The Sailor and the Octopus

Sailor Top, Fancy Tiger CraftsI’ve been seeing quite a few versions of the Sailor Top from Fancy Tiger Crafts around the web lately, so I thought I’d show you the one I made.

Before we get into the pattern details, I’d like to take a moment to appreciate the awesomeness of these octopi.  What an amazing print!  You may already know that it’s Tokyo Train Ride Mystery Meal lawn in pink from Cotton + Steel.  It’s a very nicely weighted lawn, so it works really well for garments, and it comes in two other colorways.

Sailor Top, Fancy Tiger CraftsI’d been thinking and thinking about what I’d make with this when I eventually got my hands on it.  I finally found it on sale (can’t remember where, alas), and decided it was time to take the plunge.

By the way, I happened to see the sneak peak video that Cotton + Steel just put out previewing the new fall fabrics for 2015, and I was giddy to see that this print is making a return in indigo 🙂  It’s quilting cotton, though, so we’ll need to get creative in how we wear it.  I feel certain that we’ll be up to the challenge.

Sailor Top, Fancy Tiger CraftsBack to the Sailor top — it’s a great, easy to fit and easy to sew top that I wore pretty much all summer.

Sailor Top, Fancy Tiger CraftsI sewed up a medium, and it is a little bit tighter under the arms that I’m used to, but I think it’s supposed to be like that — and it didn’t take long to get used to it.  However . . . I have to say that looking at this photo makes me think that the arms may need some tweaking next time around.  Ah well.

Sailor Top, Fancy Tiger CraftsThe sewing is simple — raglan sleeves, a gathered yoke and sleeve facings.  Plenty of ease. You should try it!

A Lotta Dress

Lotta 5Here is the last (for now) of my girls’ new Compagnie M dresses.  This one is the Lotta.

I’ve been wanting to sew up this dress ever since the pattern was released at least a year ago.  I was smitten with the buttons on the collar and the pockets and have seen so many fantastic versions of this dress online.  But I hesitated because, for some reason,  I had it in my mind that I prefer a shorter bodice and a fuller skirt.

I ended up buying the pattern recently because I wanted to try out the very cute button bodice together with the circle skirt of the Ileana Dress pattern for Lulu — which worked so well on her bird dress.  (It’s so cool to be able to mix and match different pieces of the Compagnie M patterns to suit your own style — or more to the point, your kid’s style!)

Since I had the pattern sitting there, I decided to throw caution to the wind and sew up a Lotta for Kiki.

Lotta Dress Compagnie M Cotton + SteelIt turns out that the longer bodice and skirt are fabulous.  Haha!  But I must say that it is a more mature style and makes Kiki look much more grown up.  Maybe that’s why I hesitated.  Ah, motherhood 🙂

Lotta Dress Compagnie M Cotton + SteelThe button “collar” is such a simple design and is truly easy to make.  But the look is so classy!  I just love it!

Lotta Dress Compagnie M Cotton + SteelThe pattern offers several pocket options.  I chose the diagonal pockets, which mimic the collar.

Lotta Dress Compagnie M Cotton + SteelYou can also choose from a button closure or a zipper in the back.  Since there is a lot of button action on the front of the dress, I like the simplicity of the hidden zipper.

Lotta Dress Compagnie MIt was nice to use a fabric that didn’t require matching the print in the back this time!  It’s Cotton + Steel Cookie Book Recipe Box in green.  It is quilting weight — but like all of Cotton + Steel quilting cottons, it’s gorgeous to work with and is great for garments, especially for kids.

Lotta 4Now that I’m almost caught up with blogging all the sewing that’s been going on around here — it’s Kids Clothes Week already!  Pfew — I’d better get cracking!

Lotta Dress Compagnie M Cotton + Steel

Seeing Double

Caroline Party Dress, Mouse House Creations

It’s birthday season at our house.  Kiki and Lulu’s birthdays are two days apart — so the first week or so in May is pretty big around here.  When I asked them what they’re thinking for birthday dresses this year, they both told me they wanted to match.  Totally match.  I was quite surprised, and here’s why . . .

I should start by saying that the reason I sew is, without a doubt, my amazing mom.  She sewed all kinds of clothes for us (my sister and I) all through growing up — and we loved it.  And, she sewed for herself, too.  Really chic stuff.  People were always talking about how talented and creative she is, and very rightly so.  I wore her handmades even through college.

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(That’s me on the left, circa 1978!)

So when I had my first baby, sewing seemed like the right thing to do.

But . . . there was one thing we didn’t love.  We weren’t wild about the matching dresses she made and had us wear at the same time.  This will not come as news to her — we were clear about this at the time. (Sorry, Mom).  There was just something about it that was kind of embarrassing.  It wasn’t a big tragedy or anything — just a minor bone of contention.

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So, imagine my surprise when my own daughters insisted on matching dresses.  I suggested using the same fabric but different dress patterns.  No.  Maybe the same dress in different fabric?  No, no.  “We want to match, Mom. Really match!

What can I say?  This one’s for you, Mimi.

Caroline Party Dress, Mouse House Creations

These days, Lulu won’t wear anything the doesn’t have a skirt that “spreads around,” so I knew I needed to come up with something that has a really full skirt.  After admiring the birthday dress creations of both Gail and Tara, I decided to jump on the Caroline Party Dress train.  (And I’m so glad I did!)

Truth be told, I originally bought this very lovely and fun Cotton + Steel Vintage Floral lawn to make something for myself.  But when I opened the package, both girls squealed and insisted that they must have it.  How could I argue?  So, I ordered a little more and got started.

Caroline Party Dress, Mouse House Creations

I sewed up a size 5T for Kiki and 4T for Lulu, following the measurement guidelines in the pattern.  As Gail did, I added extra length and width in the skirts, to assure fullness and dramatic twirlability.  That worked out well.

Caroline Party Dress, Mouse House Creations

(You can see the wind kicking up Kiki’s shirt here!)

The accent fabric is Cambridge Cotton Lawn in Mango by Robert Kaufman.  Great stuff.

Caroline Party Dress, Mouse House Creations

I decided to follow the trend of cutting the underskirt about and inch and a half longer than the outer skirt.  I was very pleased with the whole thing until I finished the first dress and realized that the underskirt seam allowances were visible on the outside of the dress. Crap!  How did I not think of that????

Caroline Party Dress, Mouse House Creations

I couldn’t wrap my brain around how to insert the zipper and still have the back seam allowance end up on the inside.  In a panic, I reached out to Rachel from Stitched Together, who made a longer underskirt like this for one of her daughters, and asked her how she did it.  I learned that she cut the zipper off where the bodice meets the skirt and sewed the skirt as one solid piece, in the Hanami Dress style.  She referenced this post as another example.  I wondered if the dress would fit easily over the head with the shortened zipper — it definitely would have.  I’ll have to try that next time.  Thank you so much, Rachel — for the help and for sharing your gorgeous dresses!

Anyway, I ended up opening the back skirt seam from the zipper on down, flipping the seam allowances inside and re-stitching.  On the outside of the dress, you definitely can’t tell that the seam is flipped under the zipper.  I also flipped the side seams about 2 inches below the top of the skirt on down to the hem.  It’ll be our little secret 🙂

Caroline Party Dress, Mouse House Creations

These days, I’m crazy for matching the pattern on center back seams, zippers and button plackets.  The method I’ve used in the past involved pressing the seam allowance on the pattern piece and the first cut piece, which seems pretty fiddly, to tell you the truth.  After finding a nice shortcut for matching the pattern on the button placket of Kiki’s last O & S Hide & Seek Dress, I wondered if I could do the same for the zipper here.  The answer would be yes!

Here’s what I did . . . First, I cut the right side of the bodice from the fabric.  Then, I drew a line on the pattern piece 1″ from the center edge (to include the seam allowance for both right and left sides of the zipper, since the seam allowances are 1/2″).

Caroline Party Dress, Mouse House Creations

Then I placed the cut right bodice piece on top of the fabric laid out for the left bodice piece, matching the print.  I laid the pattern piece on top so that the raw edge of the cut right side piece matched up with the line I drew on the pattern piece.

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(Since the cut piece gets lost in the pattern here, I drew in the white lines so that you can see it.)

Then, I just slid the right bodice piece out of the way and cut the left piece.  That’s it!

Since the skirt doesn’t have pattern pieces (just rectangles cut to a certain measurement) all I had to do for back skirt pieces was cut one side, and then match the pattern, overlapping the center edges by 1″, and cut the other side.

Caroline Party Dress, Mouse House Creations

Check out this matching!  Who knew it was so easy??

Oh, and I also added flat piping at the waist.  It’s just enough to break up the busyness of the print.

I’m happy to report that the girls are thrilled and cannot wait for their birthdays.  I think this may also have something to do with the eagerly anticipated arrival of big girl bikes.

Caroline Party Dress, Mouse House Creations

Thanks, Mom, for showing me how much fun sewing can be — even when your kids are less than cooperative!

Caroline Party Dress, Mouse House Creations

Mustang Hide & Seek

So, last spring I was so excited when the Oliver & S Hide & Seek Dress came out and couldn’t wait to make a couple for my girls.  I sewed this one up for Kiki right away.  I thought is came out so well, and Kiki was enthusiastic — at first.  But after the photo shoot, she never would put the thing on.  What is with that??  Do kids do these things to torture us on purpose? Um, yes.

What’s a sewing mama to do?  Since this dress won’t fit Lulu for another year at least, I decided to loan it to a friend whose daughter is in Kiki’s preschool class.  Guess what Kiki said when she saw the dress on another kid?  She needed another one of her own!  Ha!

Oliver and S Hide and Seek Dress

Luckily, I still had plenty of chambray left from the original dress (which I also used for a dress for myself last summer).  Yes, sometimes it does pay to buy lots of extra fabric 🙂

Instead of exactly recreating the original, I used Cotton + Steel Mustang in gold metallic for the contrast.

For this almost 5 year old, I sewed up a 4T bodice with 5T length.  It’s still a little roomy, but not too much — and this baby should last a while.

Oliver and S Hide and Seek Dress

Now that I’ve been at this sewing thing for a while, I’m getting more and more picky about things like matching prints in center back seams.  On this dress, I wanted to try my hand at matching the pattern on the back button placket.  Guess what?  It’s so easy to do and makes such a big difference!

Oliver and S Hide and Seek Dress

I know it’s not perfect, but it’s good enough for me.

Here’s how I did it . . . I cut the right side of the back bodice, and then placed that cut piece on top of the fabric laid out for the left bodice piece, matching the print.

Oliver and S Hide and Seek Dress

(It matches so well that I had to draw in the white outline so you can see what’s going on!)

Then, I laid the left bodice pattern piece on top, matching the button placket notches.

Oliver and S Hide and Seek Dress

(My Swedish tracing paper pattern piece curled up a little when I took this photo — but trust me, the notches lined up.)

All that was left to do was to carefully remove the right side bodice piece and cut the left piece along the pattern.  That’s it!  No other fiddling necessary.  Aren’t easy tricks the best?

Oliver and S Hide and Seek Dress

The only downside of this dress is that the sleeve cuffs bunch up in the drier, and I really do have to iron them after washing.  I’m not a big fan of post laundry ironing, so that’s a bit of a drag for me.  The original version of this dress had short sleeves with no cuffs, so I was caught by surprise.  But, it’s well worth the effort — no question.

Oliver and S Hide and Seek Dress

This time, Kiki has wised up and wears this little number regularly.

Oliver and S Hide and Seek Dress

Ah . . . life is sweet!

Licensed to Sell, Baby! — Part One

So, funny story . . . I was asked to participate in a holiday handmade sale at our local toddler playspace. It was such a nice compliment to be asked, and I was excited to take on the challenge.  Of course, things almost always turn out to be more complicated and time consuming than originally imagined — and this was no exception.  But, all in all, I’m glad I did it.

Leslie Grayson

Being a craft fair rookie, I had no idea how much or what sizes to make and what people might want to buy (much less how much to charge???). So, I did what I usually do when I have no idea what I’m doing . . I totally winged it (or is it wung it??).

I decided to go with patterns I know, and turned to the tried and true Geranium Dress and Charlie Tunic from Made By Rae. I also threw in a couple of Flashback Skinny Tees for good measure. So I bought the licenses to sell from Rae’s web site and got to work.

(Quick Disclaimer — These photos were taken on a tight time schedule in bad weather, as these duds were going out the door soon.  And, if you have preschoolers, you may know that getting them to pose for a photo in a specific outfit can be a challenge.  Try doing that with, say, six outfits.  You have been warned!)

First up is a 4T Geranium made with Cotton + Steel Mustang in Gold Metallic and Robert Kaufman Chambray Union in Indigo.  This one was Kiki’s favorite.  Luckily, I have enough fabric to make one for her, since this one sold!

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I found some little brass buttons that were perfect.

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There’s just something about those horses!

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Here is Lulu doing her best Statue of Liberty impression (not joking), in a 2T Geranium. (Why do they always find a way to stand in front of the wall outlet when you snap the one photo that doesn’t come out too blurry???)

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The fabric is a nice, lightweight corduroy print I found at the local fabric store last year. I took a cue from Gail and added some flat piping, which helped to break up the print and pull it all together.  I wasn’t sure if the corduroy would gather very well on the skirt, but it ended up working out perfectly!

This one has a homemade Flashback Skinny Tee to go with it in interlock from The Fabric Fairy.  I had designs on making a coordinating tee for each Geranium for the sale — but you and I both know that there was no way I’d have time to do that 🙂

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I’d like to mention that through all my experience with this pattern, I find that attaching the bodice lining by stitching in the ditch never looks good.  Maybe it’s just me, but it’s always a mess on the inside and never quite right on the outside.  So quite a while ago, I made the fateful decision to follow Rae’s advice and hand sew the bodice linings in for a “more professional look.”  She’s totally right about that.  Yes, it takes time — especially when you’re making six dresses (what was I thinking??).  But, it can be done while waiting for the kids to finish their breakfast or watching tv or whatever.  And it’s so worth it to have a lovely looking interior!

Here’s another 4T Geranium that has been named the “Firework Dress” by Kiki.

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The bodice is Cotton + Steel Dandelion in Rust, and the skirt is Robert Kaufman 21 Wale Corduroy in Ginger.  I really got into the cotton/corduroy combo here.  I think it’s a pretty cool look for fall and winter.

I have to say that the most fun thing about this project was putting together fabrics that I like and that I think will look good together — without worrying about the will of the preschooler.  And believe it or not, Kiki (my toughest customer) loved most of these dresses.  She was relieved that this one didn’t sell, and it’s become one of her favorites.

20141121_123410Here’s a 3T Geranium with a bodice in quilting cotton from Joann’s leftover from this dress last fall.

20141121_123906When looking for fabric for the skirt I had a tough time finding a good color match, and I decided that I couldn’t risk buying it online.  I found this dark grey corduroy at the local fabric store — the color is a little darker than I had imagined, and it’s a little bit heavy.  Sewing those pleats through all that thickness was not the easiest job in the world — but hey, you do what you have to do.  I think it did the job in the end.  And the dark color kind of adds to the wintry-ness off it all, don’t you think?

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Nope, not done just yet.  Here’s a 3T in more Joann’s quilting cotton bought last year and not yet used.

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The skirt is more Robert Kaufman 21 Wale Corduroy in Olive Drab.  This stuff in awesome — it’s the perfect weight to give a nice drape while still being cozy enough for winter.

Funny that Kiki is 4 1/2 and this 3T still fits!

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Ok, last one — I promise.

Here’s another 3T in beautiful embroidered corduroy that I found at the fabric store on sale for $4/yard!  (Not sure where Lulu’s other leg is here.  I assure you that it’s turned up since.)

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I never would’ve had the guts to use this fabric for one of my girls, for fear that they’d never go for the dark brown.  It was so fun to go ahead and make it anyway this time!!

I used a little package of pre-made white piping from my stash to finish it off.  And who doesn’t love pearly buttons?

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Wow, I’m exhausted!  I’ll go take a nap and will show you the Charlies and the other Flashbacks next time.