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

Thinking Spring — A Class Picnic Blouse

Oliver + S, Class Picnic Blouse, Swingset Skirt, Michael Miller Flutter

It’s Kids Clothes Week time again — the perfect occasion to break out that fab fabric that’s been sitting in the stash and fire up an old favorite.

Oliver + S, Class Picnic Blouse, Swingset Skirt, Michael Miller Flutter

We need a little spring around here, so I decided to cut into this wonderful Birdies in Sky from Michael Miller’s Flutter line and put together an Oliver + S Class Picnic Blouse.

Oliver + S, Class Picnic Blouse, Swingset Skirt, Michael Miller Flutter

This is my third go at this pattern, so I had a pretty good idea of how it would come together.  I cut a size 5 width and size 6 length for Kiki, who’ll be turning six in May (what???).  The fit is superb — no big surprise there.

The only tweak I made to the pattern is the addition of the piping on the front and back.  (I neglected to take a good photo of the back — but it’s exactly the same as the front, the neck is just cut a bit higher back there.)  It’s pre-made piping that happened to be the exact shade of blue I wanted and was already sitting on my desk.  Hooray!

I did try it on Kiki to adjust the elastic on the shoulders before sewing it in — it’s a good thing to do if you can swing it.

Oliver + S, Class Picnic Blouse, Swingset Skirt, Michael Miller Flutter

The skirt Kiki is wearing is an Oliver + S Swingset Skirt that I made recently but never blogged.  I figured the blogging world has seen enough blue chambray Swingset Skirts over the last few years.  But here is is anyway.

Oliver + S, Class Picnic Blouse, Swingset Skirt, Michael Miller Flutter

To make it clear which side is the back, I hand stitched a little felt heart in the spot where one would normally find a tag.  This was an afterthought, and I had to stitch very carefully to be keep the thread going through the yoke facing only.  Next time, I’ll stitch one of these onto the facing piece before sewing the yoke together.

Oliver + S, Class Picnic Blouse, Swingset Skirt, Michael Miller Flutter

I’m happy to say that I have enough of this perfect fabric to whip something up for Lulu.  Springtime . . . here we come (I hope!)

Oliver + S, Class Picnic Blouse, Swingset Skirt, Michael Miller Flutter

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 Red Riding Hood

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Red Riding Hood I would love to tell you that Kiki wanted to be Little Red Riding Hood this Halloween, and that I lovingly created this cape much to her delight.  But that would be a lie.

Both of my daughters are in full Disney Princess mode (sigh), and we will have one Jasmine and one Ariel or Rapunzel (final decision TBD).  I have come to accept that when it comes to the Disney Princess, my girls would much rather have a blingy (and rather grotesque if you ask me) costume from Toys r Us, complete with wig and plastic shoes — so I didn’t even bother.  The good news is that we waited until last week to buy them, and they were 50% off (silver lining).  And, they love them so much that they are all worn several times a day.  I mean, the whole costume thing is for them after all, so they should have the costume they want, right?

So imagine my delight when a good friend and neighbor asked me if I would sew up a Red Riding Hood for her six year old’s Halloween costume.  Hooray!!  And to make it even better, her three year old little sister is going to be the wolf!!  (I’m trying hard not to be jealous.)  Of course, I was more than pleased to oblige.

Plus, it’s Kids Clothes Week this week (participants sew for at least one hour each day and post their makes on the KCW website), and the theme is Disguise this time.  Perfect!

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Red Riding HoodWithout hesitation, I reached for my copy of Little Things to Sew, the book written by Liesl Gibson of Oliver + S fame, which includes a pattern for the most darling Red Riding Hood around.

Now that I think about it, my sewing obsession really started with this book.  Before the mania set in, I was clicking around looking for ideas for a doll carrier for Kiki, who must have been around two at the time.  I came across the doll carrier pattern in this book and got a copy.  I mean, why not try to sew one myself in a fabulous fabric?  The resulting doll carrier never really caught on with Kiki, but I loved the book so much that I started looking into Oliver + S patterns, and the rest is history.

Anyway, my friend chose Robert Kaufman 21 wale corduroy for the outside, and we found this amazing Red Riding Hood cotton print for the lining.

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Red Riding HoodWe could only find 1 3/4 yards of the lining fabric left at Hart’s (it’s sold out now, but I just found more on Etsy), and the pattern calls for 2 yards (for size 5-10, less for the smaller size).  But with some creative finagling, I managed to squeeze all the pattern pieces out of it, even after cutting a couple of pieces backwards and having to recut! There is some selvage in the seam allowances here — please don’t tell 🙂

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Red Riding HoodThis pattern has lots of pieces to sew together — eleven altogether, including the button loop.  So it’s a little more time intensive that I imagined it might be.  But the result is a very lovely cape that fits beautifully over the shoulders and has these wonderful slits for little arms to come through so that your little Red can stay warmer out in the woods when she needs to use her hands for goody distribution and such.

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Red Riding HoodI hope you have a chance to do some fun Halloween sewing this year — even if it isn’t for your own kid!

Oliver + S, Little Things to Sew, Red Riding Hood

KCW: A July Desert Rose

Here is my final project for Kids Clothes Week this summer — a Desert Rose Dress by CailaMade for Lulu.

Desert Rose Dress CailaMade

This makes six finished projects this week.  What was I thinking?  It’s like I’ve gone insane. I think the answer is that since I started teaching part time in January, my sewing time has been pretty limited.  But now that school’s out, I feel like the world is my oyster, and I just can’t stop sewing.  Is this normal, or should the authorities be notified?

Another problem with this sewing thing is that fab new patterns and fabric seem to be coming out all the time.  And no matter how OCD I may become about sewing, there’s just not enough time (or money) in the world to make everything on my ever growing list.

Desert Rose Dress CailaMade

The Desert Rose has been on my list since it came out last summer, but alas, the weather got cold around here before I got around to sewing it up.  But summer’s here again, and I finally got to give this one a try.

It’s a simple lined bodice and gathered skirt — but the shape of bodice makes it really unique, I think.

Desert Rose Dress CailaMade

Lulu chose the ladybug buttons and has been obsessed with them since the moment she saw them actually sewn on.  It was hanging in the closet yesterday afternoon with only the top button buttoned, and Lulu ran to find me, saying that she was worried that she could only see one ladybug.  I assured her that the other one was still there, hiding behind the button hole.  What a relief!

Desert Rose Dress CailaMade

Our town has  a pretty cool Fourth of July Parade each year, and it’s probably clear to you that this dress was made for the occasion.  I figured you can’t really go wrong with red gingham and chambray for the fourth.  The gingham is actually a cotton/polyester blend, and it’s really light and flowy.  The chambray is Robert Kaufman Chambray Union.

Desert Rose Dress CailaMade

This dress is very simple and easy to put together, especially if you’ve made this style of dress before.  But I still managed to run into a minor crisis in this process.

Caila has you fold the bottom raw edge of the bodice under 1/2 inch and press, and then attach the gathered skirt to the bodice lining.  Then, you’re meant to pin the top of the bodice over the seam allowance and top stitch.  But after making about a zillion of Geranium Dresses over the past couple of years (which is done the opposite way), I forgot that I was attaching the lining, and not the main bodice to the skirt.  It wasn’t until after I had sewn the skirt on and trimmed the seam allowance, that I realized that I had managed to sew it on backwards.  The already sewn on buttons were now on the inside of the dress, with the lining on the outside.  Gak!

After considering my options, I decided not to pull it all apart and re-gather and sew on the skirt.  Too much work.  Happily, I lined the bodice with the same fabric as the outside — so all I had to do was take the buttons off and re-attach them on the new “outside” of the dress.  Then, I sewed in the lining by hand.  The buttonholes look a little nicer on the inside than the outside (since they were meant to face the other direction), but you can’t really see it when the dress is buttoned.  So who cares, really?

Desert Rose Dress CailaMade

The first test of any dress that Lulu tries on right now is it’s twirlability.  She’ll say, “Let’s see if it spreads around,” with a look of doubt and disdain all over her face.  She is a real stickler on this point.  She was almost shocked when this dress passed the test with flying colors . . .

Desert Rose Dress CailaMade

Don’t tell Lulu, but I upped the twirl factor by adding an additional 2 inches of width to both the front and back skirt pattern pieces, giving the skirt a total of 8 extra inches — just to be sure Lulu would be satisfied.  I really wanted her to like this one!

I also added some eyelet trim around the bottom of the bodice.  I just pressed the raw edge of the trim under and top-stitched it on after attaching the skirt to the bodice.  I tucked the ends of the trim under the lining on the inside of the dress before stitching it in.

I have to say that I love the result!  I think this dress is cute as hell, and I’m sure I’ll be making more — I just have to find the time 🙂

Desert Rose Dress CailaMade

I hope you finished all your projects this Kids Clothes Week.  I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a drink!

KCW: A Couple of Bucket Hats

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

Summer is here — time for sun hats!  We are a fair-skinned bunch, especially the red headed Kiki, and my girls don’t have the greatest track record in actually wearing their hats outside in the sun when they really need them.  so I’m hoping that these custom made babies will entice them to practice better sun protection.

These are Oliver + S Reversible Sun Hats.  The pattern is in Liesl’s book  Little Things to Sew, and is also available as a free download on the O+S website.  Nice!  I do have the book, but I found it easier to just print out the pattern from the site than trying to locate the book in my ultra organized house (ha).

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

Let’s start with Lulu.  Her hat is sporting Made By Rae’s Lotus Pond fabric inside and out. This view is Lily Pond and there is Meadow Blossom Blue on the inside.  I’m late to the party with these fabrics, as they came out last summer and are getting to be hard to find. Luckily, they’re still too be had on Etsy.

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

These hats are pretty easy to whip up.  All you need is 1/3 yard of two fabrics and a little bit of fairly stiff, sew-in interfacing, and you’re halfway there.

That being said, there are a couple of tricky bits.  Sewing the top of the hat onto the sides is a little bit fiddly.  Liesl tell you to clip the seam allowance in the sides of the hat before pinning onto the top.  It took me a few minutes to get the hang of this, but once you hit your stride, it’s not a big deal.

Also, I found top-stitching around just above the brim to be a little more challenging than expected.  What looks nice on one side would be screwy and puckered on the other — you know.  And since this hat is reversible, I wanted both sides to look nice.  As with most things, with a little more practice I’ll be better at this.  But for now, these look just fine, I think.

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

One other thing to note is that I assumed that both girls would wear a medium, as the age range on the pattern si 3-5.  After making the first hat in a medium and trying it on both girls, it turned out that the 5 year old Kiki needs a large.  (She has a big head just like her mother.)  The moral of that story is to be sure to measure your kid’s head before you start.

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

Kiki’s hat is made with Heather Ross’s Far Far Away fabric.  One side is Frog Prince Blue on Cream, and the other is Meadow Blue on Cream.  These fabrics are also getting to be few and far between, so Etsy saved me once again.

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

These prints are so sweet, and I’ve been itching to use them on something.  But I think that they are a little too subtle for a hat, and their little surprises get lost.  The more punchy Lotus Pond on Lulu’s hat makes a bigger statement.  But, Kiki’s hat is pretty cute nonetheless.  I’m sure I’ll come up with some other way to use the leftovers — maybe as pockets or a dress bodice — so that they can be more thoroughly appreciated.

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

The girls are enjoying their hats so far.  Today, I found them stuffed in Kiki’s bike basket, ready for the next adventure.  Ahhhhhh, summertime!

Oliver + S Reversible Bucket Hats

KCW: Swingset Dresses X 2

I’ve been wanting to try out Oliver + S‘s Swingset Tunic for the longest time.  I recently gave it a whirl in its original tunic form with mixed results (due to my own brain farts, btw).  I’ll tell you more about that one later.  Right now, I’d like to show you two versions of this pattern, hot off the presses for Kids Clothes Week, lengthened into dresses.

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

First of all, I’d like to say that this may be my favorite Oliver + S pattern.  The details on the tunic are so sweet and simple.  It just says summer to me, loud and clear.  This little top seems so well suited to become the perfect summer sundress.

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

Just for reference, here’s a peek at this pattern at the original tunic length . . .

Oliver + S Swingset Tunic

Anyway, my first attempt at converting this into a dress was for Lulu.  All I did to lengthen it was to extend the skirt straight down to the length I wanted.  I was pretty pleased with the result at first, but after looking at it for a minute or two, the hem seemed pretty narrow. What do you think?  A little bit too tube-like?

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

It’s not tragic or anything — Lulu can still run around in it without feeling encumbered by a too narrow skirt.  But still, I wished I had thought of flaring the skirt out a bit.

Of course, I had already cut out the pattern pieces for the second Swingset Dress meant for Kiki.  But luckily, I had enough fabric left to re-cut the skirt pieces with a better shape.  To be sure I got it right the second time, I took a look at a couple of skirt widths on dresses in Kiki’s closet before proceeding.  The skirt on her Oliver & S Roller Skate Dress looked just about right, so I decided to copy the hemline from that pattern.

I pulled out the Roller Skate pattern and compared it with the Swingset pattern hem line.

Patterns 9

I drew in the hem line from that pattern onto my lengthened Swing Set skirt pattern piece and drew a diagonal line from the outside of the hemline of the skirt up to about 2 inches below the arm pit.

Patterns 3

I wanted to be sure that the bodice lining lined up properly with the skirt, so I made sure to start flaring out the skirt below where the bodice lining ends.  I you dive into this pattern, you’ll see what I mean, as the bodice lining sits below the top of the skirt on the sides.

Presentation5

Here’s the new pattern piece . . .

Patterns 8

I think the result is a success.  A nice, A-line dress.

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

(Don’t mind Kiki.  She thinks it’s totally hilarious to stick her tongue out in pictures these days.)

You may recognize the fabric on both of these dresses as different prints of the much beloved Briar Rose line from Heather Ross.  I know we’ve all been seeing these fabrics for a long while now, but I just can’t get enough.  I mean, check out the bees here!

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

Kiki’s dress is Nanny Bee in Green.  And Lulu’s is Cricket Clover in Pink.  Can you spot the crickets???

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

These are not the easiest fabrics to find nowadays, but I was able to snag both on Etsy.

If you haven’t tackled the Swing Set Tunic (or dress), there is a possibility that you may be ever so slightly confused when it comes to attaching the skirt to the back bodice.  There is a funky thing about separating the lining from the button placket.  Anyway, if you find yourself scratching your head, take a look at this very helpful tutorial on the O+S blog.  The photos will make it all come clear 🙂

My favorite part of sewing these little dresses was choosing the buttons.  For Lulu, I picked these really cool pink ones with a little white grid pattern which looks hand drawn — perfect for this fabric.

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

For Kiki, I chose yellow buttons that look like lemon drops.  Kiki calls them “bee hive buttons.”  I used the same ones last year on a Roly Poly Pinafore for Lulu, which was also made from bee themed Briar Rose fabric.  I say, if something works, stick with it!

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

Speaking of buttons, you may notice that I only used two here while the pattern calls for three.  I did use three on my very first attempt and found it difficult to get my machine to cooperate in sewing the bottom button hole.  Things got too thick and lopsided with the seam allowances from the skirt and layers of fabric and interfacing on the placket.  I found cutting it down to two buttons and situating the bottom button a little higher up on the placket made things a world easier.  And truthfully, I don’t even miss that third button.

Oliver + S Swing Set Tunic Dress

So that’s a wrap for project #2 during this Kids Clothes Week.  I’ll be popping up again with #3, just as soon as I can pull myself together . . .

KCW: A Lucy Dress

It’s already Kids Clothes Week again!  I can’t believe it!  I’ve been sewing up a storm this time around and am coming up for air just long enough to show you what I’ve been up to . . .

Compangie M Lucy Dress

Kiki has been asking for a dress with a “neck thing” — which can be translated as a halter dress.  I poked around the internet a bit looking for a pattern, and I came across the Lucy Dress by Compagnie M.  I’m pretty familiar with Compagnie M and have made a Louisa Dress or two, but somehow missed this little treasure — until now.

Compagnie M Lucy Dress

It’s as simple as can be — just a tube with straps and shirring at the top.  Marte from Compagnie M gives lots of great tips on shirring (sewing with elastic thread in your bobbin, creating a stretchy “smocking” look) with instructions and photos using several different brands of sewing machine — how great!  I’ve shirred a time or two, but still found the tips helpful.  One of her best bits of advice is to be sure to use high quality elastic thread.  I had been using Dritz on other shirring projects, but I decided to heed her advice and ordered some Gutermann thread.  What a difference!  Totally worth it.

The pattern has several strap options — there are regular shoulder straps, tied shoulder straps and tied halter straps.  Each is so cute in its own way.  You can choose dress or top length.  There is also an optional faux button placket.  Whew — so many options!  This little pattern is so quick to sew up (and so beloved by Kiki), I think I’ll whip of several more, trying out some of these other fun options.

Compagnie M Lucy Dress

For this dress, I decided to sew only 5 lines of shirring.  The pattern shows examples of tops and dresses with 10 lines of shirring, which really just means a longer bodice.  I’ll try that next time.

Compagnie M Lucy Dress

This fabric is some very light weight voile I picked up at the local fabric store last summer on sale.  When I was pressing it, I realized it’s a little on the sheer side, but since Kiki usually wear shorts under her dresses nowadays anyway, it doesn’t matter much.  And, the light weight of the fabric really works nicely with the shirring.

Compagnie M Lucy Dress

I added these funky green buttons just for fun — they aren’t at all functional.  But I think they add a certain something that gives this dress great personality.

Ok — that’s project #1 . . . now, on to project #2 . . .

KCW: A Summer Nighty-Nightgown

Since it’s finally gotten warm enough around here to take the big duvets off the beds and switch to lighter quilts, Kiki has been asking for a summer nightgown.  Since both Kids Clothes Week and Pajama Day at preschool happen to coincide this week (two very momentous occasions in our house), it seemed that this project’s time had come.

Nighti2

I looked at a ton of nightgowns online, and after seeing this pin, I settled on the Nighty Nites pattern by Olive Ann Designs.  It’s such a simple and sweet design — and quick to make, which is a big plus these days.

Nightie2

After seeing lots of really lovely nighties made from vintage sheets, I ventured over to the thrift store to see what was to be found.  I got lucky and found three really cute sheets — all for about $3 each (!) and with lots of yardage, so my girls will have plenty of new nightgowns in their future.

Nightie11

I love the flutter sleeves.  And there’s no gathering to do, since the whole neckline is an elastic casing.

The pattern calls for a shirt-tail hem, but I just cut it straight across flaring up slightly on the sides to save time.  I think it’s a worthy shortcut.

Instead of using regular bias tape to finish the armholes, I once again used the Imagine Gnats Bess Top trick of using strips of jersey knit.  This is such a nice time saver, and I like the idea of having the soft, comfy knit strips on the inside of this nightgown.

The bow is satin ribbon from my stash, tacked on.  Kiki is very happy that it doesn’t come untied!  Now I just have to remember to fray-check the ends of the ribbon before it starts unraveling.

Nightie15

Wouldn’t this look cute cute short as a top?  The pattern includes a blouse length version that I may have to sew up for both girls as summer tops.  Maybe with fun trim or tiny pom poms on the flutter sleeves and hem, like this adorable top from Lauren Dahl?

Next time, I might bring the armholes up about an inch and widen the front at the chest a tad.  What do you think?

Nightie14

Kiki reports that this was a hit at school on Pajama Day.  Hooray for that!

Nightie5

And that’s it for me this Kids Clothes Week.  It must be cocktail time 🙂

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.

Leslie_06

(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.

Leslie_01

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.

Caroline29

(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