Apr 23, 2014

{almost} victory for ava

Oh, Ava.  I love the look of this pattern so much, with all of the feminine details and variations.  Unfortunately, this pattern almost broke me.

I used a very lightweight chambray for my blouse, which worked really nicely for cutting and sewing but not so nicely for ripping out seams.  Everything went smoothly until it was time to attach the bodice at the sweetheart seam.  The directions seemed to make sense until I actually tried to execute them.  I haven't read much about other people having issues with this step in the pattern, but I did find this incredibly helpful tutorial.  It took me five tries to get this neckline in decent shape, and I'm afraid my fabric suffered a bit in the process.  After that point, I basically had to redo every single step.  Frustration creates a vicious cycle, and I ended up dissatisfied with everything I did.  I feel like this top looks homemade.  Maybe it's just a mental block because of my sewing experience. 

I think I like the fit of this top.  I cut a four in the shoulders and graded to a six at the waist.  I inserted the side zipper, hated it, and decided to take it out because I could shimmy in and out of the top fairly easily. (Again with the seam ripping though.)  I don't mind the looser fit at all, especially because of the lightweight, floaty chambray.

I love the cap sleeves.  They're not perfect, but I like how they balance the peplum.  If I make this blouse again, I will probably omit the sweetheart neckline, like this version.

Apr 21, 2014


 I am not one to jump on the bandwagon of brand new patterns.  I actually prefer to let everyone else on the internet try out a new pattern, work through the quirks and kinks, and explain it all to me before I try it out.  (And there are some really lovely versions of this dress out there.  See here, here, here, and here.)  Of course, with the Sewaholic Saltspring, there are virtually no quirks and kinks.  This is a most lovely pattern.

The true genius of this pattern is the lining.  (There are so many explanations of this technique out there that I feel ridiculous even mentioning it.)  The lining ends up shorter than the bodice, which is what creates the blousing, but it also means that the lining fits pretty closely.  The result is zero gaping at the neckline, which is really awesome when you have little kiddos to chase around.  Moving without feeling exposed is kind of important to me.  However, this dress does feel a little odd because it looks a lot different than it feels.  I expected it a looser fit, and I thought I had cut a size too small, but once everything came together, I realized all was well.  I can wiggle into this dress without much trouble, so I left out the zipper in the back.

This is a perfect pattern for a beginner.  The elastic at the waist is forgiving to any mishaps, there are no darts to worry about, and it's a fabulous showcase for gorgeous fabric.  Speaking of fabric, this was my birthday present from my mama.  She came up to visit me right around my birthday, and we visited a huge fabric store nearby.  My mom knows exactly what I want, and she told me to pick out something I loved.  Thank you so much, Mama!

Apr 19, 2014

looking sharp

One of the sewing projects on my Spring Break list was to whip up a little something for the boy so that he can look sharp for Easter.  Fancy dresses are standard for Easter, so clearly, the boy needs something equally as fancy.

Colin is at a funny moment for fancy boy clothing.  On the one hand, I want to dress him up in little jon-jons forever, but for some reason, that doesn't feel right anymore.  He's more little boy than baby.  I don't necessarily want him dressed like a little old man, but he needs something that suits his personality more than a jon-jon would.  (Obviously, I am overthinking little boy clothing.)  I decided to make another Oliver and S Art Museum vest because I cannot make enough of these little vests (see the corduroy version here).  Oh, the cuteness!

Those welt pockets are perfection in stripes.

I spent way too long trying to decide between the classic Art Museum trouser and the Sketchbook shorts.  I debated this out loud to a friend, and she said that Easter is the perfect time to show off chubby knees.  She is absolutely right.

I love this shorts pattern so much that I've actually whipped up three more pairs for the boy.  And when I say "whipped up," that's exactly what I mean.  This pattern comes together super fast and with quite a professional result.  I can't wait to see how cute the boy looks in his Easter outfit next to his sister in her fancy dress!

Apr 14, 2014

a fairy tale Easter dress and a few other things

It's Spring Break, and I couldn't be happier about it.  I have developed quite a long project list, and now I finally have a little time to work my way through it.  This is perfect timing as I'm planning to participate in Me Made May this year.


I've never done a Me Made May before, but I finally feel like I'm ready to try.  My plan is to wear at least one handmade garment at least five days per week during the month of May.  I expect to repeat garments, but I'm going to try not to repeat exact outfit combinations.   I think this will be a perfect opportunity to evaluate my me-made wardrobe and plan my summer break sewing.  I suspect my big gap will be in tops and blouses.  And who knows?  Me Made May might finally inspire me to tackle some pants.

I've been focusing more on kid sewing lately, especially with the change of seasons and with Easter approaching.  Easter is definitely a celebration worthy of new outfits.  For Cara's Easter dress, I decided on the Oliver and S Fairy Tale dress.

I went with a size 6 after the size 5 seemed a little bit snug.  The 6 is a tiny bit big, but hopefully that means it will still fit next year.  I love the little collar and the bow at the waist.  This is such a great dress pattern.

Check out the 3-D effect of the trim at the waist.  Also, gingham on the bias is always a good idea.  My only fear is that my hand sewing won't hold through the wash, but I'm getting a little more confident in my hand sewing skills with all of the Alabama Chanin style stitching I've been doing lately.

I can't wait to share pictures of this cute little number actually on the child, but I'll have to wait for Easter for that.  :-)

Mar 30, 2014

the boy is two

Colin turned two back on the 19th, and I have to say, two might be my favorite moment of toddler-hood.  Colin at two is the best combination of sweet, squishy, rebellious, and hilarious.   One minute, he wants to snuggle and cuddle and "bwush uh hair, Mama" (apparently, my hair is quite twirl-able), and the next minute, the boy is all "noooo! my turn!!" I came to the realization recently that I don't have any babies in my house anymore, and I think it hit me so hard because Colin seems more "big kid" than Cara did at two.  Of course, he has a real big kid to keep up with, and he definitely holds his own.  Cara gets wrestled to the ground by her little brother fairly regularly, but he also plays with his fair share of princesses and dolls.  After seeing him decked out in jewelry and crowns a few too many times, I decided it was time for the boy to have his own dress up/adventure clothes.  (Not that there's anything wrong with boys dressing up in jewelry and crowns--I'm all for letting the imagination run free--however, the traditional boy options were a bit limited over here.)

I never thought I'd see the day when I wandered into the fabric store in search of camouflage.  I went in picturing something more abstract and walked out with what my husband called "real tree."  I still don't know what that means exactly, but he approved of my camo choice.  I used the Explorer Vest pattern from Little Things to Sew in the smallest size. Oliver and S never does me wrong.  I wanted this vest to be fully reversible, so I used patch pockets for both sides so that they wouldn't be too bulky, and I left off the buttons so that Colin could get this on and off by himself.  I originally intended for this vest to be strictly for dress-up and playing at home, but it turned out so cute that I might consider letting Colin wear it out in public.  This is South Carolina, after all.

To go with the vest, I also added the Bucket Hat from Little Things to Sew, again reversible.  It took the largest size for this hat to fit on Colin's giant noggin. :-)

Colin's enthusiasm for this little camo ensemble comes and goes.  When I first showed him the vest, he told me that he didn't like it.  Fortunately, I have thick skin and lots of patience.  It took a week of leaving it sitting around before he brought it me and asked for help putting it on.  Score one for Mom!

I tried to explain to Colin that he could hide in the woods in the backyard in his camouflage, and he really liked that idea.  He was not such a huge fan of taking pictures.

However, Cara knows how to get her brother tickled: hide behind a tree and play peek-a-boo.

Mar 12, 2014

the perfect dress

Cara has a Disney Princess book that she loves to read called "The Perfect Dress." It's one those step-into-reading books, and she's had it memorized since the day she got it.  The storyline is that all of the princesses have many activities to accomplish and events to attend, and each one of them is after the perfect dress for the occasion.  I have to admit, it's pretty tough to find a dress that goes from scrubbing the floor to a magic carpet ride to a ball.  I can sympathize.  Fortunately, I have the answer:  the Oliver and S Jump Rope Dress.

I have been feeling up for a new sewing challenge lately, and this dress fit the bill.  I wouldn't say it's difficult, but there are lots of details to handle.  In true Oliver and S fashion, the instructions are so thorough that even my button placket came out pretty close to perfect on the first try.  In addition to the button placket, there are sleeve tabs, a collar, a sash, and pockets on the skirt, but I was careful to be precise in my cutting and measuring, and everything went together like a dream.

It's hard to tell in these pictures, but the fabric is covered in kite tails, which only makes this dress even more perfect for spring.  To be honest, all I had to tell Cara was that it had a twirly skirt and a bow, and she was sold.  I love it because it looks a little bit more "big girl" and it can go from church to play time to birthday party in a breeze.

I made this one in a size 5.  It's a slightly slimmer fit than some of the other Oliver and S dresses I've made, with the exception of the Fairy Tale Dress, but I think it suits the style of this dress.  I'm crossing my fingers that it will last through the summer into the fall!

And there's nothing more perfect for my little princess than a dress that works just as well for swinging with Ariel as it does for riding bikes with your brother.

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