Coordinating cousin dresses {sewing projects}

This year for Christmas I got the idea to make all of the little girls in the family (cousins on both sides – that’s 5 all together) coordinating dresses. Aren’t they ridiculously adorable? (one is not pictured if you’re wondering whether or not I know how to count)

Coordinating little girls dresses - sewing projects at Permanent Riot

I called this post “coordinating cousin dresses” but another title could very well have been “the dresses that almost weren’t” or “how to pull an all nighter the day before flying”. I don’t know why but this is always (always) the schedule when thinking up Christmas presents – about a month before I get an idea for what I might like to make. I spend a few days thinking about the idea and deciding if I do really want to make it. Next I move into research mode – googling like a crazy person looking for patterns, blog posts, ideas and inspiration. Even if it’s an idea that I’m sure I have dreamed up on my own, I still google to see if anyone else has done it (and how). This phase is the longest. I can easily waste away several weeks on blog surfing, pinning and thinking. I spend SO much time in fact that I wake up one day and realize that it’s one week before Christmas and I have done absolutely nothing. Next comes my frantic trip to the fabric store where I wander aimlessly and make a total wild guess as to how much fabric (or yarn, or other supplies as the case may be) I will need to complete the project. Because (of course) during my “planning weeks” all I really did was mindlessly click links and not actually make any decisions, so I haven’t *really* decided what exactly I’m making or how much material it will take. The rest of the week is spent frantically crafting and hoping and crossing everything that I don’t run out at the end (because obviously the last sewing is being done at 2am when more fabric cannot be acquired). Thank goodness that this one came together at the end, I would have hated to show up to our family Christmas empty handed.

Coordinating little girls dresses - sewing projects at Permanent Riot

The best part of this whole giant sewing bonanza is that all of the girls actually really liked their dresses (hooray!!). I think the fact that they’re cotton and roomy makes them super comfy (I didn’t get to try one on… obviously… but they look pretty cozy to me). Amelia has been wearing hers often, pretty much as soon as I wash and hang it up in her closet she puts it back on. That kind of reaction is definitely what I’m looking for when I start sewing and it’s what keeps me coming back for more.

Amelia’s and Edith’s dresses were the first two that I tackled and both of them followed online tutorials that I found – Amelia’s is the adorable Leah tunic from Craftiness is not Optional and Edith’s is the Black Bird tunic from Schwin and Schwin lengthened to make a dress.

Coordinating little girls dresses - sewing projects at Permanent Riot

Both of the tutorials were relatively straightforward and easy to follow, I loved that the Black Bird tunic had a printable pattern, when you’re in a hurry sometimes it’s nice to just be able to follow cutting lines rather than drafting your own pattern. If I were making it again I would probably make a few changes to the construction – somehow having the raw top edge of the skirt piece encased in the neck would be nice and I would also probably add a little facing to the armholes only because I think it looks a bit cleaner. Both of those probably would have added time to the project (which I didn’t have) and the dress as is worked well so I’m happy with how it turned out. Edith especially loves her pocket!

Coordinating little girls dresses - sewing projects at Permanent Riot

The Leah tunic isn’t a pattern but rather a tutorial on how to draft your own pattern and construct the dress from the pieces you’ve drafted. I will say that I totally (100%, I should have taken a picture of how terrible it was) botched the sleeve shape on the first go-around. Luckily I was able to save it, but it was a bit trickier than I’d imagined. Amelia loves (LOVES) this dress and I do too, it reminds me of one of the dresses that the little girls in the cozy book might wear, and I want to make her a hundred more of them. I will say that I am not a huge fan of bias binding the armholes, I’m just not very good at it and I think my dresses look cleaner when they are lined (at least on the bodice) so I might try that next time and see how it turns out. I know that it’s a cooler dress if it’s unlined (better for summer) but with my wobbly sewing I feel like the bias tape gives away the fact that I am not an expert seamstress.

Coordinating little girls dresses - sewing projects at Permanent Riot

Once I got done with the first two dresses I realized that I really didn’t have time to mess around finding and following more patterns, as cute as they may be, so the last ones were just simple lined bodices with a split back and button closure, with pleated full skirts. No pattern, just tracing of t-shirts in the correct sizes and a big rectangle for the skirt. Not having a 15 month old to model for me, I definitely underestimated the length of the littlest dress (it’s much more of a tunic) but aside from that slip-up I think they turned out just as well as I could have hoped for. And all done in time to open for Christmas. Hooray! I consider it a sewing success.

Coordinating cousin dresses {sewing projects}

Easter dresses and bowtie {sewing projects}

Easter was in April – which was about 6 months ago. Yikes. I meant to post these quite a while ago – sewing the kids matching outfits was #25 on my 30 by 30 list. I turned 30 in August and actually checked off quite a few more of the list items, I just haven’t gotten around to writing about them… I really want to do a recap also.

In any case I did manage to get this one done on time and I even had big dreams of making a post about how I sewed these dresses – I whipped them up in about a day without a pattern and (aside from the miscalculation on the length of Edith’s dress… it’s a bit short) was pretty pleased with myself about how well they came out. I want to make them more dresses like this (maybe with a few tweaks or alterations to the technique) and if I do I am hoping I’ll get it together enough to document the process for a tutorial.

Here are a few pictures of the outfits in action –


The dresses had a simple split back lined bodice – Amelia’s closes with little adorable yellow round buttons and Edith’s closes with pearl snaps (hard to get a baby to hold still long enough for buttons). The skirt is just a basic gathered skirt and the sash is sewed on the sides and ties with a bow in back. I actually used leftover fabric from their second birthday party – the same stuff that I made Amelia and Paul’s Easter outfits from the year before out of. The chick/egg design is a repeat as well – that’s what happens when you ask a 3 1/2 year old what they want on the dress – they say they want just what they had last time. Oh well. I still think it’s adorable. Paul’s bowtie was made using this tutorial from say yes to hoboken… super quick and easy!

One more item crossed off the list. Phew!

Easter dresses and bowtie {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.


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.


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.




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!!


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)

a monkey dress for my monkey {sewing projects}

I have pretty much wanted to make every single project on Dana’s MADE blog ever since I found it. I don’t really have the kind of extra time lying around to sew very much during the week so it’s been slow going but I have made a few and I have to say I love them all. The directions are always so clear and easy to read, and the projects are so cute! My newest endeavor was the “summer vacation dress“. I can’t wait to make every single version of this pattern and deck Amelia out in all cute dresses all the time. The possibilities for alternate versions are overwhelming!

This dress went together much more quickly than I was anticipating, I actually got the entire dress cut, shirred and ready to sew in just one morning, and it was ready to be worn by the time she woke up from her afternoon nap. I had a super cute flowered fabric picked out for this dress but decided to make a “practice round” first out of this monkey fabric since I have boatloads of it lying around. I was not prepared for how cute it was going to be when it was fully assembled, it definitely turned out to be something she’s going to wear often and not just a throwaway test pattern 🙂

It’s the perfect afternoon sewing project AND ridiculously adorable, what more could you ask for?! It’s just right for running, jumping and just general romping about. Look how happy she was to wear it this afternoon!

Yay for cute dresses and for awesome sewing patterns! I’m also super impressed at Dana’s amazing customer service, I emailed her this morning with a (rather silly) question about sizing the dress for Amelia since she’s smaller than the pattern. She emailed me back the very same morning – on a Saturday no less! Three cheers for that! Stay tuned for more sewing projects soon. It’s been a sewing bonanza over here this weekend 🙂

a monkey dress for my monkey {sewing projects}