Sewn: Aves Chatter Playtime Dress

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A few weeks ago we had professional family photos taken and I was set on making a dress for Clementine to wear. I quickly settled on the fabric I wanted for fall photos–Aves Chatter in Dim from Bonnie Christine’s Winged collection. I initially was going to use the voile but I decided to stick with quilting cotton as Art Gallery Fabrics are so soft and flowy, and cotton is more appropriate for the season. For the life of me, though, I could not pick a pattern! Apparently I do not perform well under pressure. I wanted it to have sleeves and I wanted it to look nice but not TOO nice as we aren’t really a dress-up kind of family.  After much searching and considering and hemming and hawing (Geranium with drafted sleeves? bubble skirt?), I finally decided to try out the Oliver + S Playtime Dress pattern, which I had recently purchased. At first I thought it wasn’t quite special enough (I think the topstitching line around the collar makes it look more casual?), but I realized that with this beautiful fabric it would be perfect. To take it up just a notch, I added flat white piping between the bodice and skirt (although it turned out a little wobbly, bummer). I was also inspired by this amazing playtime dress to try out a high-low hem, which doesn’t seem very apparent in these pictures–I think I should have made the skirt an inch or so longer in the back.
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After all my wishy-washiness, I only had a few days to actually sew this up before our pictures and I was majorly rushed. I had it mostly finished the night before our photo session but I needed to check the skirt and sleeve length on C before I hemmed them, so I did that the next day and then finished it while she was napping, a mere few hours before our pictures!

I sewed a 2T which fits really well while on my big 1.5 year old*, but it’s difficult to get on her due to the fit of the bodice and waist. I don’t love how sloped/wide the shoulders are on this pattern so I cut an extra ~1.5 inches off–maybe that contributed to the difficulties in getting it over her head and arms? The only other modifications I made were to shorten the sleeves a little as it ended up being warmer than I expected on picture day, plus the high-low hem and the piping. Oh, and it has pockets! I think this was my first time sewing pockets, which is kind of lame. Now that I know how easy basic pockets are, all the things will have pockets :-)

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All-in-all, this ended up super cute and was of course a wonderful pattern to sew! I’m hoping to try out a version in knit soon, as well as try out the playtime leggings which I didn’t get around to this time. I think the dress is a little much with the patterned tights C was wearing in the photos here, but I just couldn’t help it–I love the plum color with those mustard yellow tights. I did exercise restraint and dress her in more neutral tights for our family photos though :-)

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*I feel like I constantly mention that C is big, so maybe I should explain. Up until 9 months, she was over 99th percentile for height and weight (!) so she was always a couple sizes ahead of her age. At one year she was in mostly 2T, but since then her growth rate has leveled out a lot and she is starting to approach a more typical size (although she’s still in the upper 80’s percentile-wise in both height and weight). Currently she’s in a mix of 2T and 3T RTW clothing, although most size 2T mama-made clothes seem to fit her now (well, not pants…that’s a whole other story with bulky cloth diapers!).

Handmade birthday gifts

In August we road-tripped to Minnesota to visit Husband’s family. Our three nieces and one nephew were all born in July and August, so when we can make a summer trip there it’s a perfect opportunity to deliver their birthday gifts in person. I kept myself quite busy in the couple weeks leading up to our trip with trying to finish the gifts in addition to preparing for the trip itself!

First, the gift that was the most special for me, a teeny Geranium dress for our beautiful new niece R who was only born a few weeks before our trip. I sewed the 0-3 month size using Palos Verde voile for the bodice and Andover chambray in coral (leftover from these shorts) for the skirt. Ah, those bodice pieces were so tiny and adorable on my sewing table! 130 edit 1 resize

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I also sewed a matching pair of bloomers using Dana’s perfect diaper cover pattern. My sister- and brother-in-law use cloth diapers so I went up one size for the bloomers. I made an attempt to add a little tag at the back but somehow managed to get it very off-center. Oops.

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One more photo, because I’m dying over the sweetness.

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Up next, an art smock from Little Things to Sew. I really love the one I made for Clementine and thought nephew W, who just turned two, could use one also. I again used Ed Emberley fabric, this time the awesome Dragons, for the main fabric. For the sleeves I used Crosshatch Sketch in black. I apparently didn’t get around to adding the pockets…Oops again! Unfortunately I didn’t get a very good picture of the art smock, but you get the idea.

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Finally, tutus (again from Little Things to Sew) for our princess-loving nieces K and L, sisters who just turned 5 and 7. These were fairly easy to sew up, at least once I quit worrying about trying to keep my tulle very straight. I think the hardest part was making the gathers, as the tulle was very thick and was a workout to gather up on the thread. 091 edit 1 resize

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I purchased the tulle from which has lots of color choices, most of which is very inexpensive. K’s favorite color is purple, so I used pink and purple colors. L loves blue–specifically “turquoise”–so I used teal and greenish-blue hues. These tutus are so cute that even though I’m not into the whole princess thing, I can’t wait to make one for Clem when she’s a little older. Maybe she’ll go for a “woodland fairy” version instead!106 edit 1 resize

Oh, and these pictures were all taken with the items hanging from our backyard fence that Husband is in the process of building. I’m sooo excited! Now I can let Clem run wild and free while I spend all day drinking wine and watching tv. Just kidding, you guys! I’m more of a beer girl, and I’d much sooner read sewing blogs than watch tv ;-p



Cotton + Steel Class Picnic Outfit

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After trying out a few Oliver + S patterns, I’ve most definitely been bitten by the bug! I’m now the proud owner of a couple digital patterns and a couple paper patterns purchased during sales, including the Class Picnic blouse and shorts. I was also itching to try out some Cotton + Steel fabric, so for the summer Kid’s Clothes Week I picked out this Stampede print from the August collection by Sarah Watts because it made me think of paint splatters (in keeping with the summer theme “Kid Art”). I finished the top a few days after KCW, but then we were traveling and I wasn’t able to finish the shorts until recently.

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I sewed up size 2T in both the top and shorts. The top is a little loose–I could shorten the elastic at the shoulders, but I’m probably too lazy for that; conversely, the shorts are just a little small. I’m hoping the whole outfit will fit well next summer…assuming C will be out of her gigantic cloth diapers :-) I was planning to sew the shorts in a more neutral color combo but fell in love with the idea of using a bright color and used Andover chambray (in coral, I think?). I really love both the top and the shorts, but I think combined maybe they are too much? Anyway, I definitely like the top with jeans or gray shorts, and I think the shorts will be super cute with solid-colored matching tees.

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I’m such a slow sewer that the Oliver + S patterns are a major time commitment for me, but I’m really happy to be learning so many new tricks and techniques. Plus the clothes come out so cute. Her little toddler legs are killing me in those shorts!

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Below is C’s contribution to the outfit–tall socks and Robeez slippers. I had to bribe her with cheerios to let me take them off for the rest of the photoshoot!

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Sewn: Fine Feathered Ruby Top

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I’ve been in love with this Anna Maria Horner Fine Feathered print since the first time I saw it, especially the pomegranate colorway. I finally decided to make a Ruby top from the voile, and the plan was to sew it up during the Spring Top Sew-Along. Well. That clearly didn’t happen–partly because I’m slow and partly because the “ecru” shot cotton I ordered to use for the yoke arrived very green-tinted, and I hard a difficult time deciding what to use instead. Weeks later I finally got around to finding a matching off-white voile and got to work. I chose to sew a lined yoke because I like the clean look over the bias binding on this top, plus the voile was too sheer for a single layer anyway. Actually the voile turned out so thin and delicate that I decided to line it in some slightly sturdier muslin that I had on hand and that matched well. The top sewed up nicely and I think all I had left to do was hem it when I saw that none other than Rae herself had just made a Fine Feathered Ruby dress! I’m sure that other versions have been made in this fabric but I couldn’t help but feel like a copycat when I finished it up. Oh well, I suppose that means I have good taste ;-p   Anyway, I finished the top and have worn it to work a few times and even taken it on a halfway-across-the-country trip to visit family, but I have had a terrible time trying to get photos of it.

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Even though the voile is so wrinkly–as you can tell from my photos; I can’t be bothered to iron–I really love this top. So light and airy for hot days! After wearing it a couple times and looking at other lovely Ruby tops on flickr and blogs, I think I actually prefer versions that have a darker yoke and lighter main fabric, for some reason. Fortunately I have another fabric combo that fits the bill waiting for my next version, although it will probably have to wait until next spring at this point. Along those lines, I found it interesting that my unadventurous mind automatically jumped to a matching fabric for the yoke, in comparison to Rae’s (and others’) choices of complementary/near-complementary colors.

I do find that the top gapes just a bit at the front and back neckline. I know it needs to be relatively loose to fit over the head without any openings in the neckline, but maybe it’s just a little wide for me? I might try taking just a half-inch or so out of the width of the yokes next time. I also had just a little bit of trouble keeping the armhole bindings from getting a little wrinkled as can be seen in the photo, but I don’t think it’s terrible. The voile is so thin that even a little bunching like that isn’t super noticeable. I didn’t enjoy hand-stitching the yoke lining, but I know it’s good practice for me. I must be about the slowest stitcher-by-hand in all the land.

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Another funny (at least to me?) story about this top: A few days ago we were running late for a “back-to-school” orientation at C’s school so I threw on this top–the first thing I found laying on the floor that seemed relatively clean. After the orientation I took C to run errands, and in the middle of Target I noticed that I had the top on inside out! The Fine Feathered voile is only a slightly lighter color on the wrong side so that was probably not noticeable, but the inside of the hem was facing out and the flecked muslin lining did not look great on the outside! We only had to quickly stop in one more store, but once I noticed it I couldn’t let it be–I rapidly changed it in the Target parking lot while hoping nobody walked by the car and peeked in!

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Since my Ruby top photos aren’t the greatest, how about this photo of our Red Ranger broilers to distract you? They are growing big and sassy.

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The nights are getting cooler around here. I am looking forward to more fall weather and fall sewing. Keeping up with my tradition of finally trying out patterns a year or more after they were super popular, I’m working on my first Wiksten Tova and am hoping to move along to an Archer shirt after that. What are your fall sewing plans?



Kid’s Clothes Week: Belated Finish

Two of my KCW projects were thiiiis close to completion last week, so I was able to quickly finish them up after we returned from camping on Sunday.

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First up, a stripey knit tee made from a maxi dress purchased from Goodwill. I had the hardest time figuring out if those stripes were black or navy–it looked different every time I looked at it! I finally saw it in better light yesterday and determined that it’s a dark navy. I started with Flashback Skinny Tee pattern, in size 3T this time. The last couple flashback tees I made in size 2T are just a smidge tight on her shoulders and belly. The 3T is a little big but I like room for growing. I added sleeves based on the Geranium dress flutter sleeves, but I’m not very happy with how they look–the lightweight knit is too floppy. I wish I would have used a more gathered sleeve, but I’m probably going to be too lazy to change it. I had the entire thing finished except for the neckline before we went on our trip. I decided to use an invisible binding for the neck, and I wanted to use stretch elastic (I’ve tried it in a couple things lately that I haven’t shared yet) but it was not cooperating. It just kept completely frizzing up and getting snagged in my machine. It would stitch nice and smoothly for 5-10 seconds and then it would start coming out of the threading parts of the machine really fuzzy and fraying, and then the stitches would bind up in the shirt. Does that sound like a tension issue? So instead, I first I zig-zag stitched it it to the shirt and then used a long straight stitch to sew down the binding on the inside of the shirt. The neckhole is big enough that I don’t think there will be a problem with having to stretch the shirt enough that it breaks the straight stitches.

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Originally I was going to make this into a dress by attaching a gathered skirt (of the same material) to the top, but after I tried the top part on C, it seemed like that would be too busy. So I left as is, and didn’t even bother to hem it, and I think that will do. The skirt part is cut out with the original hem intact so all I have to do is make a waistband and she’ll have a super easy stretchy skirt for next summer.

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Second, some new pj’s for the cooler nights we’re having here. (Poor kid was not happy with getting her picture taken this afternoon!) This outfit was also made from Goodwill finds. For the top, I started with a men’s XXL Polo brand t-shirt, made from what feels like very high-quality jersey. I again used the Flashback Skinny tee pattern in 3T. I placed the front, back, and sleeve patterns at the bottom of the shirt so I could make use of the factory hems. I think I did shorten the sleeves by around a inch, but they are still a little long, especially since the wrist is loose from having a regular hem instead of ribbed cuffs. For the neckline, I dumbly thought I could just cut off and re-use the original neck binding. As I’m sure you would guess, it ended up too small (narrow) but I stuck with it and I don’t think it looks too terrible.

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I used the Everyday Leggins/Sleeping Johns pattern from the book Growing Up Sew Liberated for the pj pants. And again in size 3T because my child is a large monster. Again using another Goodwill-thrifted tee. I had to shorten the length to fit the amount of fabric I had but they ended up being just about the right length for C. I didn’t even notice that the front of the shirt had wider stripes than the back until I had already cut out my two leg pieces, but I thought that resulted in a fun detail. For the ankles I sewed on little cuffs that I was just able to eke out of the remaining fabric.

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I had both the pieces completely finished last week but I wanted to add something fun to the shirt. I had a few different ideas, involving either applique or freezer paper stenciling, that I couldn’t decide among. I finally settled on using freezer paper to paint on a humpback whale, because why not?

And that concludes Kid’s Clothes Week. Thanks for checking us out :-)  I have a two other things I wasn’t able to finish that I can hopefully wrap up soon, and then I’m really itching to get back to some sewing for myself!

Kid’s Clothes Week: Oliver + S Art Smock

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My first* finish for summer KCW: An Oliver + S art smock from Little Things to Sew. Obviously I took the literal route with the “Kid Art” theme on this one. Actually I had been eying various versions of the art smock seen sprinkled through blogland. This theme finally gave me the push I needed to purchase the book and get to work. Happily, we’re easing into art projects now that C doesn’t try to eat EVERYTHING (she stills eats crayons if I get them out, but this morning only tasted a marker once!) and hopefully this project will get lots of use.

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I was also recently introduced to Ed Emberley fabric by Cloud9 and really wanted an excuse to buy some. Of course I love it; it strikes the same chord in my animal-loving heart as Charley Harper art. I especially loved the animals from the Happy Drawing collection and it finally occurred to me that it would make an awesome smock. I paired the Lions and Tigers for the main part with Scribbles for the arms and pockets. Totally reminds me of when I was a kid and was constantly sketching little animals and making various types of loopy or boxy scribbles in the margins of my notebook pages.

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This was my first “real” Oliver + S pattern—although I just sewed a popover sundress, it was so easy that I don’t think it gave me a real sense of what the patterns are like. I’ve read comments on the art smock, about how it’s so nicely finished with the French seams on the inside, and to be honest I thought, “So what? I use French seams on lots of things.” But it isn’t just that the seams are cleanly finished, it’s more the order the instructions tell you to do things in to make it work perfectly, the extra tips that help reduce bulkiness at seams, etc. Lots of little things that take extra time but add up to a really nicely finished product. In summary, I seem to be jumping on the Oliver + S bandwagon :-)

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The Ed Emberley fabric is really nice, thick, cotton that I think will work well for an art smock. Hopefully I can let gooo a little and actually let it get messy! Does anybody else have that problem with their handmade clothing? Afraid to let it get ruined? The first time C wore her Charley Harper dress, her Daddy gave her a banana to eat without a bib and the front got stained. I washed it a few times and got it to mostly come out, and then the next time she wore it she fell face-first into a mud puddle in the yard and now it’s completely stained. Breaks my heart!

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*I’m being optimistic by calling this my first finish. Realistically, it will probably be my only finish of KCW due to busy work week + helping husband build backyard fence + heading out to the woods for camping in a couple days. I do have three other outfits in various stages of (in)completion so we’ll see if any magic happens around here.

4th of July Popover

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Last summer, on the afternoon of July 3rd I decided I wanted to make something for C to wear the next day to celebrate the 4th of July. I started to do something really simple like a basic skirt but it escalated just a bit into a dress that I worked on late into the night and part of the next day. I traced a vintage tunic to create the pattern and came up with a sundress using leftover navy voile for the skirt + hand-me-down white eyelet for the bodice. My plan was to use red buttons at the shoulders, until it came time to search through my button jar, where I of course found no red buttons! By this time it was maybe an hour or two before our friends were coming over to hang out for the 4th. So, alas, the red was missing from the ensemble. But it was cute and I was pretty proud of myself! (And then she puked on it about 1 minute after I put it on her. Oh, and she only got to wear it twice before she outgrew it. So it goes with infants.)

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Anyway…fast forward to this year. Around a week and a half before the 4th, I decided to continue the tradition and make another 4th of July outfit for her. Problem was, we were leaving a couple days later to drive to Missouri to visit my parents. We would be spending the morning of the 4th with them and then heading to see friends in Illinois. Therefore, I needed something easy and I needed to decide soon. I thought of the free Oliver + S Popover Sundress pattern, which I had been wanting to try out. I also remembered this huge piece of seersucker I got a couple years ago in a box of old fabric from my mom (come to think of it, I think the white eyelet from last year came from the same box). Right before we left I got the pattern and fabric pieces cut out, and then I took it with us and sewed it up at my mom’s.

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The downside of this approach was that I didn’t have any extra fabric to use if I messed up (which was dumb, because I could have remembered to bring the extra fabric). The upside was that I got to use my mom’s sewing machine, which is nicer than mine :-)  Instead of clunk clunk clunk it was all just a gentle, quiet whir.

The pattern is super easy and should have all gone just fine. I had intentionally cut out the front main piece with extra width so I could gather it a bit in the front. I did that for some extra interest and also to ensure plenty of room for that big belly! The back main piece was supposed to be cut to the normal size, but when I started to attach it to the yoke I realized it was a little big as well. I think the seersucker poufed up a bit on the fold when I was cutting it out, creating some extra width in there. I simply created a tiny box pleat to fit it to the yoke correctly. Hey, I guess that gave a little extra room for that big cloth diaper booty! Finally, I shortened the dress into more of a top or tunic length. I thought about adding a strip of blue at the bottom to have the red, white, and blue all in one piece of clothing, but I liked it as it was. C wore it with the Paris skirt I made here. Cutie pie!

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My mom has found a bunch of old toys for C to play with when we visit. Here, everybody was laughing about how C didn’t know what the toy rotary phone was, so I had to teach her how to hold it up to her ear when somebody said Hello!

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Next up: Kid’s Clothes Week! Are you guys joining in next week? We are planning to be away for a few days next week for a camping trip so I’ve tried to get a head start with cutting out my patterns and fabric. Husband’s response was, “You’re doing that kid sewing thing again? Didn’t you just do that like three weeks ago?” No dear, it was a whole SEASON ago! I have to say, I’ve been kind of stumped by the kid art theme. I mean, I have lots of ideas, but I do think it would be more fun if my kid could help create some of the art. (Instead of just eating the crayons like she does now.) And when I let myself get carried away with ideas I tend to come up with fun things but not so much useful, needed items. I’m trying to keep my ideas realistic and sew up mostly things she actually needs, while still incorporating a bit of the theme.