A birthday Joey dress

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When Clementine’s birthday fell over spring break last month, we decided to celebrate with a trip down to Baltimore to visit the National Aquarium. I knew just the fabric I wanted to use to make her traditional “themed” birthday dress–I’ve loved this Jay-Cyn Feather River print since it first came out. I wanted to keep the dress casual so decided to try out the Joey Dress pattern.

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I sewed a 2T for the now-two-year-old (sob!) and the fit is great. There’s just a little extra room so it should fit for the rest of the summer, and probably into the fall at least. Her growth has slowed down so much that she is “merely average” in height and weight, according to the husband (in contrast with her placement at >99th percentile for height and weight up until age 1). It’s such a relief that her clothes fit for more than a few weeks now!

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I know lots of folks have made this dress already, and I didn’t do any modifications and the sewing is straightforward, so I don’t have much else to say about it. The kid, on the other hand…I could talk about her all day. Oh, this kid. She’s full of fire, quick to anger but just as quick to love, sharp as a tack, and so hilarious. Just amazing. Of course, I’m not biased or anything. Now I’ll go cry some more about how my baby isn’t a baby anymore.

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Selfish Sewing Week: Linden sweatshirt and Hemlock tee

I was so excited to participate in this year’s Selfish Sewing Week challenge–I had patterns lined up and fabric ready to be chopped up–when I realized I wouldn’t have much time to sew because we had family visiting for part of the week and then we were taking a short spring break trip the rest of the week. I pulled myself together and got started a few days early, and was able to finish two tops this week. I even got photographs of them taken and downloaded right away, which is basically unheard of for me! Then last night when I tried to upload them, I realized the patterns I had used weren’t available through IndieSew and therefore weren’t eligible to enter the challenge…doh. Womp womp. Oh well, at least I was motivated enough to get these done this week!

 

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To start I sewed up my first Linden sweatshirt. Like every other gal who has sewed this pattern, I adored it and can’t wait to make more. I used this thick jersey fabric from Fancy Tiger Crafts. It doesn’t have a lot of stretch so I erred on the side of caution and sewed a 10, a size up from what I would have done if I had used a stretchier fabric. I think an 8 would have been fine but I like how comfy this one is too. I think my only alteration was to chop about an inch of the sleeves before adding the cuff. I also wanted to add an inch or two to the shirt length but didn’t have enough fabric, and I’ll probably widen the neckband a little in subsequent versions.

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I sewed this completely on my serger, which worked great except for when one little gather formed while I was attaching the neckband. Guess that’s why you’re supposed to attach with a sewing machine; it makes those mistakes a little easier to correct! I didn’t think it was too noticeable but am seeing it a lot more in these pics. Oh well, I love this shirt so much. The fabric is just a tiny bit itchy on my arms but it has already softened up after a couple washes so I expect it will even more. I just love the simplicity of both the fabric and the pattern, while the yarn dyed style of the fabric keeps it from being too boring. I want all the colors! Even Husband commented on this; he said this might be the best thing I’ve ever sewn. I think he might mean this fits my personality/style the most?

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I had a hard time getting the girl to stay out of the photos! We had a couple warmer days last week and most the snow melted rapidly, but it’s been colder again the last few days. I was freezing in these pics. Let’s just blame my awkward looks on that, ok?

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Second, I sewed a Hemlock tee using this incredibly soft knit from Spool Fabric. I also love the colors of this fabric, and it is so comfy although it bordered on being difficult to sew (for me). I wanted to wear this with leggings so I lengthened the back hem and curved it up to meet the front. I think the fabric might be a little too slinky for that style though, as it seemed to accentuate rather than conceal in the rear, ahem… So I may be re-doing the length in the future. I ended up cuffing the sleeves because I wanted to keep them long (need to add a little length to the pattern for true long sleeves) and that was probably a poor choice because they ended up kind of weird, although you can’t really see in the pics. I was so nervous when it was time to sew the hem. I used my walking foot and a double needle and it turned out ok, but a little wavy in the back. I’m still worried about busted stitches, though, because the fabric is so stretchy. I attempted to use my double needle last summer but had some issues with it, and have finally gotten around to trying it again lately. Here’s hoping that my stitches last! I did a decent job lining up the stripes on the side, and I’m also pleased with the neckband. Oh, I also lowered the front neckline about an inch or so.

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The Hemlock tee pics were taken at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. This tee + leggings = secret pajamas outfit :-)

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A couple other random thoughts: I realized that the last 3 pieces of clothing I’ve sewn for myself have been in shades of brown. While purchasing fabric I must have been channeling the post-snowmelt, muddy, mucky conditions I’d be living while finishing these items up.

My next clothing sew will most likely be an Archer, finally. I have fabric ready to go. Clearly, I am a Grainline groupie as of late.

I’m so in love with so many of the amazing Selfish Sewing Week entries. It’s rather distracting.

 

 

Chambray Shirt Dress

Before we had family photos taken in January, I was looking for a basic, casual, and quick dress to sew for myself. (The dress I sewed for C can be seen here.) I had recently discovered Salme Sewing Patterns and liked the simplicity of the Buttonless Shirt Dress. There is a wide variety of patterns available from this company for a steal at $7 or $8 each. The downsides are that most patterns are only available as pdf downloads and do not include seam allowances. I’m not much bothered by either of these things so I was excited to give one of these patterns a try. {Note: At the time I purchased my pattern, I don’t think (unless I missed them?) any paper patterns were available. In looking them up to write this post I found that a selection of the patterns is now available in print and do appear to include seam allowances. The prices are still low; however this is a UK company and I didn’t check out what shipping might be like. Currently it looks like the Buttonless Shirt Dress pattern is still only available for download purchase, and only through the Salme website, whereas other patterns are available both on the website and in the Etsy store.}

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The sewing of the dress was really straightforward.  As the front has a seam down the middle, you’ll need to select an appropriate fabric or take care in pattern-matching, if needed. As I mentioned, I don’t usually have a problem adding seam allowances (if the pattern price is appropriate!), especially on a basic pattern like this. It did end up being a little more complicated on this dress because I wasn’t able to use my serger, but the fabric was fraying a lot so I wanted to make sure I created sturdy yet clean-looking finishes on the seam allowances. I decided I wanted to use a couple different types of finishes (flat felled and french), so I needed to add different seam allowances in a couple spots. I didn’t bother with the belt or belt loops as I was short on time and I already had a belt I thought would look nice with it.

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In reading other reviews of the pattern, many noted that the dress was a little loose, especially around the armholes. My measurements placed me anywhere from size 6 to size 12, and based on the other reviews I decided to go with a size 8. My finished dress fits comfortably but I think could stand to be a little looser throughout the waist and hips. However, the armholes are quite roomy, which was funny as the armholes are usually snug on tops I sew. I wouldn’t want them any bigger so if I sew this again I’ll probably stick with an 8 at the top and grade out to a 10 in the hips. I also like the idea of sewing a “buttoned” version of this shirt dress, with a row of buttons down the front.

The little gathers just below the front of the collar ended up a little funny on my dress. I think it is gathered too tightly so the front collar parts are pulled open, even after I iron it all flat. If I do the dress again I’ll make my basted gathering lines a little longer so I don’t have to gather it quite so tightly.

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Now, my real problems with this dress have resulted from my fabric choice. I used Robert Kaufman’s Chambray Union Dots in indigo. I absolutely adore this fabric in appearance, and I’ve seen lots of examples around the web of it being used for apparel, seemingly with no major complaints about it. Indeed, the fabric is lightweight and and has a nice drape to it, making it very suitable for tops and dresses in particular. I didn’t realize before I had it in my hand that each row of dots is created by four single strands of white thread woven loosely through the chambray. This is what makes it fray so easily when cutting into it. Unfortunately, in my experience the white threads are also very easily snagged. I think I’ve only worn it three times so far (for family photos, out to dinner, and to work) and have tried to be very careful with it, but I already have at least a handful of snags. In some spots I can pull the threads back through to the underside a little, but I know it’s just going to keep snagging. Most of the snags are below the waist on my dress, where I’m probably more likely to bump into things (and also where little feet are rubbing when I have the kid on my hip, I suppose).

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From what I’ve seen on other blogs, it looks like most people have used the fabrics for tops, so that might be minimizing their issues. I know I’ve seen at least one or two pieces of kid’s clothing made from it though, and I just can’t imagine how that is holding up. I’m trying to decide how my dress would look if I shortened it to a top or short tunic length, which would cut off some of the most damaged parts and hopefully minimize future snags. Also, I’m curious about the Robert Kaufman cotton chambray dots…anybody have experience with that fabric? I’m curious if the dots are created in the same manner or if that fabric is any sturdier?

 

 

Cozy Tova

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I finally got a remote for my camera! Now I just need to work on looking a little less silly in my photos :-)

I know many of you in the northern hemisphere are well into spring. We’ve seen a few hints of spring here but after a fresh serving of snow a couple nights ago, I was reminded that winter is persisting. In any case, we’ll still have chilly temps for a while longer so I’ve still been working on a few cool-weather clothing items.

I mentioned my first Tova in my last post. For that one I sewed a medium, which is typically my size for RTW tops, and found it wearable but a bit snug across the back and around the armholes. After sewing a small variety of tops for myself I’m learning that this is a pretty typical result for me. I’ve done some reading about fit issues and fixes and haven’t quite figured out exactly what I should be adjusting (broad should adjustment? square shoulder adjustment? broad back adjustment?). I want to get a better grasp of these issues but for now I just really wanted a cozy flannel Tova to wear, so I ended up just jumping up to a size large. It’s rather baggy and I think the shoulders are now a little wide, but it’s oh so comfortable.

009 edit 1The fabric is Kaufman Shetland Flannel Herringbone in cinnamon. I was worried it was going to turn out looking a little nightgown-ish, especially in the bigger size. Maybe I’m walking a fine line, but I don’t feel like a granny while wearing it.

011 edit 1I think the only change I made was to make the collar just a little smaller. I also used a blind hem stitch on the bottom hem and I think it looks super nice. Hopefully this baby will help me get through the rest of the winter.

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Sewn: Julia Cardigan

Last week was a croupy week in our house. Needless to say, not much sewing took place, but I did find time to take a bunch of pictures of my latest few projects…which I promptly deleted from my camera before transferring to the computer.

Until I’m able to retake some more photos, here are a few quick snaps of a Julia Cardigan I sewed up just after Christmas. I know just about everybody sewed versions of these last fall when the pattern was part of a Perfect Pattern Parcel, so I’ll keep it brief. I wanted to share it paired with Hudson pants because that seemed the cool thing to do, but I haven’t gotten around tosewing those yet :-)

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I used a gray and white double knit from JoAnn and I think this is the coziest thing I’ve ever sewn. I’ve been wearing it at least once a week. The fabric is so soft and the cardigan has a really comfy fit. It was a super quick sew too. I sewed a medium and the fit is good, but if I make another I may add an inch or two to the length as I like to cover more of the bum. I think the only modification I made to this one was to slim down the sleeves a little. I couldn’t serge the seams at the time because I was waiting on new serger needles to arrive. I assumed it would be fine as it’s knit fabric, but the seams allowances are actually starting to fray quite a bit so I’ll probably need to take care of that.

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I used the stripes on the outside, obviously, but I love the fun peeks I get of the polka-dots on the inside. I also used a little of the fabric for these adorable, tiny baby pants, and there’s still enough left over for something for C.

019 edit 1Oh, in the pictures you can also see my first Wiksten Tova, made out of Kaffe Fassett shot cotton! I know Tovas are old news, but I do still love the style of the pattern. I actually just sewed up my second one, and will probably share that soon too.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

KCW part 2: Upcycled Vest and Shirt

I finally had a chance to finish getting some pictures of my other two makes from last week’s Kid’s Clothes Week. I had to resort to bribing with fresh fruit and sneaking in a few other pictures before meltdowns began, but we made it happen!

Up first, one of my most favorite things I’ve ever made for C: a Class Picnic top in some really soft, lightweight flannel (brushed cotton?). It’s just my style; sweet, simple, and cozy.

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It started as a large button-down shirt from Goodwill that I’ve had for a long time, waiting for the right project. The fabric is so soft and dreamy I was hoping I could figure out a way to use it for myself, but there just wasn’t enough of it.

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I sewed a 2T. My first Class Picnic top (here) came out loose around the neck so I made sure to tighten the elastic a little more on this one. The fabric was a shifty and delicate beast, especially the front and back yokes which I cut on the bias. I had to cut the back from two pieces and sew them together, and I tried SO hard to nicely match up the pattern. It was really difficult as I couldn’t get the fabric to press into nice crisp lines.

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While serging the seam allowances where I sewed the back pieces together, I accidentally serged into the shirt itself! It was a near disaster but thankfully the fabric wasn’t cut and I picked out the threads without too much damage. Fray-check to the rescue! I used some shot cotton scraps for the lining of the front and back yokes and for the inside trim of the elastic casings. I hoped this would help keep the shirt lightweight since it will be worn in the spring and early summer, but it was also really helpful since I could press the shot cotton much more crisply. It was cold today so she wore it with another shirt underneath which made the arms bunch up a little, but they lie much more nicely when worn alone.

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Just as the meltdown began because she finished her snack and realized mama had the camera out:

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And finally, I sewed an Aztec Vest from a giant, shapeless sweater from Goodwill. The fleecy material was thick and strangely very shifty for not being very stretchy. It just grew and grew as I sewed, even though I used my walking foot for most of it.

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I sewed the vest in 2T but I wish I had done 3T as there isn’t much extra room in the belly. The changes I made were to make the oversized hood a little smaller (and it is still quite large!) and to omit the welt pockets. I haven’t yet done welt pockets and I didn’t feel up to trying for the first time with this fabric. Instead, I used the pattern piece for the inside of the welt pocket to add simple, large pockets to the exterior. They are lined with the same fabric that lines the entire vest, which I got at Ikea a year or two ago. Also, I didn’t find a reversible zipper so the vest is not reversible.

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This make is so far from perfect. The pockets don’t line up at all. The zipper is considerably longer on one side than the other. The lining fabric bags out of the vest a little. But, it’s still cute and functional and that works for me. C doesn’t approve of it so far (“No vest!“) but I’m hoping she’ll warm up to it yet. Hopefully those big pockets will win her over!

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And that wraps up this season’s KCW for me. It made me smile to think about all the mamas and other women (are there any men participating in KCW?) putting so much effort into stitching precious things for their little loved ones last week. And then bribing and pleading with the kids to please just try it on and let me take a damn picture already! Or is that just me?

 

KCW part 1: Valentine’s Upcycle

This season’s theme for Kid’s Clothes Week (Upcycled) was right up my alley. I planned too big, of course, and those plans were derailed by a major lack of sewing time due to having to work at night to make up for daycare being canceled AGAIN (go away, winter!), celebrating husband’s birthday one night, and some other obligations (including a knitting class! so exciting!). But I found some time here and there and I’m pleased with what I did manage to complete: one shirt, one skirt, one vest, and another shirt just waiting for finishing touches.

First, I dragged my huge stash of Goodwill finds and old clothes of my own out of my closet and dumped it out and planned away. A portion of that stash is seen here. As we’re completely set on winter clothes, I set the condition for myself that anything I sewed needed to work for spring and into the summer.

Where to start?

Where to start??

I thought back to one year ago, when I participated in my first KCW and sewed a special shirt for my sweet Valentine. With Valentine’s Day coming up again, it seemed a new shirt was in order. I sewed a Recess Raglan using two thrifted items: a coral-colored Old Navy shirt and a striped maxi skirt. Thanks to using cuffs at the hem and on the sleeves, I was able to sew the entire top using only my serger (except for appliqueing the heart), which made it come together so quickly! I had to use more of the stripes for the back of the shirt, which I really like the look of.

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After I finished the top, I was looking at the remains of the maxi skirt and realized the wide waistband and a remaining strip of most of the bottom of the skirt would (theoretically) quickly come together into a little toddler twirly skirt. Well, due to a zigzag stitch vs. elastic mishap, the skirt took almost as much time to sew as the top!

Unfortunately that is the only picture I have so far! Changing clothes and wielding a camera/cell phone are still two of the very best ways to elicit major meltdowns in our house right now, so the outfit won’t be tried on until the day it is to be worn, and more pictures may or may not follow. Sigh. (Husband asked the other day, “If the terrible two’s started early, does that mean it’ll end early?” I suspect in our case, it won’t.)