Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Nighties

We used to always get new jammies at Christmastime so I wanted to carry that tradition on with my girls.  They are girly-girls at heart -- that means dresses chosen over pants and nighties over pjs.  Not many stores carry nighties, though, or if they do they are not nearly long enough or ruffly enough. 

This pattern runs big, really big.  I learned from last year and made a size 2 with size 3 length for my 3 year old and a size 3 with about 4 inches extra length for my 6 year old. 

The fabric is Folksy Flannel Coloring Garden in Berry and Fortune Sunset ordered from for under $5 a yard.  The prints are a bit loud but the fabric is super soft.  And the best part is that the kids coordinate without being matchy-matchy.  (Although I may have went over the top with the pockets and the piping and bias trim I added to the 6 year old's.  The only reason I didn't do the same to the 3 years olds is that she is supremely picky and I was worried she would find the added bulk at the yoke uncomfortable.) 

It's a very easy pattern -- no closures so it comes together quickly.  I really like the neckline and think it would make a cute summer dress, too.  Mostly though, I'm just happy that they are happy with them.  My littlest would rather stay in her new nightie than get dressed to go out! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Teacher gifts

Teachers work hard, especially at this time of year -- the kids are so squirrley, I'm glad they're in school this week!   Hopefully a little handmade gift will let these two teacher's know how much I appreciate what they do for our little ones every day. The fabric for both of these gifts is from my cloud 9 giveaway win.

First, I made a little tote bag using the poochie bag tutorial at Happy Zombie.  It's very cute and a great way to show off fat quarters.  I love the addition of the pockets to the outside, and it's a great size for a teacher to carry notebooks or papers. 

The other teacher received a fully lined zippered box pouch that I made from the tutorial over at It's a Pretty Modern Life.  I wanted to be all fancy and show off two fabrics on the outside but I didn't take into account how the fabric would go round the edges --  I had to make the corners deeper so the second fabric wouldn't carry over to the side.  It ended up being more squat than the tutorial as a result but still very functional, I think.  I added quilt batting to the back of the outside which helps keep the shape but still keeps it really soft and squishy.

O + S Cozy Winter Hood

This bear hat from Little Things to Sew was such a quick and satisfying project -- just what I needed to lift my spirits after I realized I didn't have time to make all the things for Christmas that I had on my list :). 

The outside is fleece coating (is that the right word??  It dosen't sound right) left over from the big hoodie I made last year. It's soft and holds it's shape well without being too thick.  The lining is from a terry towel sheet I bought a couple of years ago on clearance (my plan was to make beach robes but that never quite happened, lol). 

I'm never sure how things I make will be received by my littlest but this one was a hit.  She calls it her mouse hat and I agree, the colours definately make it more mouse than bear. 

I made medium but I think small would have been better.  (She's almost 4 and according to the book, medium fits size 4-6).  It took me under two hours to make so I may make another. 

I added a tab so that it could be buttoned up as that's a bit more practical than a bow for playing outside.  Miss Thing chose the button, which may have helped in the acceptance of the hat ;).  Although she loves it, it's been hard to get a decent picture of her in it: here she's shoveling the driveway.  She always has her tongue out when she's concentrating so obviously shoveling's tough work!

edited to add: I made a second in small and it fits much better.  Although I do think the ears are pretty cute on this one, I actually followed the directions on the second hat and they are even cuter.   Now to try to get a picture . . .

 Here's the smaller size, it's much better. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Oliver + S Backpack

I waited for months for my library to get a copy of Little Things to Sew.  In the end I broke down and bought it and I'm glad I did!  It's a great book, filled with projects I can't wait to make.   This is a variation of the penguin backpack that I made for my niece.  It will coordinate with her quilt, bag keeper and diaper and wipes case.  Hopefully my brother and his wife like this fabric, I've never actually asked them, lol!  But, really what's not to like?

The main body is Far Far Away II, the piping and lining is gabardine. It's my first time doing piping and it definately takes a few extra steps but I love how it finishes it off!

The straps are gabardine too with quilt batting inside.  My local fabric shop didn't have the right size plastic strap adjusters so I bought metal ones.  They look good but I felt the straps needed a bit of extra bulk to make sure they don't slide out.  I also added a couple of lines of stitching to make them a bit stiffer and hopefully easier for my niece to get into.

As is usual with O+S, the pattern is great.  There are lots of steps and, because of limited space in the book, less diagrams than a regular pattern but the instructions are well written so it's easy to follow.  And I think the result looks great. 

My only regret is that I chickened out of my original plan and didn't add batting to the body of the bag.  I was worried about having too many layers to stitch through but it would have made the bag less floppy. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Honey Blouse

I have a shirt I really like and tried to replicate myself in the summer before I realized that I don't really like drafting patterns :).  Then I saw the Honey Blouse pattern from Make It Perfect, which is not exactly the same but has the same feel.  Here's my version in Wrenly Wildfield Cobalt from Pink Chalk Fabrics:

I agree with pretty much all the points raised in this great review here (too bad I didn't read it before making my blouse!).  In particular, for the cost, I fully expected full size pattern pieces, not ones I had to piece together and trace.  Also, it really would have been nice to be given the rectangular pieces as pattern pieces rather than just as measurements so that I save on fabric. 

Mostly though I disliked the method of attaching the neck, arm and waist bands.  In the pattern the seam allowances are exposed and you are told to "machine neaten".  That's not necessary -- you can use the bands to enclose the seam allowance for a much nicer finish.  Next time!

I do really like the style and think I will wear this lots.  It does fit quite generously, though, so next time I make it I think I'll try a medium.

edited (June 2012): I've worn this a few times but have not really been pleased with the fit.  I haven't worn my second version at all (although that's partly due to the fabric).  Vogue 8581 works better for me.  I've made it in knit here and plan to try it in a woven, too.  

Ironing Board Cover

My mom asked me to make her a new cover for her ironing board, which is homemade and an odd size.  It was given to her by a boyfriend when she was 17 (what a strange gift!  I don't know the story but I really should ask her about it).   She has a hard time finding covers that aren't too big so she gave me the dimensions and I whipped one up.  Because she lives so far away, I wasn't able to try it on myself so hopefully it does actually fit.   I debated the pros and cons of piecing it but in the end decided I liked the variety of fabrics and figured that the seams shouldn't affect the function too much. 

The large scale print in the middle is MoMo Freebird from Hawthornethreads.  The others are fat quarters from I won in a Cloud 9 giveaway.  It's pictured here on my ironing board, which is a standard size. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Yet more Butterick B4320

The starting point for this costume was a moment of weakness in Dress Sew in Vancouver.  I was drawn to this beautiful brocade because of the colours but also because of it's lovely weight and drape.  In my head, I justified the $10/metre cost with the thought that the girls' dress up dresses get more wear than their regular clothes do.  I gulped at the thought of spending $30 on a Halloween costume but bought 3 metres because it's only 36 inch wide.

Again, I made View C, this time with the matching sleeves (on a side note: isn't it amazing how totally different it looks with different fabric?)

I don't care how pretty it is, never again will I sew with brocade!  You just have to look at it and it ravels.  I used a Hong Kong seam  finish for seams that have to lie flat and bound (binded?) the other seams in bias tape.  I started off with high hopes for how pretty this was going to be but got lazy and messy after only a few seams. 
It's not that I begrudge the time this type of finish takes (although that is part of it), it's that I started having this sinking feeling that even after all this work, this dress is not going to make it much past Halloween.  I hope I'll be proven wrong but the topstitching is already looking iffy and it hasn't even been worn yet. 

I will definitely try a Hong Kong finish again, though.  I think with the right colour binding, matching thread and a bit of patience (all conspicuously absent in this project!) it could look fantastic. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

More Ghastlies -- Halloween bags!

I am still not working (boo!) so have time to do silly things like make bags for the kidlets to collect their treats in on Halloween.  This one is about 14" wide by 14 1/2" high and is lined for durability -- if we let them my girls will trick-or-treat long past the time most kids have given up!! 


Saturday, October 22, 2011

More Butterick B4320

I have made this pattern before . . . several times in fact.  The first time was Snow White in 2009.   I cut and mostly made a size 4 for my then four year old before realizing that she was going to be swimming in it.  I had bought fabric according to the fabric requirements on the envelope and had enough to make a whole new dress (which was good since I had no clue how to alter it.)  Gosh she looks so little here!  No word of a lie, she wore this dress everyday for six months!  She would get up in the middle of the night and put it on.  She even wore it to our Christmas eve open house. 
The third time was for Thing 1's fifth birthday party.  She wanted to be Alice.

The fourth time was for Thing 2's for halloween last year.  She and Thing 1 called it an Odette dress (an obscure Barbie princess).  I can't believe this is the best picture I have of it!!  Man it was cold last year.  She had to be lifted up stairs because she couldn't get her legs high enough between the dress and the snowpants!

This year, Thing 1 wants to be a witch, just like on the Ghastlies fabric I've been obsessing over!   When she described what she wanted to me I realized that view C could work.

The main fabric is a really soft polyester something-or-other that I bought on clearance from Dress Sew when I was in Vancouver in the summer.  I used the sleeves from view B and added a bell sleeve in hallween net underneath.  I used that fabric over the inset panel as well (but it's kind of hard to see) and I hand stitched silver stars over one side and the back of the skirt (they're pretty and hopefully they'll reflect the light!). 

I made a petticoat for underneath (partly because it was requested and partly because I spent hours handstitching the hem only to find it a good inch too long.  Oops.) 

The other oops was that I extended the bodice too much even for my long waisted girl.  I had to rip out the zipper and instead of ripping off the skirt, I added pintucks.  Unfortunately, I didn't think it through and they don't match up at the back.  They do the trick of shortening the bodice and add a bit of interest, though. 

As you can see, Miss Thing is quite excited about it!  She went to a movie with her daddy this afternoon and he wouldn't let her wear it, the meanie!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ghastlies Skirt

Thing 2 loves dresses . . . as long as they are 100% polyester and of the store-bought variety.  Momma-made dresses and tops have been soundly rejected of late but handmade skirts are most definitely acceptable.  

I am so in love with the Ghastlies, I'm glad didn't hold back when I ordered it :). The band at the top is Kona Cotton in Coal from the Fabric Depot and the bottom band is Ring Toss in Grey from Hawthornethreads. I questioned myself about the waistband colour (and am questioning it even more after seeing it in pictures) but hubby insists it was the right choice as it needed a little bit of solid to balance out the pattern (!!).  Also, the Ring Toss looks a bit creamy in this picture but I really like it with the Ghastlies.  

I based it loosely on the Moda Bakeshop Patchwork Skirt tutorial but I reworked the dimensions and left off the ties. I also made the waistband with just two pieces instead of four and it seemed to work out fine. (I would have made it with one but I cut my piece too short and the proportions were off. Oops). I would have preferred to make an Oliver + S Sunday Brunch skirt to really show off the fabric but I'm pretty sure Thing 2 would've found it too constricting.

Although she was very excited to have it and wanted to wear it right away, typically she did not want to model it for me so I had to settle for a picture of her from behind in her K-way and gumboots.  Oh my goodness, I love this kid!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Another Ghastlies Dress

For this dress, I redrafted ManiMina's reversible kimono pattern as it only goes up to size 4 and my eldest daughter wears size 6.  Again, I made the armholes bigger as she will likely wear this with something underneath.  I also dropped the neckline a bit as she doesn't like anything too high.  I thought it needed a pop of colour so added hot pink ties and even went so far as to topstitch the armholes in hot pink. Turns you have to be really good if you're going to topstitch a dramatic colour on beige though so I ended up picking it out :). 

The front is A Ghastlie Night and Ghastlie Bramble  and the back is Quilter's Linen in Grey, all from Hawthorne Threads

This one is not reversible either -- I couldn't find anything that wouldn't show through the light coloured Ghastlies so ended up lining it with a cream solid.  I'm guessing by her reaction that my daughter will wear this long past Halloween anyway!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ghastlies Reversible Kimono Dress

My only neice has her first birthday next month.  My brother and his wife live in a very small townhouse and I know she will be spoiled by all the family she has close by so, in lieu of toys (and since I already gave her the tag along doll I made for her!), I made her a dress.  The pattern is the Reversible Kimono Dress by ManiMina and the fabric is the Ghastlies in Smoke from Hawthorne Threads

(I love Hawthorne Threads btw -- they have a great selection, good prices and ship fast.  They have great costumer service, too -- the last time I placed an order they sent the wrong colour by mistake and when I contacted them, they put the right yardage in the mail to me right away.)
The lining and ties are made from a pink cotton lawn from  Because it's sheer, the dress is not actually reversible which, looking back on it was probably not the best choice: I love the Ghastlies but my sister-in-law may not want to dress her daughter in a Halloween-themed dress after October.  Oops.
I made a couple of changes to the pattern -- I increased the sized of the armholes so that they can put a long sleeved onesie underneath and I also added the bias tape as faux piping.  If I were to do it again, I think would take the extra step of making real piping as it would look crisper.   

My six year old was concerned that her cousin might be scared by the fabric. Although the witch is pretty mean looking, I think she's a bit young for that to be true, hehe!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tag Along Doll

I requested Wee Wonderfuls by Hilary Lang from the library months ago knowing that I wanted to make my niece a doll for her first birthday.  Well, it finally came in so I made the Tag Along Doll.  I love the pattern -- it's so cute and the instructions  are great.  I used wool felt purchased from 3 Little Monkeys for her hair, brushed cotton for her body and corduroy scraps for her legs and dress.

My only concern was durability -- the book calls for the arms and legs to be hand sewn to the body.  Since I'm giving the doll to a baby (and am hoping it will be much loved!), that concerned me.  The arms were easy enough to sew in before stuffing but I attached the legs after stuffing (and you can see I stuffed this little girl quite tightly), and I had to wrestle the doll through the machine.  I used a zig zag and still had a hard time making sure all was secure (Pardon the indecent and blurry picture of her bum) and it ended up looking quite messy.  I didn't stitch the bottom of the dress closed as I don't plan on making the apron. Maybe some undies should be next?  Next time I will sew the legs on and leave a space on the side for stuffing. 
Hilary suggests adding the face before making the doll but I threw caution to the wind and added it after.  She ended up with a bit of a smirk and her eyelashes are a bit off but I think that just gives her character.  I cut out the collar but in the end decided I liked the retro look of the dress without it.  All in all, it was a fun little project.  I have a feeling I will be making a couple more of these when my girls see this one . . .

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lisette Market Skirt

I had some fabric left over from my Lisette traveler dress (which I've worn several times now -- I can't say that about too many of the things I've made for myself!) so I made Simplicity 2211 view A.  I do love pleats but I'm thinking that I should have stuck to the un-pleated view B version -- the fabric is a little too casual and the pleats don't iron very crisply.  I still need to tack down the tabs but I think I will forgo the buttons.  I used Sew? I Knit's tutorial to insert an invisible zipper.  It was super easy and looks way more professional than a regular zipper.  I think the end result makes it worth the extra cost (in clothes I make for myself anyway, maybe not for the kids!). 

Cloud 9 giveaway win

Back in May I won a giveaway from Cloud 9 Fabrics. My prize didn't come before the mail strike in June so I expected it to turn up when the posties went back to work in July.  Still nothing.  I contacted Michelle at Cloud 9 and she immediately sent out a package with 13 fat quarters (the giveaway was for 10).
Look at these beauties:
There are fat quarters from Cut Out & Keep and Nature Walk
The softest one, however, is from a past collection, My Happy Garden.  I love these little birds!  I'm not sure yet what to do with them but there are some lovely colours for fall so I'm sure I'll come up with something!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lisette Traveler Dress

I love Oliver + S patterns for kids so have been itching to try a pattern from the Lisette line.  With some time between contracts for work this week, I was able to make the Traveler dress (Simplicity 2246).  I wasn't disappointed -- the instructions are fantastic and the pattern well written.  I can't get over how professional this dress came out considering my lack of experience sewing adult clothes!

I wear a size 12 in off the rack clothes but cut out a 16 on top, graduating to an 18 on the bottom to leave space for my rather large rear end.  I think it was the right choice for my comfort level but it meant the dress was very sack-like in the middle and, when I added the tie, the material bunched up.   There was likely some type of alteration I could have done to avoid this when I cut the pattern but I don't have any clue what it might be. I added four fish eye darts (not sure if that is the right term) -- two in the front and two in the back -- it helps a bit but I would like to know the correct way to fix this for next time. 

The fabric is a linen-cotton blend I bought at 50% off from Fabricland.  My husband is not a fan, which is too bad because I ended up with enough left over to make skirt.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Party Dress

My eldest is "graduating" from a Montessori program tonight so she needed a special dress. I used the Party Dress tutorial from The Cottage Home along with the bodice from Butterick B4282 (view A, cut short).  The material is Anna Maria Horner voile -- Coloring Garden in Dusk and Solid in Water -- ordered from Hawthorne Threads   It is so soft and flowy!

I am a little concerned about the voile holding up but I used full 5/8 inch seam allowances and all of the seams are enclosed (the bodice is lined, the skirt has french seams on the sides and the hem is enclosed by the skirt band) so hopefully it will be okay.  Following the tutorial, I added covered buttons on the back.  Aren't those a fabulous invention??  I love how elegantly they finish things off.  Why have I never used them before?

My daughter is really excited about this dress and can't wait to wear.  My littlest wants her own version but I've run out of time plus I'm a little gun-shy with her -- for reasons I'm not aware of she hasn't deigned to wear either of the last two things I've made for her (an Oliver + S Ruffled Halter and a Reversible Kimono dress.)

School Quilt

This week my eldest will be completing her last year of a three-year Montessori program so I volunteered to make a quilt with artwork from the "graduating" class. 

I ironed a square of fabric to a piece of freezer paper and sent it home with each child along with a set of Pentel Fabric Pastel Sticks.  I asked the kids to draw whatever they wanted and send it back to me.  The sashing is Kona Coal ordered from the Fabric Depot, the binding is a made up of scraps, mostly from this quilt.  I embroidered the year on the bottom (I had visions of re-creating the school logo in applique but seeing as I only just finished this, I'm glad I scrapped that idea!)

The kids will present it to the director of the school tonight!

I have a sneaking suspicion that one of the kids did not do their own artwork.  Very uncharitable of me, I know.  Can you spot the one I'm talking about??