Tuesday, August 31, 2010

DESTINA-tion Delft

They're finished!! After hours of agonizing over which trims go where and trying to get the girls to decide which ribbons they wanted to use - and finally doing most of the choosing on my own- I have finished the Destina dresses by Farbenmix. Each dress is made with 3 main fabrics: the Delft tile fabric, and the blue and red daisy florals - all by the Dutch textile company Stenzo. Added to these 3 are red mini-gingham, light blue mini-gingham, and a star print in both white on red and white on navy. And of course, both dresses have the Farbenmix tag on the right sleeve, matching perfectly with my color scheme.

So yes, I know. Red, white and blue - with stars to boot. No, I wasn't attempting to be patriotic - unless by patriotic you mean celebrating my Dutch heritage by using the Delft print, to which I say guilty as charged. That fabric simply spoke to me and I obsessed about it for weeks before buying it but in the end I knew I had to have it. A few yards might be left at Bunte Fabrics if you're interested in buying some, but I'm not sure; if not, you might be out of luck because Yvonne's shop is the only place I've seen that print this year - in the States, that is. Anyway - I kept debating about throwing in additional colors to the mix but in the end I simply didn't think it would give me what I wanted. I added the star fabrics on a whim and I'm not entirely sure it was a wise idea. Cheap cotton from Hancock Fabrics and for a while I was afraid I would end up with something ridiculous and similar to home-sewn coordinating garments I've seen from some people on ebay and I was remembering my disappointment with my design choices for the Rachel dress I'd made in the spring. But I decided to be sparing with the use of the star fabric and in the end the result is pretty darn good.

The real issue was how to use these fabrics to their advantage in two different dresses in two very different sizes for two very different girls. I played with the idea of making the Farbenmix Sasha dress for Gwyneth because she likes twirly things and that pattern makes an excellent dress for just that. But the Sasha dress doesn't come in Maeve's size and I wasn't in the mood to grade up 2 sizes, so I settled on Destina for her, thinking it was a good older girl dress. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt that I should use the same pattern for both of them. The trick then became how to keep them from being identical dresses. I think they turned out pretty well, don't you?

The major differences between the two are the way in which the fabrics are used and the trims and embellishments that were added. Maeve's dress has a more solid-looking bodice, thanks to the floral poplins. I feel bad that I wasn't able to match the Delft tiles on the skirt as well as I could have. Gwyneth's matches much better, and I have to say that I prefer the Delft print at the waist. (See photo at top of page.)

Another major difference is that Gwyneth's dress has inserted ruffles both above and below the waist portion. This in itself wasn't difficult but it did make for thicker seams at those areas. I didn't do this for Maeve because I felt like hers needed to be slightly hipper and more for a 10 year-old. The Delft print is already slightly old-fashioned and I wanted this to be a fun dress. Instead of ruffles I chose to ruche a red gingham ribbon and sew that along the seamline. Additionally, she has more ribbon on her dress than Gwyneth does.

The top of the bodice of Maeve's dress has a light blue and red polka-dot ribbon from Farbenmix and a red mini-rickrack that goes all the way around the bodice. And then there's the double-layer ribbon at the hem of navy grosgrain ribbon with red pickstitching underneath a narrow light blue ribbon with red stars from Farbenmix. The rest of the ribbons and trims were from my stash. The red-centered daisy buttons were purchased at G Street Fabrics, a local store with a fabulous selection of fabrics and buttons. Maeve's dress took 9 buttons. I should note here that in order to make the dress this length for Maeve, I had to add approximately 7 inches to the bottom pattern pieces and I used the largest size, 146/152. Maeve has long legs, though, and someone else might not need to add much at all. Gwyneth's dress is a 98/104 and required no additions, however she is on the short size for her age.

I also added the waist ties. The pattern says this is optional, but this dress is pretty full-cut so I felt like they were necessary. Also, the pattern instructions suggest ribbon for this; I made these out of gingham.

On Gwyneth's dress the major focus is the Delft motifs at the waist area and the ruffles above and below it, so I didn't add a lot of ribbons. Simple rick-rack is enough here, since it doesn't detract from the beautiful fabric. As you can see in the largest photo, I used red mini-rick-rack above the top ruffle at the waistline, then used regular-sized light blue rick-rack at the hem and on the sleeves, along with some jacquard red and white heart ribbon I had in my stash (see top left photo). The small blue-centered daisy buttons on Gwyn's dress also came from G Street Fabrics; this dress needed 5.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Sew what's new?

Yeah, that's a cheesy title. And yet there's so much that is new in the way of sewing at my house that I had to go there. Mea culpa.

Anyway, first in the list of what's new is a NEW MACHINE!!!! Yes, the Kenmore was giving me way to many problems - skipping stitches, buttonhole issues, snarling the thread every 10th stitch, etc. It was a hot mess - literally. So after listening to me moan and complain about how difficult it was to just sew a darn seam, Scott told me to go get a new machine and gave me a budget of $500. Now, $500 is a good chunk of change but it won't get you the top of the line in a machine, so my dream machine was out of the question. However, it can get you a very nice little machine and the Janome dealership in Gaithersburg easily helped me find something within my budget. It's electronic, so it's a bit different for me, but it sews really nicely and makes a fantastic automatic buttonhole. Another nice plus is that it has tons of decorative stitches that I can use for a faux coverstitch look. Very cool, indeed.

Next, all of the things I've been sewing with this gorgeous new machine.

First up are a pair of pants and a shirt for T-bird. The shirt was actually sewn on the old Kenmore, except for the sleeve hems. This is the "Little Mr." shirt from the Spring 2009 issue of Ottobre, sewn from a super cute Liberty of London lawn. I couldn't resist the car print and since I got a full meter I'll have plenty left for another project some other time. I also bought this in the blue colorway, with all of the cars in shades of blue.

To go with the shirt are the "Kaarna" pants from the Winter 2009 Ottobre. The pattern calls for them to be lined, but I really liked the knit waistband, since it's so similar to the 'baggies' pants that Mini Boden sells. I've made them before in corduroy with the lining and I could see that they could just as easily be made without the lining by simply finishing all the pieces with my serger.

So here they are, in a green and black cross-woven chambray that I got from fabric.com. I thought about going with a lighter color for the knit waist but ended up with black. I used a black twill tape for the drawstring at the waist rather than make one from the chambray, but I may change that, since it's really kind of flimsier than I want. Another change I made is that I added tabs and buttons so that I can roll them up. I was inspired by a pair of linen pants my sister in law had given me for T-bird when he was born. Since he wears cloth diapers he was able to fit them in the waist before he was long enough in the legs so being able to roll up the pant legs was great. I know from experience that this pattern runs long, so I added the tabs, using the RTW pants as a model. I should have made the tabs longer so I could roll them up more, but they work.

Next up is a skirt I made for Miss Maeve. She was feeling upset that I'd not been able to make her the Manhattan dress from Sewing Clothes Kids Love to match Gwyn's Rachel dress (I needed more of a certain fabric to cut out the last piece and had to scour ebay for it). To console her I made the Insa skirt from SCKL. I'd been planning this skirt for a while, had the Michael Miller Carnival Bloom fabric in the purple colorway already and the kid check in purple (also MM fabric). I'd gotten them both on ebay and ended up having to buy more of the Carnival Bloom in order to make this in Maeve's size. I have a hard time thinking of her as a size 12/146 and some of my fabrics in my stash are too small now.

Anyway, I was successful in scoring more of the fabric and started making the upper layer of the skirt. Then I decided to cut the lower layer and, after much contemplation decided that I needed a different fabric than the check I'd already chosen. It was simply too much purple! Hard to imagine but true. I looked online and decided to buy the green Busilis dot from Banberry Place, along with the pink farbenmix mandala ribbon and some other trims. When they arrived, I discovered that the ribbon was really more of a purple and that the shapes echoed the shapes in the fabric of the top layer, so I decided to add it to the skirt on the bottom layer. To the top layer I've added a ruffle of the purple check and also a purple grosgrain ribbon with aqua polka dots and the bottom layer has 2 additional flower appliqués I found in my stash of goodies.

I always add a Farbenmix tag to the things I make from their patterns and the new ones are blue and red, which Maeve felt didn't go with the skirt colors, so I used the one that comes with the women's patterns now. This one is on the outside of the skirt at the center back (her choice of location).

Apparently it's good for twirling in, too. I have another one on my to-do list - this time for Gwyn and made from an Oilily fabric snagged on ebay. I hope to get to that in the next week or so.

Also on the to-do list: finish 2 new dresses for the girls - the new Destina pattern by Farbenmix, using the Delft and floral prints I got from Yvonne at Bunte Fabrics. Oh, and a pair of capris for me from the 2/2007 issue of Ottobre Woman. Right now the dresses are about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way constructed and the pants are already cut out so that bodes well for finishing them in a week.

I've finished a pair of pajamas for Maeve, too, in the past month but the top needs a little tweaking for fit and then I can photograph them.