Tag Archives: finished projects

Tiny twin dresses

I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later.

I’m not the biggest fan of dresses on babies who can’t walk yet (they tend to bunch annoyingly and are hard to crawl in), but I’m also susceptible to the extreme cuteness of them. Anyway, after attempting and failing to find a pair of sundresses in the same size at our freshly-reopened local shops, I was seized by a wild impulse to put together some really quick, pillow-case-style sundresses for the twins.

Google quickly provided me with a tutorial, although I kinda had my own plans for how I wanted to construct them, with gathers fixed in a binding rather than a casing, so I was mostly just looking for measurements to start from.

The fabric is a red and white striped cotton border embroidery I had pulled out last summer (which tells you how much of a disaster my sewing room is these days) with a vague notion of making matching dresses for all my girls… (I had originally bought it on clearance with plans for an 1880s cotton summer dress, so I have a bazillion mètres of it)

The original pillowcase style would’ve been faster, but for whatever reason I wanted to use delicate bias bindings for the dresses. I also trimmed down and curved the front neckline a bit.

The tutorial I linked called for using the full width of a quilting cotton fabric, but since I was using the border embroidery I had no such constraints, so I cut each of the dresses with a hem of 30”. I opted for a single French seam at the CB instead of side seams, cut the armscyes from the folded edges according to the tutorial (minus the amount for the casing that I didn’t add)

Possibly I should’ve lined the dresses, as the holes in the border embroidery go pretty high on an eensy baby, but I didn’t. I’m hoping to make up matching diaper covers instead… we’ll see how that goes.

On the second dress I did the gathering a bit narrower and I like it better (especially on River, who is skinnier) but not enough to unpick the binding on the first one.

They’re a little large, but then babies tend to get bigger over time, even these shrimpy ones, so I don’t think that’ll be a problem. Maybe I should’ve used more than 30” of hem per dress, for a fuller shape, but on the other hand I didn’t want a whole lot more gathering on the tops. I think really the shape in my head would require an angled, A-line pattern piece, but that doesn’t work so well with the border embroidery. Anyway, I’m pretty satisfied. Now if I can just make those diaper covers happen…

See what I mean about bunching?

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Blackwood the Third

I’ve been napping the twins in the basement since it’s gotten hotter. It means that sometimes I can wriggle out from under them and sew while they nap. I’ve also put all the trashy battery-powered whiz-bang toys down there in the hopes of distracting them when they’re awake, which sometimes works.

Shortly after the twins were born, K-Line offered me a gift of fabric, and I wasn’t too proud to take her up on it, in the form of this yummy cotton rayon sweatshirt fleece from Blackbird Fabrics. It then sat, burning a hole in my stash, all winter. Finally, as soon as I finished my French terry leggings, I decided it had to get sewn; I had already decided on a Helen’s Closet Blackwood Cardigan, because easy and the pattern was already fitted and ready to go.

The fabric sat, pattern pieces half-pinned, on my basement floor for weeks, a testament to the fact that my husband never goes down there and teenagers have no limits to their ability to step over shit. But eventually I did manage to get it cut out. After that the sewing actually went fairly quickly, even at the rate of a seam or two a day.

I’ve made two other versions of this sweater. The first is great, but being wool it’s not something I dare wear in my current constantly-being-puked-on state. I have been wearing my second, knit jacquard version, but it’s not very warm and the black I used for the bands is pilling (the jacquard is holding up better than expected actually). And my phone tends to fall out of the pockets when I sit down. That being said, it’s a cut above a shapeless sweatshirt, and I was excited to have a plainer-but-still-stylish version.

I made only one change to the pattern, deepening the pockets so my big ass phone sits securely down in them. However, I missed one critical fact about my fabric. Unlike any other sweatshirt fleece I’ve worked with, this one has its main stretch vertically. I didn’t notice—didn’t even think to check!—until the sweater was completely finished, so there’s not much to do about it. It fits fine, except the sleeves are quite snug, and hard to push up to wash your hands. Oops. Meanwhile they stretch loads lengthwise. Oh well.

Oh, and I chose to make the pockets raw edged rather than torturing myself trying to turn under the edges. No regrets.

Oh, and these are the leggings from my last post, because I live in them now.

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Avery in terry

After I had a little breakdown a few days ago, my husband committed to giving me an hour or two baby-free this weekend, and I took full advantage to make another pair of Helen’s Closet Avery Leggings.

This is my third pair, but my first post-pregnancy. I made two adjustments to the pattern, adding 7cm of length to the ankle and 2cm to the back rise. The extra length preserves the scrunch around the ankle, and the rise adjustment (which I have made in pretty much ever pair of pants I’ve made ever) just lets them sit a little more comfortably.

This pair is made in a stretchy French terry but it’s a bit less stretchy than the cotton spandex I’ve used the other times I’ve made this pattern, so they’re a bit snug. Except at the waist, where I put very little tension on my 1/4” clear elastic, so it’s a bit loose. Although nice for not digging in. We’ll see how they do for staying up. The double layer of terry in the waistband is a bit heavy, but comfy.

I guess technically they aren’t done, since I didn’t finish hemming them, but I suspect I’ll be wearing them just like this for a while.

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Clara-fication

The other day a very sweet local sewing friend came over to visit, eat scones, and hold babies. And instead of spending that time doing something useful, like packing away the hand-me downs I sorted and spread all over the dining room table last week, I went down to the sewing room and finished off my in-progress Jalie Clara leggings.*

I bought this fabric back in September, as a treat for myself for having to take time away from being at the hospital to sort out some government paperwork with regards to my parental leave (it helps that the Fabricland is right next door to the Service Canada office). It’s a stretchy fleece with a smooth side printed like bits of denim, and they were crying out to be some kind of jegging. Perhaps a more literal jegging might have been better, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen with my situation this fall, so instead I opted for the Jalie Clara leggings, with the seamless front that’s so good for showing off prints. I actually managed to trace off the pattern, cut them out, and sew up the main pieces back in November when my bestie came to visit for a few days, but when I went to try them on, I had a rude awakening.

I’ll blame my oversight on my sleep deprived state, but I hadn’t actually managed to compare the stretch of my fleece with the stretch of the pattern. And while there is almost enough widthwise stretch (enough, given that I was making a larger size anyway), the fleece has almost no lengthwise stretch. Oops. Even though I traced the no-yoke version of Clara (for simplicity) and added my usual height in the back, and Clara is meant to be high waisted, it was decidedly low rise. (I also added a whack of length to the leg and angled the back crotch seam in a bit more. These are my usual Jalie pants adjustments.)

Fortunately, this could be fixed by adding a yoke at the top, but at the time I was stymied. So today I cut a new yoke, added it on (should’ve made it wider, perhaps) and then added a nice wide exposed waistband elastic on top of that. The result sits more or less where I wanted it, which is high. Really high. Grandpa high. A little more height in the back wouldn’t have hurt, but it will do.

I’m not convinced it looks good, but it feels pretty good. And not like I need to hike them up every five seconds like every other pair of pants I currently can fit.

It’s a pretty modest success, but they’re done, with a few months of wear left before the weather gets too warm, and I’m pretty excited to have something other than the two pairs of jeans and assortment of ratty leggings I’ve been living in.

*after spending an hour or so digging out the ironing board and machines, and then having to find a chair.

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A wee little thing

In a rare (these days) burst of energy a few weeks ago, i made a baby onesie.

I used the free onesie pattern from Small Dream Factory. (Apparently somehow I don’t have any baby onesie patterns?) I didn’t go back to the page to check the instructions after I managed to get it printed, but it’s pretty simple. The one thing I’ll recommend is make sure you mark the shoulder on both front and back pieces so you can line them up properly. The drafting is maybe a touch odd at the bottom of the armscye, but the finished garment seems to work well enough. And the pattern could’ve been tiled to use less paper, but it’s hard to get too fussy about something free. 🙂

I cut it out entirely using my rotary cutter, which is nice for small pieces and wiggly knits, especially since I took over some of the countertop in the basement kitchenette to have my cutting mat at a comfortable no-bending-required level. It’s especially nice for cutting perfectly even binding pieces, which helped a lot with the bound edges in this thing, and I do think they turned out pretty nicely, if I do say so myself.

I did my usual triple-fold binding, which has a tiny raw edge on the inside, but is much easier than trying to make a knit stay in a double-fold configuration, and I am NOT up for hard right now. Sherry of Pattern, Scissors, Cloth covers the method, except that she overlocks the unfinished edge to look nice inside, whereas I just trim mine close as needed once it’s stitched down.

The smallest hammer-in snaps I had for the bottom of the onesie were these pearl snaps, and they’re a bit heavy duty. I should probably have added some interfacing or something to support the fabric, too. So not really ideal, although I like the colour.

Obviously I can’t try the onesie on a baby yet. From comparison with some storebought ones we’ve received it’s a little on the wider, shorter side, which is certainly how my previous babies ended up, but I’m not at all sure how the twins will start out, at least.

I don’t have any more of this fabric, having turned the last few scraps into Watson Bikini underwear, but I wouldn’t mind making a second onesie for a wear-home-from-hospital set, if I can figure out something vaguely coordinating.

I realized (with some dismay) this past weekend that I’m no longer comfortable lifting and moving the various stacked plastic bins that hold my stash, which means that I either need to make do with the fabrics I already have out or ask for help to reach stuff in the bins, which isn’t impossible but will definitely make me think twice about things. So there may or may not be a second baby onesie… we will have to see. At the moment even getting off the couch feels fairly strenuous. On the other hand I will be reducing my work hours and even going on leave in a few weeks, so it’s possible I’ll have energy for something else, but I’m reluctant to set any lofty goals, even if I am fantasizing ceaselessly about things.

The 30-week belly

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Maternity sewing alert!

(Lingerie edition)

Ooo la la. Bra pics. Belly pics. You’re warned.

Continue reading

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The (not so little) black dress

A couple of months back, maybe not too much after I announced the impending twinpocalypse, one of the sweetest people on the internet, Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow, offered to make me (and/or impending babies) a present. Being an irredeemable mooch, I naturally eagerly agreed, and then didn’t think much about it. Me Made May came and went, June whizzed by, and my wardrobe shrank slowly, while my energy and motivation to sew replacement pieces ebbed lower.

Well, last week Gillian let me know a package was on its way. How exciting!!
In the meantime, the latest Sewcialists Mini-Challenge dropped: spin the wheel, get a colour from the Sewcialists logo, and make something in that colour. By Sunday. Anyway, I conveniently (or boringly) spun black. Blue would’ve been more fun, but I have plenty of black fabric, and my machine and serger are both threaded with black from the Myosotis, so there was a lot to be said for it. I was toying with the idea of a black knit dress, not too flashy, maybe in a rayon knit if I could find the energy to dig through the bins, with either a circle or handkerchief skirt. I’m really liking how my knit Vogue 1312 is holding up to the rigors of pregnancy, and something along those lines (but sleeveless, and a simpler skirt) seemed appealing.

So imagine my excitement when I opened the wee little package (which arrived Friday afternoon) and found a black rayon knit dress with a handkerchief skirt!!!!

It also came with strict instructions to modify and hack as needed, for fit or boredom.

The theory was perfect, the practice a little less so—in the super-stretchy black rayon the bodice was loose, and the weight of the skirt pulled it WAY down, to around where my waist used to be–when it was meant to be more empire-lined. But this also made it perfect for the mini-challenge. I carefully cut off the skirt, took in the side seams, and trimmed an inch off the bodice. While I was at it, I narrowed the binding a wee bit, for a more delicate look and also cleavage (I did not do a good job, I will note. Oh, well.) So in the end I wound up re-sewing every seam but the shoulders, including the awesome tag:

And I did take a goofy before picture (as per Gilliam’s request), but apparently not in a form that I can find later.

In any case! Behold the dress! In final (?) form. It is, of course, perfectly comfy and breezy and stretchy while also being suave and possibly even svelte (to the extent that anyone pregnant is svelte).

I may still have to trim a bit of length off the skirt, as it’s long even in these heels and likely to keep growing. But that’s easily done, and either way I have a fabulous and practical new dress!

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Class Samples: Myosotis Dress

I’m never exactly on the cutting edge of indie patterns, so everyone and their dog has already made the Deer and Doe Myosotis dress, mostly last summer. If it weren’t for all those versions I probably wouldn’t’ve been drawn to it, because it’s a lot of ruffles and a pretty squat, shapeless look on the face of it. But somewhere in the midst of conversations on Instagram last winter with Grace (@wzrdreams) about our shared nineties nostalgia, I realized that this was a really good base for a revisit of my much-beloved nineties babydoll dress. So, I suggested it as the basis for a Periwinkle Sewing class (running in August). We’ll see if anyone actually takes it, but at least I got a cute dress out of it.

Now, recreating that dress (why did I get rid of it again?) isn’t exactly what I’ve done here, but I am pretty happy with the results.

I went with the ruffled skirt but not the sleeve ruffle. I cut the size 40, and added ties because I wanted the adjustability they provide in a loose style like this. The only change I made to the pattern was actually to shorten the (already raised) waist just a bit more.

Partly because I have a short waist at the best of times, partly for that babydoll look, and partly for the big ol’ maternity belly. In hindsight I should’ve probably lengthened the skirt to compensate, but oh well. It’ll be a good length once it doesn’t have to stretch over the twin belly.

The construction is pretty simple and this is really the easiest take on a shirtdress I’ve run across—and if you’re feeling lazy (which I was since I’m pretty exhausted these days) you can even skip the buttonholes and just sew the buttons on the front through all the placket layers. Although I’m already regretting that as it will limit the nursing-friendliness of the dress, so I’ll probably take the buttons off and put in proper buttonholes at some point. They’re not necessary for putting on and taking off the dress, though.

Hmm, pregnancy seems to have deleted my hips. The dress form shows the back view a bit better.

I also love that it has simple inseam pockets included. I’ve been regularly adding them to dresses in my classes, but it’s nice to not have to guess about it.

My mother found this cute little cast-iron chair and table set at an auction earlier this summer, and my father-in-law repaired and refinished the amazing bench. So now I’m having fun pretending that my front deck is a chic Parisian balcony overlooking a sophisticated French street.

I tried to take some closeups but this print absolutely eats detail, so they don’t look like much. I’m a fan of the “crushed gather” look, so all the gathers got pressed into crinkly minimalism. The amount of fullness in the bottom skirt ruffle is also minimal, which is good. I love how it gives the skirt just a bit of shape.

Now I just need some fancy coffee or something to sip while I look cute and sophisticated. Or at least cute.

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Class Samples: Fen Dress

Honestly? I’d never have looked twice at the Fancy Tiger Crafts Fen Dress pattern if Periwinkle Quilting didn’t have it in stock even before I first started teaching there. But things grow on you, and the skirt IS really cute, and I floated it as a possible class for this summer, maybe as an alternative to the Myosotis dress. I was pretty surprised when Patti decided to run both.

Also, I did not pick it with the expectation of being pregnant this summer. But it does work well for that, too.

So, fun features of the dress? I love the gently hi-lo hem. It’s probably exaggerated by my belly, but I’d rather that these days than have an even hem that rides up in front. Maybe everyone else in the world is over this trend, but I still like it. It is pretty short though–or maybe that’s just from my belly–but the bias-facing I used only eats up 1/4″ of length for the hem and I wouldn’t want it much shorter.

I love the pockets. I’ve been routinely helping my students add pockets to the dresses we make, but it’s especially nice when they’re included already.

I also like the scoop neckline (which is a little wide because I did not finish it as per the pattern instructions) and the small amount of fabric required. The pattern called for three yards, so I bought three mètres, but I actually had about .8 of a mètre left, plus a long skinny strip on one side that I partially used to make the ties.

I don’t like how huge the sleeves are, and when it’s done being a class sample I might raise the underarm by an inch or so (a pretty common alteration for me for this kind of cut-on sleeve.) in the pattern’s defense they are also longer than they should be since I went with a bias tape finish that only eats up 1/4″ of length. I think I will wear them cuffed up so the bias shows.

I added ties to the side, for improved adjustability and maternity-friendliness. They definitely help with that, but on the other hand they kind of anchor the dress in place which makes the arm movement a bit restricted, which is one of my pet peeves. It’s not terrible, but to raise your arms over your head the whole dress needs to move up, and it can’t when it’s tied.

Maximum arm lift without the entire dress shifting.

If I were going for a real maternity hack, I would raise the waist seam about an inch, so it sat a little closer to the underbust. And probably go up a size or two in the skirt front, though I also like the gentleness of the gathering.

My belly is definitely borrowing fabric from the back, making it sit not great across my butt. But, I don’t have to look at that part so I’m not going to sweat it.

In the end, it was a fun and quick sew and I think it will make for a fun class project. And not such a bad maternity dress, actually.

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Class Samples: Sew Over It Rosie Dress

In my head, I’m calling this the Into The Woods Dress.

Back last winter, when I first floated the notion of teaching a class for the Sew Over I Rosie Dress, I was envisioning a fun, maybe quirky sundress for myself. However, events occurred and this is not a particularly maternity-friendly style. So, when the time came to do up the sample (class is in July), I thought this woodsy set of coordinates would tickle Syo’s fancy. I think I was right. Or possibly she’s just humouring me.

I didn’t fussy cut the straps, so I was really happy with how the wolf and tree came out positioned on them.

To fit Syo, I made a size 10 with a small (1″ total) full bust adjustment. On trying it on her, though, I wound up taking the bodice in 1/4″ at each side seam. Given that Syo is still just shy of five foot tall, I made a couple of other adjustments, shaving off about 1/2″ at the bottom of the bodice and hemming the skirt up a full four inches. I shortened the straps a bunch as well.

The straps are really wide set on Syo’s frame (which surprised me as I tend to think of her as similar to me in build except shorter); I wound up moving the back straps quite a bit closer to the center, and would’ve moved the front if they weren’t already sewn down and understitched and graded and everything.

The pattern called for somewhere over 4m of fabric in the narrower width. With a bit of measuring I estimated that about three meters were needed for the skirt alone. However, it turned out the bolt of the wolves and trees print was divided right down the middle into two sections of about 2.6m each. So I took one of them home and resolved to Make It Work. I was fairly sure if I really ran short I could shorten the skirt an inch or two without causing a problem. Which in hindsight I could’ve, but I managed to squeak out all the pieces with only a little fudging, though there was no attempt to refine print placement. It is a pretty fun skirt, though, with subtle shaping and a front panel framed by pleats that’s just begging to be made in a contrast fabric.

Most of the angst came from the zipper for this project. Last summer I acquired (among other things) a “proper” invisible zipper foot. I’ve always installed them with a regular foot, and I feel most comfortable with that. But I thought I’d try using the proper foot, so I have more experience if any of my students bring one. Heh. My first pass was too far from the zipper teeth; a stripe of black zipper showed. So I adjusted my needle position, but I over-corrected and it was too close. It did up all right on its own, but when I tried to put it on the dress form, the zipper gave and then one half of the slide came right off.

I put the whole bloody thing away for several days at that point.

When I finally came back to it, I was able to get the zipper back into its track, only to promptly have it burst off again when I tried to put the dress on Syo. So I grumblingly unpicked the near-tooth row of stitching, and it seems to be working now, even if I’m not terribly trusting of it. And there’s that stripe of black in the back. I’m going to live with it. (Though I confess, I haven’t closed up the bodice lining yet, in case I do have to completely replace the zipper. Yeah, not laziness at all…)

In any case this was a fun pattern and project (though maybe a lapped zip would be a better plan). And I’m trying to remember the last time I made Syo an actual dress. Ok, this is why I blog. Are you ready for it?

2011.

I mean, she’s gotten any number of leggings, crop tops, sweaters, and Hallowe’en costumes in the meantime, but not a single dress. So I guess it was time.

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