4 seam allowance.

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Final hand sewing was minimal–buttons and making thread belt loops using this video as instruction.

I’ll include some pictures with them in the dresses later.  The dark purple one with the front pleats was tricky to iron, so I don’t want to mess them up before Easter!

Echino-A

 

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Two more dresses this week!

 

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Fabric is Echino Landscape in salmon and turquoise.  They come in 24″ X 44″ panels in linen.

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I thought they would make perfect A-line swing dresses (at least I think that is what they are called).  The linen is rough, so I lined it in a very soft cotton.

I didn’t make the front neckline and back neckline different.  I think it’s fine being the same.  The backs are closed with an elastic loop and button.  I decided on big, plain, matte buttons.  But here are the backs before putting the button on.

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I used a panel dress I had made by modifying another A- line dress, folded it in half, traced around it on paper, and added a 3/8″ seam allowance as well as 2.5 more inches of hem. The panel dresses are getting short.

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Can you make it out there on the left?  The right is a t-shirt pattern made the same way for the February Project Run & Play challenge.  Then I cut the fabric on the fold, positioning where I wanted the images on the panel to show as best I could given the size of the pattern and size of the fabric.  I did the same for the lining.

Here are the subsequent steps I took to construct the dress:

1. Sew side seams, right sides facing, for both main and lining.

2. Keep main inside out.  Turn lining right side out and place inside main dress, matching up shoulders, center of front and back and side seams.  Pin together and sew armholes and front neckline.  Do NOT sew top shoulders!

3.  For back neckline, I drew a line, about 4.5 inches long from the top center straight down.  I started sewing at the shoulder ( starting a little more than 3/8″ from the top) and when I reached just a smidge before the line, I pivoted and sewed right next to the line, but not on top.  Then at the bottom I did one diagonal stitch toward the bottom and then pivoted to go the other direction toward the top.  Then do the same sewing back up the line, not on it but just to the side.  Before getting back to the top of the neckline, I inserted elastic, loop-side inside the garment, toward the top and sewed over it several times, then pivoted to go back around the other side of the neck.

Yes.  I know I should have taken pictures.  I made two dresses.  I have little excuse except my phone storage was full.

4. Clip corners and clip all curves.

5. Turn inside out and press. Then turn back inside out.

6. Match shoulder seams up, main fabric to main fabric, right sides together.  Move lining out of the way.  Sew at the seam allowance chosen.  Mine was 3/8″.

7. Next is where I cheated a little so I don’t have to do so much hand sewing,  I pressed those main shoulder seams open, trimmed them, and then folded the lining over so it overlaps the seam.  I used Wondertape to make the folds stick together.  Then I stitched in the ditch on the right side of the main, going through both folded edges of the lining shoulders.  Hee hee!  The only hand stitching left is to make it all look nice and close any gaps not stitched by the machine.

8. Hem as desired, hemming the lining inward toward the main.  I did a blind hem stitch by machine on the main fabric and straight stitch on the lining fabric.

9. Sew a button on opposite back corner.

Next time I make one of these I will take pictures.

 

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Little Lottas

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Two Lotta dresses were made this week, reversing the main and contrasting fabrics between the two.  The girls are coming with me to a gender reveal party this weekend, so it works nicely that one is mainly navy and the other magenta-pink!

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This is the first time I’ve sewn the Lotta.  It was on my list for their spring/summer wardrobe and the way the pattern pieces are cut works well for fabric conservation.  I made both the dresses with one yard of each fabric.  Meaning I got two dresses for two yards, which is pretty nice for a lined bodice dress with pockets.  No fabric left for identical diaper covers though.

I chose the button back with plain buttons since the print was so busy.  The other choices included in the pattern are invisible zipper and buttons with buttonloops.

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The fabrics are both Cotton & Steel–Moonlight Tanagrams Navy and Metallic XOXO Plummy.  These dresses are size 2T.  The sewing itself wasn’t tricky, but I did ask Marte (from Compagnie M) for help twice.  She was very responsive and nice!

Next time I’m going to try the diagonal pockets as I think the contrasting fabric will show more than on the sides.  I also have the Mara pattern on the Spring/Summer sewing list.

For this pattern, I learned a different order of garment construction compared to the Geranium dress, and the cap sleeves have more of a curve once sewn.  The girls love them.  I showed them the pink one still on the hanger and they absconded with it and didn’t want to give it back.  Then I tried on the navy one and that kiddo also ran off when I tried to take it back off.

 

p.s. I cured my pattern paralysis

Small fry skinnies, racer shorts and two popovers

My toddlers’ Spring/Summer wardrobe is off to a good start.  This week I sewed a popover dress,

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a popover top, that I haven’t hemmed yet because I’m waiting until closer to spring,

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a pair of racer shorts,

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and small fry skinny pants!

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I’d never made these pants before.  I made a long version of kid shorts that looked like gaucho pants!  These look much cooler on a kid but take significantly longer.  It was fun, though time consuming.  There are 16 total pattern pieces, some of which are duplicates or mirror images but still a lot of pieces to sew together.  I used the FREE two year old pattern and tutorial on the Titchy Threads website.  It is not a beginner pattern.  Most of the tutorial was easy to follow.  I only had a few, “What!?” moments, usually because the tutorial is for boys pants and she says to reverse everything for girls pants.  Also it takes longer if you do topstitching because you are changing threads and needles frequently.  I also had never done topstitching with topstitching thread and needle before.  I couldn’t find a twin topstitching needle at my local Joanns, so used a regular one, which was very hard to thread and would get jammed when the thread had difficulty going through the eye smoothly once the machine was stitching.  Lesson learned (again), use the correct needle and thread!  So after it got stuck again I switched to a single topstitching needle and sewed the two lines separately.  It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.  The twin needle with the incorrect sized eyes had bad stitching anyway.  That was also my first time using a twin needle.  I followed the directions listed in my machine instruction manual and it went ok.

The pants have front and back pockets, a half fly, and an adjustable elastic waistband in the back.  I used a snap in the front and sewed a button for looks.  The Joanns near me only had buttonhole elastic in black, which would show through so I haven’t added that yet.

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I would make these pants again if I had a fabric I thought would be REALLY cool in pants, otherwise I’m probably buying pants for the girls.  As I type this, I’m already thinking about the next pair of pants to sew….so I guess there’s something about this pattern!

Next up is a bubble skirt for January Project Run & Play challenge.

Reversible Geraniums

I obviously love the Geranium Dress pattern.  My mother-in-law requested specific dresses made with the geranium pattern in a dark denim with pink piping between the bodice and skirt.  I thought it would be fun to make the bodice lining a pink denim and then figured, I was this close, I might was well “line the skirt” and put navy piping between that bodice and skirt and make it reversible!  Yes, it made for a thick dress, but it’s winter and it was denim for a semi-fancy occasion (they also wore the dresses to their cousin’s sip-and-see.)

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Before hemming

 

If you have ever made a geranium dress then it’s pretty easy to see how you could make another skirt instead of closing off the bodice by stitching in the ditch on the right side.  The dilemma then came on how to hem it.  I wanted to figure out a way to hem them together without hand sewing the entire hem.  My hand sewing is not so great (I’m thinking of hand sewing my quilt challenge so I can work on that at the same time).  I even emailed Rae to ask her opinion.  We arrived at the same conclusion, that either it would have to be hand sewn, folded in and then top stitched together, or sewn separately and then either tacked together or left loose.  I chose the last option.  I wanted to avoid topstitching together, which is what most reversible tutorials recommend, because these were for semi-fancy occasion and I’d have to chose one side to have contrasting thread.  I did let go of the idea of blind hemming both hems because I ran out of time before the event.  I made 4 geranium dresses essentially, so that would be 4 blind hems.  It would take to long to get it all correct measurement wise and press it exactly.  I’m happy with how they turned out!

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I used Claire Shaffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide to help me with getting stitch lengths correct.  It helped. I used that for the coats too.

 

So besides making four geranium dresses put together into two reversible geraniums, I also made a red corduroy long pant romper for a friend’s toddler for Christmas.  That made me busy enough in December.  Besides thinking about quilting, I’m also putting together fabric and patterns for the girls spring/summer wardrobe!  So exciting!  Isn’t it wonderful being the personal couturier for two little girls?!

Oliver + S brought up an older blog entry/interview with a sewer in Canada, Marie-Michelle Melotte, who uses high-end fabrics for girls dresses.  It was a very interesting interview.  I especially liked her talking about using the texture of fabric to bring visual interest instead of print.  I love print, but would like to try more textures too.

Back and on a Brother!

I really haven’t sewn since the last post.  It’s been horrible.  My Singer became irreversibly broken, something about timing, so I bought a Brother.  I could get a Brother and a serger or a fancy name sewing machine and no serger.  I have yet to order my serger but after sewing this weekend I’m ready.  Then life got in the way of sitting and getting comfortable with the new machine.  I did cut some pattern pieces which made getting back on the machine this weekend much easier.  Here is what I made this weekend–

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A new Panel dress!! Closed with a button loop on the back and fully lined like the chevron panel dress.  The girls have worn the chevron and dot bubble dress about six times to parties.  They have been well used for their purpose which makes me pretty happy.

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Here’s the coordinating dress!

Also in my Indian Summer fall collection plan are these cutie patootie racer shorts from Made pattern.

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I have plans for a ruffle skirt with arrow fabric and have started on the ruffle strips.  I need to make their coats soon too because it’s cooling off.  I finally decided on the Heidi and Finn Chic Cocktail Swing Coat.  Wish me luck!

 

Bubble dress, A-line panel dress, bean bag chair and the horror of buttonholes.

What happened in the middle of Kids Clothes Week?  Buttonholes.  I had fair luck up until now.  Then my machine decided to revolt.  Or my buttonhole foot, I don’t know which.

I started on this border print dress with the geranium pattern.

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Then to the final step of putting in buttonholes.  It just wouldn’t happen.  The machine wouldn’t move.  I thought maybe it was not sliding properly so I added scotch tape to the fabric.  Not much help.  One buttonhole appeared to happen only to reveal a complete mess on the other side.

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ARGH!  So in the middle of all of it I put it aside and started to work on a bean bag chair from Straight Grain.  The pattern is big so I had to cut it on the floor and I wanted to use piping so thought I needed a piping foot.  I don’t like my machine so didn’t want to buy a piping foot for it and of course a few days later realized the zipper foot IS the piping foot.  The kids love the bean bag chair!  I have the fabric for the second one waiting.

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In the meantime I visited Sew Nice and Easy to take a private sewing class.  I learned changing your needle is a real need.  Threads come in different sizes!  There is such a thing as bobbin thread and invisible thread!  And of course, that I need a serger.  So now I’m researching what I want in a serger (is 4 thread enough or will I be kicking myself for not being able to do a cover stitch) and what I want in a new sewing machine.  If anyone has opinions, I’d love to hear them.

 

After KCW the girls needed party dresses for upcoming birthday parties.  Jess at Craftiness Is Not Optional inspires me to modify patterns or draft my own.  So…I made my own A-line panel dress.  Perhaps it isn’t drafted appropriately but it worked!

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It has no side seams.  There are the two front panel seams and then one in the back.  I would have liked to put in a zipper if I had time but at that moment I didn’t know how to put a zipper in a lined dress.  I thought a full lining would be the easiest and nicest way to finish the neck and armholes.  Bias tape edges seem to pucker for me so far.  Here is what my pattern looks like:

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That top U is an armhole, not a neckline.  I used the front and back of the Busy Lizzy pattern.  This picture shows them lined up together but I did put more space between because I wanted a wider A.

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The front panel size is completely based on the chevron looking even.  I cut that panel first and then folded it in half to determine where the seam would fall on the overall pattern piece.  I drew the seam allowance on the pattern, then drew it on the side pieces so I could line them up correctly with the chevron.  The lining I made from the whole pattern, so the lining has two seams–center front and center back.

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After sewing the panel to the side pieces, I put it back on the pattern piece and cut out the rest of the neckline.  A trick entirely learned from CINO’s pleated top tutorial.

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Next, sewing the right sides together of the lining with the main dress.  I sewed the armholes and neckline entirely shut AFTER sewing the shoulders on the lining and shoulders on the main dress.  This was a mistake as I couldn’t turn it inside out.  Internet to the rescue.  I found this great video series by Angela Kane and watched video #7 to learn how to make nice armholes and still be able to turn the dress rights side out.  DON’T sew the shoulders!  You sew them after you sew the armholes and neck!  And sew just far enough down the back opening so that you have room to turn it right side out.  My hand sewing is not well practiced so I machine sewed far down into that back opening.  Sorry I don’t have detailed pictures.  I finished the hem with a blind hem stitch on the machine!  Can you believe it?  I tried so many new things with this one dress and it turned out!  I used invisible thread, because why not.

PAR-TAY!

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I wanted to finally commit to trying a bubble hem.  There are bubble dress patterns out there but they look SO close to the geranium dress pattern I already know and love that I didn’t want to spend the money.  From internet searching it appears you either need a skirt lining (which is shorter than the outside main skirt therefore brings it up under the hem), or elastic (which I don’t think 1 year olds will tolerate well).  I used the go-to Geranium dress pattern, using the gathering skirt instead of pleats.  That is my 5th geranium dress, not including the two geranium modified tops!  Then after I finished the bodice I measured around it for the top of the lining measurement.  I safety pinned another geranium dress the girls wear to figure out how small of a bottom circumference still looks good and they can walk in.  I didn’t want a huge bubble on the bottom.  Then I cut out a trapezoid, angling out from the top measurement (happened to be 24 inches plus 1 inch seam allowance) to the bottom (30 inches plus one inch seam allowance). I also had to prefigure the hem length since I wasn’t going to be able to cut the hem later.  It had to be correct from the bottom of the bodice.  I added about 1.5 inches for the main outside fabric so it had room to go back underneath the skirt.  I redid all this math several times in my head because I was nervous about not getting it right.  I didn’t have enough time or fabric to redo the whole thing.  It turned out great and then time for buttonholes.  My machine did not decide to be different overnight.  It did not want to make a buttonhole.  So I machined the buttonholes myself by using the buttonhole foot to know how far to sew and zig-zagged a number 2 all the way down, then turned it, zig zagged without moving a number 4 and then back down to the other side.  They are not perfect but they will accept buttons.

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And now I do not have my next project immediately in mind…oh wait, I can do another panel dress in their Indian Summer fabric!