A Long Sleeved Geranium for Fall

Geranium Dress, Long Sleeve, Made By RaeI dare you to show me a kid who doesn’t need a garment with giant acorn pockets. Seriously.

That’s what I thought when I came across this pin, featuring a dress with these amazing pockets, created by Jess from Craftiness Is Not Optional.

Geranium Dress, Long Sleeve, Made By RaeOf course, I immediately started looking for just the right dress pattern to use as a vehicle for these pockets.  My first idea was to use the Geranium Dress with 3/4 sleeves from 5&10 Designs Volume One.  I cut the Geranium bodice in a 4T, adjusting the arm scythe to accommodate the 5&10 sleeve, as I did when I made this Geranium for Lulu with the sleeve from the Hattie Dress pattern.

After sewing up the bodice and sleeves, I thankfully thought to try it on Kiki before sewing up the skirt.  Turns out the whole thing was really too small and too tight.  Drat.  But honestly, I wasn’t loving the way the 5&10 sleeve is constructed — the sleeve is lined right along with the bodice and is sewn together in a pretty clever way, but you can’t really press the seams open (or at least I couldn’t), and it just didn’t feel right.

So, I wasted no time on tears or regret and formulated a Plan B.  After remembering Rae’s post about adding a sleeve to the Geranium a while back, I decided to unearth my Charlie Tunic pattern and use that sleeve.  As Rae suggests, I just gathered the cap of the sleeve to fit the Geranium arm scythe, and it worked really well!

Geranium Dress, Long Sleeve, Made By RaeIf I were a good person, I’d cut a couple inches off the sleeve length.  But I’ll be honest with you, once something is done, I’m pretty loathe to go back in there and change things up.  Let’s just say that I’ve left some growing room in here, and that next fall these sleeves will be a perfect 3/4 length.

Geranium Dress, Made By Rae, Long SleevesI’m so used to sizing down in the bodice for the slim Kiki (who is now almost 5 and a half), that I was surprised to learn that she needs a 5T now.  That’s the thing about kids — they just keep growing and changing up their proportions on you.  Do you think they do it on purpose, just to keep us on our toes?

Geranium Dress, Long Sleeve, Made By RaeAfter some discussion with my husband, who happened to be in the basement near my “sewing studio” (ie, corner of the basement in between piles of junk) when it was time to choose buttons, we decided on little red, round buttons that resemble berries.  But when I finished the button holes, I realized that I had made them too small to accommodate the spherical shape of the berry buttons, and they were just too tight.  I hate it when I screw up button hole sizes!!!  Luckily, I came up with a smaller, flatter alternative from my stash that still fits in with the autumnal theme of the dress.

Geranium Dress, Long Sleeve, Made By RaeThese pockets are very easy to put together, and there is a free pattern and tutorial from Jess right here.  There’s interfacing in the top section of the acorn to prevent any flopping, and the size is just right for little hands.  Hooray!  I’ll just have to remember to check these pockets for real acorns before tossing this dress in the wash 🙂

Geranium Dress, Long Sleeve, Made By Rae

A Lulu in Gingham

Lulu Dress Craftiness Is Not OptionalThe Lulu Dress pattern from Craftiness In Not Optional is one of my faves.  This is the fourth one I’ve made for Kiki, and they are all the most worn garments in her closet — which is saying a lot, because this little lady is picky.  The first three were made last September, and she’s worn them all year long.  Now that I’m thinking about clothes for Kindergarten (what???), she clearly needs a new set of Lulus.

Lulu Dress Craftiness Is Not OptionalThis particular Lulu was made with the Fourth of July in mind.  Here you can see it in action at the local parade . . .

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The blue gingham knit is from Girl Charlee, and the red trim was cut from an old t-shirt of mine.  I’m not always delighted with the quality of fabric from Girl Charlee, but this one is holding up great.  It’s been through the wash at least a half a dozen times already, with no sign of wear & tear.

Because this dress is all knit, it travels great and always looks good — even if it’s just been pulled out of the bottom of the beach bag.  Plus, Kiki can easily put it on and take it off herself.  Big win.

Lulu Dress Craftiness Is Not OptionalBecause her last set of Lulus still fit well on top, this time I cut a 4T width and 5T length on both the bodice and the skirt.  The longer length really makes her look so grown up. She wore it to her preschool day camp last week, and one of the teachers said that she looks like a real Kindergartner in it.  I agree.  Can’t believe it!

Lulu Dress Craftiness Is Not OptionalThese pockets have been filled with all manner of treasures already.  Rocks, feathers, shells, you name it.  I have to check them carefully before tossing this baby into the washer.  Wouldn’t want to lose anything precious!

Lulu Dress Craftiness Is Not OptionalOnce I finished this dress and saw it on Kiki, I almost wished I had added a faux placket on the bodice, which is one of the options included in the pattern.  I’ll definitely try that out on another version soon.

Lulu Dress Craftiness Is Not OptionalHooray for the perfect little dress to take us from summer to fall!

Lulupalooza!

It’s as if a package was delivered to me straight from heaven — the Lulu Dress from Craftiness Is Not Optional.

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I didn’t fully grasp the awesomeness of this pattern when it first came out.  It’s pretty simple and straightforward.  But you see, when you have a four year old who will wear nothing but tops and skirts (despite the myriad of lovely dress choices in her closet, hand-crafted by her loving mother), you can bet your bottom dollar that said four year old will never choose a combination that comes at all close to matching, or even vaguely coordinating.  (I’m sure it goes without saying that she also has many well thought out top/skirt combinations that were also hand-crafted by the same loving mother.)  It’s like she puts on a blindfold, opens her drawer and picks at random.  Suggestions of the perfect combination are met with dismissiveness and borderline hostility.  Most of the time it’s pretty hilarious. But, I have to admit that it can at times be frustrating for her own personal stylist and clothing creator.

I get it.  I really do.  She’s asserting her independence and exploring her own sense of style.  These are things to be respected and encouraged.  I for sure don’t want to be the one to rain on her creativity parade.

Enter the Lulu Dress.  I show Kiki the gorgeous photos online of Jess’s darling girls wearing their Lulus and say “Look Kiki — it’s a skirt and top . . . but they’re attached to each other!  Wouldn’t you love to wear that??”  “Yeah, I definitely would!” she replies. Holy Mother of all Good Things, she totally bought it!  Kiki might actually wear something that matches head to toe!!  (Although, I can make no guarantees on the choice of shoes, as you can see.)

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So, needless to say, I made three of them.  Right away.

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The first one was made with the first day of school in mind.  It’s Heather Rose Briar Rose strawberry knit on top and chambray from the Imagine Gnats shop on the bottom.

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If this dress looks familiar to you, that’s because it’s a total knock-off of At Luce Ends’ terrific version of the Lulu Dress.  Seeing Stacy’s take on this dress is what really made me want to give it a whirl, i.e. try to convince Kiki to wear one 🙂  So, I made one (almost) just like hers!

Craftiness Is Not Optional Lulu Dress

I was tickled pink when Kiki insisted on wearing this dress as many days in a row as we could manage it without washing.  It did appear on day one of preschool, and again the next day.  Hallelujah!

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Don’t you love the pockets?  They’re so easy to do!  And chances are, you’ll have just enough coordinating solid cotton sitting in your stash for these cool pockets just like I did.

The only thing that I found to be tricky was pinning that binding around the neckline and armholes, and sewing it down evenly.  It’s definitely not at all impossible — you just have to take your time.  Other than that, this dress whips up in a flash.

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Lulu #2 is Heather Ross Briar Rose again, this time with woven strawberries in green on the bottom and an old Ann Taylor Loft t-shirt of mine on top.

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Since I buy most of my knits online, I was apprehensive about finding the right shade of pink for the top.  So I was pleased as could be when I found the perfect match in my own closet.

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This one was worn again and again as well.  Yeah, baby!

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The third and final Lulu is Girl Charlee jersey on top and random quilting cotton from Joann’s a million years ago on the bottom.

20140924_173129After Lulu #3, I have to admit that the thrill was gone for Kiki and the Lulu Dress.  Maybe I overdid it.  Maybe my enthusiasm for her actually wearing the stuff I made her was a little too much, a little too annoying for a four year old.  And, sadly, these three dresses have languished in the closet ever since.  Maybe she’ll come around again.  But if not, it was still totally worth it to see her so jazzed about these “attached skirt & tops” (not dresses, please) while it lasted.

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Maybe I can figure out how to make a long sleeved version for winter and quietly slip one into her closet to see what happens . . .

My Super Heroes

As this is my first ever blog post, I’d like to introduce you to my two girls, Kiki & Lulu (um, not their real names) and to show you their super hero dresses.

It all started last fall, when I made a version of the Olivia Dress by Craftiness is Not Optional in Anne Kelle’s Super Kids Girls in Primary.  (If you’re looking for this fabric, Etsy is probably your best bet.)

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I love the loose fitting, easy wearing style of this dress, but this size 3 version turned out to be a little big on the then three year old Kiki (who tends to need smaller size bodices than I think when I start cutting).  So, it ended up waiting in the back of the closet until the weather started warming up around here.  And now, it’s turning out to be perfect for summer!

For the bodice, I used some light blue cotton with white polka dots and yellow homemade bias tape from my local fabric store.  The buttons are little yellow flowers that somehow work with the super heroes.

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(No, that is not a cigarette hanging out of my 4 year old’s mouth.  It is indeed a lollipop.)

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This pattern has very clear instructions with photos, which are always helpful.  I also learned a thing or two about bias binding and how to start and finish it on a neckline — a skill I have already put to use on other projects (thanks, Jess).  I think it would also look great in the sleeveless option, so I’ll be trying that one out before too long.

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If you have more than one kid, you probably know what happens when the younger ones are suddenly able to talk and express their wishes and desires in a way that can be understood by their parents.  They start to actually ask for exactly the same things that their older siblings have (at least mine does).  “MY super hero dress, MOM!” was the refrain until I could cobble something together for Lulu.

Luckily, I had just enough fabric left over to make a size 2 Izzy Dress, an awesome free pattern from Climbing the Willow.  I’d been wanting to try this one out for a while, and was excited to sew it up.  The styling of this pattern is so great — it’s a lot like the beloved Oliver & S Ice Cream Dress, but the bodice is more fitted and has a sassy curve to it, which gives is a completely different look.

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I think my favorite thing about this dress is the cool button tab closure on the back.  It has three things going for it — it’s very easy to put together (way easier than loops), it’s quick to fasten on a child who is jumping around or actively trying to run away, and it’s very unique.  I’ll probably be using it on lots of other patterns that call for loops.

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The red and white check button is vintage, from an antique store that had a huge inventory of very unique buttons from someone’s collection that were just waiting for me to come along.

The pattern is really for a top, but I just added six inches to the length to make it into a dress.  I used solid cotton from my stash for the bodice, which just happened to be the right shade of yellow.  Pfew.

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As you can see, Lulu is pleased.

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