O+S Building Block Dresses

When the new book from Oliver+S, Building Block Dress: A Sewing Pattern Alteration Guide, arrived on my doorstep, my girls and I knew it was time to get to work.

This book is very different from any of the other sewing books on my shelf.  Liesl gives you a basic dress pattern and shows you dozens of ways to hack it into just about any dress you can think of.  The coolest thing about this book, I think, is that Liesl gives you lots of ideas for how to tweak the pattern into her own designs listed in the book, but she also gives you the tools to combine just about any silhouette, sleeve, collar, pocket and closure to create you own original design.  What a kick!

My girls and I had a ball looking through the table of contents with all the photos of different design elements, and then choosing all the parts that would come together in their very own dresses!

Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too HedgehogletsKiki chose an A-line dress with the very cute tie collar, cuffs, external hem facing and invisible zipper.  Lulu chose the basic silhouette with a shaped yoke, scallop external hem facing and invisible zipper.  I asked Lulu if she wanted cuffs, and she said “No way!”  Ok then  😉

Just to be sure they knew what they were getting, we did some preliminary drawings.

Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets

Choosing fabric with my girls is always a challenge.  If we look online or take a trip to Joann’s together, they almost always end up falling in love with the latest Disney princess or Shopkin quilting cotton (ick) — and there are only so many character themed garments that I’m willing to make.  Know what I mean?  So my new tactic is to browse online solo, pick out several fabrics that I think we all will like, copy and paste the images into Powerpoint, and present it to the girls.  This way, they can still choose the fabric they like best without being overwhelmed by millions of choices, and I know that I’ll enjoy sewing with it.

This time, Michael Miller’s Norwegian Too Hedgehoglets was the hands down winner.

Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets

In order to pick the perfect shade for the accent color, I emailed the good people at Hawthorne Threads and asked what they thought would work best — since it’s impossible to see exact shades online.  They were incredibly quick to respond and had lots of great suggestions.  At first, I asked for chambray ideas, and they sent over several good brown options.  But then, I reconsidered and decided to go with the red in the mushrooms.  Again, they promptly sent over several choices, and I ended up with Cotton Couture in Cherry.  Thanks, guys!
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
For Kiki — The A-line dress pattern was pretty easy and quick to alter, and the sewing went quite smoothly.  This was my first time using the “Slash & Spread” method — which is a way of lengthening a bodice into an A-line dress with even fullness all around.  I’m sure this trick will be useful lots in the future, including making dresses out of t-shirt patterns.
I’d never finished a collar with bias facing, and I just love it.  Such a clean finish!
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
Aren’t the notches in the sleeve cuffs such a great detail?!
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
The only hitch I ran into was with the sleeve cuff facings, which finish the raw edges where the sleeve and cuff are sewn together much like bias tape would.  When I tried to sew them on, I found the strips to be too narrow at 1″ wide.  So I re-cut those facings to be 1 1/2″ wide, and that fixed the problem.
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
When it was time to add interfacing to the tie collar, I only interfaced the actual collar portions and left the tie part un-interfaced (is that a word?).  Next time, I might try interfacing the whole thing, as the tie might lay more smoothly with a bit more body.
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
For Lulu’s dress, the pattern alterations took considerably more time and brain power.
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
The scallops on the shaped yoke were pretty tricky to pull off.  I didn’t realize until I sat down in at the sewing machine to put the bodice together that sewing a curve like this is a lot like squeezing a square peg into a round hole.  But drawing in the stitching lines and stay stitching really helped, and I think it turned out well enough in the end.
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
I also ended up lining the bodice, as the contrast fabric for the yoke is lighter weight than the main fabric, and I felt like it needed more stability.
Measuring out the width of the scallops on the hem facing so that I didn’t end up with a wonky scallop on the side seams was another fairly major task.  Liesl suggests cutting the scallop shape out of card stock and figuring out the measurements that way, which worked really well.  (I used a ramekin from the kitchen to trace the round shape of the scallop.) Once I got the scallop templates sitting evenly, I traced them onto my pattern piece and went from there.  My kids’ washable Crayola markers were a life saver when it came time to trace the scallops onto the fabric!
Liesl suggests adding interfacing to the hem facing, which worked wonders keeping the scallops smooth and even, while adding a little bit of weight.
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
If I use this type of hem again, I think I’ll try sewing it up in the manner of the O+S Ice Cream Dress, with the accent color is on the outside and the inside of the hem.  I think it would look cleaner.
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
I’ve sewn in lots of invisible zippers, and have never been entirely happy with how other patterns deal with the tops of the zippers.  Liesl suggests marking 7/8″ from the top of the neckline and lining the zipper stop up with that mark, and then folding the end of the zipper over on itself a little bit and sewing it out of the way.  This method worked really well, and I’m sure I’ll use it over and over again.
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
By the way, for Lulu’s dress I only sewed the zipper into the bodice and cut it off where the bodice meets the skirt.  I find this method to be way simpler than extending the zipper into the skirt, and there’s still plenty of room to get the dress on and off.
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
Both girls decided on 3/4 length sleeves.  Since that length isn’t included in the book, I took the sleeve length measurement from my copy of the O+S Library Dress and cut a bit of length off the Building Block long sleeve.
Oliver+S, Building Block Dress, Michael Miller Norwegian Woods Too Hedgehoglets
Here’s my take-away from this experience — Designing your own dress based on Liesl’s Building Block pattern does take a much bigger time investment than simply pulling your favorite pattern off the shelf and sewing it up as instructed.  But, it’s a ton of fun and can be a great project to tackle together with the dress’s wearer to create the dress of her (and your) dreams!
By the way . . . these dresses made an appearance on the Oliver + S blog today.  Check it out!  🙂

The Allure of the Hummingbird

Along with so many others out there in Blog Land, I too have succumbed to the allure of the Hummingbird Dress by Rabbit Rabbit Creations.

Hummingbird Dress, Rabbit Rabbit Creations, Vintage Sheet

I mean, what do my girls need more that another summer dress???  Haha.  But . . . with a perfect pattern like this, how could I resist?

Hummingbird Dress, Rabbit Rabbit Creations, Vintage Sheet

After reading in a blog post about sewing little girl dresses out of vintage sheets, whenever I have a little extra time before picking the girls up from school, I’ll stop by the local thrift shore and check out what’s on the racks.  I’ve been amazed by what I find in there for about $3 a pop.  If you really look, you can find the cutest prints on the softest stuff that’s been washed jillions of times.  And one sheet is enough to make at least two dresses.

These particular sheets had been sitting in my stash for a while, waiting for the right dress to come along.  I can’t get over these strawberries — don’t they take you right back to 1976?

Hummingbird Dress, Rabbit Rabbit Creations, Vintage Sheet

One advantage to a print like this, aside of ultimate cuteness, is it’s ability to hide ketchup stains.  Bet you can’t find ’em!

Both of the sheets I used probably have a little bit of polyester in there, which gives them this gorgeous, flowy drape.

Hummingbird Dress, Rabbit Rabbit Creations, Vintage Sheet

This pattern offers three different skirt fullness options.  For Lulu (in the strawberries), I opted for ultimate fullness.  Kiki prefers less drama, so for her I opted for medium fullness.

Hummingbird Dress, Rabbit Rabbit Creations, Vintage Sheet

I couldn’t believe that I happened to have a piece of broadcloth the perfect compliment color for Kiki’s straps, as well as the same color as her hair.  Sometimes, dresses are just meant to be.

Hummingbird Dress, Rabbit Rabbit Creations, Vintage Sheet

I came into a bit of trouble when it was time to attach the skirt to the bodice.  The method given in the instructions seemed pretty much impossible to achieve.  So, I googled to see if anyone else had run into the same problem.  Wouldn’t you know, I was not alone.

There’s an amazing tute on Glitter + Wit that will show you how to easily achieve a lovely enclosed seam!!!  But, do yourself a favor and read through this tutorial before you sew, so that you don’t have to grab your seam ripper and backtrack like I did — because in this alternate method, you need to attach the skirt before inserting the elastic.  Thanks, Tasha!

Hummingbird Dress, Rabbit Rabbit Creations, Vintage Sheet

Erin from Hungie Gungie also mentions that  1/2″ needs to be added to the height of the bodice piece (and lining), as it doesn’t quite match up with the front bodice.  Quite right!

Hummingbird Dress, Rabbit Rabbit Creations, Vintage Sheet

When I sew this dress up again, I’ll follow Rachel’s advice and will raise the neckline up a bit and will add 2 inches to the back bodice, as it sits a little bit tight.  I wonder if she also added 2 inches to the elastic as well — probably so?

Hummingbird Dress, Rabbit Rabbit Creations, Vintage Sheet

Also, be sure to choose your size according to chest measurement.  For the six year old Kiki’s bodice, I cut a size 4 width and size 6 length.  Lulu (4) got a straight up size 4.

Hummingbird Dress, Rabbit Rabbit Creations, Vintage Sheet

On a sticky summer afternoon with the cicadas singing, when the fish are jumping and the cotton is high, you can’t do better than fall for the allure of the Hummingbird!

Hummingbird Dress, Rabbit Rabbit Creations, Vintage Sheet

 

 

The Geranium Dress – The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Geranium Dress, Made By Rae, Michael Miller, Brambleberry Ridge Flight, Brambleberry Ridge Shimmer Reflection Mint

Made By Rae’s Geranium Dress is what really got me started compulsively sewing for my girls about four years ago.  The first time I poked around the internet looking for patterns, I came across this beautiful version from Gail.  I was completely smitten by the silhouette of the dress and her sophisticated choice of fabric.  It was as if the clouds parted and I saw all the possibilities out there for kid sewing.

Since then, I’ve made at least a dozen Geraniums for my own kids and their friends.  Every time I think I’ve exhausted all the options in this pattern, I think of something else to try.

Here are the ones that have made it into the blog . . .  (There are more out there!!!)

Well, it just happened again . . .

On the occasion of Kiki’s sixth birthday, I decided that she needed a dress that is as grownup as she is.

I took a look around and found this very awesome version of the Matinee Dress from the Crazy Tailor.  In its original form, I think that the Matinee Dress is a bit too low in the back for my taste, but the Crazy Tailor did such a nice job of raising the back up just enough – and that bow!  How awesome!

I thought for a moment about buying the Matinee pattern and hacking it in the same way.  But then it occurred to me that I could do the same thing with, wait for it, the Geranium.

While dreaming this up, I also remembered this Geranium from Girl Like the Sea, which has a similar shaped back.  I didn’t need to be convinced any further.

Geranium Dress, Made By Rae, Michael Miller, Brambleberry Ridge Flight, Brambleberry Ridge Shimmer Reflection Mint

It was easy as pie to scoop out the back of the bodice and tuck in some ribbon before sewing the bodice and lining together.

Kiki’s choice of fabric (chosen from a selection carefully curated by your truly, ahem) was from Michael Miller’s Brambleberry Ridge line – Flight on top and Shimmer Reflection on the bottom.  I was very impressed that she bypassed the pink and chose the mint colorway.  I think she’s growing up, guys.

Geranium Dress, Made By Rae, Michael Miller, Brambleberry Ridge Flight, Brambleberry Ridge Shimmer Reflection Mint

In case you can’t see it clearly in the photos, the gold birds and dots are all metallic and shimmery.  Very fancy!

Geranium Dress, Made By Rae, Michael Miller, Brambleberry Ridge Flight, Brambleberry Ridge Shimmer Reflection Mint

The flower crown is all Kiki’s doing.  This flower crown kit was one of her favorite Christmas gifts this year, and she’s had so much fun making and wearing her own crowns.  She decided that her handiwork would be the perfect accessory here.  Too true!

Geranium Dress, Made By Rae, Michael Miller, Brambleberry Ridge Flight, Brambleberry Ridge Shimmer Reflection Mint

Now that the Geranium is available up to size 12, I’m definitely going to keep it handy.  Who knows what will come out of it next? . . .

 

It All Started at Ikea: Part 2

A few months after Kiki’s custom hacked Ikea Kura Bed was done, the complaints began — despite her delight in the beginning.  She didn’t like climbing the ladder.  She didn’t like sleeping on the bottom.  Yada yada yada.  You can imagine my dismay.  How could this be???

Um, no, you cannot have another bed.  Don’t even think about it.  Not after everything I went through to create the thing — and let’s not even talk about the expense after buying the bed, the fabric, the ill fated Drummel tool and all those emergency distress calls to the handyman.

Here’s a little reminder of what we’re talking about . . .

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

The complaints kept on coming.  “The bed’s not comfortable, Mom.  What can you doooooo??”

This is the problem with being a mom who creates things on demand.  Expectations can get a bit out of control.

Then it occurred to me — the Kura Bed is meant to be reversible.  Maybe I could flip it, and that would solve Kiki’s issues.

By flipping the bed, I mean changing it from this . . .

Kura Bed 1

. . . to this . . .

Kura Bed 2

I mean, how hard could it be??? (Hahaha.)

I discussed this plan with the customer, and she agreed that flipping the bed would be an acceptable (and free) alternative.

Of course, one cannot just turn the bed upside down and call it a day — especially if panels are covered with directional fabric, ahem.

It became clear that the frame would have to be taken apart completely and that the panels would need to be flipped and reconfigured.  And it would have to be reassembled in such a way as to put the ladder on the side of the bed that sits against the wall.  This would take some brain power to figure out.  And there would be more elbow grease involved.

In truth, it took some time for me to accept this cruel fact.

After a brief mourning period, I wiped away the tears and stated to take the bed apart.  It was too painful a process to document with photography, so you’ll just have to use your imagination to picture the grisly scene.  And the cursing.  There was so much cursing that I had to send all children out of earshot until the project was complete . . . again.

In the end, I came up with this . . .

Ikea Kura Loft Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Sarah Jane Fabric

Don’t tell Kiki, but I really do like this version better than the original.

Ikea Kura Loft Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Sarah Jane Fabric

At night, when we turn on the twinkle lights for bedtime stories, it really is magical.

Ikea Kura Loft Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Sarah Jane FabricIkea Kura Loft Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Sarah Jane Fabric

I love the mermaids hanging out on the bottom of the bed.  You might miss them if you aren’t paying attention.

Ikea Kura Loft Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Sarah Jane Fabric

Word to the wise — if you go this route with the Kura bed, be very careful to remember to bend your head down when getting into it, especially when running and jumping exuberantly.  Knocking your head on the top of the frame can be brutal.  Really brutal.  So far, this has only happened once.

Ikea Kura Loft Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Sarah Jane Fabric

Guess what.  Kiki’s now asking for curtains like the ones I put on Lulu’s bed.

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

Figures 🙂

It All Started at Ikea: Part One

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

About a year and a half ago, it was time to find a big girl bed for Lulu.  We’d long ago taken the side of the crib off so that she could sleep toddler bed style, but she kept falling out (poor girl).   After a big bruise on the noggin, we knew it was high time for a different sleeping arrangement.

So I hopped onto Pinterest to see what’s out there, and I came across this loverly pin from Gail.  A few more minutes of clicking led me to this pin, and I was definitely hooked.

The Ikea Kura Bunk Bed.  It’s such a great idea.  The draw for me was a combination of cuteness, creative possibility and an opportunity for Lulu to sleep in a bed that is essentially a mattress on the floor with no possibility of falling out.  The other plus is that Lulu’s room is smaller than Kiki’s, and a bed like this gives more playing space in a small room.

If you want to be amazed, check out this Pinterest search filled to the brim with about a zillion genius hacks on this bed.

Of course I couldn’t just buy this bed, assemble it and call it a day like a normal person.  That would be way too easy and economical.  I had to customize.

And, of course I couldn’t stop with just one bed.  Kiki wanted in on the action, too.  Who wouldn’t, really.  Customizing an awesome bed for her sister and not for her seemed cruel.  So two beds it was.

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

I decided right away that I wanted to paint the frames white, and that I wanted to cover the panels with fabric.  I gave both girls a carefully curated selection of fabrics to choose from.  Lulu chose Sarah Jane’s Wee Wander Summer Nights in twilight and On Parade, and Kiki chose Heather Ross’ Far Far Away Unicorns in green and Sarah Jane’s Out to Sea Mermaids in blossom.

My husband watched the kids while I drove out to Ikea and bought the beds.  When I got them home and opened the boxes, I was completely horrified by the number of frame pieces that required sanding, priming and painting for two beds (if I really wanted the beds to be white, which I did.)  The girls would be in high school before I’d ever finish this painting.

Emergency Distress Call to Handyman #1 — Dear Handyman, can you please, please, please sand, prime and paint all 100,000 pieces of bed frame and save me countless hours and frustration, as I’m not really that good at it myself???  Answer — yes.

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

Ok, so a couple days later, I have a huge pile of freshly painted bed pieces up in Lulu’s bedroom.  Time to finish up my cappuccino, roll up my sleeves and get crackin.

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

Here’s how I did it . . .

The way this bed works is that it’s basically a wood frame with thin fiberboard panels that slide into groovess in the frame.  The first thing to do, then, is to cover your panels with fabric (or wallpaper or whatever).

Survival Tip #1 — You’ll  notice that some of the wood frame pieces are labeled with numbers.  If you decide to paint your frame, be sure to write in your numbers in Sharpie.  If you don’t, you might end up killing yourself when it’s time to put the thing together.

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

I got myself some good fabric glue.

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

As you can see, it’s not cheap.  But in this case, I think you’ve got to use the good stuff.

Next, I cut my fabric about one inch wider than the first panel on all sides.  Then, I squeezed on that glue.

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

Then, I adhered my fabric onto the panel, making sure to smooth it out really thoroughly and tightly.  It should look something like this . . .

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

Next, I trimmed the fabric so that I could glue the fabric to the edges of the panel without overhang.

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

Then, I squeezed glue along the top, bottom and side edges of the panel and folded the fabric over, faking it on the corners.  I think I ended up trimming the fabric on the corners to avoid excess bulk.

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

Then, I repeated the same thing on the other side of the panel.  I ended up with this.

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

After covering all seven panels, it was time to assemble the thing.  I’m sure you know what that’s like.

Survival Tip #2 — If you accidentally and inexplicably knock a hole into one of your panels, don’t panic.  Just cover it with duct tape and pretend it never happened.  Here you see the back of the panel that goes against the wall, so no one ever sees it anyway 🙂

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

Then, trouble arose.  When I tried to slide the panels into the grooves on the frame, the gd things didn’t budge.  The addition of the fabric and the glue made them too thick for the grooves.  Double crap.

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

I took a deep breath and ran like the wind to the hardware store, where a very well meaning clerk suggested I purchase a Drummel Tool, with which I could allegedly plane the grooves to be wide enough to accommodate the now thicker panels.  Ok.

This did not go well.  If you’ve ever used a Drummel Tool (I had not, obviously), it’s like a crazy strong and (if you’re me) uncontrollable electric knife.  As soon as I touched the blade to a frame piece, wood shaving flew every which way and I managed to gouge up the thing in a terrible way.  I tried again.  It was worse.  I was afraid that three things would happen if I continued . . . 1) I’d ruin the bed, 2) I’d gouge up the wood floor in Lulu’s room, and 3) I’d maim myself.

Emergency Distress Call to Handyman #2 — Dear Handyman, can you please, please, please come and take back these frickin pieces of wood frame that you already painted and take them to your shop where you can properly plane them so that I can fit these panels in without anyone getting hurt???  Answer — yes.  (He took a panel with him so that he would know how much planing needed to happen.)

Once I got the planed frame pieces back from the most excellent, talented and patient handyman, things went much more smoothly.

After the bed was all assembled, I realized that two things were missing . . . lights and curtains, of course!

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

The curtains are just panels of $3/yard cotton gauze with a rod pocket sewn on top and zig-zagged edges attached with tension rods.  The rods do get pulled down periodically, but I haven’t come up with a better method.  No big deal.

The lights are attached with 3M Command hooks.  Aren’t those things just so handy?

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

Here’s Lulu’s bed from underneath . . .

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

It’s pretty fun!

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

Now that Lulu’s bed was all done, I got to do it all over again for Kiki — but this time without the steep learning curve.

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

Kiki opted for lights, but no curtains.

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

Ikea Kura Bed Hack, Heather Ross Fabric, Far Far Away, Sarah Jane Fabric, On Parade, Wee Wander

As my own mother often says “I wouldn’t do this for anyone else.”  This is love, my friends!

You might think this is the end of the saga of the beds.  But surprisingly, in the immortal words of Elephant & Piggie . . . “There’s more to my story!!!”

Stayed tuned for the next installment . . .

A Couple of Sommer Dresses

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Dress A Frilled Sleeves, Sarah Jane Fabric Sommer

Once Easter rolls around in our neck of the woods, we’re definitely ready for spring, even if the weather hasn’t quite caught up with our wishes.  A spring break trip to Florida was the perfect excuse to follow my heart and sew up a couple of decidedly spring/summer dresses.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Dress A Frilled Sleeves, Sarah Jane Fabric Sommer

I was pretty excited to cut into my brand new piece of Plockade in Summer from Sarah Jane’s new Sommer line.  This is a pretty cool line with lots of gorgeous prints on regular cotton as well and canvas and double gauze!  I’m for sure going to work my way through a couple more of these prints this summer — first up will be the same Plockade print, but in the navy colorway, as it has a completely different look.

One of the best things about this particular print is that it’s flowery and girly without being overly pinky-pink.  The pink flowers are actually more of a coral, making it a bit more sophisticated.  Don’t tell Kiki & Lulu.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Dress A Frilled Sleeves, Sarah Jane Fabric Sommer

The pattern is Dress A from Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids.  I think I’ve sewn up about 75% of the patterns from this book by now, and they are always pretty perfect.

But I do have to be careful with the sizing, since these patterns tend to be on the wide side, as far as I’m concerned.  For the almost six year old Kiki, I cut a size 4 width with a size 6 length.  And for the almost 4 year old Lulu, I cut a straight up size 4 (as she’s wider than her sister for some reason).  Both dresses fit just right.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Dress A Frilled Sleeves, Sarah Jane Fabric Sommer

Yes, my girls are still into matching dresses.  I suggested different patterns and/or different fabrics, but they were having none of it.  So matching dresses it is.  Sometimes it seems like that’s the only thing they can agree on these days 🙂

Lulu was not at all excited about having her photo taken on this (particular day to say the least) — even with the promise of popsicles.  So I didn’t push the issue, and this is about the best I could do.  You’ll just have to use your imagination.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Dress A Frilled Sleeves, Sarah Jane Fabric Sommer

I found some very cute green transparent buttons in my stash that worked well on the back.

I tried a couple of different kinds of button loops — I thought about using narrow elastic and decided that was too fiddly.  Then, I tried out the button loop method outlined in the book, which led to disastrous results for me.  This method involves cutting a 1 3/4″ square, folding it in half on the bias, handstitching it 1/4″ from the fold, trimming and turning it out using the needle and thread still attached to the loop.  This took forever for me to figure out (you have to knot the thread at the end of the stitching before trying to turn it out — duh) and ended up with a way too short loop.  Ugh.  In the end, I went with the Oliver + S method — press a 1″ strip into doublefold bias tape and topstitch it closed, giving you a 1/4″ wide loop.  Easy.  It seems ridiculous that I spent so much time futzing around with something as silly as a button loop.  Ah well.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Dress A Frilled Sleeves, Sarah Jane Fabric Sommer

Both girls are happy with their dresses and can’t wait until it’s warm enough to actually wear them outside and run around barefoot.  The sad truth is that this is what’s happening in our backyard right now . . .

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. . . and it doesn’t look like we’re even close to being able to wear summery dresses yet.  But the day will come.  And when it does, we’ll be ready!

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Dress A Frilled Sleeves, Sarah Jane Fabric Sommer

Another Birdy Blouse

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Ribbon Tied Blouse c, Oliver + S Swingset SkirtIf you visit this blog much, you may recognize this wondrous bird fabric from its previous appearance a few days ago as an Oliver + S Class Picnic Blouse for Kiki.  Once that top was done, I just hadn’t had enough birds in my life — so I used every inch of what was left of the birds for a Ribbon Tied Blouse (pattern C) for Lulu from the very popular Japanese sewing book Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Ribbon Tied Blouse c, Oliver + S Swingset SkirtI’ve sewn a ton from this book and am nowhere near finished with it.  I have made this blouse before in a fabulous Japanese fish print, and it sadly didn’t get much wear.  I think I passed it onto one of Kiki’s preschool friends so that it might get the wear it deserved.  I’m hoping that Lulu will sport this one all spring and summer, and maybe even next year as well.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Ribbon Tied Blouse c, Oliver + S Swingset Skirt

On the bottom, Lulu is wearing her blue chambray Oliver + S Swingset Skirt.

This blouse is very simple to put together, especially after you’ve done it before.  It’s true that you do have to add in the seam allowances when tracing out your pattern, which is a pain in the butt, honestly.  But it’s really a small price to pay.  And now that I’ve added seam allowance many times before, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Ribbon Tied Blouse c, Oliver + S Swingset SkirtLulu’s measurements lie somewhere between a size 2 and size 4.  I tried on the size two dress I made for her two years ago from the same book, and it was a little snug in the chest, though wearable.  So I opted to go for a size 4, thinking there would be room to grow — which there definitely is.  But despite it’s extra blousy-ness in the size 4, I think this kid can pull it off.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Ribbon Tied Blouse c, Oliver + S Swingset Skirt

I love the yoke with gathers in the front and back and the slightly puffy sleeves.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Ribbon Tied Blouse c, Oliver + S Swingset Skirt

I had just the right shade of blue solid cotton in my stash to make up the bias tape for the neckline.  I cut the bias strips 1 1/2″ wide, rather than the 1 1/4″ suggested in the pattern, so that it would fit just right in my bias tape maker.  No prob.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Ribbon Tied Blouse c, Oliver + S Swingset Skirt

Now, where can I find a bird top for myself???

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids, Ribbon Tied Blouse c, Oliver + S Swingset Skirt

Jackets!

Yes.  The holidays are over, and it’s January already.  What better time to show you the jackets I made for Kiki and Lulu for fall?  Ha!

Jackets 1

Both of these little ladies needed something cozy for brisk, windy fall days.  And since Kiki is off in kindergarten all day now and Lulu is hot on her trail, I wanted them both bundled up in something made with love from dear old Mom.

5&10 Designs Volume 2 Jacket

I’m way into corduroy these days, and it seemed to be just the thing for the exterior of these babies.  Both ladies chose their own colors, and both picked this fab orange.  At least I’ve taught them something!

5&10 Designs Jacket, Made By Rae Fanfare

For the lining, Kiki chose this Allison Cole Happy Camper flannel, which I can’t find any more of by now (since I bought this fabric back in September!).  It’s a cute print with little tents and teepees and campfires and woodsy critters — an interesting choice for a girl who lives in a decidedly non-camping family.  Oh ye gods, I hope she’s not trying to tell us something!!

5&10 Designs Volume 2 Jacket

5&10 Designs Jacket, Made By Rae Fanfare

For her cozy jacket’s innards, Lulu picked the always fabulous foxes from Made By Rae’s Fanfare Flannel in pink.  I have to say that I was so pleased with this pick!

5&10 Designs Volume 2 Jacket, Made By Rae Fanfare

5&10 Designs Jacket, Made By Rae Fanfare

Kiki got these wonderful green spangly buttons that coordinate with her lining.  They add a nice sparkle on a blustery day without going the way of the princess.

5&10 Designs Jacket, Made By Rae Fanfare

Lulu’s buttons are velvet covered and look like the eyes of the foxes inside 🙂

5&10 Designs Volume 2 Jacket, Made By Rae Fanfare

Yes, after a couple of washes the flannel pills a little.  I have yet to find one that doesn’t.  That’s life.  It’s still the coziest stuff!

5&10 Designs Volume 2 Jacket, Made By Rae Fanfare

The pattern for both jackets comes from 5&10 Designs, Volume 2.

If you’re not familiar with 5&10 Designs, it’s a group of five bloggers who put out basic pattern blocks with instructions on how to hack them ten different ways.  They’ve put out three volumes, and this jacket is taken from the second volume — as was the coat I made for Kiki last year.

To put these jackets together, I started with the basic pattern block for Look One.  I made it longer and drew the sides out a little to create a more A-line shape.  I also made the facings for the button placket several inches wider.  The pattern calls for placket facings that end up being only about an inch wide, which may work for snaps but doesn’t cut it for buttons like these.  Here’s what Kiki’s last year coat ended up looking like with the narrow facings.

Five and Ten Designs Volume Two, 5 and 10 Designs Volume 2

Happily, I lived and learned.  Just look at them now!

5&10 Designs Volume 2 Jacket, Made By Rae Fanfare

I wanted to be sure that these jackets would be warm enough, so I went ahead and added fusible fleece on the inside (following a tip from Hungie Gungie).  It’s so easy to do — just cut the same pieces from the fleece as you cut for the exterior pieces (not the facings) and fuse ’em on.  You’ll get a jacket that’s much thicker and warmer, but not bulky enough to make sewing difficult.

5&10 Designs, Made By Rae fanfare

If you feel like you’ve seen the fabric on Lulu’s hat before, you’re not crazy.  It’s Heather Ross Briar Rose jersey.  I made these hats from an Ottobre pattern from the 4/2015 issue.  You can also find this pattern along with a handy tutorial for free online.

Ottobre 4/2015 Beanie

This little hat is a breeze to make, especially with that tutorial to explain it all.  It could also be easily enlarged for adults.  But to be honest, I’m not in love with how it looks on.  The seam runs ear to ear, and the bulk of the seam allowances makes the shape look a little weird.  I’ll have to try this again trimming the seam allowances more to see if that helps.  I mean, it takes only about 20 minutes to whip one of these up, so it’s worth a little experimentation on some extra knit fabric.

Ottobre 4/2015 Beanie

Now that the winter chill is here, these jackets have been put away.  I’m hoping that they’ll be just a cozy on early spring mornings.

5&10 Designs Jacket, Made By Rae Fanfare

 

Holiday Library Dresses

Library Dress, Oliver + S

For the holidays this year, I decided to make the girls quasi-matching dresses — knowing full well that they might not get worn much.  That’s how is goes with holiday dresses around here. In order to make it worth the effort, I thought it best to take this as an opportunity to do a little experimenting.

Library Dress, Oliver + S, invisible zipper

For about two years, I’ve been itching to try out the Oliver + S Library Dress with an invisible zipper in the back instead of buttons.  There’s a great tutorial on the O+S blog that takes you through it step by step.

I made a couple changes to the method in the tutorial.  Firstly, I extended the zipper to be the full length of the bodice, cutting it off at the point where the skirt is sewn on — as it’s done in the Hanami Dress.  It’s simpler and less fiddley that way.  I also cut the back skirt in one piece on the fold, rather than in two pieces with a seam down the center back — no need to do that with a zipper that ends at the waist!

Library Dress, Oliver + S

As you can see,  I also added a sash at the back.  As much as I love this pattern, it’s always bugged me that the waistband doesn’t extend to the back.  It’s kind of a bummer.

I originally wanted to sew the back waistband into the dress just like the front.  But in the end, I chickened out for fear that the bulk of the waistband seam allowances would muck up the zipper.  So I took the easy way out and just sewed up two sash pieces and stitched them in at the side seams.  I think the result is just fine.

Oliver + S, Library Dress, invisible zipperWhen I was cutting the waistband and sash pieces for Kiki’s dress, I ran out of fabric — oops!  I ended up piecing together one of the sash pieces from the remaining scraps.  Luckily, it doesn’t show much with this print.

Oliver + S, Library Dress, invisible zipper

Kiki’s sash was also a bit longer originally.  But for some reason, this caused great distress.  So I ended up chopping off a couple of inches of sash and finishing the raw edges with a very narrow zig zag.  Not ideal, but there was no way I was going to take the dress apart to restitch the ends of that sash.  She was hugely relieved!

Oliver + S, Library Dress, invisible zipper

I sure do love the cuffs on this dress.  It’s such a great detail.

Library Dress, Oliver + S

The fabric for both dresses is Robert Kaufman 21 wale corduroy (in jade and red from Fabric.com) with quilting cotton contrast fabric from Hawthorne Threads, neither of which I can find on their site anymore.

As usual, my Fabric.com order got screwed up.  About a week after I placed the order, I got an email saying that they didn’t have enough jade corduroy in stock and that they’d send only the red.  I frantically searched for the jade elsewhere (it was not easy to find), and reordered it on Etsy.  When the Fabric.com package arrived, the jade was in there, but in two pieces.  There was more than enough for Lulu’s dress.  Why did they not tell me that they’d send the jade in two pieces, saving me the trouble and expense of finding another piece???  Why????  (Will I never learn?)

Anyway, Kiki’s dress is 4T width and 5T length, and Kiki’s is a straight up 3T.  If I had these to sew again, I’d add an inch or two in length.

Oliver + S, Library Dress, invisible zipper

(For the record, I’m not the meanest mom in the world.  Taking our photos outside in the snow was totally Kiki and Lulu’s idea.  I didn’t wear a jacket either!!)

Library Dress, Oliver + S, invisible zipper

After about 10 minutes, we were all ready to go inside.

Oliver + S, Library Dress, invisible zipper

I’ll leave you with Lulu wearing the perfect holiday accessory — Christmas ornaments as earrings . . .

Oliver + S, Library Dress, invisible zipper

Happy New Year!

Oliver + S, Library Dress, invisible zipper

A Coat for Corduroy

Well, it’s not really a coat for Corduroy.  It’s for his pal Lisa from Don Freeman’s classic book.

Presentation2So, every year about two months before Halloween, Kiki talks about wanting to dress up as Lisa from the Corduroy story.  I always get really excited, because that means that I could try my hand at making that pink awesome coat.  Then, a couple weeks later, she changes her mind and decides to be a doctor, a witch or Dora (as was the case this year).  I sigh a sigh of relief that I did not make myself crazy trying to make a coat, which I have never done before, just to have the idea abandoned.

This year, after Kiki decided to be Dora instead of Lisa, I thought to myself “Oh well, maybe next year.”  Then, two pretty amazing things happened.

First of all, the theme of this falls’ Kids Clothes Week was announced — Storybook. (During Kids Clothes Week, participants sew for their kids for at least an hour each day and post their creations on the KCW website.  Sometimes there’s a theme.)

Hmmm.  A Lisa coat is just about as Storybook as you can get.  I started snooping around Etsy looking for vintage coat patterns, thinking that I might actually be crazy enough to try this.  I mean, kids need coats even if they don’t wear them as Halloween costumes, right?

And then, Five & Ten Designs released their latest offering  — Jackets!  Fate does not need to whack me over the head more than twice for me to know that this was meant to be!

Corduroy3

If you don’t know about Five & Ten Designs, here’s the deal.  Five well known bloggers get together and make one basic pattern block.  This time, it’s a jacket — a basic front, back, collar, sleeves, pockets & hood.  Then, each of the five bloggers come up with two different adaptations of the basic pattern to make a total of five completely different jackets.  It’s pretty darn cool.  Aside from essentially getting ten different patterns in one package, it also shows you how to customize a pattern to make it all yours.  That’s what I tried to do with this jacket.

Corduroy12

I took a look at the images of the coat from the book, and figured that I needed a coat that hits above the knee, has a black velveteen collar, pocket welts, buttons and sleeve cuffs, and flares out a bit in the skirt.  I showed Kiki some vintage patterns that flared out quite a bit, and her verdict was that they “look too much like dresses.”  So, her coat would not flare out as much as Lisa’s original.

lisa finds cord2

And of course, there must be a kerchief.  This became the most crucial element to Kiki.  I just think she likes to say the word “kerchief.”  Who doesn’t?

corduroy and lisa

Since none of the Five & Ten jacket designs included in the pattern package were exactly what I was looking for, I combined elements from looks #3 (the length), #5 (the placket), #8 (the flared shape) & #10 (the welt pockets) to make my own.

I ordered wool in magenta from Mood Fabrics.  When it arrived, I felt like the texture of the pile was too clumpy.  It looked too much like an old blanket for my taste.  But, the back side of the fabric looked great, so I sewed the whole thing up backwards!

There was a bit of trial and error involved in this process, I have to admit.  The outer jacket came together pretty easily.  But once I got to the lining and facing pieces, things got messy.

I had originally intended to line the entire thing with slippery purple satiny stuff (the purple at Kiki’s request).  But, that slippery fabric is a total nightmare to cut.  I’m sure there’s some trick to it that I don’t know — but no matter what I tried, I ended up with front and back jacket pieces that were in no way the right shape.  The stuff shifted all over the place while I tried to cut it with both a rotary cutter and regular scissors.  It wasn’t until after I had the facing pieces attached that I realized that I’d have to scrap the whole thing and try again. Grrrr.

But then, I had a idea about how to save this sinking ship.  I looked in my stash to see what kind of fun cotton print I might have on hand, and I found a big piece of Sarah Jane Children at Play leftover from Lulu’s birthday dress last spring.  Yes!

Recutting the front and back pieces out of this quilting cotton was like a dream come true after the previous slippery affair.  I did follow Five & Ten’s advice of keeping the sleeves in the purple nightmare fabric, so that Kiki’s arms can slide in easily while wearing sweaters and such underneath.  Somehow, the sleeve pieces were usable.

Anyway, I think the balloons really kick it up, and Kiki loves them.

Corduroy11

By the way, if you are brave enough to sew with the slippery stuff, I highly recommend using a walking foot, especially if you’re sewing it onto fabric of a different texture.  Seriously.  The walking foot!

The welt pockets were tricky, especially since I wanted to use contrast fabric inside the pocket (which is not included in the Five & Ten instructions).  But Kristin’s tutorital on the Oliver & S website was a huuuuuge help!  Thank you, Kristin!

Corduroy19

For those cuffs, I ended up loosely following Rae’s sleeve facing instructions from the Charlie Dress.  I sewed the facings inside the sleeves with right sides together, then turned them out to the outside of the sleeves and hand stitched them down.

Corduroy15

When it came time for the button holes, I realized that I made a pretty serious miscalculation when measuring for the placket facing pieces.  I followed Five & Ten’s basic jacket facing measurements, and the plackets turned out way to narrow.  (The basic jacket is designed for snaps, so the facings don’t need to be very wide.  Duh.)

Corduroy21

The button holes should sit entirely on the facing/placket.  Here, as you can see, they are almost 100% in the lining.  Oops.  I also didn’t put interfacing into the placket, because I thought it would get too thick between the wool.  Turns out that it didn’t matter, since the button holes aren’t on the placket anyway 🙂  I globbed on the Fray Check and will keep my fingers crossed.  Let’s just hope that Kiki isn’t too vigorous with those button holes and that they don’t come apart.

I thought about going back in and fixing it, but that would mean taking the whole darn thing apart and ripping out button holes, and I just couldn’t bear the thought.  I think this is just something you learn by doing, so I’ll know better next time.

Corduroy14

Lastly, I covered the buttons with the same black velveteen, sewed them on and called it a day (at about 1am!).  Yes, Lisa’s coat has three buttons, but I only had two in my button drawer, so there you go.

Incidentally, Kiki happened to have a bear wearing green overalls that I made last fall during a major Corduroy jag.  Fate knocks once again.

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Hope you had a happy Kids Clothes Week.  Now that it’s over, maybe we can finally get some sleep — if only we didn’t have those darn kids (hahaha).

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