A Handcrafted Ruby

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Basically, all I have to say here is that I have SO MUCH LOVE for the Alison Glass Handcrafted fabric collection. I want it all. I want to make all the things with it. Unfortunately there are bills to be paid and mouths to feed and loved ones with expectations of holiday gifts and blah blah blah, so I resigned myself to only buying one print (so far, ha!)–Petal in Charcoal. Originally I planned to sew a long-sleeved tunic, but silly me, in my excitement during selecting and ordering the fabric I didn’t realized that this one is a double border print (pattern along the selvage sides and unpatterned in the middle). I stared at my pattern pieces for a good 20+ minutes trying to figure out a way to get the fabric patterns to line up across the bodice and sleeves in a way that was symmetrical and not too weird. I never figured it out and I got really sad for a few minutes and then it hit me, that this would make a great Ruby dress.

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This quilting cotton was probably not the best choice for a Ruby, but I don’t even care. Even with it constantly riding up my hind end (thank you, extra-low humidity and friction-y tights), I don’t care. I just love the print. Last time I made a Ruby I lined the bodice so there was no need for bias trim for the armholes and neck. This time I used the trim, only turned it to the inside of the bodice and stitched it down. This would have been a super quick sew if not for the trim–I just might be the slowest person ever at pinning and sewing binding. I also didn’t realize that the fabric is double-sided and also printed on the selvage, so I skipped a step and didn’t bother to hem the dress. It turned out a little shorter than I intended so I don’t think I’ll be able to wear it without tights or leggings, but I’m ok with that. Most days of the year it’s cool enough where we live, and for my cold body, to wear leggings.

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My last Ruby turned out a little tight across my shoulders so I decided to up the bodice to a large for this one. I’m much happier with the fit. Oh, and I added side seam pockets! It was my first time adding them to my own clothes, so I drafted a pattern based on what I had on hand–an Oliver + S playtime dress pattern! Again, probably not the best with quilting cotton, but I’ll take it. After sewing this up I had a long rectangle of the fabric left over and dang it, I just couldn’t help myself–I went and sewed Clementine a matching skirt. I made it a little on the loose side to ensure that it will still fit this summer. I forgot to get a picture of it so I’ll have to try to remember at some point while she is wearing it. Oh, and I finished all the seams with my serger! That really brought me some joy :-)

Make sure to check out a little about the inspiration for and story behind creating this fabric, found here. Cool stuff!

Fall Sewing

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I recently sewed a couple new fall shirts for Clementine. For the first, I used my lovely, hoarded Birch Fabrics Elk Fam fabric that needed to be set free. I again completely overestimated the amount of fabric I had/underestimated the amount I needed, and was planning to create a longer sweatshirt-ish/tunic-type top, maybe with a kangaroo pocket. Turned out I had just enough for a basic flashback tee (size 3T though!) with 3/4-length sleeves and a tiny chest pocket. I used plain white ribbing for the neck band and a narrow zig-zag stitch to hem the arm and waist bands. Over the summer I tried out a twin needle for hemming a couple of knit shirts. They looked nice but completely unraveled after only one or two wears, even though I carefully tied knots in all my threads. I haven’t been brave enough to try it again since…any suggestions?

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Moving on to shirt #2. I’ve had this sweater knit in my stash for a few years. I bought it on a knit-purchasing binge back before I knew much about different types of knits, and was surprised to discover it was not the kind of fabric I was expecting, plus it had hot pink loops all over the wrong side, ha! It was from fabric.com and it looks like similar fabrics are still available–maybe even the same one although I can’t find it right now.

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Anyway, I didn’t know what to do with this fabric until all of a sudden I found myself in possession of a toddler in need of some warmer shirts. So, another flashback tee it was.  I sewed the binding to the inside of the neck and added a cuff to finish the waistband. A little something extra was still needed so I fused and top-stitched a cute little heart to the bottom of the shirt too. The pink loops seem prone to unraveling. Fortunately, I finally got around to getting a tune-up on my hand-me-down serger and learning the very (VERY) basics of using it, so this shirt served as my inauguration into serger-finished hems. I’m not super confident that it will hold up long-term–I keep waiting for the loops to snag, but it’s been worn and washed a few times and so far looks great. I’m feeling more and more confident with each knit piece that I sew!

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Lastly, I also attempted a pair of basic pocket pants from the book Growing Up Sew Liberated. I usually stick with stretchy pants for Clementine so they fit over her cloth-diapered booty more easily, but thought I could adjust these appropriately. I sewed size 3T, and added more ease to the crotch and bum area while taking a little length off the legs.

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Unfortunately I didn’t try them on her before finishing the leg hems, and they ended up way too long, and simultaneously way too small in the bum (Obviously I couldn’t be bothered to iron them for a picture after they’d been crumpled up in the closet for a couple weeks.). I’m hoping that they’ll fit next year, assuming we’re out of diapers :-) For these pants I used a denim from JoAnn–the wrong side of the fabric for the main part of the pants and the right side for the trim/accent pieces. I have enough fabric left that I may give these another shot, this time taking my time on adjusting the fit. The one thing I really didn’t like about the pattern is the way the waistband is finished (I’m pretty sure I correctly followed the instructions…). Basically, you are supposed to add a casing for the elastic to the top of the pants, meaning that the seam allowances inside the pants are quite visible on the outside. If/when I make these again, I’ll add the waistband more like binding so that all that sloppiness is covered. And of course these pants were constructed pre-serger, so my wimpy zig-zag seams finishes looks extra awful. Other than that I liked the pattern a lot.

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KCW Fall 2014: Dinosaur Roar

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I was so excited to sew C’s Halloween costume this year, and a million ideas were floating around in my noggin (including my favorite idea of dressing us all as characters from Orange is the New Black, mostly so Husband could make the most awesome George ‘Pornstache’ Mendez, but we realized that other people might not find that so appropriate for a toddler…). Anyway, when thinking about the Storybook theme of this Kid’s Clothes Week, I knew I wanted to make a dinosaur sweatshirt for C because we are very into some dino books these days (my favorite is Dinosaur Roar; I also like Dinosaurumpus and the How Do Dinosaurs…? series) and C does the MOST ADORABLE, raspy, dramatic, “roooawr” sound when you ask her what the dinosaur says. Oh my. Eventually the idea evolved into a full Halloween costume, and it was settled.

I started with a huge green sweatshirt and yellow jersey t-shirt found in the men’s section at Goodwill. I was just able to squeeze most my pattern pieces for the top and pants into the chopped up green sweatshirt but didn’t have quite enough space, so I made the front of the shirt from two layers of the yellow jersey. For the dino sweatshirt I used the Recess Raglan pattern in size 3T. I drafted the hood and lined it with the same yellow jersey.  Both the sweatshirt fleece and jersey were decent quality and thickness so it sewed up really nicely. For the spikes down the back I used cheap felt (not wool) from JoAnn. The hood shape ended up kinda wonky with the felt spikes, but oh well, it’s a dinosaur head, you know?

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For the pants I used Dana’s Basic Pant tutorial and pattern. I stuck with the pattern she provides, which I think is approximately a 3T. I did add some extra space in the bum area, but unfortunately they still ended up so slender that I can only (barely) fit them on C with a disposable diaper. I think I must have messed up the scale settings while printing the pattern? They also sewed up really easily, and I definitely want to give these another go for some winter sweats.

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And for my favorite (and C’s least favorite, boo!) part–the dino tail–I followed this free tutorial pretty closely. I used some inexpensive quilting-weight cotton for the green and the same cheap felt for the spikes. Sadly C will only wear it for a minute or so while watching herself in the mirror, and then she’s over it. Hopefully I can bribe her with a special treat to wear it for photos on Halloween!

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I also decided to add a dinosaur tee to the ensemble so that C could wear it to daycare. I used some scraps of white jersey and remaining pieces of the yellow jersey tee to sew another Recess Raglan, again in 3T. I happened to have yellow ribbing from the clearance bin at JoAnn that matched well so I used that for the collar and wrist cuffs. I was so pleased with how this shirt turned out. I had some big sewing-with-knit mishaps and fails over the summer and had been feeling a little wary of testing the waters again, but the last few things I’ve sewn with knits have turned out much better. Anyway, I liked this shirt so much I almost wanted to keep it unadorned and neutral, but really, what fun would that be? So I freezer-paper-stenciled a little stegosaurus friend, and I can’t tell you how much it tickles me to imagine a stegosaurus saying “roar” :-)

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Happy (early) Halloween to all you other handmade-costume makers out there!

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KCW Fall 2014: Storybook-Inspired Ice Cream Dress

Hi folks, how goes your Kid’s Clothes Week sewing? I confess that, although this season’s theme of Storybook is amazing, I hadn’t put too much thought into what I would sew this week (aside from C’s Halloween costume, which I’ll be showing in a day or two). I only had one piece of clothing in mind, based on some awesome fabric in the stash and inspired by one of C’s favorite books as of late. I pulled the fabric out a few nights ago only to realize that it was a much smaller piece than I had remembered, and my plan crashed and burned. Oops.

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Moving on, I decided to come up with just one other idea, hopefully working entirely from my stash. We recently received the book The Snowy Day (by Ezra Jack Keats) as a gift from friends and I remembered having it as a child. I had enjoyed looking through the pictures lately, especially drawn to the little boy’s super cute snow outfit. I was interested in trying something else, though. The various colors of buildings in the illustrations made me think of color-blocking and I decided to come up with an interesting color combo that I wouldn’t usually use. I quickly settled on the Ice Cream dress pattern, another Oliver + S pattern that had recently found its way into my home. Originally I wanted to sew the tiered version of the dress using four different colors, but I wasn’t able to find a four-color combo that I really liked from my stash. Instead I stuck with the regular dress version and decided to aim for three colors. 112 edit 1

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I especially liked this page with the boy in a pink bathtub atop a many-colored (tile?) floor. The dark green reminded me of some Essex yarn-dyed linen (in olive? or maybe jungle? not sure) I’ve had for a while. Next I added in a pinkish color (not as bright as in the book) with some shot cotton that I used for a Wiksten tova. Finally I added a little touch of a lighter green to the pockets, using some more shot cotton.

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I typically would not have come up with this color combination, especially since I think I tend to stick with one to two colors or patterns. I’m really happy with how it turned out though, and glad I explored my ideas. I don’t think I need to comment on the pattern since everybody knows all about Oliver + S patterns. I sewed a 3T with 2T length to ensure it would fit over a t-shirt this winter and still fit next summer–I suspect it’s going to fit for a couple years :-)

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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 Fabric.com 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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