Tuesday, July 15, 2014

NewLook 6974 - Red, white & navy stars and polkadots dress

I made this dress for Rachel to wear for July 4th. Why I always pick this holiday to make her a new dress and not her birthday or Easter I don't know. I'll have to remedy that from now on.

I purchased these two fabrics from Fabric.com earlier this spring. They are both the good quality cottons I like to use for childrens' clothing. The red star fabric is by Michael Miller and the navy w/ white dots is a Riley Blake fabric.

Originally I was planning to use the navy for the straps, bow, and peeking out of the bottom as seen on the example dress on the pattern envelope. However, I quickly realized all the work of those godets would be lost in the business of the fabric, and so used most of the navy for flat bias piping sewn into the godet seams. I could have ordered more navy for the second layer under the dress, but by then was tossing around the idea of not even lining it because the star fabric is pretty thick.

I cut a size 1/2 for the width and a size 3 for the length. This tiny girl continues to slowly grow upwards but hasn't put on much girth, and I'm always so happy Simplicity and NewLook offer patterns in the 1/2 size.

Hanger pictures:

I used bias strips of star fabric to finish off the armholes because I didn't have the lining to do that job. (No picture of them, though - I completely forgot.) Since the star fabric is somewhat thick and the piping added some bulk, I couldn't put in a 5/8" double folded hem per the instructions. Instead I cut a curved hem facing and invisibly machine stitched it to the inside. All seams were finished with the overlocking stitch from my regular sewing machine.

I always enjoy working with cotton fabrics and had fun making this cute little dress. I don't know if I'll make it again since I actually cut into the pattern pieces instead of tracing them like I usually do for girls patterns. There were too many pieces and I just didn't have the will to do it.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Yellow + white ponte maternity skirt

All the maternity skirts currently available for sale fall into three categories: black/navy/gray, denim or striped maxi. If you want any type of bright color or pattern, you are out of luck. Or, if you know how to sew, you make your own!

It was pretty much love at first site when I spotted this Theory yellow striped ponte at Mood Fabrics. It's yellow, is a ponte knit which is the perfect weight fabric for a skirt, and it's visually interesting with the stripes. I paired it with Burda 7023, labeled "super easy", and that was no lie. It only has two pieces, a little gathering, some elastic in the back, and a hem. This fabric stitched together beautifully and I had no problems matching the stripes along the side back seams.

This is another great Burda pattern with plenty of room for a growing bump. I can see this skirt fitting until the very end.

At the back I used 1.5" elastic and stitched it down along the the top on the inside and the bottom on the outside of the skirt fabric.

And that's pretty much it! If I can find more cute ponte knits I'll whip this skirt up again. I also may have purchased a few more yards of this yellow stripe for a dress for my more permanent non-maternity wardrobe, but don't hold your breath to see it anytime soon. ;)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Black + magenta ikat print jersey faux-wrap dress

Hello! And surprise! I have been missing for a few months because pregnancy fatigue really got to me. Being pregnant at 36 and caring for 3 other kiddos at the same time is tiring. Thank goodness we are having a pretty mild summer so far with lots of rain. It won't last, I'm sure, but I'm enjoying the cooler temps while I can. I haven't been doing a whole heck of a lot of sewing - just haven't had any mojo to work with. In the evenings all I want to do is vegetate in front of the television or go to bed. I'm way better at squeezing in some time in front of my sewing machine in the afternoons. Also, making maternity clothes has never been a favorite thing for me, mostly because the pattern choices are so limited. This time around, though, I've actually found a few cute patterns that I like and want to make up.

I picked out this fun jersey border print from Mood Fabrics without anything specific in mind. It has a different border on each selvage and my plan was to utilize both into one dress. The larger border is the abstract squares I used for the sleeves and belt, and the small border is a black and white concentration of the main fabric that I planned to have showing at the hemline. Unfortunately this dress turned out to be matronly long, so I had to chop off the smaller border to get a length I was happy with.

The pattern I used is #132 from Burda Magazine's June 2010 issue. I cut my usual size 38 and the fit is just right, if a little tight in the sleeve area. Theirs has a skinny little tie belt, but I have a distaste for those types of belts being used on a garment with a horizontal bodice/skirt seam. They never stay where they're suppose to and always need adjusting. Instead I cut a thicker belt and sewed it in between the front wrapping bodice side and the skirt. It wraps around the back freely from the dress and ties in the front and never needs any fiddling.

This pattern has lots of room for a growing belly. It actually droops a little in the front right now, and I expect to wear it straight through to my third trimester. You can see at the side seams that I lined up the horizontal pattern starting at the hemline. With the side front gathers attaching to the ungathered back the pattern no longer lines up, but that can't be helped. The fronts I lined up with the back starting at the underarms. There is a vertical seam down the center back which I did not give much effort to matching up other then at the hemline. I was incredibly surprised when the pattern lined up so perfectly at the neckline and under the belt.

There's a 3/4 sleeve top version of this pattern included in the magazine that I may make as well. I'm due the first part of October, though, and it's usually just beginning to cool off around here at that time.

Oh, and it's a boy. We were really surprised by that news - had gotten it into our minds that it was sure to be a girl so Rachel could have a sister. Poor thing, now she'll have three brothers. ;)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Oliver + S Class Picnic Blouse & Shorts in yellow and blue

This is one of my very favorite Oliver + S patterns. I made the top last fall and lengthened it to a dress. Rachel never wore it, though, because I didn't like the fabrics I chose and it looked like a nightgown. The fit was perfect on her then, so I made the same size in blouse form.  These coordinating fabrics are part of the Oliver + S for Moda line (now sold out) and were purchased from Fabric.com several years ago. I only purchased 1 yard of each but as clothing for little girls barely takes any yardage, I have lots left over to use in later years.

For the blouse I cut the 6-12 month for width and 2T for length. The sleeves were cut at the shortest size to be cool for summer. The shorts I knew needed to be cut at the 6-12 month for width but was uncertain what to cut for length. I ended up measuring the crotch length on Rachel, comparing that with the pattern, then cutting the 18-24 month for length.

I just love the design of this pattern! What other pattern company is making peasant-style tops or shorts with such cute details? Also, the construction techniques are different and really thoughtful (except in one particular head-scratching instruction noted below.)

Here you can see the top of the shorts and all the fun topstitching. I love the mock-fly front! The way the legs are finished with the edging is really interesting and leaves the edges neat and crisp. I'm planning to make a pair in denim with orange topstitching and the reverse side for the edging. Won't that be adorable?

I used the checked fabric for the inside yokes of the blouse and the bias strips at the sleeve tops for a bit of fun. You can see it peeking out when she moves around. The shorts are finished at the back with topstitching top and bottom to keep the elastic in place.

The pattern calls for the contrast fabric at the inside waistband which matches what I did on the blouse. All the raw edges were finished with my machine's over-locking foot. I deviated from the instructions by folding the seam allowance of the waistband up and slip-stitching it in place. Their way is fine, too, but I like the neat finish of this technique better. In a thicker fabric it would be too bulky but with these thinner cottons it works perfectly.

I chose not to topstitch the yokes along the gathered fronts but slip-stitched them down instead.

Okay, so my one complaint about this pattern is the width of the shorts edging around the curves and up to the waistband. It should be the same around the entire leg opening but in those locations it was 1/4" wider. I didn't notice this issue until I folded the edging to the front and was about to topstitch it down. I had to go back to cut away the excess, then refolded it to topstitch. The picture below is what it looked like before I trimmed away the extra width.

Here you can see where I corrected my pattern tracing for the next time I make these. The edges of the paper are curving up so it doesn't look congruent but it is.

As for the head-scratching instruction that I mentioned above, it came as a hint of what to do to obtain a nice curve at the outside of the edging. It tells you to first trim away the seam allowance to 1/8", then sew a gathering stitch around the curve to cinch up the seam allowance, then flip the facing to the outside and topstitch. I've never tried this method, so maybe I'm mistaken, but that seems like a sure fire way of ending up with bulky curves right at the front of the garment - especially if using some sort of heavier weight material like a denim. I always want to reduce bulk and make things lie smoothly, so instead I graded my seam allowances and cut little notches all along the curves. One thing my mom taught me to do is always grade my seams, and I am a Nazi about it. Nothing looks more happy-hands-at-home then lumpy edges.

I do think this is a fantastic pattern but for those two minor quibbles, and I love Rachel's new outfit. It's a little strange to see her in clothing that actually fits as I've gotten so use to seeing her in things that are too big and baggy.

Up next is a dress for me, in case you're tired of all these little girl garments and think I've abandoned sewing for myself. :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NewLook 6200 - Sea green + pink horse dress

Sewing clothes for little girls is addicting. It's total instant gratification: 30 minutes of tracing + 30 minutes of cutting out on stable cotton fabric + a couple hours sitting at the sewing machine = a new dress with no fitting issues.

I used another cotton from Fabric.com, from the wildly popular Michael Miller "Wee Wander" series. I picked a simple dress pattern to not cut up the horses too much, and spent some time laying out my pieces carefully. The jumbo rick-rack and pink bow were purchased locally and matched as best as possible.

I cut a size 1/2 for the width and a size 4 for the length and left off the pocket. She's not typically a 4 in length but this dress was drafted somewhat short. It's pretty blousy through the torso which is fine for a little girl's dress.

I did make a number of changes to the pattern instructions. The front neck band was interfaced and the angle of the straps straightened before attachment. I used fabric bias strips to finish the armholes instead of the bias tape that was called for. The back strap attachment was changed to look neater and I put in an invisible hem instead of a topstitched one. If there's no other topstitching present in a garment, it looks odd to me to have it at the hemline.

The neckline of this dress was so fiddly to sew - tiny front band that the whole front of the dress gets gathered and stitched to, then attach the gathered front straps, then sew the inside band to it and mind the corners for a nice sharp finish. While I was in the middle of wrestling with it, I vowed that this was the last time I'd use this pattern. However, it turned out so adorable in the end that I'm sure I'll make it again.

I hand-stitched the bow from the backside so that it wouldn't come untied and fray-checked the ends. This is only the 2nd or 3rd time I've used rick-rack and I think it's so fun and girly. You can see the bias bands I used at the armholes in the next picture and the side french seams. Also you can just barely see that the tops of the straps are gathered too. I forgot to get a close-up of that on Rachel.

I really enjoy using NewLook and Simplicity's toddler patterns and have a number of them. I wish McCall's and Butterick had more contemporary designs and started their sizes at 1/2. Skinny girls need cute patterns too.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Oliver + S School Photo Dress in yellow

Just in time for Spring that is finally arriving in south Texas, I have made Rachel a new dress in that favorite hue of mine. I was waiting for what seemed like years for her to get big enough to fit into these patterns. She finally gained enough girth for them a year or so ago but I was still just lovingly gazing through my collection from time to time. Enough of that! It's time to get busy stitching them up before she gets too big!

The fabric is a nice weight cotton from Fabric.com, my favorite place to buy cottons for kids clothing. I have found that these quality cottons, priced between $7 and $10 per yard, wrinkle far less then the quilting cottons available locally. I don't know about your kids, but mine does not like to sit still and take care not to wrinkle her clothes. ;)

I love the details of this dress - the roll collar, kangaroo front pocket, slightly belled and cuffed sleeves, front yoke and princess seaming, full lining with separate pattern pieces that aren't a repeat of the outer dress. Most toddler dresses from the big 4 just aren't very detailed. I suppose most people who make kid clothing like simpler designs but I prefer a challenge. That's why I'm willing to pay the premium for these Oliver + S patterns.

Speaking of the kangaroo pocket:

 Can you tell she loves it? She is definitely going to be a pocket person. As for sizing, I traced the 18-24 month size for the width and the 2T size for the length and got a perfect fit. This girl is tiny. In August she'll be 4. I'll probably be able to make her a fall version with just an inch or so added to the length and not have to re-trace the pattern.

The zipper I had to special order online from Zipper stop because I couldn't find a good match locally. The button peeking out on the left I happened to have in my stash. It is connected to the other side of the collar with a thread loop. The lining I did in white cotton sheeting from Hancock's fabrics. No pictures of that, though. It's too overcast today to take any interior shots.

This was such a fun little dress to make! I am still in a sewing funk for making stuff for myself but have a number of garments I want to make for her lined up. If you like seeing kids clothes on my blog then you are in for a treat. If not, well, sorry. I've got to go where my mojo takes me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Summer Vogues

I'm still alive in case you were wondering, just having a MAJOR case of lost sewing mojo. The new summer Vogue patterns were released online yesterday, which has me excited for warmer temperatures.

I'm starting with a fun Badgley Mischka scalloped dress, Vogue 1398. I always have to stop myself from making stuff that is too twee because I tend to gravitate toward it. This looks pretty sophisticated to me, though, even with the tiers and scallops. I love the color too, and might just have to totally copy the example dress.

I saw the other Badgley Mischka dress, Vogue 1399, on the runway (youtube) and gasped, so you can bet I'll be getting it too. I love the topstitching and the color, but wonder why the collar is collapsing a little.

Both Kay Unger dresses are gorgeous, but I think Vogue 1392 is a little too sexy for church. That's where I wear 95% of my fancier clothing. People always ask me that. Anyway, Vogue 1393 is totally on trend with all the sheer panels designers are using. They made the example dress with lace, but it could also be made with crepe and chiffon. There's lots of possibilities with this one.

I think my small girls would be lost in all the blousy-ness of Vogue 1394, but the other Rebecca Taylor dress, Vogue 1395, is a lovely and simple summer frock. I usually pass over these types of dresses in favor of clothing with refined fit, then wonder why I don't have many easy things to throw on in a moment's notice.

I don't care for midi-length skirts on my body, even though I know they are extremely in vogue. You've got to pick the trends that work with your body, IMO, or you end up looking like a fashion victim. So I'll just pass by the Lialia and the Tracy Reese patterns, even though I think they're beautiful dresses.

As for the non-designer offerings, I really like Vogue 8995. I do feel like we've seen a lot of these color-blocked designs in the last several years, and I own a few of them (even though I've yet to make any up.) What I like about this one is the construction lines. The side panels of the skirt are slanted in on a diagonal, making the thighs appear narrower. I also like that it's designed for a woven instead of a stable knit.

I love the drama of the full skirt of Vogue 9001, as well as the wide scooping neckline (which I will probably need to raise.) Lovely seaming lines too.

Claire Shaeffer's newest jacket is also very beautiful. I'll probably raise those pockets up to give some fullness to the bustline. Gosh those sleeves are pretty. I love it!

Vogue 9004 is a neat architectural top. The neckline is making my eyes twitch though. I wonder if it would lose its drama if I evened it out?

I'm usually not a big fan of cowl necklines on my body, again because my girls would get lost in all the fabric. But I like the looks of view A on Vogue 9006. The front princess seaming would enable me to sew some definition into the bust area. It looks easy to make and easy to wear.

Lastly, I really like the lingerie pattern, Vogue 9015. Silk nightgowns are impossible to find. When I was getting married 14 years ago, I bought several silk chemise and robe sets at Dillard's (I think). That is now a thing of the past. Probably I could find some at fancier department stores like Saks, but I never shop at those. Might as well make it myself, right?

It is a really nice collection in which I found a lot to like. Someone on Vogue's facebook page complained about the volume of dress patterns but I couldn't disagree more. I love dresses. They're simple, feminine, easy to pull out and not have to think about.

Now I've only to wait for a good sale!