Sara Dress.

Monday, October 31, 2011

During Elsie Marley's Kids Clothing Week Challenge, I made Big Sister a Sara Dress by Little Dress Pattern.  This is my first pattern from Little Dress Pattern, and I was very happy with it.  The paper pattern printed well and lined up as it should (not the case with all PDF patterns, I've found).  The design was simple to assemble, and the instructions were clear.  It made a very cute dress.

Little Dress Pattern shows the dress with a bow, but I think I may prefer a knot.  It's nice to have both options.

Because of weather, and because of the scoop opening, I opted to have Big Sister wear a shirt under this dress.  I'd recommend a raglan, since the sleeve seam lines would work well with the cut of the dress.  We didn't have a raglan that would work, so we went with a plain Target tee.

So, knot or bow?  I wonder if that's an unfair question in this setting.  The knot kind of gives it a sailor look, though I didn't realize that before.

Construction Notes:  The ladybug fabric is a fabulous corduroy by Robert Kaufman Fabrics.  It's soft, not too thick, nice drape, very high quality fabric. 

When using corduroy, you have to remember the nap of the fabric.  I didn't, and I ended up with the nap going opposite directions on front and back.  You can't really tell unless you look closely at the side seams, but that's something to keep in mind.  As in most cases, the pattern's fabric requirements do not account for nap, so if using something like corduroy, you should learn from my mistake and plan on more than the recommended amount of fabric.

The sizing of this pattern seems right on.  Unlike many small pattern manufacturers, this one actually provides a chart with measurements and sizes.  Big Sister typically wears a 6, which is what the pattern recommended based on her height.  I think this 6 fits just about right.  The style of the dress will allow it to fit for a good line time, I think.

You have to add seam allowances to this pattern.  The pattern provides different seam allowances for different parts of the garment (3/8 for neckline, 5/8 for side seams, and 1 inch hem allowance).  I'm not sure that's really necessary, but I did like the way the 5/8 seam allowance worked out under the arms here.

It might just be me, but I found that the hem line at the side seams didn't have quite the curve it needed.  I smoothed out those areas before hemming, and that seemed to help.

The pattern uses bias binding, which you make yourself and attach to the arm and scoop neck openings.  But it's referred to in this pattern as "neatening."  I've never heard this term before, but as long as you know that neatening = bias binding, the pattern is perfectly understandable.

I added a little topstitching to the neck/tie piece.  The pattern has the topstitching ending at the end of the neck opening and not continuing to the end of the ties.  That seemed a little unusual to me, so I continued it to the end of the ties and around the corner (but I didn't topstitch on the fold).

There's a handy little glossary at the end of the pattern.  Curiously, it does not include "neatening."  But it would be helpful for beginners, who I think could probably tackle this project without much trouble.

Halloween 2011.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Introducing . . .


But, wait, where is Rapunzel's long, long hair?  Why, it's with Batman, of course!

Batman, you say?  Holy cuteness!

Who needs Flynn Rider when you've got Batman?

I had to let go of a lot this year.  I let go of having more unique costumes (panda! bug! viking princess!) and embraced having costumes that are certainly in the top 10 for the year.  Truth be told, Big Sister lost a lot of enthusiasm for Rapunzel when she learned that a classmate is also going to be Rapunzel, so we may return to more original costumes next year.  I also let go of having coordinating costumes and embraced letting each child choose.  As much as I wanted a little Flynn Rider, I know that his costume is nowhere near as exciting as Batman.  And as much as I wanted a girl Robin, I know Big Sister doesn't care a bit about the boy wonder.  So, Rapunzel and Batman it is.  What I didn't let go of was handmade and quality materials.  Although I didn't do it all, every piece of these costumes was handmade.

This Halloween is brought to you by Etsy.  I must be the best Etsy customer of all time.  I'm not even telling how many purchases I've made there.  Rapunzel's dress was made by AngelBear, and her hair was made last year by JanumTrusty Sidekick made Batman's shirt and knit cape, Little Lids for Kids made his hat, and World of Whimm made his gauntlets (not pictured here, but awesome as always).  I made Batman's belt and added a Batman emblem to the cape.  I also made the pants by modifying an Ottobre pattern, inspired  by this wonderful tutorial from Shannon Makes Stuff.

The Ghosts of Halloweens Past.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Actually, there are no ghosts.  It doesn't get any scarier around here than witches and bugs.

I've had so much fun looking back through our Halloween pictures.  Although I only made bits and pieces of costumes, I had a blast assembling them.  And I'm happy that they're almost entirely homemade, one-of-a-kind creations made with quality materials.

Year 1, Witch Princess:  Big Sister was a tiny little thing, not even three months old.  Isn't she the cutest witch princess ever?  I bought the dress at a local boutique, and the tiny shoes came from Etsy (I swear, I could not survive Halloween without Etsy).  I made the hat, which is still sitting in the top of my closet because I can't bring myself to throw it out.

Year 2, Viking Princess:  Although Big Sister could walk and was beginning to talk, the viking princess didn't feel well (the first of the Halloween sicknesses to hit our house).  But we still managed to catch a smile.  I bought the onesie and viking shoes (those shoes were awesome), had the hat and skirt made by Etsy sellers.  I made the ribbon strap thing, back before I had a sewing machine.

Year 3, Bug Princess:  This is one bug you won't want to squash, except maybe with a snug hug.  She moved so fast that getting pictures was a real challenge.  Now, years later, I'm so glad that we met the challenge.  I bought the shirt and slippers.  Antennae were made by Etsy seller World of Whimm, whose creations I adore (we've bought many, and each piece is seriously high quality).  Tutu and cape (repurposed vintage sheet) were also Etsy purchases.

Year 4, Snow White and the Eighth Dwarf, Cutie:  Little Brother's first Halloween (he was 10 months old)!  Big Sister got sick for Halloween (again) and missed out on lots of fun.  Although I was sewing by this point, I was firmly in my I-don't-do-costumes phase.  So I found a local seamstress through Ebay who made this Snow White dress and cape of quality cotton.  The dress was worn many times and held up beautifully (I love when costumes are just well-decorated clothes!).  I bought the headband from -- you guessed it -- at Etsy seller.  Little Brother's dwarf costume was made by Etsy seller Katesy, who added eyebrows for me.  I later turned the dwarf shirt into a prince shirt for a children's ball.

Year 5 (last year!), Giant Panda and Zookeeper:  The cutest little pair ever.  Makes my heart melt to see these.  Big Sister chose her costume, and I chose Little Brother's to match.  I had Etsy sellers make Big Sister's dress and mask.  I made her paw scarf.  I purchased Little Brother's costume, but it's nice cotton, and he still wears those shorts.  Those boots were Little Brother's favorites (also one of the very few hand-me-downs from Big Sister); he wanted to wear them all the time, so it worked perfectly to incorporate them into the costume.

And that brings us to this year.  Stay tuned, folks!

Halloween Skirt.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A couple of years ago I made Big Sister a very simple Halloween skirt out of fabric with cute witches, vampires, mummies, and other Halloween creatures.  She put it on a couple of weeks ago, and we discovered that it's now ridiculously short.  So, as part of Elsie Marley's kids clothes week challenge, which I mentioned recently, I decided to give her an upgrade.  Fortunately, I still had some of that same fabric, as well as an orange coordinate.  I used the MADE simple skirt tutorial, following the instructions for a double-layered skirt.  Turned out pretty cute:

The best thing about this project, and the tutorial, is how quick it is.  Even for someone who sews as slowly as I do, this skirt can easily be made in a very short time.  

To save time, I used the selvedge-to-selvedge width of the fabrics (which thankfully were exactly the same) and didn't bother to finish those selvedge edges in the back seam.  I serged the hems, then folded up and stitched.  I sandwiched the elastic between layers following the method in the fifth comment following the MADE tutorial:  Put right sides of both skirt layers up, long layer on top.  Sew the layers together at the top of the waist.  Flip the long layer around so that it's below the shorter layer, topstitch along edge, and stitch farther down to create casing for elastic, being sure to leave an opening.   Insert elastic, and stitch closed.  

By the next morning, I had a very happy little girl who is ready for Halloween:

Dino Romper.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

One of my creations got featured on the final roundup for Elsie Marley's kids clothes week challenge!  Thank you, Elsie!

While everyone else in my house was fast asleep each night last week, I turned up my music and went to work sewing clothes for kids.  I love that time.  I won't lie -- it's very hard to get myself out to the sewing room after a long day.  But once I'm there, I lose myself in the process of sewing.  Stress disappears, the to-do list that constantly haunts me retreats, the noise of busy life quiets.  Before I know it, I'm completely engrossed in the details of creating.  The feel of pushing a rotary cutter through fabric, the sound of steam rushing from the iron, the rhythm of the sewing machine, the heat of the lights and machines.  These are the things that keep me going well into the night.

Because I love the process and the details, I sew slowly.  This is my second kids clothes week challenge, and I have learned that at the end of one week, I have much less to show for my time than many.  But I have also learned that output is only a small part of why I sew.

I'll show what I made soon, but first, here's the romper that made Elsie's roundup:

I made this for my new nephew, using the Fishsticks Designs (formerly Fishsticks and Fries, I believe) Austin Lee Coverall and Romper pattern, which I purchased as a PDF from the Fishsticks Etsy shop.  I love this pattern -- very cute, easy, perfect for a baby gift.

I made size 0-3 months, which is still a bit big for tiny baby nephew.  So I haven't been able to try this on a baby yet.  Can't wait to see it on the little guy!

I used a Snap Source snap setter for this project, which worked perfectly.  I didn't have enough snaps of any one color, so I alternated orange and green.  I ended up loving that fun detail:

The fabric here is Michael Miller's Dino Dudes in interlock.  It's not exactly an original choice -- one of the examples on the Fishsticks site was made with this fabric (although it is the other design).  My sister loves this fabric and chose the quilting cotton for a faux chenille blanket, which my mom made for the baby boy.  I happened to have some Dino Dudes in interlock, so of course I had to make a coordinating romper.

Construction Notes:  Fabrics should always be prewashed, especially when making something for baby.  But most especially when using Michael Miller interlock knits, because they shrink A LOT (20% maybe?). 

Unlike many PDF patterns, the Austin Lee romper pattern is easy to assemble, using just a few pieces of paper.  Very refreshing.

The romper itself is pretty easy to assemble too.  I do think the seam allowance could be clearer in a few places.  For example, if you used the 1/2" seam allowance on the crotch gusset, it would pretty much disappear.  I think 1/4" seam allowance works much better there and, although I can't be sure, I think that's what the photo shows.  Also, I should warn that there are a couple of places where you must stitch through a lot lof layers of fabric.  My Pfaff handled it fine, but I'm not sure all machines would handle it as well. 

We like to scoot.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

When Big Sister turned five, Mr. Great and I surprised the kids with scooters.  A pink Maxi Kick for Big Sister, and a green Mini Kick for Little Brother.  They took to them right away, first practicing in the driveway, then on the tennis courts at the park.

In no time at all, Big Sister was able to scoot along lines.

And she could do tricks.  Look, one hand!

She moves fast!

Little Brother still needs a little help.  Truth be told, he prefers to be pulled.

But he's working on scooting independently.

Within about a week, Big Sister was beating a neighbor boy in scooter races.  She scoots down the hall to her room.  She asks to go ride her scooter every Saturday and Sunday.  I can't tell you how impressed I am with the quality of these scooters, or how much these kids love them.  This is the face I love to see: