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party dress -- probably actually-1-3Lila will be six years old tomorrow. She has turned into such a kid this past year – jumping rope, rollerskating, writing stories, sounding out words and spelling them in that totally wrong but adorable way that kids this age do. The stuff of kindergarten. I love witnessing her attempts to master each new skill. It doesn’t all come naturally to her, but she’s got major sticktoitiveness, this girl. Such focus and determination, and such pride in each small victory. Her palms are raw with callouses and blisters from the monkey bars. Her handwriting is already better than her dad’s. And just like every new age, I can’t wait to see what six brings.

party dress -- probably actually-1-7I haven’t been sewing much lately, but I’m always up for a birthday dress. This year I chose the Caroline Party Dress by Mouse House Creations. My use of this pattern was 100% inspired by Tara’s recent birthday dress for her newly six year old. Tara’s was the perfect combination of fancy and simple and delicate and beautiful, and I decided that six was the year the birthday dress should close with an invisible zipper.party dress -- probably actually-1-8

The shape and construction of this dress are very similar to Rae’s Geranium dress, – gathered empire waist, faux cap sleeves, side seam pockets, lined bodice. The major differences are the invisible zipper (which somehow equals fancier to me), and a few other options, such as a collar, a full lining, and a tulle underskirt. I skipped the tulle but did a full lining, which adds some nice volume to the skirt.

party dress -- probably actually-1-2

It also helps that I accidentally cut my skirt pieces to a size 7 width – that’s what happens (to me anyway) when you have to make your own rectangular pattern pieces and you’re trying to do the math on combining two sizes – all the measurements kept running together. But it just meant some extra gathers, which isn’t the worst thing when you’re making a party dress. I ended up with a size 5 bodice and a skirt somewhere between a 6 and a 7 – it’s long, but I like the fit.

party dress -- probably actually-1-6

The main fabric is a Japanese seersucker lawn, bought last May from Miss Matatabi. I’ve lusted after so many things from her shop, but this has been my only purchase so far. I fell in love with this one immediately – the colors, the crinkly texture, the triangles. It’s no longer available, but the shop is full of the most amazing Japanese fabrics and is worth checking out if haven’t already.

party dress -- probably actually-1-11 The lining fabric is Watermelon shot cotton, which I also used for the collar. Based on Rachel’s lovely version, I cut the skirt lining a little longer than the outer skirt so it would peek out at the bottom.

party dress -- probably actually-1-9

This dress feels wonderful – both fabrics are very soft and light, but it’s a lot of yardage (three in total) – so it’s weighty, but light and flowy at the same time. It’s a little bit dressier than what I usually make, but hey, turning six is a little bit special.

party dress -- probably actually-1-7

I went back to look at each of Lila’s handmade birthday dresses. We’re six for six. My mom made the first two (back when sewing a dress seemed way out of my league), and I took over from there.

onetwo threefour fivesix

one | two | three | four | five | six

I hope there are plenty more to come.

Well, I sewed one thing for this round of KCW. It felt like a major accomplishment! I must be getting lazy in my old age. Here it is, a new-to-me pattern, the Oliver + S Nature Walk Pullover.

nature walk pullover -- probably actually-1-2

I never really gave this pattern much consideration, but over the summer I fell in love with this version from the Flickr pool and became obsessed with making it for Oscar. It never ceases to amaze me how one person’s interpretation of a pattern can have that effect. Anyway, I immediately traced the size 2 but didn’t get around to it until now, so, tragically, I had to retrace the whole thing in a size 3. Maybe I could’ve gotten away with lengthening the 2, but bigger is my rule of thumb for this kid.

nature walk pullover -- probably actually-1-3

I can’t say I love the fit. The arms are too long and the shoulders are big, and it’s a little hard to get on and off unless his arms are straight up over his head, which was same problem I had with Lila’s first Jump Rope dress. Is that just the nature of a garment with an opening like this?

nature walk pullover -- probably actually-1-6But on to the fabric – I really wanted to make mine exactly like Audrey’s, I loved it so much. The sleeves are designed to be made with two different fabrics, but I joined those two pattern pieces and cut each sleeve as one piece, like she did. My plan was to use chambray, but then I found this Kaufman Shetland flannel in Denim – it’s textured and looks like chambray, and it’s the softest flannel I’ve ever felt. So I used that, and for the neck and pocket facings I cut into my precious half yard of Heather Ross moons. I wasn’t sure how much they’d show, and in the pocket facings they really don’t. But because the V opening is so low, they show plenty there. I top stitched everything in a heavy weight gold thread.

nature walk pullover -- probably actually-1-4I took a couple of days making this, but the sewing was straightforward and easy, and everything was textbook Oliver + S, a.k.a a total pleasure. And despite the fit issues, Oscar likes it and I like it and sewing for boys is fun. The end.

nature walk pullover -- probably actually-1-5

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Oh, and the winner of the Sewing to Sell giveaway was Lori! Thanks to all who entered :)

11060_FrontCover_FullSize-2 Anyone with a love for making things has probably fielded the comment “You should sell that!” at least once or twice or a hundred times. In general I just scoff at this suggestion, but the truth is, I’ve thought about it plenty. About what I might sell, how much I’d charge, how I’d set it apart from the handmade masses, whether I could really make it profitable, and so on. So when Virginia (of Gingercake) released her new book, Sewing to Sell, I was eager to read it, and to share it here. Sewing to Sell is an amazing resource if you’ve ever considered turning your sewing hobby into a business and could use a little guidance about how it’s done. Virginia walks you through the entire process – finding your own style, knowing your audience, gathering the right equipment, photographing, packaging, and displaying your work, preparing for a craft show or online sales, pricing your goods, and so much more. She also interviews of some talented crafters about their styles and their businesses. AND, she has generously included 16 patterns (complete with helpful price points) that you have permission to make and sell. I tried the simple iPad sleeve – it’s cute and useful, and took minimal time and fabric – in other words, the perfect type of item to sell. Or to make for yourself, of course! ipad sleeve 2 -- probably actually-1-2 ipad sleeve -- probably actually-1-2 ipad sleeve 2 -- probably actually-1 For more details, check out Sewing to Sell and the rest of the tour! Blog Tour If you think this book might be up your alley and want a chance to win a copy (and live in the U.S.), just leave a comment on this post to be entered in the giveaway. It’s open through this Friday, January 16th!

charley harper pajama pants

These were made (patterns traced, fabric cut, pants sewn) with lightning speed, in assembly-line style, on the 23rd of December. If you’ve left your Christmas Eve pjs to the last minute, this pattern is your friend. Inseam, Inseam, cuff, cuff, rise, waistband. Done! charley harper pjs -- probably actually-1I bought both kids $4 Old Navy t-shirts and just left them as-is this time (except for the addition of some running stitches on Lila’s pocket) – bare bones, people. PANTS ONLY.

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The turquoise birds (Red Eye Vireo) are from Birch Fabric’s first Charley Harper line, and Oscar’s penguins (Murre) are from the new line, Nurture. The Birch poplin has such a nice feel and sheen to it – it’s smooth and crisp and a little more substantial than your average quilting cotton…if that makes any sense. There are so many cool prints in these two Charley Harper lines, and you really have to see them up close to fully appreciate them.charley harper pjs -- probably actually-1-3

I used Moda’s Indigo Pinstripe for Oscar’s cuffs and waistband, and the green contrast on Lila’s is one of the Cotton + Steel Basics, Dottie in Picnic.

charley harper pjs -- probably actually-1-4The Oliver + S pajama pants are always a hit around here, but I do feel like I’m in a bit of a rut with them. Next year maybe I’ll try knit pjs (Flashback Skinny Tee + Fancy Pants leggings like Elizabeth’s), or maybe a nightgown (did you see Rachel’s?) for Lila. Or, more likely, it’ll be these again on the eve of the 23rd.

As I was going through my photos from the year, I realized I made not ONE SINGLE THING for myself in 2014. Terrible, I know. The truth is, I did sew a few things, just nothing worthy of sharing – I made a Wiksten Tank and the Liesl & Co Bistro Dress, and while they were both great patterns, neither was especially flattering on me. I’m still trying to figure out sewing my own clothing, and clearly it isn’t going all that well. Maybe 2015 will be my breakthrough year.

So what did I sew? Well, Lila scored a few new dresses. Fifteen to be exact.

lila's dresses 2014garden party | hide-and-seek | jump rope A | franklin | jump rope B | library B | hide-and-seek | mini poppy | carousel | roller skate | first day | roller skate | little joey | library A | geranium

The dresses definitely won out in terms of sheer numbers, but there were a few other things for Lila:

lila's stuff 2014swingset tunic | school bus tee | sleepover pjs | 2+2 skirt | bucket hat | swingset skirt | swingset skirt | shearwater kaftan | bunny pjs

Oscar wasn’t fully ignored:

sewing for oscar 2014bow tie | happy homemade hoodie | bucket hat | hawthorn sweatshirt | small fry skinny cords | sketchbook shorts | field trip raglan | bunny pjs | dmk peacoat | art museum trousers

And there was an assortment of gifts and other random things:

2014 sewing, the restbaby girl’s coat | lullaby layette | ice cream dress | seal pjs | square floor cushion | lap duvet | divided basket | emmeline apron | rain cloud costumes

These were my 2014 personal favorites:

my personal faves 2014

I learned to use and love my serger this year (it only sat in the box until April – not half bad, right?), and I learned to love boy sewing just a little bit more. And what I already knew was reinforced: making dresses sure is fun. The truth is, I don’t have any huge goals for the new year. I just want to make pretty things and then marvel at my kids as they wear them. I know it isn’t much, but that’s what makes me happy.

So anyway, Happy 2015 from these two, my reasons for sewing.

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holiday attire

I tried to keep my December sewing to a minimum this year, which was really very nice. Christmas clothes weren’t originally on my list, but then I saw the adorable plaid Art Museum vest Elizabeth (of the lovely blog Lizzieville) made for her little boy. She mentioned in the post that her daughter asked for a dress to match, and suddenly my kids needed matching Christmas outfits, too. And so, I sewed.

christmas attire -- probably actually-1-2 Elizabeth was actually the inspiration for the dress, too – I really loved her Library Christmas dress from last year, and I also came across this beautiful corduroy/Liberty version via my Oliver + S Flickr group search. So, despite having just made a Library dress (and swearing off this view), I decided on View B in baby cord with a floral band…but then I never found a good floral. I almost scrapped the whole thing, but at the last minute I looked through the piles of fabric already on my shelf and found this striped shot cotton.

christmas library dress -- probably actually-1I can’t recall why I bought this fabric in the first place, but I’m pretty sure it ended up lost in the stacks because the colors reminded me too much of Christmas. So anyway, long story short, I ended up with dark gray Kaufman cord, some forgotten striped shot cotton, and flat piping in a green Modern Solid. I sewed a size 5 lengthened to a 6, and also lengthened the sleeves by an inch. Lila isn’t a big fan of 3/4 sleeves so I wanted to pass them off as long sleeves. She won’t wear them rolled up, but I do love the notched cuffs.christmas attire -- probably actually-1-3

There wasn’t enough corduroy for the facings (I squeezed the whole dress into a wide yard of fabric with some very careful planning), so those are cut from the shot cotton. Luckily Liesl has you understitch all the facing seams, so there’s no chance they’ll be peeking out when they shouldn’t. But they do make for a nice surprise inside.

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Having made both views, I think the collar must give the neckline a little more structure and hold it in place, because the neckline on this dress gapes a little more than the collared version. Nothing too serious, but I did notice a difference.

christmas library dress -- probably actually-1-2And again with all those buttons down the back. But I was happy to find these little black and green ones.

Now, on to that bow tie.

christmas bow tie -- probably actually-1-2

I read through just about everything the internet had to offer on the topic of making your own bow tie, but in the end I used Delia‘s free Mix and Match Bow Tie pattern and tutorial. I knew I could trust Delia. It was super simple and quick to sew – in fact, I bet I spent more time learning how to tie it than actually sewing it. But thanks to YouTube and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Lila and I must have watched this video twenty times, she thought it was hilarious), tying a bow tie is now on my list of life accomplishments.

christmas bow tie -- probably actually-1

Apparently bow ties are usually cut on the bias, but since shot cotton already has some stretch, I cut it on the grain. And I used velcro as my back closure method rather than swim suit hooks, just to make sure it was good and adjustable. It’s a little droopy (interfacing could have solved that) but I love it just the same.

christmas bow tie -- probably actually-1-4Who knew I’d ever get so excited about a bow tie? And to think, I was so broken up about not having two girls to sew for…this is totally just as great. Maybe even better. Maybe. Sort of. Whatever, it’s great.

christmas bow tie -- probably actually-1-3They were pretty cute together. I’m officially a fan of coordinated holiday attire.

christmas attire 2 -- probably actually-1

There were also some eleventh hour semi-coordiated Christmas pajamas that I’ll share just as soon as I can get my children to cooperate for photos. Hope everyone’s holidays were happy – enjoy these last few days of the year!

library dress in tangrams

Oh hi, I’m back from my month-long vacation on the couch. Pretty sure I watched more TV in the past 30 days than in the last four years combined. But anyway, here’s what I have to show for myself – an Oliver + S Library Dress.

moonlit library dress -- probably actually-1-2

I made one from Rashida Coleman-Hale’s 1000 Cranes fabric last fall, and I’m not sure if it was the fabric or the pattern or the combination of the two, but that dress was one of my very favorites. Lila liked it, too – she wore it long after the length became indecent (which happened pretty quickly – this dress runs shorter than other Oliver + S patterns, be warned), and I was so sad to retire it. So here’s version 2.0 – more Rashida Coleman-Hale, this time in Tangrams from her Cotton + Steel Moonlit collection.

moonlit library dress -- probably actually-1-7

I love the colors in this print, and I picked a coordinating Cotton Couture solid for the band (Peony, I think). I went with View A again (short sleeves and collar) – I always feel like I should try the other options when I make a pattern the second time, but then I never do. If it worked out the first time and was well received, I usually just stick with it. The only thing I left out this time was the flat piping – I love how it looks but couldn’t come up with a fabric I wanted to use. And I remember from last time that with the collar and the bodice and the band and the piping, that seam gets really bulky. It was a bit more streamlined this time.

moonlit library dress -- probably actually-1-8

This is a size 5 lengthened to a 6, which I think came out about right. I can’t say that this closure method is my favorite – 9 buttons/buttonholes! But Lila doesn’t seem to mind it, and that V in the front makes it easy to get on and off without unbuttoning more than one or two buttons.

moonlit library dress -- probably actually-1-6

I don’t know, is this a stretch as a holiday dress? I sewed it in December, so I sort of want it to count. We’ll see, there could still be time for something slightly more festive…

Thanks to LiMa Sews for this beautiful fabric!

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