Shakespeare and Sundresses

It’s that time again.  Time to put away the sundresses (or at least think about putting a sweater over them) and get out the Mary Janes.  School has started.  Yes, Kiki is now officially a Kindergartner.

Don’t worry, all’s well.  She loves her school and her teacher and all her pals.  But I’m not ready to talk too much about that yet.  We still have summer dresses to think about! Specifically, we have dresses to wear while flitting around the backyard in the style of A Midsummer Night’s Dream . . .

Figgy's Zephyr Sundress Happy Homemade Sew Chic KidsThe lovely Lulu is in a modified Zephyr Sundress from Figgy’s, and the enchanting Kiki is in Dress J from the much loved Japanese pattern book  Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids — both in Nani Iro Pocho double gauze.

To be honest, the inspiration for both these dresses is our annual family photo shoot coming up soon.  We’re planning to be captured on film frolicking on the beach in the late afternoon.  What could go wrong???  At the very least the girls will have appropriately flowy dresses in which to frolic, should they choose to do so on the appointed day.

Let’s start with Kiki . . .

Happy Homemade Sew Chic KidsHer dress was a no brainer for me.  I’ve been wanting to try this V neck dress from Happy Homemade for more than a year.  When I saw Laura’s version in Nani Iro, I knew what I had to do.

I looked at the modifications that both Laura and Rachel made to their versions of this dress and got to thinking.  I liked their idea of lining the bodice, as the pattern instructions have you just zig zag the edges and then sew trim on top of that to finish — which does seem a little skimpy when you’re using double gauze (ie, the good stuff).

In the end, I decided to go with Rachel’s method to add that bodice lining.  She suggests that you follow the instructions for the Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress bodice and lining.  Brilliant idea!  The tops of these two dresses are constructed in a very similar way, and the Oliver + S instructions take all the guess work out of it.  This worked like a charm, and I highly recommend to anyone else making the dress with a lining to follow Rachel’s lead.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids(For the record, the flowers were 100% Kiki’s idea.  In fact, she made backyard flower picking and bouquet creation a condition for her participation in photo taking.)

Happy Homemade Sew Chic KidsWho doesn’t love double gauze?  It can be a little bit of a pain to sew, and the weave is pretty loose, making it easy for things to unravel and get a bit stretched out when stitching.  But hey, it’s totally worth it.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic KidsA little round pink button seemed to be the thing to do for the closure — with metallic pink dots on the fabric and all.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic KidsI think I made her a size 4 with added length (it’s been a few weeks).  The fit is very nice, with a bit of room to grow — which is a good thing since gauzy dress wearing days are numbered around here at this point.  It’ll be nice to see this one again next year.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic KidsAfter Kiki’s dress was done and hidden in the closet to await family photo shoot day, I had to think long and hard about what to do for Lulu.

If you’ve stopped by here before, you may know that Lulu will not wear any kind of skirt or dress that doesn’t “spread around.” It has to twirl, and twirl big.  No negotiations on this one.  Pattern choices are a little limited with this requirement.  I really wanted something flowy and beachy — not a fitted bodice and circle skirt.

After much searching, I decided on using the top of Figgy’s Zephyr Sundress, with its truly fab braided straps and buttons, and adding on a very full skirt.

Figgy's Zephyr SundressThe top is made with leftover Nani Iro from Kiki’s dress, and the skirt is that crinkly cotton gauze you can find at the fabric store for, like, $3 a yard.

I made the top of the dress as directed.  For the skirt, I decided how long I wanted it to be, and then cut two pieces that length from the crinkle gauze from selvage to selvage.  I sewed them together, gathered the top and attached it to the bodice.  That’s it!

Figgy's Zephyr SundressI was hesitant to press up the bottom of the skirt for the hem, since I had no idea what that would do the the crinkle factor.  So, I just zig zagged it and called it a day.

Aren’t the braided straps neat?

Figgy's Zephyr SundressI found the pink transparent buttons at an antique store a while back.  Don’t they look kind of like beach glass?

Figgy's Zephyr SundressAnd now for the moment of truth . . . does this dress have enough twirl for the discriminating Lulu?

Figgy's Zephyr SundressWhy yes, it does!

Enjoy the last days of summer!

The Washi Revisited

Made by Rae Washi Dress Sewing for yourself is hard.  Don’t you think?  Measuring yourself, trying to get the right fit, trial and error — it’s a whole different kettle of fish from making things for your kids.  And then there’s taking the photos for your blog.  Ouch.

My very first try at sewing for myself was a couple of years ago, soon after I started sewing for my kids on a regular basis.  I took a look around the internet for ideas, and came across Made by Rae’s Washi Dress (of course).  Probably just about everybody involved in the sewing world has made at least one of these babies.  And since everyone raves about the flattering fit, I figured this would be a good place to start.

I sort of measured myself and settled on a medium.  I chose quilting cotton with a rather bold print from Joann.  (This was way before I knew that quilting cotton isn’t a very good choice for garments for a wide variety of reasons.)  I dove into sewing with the confidence of someone who doesn’t know any better.  When I finished the dress and tried it on in front of the mirror expecting to be dazzled by my own talent and awesomeness, I was pretty much horrified by what I saw.  It looked just awful.  How could this be?  This dress looks great on everyone in the world except for me!  Without skipping a beat, I took it off and stuck it as far back into the the depths of my closet as I could and tried my best to forget about the whole thing.  I was mostly pissed that I had spent so much time on something the turned out to be such a complete and total failure.  Sound familiar?

A year or so later, I saw that Rae was hosting a workshop with April Rhodes in her studio in Ann Arbor all about sewing garments for yourself.  A light bulb went on, and I decided see if I might be able to get a spot.  Wouldn’t you know that I got in!  I bought a pile of fabric, tossed my machine into the back of my car, kissed the kids goodbye and set off on a road trip to Michigan.

Before I knew it, I was talking with the one and only Rae about her patterns and how to make them look good on me!  That weekend, I sewed my first Josephine top (I’ve since made two more and have another in mind for fall) and it actually looked good.  It really changed my attitude about sewing for myself and gave me the confidence to look at my own body not as the enemy, but something that can look great when treated the right way.  Thanks, Rae!

Anyway . . . now it’s almost time for our annual family photo, and I’d been looking around for something to make for myself that would look good alongside the dresses I’ve made for the girls and the Negroni Shirt that’s in the works for my husband.  I tried making muslins from a couple of different patterns and was striking out.  Then I had a brainwave.  I donned my spelunking gear, tunneled to the back of the closet and excavated that old Washi Dress failure — just to see.  I sheepishly put it on  . . . blinked a time or two . . . wait a minute . . . this dress looks pretty good on me!!  What???

Made by Rae Washi DressI took a dose of courage and showed my husband.  He actually said “Wow, that looks great on you!  Much better than the other things you’ve been trying — don’t you think?”  Yes, I agreed!

Made by Rae Washi Dress

How could this be?  Has my body morphed into something much more acceptable over the past two years (um, no), or have I changed my outlook?

Mostly for the sake of my two daughters, I’ve been making a real effort to nip my own body shame in the bud and to start seeing myself to the beautiful fox that I am — rather than the loser who really should shed that last ten pounds of baby weight in order to be deserving of happiness.  I need to set a way better example for my girls.  And, do you know what?  It actually worked!

Washi a1

So I grabbed the double gauze I bought on sale from Imagine Gnats and got to work.  I skipped making a muslin since I’d already made a Washi that fit pretty darn well.

I looked around on Rae’s blog for tips (always a good idea), and settled on using a partial lining, rather than the facings included in the pattern.  She made a series of videos that walk you though the lining process that make this process a total breeze.

Made by Rae Washi DressIn the end, it turned out to be a little bit tight in the bodice.  Maybe it’s the difference in the fabric from my original . . . who knows?  Next time, I’ll add a little bit to the bodice width.  But it’s not fatal, and I’m wearing it anyway!  In fact, this dress is a bit wrinkly in these photos because I’d worn it to a dinner party the night before.

Made by Rae Washi DressIsn’t shirring fun?  This is my new favorite thing to do.  It makes anything fit like a glove with very little effort (and no math!).

I debated about whether to include the notch on the neckline, but I decided to go for it in the end.  For me, it makes this dress a bit PG-13, but I’m cool with that 🙂

Made by Rae Washi DressLet us be courageous!  Let us sew for ourselves with abandon!  Because sometimes, it turns out pretty well!

Made By Rae Washi Dress

Rollerskates & Strawberry Ice Cream

Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress, Rollerskate Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseDon’t you love to click around the internet machine, drooling over all the beautiful creations that you wish you had time to make (while you should probably be doing something else)?  Me too.  When I came across these two creations from the very talented Avocadopie on Flickr, it became immediately clear that I would be finding the time to provide Kiki with her own versions.

Here we have an Ice Cream Dress and a Rollerskate Dress, both from Oliver + S.  I’ve sewn up both of these patterns before, and was glad to pull them out of the pattern box to use again.

As always, ice cream first.

Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseI love this pattern so much.  There’s something so classic and old fashioned about it, but without being stuffy or too sticky sweet.  It really is the perfect thing to wear to the ice cream shop in the summertime (and we have, believe me)!

The fabric is forest Andover chambray, paired with the famous Briar Rose strawberries from Heather Ross.  I think I’ve now sewed with every colorway of these strawberries in both woven and knit.  Love it!

Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseJust as I was about to cut the yoke, I saw that if I didn’t make some changes, the strawberries would be upside down in the back — since the yoke is designed to be cut in one piece that drapes over the shoulders in the front and the back.  Luckily, I saw this coming before my rotary cutter actually started rolling.

All I did to solve the problem was to split the yoke pattern piece into two pieces at the shoulder — a front and a back — add 1/2 inch seam allowances and stitch it together.  If you look closely, you can see the new shoulder seam (along with some new freckles)   here . . .

Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseNow, the strawberries are facing the right way in the front and the back!

Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseShe loves the pockets.  Who wouldn’t?

Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseKiki wore it on her very last day of preschool.  Am I the only mom kooky enough to make a new dress for the last day of school???

Now, onto rollerskates . . .

Oliver + S Rollerskate Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseThis dress is a great way to savor a beautiful fabric like this one — more Briar Rose.  This print is a regular feature in Kiki’s closet.  She loves the color, and we’ve found that it’s a great choice for tops and dresses alike.

Like Avocadopie, I decided to skip the neck facing altogether and just add a little bow.  I gave Kiki several choices of ribbon color — no surprise that purple was the winner.

Oliver + S Rollerskate Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseI also found just the right pink rose button for the back . . .

Oliver + S Rollerskate Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseFor both of these dresses, I cut a 4T width and 5T length.  This always works well for Kiki in Oliver + S patterns.  Kiki’s shoulders are so narrow, that there’s room to grow here, even though I sized down in width.

Oliver + S Rollerskate Dress, Heather Ross, Briar RoseIsn’t summer sweet?

Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress, Heather Ross, Briar Rose