Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Insa and Redondo for Gwyn

She calls this her "Spring Skirt".

No clever title this time, just the facts. These are 2 skirts I made for Gwyneth a while back and hadn't blogged yet. The Insa skirt is from Sewing Clothes Kids Love, although I confess I already had the pattern and just hadn't used it yet. I'd made one for Maeve last year and she loved it and had planned to do one for Gwyn but just hadn't gotten around to it. Obviously, I didn't use the same fabrics, although I did use a polka dot for Gwyn's underskirt just like I did with Maeve's. And both of those fabrics came from Banberry Place - Gwyn's is the aqua poplin with spring-green dots. The top layer is an awesome ebay find - the famous Oilily suitcase fabric! This stuff is so soft. It really feels like your favorite sheets or shirt that have been washed a million times. I used the same polka dot poplin for the waistband because I felt that introducing another fabric with the busyness of the suitcase fabric would have been too much.

Embellishing is always fun, since I can dig into my stash and put all kinds of things to use and this skirt was no exception. I inherited a ton of ric-rac and other trims from my grandmother and my mom's godmother and I like to use them because they tend to be 100% cotton, as opposed to the polyester kind that is so prevalent now. I made use of a vintage yellow medium ric-rac at the hem of the overskirt and stitched a green dotted ribbon on top of that. I say medium but it's actually more of a large size, I guess. On the underskirt we have new (polyester) rose ric-rac in a smaller size with a wonderful floral woven ribbon I had sitting in my stash for a few years, waiting for the right project. It has all the colors in the skirt, with the exception of the red in the overskirt, and the floral shapes kind of echo the floral shapes in the overskirt fabric. To top it off I found 2 flower appliqués - one large aqua and one small yellow, which I sewed near the underskirt hem. Lastly, I made a cute little tag with my favorite Farbenmix ribbon, which has a flower that perfectly matches the red small flowers in the overskirt.

The Redondo skirt was originally made for Valentine's Day. These are just quilting cottons - I forget what the name of the main print is, "Love Letters" or something like that and I don't remember the manufacturer, although it might be a Kaufman print. Don't quote me on it. The flounces are made from everyone's favorite Michael Miller Ta-dot in pink with red dots.

I love how the skirt looks like a big flower when you spread it out this way. I love this pattern and really want to use it more, since this was only the second time I'd done it. It was also the first time I did the flounces, as opposed to the inserted ruffle. I decided to be brave and use Nancy's method for the flounces, using the inner curve of the skirt gore as the shape for the flounce and it turned out really well. There are a few places where it puckered when I was sewing and didn't see it until after I was totally finished but I chalk that up to being in a hurry to finish it for Valentine's Day, which was the whole reason I made it. I actually sewed this in 2 days, though I only actually worked on it an hour or so each night. The hems for the flounces and for the skirt itself were all made with a rolled hem on my serger, using wooly nylon in the loopers to ensure that the raw edges were completely covered. You can do a rolled hem without the wooly nylon but I never think it looks as good, no matter how much I shorten the stitch length. You can see a close-up of the rolled edge here. Gwyn wore this on Valentine's Day with a red shirt that had a sparkly pink heart and the words "Daddy's Girl" on it. Lucky for me she didn't stop wanting to wear it after Valentine's Day and when it got too warm for long sleeves she replaced that shirt with a pink one that says "Love Bug" and has a ladybug on it. I love that her go-to clothes are almost always things I've made.

A place for everything

Normally I blog about my sewing and occasionally some family stuff. But where do you put down the stuff you want to talk about when you have no one to discuss it with? Is this the right forum? I don't know. I do know that there are some things lately that confuse/bother/excite me, that I want to talk with friends about but I have none to talk to.

Well, that's not really true. I have some friends that I could talk to - if I didn't live in a distinctly different time zone from them and if we each didn't have at least 2 or 3 kids of our own. I really miss my friends from Germany, J., M., S., H. and K. But they're all spread far and wide and busy as hell and I don't have the opportunity to talk to them. J. lives in the same time zone as me but she has 5 kids and is terribly busy with them and their activities. M. lives on the east coast and I live on the west coast now, plus she's hard to get hold of and is busy making a new life since her divorce a few years back. S. lives in Hawaii right now and is super busy working and doing competitive paddling - team ocean kayaking, I think. She's always my go-to for political discussions and the like and easily makes counter-arguments to mine without sounding antagonistic. We always have good conversations and I miss being her neighbor. K. is still in Germany and is fun to talk to - she makes me forget things that are bothering me. But a 9-hour time difference is pretty hard to get over.

So where do I go to talk to people? My neighbor is a nice woman but she's also about 12 years younger than me. That sounds mean, but it's true. And sometimes I feel so old when I talk to her. Plus, she's not really enough like me that I feel we have anything in common. I do like her, though - I just don't know what kind of a conversation we would have if I brought up politics or economics or homeschooling/unschooling vs. traditional school, or extended nursing, or whatever.

So what IS the appropriate venue for discussions when one has no one to talk to in person? I have these discussions on facebook but they take so long it saps my energy. Like right now I've been 'discussing' politics with a woman I know from Germany. I don't think I'd call her my friend because we didn't deliberately do things together and our husbands didn't work together, but she was a close acquaintance. Anyway, she made a comment and I responded to it and we've been going back and forth on the topic of the president and the economy. She makes these statements which she doesn't back up with fact and then I refute her statement with facts. I'm not trying to argue with her or start a fight - I genuinely want to know how she feels and (more importantly) why she feels the way she does, since it's clearly negative. I feel like she'd feel different if she knew facts. And if she doesn't, that's fine but one's opinion should be based on an accurate assessment of facts, or at least a minimal understanding of them. She keeps dancing around the issue, saying one thing and then another and not sticking to any specific line other than her opinion that the president is blaming everyone else for the nation's economic situation and not doing anything about it. This is the kind of discussion that I love. But I feel like it's one-sided. Is facebook the right venue for this?

I know of another individual, whose blog I read, that is opinionated (in a good way) and open to discussing major issues, especially social ones. It happens that I live near enough to her that I could drive to her town, take her for coffee and discuss these things. But that seems weirdly inappropriate, and slightly like stalking. Is it? I mean, I've emailed with her, sent her links to articles I thought would interest her when it's a topic she's written about on her blog, that sort of thing. And I comment on her blog. I think she'd be fascinating to talk with in person but feel like it would be too weird to approach her, since I've sort of spied on her life through her blog. What's the right answer to that? I honestly don't know. I do know that I keep hoping that we'll somehow run into each other at the fabric store (or somewhere totally random) by accident and talk and then she'll decide whether or not I'm worth knowing in person, thereby taking the stress off of me.

In the meantime, I find myself talking about stuff that I care about with my eleven year-old, which is wildly dissatisfying, and with my husband which can be difficult because he doesn't always wait for me to finish a thought to offer his opinion and then I become frustrated with his interrupting me and stop the discussion out of anger - not the best sort of discussions.

Sigh. I need to get out more.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Dress for Miss Beans

So I have 2 beautiful girls that I sew for - a lot. But I really like making things for other people, especially little girls. And I have tons of fabric in my stash, so I can do that. A friend of mine has a little girl named Greta who loves twirly dresses. My friend, H., is a busy mom and doesn't really sew, though I think she'd love to learn. Right now she's got a lot on her plate because she's working full time and her husband has cancer. Luckily, her in-laws have moved in to help out around the house and with Greta, whom they call Greta Beans. I've never met Greta but I know she's a special little girl, not least because she's probably the only child H. will ever have and it took them a while to have a successful pregnancy. So when I got the itch to make a cute little dress for someone, I knew exactly who to make it for.

H. told me about Greta's favorite colors and how she likes her dresses to twirl. I emailed her a photo of the Farbenmix Sasha dress I'd made for Maeve and she loved it. When she mentioned that Greta really liked bright colors, I immediately knew that I had the perfect fabric for the dress already in my stash - Millefleur by Alexander Henry.

The rest was also all in my stash - three different colorways of the Busilis poplin by Hilco: hot pink with lime green dots for the shoulder straps, bright grass green with darker green dots for the bodice, and sunshine yellow with tangerine dots for the middle tier of the skirt. I also used a solid cerise-colored poplin for the ruffle between the first and second tiers and at the hem.

Next, it was time to embellish. I have tons of ribbon and other embellishments in my stash and I wanted to make this a really special dress. First, I found a ribbon in hot pink, tangerine and lime that was slightly narrower than the straps and I sewed that on the straps. Then I found a giant magenta daisy and 2 smaller orange daisies, which I applied to the front of the bodice. I decided to use cute mixed-up buttons for the straps - one lime green with hot pink dots and one lime green and hot pink striped. I wanted to put something on the back, too, so I dug around in my drawer of embellishments until I found the floral shape you see on the right. I got it in a group of patches from ebay; all were from the well-known Dutch clothing company, Oilily. This one says Oilily in a smile shape on a pink gingham background with orange felt petals and embroidered eyes. I'd been wanting to use this patch and it seemed to be a perfect fit with this dress, since it's made in sort of the same mix of super-bright colors, patterns and embellishments that the real Oilily clothing is famous for.

In order to balance out the embellishment on top, I found a woven ribbon in a multi-colored squares pattern of yellow, tangerine, pink and aqua and sewed that on the seamline between the second and third tiers. I also added a small "tag" made from Farbenmix ribbon at the side seam to give it a ready-to-wear look. I'd sewn the small ruffle into the seamline between the first and second tiers during construction; it was finished with a rolled hem on the serger, using wooly nylon to get a smooth finish. The bottom ruffle was made the same way.

All in all, I was extremely pleased with the final product and I was on pins and needles waiting to hear if Greta and H. liked the dress. I needn't have worried. She sent me a message on Facebook to tell me that Greta put it on immediately and didn't want to take it off; then she posted a video of Greta twirling around and around in her new dress, saying "Thank you Miss Jen" and blowing kisses. I was truly touched. Just looking at this dress makes me happy and knowing that Greta likes it makes me even happier. I've got plans for another dress for her - this time a Feliz! Stay tuned for that one.

More catching up

Okay, I said I would do a little recap of what I've sewn in the past 6 months. First, some things for the boy:

The boy has a slight obsession with robots. He often goes around pretending to be one, sometimes wearing a wire trash basket on his head. I'm not sure why he does that, so don't ask. All I know is, that's his robot disguise. Anyway, I decided that he needed a robot shirt and since I had a cool robot print knit stashed away it was a good time to use it. This is the #18 Hippotamus Hoppulainen shirt from the 6/2010 issue of Ottobre. I made it in a 92 since he's been growing fast. I shortened the sleeves on this, since I wanted him to be able to wear it in warmer weather. The olive interlock matches the green in the robot print, but I felt like it needed something else because it seemed like such an endless swath of green. So I drew a robot and used a reinforced straight stitch to embroider it. I decided to use buttons for the eyes, and sewed them on with red thread to mimic an electronic eye. Tallon loves it.

The second birthday gift I made for T. was this super cape. The girls were tired of him using their Snow White cape as a super cape, so it was a good gift. This is from the 4/2004 issue of Ottobre, made in a size 92. I made a small change to it in that I made a velcro closure instead of ties, since he can't tie things yet. He wears this frequently and everywhere. The shield and T appliqué were done freehand and applied with a satin stitch. I chose red cotton poplin for the cape with royal blue satin for the lining and the shield. My only gripe with this choice is that the satin of the shield seems to want to get fuzz all over the poplin.

It's wearing pretty well despite the fuzz and the frequency of wearing. I haven't washed it yet, so we'll see how it holds up.

The third mommymade birthday gift was robot jammies. I used the same robot knit and olive green interlock with the red ribbing. The pattern is the #34 Night Owl pajama top and the #35 Stripy Legs pajama bottoms from the 6/2009 issue of Ottobre. The pattern calls for a coverstitch to be used on both the top and bottoms but I don't have one on my serger. Instead, I used a honeycomb stitch on my regular machine and it turned out pretty comparable. I also used it for the hem of the shirt:

He loved all of his presents - especially the cape, of course. I have 2 pairs of shorts that I made him this summer, too and I'll blog about those another time. Currently I'm planning his fall/winter wardrobe and I'm really excited about it. I want to blog about it as I go along - we'll see if that happens!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pretty in Pink

Right now, we're into the swing of spring and I feel the need to surround myself with flowers. In the neighborhood all kinds of trees and bushes are in bloom - the bright yellow forsythia bushes, the various pinks and whites of the magnolia blossoms, and the ubiquitous cherry blossoms that the DC area is known for. There are some other trees around here that are blooming but I don't know what they are. Our magnolia is a magnolia grandiflora that doesn't have blossoms that frequently, so I decided to buy my own flowers. Normally I'd go for tulips at this time of year, but I saw these roses at the Safeway and had to get them. For me, buying roses is kind of hit-or-miss. Sometimes they look gorgeous but have no smell. Other times they smell lovely but the flowers aren't in the best condition. I lucked out with these Attaché roses - a really lovely hot pink color and a smell that is so delicious that I have to smell them every time I see them. This is important to me, because what's the point of having roses that don't smell??? I even moved them from the kitchen into the bedroom so they are next to my bed and I can see and smell them as soon as I wake up.

The roses aren't the only pink that's showing up in this house. I'm under the gun when it comes to projects that I'm working on right now, including a dress to wear to Scott's graduation in May and a dress for Gwyneth to wear to the graduation, as well. My dress will be the Chantilly dress by Colette Patterns, made up in a black eyelet and lined with hot pink silk. I'm not sure what made me think that this color combo would be good, since I'm really not a pink person and I sometimes feel like pink and black is too cutesie, but I think that the ratio of black to pink will make up for it.
Update: I started writing this post at the end of April and then never got around to finishing it. So here we are, it's September and I finally have a moment to talk about the dresses. I ended up making 3 dresses in all - the Chantilly for me, plus the #12 dress from the 2/2005 issue of Ottobre for Gwyn and its big sister version for Maeve. I can't remember what the pattern number is. Anyway, Gwyneth asked me for a dress that was made from the same fabric as mine, but at almost $20/yd for the black eyelet and somewhere around $12/yd for the fuchsia China silk lining/underlining, I wasn't about to do that. We compromised and made the dress from a polka-dot poplin with the same colors. This dress is super simple and fast to make. To dress it up I added a piece of Farbenmix Miss Ling ribbon in the grey colorway on the back.
Gwyn was cool during the hot ceremony and the craziness afterward, despite the dark color of the dress. She really liked it, and got lots of compliments on it. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of Maeve's dress right now - somehow we managed to miss getting a photo of her in it. Anyway, the only difference is that the bodice is more of an empire bodice and it's gathered, unlike the version I made for Gwyn. In spite of all my urgings for her to go with a black/white cross-dyed linen, she wanted something pink - light pink. Lucky for me I had some pink linen in my stash, left over from a mother-daughter project that my mom never did for me and her. A little black and pink ribbon at the empire seam made it simple but special. I'll post a picture of it next time.

My iteration of the Chantilly dress required a great deal of handwork - because the eyelet is naturally in need of an underlining, I had to baste many of the silk pieces to their corresponding eyelet ones by hand so that I could then treat them as a single piece. It also required a great deal of pinning to make sure that the pieces lined up exactly.

You can see from these photos how it looked before I put the dress together. I used a contrast thread so that I'd be able to see it and used very small stitches in order to make sure that the pieces laid flat and worked as one. The bodice was lined in the same silk that I used for the underlining. While I underlined the bodice, the skirt is not - I sewed them separately, as skirt and lining, since I felt that it would be too heavy if I sewed them as one, and I wanted more movement, and because I didn't want the seams to show on the skirt, I used French seams on the pink silk, with the seam allowances toward the interior (does that make sense?) so that you can't see them. As for the eyelet, I serged the seams against any possible fraying; then for the hem I sewed fine, soft black netting all the way around, then pressed the hem up on that seam line and sewed again, trimming close to the edge, so that the hem was lightweight but the seam allowance was enclosed. You can't even tell that the netting is there. The pink silk has a simple narrow hem. In all, I think the extra work was worth it and I got tons of compliments on this dress both times I wore it - for an honors dinner when Scott and some classmates were inducted into the medical honor society, and for graduation.

Fit-wise, I really like this dress because it doesn't require me to do a lot of adjusting for my figure. The fullness in the bust accommodates my large bust so that I don't have to do a Full Bust Adjustment, which I love, and the fitted waist is great for my smaller waist. And, of course, the fuller skirt works well for my full hips. The only adjustment I made to this was to shorten the skirt by 2 inches, and that was due to a mistake in my cutting layout and the way I got the fabric. I was unable to get continuous yardage of the eyelet; it came in 2 pieces, so I kind of had to make up the layout as I went. I thought I did it right, but clearly not, because it was just a hair off. Shortening the skirt made it all fit, and since I'm short, it made no real difference. The first time I made the Chantilly (I'll blog about that another time, I promise!) I made it up in a size 18 but found it to be too large. This version was a 16 and it fit much better, particularly under the arms and the yoke.

The best part of the fit on this dress? It shows off my tattoo on my back.See? It frames the tattoo perfectly. Of course, I went all out with the styling and accessories - hot pink 5-inch high patent sling-backs and a large hot pink silk rose in my hair. How could I not? If you're going to do the retro look, you might as well go all the way, right?

I'm going to try to get caught up on my posts about the things that have gotten sewn lately. Now that the move is done and we're well-ensconced in Washington, I can breathe for a moment. More to come!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Let's Hear it for the Boy

Despite the fact that there are so many more patterns for girls and so many more options for fabrics with fun prints and bright colors, I'm developing a love for sewing for a boy - thanks in part to the amazing boys clothes I see in Ottobre magazine and in the photos you can see in the Flickr gallery for the Yahoo! Ottobre sewing group. When I lived in Germany I always saw tons of cute little boy clothes at H&M while shopping for my girls and wished that I had a little boy to dress, or at least hoped that I'd be able to find clothes as colorful and cute in the States if and when I had a boy. Well, I did have a boy and now I have to buy all kinds of clothes for him because all I have saved from my girls is, well, too girly. Thank goodness for Ottobre and my sewing skills.

In my last post I had pics of a pair of overalls that I made for T-bird and mentioned that I needed more pants that would fit over cloth diapers. I've since had to switch to disposable diapers, much to my dismay and - dare I say it - shame. He just pees too much. I can't keep him in a cloth diaper for an hour without him peeing through it and his pants, necessitating not only a diaper change but a change of pants, too. I'm hoping that I'll be able to find a solution to this soon so that I can get him back in cloth, so I continue to make pants that are roomy.

First up is a pair of striped corduroys, made with the Kaarna pants pattern from the 6/2009 issue of Ottobre. This is the 3rd time I've made this pattern and, believe it or not, these are a size 74! I've made these lined, according to the pattern instructions, though I've also made them without lining and have another pair of denim ones in the works which won't be lined, either. In any event, I was afraid that these wouldn't fit T-bird anymore because I cut them out in January of 2010. As it was, I couldn't get more of the corduroy to make a larger size and it had already shrunk enough in the wash that I didn't have enough to cut the pockets from the stripe, so I had to use solid brown cord. And I didn't have enough to match the stripes on the pants backs with the yoke pieces. Other than that, I love these.

I was happy that I had enough striped cord leftover to bind the pockets, since there are so many great colors in the stripe and I'd really wanted to do the whole thing in the stripe, maybe using the teal lining as the pocket binding. It came out all right and we got several compliments on these the other day while we were out. I was also really happy with the way that the waistband turned out, even though after I'd completed them I discovered that I'd somehow cut the elastic too big and then had to take them apart in order to shorten it. I really like the look of the knit waistband and the drawstring. This drawstring is a heavy-weight twill tape that I saved from a gift it was wrapped around. The teal color matches the lining almost perfectly.

The second pair of pants I love but also have mixed feelings about. These are the "Outdoor pants", #12 from the 4/2007 issue of Ottobre. I love the design of these and the way that the topstitching can really be a decorative feature. The fabric is a stretch rip-stop cotton in a med-heavy weight. I didn't realize it was stretch when I bought it and for some reason it seemed darker in the store. Now the color looks really light and I'm wondering how well it will hold up to dirt. I may decided to tea-dye them to see if they'll get darker. Until then I really do like the way that they turned out.

My favorite part of these pants is the way the waist turned out. The pattern calls for a standard drawstring, made with poplin or other cotton woven fabric. Because the topstitching is red I wanted to do something red, and it happened that I had quite a bit of red bungee elastic left over from a different project, as well as a red toggle. I thought that this type of drawstring would add a sporty look; I even found red eyelets in my stash of notions, which add another great pop of color against the light color of the pants. Since part of the problem I have with pants that fit over cloth diapers is the fact that they have a tendency to fall down, even with a drawstring, I'm hoping that the elastic drawstring will provide a better fit. If that's the case I'm definitely going to do it again.The other elements that really add interest to these pants are the darts which add shaping at the knees, the pockets and the decorative patch on the back. While the directions call for a contrast color to match the drawstring, I was afraid that a red fabric would have a tendency to run and I didn't want the pants to end up coming out of the wash pink. I'm really happy with the look of these, although I haven't tried them on T-bird yet. If they end up being a go-to pant, I may decide to make another pair in a darker color in the fall. I'll probably make that pair out of twill or lightweight canvas.

That's what I've finished recently. Right now I'm working on a Farbenmix Sasha dress for a friend's little girl, which I'm absolutely loving. It's bright and colorful and has tons of embellishments (oh how I wish I had an embroidery machine!), including a patch from Oilily that I got in a group of patches on ebay. I promise photos of this dress and if I can get the boy to tolerate it I'll have him model it, since my friend lives in Louisiana.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Catching up

I realized that I've done some sewing in the past 6 months-1 year or so that hadn't gotten recorded, so I thought I'd take the time over the weekend and document them. I'm really bad at remembering to take photos of the things I make - mostly because I end up finishing them late at night and the light is awful at that time for taking photos. I always promise myself that I'll take pictures of them in the morning but I often forget and then weeks go by before I remember - usually because one of my kids is wearing whatever it is that I've made and that triggers the memory.

Anyway, here are the things I've done and only just now documented.

Pajamas for Maeve:

These are really spring-summer pajamas. The top is the Brooklyn tank top from Sewing Clothes Kids Love and the bottoms are the "Darla" pajama pants from the 6/2009 issue of Ottobre. These pants were meant to be longer but because I was making warm-weather pajamas, I decided to make them slightly cropped.
The tank is made from a cotton-lycra knit stripe from Sewzanne's Fabrics that I purchased about 5 years ago. The binding is a light-yellow cotton-lycra ribbing from JoAnn's. The pants are 100% cotton voile in a light pink. I'd originally purchased the voile for the lining of a dress I had planned for Maeve and I used the leftover voile for the pants. These are actually made from 2 layers of fabric because the voile was so see-through that I felt 2 layers were needed. It doesn't add a lot of weight to the pants and provides just the right amount of opacity.

I used some ribbon that I got online several years ago. The seller said it was a farbenmix ribbon but I've never seen it anywhere else. Then again, I didn't really look for it back then and it may have been sold at the farbenmix website at that time, but I didn't really look for it until I used it for these pants. The manufacturer doesn't really matter, though - what matters is that the ribbon is the perfect accent for tying the pants to the tank top. The drawstring at the waist is a recycled pink twill-tape drawstring from an old pair of lounge pants of mine. It was the perfect length and color. I think these were done in October 2010. You'll notice that I've used quite a bit of stuff from my "stash" for this - I'm trying to be good and not buy new unless it's absolutely necessary, since every pound counts when moving via the army. You're only allowed a certain amount of weight depending on rank and number of dependents, so I'm making an effort to make things from what I have.

Overalls for Tallon
I have a terrible time finding pants that fit over cloth diapers. It's truly the bane of my existence when it comes to my children's clothing. Thank goodness for Ottobre patterns! These overalls fit fine over cloth diapers, as you can see. These are from the 1/2007 issue of Ottobre, which is actually the first issue I ever got. I've always liked these overalls and was really excited to be able to make them. They're made from a fine wale corduroy in a sort of teal color that I got at JoAnn's. If you look at the magazine you'll see that the overalls are very similar in color, with theirs being slightly brighter. I was hoping this color would match the darker teal-grey stripe in his shirt; unfortunately the lighting in the store was deceiving and I didn't have the shirt with me. I've got plans for another shirt to go with this, though, so no worries.

What I like most about these overalls is the way that the legs are pieced together. It just makes sense to me, somehow. And the legs are baggy but with the elastic at the ankles, which I like, for some reason. There was quite a bit of topstitching on these and I alternated between using a reinforced stitch and simply stitching twice. I'm not sure which effect I like better. I chose to use a thread that matched the fabric, as opposed to a contrasting one, as shown in the magazine. It probably makes them slightly plainer and maybe even makes them look more home-sewn but I felt like the color I chose was already limiting in a way and I didn't want to lock myself into certain colors of shirts because they would look better with whatever contrasting thread color I'd chosen.

Not sure if you can see it in this photo, but I did have a problem with one of the buttons for the clips. These are the sort that you have to use a hammer with in order to get the button attached. Well, somehow I hit it on an angle and bent the button as well as the backing part. I had a bit of trouble but was able to remove it and find another back in my button stash. However, I had no more buttons that matched this color so I had to use it in its bent state. It works fine, though, and isn't too noticeable.

Here you see all of the topstitching required for these overalls and all of the little details: pockets on the front of the legs, a pocket on the bib portion, the belt loops, the faux fly. I chose to stitch the faux-fly down because it kept poofing out in a semi-open state and it looked odd. I don't do that for all faux fly pants, only if it seems to pop open frequently. All in all I'm quite pleased with the way that these turned out, though if I made them again I'd make the elastic at the ankles slightly shorter than called for. I did that portion while T was asleep and was unable to measure the length against the circumference of his ankle. I went with what the directions said was the proper length for the size but the legs don't always stay down and frequently I find him playing with the ankle parts up around his knees, as though they're meant to be knee-pants. These were finished a few days after Christmas 2010.

Puppet theatre for Gwyneth

I'd been meaning to make a puppet theatre for the kids since Maeve was an only child. In fact, I've had this pattern for years(Simplicity, sadly out of print now) but never gotten around to it. Silly, really, because it's so easy to make. This was Gwyneth's homemade Christmas present this year. What makes it even more special is that I only had to buy the red velveteen, gold ric-rac, gold lamé for the star and the gold tassels. Yeah, that sounds like a lot but it really wasn't. So the main stage portion that hangs down is made from a dark red cotton velveteen from JoAnn's and is trimmed with gold ric-rac. The valance at the top is from a beautiful purple cotton velveteen I had in my stash, with a gold lamé star fixed to the velveteen with fusible web and then zig-zagged on the edges. The ribbon trim is something that I had in my stash of trims. The curtains are made from purple taffeta left over from the pirate skirts and they get tied back with gold tassels on gold-colored rat tail trim, which hooks onto gold buttons from my stash. In fact, these are the buttons I originally wanted for Maeve's pirate frock coat but couldn't find enough of. I tension rod in the top and a piece of wood trim at the bottom of the "stage opening" to stabilize it and ta-da! A puppet theatre.

This present turned out to be more popular than I thought it would be and has already shown many performances of short "plays".

Farbenmix "Roxy" dress for Maeve:

This is probably the oldest thing that I have documented in this post. I made this back in 2009, around the time we were getting ready to move from WV to our current digs in Rockville. Maeve likes dresses for summer and this seemed like a quick, easy dress that she could run around and play in without worrying about getting it dirty or torn. It's a floral print rib-knit, purchased on ebay. There was a ton of this fabric and it was really cheap. I made a sundress for Gwyn out of it around the same time but Gwyn is now far too big for it. So they had matching dresses for a while. Luckily, this one was long-ish and seemed to run a bit bigger than I expected, so she's been able to wear it for 2 summers. Not sure if it will get through a 3rd but we shall see.

Instead of doing a facing at the neckline, I chose to bind it with lavender fold-over elastic because I didn't want any bulk at the neckline. And just to make sure that Maeve was able to get it over her head, I did the back placket option with purple snaps.

"Olivia" blouse and "Dora" skirt for Maeve:

The Olivia blouse is #13 and the Dora skirt is #14 in the 6/2007 issue of Ottobre. Originally these were to be a part of the SWAP that I was doing for Maeve back in Fall 2009. Due to several problems I never ended up finishing it but I'm still working on parts of it. The blouse is made from a Liberty of London cotton lawn and a lovely cotton calico in a coordinating color. I really enjoyed making this blouse and working with this fabric - I also used it for a tunic that was part of the SWAP.
Like the tunic, I used the floral for the main blouse pieces and the coordinating calico in the smaller areas - here the yoke and the inner collar are the parts made from the calico. Also, the buttons are a very cool iridescent magenta-purple color. This blouse was specifically made to go with the skirt and in the very top photo you can see how they look together. I really like that the blouse shape is very demure but the skirt is more fun, with the poufy shape and the fabric choice.
The skirt is made from a tie-dye fine wale corduroy that I fell in love with at JoAnn's and knew I had to buy and use for this skirt pattern. I think the tie-dye keeps the outfit from looking too fussy and gives a hipper vibe to the skirt. The lining is made from a very high-quality cotton shirting in a sort of mauve and burgundy/plum gingham/laid that I got for a steal at G Street Fabrics. I found it on the remnant table for $2.97/yard. For a shirting it's not thin at all and has a really tight weave. I also used it for the waistband on the skirt itself. And then, of course, I had to do the little ribbon embellishment they show in Ottobre. Actually, the skirt looked unfinished without it. I was able to find velvet ribbon in 2 colors similar to the tones in the corduroy and the blouse; not matching exactly but similar enough that they don't look out of place. Because this was for a SWAP and potentially Maeve would wear the skirt with different tops, I felt that anything that contrasted too much would keep her from wearing it with anything but the blouse, even though I thought the moss green tones in the floral print would have been lovely as ribbon trim and made a beautiful contrast.