“I want to look like my cake” Birthday Dress

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


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.


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!


“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.


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.


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…


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


2013: Favorites and Flops

Happy New Year! Well, December 30th, but it’s really close. This whole week is dedicated to rebooting into the new year. New calenders, new to – do lists, new habits and routines. New recipes to try and new patterns waiting to be sewn (Black Friday was not a good choice! I think I added at least 12 new patterns? Give or take.)

Before I go too far into the new, I want to take just a minute to flip back through 2013’s sewing accomplishments. It was by far my most productive year yet! And this is only my personal sewing projects – I don’t photograph/blog customer projects for privacy reasons (although you’ll find one customer project in the collage because I’m CRAZY about how it turned out!). So total count for the year? Nearly 40 different sewing projects. In addition to the 28 photos below, there’s at least half a dozen others that went out to customers or gifts I didn’t photograph.

collage 1 copycollage 2 copyFrom left to right: let’s play school; chocolate covered cherry tutu; stripes and spots; just like daddy; toddler ruffle tote; birthday tulips; stripes sundress; yellow rose “Anna”; kissed by a rose; bubble pocket skater girl; linen top; purple polka dot tutu; stretch poplin shorts; the Tuesday dress; pitty flowers; Sweet Little Starburst; plaid pajamas; butterfly princess; little things to keep her warm; khaki skirt refashion; layered look hoodie; Thanksgiving dress; fleece playground dress; Grace’s baby quilt; Christmas dress 2013; felt cookies; felt tea bags; Heartlake Friends lego play mat


My favorite pattern for 2013 is by far the Birthday Party Dress by Lily Bird Studio. It’s super simple. I’ve made it 3 times so far (once in Dec 2012 – going on it’s 2nd year!). It’s not uncommon for all three of them to be in the wash at the same time. There will be MANY more of these in my life! I’ve even made a pattern for Grace’s favorite doll, so she can match 2 of the 3 dresses. I’m a little sad that she’s about to outgrow the blue snowflake version. It’s really short now.

bpd copyAnother favorite is the “Let’s Play School” dress I made for week 1 of Project Run and Play. It’s a casual interpretation of a party dress tutorial. This one is also almost always in the wash. It’s holding up beautifully and will fit for a very long time. Grace is going through this thing where she will only wear dresses and the more they spin, the better. The 88″ of skirt in this one makes it a clear winner.

And for me? My pink and gray roses dress comes out all the time. It’s very easy to wear with flats or heels or even boots and a cardigan. I really love it. (The fact that the waist is loose with a sash helps some days, too…)


No one likes to talk about their failures do they? And I don’t have many this year, but one stands out as an epic flop: the stripes and spots dress I made for Project Run and Play back in January. She wore it for the photo shoot… and that’s it. It’s too short to be a dress, too long for a tunic, gapes funny in the back… It’s one of those projects where my grand ideas got away from  practical life. Cute  though. Maybe it’s time to try it again as a top, if I can ever find a pair of leggings that coordinates with the somewhat odd colors. I mean, it coordinates with nothing! It’s somewhat ironic looking back that in almost every photo, Grace is flopping. She knew it from the first!

Bring on 2014!

I’m really excited to the new year. I already have some ambitious projects planned, like finishing the Little Things to Sew sew-along hosted by Bartacks and Singletrack out of Australia (see my progress here). I’m also hoping to get some more customer projects. I’ve got one underway right now. And of course, my growing girl is now a size 3t on the top and 6 in length, so I’ll be making her a bunch of regular every day clothes as well. And who knows what else.

The one thing I’ve learned more than anything from 2013 is that the plan often changes, and quickly. So I’m hoping to start 2014 with an open heart and my eyes on Christ – since He alone actually knows the plan!

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.  Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that. James 4:13-15

So, my dear friends, if the Lord wills it, Happy New Year!

Bubble Pocket Skater Girl {Flip This Pattern}

Do you remember a few years ago – back before the housing market crashed and burned – when “flipping” was the big thing to do? Investors would go in and buy a house for cheap, then improve it and sell it for a profit. Bad idea, really, but it made interesting tv for a few seasons. Thankfully, there’s a much better spin-off going around blog-land these days – Flip This Pattern, hosted by Frances Suzanne! Every month for the next YEAR seamstresses will take the inspiration pattern and “flip” it – apply their own creativity to it in order to come up with a unique garment all their own. And I knew that I’d be sewing in July the moment I saw the pattern: The Roller Skate Dress + Tunic from Oliver + S.

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Now, this is not the dress I’d originally intended. But like every good episode of the flipping shows, mine was filled with a fair bit of drama. Primarily, I thought the sew-a-long closed NEXT week. Alas, no… it’s today.

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Then, my fabric was missing. I still can’t find it. Thankfully I’ve got a fairly stashified stash! The pink daisies are left over from the back of Grace’s baby quilt {which, ahem, isn’t quite done yet} and serve beautifully. I buy lining fabric by the bolt and have a button box and elastic box. Now… if only I were able to find the original fabric… I absolutely love my flip and will definitely be doing another!

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Grace is in need of sturdy cotton play dresses. She’s going through a phase of utter girliness. Yesterday she had 3 bows in her hair. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard “pitty dess!” today – the one I’m wearing, the one she’s wearing, the ones she pulled out of her closet while I was distracted by sewing… But she’s also so rough-and-tumble, getting hot, dirty, and sweaty with reckless abandon. She’s also in love with pockets which lead me straight to the newly released Bubble Pocket Tunic from Elegance and Elephants!

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That’s the heart of my flip – combining these two simplistically beautiful patterns into one “pitty dess!” that will stand up to my sweet toddler’s crazy antics.

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Like a house flipper racing to sell before the next mortgage payment comes due, I raced today. From absolutely nothing at 8am, to a drafted pattern and fabric in the dryer at 9am, I finished the hem at 4:57pm. I even kept my appointments of the day – gymnastics for Grace {followed by a blessedly long nap} and a catch-up date with a dear friend. The Roller Skate dress is *so simple* and yet *so perfectly adorable*. I can see many, many of these in the near future – probably some inspired by the other flips everyone submitted!

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{Oh and in case you’re interested, I’m writing up a tutorial for combining these two patterns. The pictures are done but I  think I should cook dinner instead of writing… since I spent the day sewing instead of doing housework!} EDIT: Tutorial is here

Kiss from a rose on the gray

Do you remember that song Seal put out ages ago? I have no idea what point he was trying to get at, but the poetry is kind of catchy:

“I compare you to a kiss from a rose on the gray.
The more I get of you,
The stranger it feels, yeah.
And now that your rose is in bloom.
A light hits the gloom on the gray.”

Seriously… no idea what he was getting at, but the song has stuck in my head for years, and was absolutely the first thing I thought of when I saw the fabric that I made this dress from:

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It’s a silky print of abstract roses over splotches of gray. Kind of water color-ish, but more abstract color play than actual flowers. I really, really love it.

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The pattern is Simplicity 1810 with zero alterations except for length. I added a couple inches to make a nice, deep hem – necessary on a fabric this light to keep it where it belongs. There’s a couple things I may change if I make it again – mainly the placement of the sashes – but not much. The pattern was only ok; not earth shattering “I have to make it again now!”, not hated by any means. The dress wore really well to church this morning, too.

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There’s a little too much fabric in the back for my figure so I actually had to change the way it wraps. The sashes attach at back darts. You’re supposed to pull them from there around to the front and then to the back. For me, this sat too low, making the top too blousey and making me look way heavier than I am – not good! So instead, I criss-crossed the straps across the back before pulling them around, essentially making a big pleat in the back. This is a much trimmer look for me and keeps the side seams where they belong  instead of tugging them to the front. And this crazy fabric hides it all so you can’t see anything but abstract colors blending all over the place! I doubt it would look this good from a solid fabric.

I’m glad I made this – I love the fabric and I love the adjustability of the tie waist. And now I need to put it away for a few days to get a different song stuck in my head!

Yellow Rose “Anna” Dress

This dress has been underway forever, or at least 7 months. That’s really ridiculously long for such a simple dress, but I have an excuse – Project Run and Play got in the way, and then my buttonholes didn’t work. But in June I finally got my buttonhole fixed and finished this cutie up right away.

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I used the Anna Dress tutorials from Craftiness is Not Optional – have I mentioned that I love nearly every one of her projects? Her taste is similar to mine, at least in terms of silhouettes. I’ve lost track of how many CINO dresses I’ve made at this point.

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I used a nice sturdy quilter’s cotton from Joann’s for this dress. There are yellow roses scattered along blue vines; the blue waistband and trim is another quilter’s cotton. I wanted an easy wash, easy wear every day dress that Grace was able to play in. I love her in dresses, especially as we begin the journey known as “potty training.” It helps that she likes them too!

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This is such a simple dress. I love it. I used cap sleeves I’d drafted for a different project since puff sleeves aren’t really my style. There’s also 2 pretty deep growth tucks in the skirt. You can tell the dress is huge. When I first drafted the pattern back in December or January, Grace still had more of a “baby body” rather than her strong, lean little girl body she’s growing into. Although her weight hasn’t changed since November, she’s gained something ridiculous like 6 inches in height and went from a pattern size 3 in the chest/waist region, down to a size 1.

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I love the full, play-friendly skirt. I think I’ll be heading to the fabric store for some more novelty cottons to make more Annas in. It’s everything I want in a day-to-day dress. I’m seeing some crazy print on the top over a denim skirt… the possibilities are endless.

Oh, and photographing a 2 year old is nearly impossible. Here’s some priceless out takes:

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“I dangle like Daddy!”

"I crawl. I baby!"

“I crawl. I baby!”

Running away instead of smiling at me

Running away instead of smiling at me

Striped Summer Sundress – for me!

When one has a toddler who is 1) easy to sew for and 2) constantly in need of new clothing, it is very easy to devote all of your sewing time to little creations for her. And needless to say, it is WAY easier to fit a straight-line toddler body than… well… mine! But the coming of summer leads me to craving cute sundresses. Since I’m too picky to wear most of the (cheaply made, way too short) commercially available dresses, I’m either out of luck, or sewing for myself.

Guess which one won 😀

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Super simple stripe summer sundress!

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Let me break it down for you, because it’s kind of a pattern mess. The only actual pattern piece is the waistband, taken from McCalls 6503. Not that you can really tell! It’s wider at the front with a slight curve. I love the wide waist, especially with this stripe fabric – it’s a perfect foundation and control for the gathered chaos I created on either side of it. The bodice started from Simplicity 1611. I cut it off at the waistline, then rotated the darts to the waist and converted them to gathers. I also raised the front neckline 1.5″. I also moved the zipper from center back to under my left arm, which required trimming some fullness from the back. The skirt is 2 simple rectangles ~ 28″ long x34″ wide before hemming.

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The dress is made from a blue and white stripped shirting fabric from Joanns, a 50/50 poly cotton blend. I fully lined it with a light weight white poly cotton to add a little body and keep it from being see through. Except the waistband – for fun, I lined that with the blue stripe 🙂

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I have a couple changes if I use my pattern again. Mainly, the boat neck is really wide for my narrow shoulders so I need to narrow that. It also gapes under the arms. I can solve both issues by trimming a triangle from the center fold, keeping the waist measurement the same while narrowing everything above that. I may redraft the strap angle a little as well. And I would LOVE to get pockets in the skirt! Can you tell I’m already planning to make it again? Probably soon.

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In the mean time, this is perfect for our quickly warming weather. I prefer skirts in the summer because shorts are my enemy, and I prefer dresses even more because there is just one piece to throw on and go. Oh, and did you know stripes are “on trend” right now? LOL – I’m even sort of cool! That’s got to be a first! It looks like something I could have bought from Modcloth… except long enough to cover everything 😀

Details Summary

  • Pattern: Highly modified from McCalls 6503 and Simplicity 1611
  • Fabric: Poly/Cotton shirting
  • Techniques: Sleeveless lining with a side zipper from here; vintage lapped side zipper from here

Birthday Tulip Dress

What does a mama give her special two year old for her birthday? A dress of course! And one for Baby, too!

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I got brave – I finally conquered knit fabric! I’ve been putting it off for years, for no good reason. I think I’m afraid of it stretching funny and looking bad. But I’d purchased this Michael Miller print on impulse a few months ago and it was begging to be sewn up.

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The perfect pattern for it was the Birthday Party Dress from Lily Bird Studio. I’ve made the dress up twice now, and used elements from it (bodice and sleeves) on a couple other creations since purchasing it a few months ago. The simple pieces lend themselves well to the bold graphic print. I only changed 2 very minor things from the pattern – if you know me, and how I sew, this is absolutely shocking. First was to use 2 pink kam snaps on the back instead of buttons, since the buttonhole on my machine is acting funny and I don’t feel like trying to figure it out. The other was to reduce the fullness of the skirt and bottom ruffle to better work with the knit fabric.

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The bow is fold-over elastic not folded over (lol), stitched into a loop. 1″ wide strips of scrap fabric make the double loop bow. Couldn’t be easier!

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I drafted Baby’s dress using her original jammies and estimating the rest of the shapes. It turned out good enough. It’s completely open on the back and held with velcro – more toddler friendly than snaps.

My only disappointment was it ended up cold at Grace’s birthday party, so her birthday party dress had to be covered up! It was still cute and fantastic, though – she fit the flowers theme perfectly 🙂

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My beautiful 2 year old

My beautiful 2 year old

Just Like Daddy: Project Run and Play Week 5

Join me for some pretending. My toddler can’t talk yet, but she had so much fun doing these photos! So… let’s carry on, from Gracie’s point of view!

Today,  I wanted to show my Daddy just how much I love him. He’s my hero! So I decided to be just like Daddy.

I got up, got dressed, and put on my business shoes…

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They’re a little big still!

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I gave my Daddy a kiss…

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He walked me to my car…

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And I drove away. Zoom!

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I worked hard for my family, just like Daddy does.

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I was glad to get home after work, to where my Daddy was waiting. We played a quick game of “Five Little Monkeys” before I sent him to his nap. He’s the best Daddy ever! Thanks Daddy, for all your hard work.

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Awww… cute!

This is my men’s shirt entry for Project Run and Play. The shirt is a blue work shirt of my husband’s – a long time favorite recently retired due to general wear and a couple holes. It was the least I could to do reinvent it for Little Miss. The dress is Oliver + S Family Reunion dress with only very few modifications: I maintained the original button placket and hem  from the work shirt and redrafted the sleeves to incorporate the original cuffs, cuff pleats, and slit. Also, all seams are french seamed to give a clean inside.

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Instead of buttons, I decorated the tab with a self-drawn daisy embroidery. I also added yellow piping to the tab and facing.

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The flower is a simple combination of half-circles gathered together with a fabric covered button in the center. Tutorials are a dime a dozen for this style right now; I didn’t use any one in particular.

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This was the challenge that got me really excited when I first saw the list. I’ve been wanting to update a men’s shirt for a while. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out! You can see all the other fantastic entries at Project Run and Play.


Love is in the Air: Project Run and Play Week 4

Happy Valentine’s Day – inspiration at least!!! Although the holiday is a few weeks away still, it’s That Time on Project Run and Play. So without further delay… my Chocolate Covered Cherry!

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We caught a spot of sunshine between the storms and ran outside to catch a few photos…

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My color inspiration was a box of chocolate covered cherries – by far the best confection ever created. Mmm… those say love to me 🙂 My design inspiration… well… I’ve been dying to sew a tutu for my daughter. No better excuse!

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The tutu directions from from Oliver + S Little Things to Sew. You can find more details about the color layering etc on my post last week. And let me be brutally honest… this is *not* the original outfit I’d designed. I’d planned to make a shirt and shorts to coordinate with the tutu (which turned out EXACTLY as I’d hoped). First I had pink jersey. Then I tea dyed some old shirts of my husband’s, from which I cut 2 different shirts, neither of which worked. I was cranky and sad and out of ideas. Then I saw the clearance rack at Wal-mart… yes. This lacy cream top of perfection was $4 and absolutely no headaches at a big box store. Oh well.

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My daughter is in a necklace mood lately, so I was glad to come up with something sweet to really pull the outfit together. First, I braided 2 scrap strips of the chocolate tulle and 1 strip of light pink together to make a cord. The tiny tutu is the ends from the cord with a couple scraps of the other colors tied in as well. Then fluffed! I think it’s both cute and unique.

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And the “in the air” part? Miss Toddler has learned how to jump! I love the way the tutu flies when she does. She certainly was enjoying herself!

Head on over to Project Run and Play to see the awesome entries coming in 🙂

Stripes and Spots Dress

It’s finally finished! This dress was for Week 2 of Project Run and Play, where the challenge was to incorporate stripes and polka dots into a single garment. I know I’m a week late, but I think I’m actually happier for having slowed down and done the dress right, rather than rushing to finish.

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The dress pattern is all my own drafting, starting from my basic bodice. I shortened the bodice to empire length and added seam allowances so I could cut it as a chevron (by this tutorial). Then I drafted the sleeves to be puffed at the cap only, which gives a very different look than all-over puffed sleeves.

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I took the idea for fabric covered buttons and button loops from the Party Dress Remix challenge – I liked that element, but didn’t chose to incorporate it into my own design that week. So here it is! You can see the back is cut to chevron, too. The skirt is a simple rectangle with 8 pleats in it. The center pleats on both the front and back are 2.5″ while the side ones are 2″. I like the little variety, and how it shifts the fullness towards the sides. It makes for a clean look I know I’ll revisit as Grace grows.

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My favorite part of the dress is the skirt embroidery. This is where I drew in the polka dots theme, as well. Each circle is hand embroidered in a stem stitch. Except for the appliqued ones, of course 🙂 Those are scrap bodice fabric. The circles remind me more of bubbles than anything else. It’s a neat look. They are easier to see in person – although, the green ones almost match the fabric.

Now… why you’re getting pictures on a hanger and the table instead of a toddler… a certain Miss had NO interest in being photographed today. Silly, busy little Sunshine! I didn’t get a single shot of  her that actually showed the dress.

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