Alder Dress

After falling in love with the butt ruffle Archer I knew that I needed to get my hands on the dress equivalent - the Alder.  Now I should probably say that when this pattern first came out I was kind of "ehh" about it, mostly because I get the feeling that View A is not the most flattering cut on me.  But then View B's popped up all around the internet and I was sold!

You know what else popped up on the internet - warnings that this dress runs on the short side and it definitely does.  Here's another warning for you - don't try to be lazy and just trace out the size 18 length for size 2 pieces because they don't line up correctly.  Trust me - I learned this lesson learned the hard way.  Use those shorten/lengthen lines that Jen so kindly put on the pattern.  I was able to work a little magic to get the mismatched front pieces sewn together but there's some definite gentle waves in the fabric where the piece was too long.  Aesthetically, it doesn't look too bad nor is it very noticeable, but it drives me a bit crazy knowing that it's not supposed to be there.

The dress is sewn up in a lovely navy double gauze that I purchased from Drygoods Design and all I have to say is "why, oh why, did it take me so long to try out this fabric?"  I now want to wrap myself in nothing but double gauze.  And it's a great option for a flowy dress like this, although I'm concerned that it may be tad see-through if I stand directly in the sun.  I'll have to do a bit more investigation into that potentially embarrassing possibility.

I think this dress is going to be a great option for summer since it's so light and airy but until summer gets here I've been wearing it with tights and a cardigan thrown on top because I'm perpetually cold.

Also, many thanks and big high fives to O for taking these pictures.  And many thanks to C for mastering the art of the photo bomb.

Now get out of my pictures!


The One In Which Hoarding Pays Off

What I'm about to tell you will both inspire you and make you realize what a total hoarder I am.

Almost 20 years ago my sister went to Ghana on a nursing trip and brought back two skirts made from beautiful Ghanian wax print fabrics.  Unfortunately both of them were made for people with teeny-tiny waists.  One I could barely squeeze into, but this one sadly never fit. 

And yet I kept these skirt...for almost twenty years...through at least six moves...and I've literally never worn this skirt.  And I didn't sew for the vast majority of that time nor did I have any great plans to start sewing so I have no idea why I kept holding on to this skirt.  Hoarder much?

But, there's a happy ending to this story because after almost twenty years of lugging both skirts around, one of them now has a new life as a dress for O.  

The pattern is the free Popover Dress Pattern by Oliver and S.  I've made it once before and am a huge fan of this super-simple dress.  Just like last time I added some width to the front and back panels (five inches) and gathered the extra fabric when sewing it together.  I also slimmed down the straps by cutting out strips of 1.5 inch bias binding (instead of 2 inches) and sewing them at 3/8".  The straps are made from navy double gauze from a yet to be blogged project and sewing such thin bias strips of double gauze was not the easiest of tasks so don't look too closely at my stitching, okay?  Thanks.

And with that ends the nearly 20 year saga of this fabric.  Maybe in another 20 years I'll make something out of the other too-small skirt that my sister brought back.  One can dream.

Also, this is my new favorite picture of O.  I don't think I've ever seen a picture that captures so perfectly who she is.  I love this little nugget.


Butt Ruffle

Well, my love affair with the Archer continues and if possible, it's grown, because I think I love this version of the Archer even more than my first version.  I may just be a butt ruffle kind of gal...who knew?  Actually, what's probably most surprising about my love for this shirt is that I love it so much even though I made it out of a fabric that I really didn't like.  It's a 100% cotton shirting fabric that I ordered ages ago from a long forgotten online fabric store but as sometimes happens when you order fabric online, when it arrived I realized that it really wasn't what I was looking for.  The color and actual fabric are fine, but I just didn't like the way that the dots were printed on the fabric.  It looked a little...cheap, maybe? In any case, it sat on my shelf for probably three years and I don't know if I would have ever gotten around to using it had I not been forced to dig through my shelves for something to sew with.  While I may not have loved the printed dots, a great redeeming factor for this fabric is it's super-wide yardage which made it so that I had plenty of fabric to work with.  Also, having worn this shirt a couple of times already I can tell you that the fabric is definitely growing on me because it rarely needs ironing when it comes out of the dryer (although, you wouldn't know it from looking at these pictures since I'd been wearing the shirt all day long when I took these pictures.  Bad blogger!)

As for the shirt, what is there to say that hasn't been said before.  This is a straight size 2 with no fit modifications.  I followed all the pattern directions, except that I used Andrea's tutorial for attaching the collar.  The pattern and instructions are great and I'm a huge fan of the ruffle on the back even if it is kind of a mullet shirt.

Business in the front.

Party in the back.

You would't know it from the silence around here, but I've actually been sewing a ton for myself lately.  I just can't get up the motivation to actually take pictures of the garments.  I'm hoping that Me Made May will finally force me to debut some of my most recent makes.  I'll probably be playing along on Instagram if you want to follow.  Let's hope that I stick with it longer than I did last year.


Seersucker + Chambray

While I've spent the last two years trying to be more intentional about sewing from my stash, there is now a sense of urgency behind these efforts since I'll most likely be unemployed come the middle of June.  And not only unemployed but also racking up student loan debt.  Ah, the great American dream.

In any case, while I've always tried to be pretty sensible about not dropping too much money on fabric and patterns (with varied success), it's pretty clear that I need to make some changes in how I approach picking my projects.  Lately I've begun to dig through the stash trying to sort out the scraps from the larger pieces of fabric that can actually be made into a garment.  So many of the pieces that I have are fairly small so imagine my surprise when I found two pieces that were actually big enough to sew a dress from.  And it was an even better surprise when I saw just how cute these fabrics look together.  The chambray and seersucker make for an awfully cute preppy dress.

The chambray's leftover from this top and the seersucker's is left over from this dress.  The piping around the waist is also left over from some unknown project  and the zipper was shoved in the back of my cupboard no doubt from some long-ago discarded project.

I kind of felt like one of the little mice putting together leftover bibs and bobs for a dress for Cinderella to wear to the ball.  A scrap of fabric here, a zipper there, and ta-da!  A dress!  And, of course, it's a Hanami Dress because that pattern holds a special place in my heart.

Sure, it's no ball gown but I happen to love it all the same.



Well, in true Carolyn fashion I finally got around to sewing something that the rest of the sewing community has been making for the past two years - an Archer!  In my defense, when the pattern came out I thought it looked great, but I also thought that it really wasn't something that I would wear.  Oh, how wrong I was, though, because this one has been getting a ton of wear (hence all the wrinkles) and I definitely see some more in my future (in fact, I already cut out out another one - only this time with a butt ruffle!)

Truth be told, I was also late to the game in making in an Archer because so many people commented on what a time consuming project it was and I'm more of a simple project kind of gal.  I was worried that I would find the project long and tedious and that I wouldn't enjoy it at all.  I'm happy to report, though, that my experience couldn't have been farther from that.  Yes, it took a couple sewing sessions to finish, but I loved the fact that knowing that it was going to take me some time caused me to slow down and take time in getting things right.  I have a tendency to speed through things unnecessarily and the process of slowing down definitely led to a much better end-product.  How embarrassing is it that I'm just learning this now?

For my first Archer I made straight size 2 with no modifications.  I was a bit worried about the fit because I'm definitely a pear shape and I usually grade to a larger size around the hips but I compared the Archer measurements to store-bought shirt that I had and they seemed to be comparable.  The overall fit seems to be right on although the more I wear it, the more I wish that it was just a tad bit longer.  Maybe about an inch?  (For reference, I'm 5' 6")  Fortunately, that's an easy enough modification to make in my many Archers to come.  The directions were great and I used the sew along on the Grainline Studio site to help me along when I got stuck.  And, following the sage advice of many other bloggers, I used Andrea's collar tutorial and it made the collar installation pretty easy.

The fabric is from Nancy's Sewing Basket and I bought it on a particularly memorable Mother's Day outing that ended with both kids crying hysterically in the car and O having blood all over her face because of some obsessive ear-picking that she did back when she was three.  This fabric is probably the only good thing to come from that day.  The fabric is a cotton with a tiny bit of stretch to it and I originally purchased it thinking that I would make some sort of dress out of it, but then I got smart and realized that I rarely wear dresses and this was the far more practical solution.

And it is.  The end.


New Year. Same Resolution.

Like most sewers (sewists?  sewing people?  you know what I mean.), every year I resolve to sew from the stash and since the new year is still kind of fresh I figured that I should probably stick to my sewing resolution.  So behold!  Three shirts made completely with items from the stash.

The first shirt is made from a super-soft Ella Moss fabric that I'm pretty sure is some sort of cotton/poly blend.  I originally bought it to make some undies for myself (which I did), but luckily I happened to have just enough left over to make a shirt for O.  This fabric has very little recovery so it make its uses limited but it's incredibly soft and perfect for swingy t-shirt.  The pattern is just the Made by Rae Flashback Tee pattern which I've used, oh, about a million times.  I cut out a size five, but added a bit of length and width at the bottom to make it more a-line.  I love the really simple black and white stripes on her and she loves how soft the shirt is so we're both very happy campers with this one.

Okay, on to the next t-shirt, which so so happens to be made from a Michael Stars turtleneck that I sadly outgrew.  I've been holding on to it for quite some time, but in the New Year's cleaning out of the closet I made my peace with the fact that it juts doesn't fit me anymore.  Fortunately it was able to find new life as a t-shirt for O.  I kept the original hems on the shirt and sleeves, making this a super-quick sew.  O loves that the shirt is gold and sparkly and I love that her new shirt was essentially free (well, you know what I mean).

Last new t-shirt - cut up from yet another shirt that I outgrew.  The shirt say "I'm a little stinker" on it and I'm not sure what it says about me, but two different people gave me this T-shirt for Christmas 13 years ago.  Either all the gift givers shopped in the same places or I really am a little stinker.  I choose to believe the former.  In any case, this shirt was well-loved by me for many years but it was time to accept the fact that it is way too small on me now.  Once again I used the Flashback Tee pattern but because the original tee had little cap sleeves, O's version has short sleeves.  Not so appropriate for winter, but it's nice and long so it should fit her by the time summer comes along.

And that's it!  Three things that sat around in my cupboard for way too long are now being well-loved.  Let the stash-busting continue!



In looking over the many things that I made in 2014 it became apparent that there were quite a few garments that I made but never blogged about, because when it comes down to whether to use my time for blogging or sewing, sewing will always win out.  But in an attempt to play a little catchup here's a little something (well, a little two somethings) that I finished up in the final days of 2014.

Now I know that many people have a tradition of receiving a pair of pajamas on Christmas Eve but that's not something that we've ever done in our family (also, we're not big stocking people and I can't really remember ever getting a stocking.  My husband finds this crazy.  Anybody else with me?).  In any case, even though it's not a tradition that I grew up with, I'm not going to turn down an opportunity to sew my kids matching PJs.  Plus, if I'm being completely honest, I really wanted to try out one of the new Art Gallery knits and this seemed like the perfect excuse to order some.

For the pattern I used the Alex and Anna Winter PJs pattern by Peekaboo Pattern Shop.  I got this pattern ages ago as part of a pattern bundle that I purchased and while it certainly wasn't the reason that I purchased the bundle I was pretty happy to find it on my hard drive.  Yes, there are plenty of patterns that I could have put together to make some knit PJs (a Flashback Tee with some Sunki leggings or maybe some Fancy Pants leggings) but I was happy to try out a new pattern and I have to say that I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out.  In particular, I really like how the pattern finishes the waistband of these PJs since I often find my waistband elastic twisting over time when I just thread it through a "fabric tunnel."  As for the fit, I sewed a size three for the little one (who's almost three) and I sewed a size five for O, although I added a little length to the pants.  She's a bit of a string bean so even though she's almost six this size seems to work great for her.

The fabric is an Art Gallery knit (Orni Incandescence) and it's lovely, stretchy, and bright pink.  What's not to love?  It's got a bit of lycra in it so it's super comfy and it's not too thick (but also not too thin) so it's a nice weight for PJs.  I ordered four yards from Fabric.com when they were having a sale and because the fabric is so wide I probably only used a little over half of it to make both pairs of PJs so you'll probably be seeing this fabric in the future.  For the cuffs I used some leftover ribbing fabric that I had in my stash.  I bought it from Joann Fabrics ages ago so I was happy to find a new use for it.

So that's it!  Christmas Eve PJs that I literally finished on Christmas Eve.  In fact, I may have made us late to our Christmas Eve family gathering because I was rushing to finish them.  I blame it on the double needles though because I broke three (!) of them while making these PJs.  Needless to say, there was much cussing on Christmas Eve.

Now that's the Christmas spirit.


Catching Up

Tomorrow I head back to school and before the chaos starts up again I have a couple things to say - the first being that I have loved the last couple of weeks. Our trip to Tulum to celebrate our ten year anniversary was our first trip that we've taken without with kids and it was glorious.  Sure when we passed other couples with kids we often thought how much our own kids would have loved the trip, but then we saw those same couples lugging around tons of stuff while their kids whined behind them and then we thought, "suckas!"

The holidays began the week after we got home and they were crazy and fun and chaotic in a way that only the holidays can be.  Christmas with kids is a beautiful experience and while I was totally worn out by the time that everything was said and done, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

And this past week has been the dreamiest of all.  Except for going to work we've have very little in the way of obligations around here and instead we've just been enjoying each other's company.  We've learned that O is the master of Candy Land trash talk and C is finally getting the hang of this whole potty training thing.  And I've probably read about fifteen books in the past three weeks - none of which had any educational value.  Bliss.

But tomorrow it's back to long days and weekends spent studying.  The good news in all of this, though, is that all of my applications have been turned in and this is actually my last prerequisite course to complete.  Oh, and I got an interview at atleast one school so it's nice to know that I'm at least not being outright rejected.  Honestly, I'm still not a hundred percent sure that my going back to school full-time is the right choice for my family and if I end up getting accepted into any programs we're going to have to sit down and consider many factors.  Big decisions are much more difficult to make when they affect not only you but your partner and your children as well.  We'll see what 2015 has in store for us!

And now we are officially caught up.  Let the new year begin!


2014 Superlatives

It's that time of the year again!  Time to take a moment to look at all the things that we've made and to assess what went right and what went, well, not so right.  So without further ado, I present to you the 2014 superlatives.


Well, there are a fair number of competitors in this category this year, mostly because this year was really a return to basics.  Yes, I could sew fancy dresses every day but the fact is that I rarely wear them and this year I tried to focus more on things that actually get worn.  And I have to say that this focus was pretty successful because I regularly find myself turning to handmade garments to wear.  As for my most worn items, well this is where you realize that I'm a totally boring human being because probably my most worn items are these Plantain Tees.  White and gray t-shirts?  Is there even a more boring garment than that?  If so, I'll probably make that one too.  

A close runner-up though is something a tad bit more exciting - undies!  I loved making undies with the Ohhh Lulu Grace pattern and I fully blame this pattern for getting me hooked on lingerie making. The good news is that if my shirts are totally boring, at least my knickers aren't.

As for the kids, I could go with the old standby of undies because O still rocks her handmade undies (in between her Frozen undies, of course), but if we're excluding undergarments, I'm going to go with this Oliver and S Hopscotch dress.  O is definitely a dress girl and a knit dress is perfect for everyday wear.  Plus I love that it has long sleeves since it's often quite chilly around here.  I tried to create my own knit dress for O's first day of school but the result kind of sucked, so I'm definitely going back to the Hopscotch dress.  Unfortunately I'll have to buy a bigger size for next year.  Wahhh!


For me it was definitely this Meridian Cardigan.  While I love the pattern, I was a dumb butt and made one size smaller than was recommended.  Because of this I had to fuss with the cardigan to make it fit correctly over my shoulders and this drove me a bit bonkers.  I tried to make it work but in the end  that little issue drove me nuts and so I accepted the fact that I wasn't going to wear it and instead cut it up to make a shirt for O.  Perhaps the fabric is cursed, though, because not only did I mess things up when cutting out the shirt (resulting in a seam down the front of the shirt) but I broke two double needles while hemming it so it's still waiting around to be finished.

For the kids, it was definitely this hat.  I wrote about my woes in making it in the original post so there isn't much more to say except that it has since found a new home.  So long, Huck Finn cap!


For the kids, definitely the Hanami Dress.  As with most things, I was a little late coming around to this pattern, but once I found it I jumped all in.  In fact I made not one, not two, but three Hanami dresses this year and there will no doubt be many more made in the future.  

And for me and the kids, I have to go with the City Gym Shorts pattern (you gotta love a pattern that comes in child and adult sizes).  Not only is it my favorite price (free!), but the shorts use so little fabric and they're really fun to put together.  The black and gold version are definitely my and O's favorites.  In fact, she decided that they were perfect for soccer and she wore them to every game throughout the season.  Be forewarned, however, that the shorts are definitely on the short side.  In fact, I had the distinct pleasure of overhearing some parents talking about them, commenting "I didn't even know that you could buy shorts that short anymore."  Turns out you can't - you have to make them.  Ha!

And can I pick a runner-up for favorite pattern?  Good.  Then I choose the Watson Bra pattern.  I've made two bras from this pattern so far (one that I haven't blogged about yet) and I have to say that it's a great first bra pattern and is surprisingly supportive for not having an underwire (although I don't have a whole lot to support, if you now what I'm saying).  I'm really excited to see how I'll be able to use this pattern in the new year.  And not surprisingly, so is Ben.


My Alabama Chanin Dress.  Yes, it's extremely simple but I think that that may be what I love most about it.  It's simple, yet it has such a flattering silhouette.  It's all hand sewn and I really like the visible hand stitching along the seams and the neckline.  I didn't finish it until the end of summer so it hasn't gotten a ton of use, but I'll be excited to break it out again once the sun decides to warm up our little corner of the earth once again.  

For the kids, I'd have to say that my overall favorite is this Oliver and S Popover dress.  I've never worked with a border print fabric before I loved playing around with the placement of the different prints.  I think that the different, yet coordinating prints, really kicked the dress up a notch and I love the way that it came out.  


2014 was supposed to be the year that I got serious about stash busting and while I certainly made a bunch of garments with items from my stash, I'm not sure that I'm ending 2014 with less crap fabric than I began with.  

As for the new year, my hope is to keep learning, whether that's fitting a new garment or trying out a new technique.   2015 may be the year when I finally try to tackle a pair of pants.  Also, while not sewing related I also need to work on my posture.  I'm not getting any younger around here and my posture gets worse and worse every year.  Actually, come to think of it, it may be sewing related because hours of sewing while hunched over a sewing machine is probably not the best thing for you when you already have poor posture.

So here's to loving, learning, and standing up a bit straighter in the new year.   Wishing you much health and happiness in 2015!

And just for kicks, here are the superlatives from years past: 2013 & 2012


A Christmas Dress That I Actually Finished Before Christmas. Now That's A Christmas Miracle.

Christmas is over and thank God for that because I.  Am.  Exhausted.

Who knew that attending four events in three days - three of which we hosted at our house - would be too much?  Someone should have hit me over the head when I suggested hosting a baby shower two days after Christmas.

Plus the season was made even more crazy by the fact that Ben and I spent a week in Mexico right before Christmas to celebrate our ten year anniversary.  Poor us, right?  Well, it was poor us when we both came down with a lovely case of food poisoning the day after we got back.  In Mexico's defense it was totally our own fault and we've all learned a valuable lesson (of course we learned it the hard way - as I like to learn all my lessons).

But enough about food poisoning - let's talk sewing because not only did I manage to sew a  Christmas dress this year, I actually managed to sew it in time for Santa pictures (actually, I finished it the morning of Santa pictures.  There's nothing like a little procrastination.).  The dress itself has a couple of issues, but that's mainly because I was trying out some new things in making the dress.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

First new thing - the pattern.  The dress is the Caroline Party Dress by Welcome To The Mouse House and I'm 99% sure that I picked in up in a pattern bundle sale, but I can't remember for sure.  In any case, Rachel has raved about the pattern so I was pretty sure that it was going to be a good one.   For sizing I went with a size five for the bodice but a size 6 for the length.  O (who's five) is kind of a string bean so the bodice is probably a little on the loose side for her, but at least it means that the dress will fit longer than a month.   The dress comes with several options but most of them I left off and instead I just opted for a full lining.

Now let's talk about that beading because this was my first foray into this slightly addictive activity.   I actually bought these beads several moths ago with the intention to bead an Alabama Chanin garment, but in the end I decided that I liked those garments really simple so I opted to leave off the beading.  But then I had a whole bag of beautiful Alabama Chanin glass beads burning a hole in my pocket.  Oh, what a dilemma.  I finally settled on adding some beading to a Christmas dress for the girls but when I started the project I really had no idea what I was doing.  My original idea was to bead a peter pan color on the dress and while I still think that that would be incredibly cute, I was afraid that I was going to run out of beads halfway through so I scrapped the idea after a couple hours of work.  The problem though was that after pulling off all the beads there were so many holes in the fabric that it was essentially ruined.  Fortunately I had juuuust enough to cut out one more front.  Whew!  The second time around I opted for a much more simple design and I just added beads along two semicircular lines that mirror the neckline.  Really simple, but who needs complicated when you have a  bunch of beads?   For the beading work I traced the pattern on the fabric, added all the beads, and then cut out the bodice pieces.  That way all the breading thread on the back of the front bodice is hidden by lining.  Oh, and for the thread I used button thread since it's one of the strongest types of thread.  I don't want those little suckers coming off!

As for how the beading turned out, I love it but I should have done a much better job of ensuring that none of the beads were anywhere near the seam allowance.  Because I didn't do this I had a really hard time pressing the shoulder seams so they're not very pretty.  Grrrr.

But there is one more thing that I love about this dress - the tulle peeking out of the bottom.  Tulle is a complete pain in the butt to work with and mine is not sewn on in a particularly attractive manner, but I love the way it looks with the dress.  It adds a little poof and a feminine touch to an already super-girly dress.  Despite the total side-eye that she's giving in this picture, O actually really does like the dress.

And lastly, let's talk about the fabrics because they are all from leftover projects.  The outer fabric is a cotton that was left-over from this Carme Blouse and the inner in a cotton-cashmere blend that is leftover from this Tova.  I wish I had more of that cotton-cashmere fabric because is is truly the most delicious fabric, but alas, I think all I have left now are teeny-tiny scraps.

Alright, operation Christmas dress 2014 is officially complete.  Bring on the new year!

Also - just because I think it's funny, pictures with Santa from years past 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010
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