Pattern Testing: Cali Faye Valley Blouse for Girls

I’ve been a busy pattern tester the last week or so! In addition to testing the new women’s blouse pattern, the Valley Blouse from Cali Faye Collection (blogged here), I also tested the girl’s Valley Blouse pattern from CFC.

Valley Blouse by, sewn by, girls #sewing #pattern sizes 2T to 10 in girls

After sewing the women’s version of this pattern twice the week before, I had the pattern instructions memorized by the time I sewed up the girl’s version for Daisy. This made for nice, quick sewing. And, after some minor tweaks by Sarah of CFC based on the first round of tester comments, very pleasing results!

This is such a fun blouse for a little girl. A simple, without being boring, design. A fit that is not at all fussy or confining (that would certainly never work for my little one), and can be pulled over her head as opposed to requiring her to stand still for buttoning. And a style that easily transitions across the pattern sizing (sizes 2T through 10 girls are included) without making your little one look too grown up or too young at the opposite ends of the size spectrum. I can definitely see myself making this pattern for Daisy for years to come. And heck, then making it some more when she reaches the women’s sizing!

Valley Blouse girls back view, Valley Blouse by, sewn by, girls #sewing #pattern sizes 2T to 10 in girls

And allow me to profess my fabric love for this blue shirting! I scored it at Jo-Ann’s last week (I tried to find a link on their website but struck out). It is 100% cotton and super lightweight; perfect for this blouse.

Note, the keyhole opening in the shirt front is hidden by the gathers when the shirt yoke is buttoned. You can just about see the beginning of the keyhole seam peeking out below the overlapped yoke pieces. And given how lightweight this particular fabric is, you can also see the outline of the interfacing I applied to strengthen the fabric where the buttons/buttonholes are applied. I am definitely glad I cut the interfacing straight and evenly because otherwise that would have been a messy distraction front and center!

Valley Yoke close up, Valley Blouse by, sewn by, girls #sewing #pattern sizes 2T to 10 in girls

My daughter turns four next month but is on the more petite size; although certainly not with respect to CHEEKS. Cheeks for days. I sewed her a straight size 3T based on her chest measurement (it was exactly equal to the 3T sizing). I intentionally left the sleeve length as drafted in the pattern, considering the pattern allows for a generous fit through the chest and waist and this blouse will likely fit for a good while. Left at full length, the sleeves are currently slightly too long for her frame, so for now she can wear the sleeves rolled up or just flipped up a bit for best fit. Too-long sleeves are a common problem with all her RTW garments. Perhaps I should start pulling on her limbs, or hang her upside down a few hours a day? Joking!!

Valley Blouse by, sewn by, girls #sewing #pattern sizes 2T to 10 in girls


Valley Blouse by, sewn by, girls #sewing #pattern sizes 2T to 10 in girls

So, Daisy and I recently had a conversation, inspired by a description in a story we read, about what it looks like to stand with your hands on your hips. Clearly this concept made a big impression because as we started our photo shoot, she instructed me to take the photo below “with my hand on my hip”. And then, immediately after snapping her picture, she demanded that I show her the photo on my camera. Oh my. Next she’ll be demanding full editorial rights. I can’t even begin to describe how much she cracks me up on a daily basis.

And, by the way, I can’t stand this photo because somehow she went from looking her age in the other photos to looking about 12 years old in this one. Stop the clock, please!!

Valley Blouse by, sewn by, girls #sewing #pattern sizes 2T to 10 in girls

I encourage you to give the Valley Blouse a try for your girl. If you need more convincing, you can find several inspiring versions on Instagram by searching #valleyblouse. You can purchase the pattern here on the Cali Faye Collection site, or by purchasing it through CaliFayeCollection on Etsy.

Pattern Testing: Cali Faye Collection Valley Blouse

Valley Blouse by Cali Faye Collection

I recently was lucky enough to test the newest pattern from Cali Faye Collection — the Valley Blouse.  The women’s pattern is going to debut this week, and the corresponding girl’s pattern will be arriving right on its heels.

I get such a kick out of pattern testing. Not only do you get a sneak peek at a new pattern, but knowing the designer has put so much energy into creating a top notch design, I can’t help but feel a contagious excitement bringing the pattern to life. I personally enjoy the addition of more quality patterns for the modern sewer; so, selfishly, it also lets me feel I am “doing my part” in that regard.

The Valley Blouse is a generous, drapey peasant-style blouse with a scooped neckline featuring a keyhole detail and puffed sleeves with a cuff. It is suggested for very lightweight fabrics with a nice drape. As with other patterns from Cali Faye Collection, it works very nicely as drafted, but is also a great starting point for personalizing to your own style and taste. In fact, Sarah, the talented founder of CFC, greatly encourages such modifications; “our patterns are a skeleton of your talent.”

**I feel the need to apologize for the quality of these photos. I was using the camera on timer for the first set and lighting wasn’t great, so they’re all over-exposed in order to provide some detail of the pattern. Otherwise the shirt just looked like a dark blob against a light wall — not so good.

Valley Blouse sewing pattern

I sewed two versions of the pattern.

For the first attempt, I sewed up a straight size medium based on the pattern’s sizing chart, using only my chest measurement as the determining measurement, and made no modifications to the pattern. I am a pear shape and my hip measurement would have bumped me up a size, but I found the overall fit to be generous enough to allow me to size based solely on my bodice measurements. I used a linen/rayon blend in a maroon-ish color. I should receive a demerit for not following the pattern’s suggestion of sticking to a very lightweight fabric. I’ve used this particular fabric for prior projects and love the drape, but it definitely is more of a mid-weight fabric.

Valley Blouse back view

Valley Blouse Shoulder View

Valley Blouse women's sewing pattern

The pattern sewing is straight forward, nothing too tricky, and the pattern instructions and tips are helpful guides. I would suggest making a muslin of the shirt yoke before cutting into your good fabric. For this first version of the blouse, I felt like the scoop hit too low on my chest for my own personal taste, and that combined with the width across the shoulders meant I was inadvertently sporting an off-the-shoulder look at times.

I should note that the bodice in this first version is simply pinned shut for now. I want to add a button closure, but I haven’t found the perfect button yet!

For the second version, I changed things up a bit. For starters, I used one of the recommended fabrics. This second version is made from a pale blue rayon challis with small yellow polka dots, which I found at Jo-Ann’s. (Is it just me, or are they really starting to step up their apparel fabric selection?) This fabric is definitely lightweight! And while the rayon/linen blend I used above wasn’t exactly bad or wrong, sewing the pattern in this rayon challis truly felt like I was working with the right instrument! The photos below are not the best example but this fabric allows for a much softer drape and fit than the rayon/linen blend.

Valley Blouse in rayon challis

I also made a few modifications to the pattern to suit my personal comfort level. I shortened the shoulder slope slightly, raised the scoop neck by about an inch and cut a smaller keyhole opening, all for a bit more modesty up top. I also reduced the width of the sleeves by 1.5 inches and shortened the length by almost 3 inches; I like a shorter sleeve length on blouses. I added a button detail on the front yoke. I also enclosed the front yoke seam with a hand-sewn blind stitch, rather than machine-stitching in the ditch, for a cleaner look on the inside of the blouse.

Valley Blouse cuff detail

And, by the way, apparently winter decided to stop by a couple months early. Can you see those goosebumps in the photo below?! Nothing like an outdoor photo shoot in a very lightweight blouse when it’s 33 degrees! Brrrr! I handed my husband the camera and told him he had about 1 minute to try to shoot a few decent photos — these were the best we could manage!

Valley Blouse modified yoke detail

The rayon challis fabric is so soft and drapes so nicely, I can easily see wearing this blouse tucked in, for a completely different look. I’d also love to pair it with a mustard-y colored cardigan to draw out the yellow polka dots.

Here are some thoughts and tips for making the Valley Blouse, based on my experiences:

— the overall fit is definitely generous, so a muslin may be very helpful here to help you decide on sizing and whether to reduce any width, etc.

— I wish I’d used a bit more interfacing with the rayon challis version. Even with understitching at the back yoke, the back lining tends to roll up a bit at the neckline. I think some lightweight interfacing may have provided enough stability to keep things in place. Note: I think this is particular to the slipperiness of rayon challis; this wasn’t an issue with the rayon/linen blend version. Also, when I decided to add in the buttons and loop buttonholes, I should have added a bit more interfacing to add stability and prevent pulling — my bad.

— the keyhole feature on the blouse front will allow some skin to peek through; if you desire more modesty, shorten the length of the opening, and remember to pinch the keyhole bottom with a stitch or two (Cali Faye Collection has a short tutorial on tackling the keyhole)

— I am able to easily fit the blouse on and off without having to open the keyhole or front yoke buttons, so sewing the front yoke as one piece, may be an option for you, if you are looking for an easy modification to the blouse front

Now get sewing! You will be able to find the Valley Blouse Pattern, and all the other great Cali Faye Collection sewing patterns, here: Cali Faye Collection.

Let’s Dance: First Day Dress Pattern Goes to a Wedding

First Day Dress Pattern by MADE, sewn by

At the very beginning of the summer we attended a family wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony, a gorgeous day, an awesome setting for the reception, and we were celebrating a wonderful couple. But none of that really mattered to my children, because they were solely focused on the dance floor.

While the guests were enjoying cocktail hour on a grassy lawn overlooking Long Island Sound, my children were already inside checking out the dance floor and giving it a spin. Treating it like their own personal stage. The only complaint they could muster — the deejay didn’t have “Ghostbusters”, their first choice in dance tunes. (Thank you to Aunt Claudia for instilling such fine taste in dance music!)

Despite my son’s concern at one point during the evening that the other guests might steal “his moves” (I kid you NOT!), my children had me dancing the night away as we celebrated the happy couple. I honestly don’t think I’ve spent as much time dancing at a wedding as I did that night. I’m sure my husband, a perennial dance floor-avoider, was relieved the kids took up his dancing slack. And while I don’t have any live action shots to prove it, the dress I made my daughter for the wedding really hit the mark for spinning and twirling and all things dancing. You’ll have to just trust me on this one.

As reenacted in our yard.

First Day Dress Pattern by MADE, sewn by

I chose to sew the First Day Dress Pattern by MADE. I was familiar with the pattern from the peplum tops I made my daughter last spring here and here, so the sewing was familiar and quick. I sewed up the sleeveless Swing Dress option, and my only alterations from the original pattern were to cut the neckline with a slight dip in the front and to lengthen the opening in the back.

The main fabric is Amy Butler – Violette – Meadow Blooms in Midnight, purchased from Hawthorne Threads. I love the blast of colors and floral design. It’s like wearing a watercolor painting. It is lined in a pin dot fabric in medium pink.

First Day Dress Pattern by MADE, sewn by

First Day Dress Pattern by MADE, sewn by

I sized up for the dress since at this age my daughter’s chest measurement typically bumps her up a size in patterns (whereas her hip and inseam measurements call for a size smaller!), and from my prior projects I recalled the chest being the slimmest part of this pattern. The dress was ultimately a bit big for her, so I probably did not need to size up after all (especially since the changes I made to the neckline and back opening already allowed for a more generous fit through the chest). No worries, it just extends the period this dress will fit her!

The pattern provides for different lining options, and I hemmed (ha, ha) and hawed about which direction to take it. In the end, I chose to make the lining facing right side out — specifically because my daughter tends to do a lot of this when wearing a dress:

First Day Dress Pattern by MADE, sewn by

She even does that to me when I am wearing a dress, which has made for some awkward moments at the grocery store. Yikes! Hellooo there!

However, when twirling, it looked like this:

First Day Dress Pattern by MADE, sewn by

But who cares, you can’t let an exposed lining hem stop you from dancing and having a load of fun celebrating with family and friends! And besides, the reality is that unless you were laying down on the dance floor, you really couldn’t see the inside of the lining.

First Day Dress Pattern by MADE, sewn by

The dress was subsequently worn to an end of the school year celebration and to church, so it made the rounds a bit. All before her refusal to wear dresses set in … which, by the way, seems to maybe, just perhaps, be receding?! Oh, I hope I didn’t just jinx it.

Have a great week!


Motherhood Musings: September is the New January

Here it is, the beginning of September, and I feel like it’s the New Year.

As a mother of school-aged children (albeit one is in a preschool program), both attending full-day, full-week programs for the first time, the back to school season seems to me to mark a new beginning much more than the traditional change-up of January 1st.

DO NOT PIN september is the new january

DO NOT PIN september is the new january

Adjusting to so much sudden newness — new schools, new teachers, new schedules, new bedtime and wake-up routines, managing to get them fed and one to the bus on time – creates much more upheaval than the January 1st fervor of casting off the shadows of last year’s shortfalls while scrambling to boldly proclaim new health and personal resolutions, and remembering to change your date references to the new calendar year.

Perhaps September is the new January. I can see that working in our society with its love affair with rebranding. Please, someone make a meme to that effect, which we can all post and pin endlessly.

And it doesn’t help that summer is such a tease. Bidding you to come and sit awhile and imagine what life could be like if there weren’t any real world responsibilities, as if it were possible for adulthood to be as carefree as youth.  As a parent, all summer long you know the return to reality is lurking out there, ready to stare you down come the end of August, but there are ample and tantalizing distractions to help you succumb to the siren song of summer. Beach days, hikes, picnics, family vacations, dips in a pool, spontaneous explorations, gardens, bugs, wildlife, fairs, ice cream runs, glow sticks galore, fireworks, more ice cream; not to mention the unavoidable diversions like longer days with a lingering sunlight that pushes bedtime well past the time your child’s little body actually needs sleep.

DO NOT PIN summer fun, september is the new january,

DO NOT PIN summer fair, september is the new january,

DO NOT PIN, Summer Swim, september is the new january,

DO NOT PIN, Summer Snooze, september is the new january,

DO NOT PIN Summer Fun, september is the new january

And then suddenly the calendar changes to the first day of school; and the momentum shifts, you’re in overdrive.

During my years of full-time lawyering, my performance goals and the firm’s were tied to the traditional calendar year. Each month’s performance marched you closer to the final accounting in December. There was no escaping the established January to December measure of time. But with children it’s so different.

The concept of time is still so ambiguous, so un-measurable, for children. It’s that limitlessness that contributes to their sense of wonderment and curiosity. After all, what isn’t possible when time is simply a continuum, not an ordered, impending beast full of deadlines and due dates and pickup times and late fees.

Of course, that limitless mentality backfires into a hot mess when trying to convince them they need to go to sleep NOW or they’ll be inconsolably tired the next day, or that we needed to leave the playground LIKE 15 MINUTES AGO or dinner will be late and baths will be late and this ultra-sensitive pressure-cooker called our “schedule” will explode into a million pieces.

I admit I’ve never been good at take it easy, go with the flow; although I’ve certainly expended effort to make it look otherwise. Historically, my only flow has been the one I create and try to control by squeezing it around the neck into submission. In fact, when I finally made the decision to leave my job in order to stay home with my family, I had this really hard core expectation of my new role – I was going to be the CEO of the home. It was my job to be in control of all the home/family needs. Um, embarrassing.

How stupid. Ridiculous, really. And even worse, it doesn’t work! It is fairly obvious, although it took me an incredibly long time to learn, that the need to control is mostly born out of fear and anxiety. Yep, take a minute to let that sink in, and then tell me how cool you feel being a control freak.

So, I guess if September is the new January, it’s only appropriate that I make a resolution or two.

I’ll go with trite. Trite but true. Be present more, breathe more. Instead of focusing on that clock, the ever-present schedule, the self-imposed sentence of my mental to-do list, just be mommy. Because, after all, that is my job.

I don’t need to have the cleanest house, my kids don’t need to read by age whatever, I don’t need to make everything for them, we don’t have to be perfect, breakfast for dinner is a real thing. And so on. But kids do have big needs – mostly and simply to feel loved and safe and encouraged. And every time I yell or, even worse, curse, because I feel we’ve fallen short of some arbitrary standard of measurement I’ve created, I degrade that safe environment and I invite anxiety into our home. We know these things, but we ignore them. We need reminding.

A reminder to myself: My job is to support my children, not to confine them with kooky expectations, or comparisons, or to-do lists. There’s no such thing as perfect. I can’t control everything. Who would want that job anyway?