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 . . .


. . . 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

So Many Fish, So Little Time


I have a serious problem.  I am a koi fabric addict.  There, I said it.

When I came across this Eiko Playing Koi in cream from Birch Organics, I pretty much lost my mind.  I first saw it on clearance at Fabricworm.  Of course, I waited too long to order a big pile of it, and it was sold out when I finally was ready to go for it.  I searched around on Etsy, and found it at LiMaSews.  Sorry, I bought all that she had — which was enough to make the Flared Sleeve Dress from my favorite book, Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic KidsI sewed up a size 2 for Lulu.  It was pretty straight up and simple to do.  The only real trick was turning under the flared sleeves and hemming those suckers.  They’re pretty curvy, and I wasn’t completely successful in getting the hems to lay flat all around.  But once it’s on this little gal and she’s running around, you’d never know it, especially if it’s windy 🙂

Happy Homemade Sew Chic KidsThe only change I made to the pattern instructions was to attach the neck binding by tucking the raw edge of the neckline inside the binding and sewing it once — rather than sewing one edge of the binding, flipping it over the edge and sewing again.  I learned this trick when I made the Olivia Dress from Craftiness Is Not Optional.  It’s just easier.


As a general rule, I don’t really go for the matchy-matchy look with my kids.  But . . . once Lulu’s dress was done, I knew that I needed to sew with this stuff again.  Right away.  Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

By this time, Kid’s Clothes Week was right around the corner.  So, I needed to find more koi — and fast!  Another search commenced.  This time, I found plenty at Harts Fabrics.  (You can still find it there!)

If you have visited this little blog before, you know that my oldest daughter Kiki will currently wear only skirts and shirts.  And, one must be able to tuck the shirts into the skirts (sadly).  So, it was back to Happy Homemade for the Ribbon Tie Blouse and Tiered Skirt.


Seeing as it’s Kids Clothes week — late Tuesday night (technically Wednesday morning – gulp), I finished Kiki’s koi duo.  They are both size 4 for this four year old.  They’re a little roomy, which is always good news for next year.

No problems sewing these.  Again, the only change I made was with attaching the bias neck binding as I did with Lulu’s dress.

The contrast fabric in the skirt is Eiko Stamp Stripe in pool from SewYeah Fabrics on Etsy.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

As a special favor to her mother, Kiki agreed to let me take these photos with the shirt untucked.  Just this once.


There’s something about this seeing my girls in this fabric that makes me feel like I’m back at the glorious Japanese Spa Ten Thousand Waves, just outside of Santa Fe.  How being around toddlers can make one think of a massage and a dip in the tubs is testament to this fabric’s power!


How’s your sewing going this week??

4th of July, Part 2 – Gingham Girl

In my last post, I chronicled the misadventures of the making of Kiki’s 4th of July outfit.  Now that I’ve recovered from telling that sordid tale, it’s Lulu’s turn.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

You may recognize her dress as a dead ringer for the one on the cover of Happy Homemade: Sew Chic Kids, my new favorite Japanese sewing book.  Not too creative, I know.  But, I saw that dress, loved it, and made one just like it.  I couldn’t think of a way to improve it.  And what can I say — it’s perfect for the 4th of July, don’t you think?

Happy Homemade

This “Dress with Square Neckline/Dress b” was very smooth sewing, and it has me ready to continue to give into my kind of freakish Japanese pattern book sewing obsession.  I really love the classic simplicity of all of these designs.

I was a little surprised that the back bodice piece sits much higher than the front piece — I thought I had screwed it up when I first put the bodice pieces together.  But now I see it’s a design element that adds to the flowy-ness of the dress.  So it’s all good.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

It’s a size 2, in Riley Blake Medium Gingham.  It’s roomy, so she’ll be able to wear it for a while.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic KidsThe only change I made was to use red hair elastics for the button loops instead of making them out of fabric.  This is a little trick I learned from Toni of Make it Perfect, when I made her Sprout Dress for Kiki last winter.  I do not love sewing little fabric loops, and these elastic loops go on and off so much more easily.  And, I always seem to have one in the right color laying around the house without having to plan ahead.

The only thing to be aware of when going the elastic hair tie route is to be sure you’ve sewn through the elastic on both ends of the loop, since the elastic is pretty narrow.  Just to be safe, I sewed over them a few times on the outside of the bodice with a really narrow stitch to be sure they stay put.  I don’t think it shows too much, do you?

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

As you can see, this dress is great for twirling and Vogueing — two necessities for any 2 year old’s wardrobe.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

It even comes out looking great after a good dousing with the sprinkler.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids




Sewing Along

The Happy Homemade Sew-Along hosted by Elsie Marley and You & Mie has come to a close.  We’ve all been working on our Pullover Parkas, and it’s fun to see what everyone has come up with!  Here’s my contribution . . .

Done 4

As you can see, this one is for Lulu — in size 2.  It turned out to be a little big in the neck, I think.  But that’s never a big problem with kids’ clothes.  It’ll be perfect by August, I’ll bet.

The fabric is cotton shirting I found at the local fabric store.

Done 6

The sewing went pretty well, especially with the help of Meg and Cherie in their Sew-Along posts.  I learned a ton about navigating Japanese sewing books — which is awesome since I’m becoming obsessed with sewing from this particular book.  I’m even contemplating moving on to trying something for me before too long from the other books in this series.

I don’t usually document my sewing with the camera — but since it was a sew-along, I snapped a few this go round.

Progress 1

Progress 2

Progress 3My only real trouble came in the form of neck facing once again.  Neck facings seem to be my nemesis right now.

So, I’m sewing along happily, attaching the facing and feeling proud thinking I know better how to handle it this time.

Progress 4Yes, I’m feeling good — kind of like a rock star, really.  Until . . . I realized that I had just sewn the hood into the facing.

Progress 5Awwww well.  It was nothing about 10 minutes with the seam ripper and a little re-sewing couldn’t fix.  Maybe next time I’ll get it right (?)

The next morning, Lulu wore it proudly in the back yard — none the wiser.

Done 1

Yes, her shoes are on the wrong feet.

Done 7




Still Happy, Still Homemade

After my encouraging experience with the Happy Homemade Tiered Dress for Lulu, I was ready for more!  Kiki was up next, of course.  She is now living by a very strict “Shirts & Skirts Only” rule.  (No lovely summer dresses for me this year, thank you very much!)  So, a new top it was to be.

After perusing the several top options in the book, I chose the Pin-tucked Blouse, or “h” as it’s called in the book — because honestly, pin-tucks just make me happy.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

The fabric is Briar Rose Calico in Lilac that I bought at the end of the summer last year with another project in mind, which somehow was never realized.  Kiki is really into purple right now, so this seemed like the right thing to do.  I cut it in size 4, which turned out to be nice and roomy, without being too big.

This top presented more of a challenge than the Tiered Dress, I have to admit.  There was a great deal more seam ripping and swearing involved.  But, it was all worth it!

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

First of all, you have to hunt around in the book for the first several steps of instructions (p.s. — they’re to be found over on page 39 with the Smock Dress instructions).  Also, there is not much direction given for making the pin-tucks.  But luckily, I’ve been on a major Made-by-Rae Josephine Top kick this spring, which involves quite a bit of pin-tucking (with very clear instructions — thanks, Rae!).   This recent experience definitely came in handy.

But my real trouble came with the neck facing.  The front neck binding is pretty straightforward, but I never could figure out what I was supposed to do with the darn facing around the back.  I ended up treating the facing like bias tape binding and sticking the elastic inside — although I was pretty sure that this wasn’t what the authors had in mind.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

If only I had waited a week to make this top, it all would have become clear.  Turns out that this very question is addressed in Meg’s post this week over at Elsie Marley about the same type of neck facing on the Happy Homemade Pullover Parka.  She explains it really well, and now I know that I’ll be able to get it right next time.

The only other tricky bit was inserting the elastic into the casing on the sleeves.  The way it’s done here is pretty cool and different from anything I’ve done before — but actually getting the elastic through the opening was tough.  I’m sure I wasn’t doing it right, so I’ll just have to give it another go on another top on another day.

But, these difficulties aside, I think this top turned out pretty well.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

Once again, we tested this top for wearability at the zoo.

Happy Homemade Pin-tucked Blouse 8Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

All was well.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

Hello Happy Homemade!

I’ve been contemplating diving into the world of Japanese sewing books for a while.  It made me a little nervous, after reading so much about having to add your own seam allowance and the lack of detailed instructions.  But, now that I’ve been at this sewing thing for a while, I figured I was ready for the challenge.  So I got my copy of the hilariously named (or translated, actually) Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids and started oooing and ahhhhing over all the photos of the gorgeous outfits to choose from.  (Thankfully, this particular book has been translated into English.)

And, wouldn’t you know, You & Mie and Elsie Marley are hosting a Happy Homemade Sew Along this week — so I knew it was fate!

It was Lulu’s turn for something new to wear.  Lately she has a deep and pressing need to wear dresses that are long and extremely twirly.  In fact, if she tries something on that does not meet her length and twirlability standards, her face goes all crestfallen, and she cries “oh NOOOoooooooo!”  (I’m serious.)

With this in mind, my first try was the Tiered Dress, aka dress “f” in size 2.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic KidsI think it’s fair to say that this may be one of my favorite things that I’ve made, hands down.

Happily, it was pretty easy to figure out and put together.  It’s basically three rectangles that you sew together, gathering the tops of the bottom two pieces.  There’s a drawstring at the neck that literally pulls the whole things together.  Perfect for a summer day!

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

When Lulu put it on, she started twirling immediately, without skipping a beat.  She twirled and twirled for at least 10 minutes.

20140613_124507The fabric is some cotton shirting I found at my local fabric store.  It’s pretty lightweight, but still has some body to it.  Just right, I think.  The drawstring is chambray.

The instructions in this book are a series of diagrams with very limited text.  It took some study time before I was sure I knew what was going on.  But once I felt like I had a handle on it, things went pretty well.  The only real trouble I ran into was turning and pressing the U shaped notch where it ties in the back.  The instructions imply that all you need to do it neaten the edges of the U, turn, press and stitch down.  But I couldn’t figure out how to turn it without serious puckering, so I ended up clipping the curves (through my serged edge) and then zigzagging it all down so that it wouldn’t fray.  It’s not the most beautiful looking thing, but the bow covers it up, so this’ll be our little secret.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic KidsWe decided to initiate this dress with a trip to the zoo.  Happily, it turned out to be more than suitable for carousel riding, animal viewing, picnicking and all the other requirements for a successful zoo afternoon.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

Happy Homemade Sew Chic KidsOh, and it encourages crazy dinosaur dancing, too.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic KidsNext up — the Pintucked Blouse.  Now things are getting serious . . .