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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

This Time I Get a New Dress!

You read that right!  I made myself a new dress this time.  The way I figure it, Ella has a closet full of cute things, and I am way over due for something handmade to be hanging in my closet!  Check out what I call V's New Blue Dress!

Also, in a few short weeks, I will be headed to the Sewing Summit, and I wanted to participate in the Travel Handmade series for the conference. People are making all sorts of handmade goodies to bring along to the conference, including new clothes, handbags, travel bags, make-up bags, name tags--you name it!

Travel Handmade with The Sewing Summit

I don't usually sew clothes for myself--at least not successfully--but I wanted to give it another go and see if I could whip up something cute and comfy to wear.  As I told my family, the worst thing that could happen is that I would end up with a new nightgown instead of a dress!

I made the dress using Simplicity 2031.  I've had this pattern in my collection for a while now, but I've never had enough fabric to make it.  You see, I usually shop for fabric with no specific project in mind, so I normally purchase a yard or two of fabric that I find pretty.  Well, a couple of yards just wasn't enough for this dress.  It took nearly three yards to make this beauty!

I ended up using some super soft cotton Lisette fabric that I found on the clearance aisle at Joann's.  I really hated to spend too much on the fabric since I wasn't sure it would even fit well!  With the great sales they usually have going on at Joann's, I was able to purchase the yardage I needed for under $10!

This pattern was very simple to make as the cover of the pattern suggests.  I took my measurements and followed the sizing guide on the back (all the while trying not to get upset that the size pattern I needed to use was larger than my normal store bought clothing size)!  Total time to make it was under 3 hours.

This dress, or caftan, is so comfortable to wear!  The skirt part is made using three panels so the skirt part has a seam down the center back and one between the center front and sides.  Hidden pockets are sewn into these front skirt seams.  I love pockets!  Don't you?

Ella's wearing the Janey Jumper.  Read about it here.
One great thing about this pattern is that there are no sleeves to sew onto the main bodice.  The sleeves are cut out with the front bodice pieces and the back bodice piece, so the only sewing is at the shoulders and down the side seam of the bodice.

I did make a couple of minor modifications though.  First I overlapped the front slightly more than the pattern showed.  I don't ever wear camisoles or tank tops under my clothes, so I wanted to make sure I had full coverage on the top.  Secondly, I chose to shirr the waist area instead of using elastic.  I find the shirred waist to be so much more comfortable and the process of shirring to be so much quicker than making a casing and running the elastic through it.  Oh, and I made a narrow sash to tie around my waist.  You can see the bow and the two rows of shirring in the picture below.

I'm pleased with how well this dress fits me.  It may not be the most flattering design for my body type, but I definitely plan on wearing it a lot regardless.  Now, I just hope it won't be too cold to wear it around at the Sewing Summit!  Gotta run!  I've got a few more things I need to sew myself for the conference.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Janey Jumper Pattern

Last year about this time, I became interested in sewing again.  I didn't really know exactly what type of project to begin with, but while at a local fabric store one day, a woman suggested I start out making a pillowcase style dress.  Quite honestly, I had never heard of this.  So, I rushed home and began searching the internet for free patterns.  This is how I became a blogger.

It didn't take long before this one search for a simple pillowcase pattern turned into a daily obsession for me.  One of the first blogs I came across was Lindsay's from The Cottage Home.  I love how she combines colors and prints and transforms these fabrics into beautiful creations for children to wear.  She has a knack for adding just the right kind and amount of embellishment to her garments--like covered buttons, ruffles, decorative trims, and of course, piping!  

Soon, Lindsay came out with her own line of children's patterns, and I knew I just had to have one.  When she had a sale a few months ago, I jumped at the chance to buy the Janey Jumper pattern.  It's a pretty, simple A-line dress with a few different variations for the front offered up in the pattern. 

I guess I have a thing for scallops right now, and this dress along with the Oliver + S Badminton Skort pattern (which I recently purchased but haven't tried yet) were my inspiration for developing my own Scalloped Edge Shorts Tutorial for this summer's Shorts on the Line event.  Now that I own both of these patterns, it's interesting to see other ways to make these scalloped edges!

I cut out the fabric for this dress right after the pattern arrived in the mail, but for some reason, it was at least a month before I had the chance to sew it together.  I checked out the measurements on the pattern and decided to go with the 5T for Ella, and I believe it turned out great with a little extra growing room.  

I made the dress using some quilting cotton for the outer pieces and just bleached muslin for the lining.  The dress is so soft and loose and comfy! You might recognize the pink polka dot fabric.  I used it earlier in the summer to make Ella her second pair of scalloped edge shorts which I loved (and she did too) better than the first pair I made. 
One thing I will say about this variation of the dress is that it is a little heavy toward the front.  Let me explain:  The scallop panels are fully lined and the entire front panel is fully lined meaning there are four layers of fabric on the front!  You can see all four layers in the picture below.  When I make this dress again, I think I will just make a facing for the scallops in an attempt to make the dress more balanced.

Lindsay's instructions for sewing the pieces together are very easy to follow; however, the pattern instructions are printed only in black and white, which makes some of the pictures a little difficult to see clearly.  I've never made an A-line fully lined/reversible dress before, so it was neat to see how this is done!  Lindsay did a great job of explaining it.

The back of the dress has a simple closure that doesn't require a zipper or a button hole!  Yay!  There's no need to change the foot on the sewing machine or cut out interfacing.  I love using this kind of closure and have done this many times before on tops I've whipped up for Ella.  

The thing that took me the longest while making this dress was hand sewing on all 13 buttons (12 on the front and 1 on the back)!  My sewing machine is only a couple of years younger than me, so it is not equipped with a computer or program that allows the machine to sew the buttons onto the dress.  And I couldn't skip this step because the buttons sewn onto the front are what keep the scallop panels in place!  

I do love these buttons though.  They are vintage pearl buttons from my grandmother's stash of buttons, and it just so happened that I had exactly 13 of these left!  Every time I see those buttons on that dress, I am reminded of her.  I know she never would have guessed she was buying buttons   to be used on her great granddaughter's dress some 50 to 60 years later!

I can't wait to try out the other dress variations included in the pattern, and if you don't already own a simple A-line dress pattern for your special little one, then I highly recommend you purchase the Janey Jumper pattern from the Cottage Home.  It's well worth it!  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Kelly's Kids Knockoff Dress Pattern

Months ago, I made my friend's daughter this cute Kelly's Kids Caroline Dress for Easter.  You can read the original posts here and here.

I've had several requests for the pattern I came up with to make it, and about a month ago, I finally decided to scan in the pieces.  Well, I didn't stop there. I also figured out how to digitized the pieces so I would have professional looking pattern!  I've finally learned just enough about Photoshop to be dangerous!

Anyway, I've put together a pattern and instructions for making the dress in a size 8.  Now the instructions are not a full tutorial with pictures and such, but I've provided a lot of useful written details on how to sew your very own Kelly's Kids Knockoff Dress!  If I ever decide to make this dress again, I promise I'll put together a picture filled tutorial to share on the blog, but for now, this will have to do.

If you'd like to download the pattern and instructions, click HERE.

And if you have any questions or find any major errors with the pattern, please email me at sewvery(at)gmail(dot)com.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Big Bag of Buttons!

A few weeks ago, I visited my brother and his family.  While I was there, I had an opportunity to go through my grandmother's sewing machine table drawers for vintage goodies.  It was so much fun looking through all the old bobbins, little containers of odd buttons, hemming tape, and even a few handwritten note cards with mine and my mom's measurements from back in the mid 1980's!  Made me feel pretty good that my measurements are pretty much the same except that my bust in now larger!  Ha!  Still made me feel fat seeing my mom's waist measurement of only 24" though.  She always had a teeny tiny waist!

Here's the menagerie of buttons that I found!

I love the old covered buttons that use those metal teeth.  In my opinion, these work so much better than the ones you can buy now, and they don't require you to use that little plastic thing or a hammer to secure the back to the button!  I wonder why they stopped making them that way...

Anyway, tucked away in the bottom drawer of the table, I found this sweet bag full of vintage used buttons!  I was so excited, but resisted the temptation to just dump the bag right then and there.  I decided to wait until I returned home and could take pictures as I opened the bag for the first time it has been opened in at least 14 years!

When I poured the buttons out, I became a little emotional.  Which buttons had been on a piece of my mom's old clothing?  And I even got a whiff of what my grandparent's house used to smell like!  These two women, my grandmother and my mom, taught me the basics of sewing without ever giving me a formal lesson.  I just watched them, helped them lay out fabric and patterns (my grandmother used old silverware knives as weights), learned when to use pinking shears and when to use regular scissors, thread the sewing machine needle (I could see the eye of the needle without glasses), picked out a lot of seams, and pressed open a lot of seams.  I never really sewed anything substantial until I was in my mid 20's.

My grandparents believed in holding onto anything that could be reused later. A lot of these buttons still had the thread or even fabric sewn to them where my grandmother had cut them off a piece of old clothing.

While there aren't a lot of colorful buttons, there were quite a few pearl buttons (and a pearl buckle or two) in the bag, and some even had cut out designs on them.  Here are a few of my favorites.

This one reminds me of an antique deviled egg serving dish!

And this one reminds me of a piece of chocolate candy!  It was the only one of its kind.

There were a few rather large buttons, too.  Here's one of my favorites.

A lonely little red decorative button.

These lovely mother-of-pearl buttons all had a light purple shimmer to them.

I've desperately needed to sort all my buttons out by color, and while on the trip to visit my family, I remembered I had this neat old stick candy jar display that came from my father's pharmacy when I was a kid.  After my dad stopped selling the Old Dutch candy at his store, my mom brought home the jars and kept pens, paper clips, and binder clips stored in them.

While there aren't quite enough jars to sort and store all of the buttons I own now, I believe it comes in quite handy as a way to display all the vintage, loose buttons I have.  I'll just have to continue storing all the other new and vintage buttons that are still on cards in the ziploc bag in my sewing drawer.

To keep the dust out of the button jars, I made these simple little jar covers. Super easy!  Just cut out a circle the diameter of the jar plus 2 inches, then shir two rows of elastic thread spaced roughly 3/8" apart around the edges of the circle.  Spritz with water, apply heat from an iron for a few seconds, and you are done!

Although I now have all these buttons, I am itching to find more!  I've been searching a local thrift store for notions and buttons, so I have a feeling that my collection is going to continue to grow!