Sunday, July 28, 2013

Gifts for baby girls: Geranium Dress

In the past two weeks, three close friends have given birth to baby girls.  With all the SOSM excitement and our vacation before that, I'm super behind in making gifts for the new babies.  And since I can't visit them empty-handed, I need to make something quick so I can hold those beautiful little bundles!
The first outfit was just finished, a variation on Rae's Geranium Dress (shirt length), with matching bloomers.  How much do I love that gray striped fabric (Dandi Flight by Jay-Cyn) for the skirt?  There was only 1/2 yard in my stash, purchased as one of many fabrics for a big boy quilt I have to make eventually, but I think this dress is a much better use for it!  The darker melon color of the midriff was leftover fabric from the necklines of my recent Roller Skate Dresses (here and here), and the bodice was the "runner up" fabric that I didn't end up using for that application.
For my version of the Geranium, I color-blocked the bodice and added piping to further define the midriff section. Because I wanted to keep the piping continuous all the way around, I had to alter the construction sequence a little bit.  In the end, I think it turned out really cute and worth the effort. Back view, with some vintage buttons:
The little bloomers are from a pattern in Lotta Jansdotter's book, Simple Sewing for Baby.  I didn't have enough melon colored fabric left to make the bias tape for the elastic casing and used white muslin instead.  I'm going to consider it a design feature--kind of ties in with the white piping :)
Unfortunately, I won't see baby Iva in this outfit for a while--it's size 6-12 months!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Another roller skate dress

As mentioned here, I made a second version of the Roller Skate Dress to head-off any possible sadness that might have arisen if one sister received a new dress and not the other.
Of course, I didn't get any photos of the beautiful little girl actually in the dress, except with her sister:
I made this version exactly as directed in the Oliver+S instructions, with the exception of French seams throughout and an alteration of the neckline.  Instead of dipping into a V, I smoothed out the neckline to be a simple curve.  I just adore simplicity of the self-fabric button.
There's a cute self-fabric button on the back too:
After all the work aligning chevrons, I wasn't sure I could face more stripe matching.  But despite my best efforts, I couldn't avoid it, so I had to plan the cutting of this dress too, to make sure the front and back matched up.  
This was a throw-together sort of dress, though, and there is a stripe mis-match in the back that makes me absolutely crazy.  Can you spot it?  Believe me, had this been for the actual competition, I would have ripped it all out to get it right!   Sometimes you just have to let it go...
With all of the incredible entries for Round 2, I feel very fortunate to be advancing in the competition. Now we get to tackle a bag pattern!  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

SOSM: Challenge #2, Roller skate Dress

Over the years, I've had the opportunity to make several Oliver+S patterns, but this one is definitely one of my favorites.  If I had girls, they would absolutely live in this dress.  The pattern itself is simple (only 5 pieces, including the button loop guide!), but there are so many ways to put your own stamp on it.   
For this challenge, I headed to the fabric store to provide the inspiration and I found it before I even walked in the door, on the sale rack.  I've been eyeing this sherbet-colored fabric for ages and once I spotted it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do--chevrons!  The end bolt just said 100% cotton and "Made in Switzerland", but it appears to be a yard-dyed, sheer voile or something even more lightweight.  I bought 4 yards (a steal at $5/yard!), enough for two girls' dresses and an as-yet-to-be-determined something for me :) The coordinating lining is a baby pink cotton lawn and the contrast neckline is solid quilting cotton. 
To create the bodice and skirt chevrons, I cut the pattern down the middle of the front, and along one of the elastic stitching lines, adding seam allowance where needed. Then each piece of fabric was cut individually to ensure that everything matched up.  I used the same technique as I did here, overlapping the pieces at the sewing lines and drawing the stripes right onto the pattern pieces before aligning and pinning to the fabric.  Here's a close-up of the chevron-matching detail (below is the back seam).
This fabric is sheer!  Therefore, French seams were really the only way to sew this dress and I used that technique for both lining and shell (aside from the armholes and neckline, since those curved seams had to lie very flat).  Unfortunately, it meant matching chevrons twice for every seam, but in the end, the results were so worth it!  The back seam, under the button opening, I used what I refer to as an "after the fact French seam" (officially, a mock French seam) since I couldn't do a true FS there. 
You can see through it!
The French seam along the waistband was tucked into and sewn inside the elastic casing, which helped keep the elastic from being visible from the outside. 
Front of the dress
Back of dress
I wanted the v-neck to echo the chevrons of the bodice, so I altered the original notched-neckline to a more continuous V shape.  
Front neckline
Back neckline
I finished the dress with a simple double-fold hem for both the shell and lining.  My original plan was to use the same fabric as the neckline for a band at the bottom, but after pinning it in place, I decided I preferred the airy lightness of the dress without it.
French seams and hems on the lining and shell fabric
Since my model has a younger sister, I couldn't make a pretty dress for one and not the other, so Miss Maiya also got a (much simpler!) sherbet-striped dress.  I started and finished that one in a few hours; needless to say, not having to cut and sew chevrons made for a much quicker construction (although I still used French seams)!  I'll post more photos of the second version soon.
For some reason, this photo reminds me of a Wes Anderson movie. They weren't thrilled to have been taken away from playtime with my sons for a photo shoot!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ready for Round 2!

There are some seriously talented ladies in the Super Online Sewing Match, but I made it to Round #2! For this next challenge, I have the full time (a week) to sew up this lovely dress girl's dress from Oliver+S:  
I have to say, when I first saw this pattern, I wanted it for myself.  It's easy to wear, has small cap sleeves and elastic waist: perfect for the summer!  And after receiving the pattern via email for the competition, I realized that I can actually fit the largest size (girl's size 12), if I lowered the waistline a little bit.  However, I'm guessing no one wants to see an adult woman in photos for this particular challenge and I don't have any girl children of my own (and my boys *might* object to being photographed in a dress...), so I've recruited the daughter of good family friends to be my model.  She's absolutely adorable!   Can't wait to see her in my [barely started] dress!
Introducing Miss Juno!
Separate topic (which, coincidentally, is being discussed on the Sew Mama Sew FB page today): I can't stand printing patterns from my home computer.  I like the convenience, sure, but I'm just super bothered by the messiness of taped pages and whatnot.  Kind of starts off the project on the wrong foot, in my opinion.  So, I finally took the suggestion of the pattern instructions and took the file to the copy center!  The first center I took it to could only print 24" wide (36" is needed), so the technician split the file into two halves and printed them individually.  Since I still had to tape the two pages together, I wasn't overly excited.   But then I took it to FedEx/ Kinkos.  Hooray!  A full sheet pattern, printed in moments at a cost of $0.72/ sq/ft.  Why have I not done this before?  Yeah, laziness.  One suggestion to pattern makers, though: put a test square on that large format page.  And include a printable envelope.  That would be awesome!
I still have to trace the pattern, but at least I can fold the paper up neatly when I'm done.  Because, really, that's all that matters :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

SOSM: Challenge #1, Skirt drafting

Even though we were away on vacation for most of the allotted time of the first challenge, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to participate in the Super Online Sewing Match!  So, instead of 6 days to draft and sew an A-line skirt (using this tutorial at Craftsy by Deborah Moebes), I had 2.  And sitting in bumper to bumper traffic to get to Logan Airport and then multiple flight delays before taking off for San Francisco (due to the awful plane crash), I was certain that I'd never get home to even have that much time!  But thankfully I'm home, the skirt was started and finished in a single day, and I'm pleased with the result.
I've drafted skirts before, having taken Deborah's class via Whipstitch a few years ago, however I skimmed through the Craftsy videos at my mom's house in NY to start thinking of ideas.  Once I got to Boston for the second half of our trip, I was seriously feeling the stress of not having fabric in hand, so I visited the nearby Joann's to buy my supplies.  If nothing else, at least my fabric would be purchased and washed! At my sister-in-law's house, I made my bias tape and packed everything in my carry-on luggage.  You know, because if I didn't the airline would surely find a way to lose my bags on a direct flight!
Initial skirt pattern, before hacking it up.
First thing Saturday morning, after a late-night arrival home, I drafted my skirt pattern.  For my design, I chose to use a curved yoke waistband which eliminated the need for darts, and added front buttoned pockets.  The yoke is detailed with purchased bias tape, used as faux piping.  Instead of cutting the front and back pieces on the fold, I seamed up the middle of both to add another design element.    
I love hidden details, so the inside is finished with floral pocket bags and bias trim on the side seams. This was the first time I've made pocket bags with French seams, and I may never go back to serging or bias-binding them!

A little peek inside the pockets... 
The waistband facing was edged with the self-bias tape.  Not too noticeable, but I like using that instead of trying to turn a curved hem. 

In my opinion, invisible zippers are the only way to go.  This one was finished on the inside with bias tape:

The front and back seams are flat-felled and the skirt is finished with a standard 1" hem. 
I actually didn't end up using the main fabric that I purchased in Boston (it felt too stiff after washing), but instead used grey organic canvas (which is softer than it sounds!) that I had in my stash, bought at nearby Hart's Fabrics.

I made some slight fit adjustments after I sewed the side seams, but other than that, the skirt came together as I envisioned.  With so much time thinking and planning away from my sewing room, I had gone over all the construction details in my head and knew exactly what I was going to do ahead of time, so it all went super smoothly.  Quite unlike our late-night flight with a three year old...   

P.S. Many thanks to my two lovely sisters-in-law and my mother for their various roles in this bi-coastal endeavor, and my incredible husband who kept the kids occupied while I worked away in my sewing room.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Super Online Sewing Match

It's been quite a crazy week.  We're still visiting family in upstate NY and I was going to post photos of my "Me Made Vacay" right about now, but then something exciting happened.  Anyone heard of the Super Online Sewing Match (formerly known as the Super Online Sewing Bee) sponsored by Sew Mama Sew?  Yeah?  I'm one of the 10 contestants!
I even have this snazzy badge to prove it!  Our first challenge is to draft and sew a skirt.  Nice!  I have some experience with this, so the fact that I can't truly start the garment until the day before the due date (uh, yikes) is making me only slightly crazy.

In other news, my "Me Made Vacay" has been a pretty good success.  I packed maybe 4 purchased items of clothing (and cycling clothes, of course, since we shipped our bikes)....but all other tops, bottoms and dresses were made by me!  We're heading further east to visit more family today, so here's some photos of what I've been wearing to catch frogs (top here, capri pants here).
And enjoy some wine after dinner (top, purchased at Anthro and shorts here):
If I wore shoes at all on this vacation, I was wearing Wellies.  Between catching frogs and playing with my sister's brand new baby piglet, boots were a must.   Needless to say, they will remain in NY since I don't need them in CA!  Piglets, frogs, chickens, fireflies, grass?  My kids are definitely experiencing culture shock, in the best possible way.

We're headed to Boston today and then back home, so I'll catch you all on West Coast time!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Packing for summer vacation

Skirt, check.  Shorts, check.  Dresses, check.  Swimsuit(s), check.  Tops, check (and then some!).   One thing missing from the suitcase: capris pants.  Done and done, with a new tee thrown in for fun!  We're heading across country to visit family, which has been the driving force behind some of my sewing frenzy.  (That, and knowing I won't have the sewing room at my disposal for a few weeks).
For these grey capris, I used a well-loved pattern (used here, here, and highly modified here).  Working with a tested pattern is so nice...just sew and it fits.  I narrowed the legs a bit, and as I've done in the past, added single-welt pockets to the back to break of the vast expanse of fabric in that area (necessary, in my opinion!).
It's funny, in person they don't appear so wrinkly.  This time, I'll blame it on the lighting :)
There was a small amount of the gorgeous mermaid fabric left, so I used it again for the waistband facing and pocket bags.  This cotton is so silky smooth that it's noticeably enjoyable to feel the texture when I put my hands in the pockets.  Okay, that sounds weird.  Anyhow...the bias tape came out again for the waistband and to neaten up the fly (plus, it made using a white zipper from my stash less jarring :)
The slim-ish fit of the capris and neutral color had me scouring through my closet to find tops with which to wear with this one (blogged here), which I wear infrequently due to lack of appropriate bottoms:
But I actually made another Scoop-neck top the same day I finished the pants, for a more casual capris-based outfit.
It's a nice basic tee, good for vacation.  Or cleaning the house (which is what I was doing before snapping these photos).  You know, whatever!
Happy summer, everyone!  The kids will be getting some experience with the phenomenon called "rain".  Poor CA boys!