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? . . .

 

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 Geranium Hattie Mashup

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I’ve wanted to make a Geranium Dress with sleeves for the longest time.  The pattern doesn’t include sleeves, and I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it.  What kind of sleeve would work?  How would I attach it?  How could it be done???

Then, I saw Rachel’s version of the Hattie Dress by Brownie Goose, and I feel in love with that sleeve!  This was THE ONE!

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It was time to give it a try.

The first thing I did was take a look at the arm hole (or “armscye” if you’re fancy) on the bodice of both the Geranium and Hattie patterns.  As you might have guessed, they weren’t exactly the same.  If I wanted the Hattie sleeve to fit the Gernaium bodice, I knew I needed to adjust the Geranium armscye to match Hattie’s.

No biggie.  I just traced out the Geranium front and back bodice pieces onto transparent Swedish tracing paper, laid them on top of the Hattie bodice pattern pieces, and traced the Hattie armscye right onto those Geranium pieces.  I did end up lengthening the Geranium bodice a little bit, as the arm opening is lower on the Hattie.

And, of course, I just cut the Hattie sleeves straight from the pattern pieces, as is.

I sewed the bodice shoulders and back/neckline together as usual — but I didn’t sew the arm holes or side pieces together as directed.  I sewed main and lining pieces together at the sides separately, and then turned the whole thing right side out and pressed.

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Then I basted the arm holes, wrong sides together.

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I sewed each sleeve together at the sides and set them in.  A quick serge to the seam allowances, and they were done!

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I couldn’t believe I did it!  (Although if I had it to do again, I’d have used blue thread in my bobbin here.  Ah well.)  Now, I’m sure there are other ways to get these sleeves in, and I have no idea if I did it the best, or even the “right” way.  But, I was pretty amazed that they fit so nicely and look like they belong to the dress.

One thing to keep in mind if you decide to try this is that the seam allowances for the Geranium are 1/2″, and the Hattie’s are 3/8″.  When you sew the sleeve sides together, be sure to use 1/2″ seam allowance so that they fit into the arm holes properly.  I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around it, so I tried it both ways — 1/2″ worked!

The only other thing that was sorely needed was flat piping.  You know.

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You may recognize this fab butterfly/firefly fabric from the Fort Firefly line by the amazing Teagan White.  It’s Fireflies in coral, to be exact.  Soft as anything and cute as hell!  The bodice is brown corduroy from my local fabric shop.  This fall, I made a mess of Geraniums with corduroy skirts, and I thought it might be fun to try corduroy up top.  It’s very cozy and works pretty nicely, I think.

Lulu still fits into a 2T, but I think I may have cut the skirt to the 3T length.  I can’t really remember, because when I cut this dress, I was planning for her to wear it for Thanksgiving — so yes, that was three months ago.  Since I can barely remember what I ate for breakfast, I definitely don’t have those sizing details at the front of my brain.

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The ladies love their pockets, right?

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I think I’m just about caught up with all those projects I started before going back to work. I wonder what will come up next . . .

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Licensed to Sell, Baby! — Part Two

Whew, it’s been a while since I’ve said hello over here!  The thing is that I went back to work for the first time since kids, and in a completely new job.  So, I’ve been spending all my “free time”  getting ready for my new venture.  I started last week and am still here, so that’s good.  I decided that it’s time to come up for air and think about sewing for a minute.  Yay!

This brings me back to the cliffhanger I left you with over a month ago (haha).  When we last were together, I told you about the holiday craft fair I participated in back in late November, and showed you the mess of Geraniums Dresses I made to sell.  Well, I couldn’t leave the boys out completely, so I also made several gender neutral options.  First up are three Charlie Tunics from Made by Rae.

Here is Kiki wearing a 4T Charlie in Robert Kaufman Chambray Union Stretch in Indigo with a fun print I got on sale at Hawthorne Threads last year after the holidays for the facings.  (Sadly, I can’t remember exactly what it is and wasn’t able to spot it in a quick search of the site today.)

Made By Rae, Charlie Tunic

I also used this print in a Louisa Dress from Compagnie-M last year that still that gets lots of wear.  It’s so nice to find more than one use for a great fabric.

I love those gold buttons!

Here’s Charlie No. 2, a 3T, in chambray and a random leftover from another project — from Joann’s I think.

Made By Rae, Charlie Tunic

I love this pattern.  It’s such a chic look for both girls and boys, and it’s a great way to use up the cherished leftovers of your favorite contrast fabric.  You only need a fat quarter’s worth of fabric for the facings!

Rae also shows you how to convert this fab tunic into a very fun dress with a few adjustments.  You can buy the add-on pattern on her site.   I made a couple of foxy flannel Charlie Dresses last winter for both my girls, which were cozy enough even for the dreaded polar vortex.  I’m thinking about maybe some springtime Charlie Dresses in a few months.

The last Charlie of the day is this 2T, modeled by the lovely Lulu, once again in chambray.

Made By Rae, Charlie Tunic, Indelible

I got fancy with the contrasting facings here and used Threaded Shreds in Mamey from the Indelible line.  I bought a full yard of it for this top, so I have plenty leftover for another smallish project.  Hooray!

I also made a trio of long sleeved Flashback Skinny Tees.  I’ve made millions of these and can whip them up in to time by now.  What a great excuse to try out more of these wonderful Acorn Trail knits by Teagan White, and to use more Birch Organics elk in this gorgeous saffron color.  At the sale, I actually got a “commission” for an elk tee in another size.

Made By Rae, Flashback Skinny Tee, Teagan White, Acorn Trail, Birch Organics

My last offering at the sale was this Skater Dress from Kitschy Koo in Gold Bugs Acorn Trail knit.

Kitschy Koo Skater Dress, Teagan White, Acorn Trail, Birch Organics

I actually made this dress for Lulu — and to my utter and complete shock, she refused to even try it on.  I tried quite a few times to sell her on the awesomeness of these bugs and the comfy-ness of this dress — but to no avail.  The child must be crazy to not have fallen completely in love, as far as I’m concerned.  So, I threw it on the pile of stuff for the sale, and someone bought it right away.  That’ll show her 😉

As I did in Lulu’s other, much beloved birdy Skater Dress — I cut the skirt 1 1/2 times wider than the pattern piece and gathered it, as suggested by Rachel of Stitched Together. I cut the bodice in 18m/2T, but shortened it a bit, and I cut the skirt at the 3T/4T length. I like to think that it would have fit Lulu quite well — but the world will never know.  Ha.

So, in the end, I sold about half the stuff I made.  The rest will end up in Kiki & Lulu’s closet, or in the fund raiser auction for our preschool.  I never thought I wanted to make a habit of selling what I’ve sewn, and this experience didn’t change my mind.  I’m glad I did it, but I think I’ll stick to sewing for my own little tribe for now.

But, now that I’m working (part time, but still . . . ), the real trick will be finding the time to sew at all.  It’ll happen. Everything in good time.

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.

 

 

 

A Little Geranium for a Big Day

Believe it or not, it’s time for Lulu’s very first day of preschool.  This kid has been dying to go to school for about as long as she could walk — and finally, her moment has arrived.  Needless to say, she must have something awesome to wear on this momentous day!

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As you’ve probably guessed, the pattern is the famed Geranium Dress from Made by Rae. I’ve sewn this dress more than any other pattern, and I’m sure I’m not done with it yet. This time, I chose the cut-out neckline option and the flutter sleeves.

The thing I love most about these sleeves is that all you do to finish them is to zig zag the raw edges, which gives them a very laid back, rustic look.

20140827_123940I found this Riley Blake Sidewalks cotton at Pink Castle Fabrics during a trip to Ann Arbor last winter, and I’ve been saving it for this very day.  It seems a no brainer for the first day of school, right?

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CRISIS ALERT:  When I was cutting the fabric for the back skirt, I forgot that I needed to match the pattern at the back center seam.  (Ummm– this isn’t the first time I’m done that.  Will I learn, ever??)  Because the size of the pattern repeat is so large in this print, I didn’t have enough fabric to cut again to match the pattern.  So . . . I had to get creative.

If you haven’t sewn up a Geranium before, the pattern instructions call for cutting the back skirt in two pieces, sewing up the back center seam and leaving the top three inches unsewn to accommodate the buttons in the back bodice.  Since I mucked up the cutting and didn’t want to have an unmatched seam in the back of the skirt of such an important dress — I decided to try cutting the back skirt in one piece with a slit cut at the top to accommodate the buttons, and to add a small facing to finish the slit.  Believe it or not, it worked pretty well!  Yay!  Here’s how I did it . . .

First, I cut the back skirt piece on the fold, rather than in two pieces — just like the front skirt piece.  (Luckily, I had just enough fabric left for it!)

Then, I cut a narrow rectangular facing piece from the bodice lining fabric and serged 3 of the edges.  I found the center of the back skirt piece and pinned the facing piece over where I wanted to add the slit, right sides together.  I marked the facing with a dot 4″ from the top of the back skirt piece — the same placement as the dot on the pattern piece.

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Then, I cut the slit down to the dot I marked on the facing.

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Next, I sewed around the slit as close to the edges as I could.  In retrospect, I realize that it would have been easier to sew around the slit before cutting it.  I’ll do that next time.

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Then, I turned the facing to the back of the skirt piece and pressed like crazy.

20140816_150714As you can see, the facing bunched up at the bottom of the slit.  I went back, picked out the stitches around the bottom of the slit, and restitched — making sure that I had only one stitch across the bottom, which I backstitched a couple of times to keep it secure.  That helped the facing to lie flatter.

Then, after pressing well, I top stitched around the slit.  And voila!  I had a back skirt piece without a seam all the way down the back!

20140816_151304The bottom of the slit doesn’t look perfect, after all that picking out and restitching.  I’m looking at this as a first draft and will improve on it next time, as you do.

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What do you think of this seamless back skirt?  Yeah, baby!

20140827_120218I had one other little happy accident while making this dress.  When it came to hemming the bottom of the skirt, I did a pretty crappy job of it the first time around.  I sewed on the right side of the fabric, and I didn’t catch the underside of the hem all the way around.  Before picking out the stitches to fix it, I went ahead and hemmed again, with stitches about 1/8″ lower than the first try.  And low and behold, I had a double stitched hem that looked pretty fab — so I left it that way and pretended I did it on purpose.  I may do double stitched hems on all Geraniums from here on out. 🙂

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Now Lulu is all ready for her big day.  How in blazes do they get so big so fast???

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