Picture Day Dress

I made my first oliver + s Fairytale dress for E's 2nd grade pictures. I've made three since, so you could say it's a favorite. The pattern actually sat in my queue for almost a year before I finally splurged on just the right fabric. Which was Cotton+ Steel Mustangs, purchased from fabric.com. I hesitated to buy it because it's a) quilting cotton and b) expensive. My general inclination is not to use quilting cotton for clothing, as it's heavier and more stiff than say, a cotton gauze or lawn. For kid's clothes, though, one can get away with using quilting cotton. Which is fantastic, given all the lovely choices these days. Oy. Remember the days of only being able to find hideous quilting cotton at JoAnn? Anyways, Miss E adored the fabric and I'm glad I indulged her. Those Cotton + Steel folks make one high quality product.

Let's get down to the nitty gritty. I made a straight up size 7 and it was wide on her slender frame. There were a few instructions that I found time consuming (like hand stitching the lining to the zipper. You better believe I used my machine.), but overall, it's a fantastic pattern. Just size down and add length if you have a string bean.
She hates her modeling, sadly.

Client work: 2 Going Away Dresses

Last May, a sweet Brazilian needed a Going Away Dress for her wedding. The bride had an idea of what silhouette she wanted, but as a tall, long legged girl, she couldn't find any RTW dresses in a sensible length. Her mother-in-law is a dear friend, so I offered to make her a dress.

After they sent me these inspiration photos, I went on the hunt for a pattern with similar lines.  Simplicity 1873 was very close and the client loved it. (side note: Cynthia Rowley patterns are fantastic) After wandering around JoAnn, we decided to make two dresses using view A. One out of a cotton twill and another out of a sateen. 

First, I made the cotton twill, using the pattern with no alterations. This turned out to be a beautiful dress - the twill made lovely, crisp pleats and hung like a dream. Unfortunately, I only have shoddy smart phone shots of it. I rushed to finish the first dress in time for the wedding, then took my time with the second. Oh well.

Of course, the navy sateen gave me a giant head ache. It did not want to press at all. So, I ditched all the pleats from the pattern and gathered the waist and arm seams instead. Which actually turned out to be lovely. I photographed the dress and sent it to the client, only to find out that it was too short! We had purchased the remaining yards on the bolt, so I couldn't just add on or redo the skirt, and the dark black navy was impossible to match. In the end, I added 4" bais tape hem out of white sateen. Not my first choice, but it worked. (I took pictures before adding the length to the hem.)

4th of July: What Geth Wore

 Each year I dither for weeks about keeping up with my crazy tradition of sewing 4th of July outfits. And each year I find myself burning the midnight oil the night before. I have a hard time giving it up, even though the kids get filthy the second I put my creations on them. Maybe I'll give it up next year... Yeah, right.

Fourth of July Outfits

For Geth, I made an oliver + s Sketchbook shirt and a pair of Mini Hudson pants. For the button down, I chose a nautical chambray I found at Hobby Lobby a while ago. It's been waiting in the stash to become either shorts or a shirt. JoAnn had some lovely red ponte knit (it's soooo soft) that I bought specifically for these mini Hudson pants.

front view

I've made two pairs of Mini Hudson pants now and I love them. My loathing of sweatpants runs deep (really, they are such a cop out piece of clothing), but these are stylish and comfy. Win, win. Geth loves them, too.
pocket detail and tag

back view

During July's KCW, I made a muslin of the Sketchbook shirt, as I've found oliver + s patterns to be more generous in the ease than I like for my lean little man. This ended up being true for this pattern as well. I graded between a size 18 - 24 m width and a 4T length.
oliver + s Sketchbook shirt

front view

The Sketchbook's collar is in one piece, which looked unfinished and more feminine to me.  For a shirt that I spent so much time on, I wanted it to look as professional as I could, not just half done. So, I added a collar stand, using the option B mandarin collar and redrafting the view A collar to accommodate the stand. Now the collar folds perfectly and looks less homemade. (I'm rather picky about that.)

collar detail

collar stand detail
collar stand back detail

Other than reducing the width ease and adding the collar stand, I didn't stray from the pattern. oliver + s patterns might seem expensive, but they really are worth the extra money. (I've purchased mine during sales) Everything I've made from their line ends up looking lovely. Not to mention that they are beautiful - their designers did a fabulous job doing the technical writing and illustrations.

back view

back detail
I foresee many more modified Sketchbook shirts in Geth's future - it's so nice to have a dress shirt that doesn't appear to be swallowing him whole!

Halloween 2013

While brainstorming 2014's costumes a few days ago, I realized that I never shared pictures of Geth's Perry the Platypus costume from last year. Even more crazy is that it still fits! Sorry, not sorry, little dude. You're going to be an awesome Perry two years in a row.

We love a themed family costume around here, but Miss E wasn't having any of our Phineas and Ferb ideas last year. So the Hubs and Geth were the only two.

Side note: I opted to make things less crazy and not dress up. Then had a last minute change of heart and made myself into a birds' nest. Miss E went as Ariel. She's 2/5 with the princess costumes, counting this years'. (bet you'll never guess who she's dressing up as. Let it go if you can't.)

Here we have Dr Heinz Doofenshmirtz and Perry the Platypus, with a beached Ariel. Now that I think about it, we did have a Disney theme going on.

Geth's Perry costume was made from three $4 Target tshirts. I made both the pants and hoodie from scratch, tracing a few garments I had in Geth's drawers for pattern pieces. Or maybe the pants were from an old pattern I had, I can't remember. I do remember drafting them up, though. The pants ended up being far to long in the rise, but that ended up being a blessing, as they now fit Geth perfectly. Last year, I just rolled the waist band down a few times.

Perry's bill and eyes were ironed on, then stitched.

For the tail, I sandwiched a piece of cotton batting between two pieced of orange jersey and quilted them together. It's attached to the pants just under the elastic in the waist.

As my serger is forever on the fritz, I used my old Bernina 800 for all the seams. A small zig zag works really well on knits. Not as professional looking, but I'm not bothered by that. All in all, this was a fun and somewhat easy costume together. Most importantly, it was and is super comfortable for baby to wear. Nothing like a soft knit on that sweet skin!

A Formal Topped with Lace

Months ago, I finished my most labor intensive alteration yet. It's a good thing I adore the girl whose dress it was. I was up hours past my bedtime for days, draping, drafting, pinning, carefully cutting lace, hand sewing it into place, and beading. My nieces hold a special place in my heart.

Carli, my eldest niece, just graduated from High School in June. Como say what?? She's still the sweet little girl wearing a fancy pink dress at my wedding. *sigh* I'm not even her mother and I get all nostalgic, thinking about how young she was when I married Dave.

I digress. Dress! Let's talk about the dress!

My first look at the dress was a hastily snapped picture, taken in a dressing room. I just about died when I saw it. Plunging neckline, tiny halter straps, low back and a lovey blush satin. Oh my. For Carli, though, I put on my thinking cap, researched Monique Lhuillier's beautiful lace wedding dresses, and came up with this:

First item of business was to find lace and lining fabric. There were many butterflies over finding the perfect lace. As beautiful as the blush pink satin of the dress was, it was impossible to match exactly. We toyed with the idea of white lace, but I was worried it would make the dress look too much like lingerie. My sister in law and I happened across a beautiful lace a few shades darker than the dress fabric - it was love at first sight. For us. Maybe not for Carli. There's a vast amount of trust that goes into letting your mom and Aunt pick out fabric! The lining satin was a titch darker, as well, but I knew that layered together it would be perfect.

And it was. See that thread escaping? Just keeping it real.

 My absolute favorite part was the back cutout. Holy hannah,there was much draping and pinning to get it just right. I was wishing for a dress form the whole time. Fit is everything when you are altering formal wear. No gaping, sleeves lying flat, bu still allowing for movement. In other words, one needs perfection. Especially when you want it to be modest, not dowdy. (It is possible!)

Once the fit was right, I cut out the muslin and used the pieces to cut out the lining and lace. I'll admit to some major nerves at this point - beautiful fabric is never easy for me to cut into. I sewed the lining and main pieces together and then attached them to the bodice top. Which makes it sound easier than it was. At this point I think Carli was ready to kill me. With out the lace edging the bodice and dress were rather lack luster. (Again with the trusting your aunt.) Once the dress was back together, I started attaching the scalloped edges.

To get the lace edging just so, I had to carefully cut the lace to fit and hand sew it into place. In some places, I had to re-bead, too. My stitching skills were definitely put to the test on this one!

I put in two hook and loop closures at the top of the back bodice. I had toyed with the idea of buttons, but there was no way I was going to try to put in button holes. A huge thanks to dear Andrea, who came to my rescue the day before Prom. Silly me didn't have enough hook and eyes and the nearest sewing shop is 40 minutes away.

When Carli put the dress on for the final fitting, I'm pretty sure I let out a whoop and threw an air punch. It was exactly how I had envisioned. I love the rush of getting a project just right and the rush of seeing my niece's face light up when she saw herself in the mirror. Pure happiness. Worth every minute of work, just to get that smile. Lovely girls deserve lovely formal wear that let their personalities shine through, not just put their bits on display.  I'm so very grateful that the Lord has blessed me with the ability to do so.

My only request is that she gives me a nice long break before I have a white dress to alter. *wink, wink*