Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Dresses

It looks like it has been a long time since I have blogged anything! I just had a quick minute to get this up, so here you go! Right now we have a little foster baby living with us, so I've done the best I can to show what I made for her without revealing her identity.

Miss H's Dress: Oliver + S Fairy Tale Dress
Size: 5 + length
Fabric: Mistletoe Lane in Pink by Bunny Hill for Moda and solid red from Moda
Changes: I added 1.5" to the length of the skirt, lining, and tulle when I was cutting, and when I hemmed the dress I ironed 1.5" folds rather than 2" folds.

This dress took a lot more work than I anticipated. It involved my first ever invisible zipper and quite a bit of hand sewing to finish things. I'm not in love with the small red trim around the middle. I had a difficult time turning it and then getting it to lay flat to hand stitch over the the bodice/skirt seam. If I do this again, I would opt for piping or a thin sash around the front.

Baby Girl's Dress: Oliver + S Bubble Dress
Size: 3-6 months
Fabric: Mistletoe Lane in Pink by Bunny Hill for Moda
Changes: I added a red velvet ribbon around the front bodice, sewn into the side seams. I used snaps rather than buttons.

I have made this dress a few times now and still love it! It is fully lined and a very quick sew.

Baby Girl's Christmas Stocking: Purl Soho Winter Flower Christmas Stocking
Fabric: the highest quality wool felt Joann carries
Changes: I used beads rather than sequins for embellishment.

This was a really fast and fun project as well! I'd love to make more of them in the future.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Sewing Stream: Pattern Testing for CINO (again!)

A couple months ago, I was part of a group asked to test a new Craftiness is Not Optional pattern! I enjoyed this so much the first time that I quickly said yes again. CINO created the Ressica Raglan Top and Dress pattern for us to sew test.

I chose to sew the top! At the time, our little closet was full of dresses. The pattern went together well and the directions were easy to follow. The shirring was fun to sew and shrink and I love the raglan sleeves!

Pattern: Ressica Raglan Top & Dress, now available for sale here!
Size: 5
Fabric: Quilting cotton main print, red chambray raglan sleeves
Changes: subbed snaps for buttons

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Sewing Stream: Upcycled Ice Cream Top

I cut this top out back in January for the upcycle themed Kid's Clothes Week challenge. However, I ran out of time and moved on to something more necessary at the time. As I was cleaning up my sewing piles last week I stumbled across this and finished it! It's a tab bit on the small/short side now, but I think it will get a couple wears before getting stored away.

The green portion of this top was one of my favorite summer tops from the year we got married (10 years ago!). I have kept in in hopes that it would either fit again or that I could think of something fun to do with it instead. I was able to use the existing hem with the little baubles, which is exciting! I had a difficult time figuring out where to cut to avoid the little beaded sections, but in the end it worked out. FYI: the feed dog does not get along well with seed beads.

Pattern: Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress Pattern
Size: 4
Fabric: Green - upcycled Gap tank top, White - Daydream by Kate Spain for Moda found on clearance at The Intrepid Thread
Changes: I used a snap rather than a button in the back.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Me Made May: the Datura Blouse

I've been working on this top for a couple months. The sewing was quick, but making multiple pattern copies, a couple muslins, and working on the fit took me several days and a lot of extra thought time. I first noticed this pattern when Anna Graham of Noodlehead made one for herself a couple years ago. I immediately liked it, but assumed it wouldn't fit me as all of my previous me-sewing projects were flops. Over the past couple months I've read quite a few blogs (Cashmerette being my favorite inspiration!) on using any pattern and making it fit correctly. Liesl Gibson, designer of my favorite Oliver + S children's patterns and Lisette patterns, has also written some very helpful blog posts about fit.

I started by using my measurements, which put me in four different sizes, and just making the largest size muslin in the Datura Blouse. It was too big everywhere! So I made the next size down, which was a lot better. No gaping in the back around my arms, no sagging in the front, and just about right around the middle. The darts were very definitely too small/short and too high. I read and researched more blogs for information on FBAs (full bust adjustments) and just wasn't feeling confident that I would get it right. Liesl highly recommended Fit For Real People: Sew Great Clothes Using Any Pattern by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto, so Miss H and I picked it up at Barnes and Noble. I spent the next few days reading much of the book and learning too much for my brain to hold.

I made a couple more pattern copies as I adjusted darts: breaking out several colors of sharpies, making them bigger and then smaller again, longer and finally moving them down. Once I had what seemed close, I made another muslin to try on. The muslin helped me assess the way actual fabric drapes and hangs. I made a couple more dart adjustments, and changed the length. I then made a final muslin, showed it to Tom and a friend, and set it aside for a few weeks while I sewed through some custom orders and Kid's Clothes Week.

Every time I would sort through my sewing stack, I'd just reshuffle the Datura pattern and fabric back into the pile. This last week I hit a sewing block and wasn't sure what to work on, so I hemmed my jeans and thought about cutting into my beautiful fabric; a rayon challis by Joel Dewberry. Friday night I did it! Then, Friday and Saturday nights I sewed.

This top went together pretty quickly. The instructions were well written and translated. I had to re-read the parts about sewing the shoulder seams together quite a few times to make sense of a method that I'd never used yet really liked in the end. This is the first time I've sewn with rayon, and it was pretty easy and basic! Tom stayed up laaaaaaaate with me on Saturday night while I hemmed and attached my snaps. I tried it on a couple times as I was putting it together and kept feeling amazed that it was still fitting the way I wanted.

I love the end result and will definitely be making more of these! I even got to wear it for my birthday/Mother's Day.

Pattern: Datura Blouse by Dear & Doe
Size: 44
Fabric: Dainty Daisies, Lavender in Rayon Challis by Joel Dewberry from Harts Fabric in Santa Cruz
Modifications: Changed dart length, depth, and placement, and added 1.5" length

Monday, April 27, 2015

Kid's Clothes Week: Another Swingset Tunic

Miss H and I liked the first Swingset Tunic so much that I had to make another. It ended up being perfect for our beach trip today. I'm sure I'll even make a few more for the summer. I used some remnant fabrics that Miss H picked out at the store a couple months ago. I kind of wish I had enough to make something for me with them! I love the colors and patterns!

Pattern: Oliver + S Swingset Tunic
Size: 4
Fabric: Both are remnants, the blue and white says it is Mint to Be from Camelot Design Studio, and the green is Color Me Happy Cluster Drops in Emerald Green from Moda.
Changes: Swapped buttons for snaps, and finished the inside side seams rather than leaving them raw.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Infertility Awareness Week and an Update

Apparently it's infertility awareness week, so all sorts of posts and articles have come across my screen the past few days. None of them have really stood out as something worth sharing or passing on until this one, which is pretty encouraging for me to read.

We are 9 and a half years into this journey. While it hasn't gotten easier, it has gotten less bitter. We know God holds both our future and that of our children. Miss H brings joy to our lives every day, but that does not dissipate our desire to both birth and adopt more children. She frequently asks us when she can have a sibling to play with and prays regularly for another little someone to join our family. I never realized that our infertility would affect her heart as much as it does, sometimes leaving all three of us in tears.

Many people have asked us about different fertility treatments, adoption options, and why we don't just pick and do "x." None of the decisions are easy or inexpensive, and all are filled with ethical considerations. Building a family is not just about a desire for more children under our roof; it is about loving people in the way Jesus loves and adopts us.

Here's a little update on our story. We have tried several medications to combat PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), none of them worked. We adopted 6 embryos in 2009, have transferred all of them now, and have lost 5. We briefly held a foster care home license in Washington before moving to San Jose, and are now in the final (hopefully!) stages of getting certified in California. We recently revisited medication, though not to the desired effect. The doctor has again recommended either IFV, which we do not feel comfortable with ethically due to the culling that happens once eggs are fertilized, or more embryo adoption.

The doctors have again recommended that we do IVF, but the precedent for, and almost certain, destruction of newly created embryos make this ethically not ok for us. We plan to again pursue embryo adoption, while caring for Miss H and any children we welcome to our home through foster care.

Kid's Clothes Week: Kitty Swingset Tunic

Again, this is a pattern (Oliver + S Swingset Tunic + Skirt) I've had for a long time, but have only made the skirt portion before! I love the tank tunic, but was never sure it would look great on my skinny girl. I decided that because she is about to outgrow this pattern completely, I should give it a shot.

The pattern instructions for the tunic are pretty general and not very specific where I could have used more guidance. I'm thinking this is because it is one of the older patterns. Thankfully, I found this wonderful picture tutorial on the Five and Counting blog. I'm sure this took an hour or so of speculation out of this project for me!

When I started this top, I didn't have any periwinkle thread. In retrospect, I probably should have gotten some to use for the top stitching, rather than white. Overall, I'm very pleased with the fit and the look. My favorite part are the three colored snaps on the back!

Pattern: Oliver + S Swingset Tunic
Size: 4
Fabric: Cat Nap Finn Pink by Lizzy House for Andover for the main section, the periwinkle and white dots was a fat quarter I had in my stash.
Changes: The only change I made was my usual button to snap conversion.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Kid's Clothes Week: Bubble Bee Dress

My second Kid's Clothes Week creation is an Oliver + S Bubble Dress! I have both size ranges in this pattern, and have only made it once before. I'm not sure why, because it is very easy and fun to make! I love that it is fully lined, giving a crisp look inside and out.

This is one of the older Oliver + S patterns, which make the differences in instruction quality stand out. It was a little unclear how far the back placket should overlap, so I kind of just fudged it to make it look right to me. I added some fun red piping, which I think I did correctly, but I'm still not sure!

Pattern: Oliver + S Bubble Dress
Size: 4 with an added inch in skirt length
Fabric: Cotton + Steel Bees in Navy by Melody Miller, bodice lining is a Moda navy solid, skirt lining is a soft muslin, piping is a bright Moda red
Changes: Added some length, used snaps rather than buttons

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Kid's Clothes Week: Mustang Skirt

This quarter's Kid's Clothes Week theme is Wild Things! I think this is the first theme they have selected that I have really enjoyed. Miss H loves animal print clothing, so I have a few things in my stash that work well for the theme.

Pattern: Oliver + S Swingset Skirt
Size: 5
Fabric: Cotton + Steele Mustang in Pink by Melody Miller, lining is a light green Kona from JoAnn (pretty coarse, not as soft as I'd like, but it was on hand!)
Changes: I made the size 5 for the length, but ended up using the elastic size for 12-18 month pattern!

This Swingset Skirt also falls into the Oliver + S Size 5 Project. This means it is the last size available in this pattern! So sad, but I'm pretty sure I can just keep making them longer as we need them since Miss H has a tiny waist. This skirt is definitely one of my favorite Oliver + S patterns. It takes less than a yard of fabric for the exterior, and is very quick to sew!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sewing Stream: An Easter Dress

Miss H picked out her Easter dress fabric about a month ago, and then I spent a few weeks trying to decide which dress to make. I settled on a Roller Skate Dress. I didn't make any last year because the size 2 still fit from the year and a half before!

Patter: Roller Skate Dress by Oliver + S
Size: 4 with an inch of length added
Fabric: Petal and Plume Seeing Stars in Lime for Art Gallery Fabrics from The Intrepid Thread, Chambray for the collar, muslin lining
Changes: Lengthened the dress and used a snap in the back rather than a button and loop.

I felt like this dress needed a little pop somehow, and couldn't get a felted wool flower to look the way I was hoping. After looking around flickr for a while, I came across this little origami butterfly made with fabric. This is the tutorial I used. It works so well! I just added a little gathered bit of fabric down the center to tie all the colors together.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sewing Stream: An Ice Cream Dress

Miss H is short on summer dresses, so here's our first addition to her warmer weather wardrobe! The pockets seem to be a big hit.

Pattern: Ice Cream Dress by Oliver + S
Size: 4 - I usually buy her size 5, but this pattern runs big!
Fabric: Green Kona Cotton from JoAnn, Confetti Print is Oh Happy Day Sprinkles by Dear Stella
Changes: I used a snap closure in the back instead of a button with a loop.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Kid's Clothes Week: Upcycled Suzanne Dress

I bought this pattern, Suzanne by Citronille, a couple years ago on Etsy. I can't believe I didn't make it sooner! It is pretty basic and quick, even though the pattern is in French. The pattern illustrations and a little translation help from Google are really all you need to make it work!

This is a size 4, made during Kid's Clothes Week from an upcycled strapless Gap maxi dress that I got for $0.99 on the day after Christmas a few years ago. It's pretty much the softest fabric I've ever felt. It's some sort of lightweight gauze. The dress came lined with the ivory that is now lining everything but the sleeves in Miss H's dress.

I added a heavier-than-normal iron on interfacing to the bodice front and back to prevent gapping. Originally I hadn't planned to line the skirt, but as I got closer to sewing it on, and after consulting with Miss H, we decided it would be fun to have some extra swishiness for twirling. I also thought it would be fun to have it stick out the bottom a little and will allow the length to last longer on my rapidly growing girl!

She and I are both in love with this dress! She says she doesn't want to take it off.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sewing Stream: An Ice Cream Dress for a Birthday

One of Miss H's little friends had a birthday last week, so she and I decided that a fun dress would make a nice gift. We went through my fabric stash and picked this blue flower fabric and some contrasting red Moda solid. After looking through all my favorite patterns that I already had traced in a size 2T, I chose the Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress.

The dress went together so quickly! I don't know if it was because of my familiarity with this pattern or if my sewing skill have improved in the last couple years, but it was much easier than I remember! The only modifications I made were to not use the red contrasting band at the bottom of the dress (not enough red fabric left), and to change the button to a snap.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sewing Stream: Lucky Baby Quilt

It's been a long time since I've worked on a quilt project, but a few weeks ago I had a bug to use up some of my quilt stuff. Here's the first completed project!

This quilt is a baby gift for a friend. I used a Thimble Blossoms pattern called Lucky. I think the Thimble Blossoms patterns are all so beautiful. Rather than making the full size, I made just 4 of the 16" blocks for this baby version. I used a few of the fabrics from a Kate and Birdie Storybook layer cake and some Moda solids. The back is pieced with some fabric remnants that match color-wise that had no other destination.

This is the first time I've had a quilt come together at the points easily. I'm not sure if the difference it the OLFA green cutting mat (rather than my pebbly blue Wal-Mart variety) I used or the 1/4" foot on my sewing machine. I hadn't used either before and am so happy with the result! I don't have a quilting function on my machine, so I just used a wavy stitch an either side of all the perpendicular seams. This binding is a new method for me as well, suggested by my mom. The binding is 2 3/8" wide, and sewn onto the back of the quilt, folded around to the front, and edge stitched on. It's quick and easy and looks good!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sewing Stream: Another Dress for Me

Actually, this was the first dress I made for myself. When I made it about a year ago, I didn't like it. I can't remember why! I pulled it out of my closet this fall after sundress season was over, and I loved it!

I made this dress with the Go-To Dress pattern from Tanya Whelan's Sew What You Love book. I saw the dress on a mannequin at Bolt in Portland. The gal working in the shop had made the dress and offered to let me try it on to see if I liked the fit. This gave me a little confidence that I may actually be able to sew something that wouldn't seem like a hospital gown.

I bought a remnant of some knit organic bamboo blend fabric, and borrowed the book from the library. The dress is just 4 rectangles, so it is quick and easy! It probably would have been even faster if my serger was working. I used a jersey needle and a slight zig zag stitch on my sewing machine. There are several different options for length, number or gathering rows in the middle, etc. Both the front and back of the dress have the same v-neck.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sewing Stream: Snowflake Dress for Christmas

Knowing that we would be in California this year for Christmas, this was the first time I was on the hunt for a Christmas dress without an accompanying jacket pattern or long sleeves. I found this beautiful heavy red and gray flannel at JoAnn in the fall and bought enough at half price for whatever pattern I would eventually choose. I knew I wanted to include some embroidery or cross stitch on the bodice portion of the dress, and the newer Oliver + S Hide and Seek Dress pattern has a lot of available space for these options. 

I pinterested (look, a new word!) around for what looked like a basic and quick cross stitch pattern that would lend itself to a Christmas dress without limiting the dress to the month of December. I found one that looks like patch work snowflakes and got started. 

I cut everything out (size 4), and took the red bodice yoke portion (a red Moda fabric designed to go with all the Bonnie & Camille fabrics) with me on our Thanksgiving-time travels through Washington and Chicago. It's a good thing I got an early start on the cross stitch because it took a lot longer than I anticipated! I used 3 strands of embroidery floss, and will probably try 2 next time. The front bodice is completely faced with a mid weight fusible interfacing so that it wouldn't stretch while I had it in the embroidery hoop. 

When we got home mid-December, I didn't jump right into dress sewing, but did other December activities like shopping and baking and decorating our home. I picked the dress back up a few days before Christmas, wanting Miss H to be able to wear it to church on Christmas Eve. Well, I finished the snaps about 15 minutes before we headed out the door! I love the result and Miss H tries to wear it almost daily! 

Sewing Stream: Yet Another Skater

Can you tell I love this little Skater Dress pattern? Here's my third long sleeved, size 3/4 version. I don't have much more to say about the pattern, other than to confirm it is soooooo easy! Fabric: Desert Blanket by April Rhodes for Art Gallery Fabrics. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Sewing for Dressember

I finally decided to sew a dress for myself! I've been wanting to, but not wanting to commit to that much fabric for a couple years. After looking at many patterns, I finally decided on the Out and About Dress by Sew Caroline. Since this month was Dressember (and guess what, you can still donate toward my International Justice Mission fund raiser here!), I thought it would be the perfect time to try this easy dress out to add to my dress collection.

I chose a basic and very inexpensive dark grey jersey rayon spandex from Girl Charlee. (I didn't want to spend much until I knew how to make it fit right, or if it would fit.)

I measured myself, and according to the pattern I should have made a 2XL, which sounded crazy when I ususally wear medium sized clothing. I decided to go make an XL, and am pretty sure that if I make this pattern again I'll make a L.

I sewed the dress with a Juki serger, which went very quickly, and topstitched the neck and hems with my sewing machine and a jersey (ballpoint) needle. When I initially tried this on, I was not pleased with the fit/look or the very scratchy serger seams around the middle. I switched the looper threads on the serger from polyester to wooly nylon threads. This helped sooooooo much! I also ended up cutting the skirt section back off to fix. I cut the skirt width down by 6" and reworked the gathered skirt top. I decided to gather just in the center front and back sections of the skirt, rather than all the way around, to mimic a couple dresses I own and like the fit of. I have about 8" on both sides that are just flat, not gathered. The side gathers made the dress look a little too billowy at the hips and little girl-like to me.

After  re-attaching the skirt with the modifications and hemming, I am pretty happy with this dress! I had a little more stretching that I would like around the neckband and side seams, but I'm pretty sure that is due to the thinness and weight of this fabric. Even though it was a bit of a trial, I'll continue to wear this basic dress. If I make this pattern again I'll use a cotton knit that is a little less floppy.

This dress is great by iteself, or layered with a blouse or belt.

The best part is that I finished it just in time to make it my last outfit for Dressember! I took it for a trial run, hiking at Bear Gulch in Pinnacles National Park. #youcandoanythinginadress