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shearwater kaftan -- probably actually-3

Okay, it’s technically still KCW according to Pacific Standard Time, so I’m squeezing in this one final project – a Mini Shearwater Kaftan from Make it Perfect. Toni released this pattern (it’s a kids’ version of her Shearwater Kaftan pattern for women) a couple weeks ago and was kind enough to send me a copy.

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This is a comfortable, breezy shirt, perfect for spring. The sleeves can be worn long or rolled up and secured with sleeve tabs, which are my favorite part. It’s a digital pattern and comes in two size ranges (0-5 and 6-10) – I made a size 5, which was a good fit for Lila.

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Toni suggests something light and airy such as double gauze (like her beautiful Nani Iro version), voile, or lawn, and the minute I saw the pattern I thought of Palos Verdes voile from Cloud9 Fabrics. I’ve been drooling over this line for quite some time, and seeing and feeling it in real life only confirmed my belief that it’s positively divine.

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It was hard to choose from all the beautiful prints, but I went with Malaga Cove (from LiMa Sews – she has the whole line in stock). And if you’re looking for Palos Verdes inspiration, the new Oliver + S Lullaby Layette was made up in this voile for the pattern cover. It’s perfect.

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I was happy to discover that last year’s chambray Class Picnic Shorts still fit – they turned out to be a nice match. I think a pair of Sailboat pants would be awfully cute with this top, too.

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Incidentally, the weather has been glorious here. See? Sun.

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Bye KCW, see you this summer…

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I made this shirt two weeks ago, so it’s technically a cheater KCW project. But Liesl of Oliver + S just announced her collection of digital t-shirt patterns (kids’, women’s, and men’s – you can outfit the whole family!), and I was a tester for the kids’ version, the School Bus T-shirt pattern. I sewed up one for each kid, so I thought I’d share Lila’s today.

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The School Bus pattern is a basic t-shirt that comes with several options – three different sleeve lengths and two neckband widths. This is View B, with a more feminine, capped sleeve and a narrow neckband. Views A and C are your standard short-sleeved and long-sleeved t-shirts. It’s so nice to have basics like this from trusted sources like Oliver + S – you always know just what you’re getting into, and it’s always something good. And as with all great basic patterns, the options for customization are endless.

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I sewed a size 5 and was really happy with the fit – it’s relaxed but not overly roomy, and the capped sleeves and narrow neckband definitely give View B a girlier feel.

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The silver dot knit came from a sale rack Old Navy tee. I don’t know if it was the fabric or the fact that I skipped the walking foot this time, but it sewed up like a dream.

silver dot school bus t-shirt -- probably actually

If you want more info on any of these new T-shirt patterns, check out Liesl’s introduction post on the the Oliver + S blog. Each pattern is available on its own, or you can purchase a “Family Pack” that includes all four (men’s, women’s, and two size ranges for kids). I’m looking forward to trying the women’s Metro T-shirt myself. After KCW, of course.

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As usual I have many projects on my list for Kids Clothes Week, but OBVIOUSLY my number one priority was brother/sister bunny pajamas for Easter. I never pegged myself as the type to sew coordinating anything for my children, but apparently I am exactly that type.

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Every year I envision myself making Christmas pajamas, and every year December fills up with other things. In fact the only year I actually made them, they were finished in November. That’s probably the key. Anyway, I found this cute bunny fabric right before the New Year, and fresh with my failure to deliver Christmas pajamas, I snatched it up for Easter pjs. I figured four months of lead time should be enough to make it happen.

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The pants are made with the Oliver + S Sleepover Pajamas pattern. Oscar’s are size 18-24 months and came out pretty big, but I’m not concerned – they’ll probably fit tomorrow. He is huge for his age and just keeps on gettin’ huger. And I would’ve preferred to make Lila’s in a 5 (her last pair were 4s), but since I only have the smaller size range in this pattern I used the 4 and added a 1/2 inch to the rise and another 1/2 inch to the legs, which worked out just fine. I like that the cuffs on the Sleepover Pajamas can be rolled up or let down for a more adjustable fit.

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I used Old Navy t-shirts for the tops, and added snoozing bunny patches. T-shirts are easy enough to make, but at $4 a pop, they sure are easy to buy, too.

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The bunnies (Bunny Brigade from Critter Patch Organic) are from Clothworks and were designed by Alyssa Thomas of Penguin & Fish. So that explains why they’re so cute. Just like her embroidery patterns.

sleepy bunny pjs -- probably actuallyThe cuffs and waistbands are Lizzy House’s Jewels in Aqua and Peach.

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I hope to finish at least one more project this week – in the meantime I’ll be perusing everyone else’s KCW creations!

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f i v e

Lila is now a full two weeks into five.

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I must say, I felt differently about five than I did about the proceeding birthdays. I’ve always been the type to get a bit nostalgic and sad around birthday time, trying to hang on to those final days of each year before they’re gone forever. Five, though – I’m just plain excited for five. Every year has been pretty extraordinary, of course, but I have these wonderfully high hopes for five. I can’t wait to see what this year brings.

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One thing it’s brought already is a late birthday gift – a Purl Bee lap duvet made with double gauze and shot cotton.

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There are so many great Purl Bee blanket tutorials, and when Anna posted her lovely baby seal lap duvet I remembered that I had some double gauze (Nani Iro’s Melody Sketch in Pastel) in need of a project. This is such a wonderful, cozy blanket. The double gauze and shot cotton are both extra soft fabrics, and the wool batting makes it so warm and lofty – I used a crib-sized Dream Wool and tacked it down by machine every six inches.

nani iro lap duvet -- probably actually-2

I really intended to give this on time – it looked like a pretty simple project, so I started it a couple nights before her birthday. After spending an entire evening trying to lay two pieces of fabric on top of one another without wrinkling (I’m not kidding – why was this so hard for me??), I got tired and gave up. The main problem, aside from general unwieldiness and ineptitude, was that the backing ended up two inches shorter than the double gauze, and I couldn’t bear to cut into that precious double gauze. The whole reason I was using it for a blanket (after hoarding it for 13 months) was to avoid taking a scissors to it AT ALL. But in the end it seemed silly to buy another piece of shot cotton just to save two inches of Nani Iro, and I was already a week behind schedule, so I proceeded.

a nani iro lap duvet -- probably actually-3

I ended up taping the fabrics to my kitchen floor prior to pinning, and besides not being the cleanliest option, it worked out alright. Both fabrics have some stretch to them and I never really got things to lay straight and even. My finished rectangle is a little wonky, but it’s passable. And what it lacks in mathematical precision it certainly makes up for in cuddleability.

nani iro lap duvet -- probably actually

The tutorial calls for 1.75 yards, and I only had 1.5 yards of double gauze (making it even harder to chop off those two inches!), but it’s still a good sized blanket, even for me. I didn’t have double gauze for the backing so shot cotton seemed like a good alternative. There were so many color options to go with those dots, but I eventually settled on Quartz – I’m not a big pink/purple person, but Lila likes it, and I found this shade to be wholly non-offensive.

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I added (as I do) a little embroidered tag to the back.

a nani iro lap duvet -- probably actually

And just a few more birthday things to show – the traditional invites:

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A birthday banner (which just came down today):

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And she requested a birthday crown like Oscar’s – I used the tutorial from Heidi & Finn. They’re so quick and simple to make.

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We thought about doing something more elaborate, but decided to keep it simple and have a little birthday party with neighborhood friends like we’ve done every year. She chose ice cream sundaes for the party – those little polka dot cups are filled with kid portions of the toppings, in a futile attempt to minimize sugar overload. Adults were free to make their own bad decisions. Not pictured: salted caramel sauce and hot fudge – both excellent recipes if ever you’re looking.

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And on the real day, we had a gummy bear adorned chocolate cake. I think it’s safe to say that I’ll never use another chocolate cake recipe as long as I live (I like it with plain old vanilla buttercream, though).

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We fulfilled (in the loosest sense of the word) her wish for a pet with a betta fish. It’s not the most exciting animal – in fact it’s hard to tell if he’s dead or alive or part of the plastic plant or what, because he almost never moves. Not exactly the rabbit she asked for, but what can I say, we aren’t pet people. And that big box in the back is her very own Janome Hello Kitty sewing machine (it was quite a bit cheaper in the store, just FYI). This thing is the real deal – it’s a great little machine. I don’t know, five is probably slightly premature for a sewing machine, but I got excited about the idea and couldn’t help myself. She loves it and is doing great so far, I just wish we had more time to use it together. But alas, the presence of a toddler in the house makes most activities utterly impossible. Still, it’s an exciting new development, and just one tiny part of why five is looking like so much fun.

birthday sewing

So there you have it.

F I V E.

 

emmeline apron

emmeline apron -- probably actually-5

More birds! More clouds! More chambray!

emmeline apron -- probably actually-7

Yep, all my favorites, in one reversible Emmeline Apron from Sew Liberated. The pattern is an oldie but goodie. I was drawn to the apron right away when Kristin posted her version (vintage skirt as top post alert!) – and now, almost three years later, it made its way on to my project list. I made mine for my sister, too, but my neighbor was kind enough to model for me and keep me out of the photos, which was very much appreciated. I owe you some baked goods, neighbor!

emmeline apron -- probably actually-14

The pattern has some nice, feminine features – a gathered bodice, a skirt with darts, and nice long ties that you can wear in the front or back. And reversible is always a plus in my book – especially for something that’s bound to get pretty dirty.

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This was an easy sew – maybe a little time consuming since you’re essentially making two aprons, and there is a good amount of bias cutting for the straps, but it was fun to put together. I skipped hand-sewing the bias binding for the straps, but if you want it to look extra neat and tidy, you should take the time to do it by hand. The only tricky part for me was positioning the ties between the two skirt pieces – they need to be placed just so to extend out straight and just below the waistband piece, and it took me a bit of trial and error to get there. Luckily that spot is pretty hidden once the apron is tied on, so if it doesn’t line up exactly, no one will be the wiser.
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The print is Fly by Night from Bonnie Christine’s Sweet as Honey line from Art Gallery Fabrics. There are a few prints in this line that really tempted me – I especially love the little deer. But I ended up with the birds (as I often do), and paired them with another Andover chambray (Espresso this time). The bands and ties are a yellow crosshatch (Bluebird Park Linen Texture in Sunrise). You need quite a bit (1.75 yards) of the contrast fabric to accommodate those long ties, but you’ll have a lot of it left over.

emmeline apron -- probably actually-2

I’m kind of enjoying the thought that this won’t be outgrown in a few months like almost everything else I make. Perhaps more sewing for grown-ups is in order…

Okay, Lila and I have collectively changed our minds. This is her birthday dress:

a hide-and-seek dress -- probably actually

She’s actually come around to her Garden Party dress and has agreed to wear it with a sweater, but she declared a strong dislike for its sleevelessness early on. I knew she wasn’t a fan of what she calls “half-quarter sleeves”, but I had no idea that a lack of sleeves would cause such heartache. Luckily, a Hide-and-Seek dress, complete with proper sleeves, was already in the works.

hide-and-seek dress -- probably actually-13

I really enjoyed this pattern. For me, the Garden Party dress was the easiest to love at face value, but I could tell the Hide-and-Seek had great potential and I was excited to play with it.

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The dress has a contrast yoke with a gathered skirt, which together attach to side panels that run the length of the dress (or tunic, which is another option). You can choose short sleeves (shown here) or cuffed three-quarter sleeves. These sleeves were amazingly easy to set-in – hardly any easing necessary. I think it’s the first time in my entire sleeve-setting career that I didn’t have to bust out the seam ripper even once. It was glorious.

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One of my favorite features of the dress are the side seam welt pockets. I love how they look, and they were surprisingly simple to construct.

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Like Liesl suggests, the yoke gives you a great opportunity to highlight a special fabric. I used a Japanese print from a line called Muddy Works by Tomotake for Kokka – it’s called Large Orbs and the color is an interesting mix of purple and gray. I found it locally, but all three colors of this print are available here. It only takes a half yard of fabric to accommodate the length of the yoke pieces, and you’ll have most of that half yard left over, so it’s not such a big deal to splurge on something special.

2hide-and-seek dress -- probably actually-2

The mustard chambray is from Andover Fabrics. I’ve mentioned before that I’m always on the lookout for great chambrays – they are such versatile garment fabrics and have been a favorite of mine since I started sewing. Just about everything looks great made from chambray, and the available selection seems to have expanded quite a bit. LiMa Sews recently stocked the entire line of Andover chambrays – 18 different colors. I’ve seen them all in person and can attest to their loveliness. They have a nice weight to them, not too flimsy, but still plenty soft. It’s really good stuff.

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I know solid yellow probably isn’t the most practical choice for a little girls’ dress, but I loved the shade. Nice for almost-spring.

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And yes, this pattern was designed with a notch at the neckline, but what can I say – I think I’ve omitted the notch in almost every pattern that’s had one. It’s lovely with the notch, but you can easily leave it out – just a matter of preference.

hide-and-seek dress -- probably actually-3

I sewed this dress in a size 4 – Lila is at the end of the height and weight range for a 4, but this one has a more relaxed fit, so I think sizing down was the way to go. I added an inch to the length as a precaution, but it ended up too long, so I took it back up an inch after hemming.

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Sorry about all the photos. The light was nice last night and I took too many. Plus, she only has six more days to be four years old.

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Again, thanks to Liesl for providing this pattern, it was a pleasure to review!

The spring Oliver + S patterns are here! And I couldn’t resist sewing all of them – they’re sooooo good! There are two dress patterns in the mix, and their arrival happened to coincide nicely with birthday sewing this year. Lila will be five next week, and like every year, a new birthday dress was in order.

garden party dress -- probably actually

This is the Garden Party dress, a lovely little party dress with a gathered bodice and skirt. It’s another a beautiful, clean design from Oliver + S – fun and girly without any crazy frills. Perfectly suited to my style.

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The dress can be made sleeveless or with cap sleeves, and there’s a blouse option as well. The construction was simple and straightforward, and true to Oliver + S form, everything came together beautifully and without a hitch. I made a size 4 and lengthened it by one inch – I think it turned out roomy and long enough to fit for a good while.

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The back has a keyhole opening, and the button closes with a thread chain. This was my first attempt at a thread chain – there’s a tutorial on the Oliver + S blog, but if your brain is anything like mine and needs a visual real-time demonstration for all new skills, this video did the trick for me.

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Also – it you’re going to make the sleeveless version, I might suggest hand finishing the bias-bound arm holes rather than edge stitching them by machine (both are listed as options in the pattern). I had trouble getting around the tight curves without puckering, and I’m sure it would have looked much nicer finished by hand. I may even rip out my edge stitching and ((ask my mom to)) stitch the binding closed by hand. Someday I hope to have more patience for hand sewing…

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And the fabric…oh, how I love this fabric. It’s Summer Grove by Day from Leah Duncan’s new line, Meadow – I picked it up from LiMa Sews where the whole line is available. Leah Duncan’s designs are among my very favorites, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting Meadow’s release. Each of her prints is a like a beautiful work of art, and the canvas is Art Gallery Fabric‘s super smooth, high-quality pima cotton. Art Gallery’s tag line is “Feel the Difference” and I have to agree – their fabrics are far superior to your standard quilting cotton, and the soft drape is really nice for apparel.

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For the bands and yoke I used a textured solid from In the Beginning Fabrics – Modern Solid in Coral.

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Of course, Lila will not be having a garden party for her March birthday – Oregon weather does not allow for such things. Sleeveless in March is pretty unpractical around here as well, but that’s what cardigans are for, right?

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Check out Kristin’s Garden Party dress, too – also in Meadow! And stay tuned for the Hide-and-Seek Dress, which turned out to be my surprise favorite of the three!

Many many thanks to Liesl for the advance copy of this pattern – as always, my opinions are my own.

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