KCW: A Couple of Bucket Hats

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

Summer is here — time for sun hats!  We are a fair-skinned bunch, especially the red headed Kiki, and my girls don’t have the greatest track record in actually wearing their hats outside in the sun when they really need them.  so I’m hoping that these custom made babies will entice them to practice better sun protection.

These are Oliver + S Reversible Sun Hats.  The pattern is in Liesl’s book  Little Things to Sew, and is also available as a free download on the O+S website.  Nice!  I do have the book, but I found it easier to just print out the pattern from the site than trying to locate the book in my ultra organized house (ha).

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

Let’s start with Lulu.  Her hat is sporting Made By Rae’s Lotus Pond fabric inside and out. This view is Lily Pond and there is Meadow Blossom Blue on the inside.  I’m late to the party with these fabrics, as they came out last summer and are getting to be hard to find. Luckily, they’re still too be had on Etsy.

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

These hats are pretty easy to whip up.  All you need is 1/3 yard of two fabrics and a little bit of fairly stiff, sew-in interfacing, and you’re halfway there.

That being said, there are a couple of tricky bits.  Sewing the top of the hat onto the sides is a little bit fiddly.  Liesl tell you to clip the seam allowance in the sides of the hat before pinning onto the top.  It took me a few minutes to get the hang of this, but once you hit your stride, it’s not a big deal.

Also, I found top-stitching around just above the brim to be a little more challenging than expected.  What looks nice on one side would be screwy and puckered on the other — you know.  And since this hat is reversible, I wanted both sides to look nice.  As with most things, with a little more practice I’ll be better at this.  But for now, these look just fine, I think.

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

One other thing to note is that I assumed that both girls would wear a medium, as the age range on the pattern si 3-5.  After making the first hat in a medium and trying it on both girls, it turned out that the 5 year old Kiki needs a large.  (She has a big head just like her mother.)  The moral of that story is to be sure to measure your kid’s head before you start.

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

Kiki’s hat is made with Heather Ross’s Far Far Away fabric.  One side is Frog Prince Blue on Cream, and the other is Meadow Blue on Cream.  These fabrics are also getting to be few and far between, so Etsy saved me once again.

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

These prints are so sweet, and I’ve been itching to use them on something.  But I think that they are a little too subtle for a hat, and their little surprises get lost.  The more punchy Lotus Pond on Lulu’s hat makes a bigger statement.  But, Kiki’s hat is pretty cute nonetheless.  I’m sure I’ll come up with some other way to use the leftovers — maybe as pockets or a dress bodice — so that they can be more thoroughly appreciated.

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

The girls are enjoying their hats so far.  Today, I found them stuffed in Kiki’s bike basket, ready for the next adventure.  Ahhhhhh, summertime!

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

KCW: Swingset Dresses X 2

I’ve been wanting to try out Oliver + S‘s Swingset Tunic for the longest time.  I recently gave it a whirl in its original tunic form with mixed results (due to my own brain farts, btw).  I’ll tell you more about that one later.  Right now, I’d like to show you two versions of this pattern, hot off the presses for Kids Clothes Week, lengthened into dresses.

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

First of all, I’d like to say that this may be my favorite Oliver + S pattern.  The details on the tunic are so sweet and simple.  It just says summer to me, loud and clear.  This little top seems so well suited to become the perfect summer sundress.

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

Just for reference, here’s a peek at this pattern at the original tunic length . . .

Oliver + S Swingset Tunic

Anyway, my first attempt at converting this into a dress was for Lulu.  All I did to lengthen it was to extend the skirt straight down to the length I wanted.  I was pretty pleased with the result at first, but after looking at it for a minute or two, the hem seemed pretty narrow. What do you think?  A little bit too tube-like?

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

It’s not tragic or anything — Lulu can still run around in it without feeling encumbered by a too narrow skirt.  But still, I wished I had thought of flaring the skirt out a bit.

Of course, I had already cut out the pattern pieces for the second Swingset Dress meant for Kiki.  But luckily, I had enough fabric left to re-cut the skirt pieces with a better shape.  To be sure I got it right the second time, I took a look at a couple of skirt widths on dresses in Kiki’s closet before proceeding.  The skirt on her Oliver & S Roller Skate Dress looked just about right, so I decided to copy the hemline from that pattern.

I pulled out the Roller Skate pattern and compared it with the Swingset pattern hem line.

Patterns 9

I drew in the hem line from that pattern onto my lengthened Swing Set skirt pattern piece and drew a diagonal line from the outside of the hemline of the skirt up to about 2 inches below the arm pit.

Patterns 3

I wanted to be sure that the bodice lining lined up properly with the skirt, so I made sure to start flaring out the skirt below where the bodice lining ends.  I you dive into this pattern, you’ll see what I mean, as the bodice lining sits below the top of the skirt on the sides.

Presentation5

Here’s the new pattern piece . . .

Patterns 8

I think the result is a success.  A nice, A-line dress.

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

(Don’t mind Kiki.  She thinks it’s totally hilarious to stick her tongue out in pictures these days.)

You may recognize the fabric on both of these dresses as different prints of the much beloved Briar Rose line from Heather Ross.  I know we’ve all been seeing these fabrics for a long while now, but I just can’t get enough.  I mean, check out the bees here!

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

Kiki’s dress is Nanny Bee in Green.  And Lulu’s is Cricket Clover in Pink.  Can you spot the crickets???

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

These are not the easiest fabrics to find nowadays, but I was able to snag both on Etsy.

If you haven’t tackled the Swing Set Tunic (or dress), there is a possibility that you may be ever so slightly confused when it comes to attaching the skirt to the back bodice.  There is a funky thing about separating the lining from the button placket.  Anyway, if you find yourself scratching your head, take a look at this very helpful tutorial on the O+S blog.  The photos will make it all come clear 🙂

My favorite part of sewing these little dresses was choosing the buttons.  For Lulu, I picked these really cool pink ones with a little white grid pattern which looks hand drawn — perfect for this fabric.

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

For Kiki, I chose yellow buttons that look like lemon drops.  Kiki calls them “bee hive buttons.”  I used the same ones last year on a Roly Poly Pinafore for Lulu, which was also made from bee themed Briar Rose fabric.  I say, if something works, stick with it!

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

Speaking of buttons, you may notice that I only used two here while the pattern calls for three.  I did use three on my very first attempt and found it difficult to get my machine to cooperate in sewing the bottom button hole.  Things got too thick and lopsided with the seam allowances from the skirt and layers of fabric and interfacing on the placket.  I found cutting it down to two buttons and situating the bottom button a little higher up on the placket made things a world easier.  And truthfully, I don’t even miss that third button.

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

So that’s a wrap for project #2 during this Kids Clothes Week.  I’ll be popping up again with #3, just as soon as I can pull myself together . . .

KCW: A Lucy Dress

It’s already Kids Clothes Week again!  I can’t believe it!  I’ve been sewing up a storm this time around and am coming up for air just long enough to show you what I’ve been up to . . .

Compangie M Lucy Dress

Kiki has been asking for a dress with a “neck thing” — which can be translated as a halter dress.  I poked around the internet a bit looking for a pattern, and I came across the Lucy Dress by Compagnie M.  I’m pretty familiar with Compagnie M and have made a Louisa Dress or two, but somehow missed this little treasure — until now.

Compagnie M Lucy Dress

It’s as simple as can be — just a tube with straps and shirring at the top.  Marte from Compagnie M gives lots of great tips on shirring (sewing with elastic thread in your bobbin, creating a stretchy “smocking” look) with instructions and photos using several different brands of sewing machine — how great!  I’ve shirred a time or two, but still found the tips helpful.  One of her best bits of advice is to be sure to use high quality elastic thread.  I had been using Dritz on other shirring projects, but I decided to heed her advice and ordered some Gutermann thread.  What a difference!  Totally worth it.

The pattern has several strap options — there are regular shoulder straps, tied shoulder straps and tied halter straps.  Each is so cute in its own way.  You can choose dress or top length.  There is also an optional faux button placket.  Whew — so many options!  This little pattern is so quick to sew up (and so beloved by Kiki), I think I’ll whip of several more, trying out some of these other fun options.

Compagnie M Lucy Dress

For this dress, I decided to sew only 5 lines of shirring.  The pattern shows examples of tops and dresses with 10 lines of shirring, which really just means a longer bodice.  I’ll try that next time.

Compagnie M Lucy Dress

This fabric is some very light weight voile I picked up at the local fabric store last summer on sale.  When I was pressing it, I realized it’s a little on the sheer side, but since Kiki usually wear shorts under her dresses nowadays anyway, it doesn’t matter much.  And, the light weight of the fabric really works nicely with the shirring.

Compagnie M Lucy Dress

I added these funky green buttons just for fun — they aren’t at all functional.  But I think they add a certain something that gives this dress great personality.

Ok — that’s project #1 . . . now, on to project #2 . . .

Two Little Bunnies Sittin’ in a Tree

Oliver and S School Bus T-Shirt, Lazy Days Skirt Yes, more matching outfits for Kiki and Lulu.  They love it.  What can I say?  One way of looking at it is that, partly because they are only two years apart, if one of them gets something and the other one doesn’t get exactly the same thing, hurt feelings and jealousy abound.  I’m telling myself that this is a normal part of growing up.  So when it comes to sewing, it’s become easier to make two in many cases. Oliver and S School Bus T-Shirt, Lazy Days Skirt The exception to this new rule comes in on Lulu’s side.  As I’ve mentioned before, she only wants to wear skirts and t-shirts with animals on them at the moment or dresses that “spread around.”  (I’m not exactly sure what she means by “spreads around” . . . there has been some trial and lots or error here.)  If I make something that doesn’t meet this criteria for Kiki, Lulu is fine with it and doesn’t want one for herself anyway.  So, to my great relief, I’m not obligated to make two of absolutely everything.  Pfew. Oliver and S School Bus T-Shirt, Lazy Days Skirt But with this pair of outfits, I think I’ve succeeded in making everyone happy!  Lulu has been asking for a bunny shirt and skirt for a while, so I’ve been on the lookout for the perfect bunny fabric.  I found just that in Ann Kelle’s Urban Zoologie Part 5, Rabbits in blush.  It’s bright, it’s fun, it’s funky, it’s bunnies.  Done and done. The magenta knit is interlock left over from Kiki’s Halloween costume from last year.  I got it from Fabric Fairy — looks like they don’t have this color anymore, but there are lots of other shades to choose from.  I was very glad to see that I had enough to make both of these shirts with plenty left over.  I’m not sure why I had so much sitting around . . . this is the bright side of fabric hoarding 🙂 Oliver and S School Bus T-Shirt, Lazy Days Skirt For the bunny shirts, I decided to try something new and looked to the Oliver & S School Bus T-Shirt.  Not surprisingly, it’s a great pattern.  And, it’s nice to have two different neckband width options, as well as long, short or capped sleeves.  Here, I chose the narrow neckband and capped sleeves.  The School Bus T-Shirt also goes all the way up to size 12, so I’m set for t-shirts for a good long while. Oliver and S School Bus T-Shirt, Lazy Days Skirt For the bunny part of the bunny shirts, all I did was make a little heart template, which I traced onto the paper side of some fusible webbing.  Then, I ironed the webbing onto a an appropriately sized piece of bunny fabric.  Next, I cut out the heart shape from the fabric bonded to the webbing, carefully peeled off the paper, and ironed it onto the shirt.  All that was left was to zig-zag around the heart.  The webbing keeps the heart in place perfectly, so that it doesn’t slip around or get otherwise funked up while sewing it on. Nothing to it, really. Oliver and S School Bus T-Shirt, Lazy Days Skirt The skirt is the Oliver & S Lazy Days Skirt, which I’m getting a lot of mileage out of these days.  I have at least two more of these in my queue, especially since this pattern passes the Lulu test and can be made in less than an hour, including cutting.  Sweet! Oliver and S School Bus T-Shirt, Lazy Days Skirt I’m lining up some projects for Kids Clothes Week, which I can’t believse it already coming up next week!  My list includes a couple of dresses made from the same pattern, but in different fabrics.  Let’s hope that will be matchy matchy enough for these two — I’m ready for a little more variety! Oliver and S School Bus T-Shirt, Lazy Days Skirt Are you planning to sew next week?

A Charlie Dress for a Pal

Guess what . . . I was commissioned to make a dress for another young lady in my daughter’s preschool class!

Made By Rae Charlie Tunic Dress

I donated several Charlie Tunics I made a while back to the preschool fundraising auction, and the mom of my new “client” bought one for her son.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have one in her daughter’s size, and it really is just this little girl’s style.  So I suggested that I make one especially for her.  After a few emails about fabric choice and design, we settled on a dress version with short sleeves for the summer.

This family is fond of Japanese design, so I sent the mom lots of Japanese prints to choose from for the facings.  Fabricworm has no shortage of Japanese prints, so I’m afraid she was a bit overwhelmed at the selection.  After some consideration, she chose Deer From my Heart in navy from Kokka.  The recipient of this dress loves to wear blue, so this Robert Kaufman Chambray Union in indigo was an easy choice for the main fabric.

Made By Rae Charlie Tunic Dress

When I ordered the chambray, I didn’t realize that there are little tiny flecks of bright red, yellow and blue running through.  It’s very subtle, but makes a great up close detail.  If you look very closely, you can see that there are also tiny bright red dots on the necks of all those little deer on the facing, kind of like bow ties.  So, there also had to be bright red buttons, don’t you think?

Made By Rae Charlie Tunic Dress

The original Charlie pattern from Made by Rae comes in tunic form.  But if you’d like to make it into a dress, you can buy a Charlie Dress PDF Add-On that gives you an additional pattern piece to tape onto the original tunic pattern piece, adding length and also making it wider at the bottom, giving the dress an A-line shape.  The add-on also includes the pattern piece for the bottom facing, as well as instructions for a 3/4 length sleeve if you decide to go in that direction.  The facings for the cuffs are a little different in the dress version, too.

Made By Rae Charlie Tunic Dress

I have made quite a few Charlie Tunics and a couple of Charlie Dresses in the past.  I love this style — it’s really unique and so very chic.  I also like that it works for both girls and boys.

Alas, neither of my girls are into it right now.  Don’t ask me why.  When I ask Kiki if she would like one, she says “Naaaaaa.”  As for Lulu, if it doesn’t have a skirt that “spreads around,” forget it.  Ah well.

Needless to say, I was so glad to have the chance to make one for someone else who is sure to wear and enjoy it.  This little girl has worn her new Charlie Dress to school several times and looks as cute as can be in it.

Made By Rae Charlie Tunic Dress

Don’t you think this pattern would be awesome in adult sizes??  I would wear it, for sure. I wonder if Rae would ever consider sizing it up for us . . . in all her spare time 🙂

A Tale of Two Dolls

Storybook Toys Jill Hamor Doll

Ok, so I never set out to become a toy maker of any kind.  I sew clothes — isn’t that enough?  Well, after seeing Tara’s fab doll that she made for her daughter, there was no way I wasn’t going to try it for my girls.  I mean, how awesome?!

I must admit that this isn’t my first attempt at doll making.  For their birthdays last year, I made two Black Apple Dolls, after seeing Delia’s versions.  (For some reason, I never blogged about them.)

Black Apple Doll

These Black Apple Dolls are much less involved to make, and are very much loved by my girls.

Anyway, after deciding to take the plunge, I ordered Storybook Toys by Jill Hamor to learn the secret to creating this amazing doll.  I had a feeling that I’d be entering a whole new world with the project, and I was right.

My daughters’ birthdays are (two years and) two days apart, so there was no way that I could make only one doll here.  Of course, they both needed to have one!  I decided the best thing to do was to start way in advance and tackle this job bit by bit.  Luckily, this is the kind of project that can be done in fits and starts, while everything else in life swirls around.  I think I worked on them for a full month at least.  (This may not seem like a long time to the knitters and quilters of the world, but it seemed like forever to me!)

Storybook Toys Jill Hamor Doll

I will not lie, this was hugely labor intensive.  Just tracing out the pattern onto freezer paper and then onto the doll body fabric while holding it up to a window, as prescribed by the pattern instructions, was a bit of a trick.  Sewing the face pieces together required about ten million pins and very slow stitching.  Turning the hands right side out and getting the fingers through was pretty crazy making.  But, it was all worth it in the end.

Jill has you stitch all the body seams twice, since very intense stuffing puts a lot of stress on the seams.  This turned out to be a pretty crucial step.  My seams at the neck and in the places where I hand stitched the spots left open for stuffing looked so stretched after stuffing was done that I put on a liberal coating of fray check — just to be sure they didn’t open up in a horrible turn of events.

Storybook Toys Jill Hamor Doll

I want to take a moment here to point out in the photo above the little spots on the doll’s left arm and back that look a bit like freckles.  Those spots, my friends, are my very own blood.  Yes.  Blood.  I was pulling so hard on threads while sewing on the hair that I cut myself on the thread a couple of times, mostly after midnight.  All I can say is — this is love, people.

One quick word to the wise on stuffing — I ordered this stuffing, from a website that was recommended in the book.  I followed the website’s suggestion and ordered one pound of stuffing for each doll, which turned out to be way, way too much.  1/2 pound is plenty for one of these dolls.  And this stuff is not cheap, so no need to buy more than necessary.

I have never embroidered before, so I was pretty nervous about the faces.  But, Jill Hamor’s instructions are very thorough, and do not assume vast embroidery knowledge or competence.  And, in the end, it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be.  She has lots to say about adding personality in the face, and specifically the eyes.  She has you use several different colors in the iris, as well as to add a little white highlight.  This is what really makes these dolls come alive, don’t you think?

Storybook Toys Jill Hamor Doll

I like to keep my husband informed of what’s going down on in my corner of the basement where the sewing happens.  As I showed him these dolls in each stage of creation, he hilariously pointed out more than once this project was a little intense, in that they seem to start out in an embryonic form and gradually become more and more human, in a spooky way.  It’s really true — a little creepy, but kind of cool, too.  Here’s an in progress shot to give you a sense of this . . .

Storybook Toys Jill Hamor Doll

You can imagine what they look like before they have their faces!

I think the craziest part of this whole thing for me was the hair.  Just choosing the hairstyle was tricky.  I decided to go with buns so that there wouldn’t be yarn hair hanging around loose, getting “brushed” by young ladies and becoming a tangled mess.  For variety, I made one with low buns and one with high ones.  You stitch each strand onto the head individually with upholstery thread, and you have to pay close attention to how tight or loose each strand is against the head.  My advice here is to not attempt this while enjoying more than one cocktail and chatting blithely with your other half about your day.  You may find that you have to scrap it all and start over.  I know I did 🙂

Storybook Toys Jill Hamor Doll

(Yes, you do stick the torso into a coffee cup while creating your coiffure.  Isn’t that fun?)

Also, I suggest following Jill’s advice and buying the chunkiest yarn possible for the hair.  I ordered thinner yarn at first, but quickly realized that if I didn’t find something much thicker, I’d be stitching strands of hair until the cows came home.  After an emergency trip to the local knitting store, I was better equipped to get the hair done more efficiently.

Once I finally finished these babes, the time came for the clothes.  The book comes with a couple of clothes patterns that are pretty simple.  If I had had the time or energy at this point in the project, I would have done something more elaborate.  But by this time, I needed to be finished with this.

I started with the no brainer idea of making doll dresses that more or less matched the girls’ birthday dresses in Cotton + Steel Vintage Floral Lawn.

Storybook Toys Jill Hamor Doll

I used the simple dress pattern with the added collar option.  Instead of buttons or snaps, I sewed in some velcro as the closure in the back, thinking that would be easier for the newly three year old Lulu to manage.

Storybook Toys Jill Hamor Doll

I was a little bit puzzled by the dress back pattern pieces.  They seemed to be way, way too wide.  I may have screwed up something somewhere — but I ended up folding up way more fabric for the placket at the center back than was instructed in the pattern.  But, no big deal.

For Kiki’s doll, I also made a little Briar Rose strawberry dress with buttons and elastic loops in the back.  She’s just mastered fastening buttons with loops, so I thought these loops would be fun for her to practice with.

Storybook Toys Jill Hamor Doll

The bloomers are so cute, I think.  The elastic around the legs is just shirring with elastic thread.  I had to think back to past shirring experiences to remember that you have to steam it really well to make it gather up nicely.  (The instructions don’t mention that.)

Of course, they had to have nightgowns.  I used the Nighty Nites pattern by Olive Ann designs, which includes both kid and doll sizes.  Kiki has a matching nightgown I made for her just a few weeks ago during Kids Clothes Week.

Storybook Toys Jill Hamor Doll

The shoes are a real kick to make, by the way.  This may have been my favorite part of the process.  But, mine turned out to be a bit too big somehow, and I ended up taking them in at the back of the top piece.

Storybook Toys Jill Hamor Doll

So . . . the verdict?  Kiki loves hers and has named her Clara.  She has her own bed in Kiki’s room and has become a part of the family, occasionally joining us for meals.

Storybook Toys Jill Hamor Doll

Lulu could take hers or leave it, to be honest.  I think she’s actually more of a stuffed animal gal.  Maybe she’ll come around to this doll eventually.  Or maybe not.  In any case, I’m glad she has the option.  And, on the bright side, there is a pretty cute bunny pattern in the book . . .