A Lotta/Ileana Mashup

Compagnie M Lotta Dress Ileana DressThis is the third in a trilogy of Ileana Dresses for Lulu.  This time, I decided to frankenstein it together with the Lotta Dress, which I have been dying to make for ages.

Compagnie M Lotta Dress Ileana DressBoth the Lotta and Ilena Dress patterns are from Compagnie M — and the coolest thing about them is that the bodices, skirts and sleeves of all Compagnie M’s dresses can be switched around from pattern to pattern.  All the pieces fit together without any finagling at all!

Compagnie M Lotta Dress Ileana DressI should mention here that one of the benefits of being a Compagnie M super fan is that I’ve become an affiliate.  My goodness, how official!  I’m pretty excited about being in cahoots with Compagnie M — thanks for having me, guys!

Compagnie M Lotta Dress Ileana DressAnyway, I’ve looked longingly at the Lotta Dress neckline with the little buttons since the pattern was released, but I was worried that Lulu wouldn’t wear it due to the lack of twirly-ness in the skirt.  But now that the Ileana has arrived with its circle skirt, the problem is solved!

Compagnie M Lotta Dress Ileana DressThe bird fabric is from Joann’s.  I bought it about three years ago and used it for a couple of projects in my early days of sewing.  I loved it so much that I bought more and have been sitting on it all this time.

The lining is red/cream striped shirting from my local fabric store that I originally intended to use for myself.  But it goes together with the birds so well, I couldn’t help but use it.

Compagnie M Lotta Dress Ileana DressI decided to use the side seam pockets from the Lotta pattern.  I figured they’d work best with the circle skirt without getting in the way.

Compagnie M Lotta Dress Ileana DressAs I did with Lulu’s other two Ileanas, I stitched the entire pocket onto the front of the skirt, which keeps everything together during twirling and such.

Compagnie M Lotta Dress Ileana DressI used the lining fabric to make bias tape for the hem — an extra step that was well worth it, especially since I have my trusty bias tape maker which makes the pressing quick and keeps my fingers from getting singed too much.

Compagnie M Lotta Dress Ileana DressIn the pattern instructions, Marte warns against using directional fabrics for the circle skirt option, as the print will be sideways at the side seams.  I thought long and hard about this before I started on this trilogy of dresses and considered using the half circle skirt instead.  But I knew that if I really wanted Lulu to love these dresses, I had to go full circle — print wonkiness be damned.  I stand by that decision (and I really don’t think anyone would notice if I didn’t point it out, right??).

Compagnie M Lotta Dress Ileana DressThis dress turns out to be perfect for enjoying the last of the summertime mint in the back yard . . .

Compagnie M Lotta Dress Ileana Dress

Compagnie M Lotta Dress Ileana Dress

Compagnie M Lotta Dress Ileana DressBefore we know it there’s going to be a serious chill in the air.  Hmm, my girls are going to need some new fall dresses 🙂

A Feline Ileana

Compagnie M Ileana Dress Lizzy House Catnap Purrfectly HappyI bought this completely awesome kitty fabric almost two years ago and have been waiting for just the right project for it.  Well, the day finally came . . . and here it is as an Ileana Dress (from Compagnie M)!

Compagnie M Ileana Dress Lizzy House Catnap Purrfectly HappyThis is my second of three Ileana creations for Lulu — the child who will wear only circle skirts.  Her skirt requirement is a little limiting, but I can think of worse things.

Compagnie M Ileana Dress Lizzy House Catnap Purrfectly HappyI’ve already declared my love for this pattern here, but it bears repeating.  This pattern is wonderful and has so many options that it can be made into many very different dresses.

For this version, I chose the bow collar.  Isn’t it chic?

Compagnie M Ileana Dress Lizzy House Catnap Purrfectly HappyThe other options I picked are the capped sleeves, full circle skirt (of course) and the tear drop pockets.

Um, Mom, did you say pockets?

Compagnie M Ileana Dress Lizzy House Catnap Purrfectly HappyWhy, yes I did!

Compagnie M Ileana Dress Lizzy House Catnap Purrfectly HappyAs I mentioned before, these pockets are extremely simple to make and look darn fabulous.  As I did in my first Ileana, I stitched the entire edge of the pocket onto the front of the skirt so that it won’t flop around while twirling.

Compagnie M Ileana Dress Lizzy House Catnap Purrfectly HappyWhen searching my stash for contrast fabric, I happened to find an old duvet cover stuck in there in the perfect shade of lilac.  It was a pretty nice duvet cover with a high thread count, so this dress now has a luxuriously soft lining and collar 🙂  And there’s plenty of fabric leftover for several other projects.  Huzzah!

Compagnie M Ileana Dress Lizzy House Catnap Purrfectly HappyI finally realized that I have an invisible zipper foot.  I found it in the bag with all the other feet I got when I bought my new sewing machine over a year ago — haha!  It makes a real difference.  But one thing I had to learn the hard way is that while the invisible zipper foot is perfect for sewing the zipper tape very close to the main fabric, it’s better to use a regular zipper foot when you sew the zipper into the lining.  If you use the invisible zipper foot for both the main and lining fabric, the zipper gets sewn in too tight and you won’t be able to move it up and down.  Ugh.  It’s a fixable problem, but unpicking a zipper is a pain!

Compagnie M Ileana Dress Lizzy House Catnap Purrfectly HappyLulu is having a blast wearing this dress all around town.

Compagnie M Ileana Dress Lizzy House Catnap Purrfectly HappyIsn’t it nice when your kid loves her new dress as much as you do?

Compagnie M Ileana Dress Lizzy House Catnap Purrfectly Happy

My First Ileana Dress

Compagnie M Ileana DressGreat news!  There’s a new pattern out from Compagnie M — the Ileana Dress.  If you’re like me and you have a kid who will wear only dresses that twirl, this pattern is for you.

The Ileana has tons of options, so you can make a whole bunch of unique dresses from this one pattern.  There’s a full or half circle skirt, a raglan or regular bodice, cap or short sleeves (or sleeveless, of course), different faux placket options, three different collars and three different pockets in there!  And, the best thing about it, I think, is that you can mix and match sleeves and skirts from Compagnie M’s other patterns.  That means you can use Lotta, Mara or Louisa parts with the Ileana to create just about anything.  I’ve already made three of these dresses, one of which is a Lotta/Ileana hybrid (which I’ll show you later).  Whoopeeeeee!

This solves some problems for me, as I’d like to make Lulu as many dresses as I make for her big sister Kiki, but her very strict “circle skirts only” policy makes it tricky to keep sewing without getting bored with just one style.

On to Lulu’s Ileana #1 — which she loves so much, she slept in it the night she tried it on the first time just because she didn’t want to take it off.  I hadn’t even gotten the buttons on yet!  She also reserved it for the first day of preschool this week.

Behold . . .

Compagnie M Ileana DressFor this Ileana, I made a raglan bodice with regular raglan sleeves, the bodice length faux button placket, the round Peter Pan collar and the tear drop cutout pockets.

Compagnie M Ileana DressEven though Lulu’s chest measurement points toward a 4T, I made a 3T here, and the fit is just fine — not too big yet still roomy enough to grow.

Lulu chose the fabric herself on a recent trip to Joann’s, and she now refers this dress as her “Owl Dress”.  It’s quilting cotton, which works well for this pattern.  I think it needs some structure, and the slightly heavier weight of the quilting cotton is perfect.

The collar, placket, pocket detail and hem tape are all a solid red Kona cotton.

Compagnie M Ileana DressI love the retro buttons — and I love even more the fact that a faux button placket requires no button holes 🙂

Compagnie M Ileana DressThe hem is finished with single fold bias tape, since it would be just about impossible to press up and hem a circle skirt.  But when I was about half way through attaching the bias tape here (which takes a while, as the circle is pretty big), I realized I was accidentally sewing it on backwards, so that the tape would show on the outside, rather than on the inside of the skirt.  I couldn’t face the prospect of taking it all off and starting again (especially after taking the time to make my own bias tape to match), so I decided to leave it as is and have the tape show on the outside.  I think it turned out great this way!

Compagnie M Ileana DressThis pocket design is awesome, and surprisingly easy to do — even easier then invisible side seam pockets.  I did make one change, which was to stitch around the entire perimeter of the pockets on the front of the skirt on the inside, so that they don’t flop around while twirling and won’t get all bunched up in the drier.  This was a good move.

I did my best on the zipper pattern matching.  I hadn’t done it in a while and had to consult my own blog post about it to remember just what to do.  Haha!

Compagnie M Ileana DressThe only problem I had was turning the bodice right side out and getting it to press flat where the bodice meets the sleeves.  I trimmed the seam allowance in there as much as I could, and it still doesn’t press perfectly smooth.  But hey, let’s not obsess on the trivial. However, I do now know from recent experience that the regular bodice/cap sleeve option is easier and eliminates this problem, so I’ll probably stick with that plan in the future.

And now, for the ultimate test — twirlability . . .

Compagnie M Ileana Dress

Yee HAW!!!

Stay tuned for Ileana #2 . . .

First Day of Kindergarten Dress

It happened!  Kiki started kindergarten!  It goes without saying that this momentous occasion merited a new dress . . .

Puperita Petite Fille Style DressI started planning this dress ages ago, when Kindergarten was just a vague idea of something that would happen someday.  The idea really came together when I was looking through the very thoughtful photo book that my parents put together for me when I turned forty.  (Yes, that happened . . . a couple of years ago.)

In the book, there’s a picture of the dress I vividly remember from my own first day of kindergarten.  It was a red gingham seersucker sundress with shoulder ties and an apple appliqued to the front.  And, most importantly, my mom made it for me 🙂  Here it is . . .

First Day of School 1978aYep, that’s me in 1978!  Why does this photo look so ancient?  Don’t answer that.

When I set out to find the right pattern to make one of these for Kiki, I found a few with the shoulder ties, but none with a bodice that dips down in the front like mine did.  I decided that detail wasn’t crucial, and I went with the Petite Fille Style Dress from Puperita, which I found on Etsy.

(In retrospect, I think I could have modified the Oliver + S Swingset Tunic into something like this dress, as the shape in the front and back is similar.  Maybe I’ll try that one for Lulu’s first day of kindergarten.  Luckily, I have two years to figure it out.)

Puperita Petite Fille Style DressThe Petite Fille Style Dress is a great pattern with no closures, except for the shoulder ties.  Very simple and sweet, and perfect for a beginning sewist.

Puperita Petite Fille Style DressIt’s actually designed with a criss cross front, which I really like — and I’m sure I’ll make one as originally intended one of these days.  But, of course, a criss cross front would have made the applique impossible, so I modified it a bit.  All I had to do was find the center line on the front pattern pieces (which happens to be marked on the pattern — what luck!).  I drew in a new, rounded neckline and cut the front on the fold.  Easy.

Puperita Petite Fille Style DressThere are also two cute pleats on the bottom of the skirt.  Sadly, they don’t show up much on this gingham, but I bet they’d be really great feature in a tamer fabric.

Puperita Petite Fille Style DressI didn’t want this dress to be a strict copy of the 1978 original — it should be her dress.  So Kiki chose the gingham color as well as the applique design.

She originally chose a seersucker from Fabric.com.  But after a week or two went by and the fabric never arrived, I called them and learned that it had never been sent and there had been some kind of screw up.  This isn’t the first time this has happened to me with Fabric.com, and I was none too pleased.  Since kindergarten was only a few days away, I cancelled the order and reordered some very nice Riley Blake cotton gingham from Hawthorne Threads.  I would like to note that my package was shipped the day I ordered it and it arrived in no time.  Now that’s good customer service.  Thanks, guys!

Puperita Petite Fille Style DressAnyway, for the applique design, Kiki and I googled “flower applique” and came up with this one.  I just printed it out, enlarged it a bit on my home printer/copier, and made it happen with solid scraps I had lying around and some fusible webbing.

If you don’t know about fusible webbing and are thinking about doing some applique, check it out.  It’s similar to interfacing, is fusible on both sides and comes affixed to paper.  You draw or trace your design onto the paper in reverse, iron it onto the wrong side of your applique fabric, cut it out, peel off the paper, place it on your garment where you want the applique to be and iron it on.  Then it stays put while you zip zag the applique in place.

Puperita Petite Fille Style DressThe pockets were a last minute addition.  And by last minute, I mean midnight the night before the first day of school.  Kiki’s bottom two front teeth have been loose for ages.  I can’t believe they didn’t both fall our weeks ago.  Anyway, in anticipation of the critical moment soon to come, Kiki has wanted to wear only dresses with pockets — so she she’ll have a place to stash her teeth if they come out while away from home.  Very practical, I must say.  I didn’t think to add in side seam pockets, which would have been the thing to do.  But, needless to say, midnight is not the time to take things apart and add side seam pockets.

I grabbed the patch pocket pattern piece from the Geranium Dress and cobbled these pockets together from leftover applique fabric still sitting on the cutting table, with binding along the tops.  If I had the time, I would have added heart appliques to these pockets, but that was obviously out of the question.

I did have time to add in one little surprise, though.

Puperita Petite Fille Style DressI cut a heart out of two pieces of pink felt and sewed them together, with a ribbon sandwiched into the top.  When I sewed the left pocket on, I stuck the other end of the ribbon in on the side.  You can see the little tab of ribbon on the side in the pic below.  That’s just the end of the ribbon tucked into the side seam of the pocket.

Puperita Petite Fille Style DressKiki was a little nervous about her first day, so I thought this would be a nice surprise for her.

Puperita Petite Fille Style DressHere she is on the day, ready to go with back pack, lunchbox and all . . .

Puperita Petite Fille Style DressYou may notice her unusual necklace . . . It’s plastic beads, along with photos of our family glued onto cardboard and strung along with the beads.  Kiki is often unsure about starting a new school year, and we tried this “family necklace” idea last year on the first day of preschool.  It really helped, and she asked for a new one this year.  She made sure we made it long enough for her to be able to look at the pictures while wearing it.  Yes, very practical!  It did give her confidence to go out on her own and have some fun.

Puperita Petite Fille Style DressLook out world, here she comes!