“I want to look like my cake” Birthday Dress

Five years! How has it been five years since this little princess joined our family!

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Actually, five years and almost two months, because we were in the middle of moving cross country during her birthday and I’m only now getting around to posting pictures of her birthday dress. It was done on time – early actually, as we held a joint birthday party for the kids before we moved.

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This year, I  took Grace to the fabric store to pick her own fabric. We’d already decided that the party would be “rainbow themed” in a very loose way. Simple, colorful decorations. She fell for this immediately then demanded that her brother and the cake match!

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“Choose Happy” is a good message for this season of our lives. There’s a lot going on; we have a lot we’ve left behind and a lot we’re trying to reestablish on the other side of the country. But while we’re honoring those feelings, we’re also trying to “choose happy” at the end.

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The dress is the Fairy Tale Dress from Oliver + S, my reliable favorite pattern company for classic designs and well drafted patterns. I’ve been waiting to buy this one until Grace was in the higher size range – I knew as soon as I bought the small one she’d hit a growth spurt! So, this is a size 5 with a 6 length, which has a little extra space in it. I’ve got years more opportunities to get my money’s worth on this pattern. I made View B with the View A waist detail. I love some of the techniques – the waist seam method was new to me – but be warned that there is a lot of handwork. This allows a very professional finish but I hadn’t budgeted my time correctly.

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Reid matched, too, but I was so displeased with his shirt pattern (Peekaboo Classic Oxford) that I haven’t bothered to photograph it or write a review. Though I probably should so others don’t waste their money…

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All in all, I’m grateful for every day I get to “choose happy” this sweet girl is in my life!

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Springtime “Sugar Horses”

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I love spring time! The tulips pop up, the trees are blooming, everything seems fresh and new. And like all the other things going through the spring growth spurt, so is my adorable little girl. Every dress she owns is too short! So, even though we’re moving in less than a month, I have a giant stack of fabric and patterns to plow through in order to keep her appropriate both here and at our new home in Florida.

She picked every bit of this dress. It’s the Sugar Horses pattern from Ellie Inspired sewn in a quilter’s cotton from Joann’s. The pattern has a full crossover on the front bodice. I like how high the crossover is – a little bit of attention but still modest and age appropriate. The bodice is fully lined which makes the neckline both beautiful and simple to accomplish.

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This is lengthened from the original pattern. Grace likes her dresses long, and I like them to last. I think this length is adorable on her.

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The skirt has a true placket. I love it! True plackets – rather than one of the many cheater plackets popular in the PDF world – help the skirt lay neatly and give a very tidy look. I’ve tried several before with no luck. This pattern has the clearest placket directions I’ve ever followed and I couldn’t be happier with the finished result. Note: EI uses illustrations instead of photographs. I’m personally quite comfortable with this. Just follow the directions slowly and steadily.

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Now onto a couple cons: Something is funny with the back arm hole. It seems to come pretty far over towards her shoulder blade and gapes more than I prefer. Now for a sleeveless summer dress it really isn’t a big deal. However, the pattern also includes a sleeved version. I can’t imagine that sleeve would set well into this arm hole. Not only that but the pattern directions for the sleeve were incomprehensible – I have*no* idea what they are telling you to do and I’ve been sewing for over 20 years. I almost feel like there is a step missing? Perhaps the sleeved version was a last minute add on. Whatever the problem is, I know I wouldn’t be making it.

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Will I make it again? Probably. This is one of my favorite classic-but-not-fussy styles for little girls. Grace thinks it’s awesome and I can bust it out quickly. And she’s in the little girl obsessed with horses phase so calling it Sugar Horses is just icing on the cake.

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Happy Springtime!

Summer Capsule Wardrobe: A Necessary Dress

After a few weeks of planning, I’m starting to sew on my summer capsule wardrobe. I first busted out a couple no-alterations-necessary basics to give me something to cover myself with while I work. Now I’m buried deeply in the piles of tissue paper required for pattern alteration. Because honestly – if I’m going to pour this kind of time and money into sewing for myself, I want to be sure I like the outcome. Especially right now as I’m going through so many body transitions after pregnancy. I love the result – my sweet little Reid!- but pregnancy and nursing are definitely hard on my body. I’ve been doing lots of measuring, followed by re-measuring, sewing test garments, adjusting those test garments, more measuring…

There was a good post on Free Notion on “where do I start” to help establish priorities. For me, our family schedule dictated my top priority – a wedding, followed by the dedication of our son at church, followed by another wedding, then business travel the rest of the summer. I was desperate for a good basic dress that 1) fit and 2) is easy to work on. Goal accomplished!

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This is the Jocole Crossover Dress. I made it last summer as a sort of “wearable muslin.” Based on that I made a couple minor tweaks to the pattern – I added 1/4″ to the upper bodice area and cut the armhole out a bit larger to better suit my arms. I also added 5″ to the length (just added it to the bottom) to get the length I want for a little more formal dress.

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I have a last thought to share. Becca’s most recent post on the capsule wardrobe sew along is all about fitting for your own unique, extraordinary body. These little adjustments seem so small. They would be easy to skip – after all, the dress was wearable straight from the pattern. Not perfect, but wearable. And yet they made me self conscious and super aware of my clothes, not in a good way. In my mind the best outfit fits well and is well suited for the activity of the day to the point that it blends into the background. You put it on and never think about it again.

By taking the time to measure myself and carefully adjust the pattern, I achieved that on this dress. I’m so glad I did. The way I feel in this dress is the motivation to take the time on some of the other patterns I’m using this summer that require *a lot* more fitting. Pants. Woven tops. Things that won’t just stretch over my mommy tummy and look decent even if they’re perfect. This is my kick start to get sewing on everything else!

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If you’re wondering, here are the main reasons for my own #extraordinarybody. These two crazy kids are the sunshine in my day! Grace Abigail, age 4 and Reid Isaiah, 6 weeks yesterday. They’re worth every bump, bulge, and stretch mark!

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Fireworks Fourth Dress

Posting only 2 weeks after the holiday! Our life has just been too busy lately. With what? If you’re interested, you can visit our family blog here.

I’ve never been a big one for holiday clothing. I like looking at it, I just don’t tend to make things for one specific day.

Except when my sweet 3 year old begs me and I happen to have all the supplies already in the house and 3 free hours before we have to be at a party. Then I’ll make an exception!

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It’s a fireworks dress! This is PERFECT for the fourth! Which is good, because it was completely NOT perfect for what it used to be – a shirtwaist dress for me that I’d tried and tried and tried to make perfect but just couldn’t make work. In the words of Project Runway, it looked “tortured.” It was technically finished except for buttons but it was never going to be worn anyway so I saved myself the trouble and made something for Grace.

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As soon as I saw this little flutter sleeve sundress pop up during 30 Days of Sundresses, I knew I would be making it. Probably a dozen times! It’s a simple peasant style dress with elastic at the waist. I added lace on the sleeves and hem to at a little detail. The red bow is safety pinned in place so I can remove it for washing.

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She’s a little ambivalent on this dress, mostly because it doesn’t have butterflies OR flowers on it. That’s basically a crime in her universe. This girl… she has an opinion! She’s currently in a 4T so I was able to use the PDF pattern available in the post instead of drafting a pattern myself (adding 3″ of length). Next time I’ll need to lower the armhole a little; she was tugging at it telling me “it BOTHERS!”

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This isn’t a look of pain, I promise! She’s singing some song and twirling in a circle, which is how she spends most days lately. It’s the best way to spend summer ❤

Details

Pattern: Girl’s flutter sleeve sundress from It’s Always Autumn

Fabric: navy print quilter’s cotton from Joann’s (in 2009); white cotton lace trim from Fabric.com

Kid’s Clothes Week: Monday

Have you heard of Kid’s Clothes Week? It’s an event in the blog community that happens 4 times a year – once each quarter of the year. The challenge is to spend one hour each day for one week sewing clothes for your kid (or kids). There is a host blog (Kid’s Clothes Week) where projects from the Community site are featured and give-aways happen. Within the Community site, you can post photos and pattern reviews, plus get to know some other cool people who sew 🙂 This is my first KCW but I can’t see it being my last.

I spent most of Monday getting ready: organizing patterns, deciding which fabric will be used where, and tracing off my new Oliver + S pattern.

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I decided to spend my sewing time wrapping up a couple of projects left from before. Nothing like clearing up unfinished business. Both of these were already finished except for hems and trims.

Re-purposed Overall Dress

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These started as a too short pair of Old Navy Baby overalls. Overalls just don’t make sense in our life – Grace has potty trained and she can’t get them up and down without help, but… “I DO IT MYSELF!” The end result is accidents. Turning them into a overall dress is much more our style. I cut the legs off a few inches below those cute pockets, then slit the curved part of the crotch seam and stitched it flat. Hemming with pink ribbon trim (from my stash, leftover from a different project) was a quick and easy finish – much easier than trying to turn up a hem on this thick denim. Maybe an hour of work turned this unworn hand-me-down into something Grace begged to put on as soon as she saw it. I did photograph the steps of this project – if time allows I’ll post a quick tutorial.

Striped Grand Slam Tee

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This is my first sew of the Grand Slam Tee by Peek A Boo patterns. I love it – everything matched up perfectly, which is a must when working with stripes. The fabric is a weird sweater knit remnant I found in the bin at Joann’s. It’s kind of weird, but I kind of love it. From the pattern, I made a size 4 with the 3/4 sleeves and Skinny fit. I’m hoping to make a little khaki skirt to pair with this.

My model only had one outfit’s worth of cooperation in her this morning, so we’re back to taped on the wall. You do what works, right?

KCW is just in time for me. I just had to retire 5 MORE dresses from Grace’s wardrobe for being far too short and getting tight. This is in addition to the several I’ve had to pull over the past couple weeks. My girl hit a serious growth spurt between Thanksgiving and Christmas – after not growing much in a year, she put on 2″ and 1lb in a little over a month. It’s left me scrambling for clothes – we’ve done lots of leggings under too short dresses these past few weeks. I’m glad she won’t wear pants because I don’t have any ` that cover her tummy. So for the rest of KCW, my goal is to bust out a pile of quick to sew, easy to wear dresses to keep my little miss covered. Life is never boring!

Much to be thankful for

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. A time to pause and be with family and just be grateful for the abundance God has blessed us with.

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.  For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. Psalm 95:2-3

Things like enough food to eat…

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The opportunity to share…

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Family time…

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Play and Laughter…

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Spinning!

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So from us to you, Happy Thanksgiving! May this holiday season be peaceful and blessed 🙂

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Dress details:

  • Pattern: Birthday Party Dress from Lily Bird Studio; doll’s dress essentially free-handed.
  • Fabric: Seasonal quilter’s cotton; solid brown quilter’s cotton
  • Embroidery: By me – I will post details tomorrow.

Seeing Spots Fleece Dress

I know I keep saying this, but I absolutely adore fall. It’s the best. Except now we’re heading into November and it starts to get just a little cooler – coats and hats and scarves become a necessity rather than a choice. The piles of leaves get a little bigger; the trees, a little barer; and the park is a little emptier. But I wouldn’t miss it for anything! Which leaves me sewing up something that is both warm and not bulky. Something to keep Grace cozy but won’t get in her way while she plays. And as every former high schooler and college kid knows, that perfect article of clothing is a HOODIE!

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Except, she’s 2 and a half, so it’s got to be a dress, too.

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I used the Hangout Hoodie from Peek-a-boo Pattern Shop. Love it. Grand total construction time was less than 2 hours including printing, cutting, sewing, trying on, hemming… Everything. Of course, I didn’t do it in one sitting, mostly because I’m highly distractable.

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I made a couple edits to the pattern. It’s originally sized for thin tee-shirt style knits to be worn as an outfit. I wanted it out of fleece, as a layering piece. Grace measures 18mo on the size chart. I went ahead and made a 4T out of fleece. I lengthened the sleeves in order to remove the ribbed cuff – it’s a simple narrow hem now. They ended up too long though so they’re cuffed for this season. I added 3″ to the hem (she’s so skinny and tall), reshaped the hood a little (see the picture above), and drafted rounded patch pockets.

I reshaped the sleeve cap to add some more fullness. I was worried about the fleece’s lack of stretch. I think it probably would have been ok but I really like the slight puff shape. The new sleeve looks like this:

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Grace was excited by her “park dress” and loved that she didn’t need a coat. It didn’t get in her way at all and I never once heard “I’m cold!” Plus since it’s neon green, I can pick her out quickly from the orange and gray world.

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Did you know that the Hangout Hoodie is the pattern this month for Flip This Pattern? I’ll probably go ahead and enter this, even though it’s barely flipped. Now that I’ve tweaked the pattern and know how it fits Grace, I have a REAL flip in mind. I think I can even pull it off, too, as quick and simple as this pattern is! Check back soon 🙂 Now, we’re off to skip some more in the great outdoors.

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