Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sunday best dress

I am SO excited about this is the latest design I am working on and it has morphed from my original idea into something I love even more.  I am calling it the "Sunday best" dress. I will be adding it to my sewpony vintage shop (which will switch from etsy to my blog shortly)!!

I first drew up this design a couple of months ago but it looked a little different. You may have seen the original version here.  I was planning on offering to lengths of bodice and a gathered skirt with or without collar and with/without two lengths of sleeves.  However, I really wanted to use this beautiful fabric - wooden houses (not currently available in the pink colourway but the green version is just as gorgeous) that I purchased recently from fellow Aussie, Frances from Miss Matatabi (I am her latest fan...), but I only had one metre.  I decided to eliminate the gathered skirt option and instead drafted a simple A-line skirt. 

The dress needed something else to tie in the chartreuse colour of the collar (which was intended to pick up the hint of chartreuse in the houses fabric - the little trees).  So I added little curved pockets to the skirt with a piped edge. And also three covered buttons for a bit of pop! The collar fabric is from my local fabric shop and seems to be like a shot silk of some variety... please don't look too closely at my hand stitching along the diagonal bodice line - I was doing it late last night under dim light and should have chosen a different colour thread!!

Our garden is looking beautiful at the moment, and we have one tree in full blossom as you can see! We are not sure what fruit it will produce yet, but it is a stunning backdrop I think!

The bodice is lined and closes with an invisible zip.... no hand sewing the lining into the zip on the inside...I figured out how to sew it in with the machine really simply.

You can see the back detail here - the half collar is sewn into the shoulder seam.

I have been bursting with ideas lately with two other dress designs swimming around in my head.  This is thanks a lot to the incredibly skilled and talented blogger, Lauren Dahl.  Her pattern workshop course is sooooo helpful and although I am only a little of the way through it so far, it has really taken a lot of the headache out of pattern drafting and compiling a PDF pattern.  I know as I learn more through creating this pattern, the ones that follow will become even easier! Thank you Lauren!


I am hoping this pattern will be ready for testing in around 3 weeks.  It will offer collar or no collar and instead a piped neckline, A-line skirt with piped pockets, buttons for front detail, sleeveless, elbow length sleeves (see here) and three quarter length sleeves. It will be sized 12 months - 10 years.

So what do you think? Will you be making a Sunday best dress this September??

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

When we were young: Elegance and Elephants

I am excited to have another lovely instalment in my When we were young series.  Today's guest is the talented pattern maker and blogger, Heidi from Elegance and Elephants. I first found Heidi's blog after seeing her adorable bubble pocket shorts (a pattern I will be making up for the first time this summer).  In all, Heidi has created seven successful sewing patterns for children.  All of which are lovely!  Heidi is hosting her fun series presently -Knock it off - a series where sewers recreate a designer outfit and share their interpretation. I love this series! Heidi has two sweet children - Tobias and Anja.  She lives in Canada and I am very happy to share her post with you today!!!


Where were you born/where did you spend your childhood?
I was born in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada and spent my childhood living in the Lower Mainland area (near Vancouver).  We moved around A LOT (like once a year or more), but generally stayed in the same area of southern BC.

Who did you grow up with?
I grew up with my parents and have three brothers, although one of my brothers is 15 years younger than me, so I was almost grown by the time he was born.

Did you have a childhood ambition?

I wanted to be a zoologist and/or ornithologist and study birds and animals.  I was the kid who would read encyclopedias about animals for fun and was fascinated by National Geographic nature programs.

What did you like doing when you were little?
I loved anything to do with animals, creating things (through sewing and crafts), reading, drawing, and singing.

Do you see any similarities between yourself and your child/children?
I do see a few similarities.  Both my children love drawing and crafts, like I did.  My daughter is also a little singer and reminds me of how I would often burst into song as a kid.  Tobias is big time into animals and birds right now, devouring any info he can find about them, much like I did.  Personality-wise, Tobias is more like me.  He's more of an introvert who really savours his down time, but enjoys spending time with loved ones, too.   

Do you live far from where you grew up?
No, I'm right in the same area.

Where do you live now and who with?
I live in Abbotsford, BC with my husband, Michael, son, Tobias (6), and daughter, Anja (3).

When I was young, I loved wearing dresses, so it seemed very fitting to replicate one of them for Anja.  As I think back, I remember having many of the same type of sundress, the kind with the shirring on the top.  I had so many different colours and seeing them, reminds me of spending summer days running around outside.  So, when I came across this photo, I knew that was the dress I wanted to make.  To be honest, I didn't have very many photos to choose from, as my childhood photo albums are missing at the moment.  My mom and I searched her house, but it seems they must be in storage somewhere.  Luckily, this photo was in a frame at her house, and it's just the style I was wanting to make.  

And here's how it looks on my daughter...

In case you're wanting to make one of these sweet dresses, I took a few photos during the process.  It's so easy, I really should make a bunch of them!  After measuring, and then cutting a rectangular piece of fabric, I sewed a rolled hem along one edge.  Next, I wound elastic thread around my bobbin, sewed seven lines of stitching, and stitched up the centre back seam.  Then, I made four straps, sewed them on, hemmed the bottom, and I was done!  Super easy!

And one last shot with a side-by-side re-enactment without the cars.  Not sure why those cars are parked so close together, nor the reason why I'm standing between them with flowers.  It will remain a mystery!

It's so fun to see her wearing this dress that reminds me so much of my childhood!  In hindsight, I should've made it a little wider, but it still looks so cute on her, and there are plenty of sunny summer days left for her to wear it.

Thank you so much, Suz, for inviting me to participate in your series!


Thank you so much Heidi!! It really is a joy to see my sewing blogger friends as children and to see the old photos and to imagine your enjoyment searching through your photos, then deciding on a photo and searching for the fabric, the pattern and recreating the scene!! I am so glad you enjoyed the experience!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Knock it off - Belgian style

Last year when I was planning what to sew for my friend An from StraightGrain's series, Kids' Clothes Belgian Stylethis is the image I wanted to cre-create.  The Belgian designer's name is Dominique Ver Eecke and the dress is featured in this collection. I loved the romantic look of the girl (who reminded me a bit of Isabella), the cardigan paired with the beautiful bird printed dress, and I planned on taking Isabella to an art gallery for my photo shoot.  I searched for quite a few nights on the internet for a bird fabric that would be similar to this one.  I could not find one! So, then I decided to try to make my own bird fabric....

(Thanks Issie for giving me your best non-smile!)...So a year and a bit later, I am sharing my bird dress during Heidi from Elegance and Elephants "Knock it off" series.  Heidi has run this series for the last three years (as far as I know) and I love the idea of being inspired by a designer outfit and trying to recreate it in my own way.  I also love the idea of saving money by making the clothes for my children (not that I would ever pay designer prices anyway!).

So back in May last year, I purchased a blue sheet from the op shop that had a subtle floral pattern on it.  I then mixed up some fabric paints and set about painting my pattern pieces (the pattern is the sleeveless version of the Fairytale dress by Oliver & S - lovely fit with bodice darts).  I painted on the birds, leaves and flowers and sponged the bottom of the dress to get the blue effect in the inspiration image.  This cardigan I hacked up this afternoon when Issie got home from school - a knit top of mine (given to me by my sister), I cut it up the middle and took it in and shortened the hem. 

The dress fits perfectly and did so when I made it, but I wasn't entirely sure it was 'good enough' for An's series, so I ended up making two dresses for her series which you can see here!  I decided this bird dress was for the dress up pile.  Isabella has reached for it often and worn it in public and had many lovely comments on it, which made me think, maybe it wasn't as bad as I first thought! PS. this outfit cost me $1 for the sheet, $2 for the ribbon and about 50c worth of fabric paint!! Oh, and an invisible zip, they are not $3.50.  So a total of $7... not too bad. I could not find out the cost of the original dress for comparison.  Sorry no pics without the cardi as it was too cold for miss Issie:)

Make sure to check out Knock it off at Elegance and Elephants for more lovely recreations!!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A cosy vest

About a week ago I saw a post pop up in the PDF facebook group sharing a pic of a sweet little vest which was made from a free pattern.  I loved the look of it and decided to have a look and I ended up making this...

The pattern was made by Lydia from Little Kiwi's closet.  Lydia is a NZ lady who has an etsy pattern shop and blog.  You can read about the vest and download the free pattern here.  The pattern is available is available in sizes 12 months - 6 years. I made size 2 for Emily who is on the smaller size of 2 (although she is 2 years, 5 months) . For me (or should I say, Emily), the fit is spot on and it is a very simple little project. I will admit though that I did not read the instructions (naughty me), and since this is no formal pattern review I can just tell you the finished product is very cute! I made mine from grey marle windcheater (sweater fleece) with the wrong side facing out.  I lined it with some flannelette I bought a couple of months back from Spotlight. I made the stripey top Emily is wearing underneath too but she was all finished with photos before I could photograph it. She does like it though since it has three red ducky buttons on it!

The vest is reversible, depending on whether you decide to sew on a button on each side.  I added blanket stitching around the edge and used a big wooden toggle to close the vest.

It looks so cosy on Emily and I think it might fit her next year too.  Emily is also wearing hand me down cord pants I made using this Ottobre pattern for Issie a few years ago! Gotta love having three girls for value for money! She is standing in front of a tree that my husband felled yesterday (new firewood in the background!). Our property is an ever changing landscape.

Ta da!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A skater dress

Jess from The Sewing Rabbit contacted me last month asking if I was interested in contributing a pattern to the August Pattern Member collection.  The Sewing Rabbit Pattern Member program is fantastic if you love sewing with Indie PDF patterns.  You pay $10 per month and receive three patterns each month.  This month, the three patterns are my Little Betty top, The Girl's Skater dress by Amanda - Kitschy Coo and the Trapeze dress (for women) which is a pattern exclusive to Pattern Members.  I will be sharing a new Little Betty later this month but I was keen to firstly sew up The Skater Dress.  

I searched through my knit fabrics for enough fabric for a dress but wasn't really happy with what I found. Spotlight were having 40% off fabrics and I found this gorgeous jersey knit and some contrasting ribbing. The dress cost me about $6.

Issie lost her first tooth last week!!! So exciting.  She received a miniature note from 'Felicity' (named after my once favourite TV character! - Ok, I still love it!!) the tooth fairy and one treasured dollar. I couldn't bring myself to throw out her first tooth, so I think I will keep it for posterity. Is that weird?!

Flower stew anyone? Our daffodils, jonquils and snow drops have been out for weeks, even though it is winter here - so lovely.

This dress is super comfy and I really love it.  I did find the sizing too big though. I sewed up the 3-4 size and it fits Isabella who has turned six and usually fits into a size 5. I intended this dress to be for Juliette but it is too sloppy on her but fits Issie well.

If you would like to become a pattern member, you can read all about it and join up here.

Thanks for including me Jess and thanks for the great pattern Amanda!

PS. If you sign up to become a pattern member during the month of August, I get a little something out of it - thank you:)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A little boat dress

I am trying to finish some half made garments at the moment.  I, like many sewers (I think), start something, then put it down after distracted or excited about a new project, and start something else. I started this dress a few weeks ago and had to get it finished before Emily grew too much more.  

I found this sweet retro boat print at my local fabric store at discount and thought it would look really sweet in a little girl's dress.  I used my Debbie's birthday dress pattern and drafted sleeves for our cooler weather. The ric rac faux collar only extends around the front of the dress.  I just drew a chalk line where I wanted the ric rac to sit and sewed it down before the dress was constructed. It's a sweet detail, I think.  I didn't get an unblurred (running) shot of the back of the dress, but I used an invisible zipper instead of button and loop so that no winter breezes could creep in. Below is Emily amazed by the early evening moon. 

Emily was busy playing with duplo when I asked her if she would try on her boat dress for me so I could take some photos. Her immediate reply was, "No, i not!" I then whispered in her ear that I would give her a chocolate button and she smashed the duplo out of the way and said, "Let's go, Mummy!" This girl is ridiculously cute and cheeky!