Archive for September, 2011

good mail

I got a pretty package in the mail yesterday

with something even prettier inside:

Melanie of Queen of the Flies gave away two of these lovely Oliver + S Ice Cream Dresses last week, and I won the 3T! I never win anything! I was super excited she chose my name – I love this pattern (I’ve only tried the shirt version myself), and I happen to really love her take on the dress. The Joel Dewberry Sparrows and Kaffe Fassett shot cotton are a perfect fall combination, and it’s beautifully sewn, too. Her blog is worth checking out if you haven’t already – there’s a great tutorial for lengthening the back opening of the Ice Cream Dress (the reason for the giveaway) – perfect if your kid has a big head!

Thanks for the dress, Melanie! I couldn’t love it any more if I tried.

Lila only agreed to participate in my photo shoot if she could wear the dress over the clothes she already had on. So here you go:

As if the dress weren’t enough, this showed up yesterday, too:

It was a very good day for mail.


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pockets for lila

Lila turned 2.5 last week and is now officially uninterested in my opinion when it comes to getting dressed. She has some unconventional ideas, such as Monday’s outfit, which included a pair of tights wrapped around her waist “for a belt.” On our errands that morning the tights fell off, either at the library or the grocery store – we went back looking for them, but no luck. I guess that’s the price you pay for fashion.

It’s fun to watch her sense of style develop, but I always secretly hope she’ll choose the things I’ve made. One thing we agree on is pockets. She mostly loves them for their capacity to hold treats, but she also likes to gather pennies and acorns and other grubby treasures, and pockets are perfect for that. There are so many fun pocket variations out there (Oliver + S patterns are great for collecting cute pockets), and I love how they can transform the ordinary into something special. Plus pockets give you something to do when you’re standing around, which is maybe not so important for little kids, but it’s great practice for when you become a socially awkward adult.

So anyway, a couple months ago another mother approached me (and not vice-versa of course, because I’m socially awkward) at the park and we started chatting about sewing and kids clothes. She told me about a little girls’ dress she’d seen online and fallen in love with – a blue jumper with rickrack around the pocket, made by Olive’s Friend Pop. I consider myself fairly well versed in kid fashion, but I had never heard of Olive’s Friend Pop, and I was intrigued. She kept trying to describe the dress to me, then finally just pulled out her phone and showed me this photo. Oh boy, I loved it too.

Here’s my knock off of the Olive’s Friend Pop Agnes dress, with its rickrack adorned kangaroo pocket.

Two hands in the same pocket! A brand new pocket experience.

I used a jumper pattern I had on hand for the general shape of the dress and made some modifications for the straps and top. The hardest part was getting the rickrack around the tight corners of the pocket, but after five or so attempts, I finally got the hang of it.

The fabric is a Moda Bella solid and it’s lined it with a print from Moda’s Just Wing It collection. I found the scalloped buttons at Joanns.

Aside from Lila’s Halloween costume last year, I’ve never really just looked at something and tried to reproduce it. I like it when things work out the first time around, so I prefer to use a pattern and follow good, detailed directions. But this design was so simple (it’s all about the pocket, really) that I thought I’d give it a try. And yes, this is my second try at the dress – I used pinwale corduroy the first time, and I faced it instead of lining the whole thing, so it ended up kind of floppy. Not to mention it was too big, and the buttonholes were too low, and so on and so on. But I’m happy with getting it (mostly) right the second time.

Totally unrelated to anything, but I have to share: As we were getting into the car this morning Lila proclaimed, “I love seam rippers!”

Yes dear, I love them, too. Just ask that dress you’re rubbing into the driveway.

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I’m working through a stack of Oliver + S patterns for the fall. First up was the Jump Rope Dress, and then the Hopscotch Skirt (a special thanks to Kristin who bought the pattern first, causing me to believe I needed it, too. I did!). I was torn between making a neutral, go-with-everything version and using a print. Decision making isn’t my strong suit, so I went with one of each.

Behold, two Hopscotch skirts:

One in chambray (the last of my blue) and one in Sandpiper from Cloud 9 Fabrics.

The pockets are what sold me on the skirt, but the flat front waistband and button-up placket would make an awfully cute skirt on their own. I also love this version with the tie, which was the prototype for the Hopscotch Skirt pattern. Might have to try that next time.

Both skirts are 2Ts – there’s elastic in the back of the waistband which makes the fit around the middle very adjustable. I think the length will last us awhile, too.

I spent way too much time trying to get my pockets right on the first skirt – it was trickier than I’d anticipated to get the corners of those origami folds in place.

But imperfect pleats and all, these pockets will hold a marshmallow.

And the boots are two sizes too big, but at least they’re a pair.

Lila has her own sense of fashion lately, so adding neutral items to her wardrobe seems like a good idea – less chance for horrific clashes.

She’ll continue to foil me with her mismatched shoes, though.

I’ve been hoarding these little sandpipers for almost a year – it’s a lovely organic fabric with a smooth, crisp feel. Maybe more spring than fall, but we might still get a few more sunny days.

Check out my skirt-in-progress, camouflaged against my ironing board cover. It played tricks with my eyes the whole time.

I should really remind myself to make two of everything – the second one feels so quick and easy compared to the first, and in my case comes out so much cleaner. Makes me feel a little better about all that tedious pattern tracing, too.

It’s so great when you can try a new pattern and have complete confidence that it’s going to come together just right (on the pattern’s end at least!) – and that’s exactly how it is with Oliver + S patterns. Always a pleasure.

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I stayed up late finishing a dress on Labor Day. It didn’t cross my mind at the time since Tuesday was just a regular day for us, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I spend future Labor Days that way too, making first day of school dresses for Lila. We’re home together for another year, but I guess this could be considered her honorary back to school dress.

Not that she would’ve been able to wear it anyway – it’s been in the 90s all week. That’s always the way it is at back to school time around these parts.

Speaking of school, I can’t help but feel a bit jealous of my stay-at-home mom friends who started their only children in preschool this week. I keep finding myself fantasizing about the handful of hours they’ll have to sew, or grocery shop alone, or just not entertain their kid. It’s bittersweet, I know, and I’m sure I’ll be a disaster on Lila’s first day of preschool. But in theory, the whole school thing sounds kind of amazing. The extent of back to school for us is a class at the community center promisingly entitled, “Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance.”  I have to attend and participate though, so yeah, not quite the same thing…

But back to the dress.

The pattern is the Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress – I made view A back in June, but this is my first go at view B. It went so much faster the second time around – view B is a simpler design, and I already had one placket under my belt. The placket requires the most time and precision, but the pattern really isn’t difficult, and it’s a very satisfying sew.

If it wasn’t obvious from three of my last four projects, I’ve really been loving chambray lately. I bought the gray with this dress in mind and had to restock after using it for my Go Anywhere bag. And I used the blue for Lila’s baby carrier. It’s versatile stuff!

The inside placket, pocket binding, and covered buttons are Empire Weave in Dandelion from Joel Dewberry’s Heirloom line. Everything’s top-stitched in yellow.

The cuffed sleeves and gathered pockets are my favorite details:

I made a 2T this time – it’s a little on the roomy side, but that’s how new school clothes are supposed to fit, right?

Sorry about the shoes – she’s been dead-set on wearing them that way for weeks. I find it a little bit distracting, but it doesn’t seem worth fighting over – and even if we did, I wouldn’t win.

And as we all know, sometimes photo shoots require bribes, so I put a little treat in her pocket to sweeten the deal.


Found it!

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a birthday backpack

It was really fun to have a bunch of new visitors from Noodlehead last week, thanks for stopping by and saying hi! And thanks for all the sick day well wishes – Lila made an amazingly quick recovery, which meant there was no sick day #2. And that gave me time to finish up a backpack for my nephew’s second birthday.

I used the Toddler Backpack Pattern from Made by Rae – it’s a great pattern and kids look so cute and grown-up wearing these little backpacks. Two is old enough to start carrying around your own stuff, right?

The elephants are a Japanese print from Daiwabo, and the straps, bottom, and lining are duck cloth. The duck cloth is pretty heavy, and the pattern instructions recommend against it (which I read after cutting everything out, of course). I had a moment of panic – I didn’t have time (or fabric) to cut out new pieces, so I changed my needle to a 14 and went for it. The bulkiest seams were a little tricky, but it all came right in the end. The first backpack I made was lined with quilting cotton and it ended up pretty floppy – I love how sturdy this one turned out with the heavier lining.

Anyway, we packed it up with play dough and headed to the park for the birthday party. And Lila devoured that cupcake, then licked every crumb from the paper, then licked every crumb off her fingers. Must be feeling better…

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