A coffee date dress for me {sewing projects}

In case you hadn’t noticed, most of the things I sew are either for the kids or for gifts. For some reason I just get more excited about making teeny tiny clothes. Maybe it’s because they get finished so much more quickly. Or maybe it’s because I love taking pictures of the finished products on my tiny models. For whatever reason even when I see a project, pattern or tutorial and think I “simply MUST sew that!” it still takes me weeks or sometimes months to get around to it. Such is the case with the coffee date dress, which I first saw on the Grosgrain blog (have you seen it? It’s FABULOUS!)

I liked the style of the dress immediately and I also liked the fact that the tutorial was broken up into such nice manageable chunks of sewing complete with useful photos. Perfect for me since I’m still a little wary of sewing things for myself. I wanted a bright and cheerful dress so I picked out this blue fabric and I also liked the addition of the sash so I picked a fun yellow to go with it. I considered doing a white top and blue skirt like the tutorial shows but I was worried that the top would be too transparent (necessitating some sort of camisole underneath) and decided not to do it. I really wish I had as I like the color of the dress but I think there might be a bit too much of it. Oops. Live and learn. I also made my first attempt at installing an invisible zipper (following this invisible zipper tutorial) and while I thought I followed it to the letter, the zipper is in, works and is not offensive to look at, but it is definitely NOT invisible (oops again). My only other real stumbling block was with sizing. I measured myself and tried to find my size on the burda chart. I have a weirdly large rib cage (or something like that) because my chest measurement put me at a larger size than the rest of my measurements and I was worried that the bodice was going to be too snug. I was actually debating between two sizes and went with the smaller one (thank goodness) and the dress is still too roomy. I think I am going to take it in right around the waist area. I’m not sure what that’s going to do to the sash which is why I’ve held off for now.

Other than that I’m pretty pleased with the result. I had Ben take a few pictures of me wearing it so that I could show off on the blog. I really need to get lessons in posing for the camera because I’m absolutely terrible at it. Usually it goes something like this – I stand awkwardly looking away from the camera because I don’t know what to do. Ben takes a picture, makes fun of me for not looking at the camera or looking sad, so I look up and make a goofy face that I’m later embarrassed about.

Exhibit A

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and Exhibit B – even goofier face still

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A coffee date dress for me {sewing projects}

Amelia’s giraffe jumper {sewing projects}

I promise Paul’s quilt it coming… I will finish it soon… I just have to keep telling myself that I *will* work on it. The trouble is I have so many OTHER projects that just keep popping into my head that I simply *must do* right away. So I start, finish and move on from those projects and Paul’s poor quilt sits there unfinished. At least I finished the top… I just have to finish the back, bind and quilt it. Hmn, sounds like a lot doesn’t it?

In any case I thought I’d show off the latest sewing creation for Amelia. I made a version of the Vivienne jumper from burdastyle. If you haven’t heard of it before you should definitely check it out. Burdastyle is all about “open source sewing” – the giving and receiving of all things sewing knowledge, tips, advice and patterns. I happen to be a HUGE fan of the concept of open source anything. To me if you know it you might as well share it, even in photography and business. If I can help someone else improve their life and skills I’d love to do so. In any case I have fallen in love with burdastyle and all of the tutorials and patterns. The Vivienne jumper is one of the free ones. Did you catch that?! FREE!! I happen to be a big fan of free patterns.

I read in the reviews that it was possibly a little short on some kids and while Amelia’s not a giant by any means I was worried that if I made it too short it wouldn’t be useful for long since she’s growing so quickly. I also thought in looking at the pattern that it looked a little off in proportion compared to most of her dresses, a little squatter, so I figured it must just be too short. So I opted to just go ahead and plan to add a good 3 inches of length at the bottom as a contrast stripe (I turned the fabric 90 degrees before cutting – is there a more technical term for this?! I really don’t know much sewing lingo). I was also inspired by one of the finished project photos to add an applique giraffe to the dress for added cuteness because come on, who doesn’t love a giraffe?

I decided to add the applique before I finished the dress because since the dress is lined I wanted the stitches to go through only the top layer instead of both the outside and lining layers. As I sat there for somewhere close to two hours hand stitching that little giraffe on with green embroidery floss I began to wonder if maybe this wasn’t the smartest idea… what if the dress was ugly or didn’t fit? I would have wasted ALL that time stitching a giraffe onto a ruined dress. But it was too late and I’d already started.

I planned to finish the dress in one evening but after all the time involved in the applique I put it aside for the next day. The rest of the dress construction was actually fairly quick and straightforward. I finished it up (except for the buttons which I wanted to place after trying it on) and hung it up. It was darn cute. I was so proud of myself.

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And then I tried it on her… only to find out that it was big. Really really big. We’re talking gigantic. Gaping all around the sides and at the armhole. My added length made the dress a nice proportion but apparently it was the proportion of a 3 or 4 year old. Oops. So I threw in the towel on the idea of a reversible dress (as this was supposed to be) and took it in the cheap and dirty easiest way I knew how – I just took a good inch to inch and a half off each side seam, pinned, tried it back on (much better) sewed, chopped and serged the new edges. Finished. Phew. Crisis averted. The dress falls pretty low at her knees but I actually think that’s a good thing. She’ll get more wear out of it that way. Even with all the resizing and smallifying the dress is still very generously sized through the torso and should fit for quite a while. The last step was attaching the buttons (I gave Amelia the choice between star or round buttons, she picked the stars) which I sort of botched (turns out I’m not super skilled at button holes, who knew?) despite the fact that I did several nearly perfect button holes on my scrap fabric. You can’t really tell from standing back but the holes are too big and kind of messy. Oh well. The imperfections make it genuine, unique and handmade right? But enough with the blabbering, here’s the dress. Modeled by my little lady with her pink pajamas and frog boots when I tried on the finished product.

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The dress was sewn expressly with the intention of being worn in the family portraits that we had taken last week and just because I’m crazy and couldn’t find a satisfactory white shirt for her to wear under it I decided to make one of those as well. I used this super easy and quick tutorial from crafterhours for a ringer t-shirt with two modifications – first I used a thinner band for the ribbing and made it the same color and second I made the shirt long sleeved. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly and easily it came together and I’m pretty sure that I’m now going to be making all (or at least a lot of) the kids’ t-shirts.

I am so excited at how the outfit turned out and even MORE excited about how the pictures turned out!! I haven’t seen all of them yet but we just got a sneak peek this morning from the photographer. The super talented Kristina Young followed us around for an entire afternoon “doing what we do” – playing, reading, laughing and having fun. And the photos are fabulous! Doesn’t the outfit look perfect?! I love it!! More photos on her blog

I also recently finished a dress for myself from a burdastyle pattern… more on that soon 🙂

Amelia’s giraffe jumper {sewing projects}

Amelia’s new “in the garden” dress (and diaper cover)

I can’t resist the opportunity to make Amelia something cute – so when I realized that she would probably need a party dress for Sam and Tai’s wedding this month I jumped at the chance to make her one of the cute patterns I’ve had my eye on lately. And not only to make one for her, but to make one for Charlotte too. Because the only thing better than ONE cute toddler in a party dress is a cute toddler AND a baby in MATCHING party dresses 🙂

The pattern is the “in the garden” shirred dress from the blog “from an igloo” – there are so many cute tutorials and ideas for girls on the blog and I’m pretty sure after seeing how well this dress went together that I’m going to need to try out each and every one of them.

My favorite part about this dress (aside from the obvious cuteness factor) is the level of finish and detail in the tutorial. There’s lots of pressing and topstitching involved, both things that lead to a much more professional result. I also serged all of my seams and with the addition of that one extra step I’m not only sure that it’s going to hold up in the washer, but I’m pretty sure it will actually do better than some of the store-bought dresses that she has. It’s that good 🙂

I attempted to take some pictures of Amelia in the dress this morning but I was by myself and it turns out that trying to keep a toddler in a chair and keep the dog and other toddler not only out of the chair but out of the frame is quite challenging. They didn’t turn out quite as I’d imagined but, well, you get the idea. And Herbie did after all that manage to make a cameo anyways. Oh well.

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And just because there’s nothing more embarrassing than having your polka dot diaper clash with your flowered dress – I also made them diaper covers to go with their new dresses that are from the prudent baby diaper cover tutorial. Simple, free and well explained. You can whip these up in about a half hour. Thank you much for the pattern!!

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I can’t wait to see Amelia and Charlotte in the dresses together at the wedding!!

Amelia’s new “in the garden” dress (and diaper cover)

amelia’s baby clothes quilt {sewing projects}

It’s finished! The quilt is finished! I actually finished it a while ago (last week?) but between the traveling and general chaos in my life right now I just haven’t had time to put together a proper blog post about it. Well that and I haven’t been able to get a decent picture of the darn thing and I didn’t want to blog it with bad pictures. But I *still* can’t get a good shot of it so I am giving up 🙂 Bad pictures it is. These are “fresh from the dryer” rumply quilt goodness – although I promise in person it doesn’t look quite so wompy, it actually looks quite nice. I just can’t figure out how to convey it in images. So you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

This project was a HUGE undertaking and I just kept adding on to it as I went along. Originally I was just planning on spending a few days on it but it ended up being a two week process. I am by no means an expert quilter so I consulted a huge list of online tutorials (thank you google!) for all of the various steps along the way. The overall design/layout of the quilt is thanks to a Moda Bake Shop tutorial for a stacked coin baby quilt. I loved the look of the quilt and I also liked the fact that all of the pieces were small, which meant I could use even the tiniest of Amelia’s old clothes. I did tweak it a little, adding in two square pieces in each row to make sure that I could save any big appliques or extra cute pockets that might not fit on a 2.5×5 inch rectangles. It’s important if you’re going to add squares to add the same number to each row since it will change the total length of the row (it’s not the same as just substituting for two rectangles because it won’t have the seam allowance if that makes sense – maybe a no-brainer but just in case 🙂 )

The first of many “oh this won’t take *that* long” moments I had was in cutting up all of the pieces. I seriously underestimated how many outfits I would need (I think it was around 35?) and how many pieces I would have to cut total. I also decided early on that I would use interfacing on any of the knit pieces like onesies and jammies (which was all but about 3 outfits) so that it would be easier to sew with them and keep all the lines neat and even. I’m glad that I did it but MAN did that ever take a long time. I worked for days and all I had to show for it was a pile of rectangles. The piecing of the top actually went fairly quickly, the hardest part for me was deciding what order the rectangles should go in. I spent hours staring at it and shuffling them around until Ben finally told me I was over-thinking it (he was right).

I was originally going to use a piece of cute quilting cotton I’d picked up at the fabric store for the back (with the little stripe that’s included in the tutorial of course) but it just didn’t look *quite* right so I decided to go with a couple of receiving blankets instead. They weren’t quite wide enough to cover the entire back so I ended up using a border of the same white sashing that was on the front. I think it turned out quite nicely.

I saw a bunch of great tutorials on free motion quilting and quilting in fun patterns, but honestly I was a little worried about just completely ruining all of my hard work (and Amelia’s baby clothes) by sewing nonsense on top of it. So I opted for stitching the ditch instead. It seems like it would be pretty straightforward but I still wanted some tips. While super brief, I found this explanation pretty helpful, especially the part about stitching to one side of the seam… it worked out well (I think). I stitched down each of the long vertical seams and along every other horizontal ladder line in the center of the quilt and around all of the borders as well.

The binding was the next unbelievably long and involved piece of the puzzle. I had used before and really liked Heather Bailey’s quilt binding tutorial so I was planning on using that, but I also knew I wanted to use bias binding tape and I wasn’t sure what the most efficient way to cut it was, so I consulted google again and found this tutorial on cutting bias binding. Quite clever indeed. I also found this other bias binding tutorial and they’re pretty much the same as each other, I just preferred using a square so I went with the first one. I actually made my binding quite thin, I think on the next go around I might make it thicker, Ben thinks it looks nice as is. We’ll see. My main problem with most quilt binding tutorials is that they just say “hand stitch the back” once you’ve gotten to the end, and I have no idea what that means. What kind of stitch should I use? How do I tie the knot? Are you kidding, that’s all the instructions you’re going to give me?! So off to google (yet again) and I came up with this gem of a tutorial on ladder stitching quilt binding. Perfect! Her tutorial on making a quilter’s knot also pretty much changed my life – I had no idea knots could be so easy 🙂

So the quilt was – well – quilted. Bound. Almost ready to go! The last step was a label. I knew I wanted to do something embroidered but I wasn’t sure how. While I do own an embroidery hoop (purchased for some never-attempted screen printing project years ago) I had never actually done any embroidery so I consulted the internet (yet again) to find out what the basic steps were. I ended up using this site to learn the chain stitch – which I’m pretty sure was never intended to write letters with but oh well. I didn’t know any better so I did. They didn’t turn out perfectly but I still like it.

I wanted to make it a heart shape since I loved the label so much on this quilt that my grandmother made me when I was little. I was fretting about getting the embroidery just right on Amelia’s because I remember it being so perfectly done on my grandmother’s – and it turns out hers wasn’t perfect either (who knew?!) so I’m hoping that Amelia remembers hers fondly (and with less imperfections) the way that I remember mine being so meticulously crafted (mistakes and all)

I’m pretty sure that the best part of the quilt (and anything I’ve ever made for Amelia to be honest) was watching her reaction when I gave it to her. She pretty much loves it to pieces. She squeals with delight and yells “night night!” when she sees it. She wants to take a nap on it and snuggle with it and generally love it (which was the idea so I couldn’t be happier). She also loves to sit on it and point out all of the little animals and birds. It’s pretty darn cute.

Now I just need to make Paul’s 🙂 Oh. And in case you didn’t see the first two “in progress” posts on the quilt, they can be found here and here.

amelia’s baby clothes quilt {sewing projects}

quilting update {sewing projects}

Well the quilt is not done (shocking I know). Remember how I said I had the top and back all made and ready to be basted as soon as I got my hands on some safety pins? Well apparently after a night to sleep and think it over I convinced myself that the backing I had already made (cut, pieced, sewn, pressed and ready to go) was not in fact the one I wanted to use. So I ripped it all out and went with plan B. I didn’t love the fabric that I had used even though it was the second one I had bought. I didn’t want to go back to the fabric store again and buy even more fabric that I wouldn’t end up loving, so I went with what is in hindsight the obvious choice – I cut up a few of their receiving blankets to piece together for the back. I actually really like how it turned out and I like that it is soft and flannely and cozy. It took almost and entire day to put that together and most of yesterday to do the quilting. I also decided (like a crazy person) that I wanted to use bias cut binding tape so I spent all last evening cutting and sewing and pressing that. I got it attached by machine to the front of the quilt and I’m (still like a crazy person) working on attaching the binding on the back by hand. Last night I was getting frustrated with my thread continually tangling and only managed to get a measly 5 inches done in a half hour. Ben calculated that at that rate I’ll be done in only 14 more hours. Great. Let’s hope I can speed it up a bit.

A few more little close up sneak peeks. I don’t want to show the whole thing until it’s totally done.

quilting update {sewing projects}

a baby clothes quilt in progress {sewing projects}

Currently overtaking my sewing room (oh who am I kidding, I don’t have a sewing room… currently overtaking my bedroom) is a project that I’ve had in mind ever since Paul and Amelia were born. One that I thought I’d do when they were a year old but I am just now getting around to it. Hey, at least I started right? I am going to take each of their infant wardrobes and make them into a quilt. I’m pretty bad about throwing things out, I’d much rather hold on to them indefinitely. Because you never know when you might need a somewhat stained onesie that your baby wore when they were still in the reflux stage right? This quilt was my answer to that problem. Instead of keeping all the clothes (including the stained bits) I’m cutting them all up (a process that was a bit painful but I think in the end worth it) and only using the clean swatches to make a (hopefully) beautiful quilt that will have all of the memories right in one spot. There are a few articles of clothing that I just COULDN’T cut up, like the sleepers they wore home from the hospital, their first Christmas and Easter outfits and their first birthday outfits, but pretty much everything else was fair game.

At this point I’m done with the quilt top and backing but have yet to baste, quilt and bind to finish it up. I was going to get through basting this evening but my safety pins went missing (maybe I misplaced them after the last quilt I made but if that’s the case they’re probably gone forever since we’ve moved in the meantime) so I had to call it a night. I’m hoping to get the whole thing quilted by the end of tomorrow night but we shall see. I remember from the last one that the binding was a very long and slow process so I’m not holding my breath on getting that finished tomorrow, maybe by the end of the week.

I didn’t get a picture of the top tonight since it was dark by the time it was finished (and you know how I hate icky incandescent lighting) so you’ll just have to be surprised when I show off the whole quilt 🙂 Here are a few sneak peeks from the piecing process.

a baby clothes quilt in progress {sewing projects}

my (4 hour) 90 minute shirt {sewing projects}

What do you get for your craft-obsessed wife when mother’s day comes around and you need to pick out a gift? Well, if you know her well you would get her a serger. And Ben does, and he did! I was so ridiculously excited when I opened it up because 1. I have been wanting a serger for months now and 2. I had no idea he was getting me one. I wouldn’t think he would want to encourage my frantic crafting behaviors 🙂 But he did get me one and it is one of the best presents I’ve ever gotten (actually he’s on a streak of super awesome presents, the watch he got me for Christmas is another “can’t live without” favorite gift)

I took it out for a test drive yesterday and what better to start with than a first attempt at the 90 minute shirt. I mostly make things for Amelia (with myself coming in second) but it’s hard to find patterns or ideas of things to sew for boys. This seemed like a perfect first serger project for me to start with.

I ended up taking close to four (yes 4) hours to finish the shirt, not even counting the freezer paper stenciling but it’s really all my fault. I didn’t pay close enough attention to the shape of the pattern pieces in the tutorial so I didn’t realize (until it was too late) that the neckline/armhole portion of mine was all wrong. I’m pretty sure that the issues started from me using a super teeny tiny onesie to cut up, instead of one that was closer to their size (since they don’t really have many onesies in their size anymore and I didn’t want to dismantle any of them that were still wearable). I did a pretty rotten job of sizing up the pattern so the pieces were just all wrong.

I was actually really worried about sewing on the knit and learning to use the serger, but those turned out to be the easy parts. As always the tutorial was very well written and illustrated and easy to follow. I was zipping right along on track to finish in just around 2 hours (not bad for a first attempt) when I got to the part where you pin the sleeve in to the body/neck. I did all the pinning, humming as I worked, and excited to flip it right side out to admire the effect of the almost finished shirt. Except when I flipped mine right side out it wasn’t a nice almost finished shirt, it was a shirt without a neck hole (certainly not going to work for Paul because he does indeed have a neck). You see my interpretation of the neck hole and sleeve holes were all wrong and way too long, meaning that when I wrapped the sleeves they overlapped (as envelope necks should) but they overlapped way TOO much and in fact SO much that the back and front covered each other entirely. Oops.

I realized pretty quickly that it was going to be a bit of a disaster to try to unstitch the neck that I’d already made so I called it a loss and just unpinned the sleeves and started cutting the entire neck line off, lowering it by a good few inches. I would snip, re-pin and check to see if it looked right. I had to do it a couple of times before I was pretty sure it was a suitable neck line. Unfortunately in making the neck line lower I also had to bring the shoulder line in (since there wasn’t any more fabric out to the sides) so I knew it was going to do some weird things to the sleeves but it was kind of too late to fix. I then made up all new pieces of ribbed edging for the neck hole and sewed it on (hey, more serger practice, right?) and finished up the shirt. It ended up a little funny looking (when it’s not on the arms stick out straight to the side due to the weird shoulder seams) and a bit like a mini muscle shirt (oops) but I still think it’s cute and good enough for a first try.

I also knew that I wanted to decorate it somehow, so I added on a freezer paper stencil of the word “pwease” since it is, after all, every other word out of Paul’s mouth.

I think it actually fits him pretty well (other than the weird muscle man sleeves) and since it’s made from an old one of Ben’s shirts (with one of my old tank tops for ribbing) I know it’s not going to shrink which is nice. Paul seems to like it too. He really wanted to put it on as soon as he saw it

And one more funny storry/picture. I really wanted to take a few pictures of him in one of our dining room chairs in the shirt up against a white wall just to show off the shirt… but he immediately got squirmy (notice there aren’t any of him just sitting straight on) so I had to take him down… but he wanted to get back up and was really sad that I wouldn’t let him (because he almost fell off it a few times already) so I decided to cheer him up with some bubbles. He was REALLY loving the bubbles, he was actually getting hysterical laughing at the dog eating them in the air. So hysterical he started drooling on his shirt and tearing up from laughing so hard (notice the drool on his shirt?) He was getting SO riled up in fact that I thought maybe we needed to put down the bubbles. But Paul didn’t agree. He wanted more bubbles. Pweeeeaaaaaaasssssseeeee?! And gave me this face. We had lunch instead 🙂

my (4 hour) 90 minute shirt {sewing projects}