Navy and Gold

If you were worried that C's holiday dress was going to be yet another Hanami, let me assure you that I did the unthinkable and actually tried a new pattern.  Crazy, I know.  Well, not that crazy, because it's another Straight Grain pattern - the Jaanu Dress - which I can now declare is as lovely as the Hanami.  When thinking about making a dress for C, I knew that I wanted it to coordinate with her sister's, but I also didn't want them to be too matchy-matchy.  After digging through my stash I settled on using some gorgeous navy blue silk-cotton fabric for the main fabric and then making some gold and cream piping out of scraps left over from O's dress.

Two things about this plan:

1) I had to go through a mourning process in using this fabric for the dress because I so wanted to use it on something for myself.

2) I was really worried that C would not be into such an "understated" dress.  I mean, she's the kid who wants gold and silver and pink and glitter on everything.   Would she absolutely refuse to wear a navy blue dress?

Well, I'm happy to report that that wasn't not the case, but mostly because I sewed some little gold buttons at the end of each pleat and I think that the added sparkle helped her fall in love with the dress.  It was touch and go there for a little while though.

As for the pattern, I cut out a size three based on the size recommendations and the fit appears to be right on.  The pattern comes with two dress versions and after much hemming and hawing I chose to make the Norah version because of those awesome pleats.  I'm excited to try the pattern in the future with fabric that has even more body to see just how big and beautiful those pleats can be.

Now If you'll allow me a moment of indulgence, here are the two little ones together in all their glory.  Let's pretend that they're this sweet to each other all the time.  Also, let's pretend that O doesn't make this face at us at least once a day.


Striking Gold

Sewing has definitely taken a backseat lately to school work, family obligations, and basically just keeping my children alive and fed.  Despite the craziness around here though, I did manage to dust off my sewing machine (in the most literal sense) in order to sew up a dress for each girl for some family pictures that we had taken last weekend.

For O's dress I was definitely inspired by this simple quilting cotton that I bought over the summer during my Portland fabric-shopping extravaganza.  It's a cream and gold quilting cotton and as soon as I saw it, I knew that the girls would love it.  It turns out that I was right.  My only regret is not buying a tad bit more.  I was hoping to be able to make something for C out of it too, but because I cut out the bodice on the bias it used up more fabric than I had planned for.

And speaking of the bias-cut top, that was my other inspiration for the dress.  I really wanted to make a Hanami with a chevron on the front.  Yeah, yeah, I've made a million Hanami's before but I thought that this would be a great modification to the pattern.  Super simple and really cute.  I also played around with the stripes by making the back of the bodice vertical and the skirt horizontal.  It also eliminated any problems that I may have had trying to match up a chevron on the back while inserting a zipper.  I'm all about taking the path of least resistance.

O's a huge fan of her new dress and was made an even bigger fan when we went out to buy her some gold shoes to complete the outfit.  And I'm a big fan of the fact that I already have her holiday dress made.  Big high five for both of us!


A Hero Vest

I'm afraid that things have been a bit, well, boring on this old blog lately - mostly due to the massive amount of repeats that I've been sewing.  Now don't get me wrong, I love reusing patterns for many reasons.  You get to try them out in different fabrics and compare results.  You get to the master the techniques used in the pattern.  You can tweak the fit until it's juuuuust right.

But let's be honest, it doesn't make for the most exciting blog content.

So with that I'm excited to announce - "Hey, look I made something new!"  And with fall just around the corner in the northern hemisphere, it's actually seasonally appropriate!

The vest is the Women's Hero Vest pattern by Make It Perfect.  I wasn't quite sure when I was going to get around to making the pattern but then I fell in love with this super-soft flannel on an in impulse fabric shopping trip to Fabric Depot and with that the vest moved to the top of my list.  I also purchased the cotton/lycra ribbing at Fabric Depot but I didn't find out until I got home that the tubular ribbing wasn't quite as wide as I needed it to be so the bottom ribbing is actually made from two pieces of ribbing sewn together, rather than one continuous piece.  And while I'm confessing things I should also confess that I cut the bottom ribbing shorter than it was supposed to be only to realize that I couldn't rectify the mistake because I ran out of the ribbing that I just so happened to buy in another state.  Doh!  Fortunately, the ribbing seems to be high quality and I was able to stretch it enough to accommodate the missing length but I will say that this experience definitely taught me the importance of the saying "measure twice, cut once."

The inner fabric is a polar fleece from Seattle Outdoor Fabrics.  I looked at buying some fleece in other, closer fabric stores but nothing comes close to the quality of fleece that they sell there so I held out until I could make a trek up there to get some. The only other notion that I needed to buy was a separating zipper and I was able to find that at a regular big-box sewing store.

I was a bit worried about the sizing since I'm much smaller in the chest area than in the hip area so I decided to grade out around the hips from a size extra small to a size small and I'm happy to say that it seems to have worked.  As for the actual sewing process, it was lovely.  It was the perfect combo of interesting and not overly complicated.  My one recommendation would be to follow the zipper instructions that Toni has on her blog rather than the ones on the pattern.  The ones on the blog are for a fully enclosed zipper that really makes the vest look nice, tidy, and finished.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to cuddle up in the most cozy vest you ever did see.


Meow, Meow, Meow, Meow

This is an outfit of repeats.  First, there's the repeat pattern - the Oliver and S Hopscotch dress pattern -  that I have made many, many times before and remains one of my favorite knit dress patterns.

Then, there's the repeat theme - cats - which rank high on C's list of loves nowadays.

Fortunately, there's no repeat stink eye in these pictures, because I learned my lesson last time - do not take photos of your three year old when she just got up from a nap.

Because this garment is so full of repeats there isn't too much to say about it.  I made a straight size three and didn't make any modifications to the pattern other than adding little contrast cuffs to the sleeves.  I'm not going to lie - I love those little cuffs.  The fabric is a Lizzy House knit fabric and it was a total impulse buy when I dropped by Drygood Designs the other week.  Once I saw it I knew that I was going to make a dress for C out of it.  And lo and behold, I actually followed through with my sewing plans!

On a side note, Drygood Designs is the only fabric store that my kids never complain about being dragged to.  It may have something to do with the kid's play area in the back of the store and the fact that they get a pixie stick if I end up buying fabric there.  There's nothing like a little positive reinforcement, right?


Joey Sweatshirt

Okay, let's start with the most obvious thing about this garment- it's too small for my child.  Which is a huge bummer, because I happen to think it's a pretty freaking adorable garment.  In fact, this may be the exact face that I made when I realized that it was too small.

Alright, now that that's out of the way, let's talk about this little sweatshirt.   Remember, the Joey Dress?  And remember my Renfrew?  Well, this is what you get when you use the left over fabric from your Renfrew to make a sweatshirt from the Joey pattern.  Ta-da!  Although, my stupidity in making this was shortening the Joey bodice piece by an inch when cutting out the pattern.  I don't know why I thought this would be a great idea.  If I had left it an inch longer it probably would fit perfectly - doh!  I'm a bit bummed because this is the most luscious of sweatshirt knits and I hate for fabric to go to waste.  Hopefully I can talk C into wearing it in the coming years although knowing how stubborn she is, I won't hold my breath.

In any case, this little sweatshirt was a super-simple, easy make.  With a cute little pocket piece, the Joey Dress pattern is ripe for turning into a sweatshirt.  The only thing that needs to be done is to cut out a slightly larger size to make up for the fact that most sweatshirt fabrics have very little stretch.  This time around I was super-lazy and just sewed the sweatshirt together with a smaller seam allowance, but next time I'll make proper modifications and cut out one size larger.

Also, next time I won't let O spill yogurt smoothie all over her new sweatshirt before I take pictures of it.  You learn something new everyday.  Or at least I do.


A Renfrew Sweatshirt

I will freely admit that when I first started sewing I was completely taken in by things that were "new."

New pattern?  I'll make it.

New fabric?  I'll take it.

We'll just ignore the fact that I really don't need either of them.

For me, it's a terrible trap that I have to work hard not to fall into.  There's the whole issue of consumerism (which is ironic considering the fact that so many of us sew in part to avoid consumerism) but there's also the issue of losing appreciation for all the things that have worked well so far as we chase after the latest and greatest.  You know, like Dorothy at the end of the Wizard of Oz.  Or something like that.

In any case, as I work my way through sewing some basics for the fall I keep coming back to this idea of rifling through what's already in my own "backyard" before I go searching for my "heart's desire" all over the internet and all through fabric stores.

One of the first basics that I knew that I wanted to make for myself was a sweatshirt from the Renfrew pattern.  Actually, I should say "re-make" for myself because I made one ages ago but I ended up getting rid of it because it was far tighter than I would have liked it to be.  When sewing it up the first time I apparently didn't take into account that sweatshirt fabric has very little stretch so it was quite fitted once all was said and done.  Fortunately I learned my lesson the first time around and this time I cut out the shirt one size larger than my recommended size.  While I was sewing it up I started to worry that it still wouldn't be roomy enough so I sewed the sides together with a slightly smaller seam allowance (somewhere between 3/8 and 1/2 inch) to give myself a tiny bit of extra wiggle room and it seems to have worked out just fine.

I like to think of this as my "fancy" sweatshirt.  It's a totally cozy, cuddly, and warm sweatshirt but with a funnel neck and a more fitted cut it's a little, well, fancier (if a sweatshirt can, in fact, be fancy). The fabric is the most awesome peachy/salmony color that you ever did see and these photos do not do it justice.  Earlier this month I taught a week-long class in southern Washington and I managed to pop over the border into Portland for the world's fastest shopping trip into Bolt Fabric.  This is one of two the two beauties that I bought during that whirlwind trip.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take this sweatshirt off because summer is still blessing us with its presence and it way too hot to be wearing this thing around!


First Day Of School Joey Dress

After two months of not sewing a stitch, it definitely took me a while to find my groove again, but I can now happily report that I'm back!  I'm filled with ideas of what I'd like to sew and a bit sad already knowing that I won't be able to get everything done before school obligations start up again.  In the meantime, though, if there's one thing that I'm focused on it's sewing the basics.

Yeah, yeah, basics can seem a bit boring to make but I happen to find them rather exciting because I know that they'll always be worn (as opposed to the many dresses that I've sewn for myself that mostly hang out in the back of my closet).

And the first basic that I needed to make, of course, was a first day of school dress for O.  I contemplated making something a bit more "special occasion" for this special occasion but practicality won out and for me there are few things more practical than a long-sleeved knit dress for a girl (assuming your girl likes to wear dresses, that is).  My go-to knit dress in the past was the Oliver and S Hopscotch dress but O has grown out of my copy of the pattern and while I debated just buying the larger size, I figured that this was probably a good opportunity to branch out a bit.  So branch out I did - with the Joey Dress by Make It Perfect patterns.

You've no doubt seen many versions of this dress around the internet (in both kids and adult sizes!) and I loved the little details that the dress allowed for.  A kangaroo pocket and contrast bindings?  Sign me up!  As an added bonus I didn't even have to spring for new fabric for the dress because I had enough Art Gallery knit left over from the girls' Christmas pjs.

The dress sewed up super-easy although I should probably confess that there were times that I didn't use the instructions since I feel pretty confident sewing with knits.  I should also confess that I didn't look at the size recommendations and just sewed up a size 6 for O (who is 6).  She's a slim little thing and may have benefited from a smaller size but I couldn't bring myself to buy the size 5 version of the pattern since that's the biggest size on that version and I figured that I would want to make this dress for many years to come.  And, as it turns out, I was right.

So happy first day of school O!  First grade, here she comes!


One. Two. Three.

First there was one.

Then there were two.

And now there's three.

Three people sporting octopi covered shirts that is.

You know what they say "the family that wear octopi together, stays together."  Or something like that.  In any case, 3/4 of our family is now fully outfitted with an octopus-themed garments.  Ben was feeling a little left out so he made his own handmade octopus shirt.  I told him not to quit his day job.

O's dress is from her birthday and my shirt is an Archer that I finished just before starting school in June.  I didn't get to wear it from a couple months because it was blazing hot around here for several weeks.  On the day of our midterms, though, it cooled down to a reasonable temperature and I broke out the octopus shirt as a little good luck charm.  It turns out that is was just the ice breaker that people needed in the middle of hours of tense exams.  I mean, who could be stressed out when the woman in front of you is wearing a button down shirt covered in octopi?  It's simply not possible.

As for C's shirt, it's the Class Picnic Blouse from Oliver and S which makes a great little top and I'm thinking that, with some lengthening, it would also make a great little dress.  I'd be hung go for making it except that C has returned to her natural state of being a mostly ungrateful recipient of handmade goods.

Ah, three year olds.  So stinking cute.  So stinking fickle.


The Things We Make For Our Children

For the past two months I've been telling my youngest that when I get done with school, I'm going to make her a cat dress because if there's one thing that can actually get this kid to smile, it's a cat.  And because I'm a total sucker for this kiddo, I'm usually pretty happy to indulge her cat obsession...which has led to her having cat shoes, cat tattoos, and now a cat dress.    She may be only three, but she's definitely on her way to crazy cat-lady status.

But let's talk about this dress.  You know, the one made out of what is possibly the world's ugliest fabric.  You see, when I told C that I would make her a cat dress I imagined a little less literal of an interpretation.  In fact, I found a darling little fabric at the store with cat prints on it and I spent a good five minutes trying to talk her into that fabric and when she wouldn't give I roped Ben into trying to talk her into that fabric as well.  It turns out that you can't talk C into anything  (including smiling for these pictures).

When she gets an idea of what she wants, there's no getting that idea out of her head.  (I wonder who she gets that from?  Ha!)  So a dress covered in cats it was!  Actually it was kind of fun to pick out which cat would have a starring role on the front of the dress (I let O have the honor of picking out that cat).  And, if I'm being honest, I kind of love the way this crazy looking dress came out.  It really captures a moment in time in C's childhood and I can't really ask for more than that.

Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't add that this dress (once again) is made from the Hanami Pattern.  I made her a straight size 3 although based on seeing some other gorgeous Hanamis around the internet I chopped about 3/4 of an inch off of the length of the bodice and I also added some width to the skirt.  I decided to go with some flutter sleeves this time around and I have to say that I'd forgotten how cute flutter sleeves are on a little girl's dress.  And, of course, I had to throw in a little piping around the waist because it turns out that there's no overdoing it when you're wearing a dress covered in cats.



One Quarter (Almost) Down. Two More Years To Go.

Tomorrow is the last day of my first quarter back in school and I have to say that I beyond excited to be wrapping up this quarter.  These past two months have been an incredible amount of work and while I expected to have my nose to the grindstone a lot of the time, if I'm being honest, my nose was to the grindstone a lot more than I was hoping.  Needless to say, Ben and the kids have been absolute champs in adjusting to this new period in our lives.

The last two months have also been incredibly humbling as I went from being a competent professional in one line of work, to a completely incompetent student.  I'm not going lie - there were many days that I missed feeling "good" at something.  Fortunately, those days were offset by the ones where I felt pretty bad-ass at learning something new.  And if I have many thanks to give to Ben for picking up the slack around the house, I have many, many thanks to give to my sister who constantly reminded me that learning is a process and to cut myself a little slack in that process.

Lastly, the last two months have been reassuring.  When I left my job I felt pretty unmotivated and I figured that obviously the problem was me.  I thought that this was just my new normal - tired, old, and unmotivated.  I really worried that once I got into something that required a much greater time and mental commitment I was going to find that I just wasn't up to the challenge anymore.  Fortunately, as it turns out, I was wrong.  I'm not an unmotivated person; I was just in a job that I had outgrown and because of that it was hard to muster up motivation at times.  In fact, I've been pleasantly surprised by my motivation over these last two months and the amount of work that I've put in to this 3rd go-round at college (3rd!!).

And with that, it's back to the books for me.  One more day of studying and then a couple weeks of doing nothing but hugging my kids, giving Ben high fives, enjoying life, and, of course, sewing!
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