Monday, December 21, 2015

It's Not Too Late for an #llkholiday with Merry and Mod!

Seriously, it's taken me longer to finish up this post than it did to sew these two dresses! Oy. When Cassie started testing for her Merry and Mod holiday dresses (for Little Lizard King Patterns) and was looking for a couple of bloggers to sew up both of them, I couldn't resist. Miss P has been wanting to do a photoshoot with one of her buddies, and this was the perfect opportunity. Her friend M is absolutely adorable and was up for anything - M's mom has a gorgeous, classic style and I knew she'd love the Merry dress pattern.

Miss P is all about comfort, and I wanted to add bishop sleeves to the Mod dress for her.

The fabrics for both girls' dresses were coordinated to match M's front door - their beautiful home was the perfect setting for our photos. The weather has been unseasonably warm this fall, and both girls were good sports about running around outside for me.

The dresses were a hit all around; the patterns are well-written and well-fitting. I did one fitting with each girl to make sure we were on the right track with the size, and the finished dresses fit them beautifully.

I made a modification to each of the dresses, and thought I'd share a little more about those here. For Miss P's dress, I used a fair isle print sweatshirt knit and eliminated the back button placket by cutting both the front and back on the fold and keeping the higher neckline for the back. I used ivory cotton/lycra for the lining so it would be soft but not bulky.

For the sleeves, I modified the long sleeve pattern piece to make a bell-shaped sleeve with a cuff. I used a lighter weight sweater knit for the sleeves and cuffs. I made sure to keep the armscye curve of the original sleeve, and then flared the sleeve out to make a bell shape. I shortened the sleeve to account for the height I wanted the cuff to be, and then cut the cuffs to fit. The sleeves were gathered before attaching the cuffs, which I did flat before closing the sleeve seam, as shown below:

For M's Merry dress, I knew I wanted to add a sash in case the bodice turned out to be a little wide for her. Her chest measurement is rather slim, but she's average height and size for a 5-year-old, so I didn't want to reduce the size of the armscyes or height of the bodice while reducing the width. I reduced the bodice width by one size, and left the rest as drafted (so it was a size 4/5 hybrid). The pleated skirt is an exercise in precision sewing (ahem, not something I'm known for), and I was reluctant to alter the bodice too much out of fear that the skirt wouldn't set into the bodice correctly.

The sash I added was designed to be adjustable, by tacking it down at the side seams of the dress and threading the tails through the back of the bow. The sash became the "tails" of the bow itself, and could be tightened or loosened as needed. Here's how I did it:

Begin by sewing the main portion of your sash - I used the full WOF for my size 5, and it was a great length. The ends of the sash will become the "tails" for your bow, so you'll want to make sure they're long enough to cinch the bodice as much as you need/want to. To sew the sash, I folded it along the long edge and sewed with a 1/4" SA along the long edge and one short end. I turned it right side out, gave it a good press, and tucked the other short end inside the tube and topstitched it in place. Lay your sash in place under the bodice, and make sure the tails cross over where you want the bow to be positioned. In this case, I wanted the bow to be a bit off-center. 

To make the bow, I cut two rectangles and sewed them RST, leaving a small opening for turning. The bow center was sewed along the long edge RST first, then turned right sides out. I then sewed the short ends with RST to make it into a loop.

I used my fingers to accordion fold the bow and begin to pull it through the bow center.

Holding the bow, carefully begin to thread the ends of the sash through the back of the bow center. The "tails" will enter the bow center from opposite sides/ends, and cross over each other. Make sure to keep them laying nice and flat as you pull them through, adjusting as needed.

Lastly, you'll pull the tails to cinch the bodice, and the bow will fall into place right along the bodice/skirt seam. Other than tacking the sash at the side seams, I didn't sew the bow anyplace. This way, it could be adjusted as needed, and removed easily for washing.

Seriously, I know I'm biased, but could these girls be any cuter??! They were so much fun, and I love the joy that shines on their faces. I hope these two stay friends for a long time to come. <3

These patterns are packed with details already, but were great for customizing too. A well-drafted pattern is the easiest to adapt, and Merry and Mod are no exception. Aside from the pleating on Merry's skirt, which is admittedly a bit time-consuming, they both sew up pretty quickly, too. There are still 4 days till Christmas - plenty of time to sew one up for a special little lady in your life. You can find the patterns here (Merry) and here (Mod) and make sure to join us over in the LLK Group on FB to share your finished work!

As 2015 comes to a close, all the best from my family to yours for a happy and healthy New Year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

One-Hour Wonders! for Rebel & Malice

When Melissa from Rebel & Malice asked for bloggers to share easy, one-hour projects to share in the days leading up to Christmas, I thought it was the perfect place to tutorialize (yes, of course that's a word!) the little fabric bows that I've been sewing up to match some of the recent additions to Miss P's wardrobe. I used woven cotton for these, and all you need is a small piece (scraps are perfect for this!) that measures 8.5" wide by 3.25" long.

Fold your fabric in half along the long edge with right sides facing and sew that long edge closed with a short straight stitch. I use a scant 1/4" seam allowance so I won't have to trim down the edge or lose too much fabric in the SA.

Turn the tube inside out, and press with the seam along the center. This will be the back/inside of your finished bow. Then, fold the short ends together with right sides facing. Sew along the short edge and finish this seam if you'd like.

Now you've got a fabric loop which is going to be the main portion of your bow. Turn it right sides out and press to get a nice crease along your edges. Pinch in the center to form the  bow shape, and you can use a dab of hot glue or a few hand stitches to tack it in place. Or, just hold it tight and wing it!

I use a glue gun to attach a small piece of 3/8" wide grosgrain ribbon for the bow center. I usually cut about 3-4" of ribbon and then just trim the excess. Use a small dot of glue to attach one end of the ribbon to the center back of the bow, and then tightly wrap the ribbon around to the front of the bow and then back to where you started.

Use another dot of glue to hold the end of the ribbon in place, and then trim off the excess. That's it - your bow is finished! I like to use my glue gun to attach the bow to a ribbon-lined hair clip or a headband, like this. If you want to add a little bling to the center, that's cute too. (I found these little red gems in the scrapbooking section of my local craft store.)

I've also used these little bows to fancy up the neckline of a dress, like this one shown below. Miss P wore this dress (pattern is the Cross Bow dress from Boo! Designs) to her grandpa's retirement dinner last month, and the bow was the perfect accessory!

I know I called this a one-hour project, but it's really much less if you're only making one. I recommend cutting out a few at a time and just making them assembly-line style. What will you do with yours??

 Thanks again to Melissa for having me, and I hope everyone has a happy and healthy holiday!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Happy Chanukah from my Merry Modkid!

When I got the invite to join the Merry Modkid tour this week, I decided I'd let Miss P select the pattern she wanted for her holiday ensemble. Our family Chanukah party is usually pretty low-key, but we've got a few festive events coming up that I know she'll want to get dressed up for. Her birthday was last month and she was given tickets to see the Nutcracker, so she had that in mind when we designed this look together. The Reese Party Dress was a win for both of us - the long sashes make a generous bow that won her over, and the pointed collar and button tabs were fun details that appealed to me. The full, gathered skirt is the icing on the cake; this really is a fantastic party dress. I love that it is a timeless silhouette with modern details.

I think I've mentioned this here before, but my grandparents were all in the children's clothing business (my grandmothers were friends who introduced my parents to each other!). They retired when I was young, but their sense of style and opinions about childrenswear were frequent topics of conversation. Sometimes as I'm sewing for Miss P, I look at a garment and think that my grandmothers would have really fawned over it - this is one of those dresses for sure! 

The Reese pattern lists a variety of woven fabrics that can be used, and for this one we used cotton from Art Gallery Fabrics. It has a beautiful, soft hand and holds its shape well. It's difficult to see since the print is quite busy, but the back bodice has an asymmetrical overlap that buttons at the top. I'd love to make one of these in a simple seersucker for summer!

Based on her measurements, I sewed a size 5 with the size 6 length for Miss P, and the fit was absolutely perfect. The button tabs cinch the bodice at the front, and I love that I can let them out a little for her to get more wear from this as she grows.


As you can see, she LOVED it. It'll be perfect for the Nutcracker, and anywhere else she chooses to wear it. As Chanukah begins this Sunday evening, we'll be lighting the candles on our family menorah, adding one each night until there are 8. As our kids get older, they'll begin to light their own menorahs as well, and the one you see here was made from wood by Miss P with my in-laws recently. She was so excited to use it for photos, and was even more excited that I let her light some candles for effect. In the photo at the top Miss P is holding the shamash, or helper candle, which is lit first and used to light the others. This sweet girl and her brother bring a lot of light and love into my life, and I hope that your days are filled with light as well. All the best at this holiday season and always, from our family to yours!

We'd love it if you check out the rest of the stops on this tour, which is running all week. You can use the code MERRYMODKID25 for 25% off your entire purchase at the Modkid Etsy shop, through Friday 12/4 at midnight EST.

Monday, November 30th

Wednesday, December 2nd

Mama Says Sew
Made by Sara
Mabey She Made It

Thursday, December 3rd

Handcrafted by Red
Pear Berry Lane
Taylor Made Creates

Friday, December 4th

Sew Happily Ever After
Sprouting JubeJube
Sweeter Than Cupcakes

Modkid designer Patty Young is also offering 2 pdf patterns of choice to one winner, through the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!

Friday, November 20, 2015

A New Look for Gracious Threads - and for Miss P, too!

Two posts in one week, can you stand it??! I know, pretty unusual around here, but I was invited to join the New Look blog tour sponsored by Jess of Gracious Threads. How could I pass up that opportunity? (Spoiler alert: I couldn't.) Jess revealed a new look for her website and her self-hosted pattern shop, and asked us to spread the word about the new site by sharing a new look of our own.

I've sewn a number of Gracious Threads patterns already (the Lazy Days Lounge Pants were early to hit the jogger scene, and are a great fit for both of my kids), but for this tour I chose the Cirrus Skirt and Eclair top, both new to me. Miss P still loves wearing dresses and her standby is still the ol' tunic/legging combo, but lately she's been asking for more skirts, too. I decided to sew up the Cirrus Skirt in quilted knit (I bought this reversible knit from Mood last year, not sure if it's still available), and modify the Eclair top to use a cozy french terry (from Joanns). Miss P liked the combo, and it was warm enough for our November weather with a long-sleeved tee and leggings underneath.

I sewed up the top in a size 5, and the skirt in a size 4 with added length. The fit was perfect all around - the measurement charts that Jess includes in the patterns are easy to follow and were spot-on for Miss P's measurements.

I left off the pockets on the skirt and that made it an amazingly quick and simple sew. The wide encased elastic waistband was comfy for my girl, and since there were no pockets there's no "right" or "wrong" side when she gets herself dressed. ;)
For the top, I decided to do an exposed binding instead of the bias facing, so I cut strips of knit fabric that were 1.5" wide. I serged them to the right side of the fabric, and then wrapped them to the wrong side and topstitched in place. I only had a 9" zipper, but it was plenty long and I just shortened the cut line and the zipper guard before sewing in place. I also omitted the side vents, since there was plenty of stretch in the french terry. I LOVE the shape of that curved hem!
The finished look is as cute as it is comfy, and I love that she'll be able to wear the top in the spring without having to layer it. It'll be adorable with jeans, too! Thanks again to Jess for having me, and please make sure to check out the other stops on the tour, too!