Archive for May, 2009

Daddy’s Homecoming Dress

teaparty1What a way to finish the week! This was a project that exceeded my expectations, a pattern that was easy to follow and I learned new techniques from, and materials that I didn’t have to buy! (Except buttons:)

Claire is modeling my first wardrobe refashion: a Tea Party Dress from Oliver + S, crafted from my favorite, but worn-out skirt, leftover cotton lawn from the Summer Blouse, and ribbon given to me by my neighbor. Doesn’t she look like a garden fairy?

The Daddy came home from the sea today.  Just so you know the title does not refer to the dress he may or may not have worn to a Homecoming.


Construction Details:

  • Cotton lawn bodice with white embroidered cotton skirt
  • Ribbon applied with fusible tape.  Is this how you are supposed to put it on?
  • In order to make the hem match up on all six pieces, I had to cut the center skirt first, then match it with the side skirt fabric and then cut that piece.  I pinned it immediately to the one I match it with and I labeled each piece.  It was time consuming, but I also didn’t have to handstitch a hem facing either.
  • The curved bodice was tricky, but the kind voice in the pattern said, “Don’t get discouraged.”  At another point, the voice said “Take your time with this.”  How nice to have someone remind you of this.  Thanks Oliver + S!  I will buy another pattern!

Summer Blouse from “Weekend Sewing”

“Blouse” sounds so grownup, doesn’t it?  But I guess I am a grownup now.  I do a lot of things my mom did, like sewing almost everyday and singing commands to my child.  (Rise and Shine and Let’s Clean Up!)

Like mother, like daughter. I guess it’s time for me to wear a blouse!

summer blouse 1

This project flowed along so smoothly.  I worked a little at a time, stopping at a good point where I could pick right back up easily during the next nap time.  And no seam ripping.  Until I tried it on before hemming it.

I know I have said I should try things on as I sew them so that I can adjust along the way.  I did and it looked okay!  But it turned out to be too short, too wide, and I had messed up the bias tape neckline because the instructions were hard to wrap my mind around.

To combat the too short problem, I used a hem facing, which kept the length.  It didn’t add any either, but so far so good.  I followed this delightful tutorial at the Oliver + S blog.  I can’t wait to try it on the Oliver + S Tea Party Dress pattern I bought for Claire.  It makes a very nice hem, although I had to handstitch the hem.

One word about handstitching:  You think it is going to take forever and a day.  You look longingly at your sewing machine, knowing how fast it works.  But then you get into a rhythm and you start taking pride in your tiny stitches and then you challenge yourself to space them evenly and make each stitch the same size and you catch yourself smiling.  I know when I look down at my hem, I will love that part of my shirt the best.

That is, if I can fix the other problems!

summer blouse 2

I added darts to the back and took in the sides.  Meanwhile, I haven’t ripped any stitches out of the hem.  It’s too lovely of a hem!  So, now the bottom starts to flare out.  The front is billowy.  Not in a romantic/Wuthering Heights sort of way.   It is billowy in a hospital gown sort of way.  What to do?

How about buttons?  Buttons are a great afterthought.  But I don’t know about this time.  I might have to cut into the hem facing.

Ok, I’m back.  I cut into it, but just a little seam ripping and I took in the sides just a 1/2 inch.  The darts in the back were a half inch each and I decided to do some more darts 1/2″ in the front also.

summer blouse 3

And to top it all off–I broke another one of my new rules.  I noticed that one piece of the pattern was lighter in color than the piece sewn to it.  I literally thought, “It will all come out in the wash”.  Wrong.  As in wrong side of the fabric.  Once again, my philosophy of “it will all work out” doesn’t not compute in sewing.  Actually, it works in knitting.  You can fix sizing a bit when you get the piece wet and block it.  I am beginning to wonder if I will ever become a good seamstress.  Maybe not for grownup clothes like blouses.

Buttercup Bag for Rhonda

Surprise!  It’s a Buttercup Bag!  No, actually Rhonda was surprised by all of us jumping out from behind couches and tables at a farewell party for her and her family.  They are moving to D.C. next week. Buttercup Bag for Rhonda 5 I thought she ought to have her very own Buttercup Bag to take to the metropolis, so I whipped one up during this afternoon’s nap.

Here are the details of her bag:

1. Amy Butler “daisy chain” fabric backed with a lightweight fusible interfacing.

2. White linen lining.

3. Foam green piping and thread.

Buttercup Bag for Rhonda 1

Buttercup Bag for Rhonda 2

Surprisingly, I found that I really liked using a light color thread and light color lining.  The stitching isn’t too obvious in the lining, but it makes a nice contrast on the exterior.  Also, the sea foam green did not “match” the green in the fabric, but I think the color piping I choose is a more subtle contrast.  The piping also gave it more structure for keeping it’s shape.  I topstitched through the lining on the top and bottom of the purse upper to make it more secure when prying open the magnetic snap.

I’m very happy with it and Rhonda is too!

New and Old Supplies

And so it begins . . .  I’m going to learn quilting and make a quilt for Claire.  The deadline:  when she learns how to climb out of her crib and moves into a big girl’s bed.

new and old supplies


I set up a sewing center in my dining room.  Here I organized my thread (ROY G.BIV!) on the fireplace mantle.

new and old supplies 5


This old skirt is going to become the skirt of the Tea Party Dress for Claire–the first of many tea party dresses, I’m sure.

new and old supplies 1


I can barely fit the bodice of the tea party dress on my fabric leftover from the continuous bias tape project, but it works!new and old supplies


Note to self:  Use a copier instead of tracing 9 tiny pieces of the pattern, (using the window as a lightbox, I might add).  Egads!  The pattern is 2T-5T.  I think I’ll get A LOT of use out of it.

new and old supplies 3


Stayed tuned for Claire’s new dress by the end of the week.  Coming soon–my completed summer blouse.

Have a great Memorial Day!

Trapeze Dress

It looked really simple, just the kind of thing I would like to wear in the evening after a shower, before committing to pajamas.  I could still take a walk or talk to neighbors outside.  Plus, it had pockets to keep all my “notes to self.”

It turned out that this dress was not so simple.  AND it fit terribly.  And I made stupid mistakes on top of it all.   But maybe it was a bad week for me.

Here you can see the large amount of gaping that occurred.  To fix this, I used elastic.  Elastic to the rescue again! I put it in the back, which also made it more comfortable.

Trapeze 1

trapeze 2

The straps took quite a bit of adjusting.  They are set wide and that means they fall down a lot, unless they are angled in the back.  The instructions have you sew the straps in at a predetermined place.  But that place was not the right place on me.  It would have been helpful to have the chance to determine the front strap placement also.   It could have been sewn in as the straps were in the back, after the bodice is sewn and you can try it on.

trapeze 4

If you make this dress, before you sew the pockets on, make sure that they will match up when you sew the front and back together.  For some reason, the pattern has huge circles to note where to place the pockets.  A straight line would have been a lot more accurate.  Maybe I am missing something, but you’ll not be sorry if you match it all up before sewing the pockets on.

And now I am happy with it, for the job it will do as “dusk wear.”  I don’t think it is particularly flattering on me.  There was supposed to be a center pleat, but the pattern left that off.  I don’t know how an editor can let that happen!

trapeze 5

Bounty from the Farmer’s Market

Have you ever seen Purple Radishes? They are from Weeping Radish Farm (and Brewery!) in NC.

I love their long roots, like feelers.  They remind me of pickled eggs.  I’m trying to eat one a day to build up an immunity to their gas-inducing properties.  

Okay, they make me burp.

purple radishesbounty

Here’s the full spread:  bok choy, eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, pickling cucumbers, grapefruit, and epazote.

All local produce!  Although Florida grapefruit are a bit of a stretch 🙂 


Continuous Bias Tape

For the “Summer Blouse” in Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross, you need bias tape. I followed the “Dread Pirate Rodgers” method of made a continuous bias in a tutorial given by Deborah at Whipstitch Lounge.  I was so proud of myself!  No seam ripping–Yay!  Lots of pretty bias tape for Claire and I–Yay!.   For this method of making bias tape, you sew the fabric first and then you do the cutting.  It makes a lot of bias tape at once, although I stopped halfway through the 1/2 yard of fabric I bought for this because I only need 1 1/2 yards of tape.  I have plenty left over for a dress for Claire or maybe for something else.  

Claire is the model holding the bias tape made of cotton lawn.  The blouse is almost done and will be posted soon.

1st continuous bias tape

I am picturing a white eyelet summer dress with this bias tape on the armholes and neckline and bodice for Claire.