Saturday, December 31, 2016

Building Block Dress

  I had meant to include a quick write-up about the Oliver + S Building Block Dress book that I used to make three of the girls' Christmas dresses in my last post... and I totally forgot, so here it is if you are interested!

 I really like the idea of this book... it starts with pretty basic dress block and shows you how to create many, many different styles. Unlike books like the Metric Pattern Cutting series, it includes information on how to sew the different styles you come up with, and includes the original dress pattern in sizes 6 months to 12 years, so it's geared more toward people who are just beginning to learn pattern alterations instead of people who do it regularly. It also isn't as extensive as the Metric Pattern Cutting series.

  For me, this book is more of an inspirational resource, although having a basic dress pattern that is well drafted is really nice! 

  A few of the sewing techniques aren't clearly explained. For example, an external facing with an invisible zipper, like I did for Booper's dress. From a quick perusal it looks like most of the ideas are covered clearly, and of course there's only so much ground a single book can go over, but I did feel like the instructions could be a bit more thorough for that technique at least.

  The dress seems to be very well-drafted... all of the relevant corners are squared, the pieces fit together, the notches are in the right spots, and the grading looks pretty accurate. I am a little suspicious of the slight peak at the top of the sleeve in the larger sizes. Otherwise, I had no complaints with it. You definitely need to be comfortable with tracing to use the pattern, since it's all on a single large page, but it's much easier to trace than some magazine patterns I've started. 

  If your kids are tall and skinny, you'll definitely want to make a muslin. I did, based on chest measurements, and I needed to widen the shoulders for Booper and Beckers, who are both in a bigger size height-wise than around. A lot of the versions I've seen from other bloggers also look too small through the shoulders. Next time I'd like to try making a muslin in the size that corresponds with the height instead of the chest measurement and see if that helps.

  The dress is fitted through the shoulders and upper chest, but is intended to be pretty loose through the waist. My daughters have narrow back waists and the muslin was gaping away from them quite a bit, so I removed some width from the back of the pattern for Booper's and Gaiw's dresses. That's not an problem with the pattern though, just a difference in style from what I expected.

  Since this book goes over the techniques of pattern alterations, it's useful for more than just a little girls dress... many of the ideas can be used for womens' dresses or shirts, and a few, such as the pocket ideas, could even be used on pants. It also covers some basic muslin and fitting techniques.

  I bought the book myself, and even though I don't feel like I learned much, if anything, as far as pattern alterations from it, I would absolutely buy it again just for the pattern and ideas, and I found a few sewing techniques that I hadn't seen before in it as well. 

  I used a few techniques for the girls' dresses that weren't covered in the book, such as the mitered corners on Booper's dress, and the welt pockets on Becker's dress. A few more details on what's included in the Building Block Dress book are mentioned in its listing, here

  Overall, I absolutely recommend the book! I'm thinking of getting it for a couple of relatives who have expressed an interest in changing patterns as well. I think it's a really great resource for a beginner to pattern alterations- I wish I'd had it when I started doing that!

  That wasn't nearly as quick of a write-up as I had expected, but if you are interested in the book I hope it was helpful! ;-)

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 Christmas Dresses

  It's been a while and I've got a backlog of things to post, so I'm going to start with some recently sewn things first, and cram all four Christmas dresses into one post!

  Years ago I started searching for a blue-and-brown woven plaid to make some Christmas dresses. This year, I finally found a plaid like that, and bought as much as my budget could handle, but couldn't remember what the dresses I'd initially planned to make looked like! So I decided to pair it with some navy and camel 21-wale corduroy, and came up with some slightly vintage-inspired designs.

  More backstory.... I started tatting some trim this spring with plans to add it to a grey corduroy skirt. I also tatted a heart, which I was planning to use atop a pocket, and when the sleeve trim didn't work for this dress, I thought maybe I could make a dress instead of a skirt and use all of my trims together, but I just wasn't in love with the idea. However, when I saw the navy corduroy I'd ordered, all of the pieces came together! So the first dress actually doesn't include any plaid at all!

  I used the Oliver+S Building Block dress as the base for a drop-waisted dress with elbow-length sleeves, a pleated skirt, and an external neck facing with mitered corners. It closes with an invisible zipper... I used interfacing down the back because the corduroy seemed light enough to need it, but it caused some puckering. I need to buy some better-quality interfacing!

  The neck facing would probably have looked better if I'd managed to cut the pieces perfectly on grain, but I still love the effect:

  I cut most of the pieces with the nap going up the dress, and the external sleeve facings, waistband, and part of the neck facing have the nap running to the right, for a little added interest. I had to take a few inches of tatting out of the sleeve trim to make them fit, and it took a really long time. It probably would have taken only about one hour more to completely re-tat them! Tatting is very difficult to unpick. The flecks on the sleeves are mist from the cold and drizzly weather we were having when I was photographing these. =)

  I liked the effect better with the tatting at the hem upright rather than hanging down, so I sewed it on with two rows of hand-stitching, along the top and bottom of the trim. For some reason that took me a really, really long time, but it was worth it!

  I eventually decided that making the heart a pocket was just asking for trouble, so I used it as an applique instead. I used the same pattern to tat the heart as I did the blue one in this post.

  I also made a big corduroy bow to go with this dress:

  I absolutely love how this dress turned out... it was worth all of the time I poured into tatting the trim and sewing it on!

  For Gaiw, I decided to use the camel corduroy with plaid accents.

  I also used the Building Block dress pattern as the base for hers, and used techniques from the book for most of the design features. It has piped princess seams that meet up with pockets in the skirt, a sash, banded sleeves, and a tie collar. I used some pretty antique copper spring snaps for the back, but next time I use these I would add extra interfacing, as the fabric has already torn next to one of the snaps.

  I spent quite a lot of time figuring out how to make the piping seamless between the princess seams and the pockets, because I wasn't sure about the sash, but in the end I much preferred the dress with the sash, so that time was rather wasted!

  I love the piped pockets though:

  I top-stitched the sleeve band down on the outside of the sleeve to secure both layers... it's the only top-stitching in this dress so I was concerned that it would look out-of-place but I don't think it's noticeable at all.

  I love the tie collar! After I took these photos I tied it in a double-knot and that worked a lot better than the single knot here:

  I also made Gaiw a quick elastic-back beret from the corduroy, with a little plaid bow to accent it. It was a little tight on her, but I didn't have time for a remake!

  Becker's dress is an a-line dress with a tie-look collar, a big central box pleat, hem facing, petal cuffs, and welt pockets. Hers is the final dress made using the Building Block pattern... I made muslins for all of them but didn't notice on Becker's that I needed to widen the shoulders slightly for her.

  Because of that, the sleeves are also slightly shorter than I meant for them to be!

  I made a polo-style placket in the back for this one (I'm not sure what the correct way to do that would be... this is just a wide continuously-bound placket stitched down at the bottom and with snaps!) I stitched the placket to the outside first so I could enclose the bias neck facing underneath it. I somehow managed to make it off-center though. =( And this is the only photo I took of it, and it's terribly blurry! I'll probably re-visit this idea again someday though, I think it might work really well on a thinner fabric..... and I should have added 1/2" width to the neckline to accommodate the seam allowances of the placket. I used the same antique copper spring snaps on this dress.

  Beckers' collar was cut on the fold, with an additional 'knot' piece, and a wide sash for the tails. It was a bit bulky at the center front, but still worked in this lightweight plaid.

  I love the petal cuffs! This is an idea I got from the original version of the Tinny dress, although I drew my own for this dress. Instead of sewing these to the inside of the sleeve then turning them out like the Tinny pattern, I used the bias sleeve facing from the Building Block Dress book, and they worked beautifully!

  This was my first time sewing welt pockets, and they also turned out quite nice, although I'm not sure about whether I should have done something more to finish the edges of the slash on the inside of the dress.

  Beckers got a big plaid bow to finish off her ensemble:

  And finally, Foof! I drafted her dress from scratch... starting with a basic woven block in a size 6 months. (I only used her chest measurement to determine that, because every time I tried to measure her she would roll onto the floor and kick her legs around. She thought she was the funniest girl ever.) I then drew in a yoke and turned the portion below the yoke into a big circle! Her dress has, besides the slightly-oversized yoke, a hem facing, ric-rac trim, and banded sleeves.

  I stuck two decorative buttons on the front of the yoke... these remind me of gingerbread! This one was really difficult to sew because of the tight opposing curves!

  The back closes with more antique copper spring snaps, and has a continuously bound placket below the yoke. Those snaps are lined up perfectly, honest. It's just the angle! ;-)

  I didn't get a detail shot of the cuffs, because she was being a booger and kept running off when I was trying to take photos, but they are also trimmed with white ric-rac. I added two inches in length to the dress when drafting it because Foof usually wears a size 12-18 months garment in height, and she wouldn't cooperate for measurements so I could make sure that would work. I ended up taking it, and the entire beautifully-sewn hem facing, back off and re-hemming. I had to cut another hem facing and re-sew.... the dress would have draped more than I wanted if I'd just hemmed regularly. It was worth the time though, because it suits her perfectly!

  I also made her a little hat, which is just a 14" circle (next time I'll try an 11 or 12" circle instead) gathered onto a band with a little bit of elastic in the back, and a plaid bow in the front.

  In spite of all of the little problems and all of the mistakes I made, I'm just delighted with this batch of dresses! I love the fabrics, love the trims, love all of the little details that went into these. =)

  I also made a sweater for myself using some thick navy knit, and wore it to our Christmas celebration, so I coordinated as well! But since I made it the night after taking these photos, I'm not in them. ;-)

Thanks for stopping by,

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

  So apparently I haven't posted here since the 1st... I've definitely been busy! Here's a little peek of some of the things I've made:

  I hope your Christmas is lovely and relaxing!

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Birthday Gifts for September, October, and November

I've already shared a handful of the gifts I made in October, but I thought I'd save all of the shirts with vinyl for a single post... and here it is! I used Jalie 2198 for all of these. The black and blue fabrics are from Nick of Time Textiles, and the olive green is from Girl Charlee.

  My twin nephews' birthday was in September... and I made coordinating shirts for them! For one, a shirt that says 'double':

  And for the other, a shirt that says 'trouble'! I'm so happy that these boys' mama has a great sense of humor and loved the shirts. ;-)

  I was initially planning on applique for the words, but I didn't have fabric in a color that I liked with this blue. I ended up using the last of my orange vinyl.

  I wanted the stripes on the arms to be thicker too, but I had just barely enough to squeak out this width, and I like the effect anyway! Next time I'll put the stripes a little higher though.

  I also added tags to the back of these shirts.

  The next birthday was my brother-in-law's. He's pretty awesome. ;-)

  This fabric is actually olive green, but my camera picked it up as muddy brown!

  I prefer the 12oz knits over this one for t-shirts... this one just doesn't feel sturdy enough to me.

  Another brother-in-law's birthday was in early November... he's a photographer, so I put this on the back:

  and a simplified version of his logo on the front. I simplified it because the original had lots of tiny pieces that I would have had to weed out! ;-)

  I'm really pleased with this one!

  I used this free clip art for the camera.

  And finally, my vocal middle brother's birthday was also in November! It's a little hard to see in the photos... it reads, 'I am not bound to please thee with my answers -Shakespeare'.

  I didn't have enough white vinyl left for this one so I went with black... it's a little easier to read in person because of the sheen of the vinyl, but white would definitely have been better.

  The hems turned out fantastic on this one!

  I only have one birthday gift left to make this year, for Gaiw. I really enjoyed making birthday gifts instead of Christmas gifts, but I haven't quite decided whether I'll do it again next year. I also somewhat unexpectedly gained a new brother-in-law this year, so I didn't actually end up making gifts for all of the extended relatives!

  I'm currently working on a Christmas dress for Booper. I have a coordinating set of dresses planned for the girls', but with how long it's taking me to sew the trim on Booper's I'm really not sure that I'll get them all finished. I need more sewing time! Maybe I can just skip sleeping this month. ;-)

Thanks for stopping by,