Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Little Girl Dress Reveal and Some Fabric Flowers

Where were we?

Ah yes...two little girl dresses.

Well, the good news is that they got finished in plenty of time for our trip to my brother's wedding but not enough time for me to get the itch to make something new for the baby ;). 

Four-year-old Miss Z's dress in the making:

I used the top of View C from this pattern because I think Z. looks particularly adorable in halter tops:


Instead of a tie at the neck that would get caught in hair, I cut off the straps and used snaps.

I cut out the waistband in the coral colored fabric from my older daughter's dress and added ties at the side seams of the waistband so that it would have a bow in the back and get a good snug fit on her teeny tiny little body.  (This will make sense in a minute when you see the rest of the pics.)

Voila! So serious, this girl.

Recognize the skirt?  Yes, yes, you are correct!  It is the bottom half of the dress I used to make Roo's dress that I showed you in the last post.

One dress before:

Two dresses after:

The wedding ceremony was outdoors on the most beautiful September day you could imagine and the girls had a glorious time.  Here are some pictures from the reception:

(Note the coral ties/bow I mentioned before.)
The girls and their cousins spent a great deal of time spitting into the water to attract fish!

If you are wondering about the fabric flower decorations, they were actually the inspiration for the revamped dresses. Originally I was just going to decorate the old flower girl dresses with bright fabric flowers but the more I played around with the coral and purple fabric, the more I wanted to use it in a big way.

What you do to make these fabric flowers is cut out circles of polyester fabric and burn the edges of the circles with a candle to make them curl (you could probably use something other than a candle?) and then stack the circles to create a petal look.  Search "DIY fabric flowers" online and you'll find all sorts of tutorials. (Honestly, I looked at the pics instead of reading any of them.)

I used a bit of Fray Check on the edges that didn't melt because, as we all know, taffeta lives to fray.
Since my older daughter's dress had to have a white zipper, I put a big flower in the center back to cover up the part where the purple waistband met the zipper.
Isn't it great how something relatively simple, like a flower made of fabric circles stacked on top of each other, can look so complicated and make such a big statement?

Fabric rocks.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Scenes from my basement, an updated dress for me, and attire for two little girls!

(Yes, good eye, you've seen that skirt before.)

Greetings from my basement sewing room!

You know me, I like to keep it real around here so I figured I'd post a shot of this week's sewing spot.  Since I recently caught up on eight months of laundry (not entirely kidding on that one) and cleaned, I'm kind of digging this space right now instead of my kitchen table.  The former homeowner had a workshop here and it is nicely lit, though you can't tell from the pictures.  I feel really blessed to have a place to leave up the crafting table and make messes without disrupting the household.

What brings me to my basement sewing room?  I thought you'd never ask!

My brother is getting married this upcoming weekend and I'm attempting to make the family presentable without buying anything (except shoes for those children who insist on growing).  We have enough clothes that I could probably pull stuff out of the closets and call it a day, but that would be too easy! Plus, I'd get bored.

For myself, I pulled this dress out of the closet and used a scarf to make a few modifications for more coverage.  It is really a challenge finding a dress you can nurse in that is not knit!  The rest of my closet is all knits and gosh I am so tired  of wearing knits!  I prefer silk.



Hopefully more professional looking pics will follow.  Normally I do alterations by machine but this time I pulled out a needle and thread and had at it.  What a refreshing change of pace!

Of course you have no frame of reference for this next picture, but I'll post it anyway -- in the back, I gathered the scarf and slipped it into a lower seam instead of trying to manipulate the place where the old strap met the back.  I also left the old straps right where they were.

I think I'll put Evie in the dress ZouZou wore in this next picture but I haven't decided yet if I'll change anything.

How is that baby almost five years old?

Anyway, for the older girls I'm taking another hack at the dresses from last year that I posted about here and here.

Their latest look was this:

I thought it would be fun to sort of remake them and cut them short like vintage dresses, but then...

...this didn't seem suitable for a first grader!  What to do?  The bodice was far too short for a child of her age.  If I left it like that, it would look like she were wearing something much too small for her even if it fit perfectly otherwise.

I tied a ribbon around her waist to mark her true waist and see exactly how short it was.  Three inches!  After assessing my stash and brainstorming, I decided to get rid of the tulle skirt altogether and pull together a color block dress with the white bodice, a new purple waistband, and a new coral skirt.

Borrowed skirt pattern pieces from a pattern in my stash. 

I have no idea why I have this iridescent coral taffeta but I do know that coral was one of my wedding colors and can only assume I purchased it then and didn't use it.

{Gratuitous wedding picture. Circa 2005}

No, I cannot account for my expression.

Moving on.

After nine years, taffeta does not like to part with its creases!  However, I fought mightily against them and only nearly melted the fabric with the much-too-hot iron in the process.

Taffeta also likes to fray like crazy and in my enthusiasm to begin sewing I forgot to make French seams and had to turn in the seam another way.  I think this is some version of maybe a Hong Kong finish?  Or I lie.  I might be too lazy to look it up.

Gotta be careful pressing synthetic seams, by the way, because the stitching will imprint on the outside fabric.  Best to use some sort of protector, like strips of heavy paper:

this pic is not from the current project ;)

I cut the new purple waistband out without a pattern.  The purple scrap came from a formal dress I made in college.

No, I do not plan on sharing a photo of that one!  And yes, you are not seeing things -- the purple band is narrower in the back.

Here's a pic of the gathered skirt getting attached to the waistband:

The dress altogether before the lining was finished:

I confess, I got sort of  burned out by the time it came to lining the skirt and I wasn't willing to gather the waistband so instead of using a narrower version of the overskirt, I found another skirt to use as a pattern for an a-line lining out of cotton (the only fabric I could find).

Before finishing up the inside:

Did I forget to show you my audience?  They all like to play this game called bother the baby.

Roo caught the sewing bug too:

I've a thing or two planned to finish up her color block dress and don't want to spoil the fun with more pictures, but here comes ZouZou's dress:

The reverse side of the purple fabric is bright red.


And that, dear friends is as far as I have gotten!  Plenty of time to finish between now and Friday night?


Friday, August 8, 2014

The Latest Makings

Sewed simple tab top curtains for my son's room this past week.

Isn't he the sweetest?

I think I'm averaging about one sewing project a month this year.  I have space in the basement that I can set up my sewing things but I have no inclination whatsoever to spend time down there at the end of the day when I could be hanging out with my husband instead.

So when I sew, I do it in the middle of the day.  In the kitchen.
Since three of the four of the kids are always awake and about, I sew quickly and use a minimal amount of tools -- scissors, the occasional pin, a measuring tape, and whatever pen or pencil is floating around nearby.

I do a lot of eye-balling for measuring, folding instead of dividing in numbers, and using one piece as a template for the next.  Whenever I can, I rip instead of cut.  It makes for straight lines but rather messy seams.

I put my ironing board next to the oven and the iron on the stove top.  The cord stays on the counters out of reach and the kids already associate the stove with hot things which makes it easier to keep them from getting too close to the iron.

Six month old Evie likes to stay underfoot ;).

I set up my Bernina at the kitchen table where it becomes the top motivator for me to expeditiously complete whatever project is on the docket for the day.  Can't very well serve a meal on a table covered with sewing things now can ya?  Also, two year old Jack likes to drop pins into the inner recesses of the machine and I have this sneaking suspicion that one of these days I'm going to hit the pedal and the whole darn thing is going to go up in smoke.

Sometimes to avoid all of that hassle, I round up a needle and thread and make something the old fashioned way.

My not-so-pretty planner is a bit more appealing now.  Fall is a good time for making book covers, I think.

p.s. If needle and thREAD goes up this week, I'll update with the latest readings, too.