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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To The Max

I’m really slow to join on fashion trends. Mostly because I’m oblivious. But there’s one that has caught my eye for years: Maxi skirts and dresses. I’ve never joined in – I’ve tried on occasion, but it just didn’t work. My legs are really long. Most maxis hit me well above the ankles, which is so not cool. Or they have no coverage on top, which isn’t my style. Or colors that I really don’t like. So I’ve just watched, filling a Pinterest board with images, considering but never actually making a move.

But wait. I sew. Cue the duh moment… really sometimes it takes me longer than it should! I blame the toddler.

So for my birthday present to myself I’m finally joining in!

Lady Skater Maxi Dress at Gabi Sunshine

I used the Lady Skater pattern again for the bodice. I showed my first try/ wearable muslin / troubleshooting version here. I got some great feedback on the alterations I needed and I am much happier this time. The skirt is a simple tube across the width of the fabric gathered onto the bodice (following the suggestion from here)

Lady Skater Maxi Dress at Gabi Sunshine

The fabric is a soft jersey knit that I bought from… wait for it… Mood! I know it’s not really that big of a deal, but after a decade of watching Project Runway, ordering from them was definitely on my bucket list. Life goal accomplished.

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I’m really pleased. I styled it really simply today, but I’ve already thought up a half dozen variations based on things already in my closet. Some with long sleeves over the top – it got cold again! I’m so ready for spring. This dress is so easy to wear. I’ve been on my knees on the floor, climbing up on ledges, and everything in between. Other than having to remember to lift the edge on stairs (oops) it’s one of those throw-on-and-go outfits that still looks pulled together. Making more? Definitely.

Lady Skater Maxi Dress at Gabi Sunshine

Details

Dress: Lady Skater by Kitschy Koo, tube style skirt

Fabric: 100% cotton jersey from Mood

 

Coco Cay Tankini

Summer’s coming! We’ll be taking Gracie to the beach pretty soon. Which of COURSE calls for a new swimsuit! Mainly because all the ones from last year are way tiny. But also because this child has a very… ah… specific sense of style. If it isn’t neon she isn’t interested. Thank goodness I picked up a swimsuit pattern during all the Thanksgiving sales a few months back! Introducing my first Coco Cay Tankini from Peekaboo Pattern Shop:

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So, inside on this windy gray day, we’re celebrating a little sunshine.

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As usual with Peekaboo Patterns, this stitched up a dream. Well, a dream considering I’m working with completely foreign-to-me materials and techniques. I’m still getting over my fear of regular knits. 4 way athletic knit? It’s crazy. The suit is far from perfect but I learned a LOT and have no doubt the next one will look very professional, and it’s very wearable. If you can’t tell, the part I need more practice on is getting the elastic evenly stretched. I’ve got super tight spots and super loose spots. I’m calling it a win though because she’s covered and comfortable. Oh and the applique is crooked since Grace wouldn’t decide what she wanted until AFTER the whole top was assembled. Next time I’ll do that very first. But she doesn’t care at all:

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She’s a natural model. LOL. I pull out the camera and it’s just pose after pose after pose.

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Ready to play in the waves! I’ll definitely be making at least one more of these to get through summer. We’ve graduated to a 2 piece due to potty training – she has a habit of waiting until the last. possible. minute. and I really don’t want to deal with a one piece in that situation. Actually, I hate one pieces in general. I really think a well fitted, long enough tankini is more modest that a one piece any day. Speaking of long enough, that was my only pattern edit – I extended the bottoms up a half inch and the top down about 3/4″. Otherwise it’s a straight 3t. I’ll probably do the top yet a little longer next time but the bottoms are perfect.

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Oh, I also got one more project off my list for the Cover-to-Cover Little Things to Sew challenge! That makes 4 so far… I’m super behind but have plans for many of them. This is the juggling bag. Well, mostly – I used the directions and the shapes, but the size is free handed based on the size I needed. The top half is scrap swimsuit fabric; the bottom is mesh swimsuit lining. It’s just right to throw a swimsuit and towel in. And it matches! Which is all that matters to Grace! Here’s my challenge post in case you want to know more about the challenge, see my completed projects, and maybe even jump in too!

Details

Pattern: Coco Cay Colorblock Tankini

Fabric: Athletic 4-way stretch knit from Joann’s

Bag: Little Things to Sew book by Liesl Gibson, scrap fabric

Troubleshooting the Lady Skater

Want to see a work in progress? I usually only post finished, polish, and posed, but I need help!

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Meet the Lady Skater dress from British designer Kitschy Coo. It’s just a tee shirt dress with a circle style skirt (not a full circle. Maybe half?). Super simple, super perfect uniform every day dress. I’m looking forward to making a shelf full – there’s some brilliant interpretations on the blog and on Pinterest that I can’t wait to copy. Except I need to do some pattern work first. So it’s completely appropriate that I’m taking photos my in process dining room.

I have narrow shoulders. It means that every. single. pattern. needs altered. I’m planning to spend some time later this spring making a sloper to make alterations easier (Don’t know what that is? Come back in a month or so! I’m already writing the series). I need some extra eyes on this pattern though to figure out what specifically to adjust. This is my first knit dress for me. I know that I can get it perfect. And I really, really, REALLY hope I do, because…

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See? It’s got to be perfect before I cut into my splurge fabric! Here’s some close ups on the bodice. I know I’m not standing up straight but hopefully it’s enough to see. (My husband only had about 2 minutes before running out the door to work)

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So, wiser eyes, what do I need to fix? Here’s what I’m thinking, but I feel like I’m missing something. I made a straight size 5 with 4? extra inches in skirt length (I’m 5’9″), but no other alterations so far.

  • Narrow shoulder adjustment, as shown here
  • Slight sway back adjustment
  • Bringing the neckline in all the way around

HELP! And, Thank You!

Janey Jump Around Play Dress

I know I keep mentioning this, but my kid is growing like a weed. And I’m finally getting new play clothes made for her that actually fit. I’m so excited to share a complete WIN with you today! It’s the Janey Jump Around dress by Peek-A-Boo Pattern shop… which is…. wait for it… FREE!

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Easy to assemble the pattern. Easy to follow the directions. Easy to sew. Easy to wash. Easy to wear. I’m one happy mama with a happy little girl. And this is the 4th Peek A Boo pattern I’ve sewn up in the past few months and they’ve all be like that. Sometimes the PDF pattern world can be intimidating, but I’ve been really pleased with this designer. I’m still pretty new to knit fabric so I’m grateful that these patterns hold my hand and make it not so scary for me. (It’s ridiculous – I’m more afraid of knits than I am of chiffon and satin and such).

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The faux wrap is just the sweetest thing. I love the look, and it’s comfortable to wear. Plus easier to put on a wiggly little miss. I was so glad to find perfectly matched buttons in my stash – I really have no idea where these came from, but they were the last two. I hope I can find another set, because they’re perfectly hot pink and shiny. When she out grows this dress, I’ll probably cut them off and put them on something else.

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I made a 3t with only the smallest adjustments to the pattern – the sleeves are 3/4″ longer and the hem is just over 1″ longer. Just enough for some growing room. Maybe it will last her until spring! Seriously, kid, stop growing.

Details

Pattern: Janey Jump Around from Peek A Boo patterns

Fabric: Doodles collection, stable knit, from Joann’s. Pink is some random scrap that I’ve been cutting bits off of for years.

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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!

What’s Mine is Yours (PR&P Upcycle challenge)

I live with a 2 year old. It has been months since I’ve had my own glass of water, or cookie, or bowl of popcorn, or pretty much anything else (at least while she’s awake!). Shoes taken off by the door are considered community property – I’m kind of impressed how well she can pull of my heels. And sitting down is seen as an invitation to share personal space. It was only logical to share one more thing: my clothes! (as an aside, some of this is an exaggeration. But teaching toddlers is a long process)

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These two shirts migrated to my scrap bin a couple years ago. Most of the problem is the color – neons look awful on me. The blue graphic tee was an impulse buy; the green one was from a college club I felt the need to support. They’ve been waiting for a good purpose – the Upcycle Challenge for Project Run and Play! This dress was 100% free by using the 2 tees and a button from my stash. See how well I did using most of the fabric?!

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The pattern is the Go – To Signature dress which for some reason I’ve been procrastinating making. Maybe it was the 20+ pages to trim and tape together. No matter – I did it now, and will be using this pattern like CRAZY! It’s really everything everyone says it is. I made a straight 4T with long sleeves, inseam pockets, and no waist elastic. I estimated the blue cap sleeves to best use the originals. I also added a keyhole at the neckline to compensate for using regular knit instead of ribbing. (I didn’t think until long after to trim the ribbing from the original green neckline). My strip was a little wide to lay nicely but that’s ok. I also need to switch the button loop – currently elastic thread – to something a little less stretchy.

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Did you notice the first picture? I’ve joined the garment-taped-to-the-wall photographers. It was a matter of necessity – Grace won an award for “Least Cooperative Model Ever” when we tried to shoot this yesterday at a nearby book store. But I actually kind of like it! I may try that again, especially since Miss is 2.5 and I thoroughly expect more awful photo shoots in our future. I’ll show you modeled pictures, but seriously… Least. Cooperative. Ever.

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Nice big pockets. They’re cut from the lime green for contrast.

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Yes, those shoes are definitely on the wrong feet. But they’re sparkly!tiled

And a collage of non-cooperation.

But let me tell you… she loves this dress, even if she wouldn’t pose in it. I made it a few weeks back and if it’s clean, she’s wearing it. In my book, a free dress which becomes an instant favorite is a complete win! I’ll be using the Go-To dress patter again this upcoming week for Kid’s Clothes Week, so come back each day if you’re curious what I’m creating. And don’t forget to see the other entries for the Upcyle Challenge at Project Run and Play!

Details

Dress: Go – To Signature Dress size 4T. Upcycled from 2 woman’s tees

Leggings and all accessories: Purchased