The Not-a-Dress Nightfall Geranium

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The battle of the dress continues in our household. Just when I think we’re on the brink of Daisy finally liking dresses, the pendulum swings back into no-dress land. And so, once again, I have sewn a tunic or a long shirt or whatever you want to call it other than a dress. However the closer she gets to turning 5, the less she buys into my descriptive trickery. As I was still pulling this non-dress over her head, she told me she might get very warm today and take it off, which she assured me was okay because she’s also wearing a t-shirt.  Glad she’s thought it all out.

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Despite the fact that I definitely don’t need any more fabric, I couldn’t help but be swayed to purchase some of Maureen Cracknell’s latest collection for Art Gallery Fabrics, Nightfall. For this project, I made the skirt portion using the Moon Stories print in Ash, and paired it with a printed denim (also from Art Gallery Fabrics) for the bodice. I purchased both from Hawthorne Threads.

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The Nightfall collection is full of bunnies, moons, owls and other lovelies, and lots of great fall colors. We recently gifted a skirt made using this same print but in the moonrise palette for an autumn birthday. And I have  had plans for a dress using the owl print from the same collection. Those plans may need to be converted to non-dress use. We’ll see – I am pretty stubborn, and might just go for a dress again.

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This top is made using the Geranium Dress pattern from Made by Rae. I modified the bodice to insert the ruffles, and cut the length between the dress and top lengths (see, it really isn’t a dress!), although given Daisy’s shorter stature it still seems closer to dr*ss length. I intentionally left the edges of the ruffles raw but zig-zag stitched about a half inch from the edge, so that hopefully they will develop a nice fringe with wash and wear. That’s assuming she’ll indulge me future wearings (sigh).

Nightfall Geranium Ruffle Close

I enclosed the skirt between the bodice and lining using my ever-evolving hand-sewn blindstich. (Applause.) I was even prepared to hem by hand, but the thread was such a good match to the fabric, I opted for the faster, easier machine stitch.

Nightfall Geranium inside

Nightfall Geranium Back Buttons

At this point I think the Geranium Dress pattern is my most frequently sewn pattern. It’s so reliable, in a good way.  And this time I finally cut the back bodice correctly. Apparently I had been shorting the bodice slightly in width all along, but realized my error this time. That explains why the bodice seemed tighter than expected in this Geranium top I made during a prior Kids Clothes Week.

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It’s supposed to reach 80 degrees on this mid-October day, so short-sleeves are making a comeback. Just when you put the summer clothes away……

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And now I’m off to sew Halloween costumes, my least favorite sewing of all! There had better be candy to compensate for this torture…

Here Kitty, Kitty: Jump Rope Dress

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We don’t have any pets (not counting a goldfish that has survived way longer than seems possible considering my lackadaisical tank cleaning habits — sorry, Buddy!), and if my husband has his way, we never will. Nevertheless, my daughter has become quite enamored with cats lately. Not that I’ve ever seen her so much as pet a cat.

So when she asked for a cat dress, I was honored to oblige her.

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There were quite a few tasteful cat fabrics to choose from, but I am particularly pleased with the one Daisy selected. This one is from the aptly named “Cat Lady” collection by Sarah Watts for Cotton + Steel. In my search for cat-themed fabrics I had overlooked this print several times thinking it was simply polka dots – that’s the problem with viewing thumbnail-sized fabric images online. But when I realized it was actually polka dots interspersed with the cutest little kitty faces, well, I was hoping Daisy would love it just as much. The contrast accents on the inner placket and the pocket bindings are also Cotton + Steel from the Black and White collection.

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I chose the Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress pattern, which I purchased after seeing the many lovely versions sewn by Gail at probablyactually. I sewed View B with short sleeves, omitting the sleeve tabs simply because I forgot and by the time I remembered them I was impatient and too close to finishing to go back and cut and sew them. I can’t wait to sew this dress in View A, as well, which has a dropped waist, gathered skirt and sash. But considering how finicky Daisy is about dresses still, I thought View A would be pushing my luck. I had visions of her being bewildered by and immediately casting off the sash!

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The Jump Rope Dress is labeled as a more intermediate level pattern, but the instructions are excellent and I had no problems with the sewing. The placket and collar obviously require attention to detail — and some hand sewing, something that used to make me blanch but that I now enjoy. I may not be very quick with my blind stitch, but I am quite comfortable with it now, thanks to last year’s apparel sewing course at Creative Arts Workshop in New Haven.

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I’ll admit it, I’m pretty dang proud of that placket and collar.

It is finally starting to feel like fall here, which inspired me to venture farther than our backyard for this photo shoot. On our way home from school we stopped at the park to nab some photos and play. The minute I opened the car door, Daisy was off running and climbing and exploring. At one point she waited for us to catch up and then shouted, “let’s enjoy nature!” before sprinting off again, which had her brother and me cracking up.

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I just love how fall comes in and blows out all the lingering heavy, humid air of late summer and invigorates us.

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Cheers to Autumn!

Music Box Jumper & Wee Wander

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Despite the dearth of blog posts over the past year or so, I was sewing quite a bit. Projects just don’t always make it from sewing machine to website. This weekend as I was clearing outgrown clothes from my children’s drawers and closets, I was reminded of this lovely dress I made my daughter for Easter, 2015. And it still fits! In fact, it probably fits better now than when I made it, so I thought I’d share it here.

Warm weather (hot and humid, actually) made a strong return this past weekend, so the dress got another round of wear.

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I think the dress now has a much better fit through the chest and lengthwise than it did a year and a half ago (see below). But I’m not about to complain about getting such a long period of use out of something I made her.

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This dress was made from the Oliver + S Music Box Jumper dress pattern. I made pattern View B in a size 4 without any modifications.

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This was actually the first sewing pattern I ever purchased. Back when I was still just a sewing blog stalker and didn’t have any sewing skills, I fell in love with so many of the Oliver + S creations I saw bloggers sharing. Once I took a sewing class, the fact that this particular pattern is touted as a good fit for beginning sewists, in addition to being adorable, is what spurred my purchase. However, as a newly minted sewist, I knew how to sew (somewhat!) but I really didn’t know how to interpret a pattern. I opened the pattern, scratched my head and felt somewhat overwhelmed, and then folded it back up and put it away for so long I nearly forgot about it!

My hesitation and intimidation were truly borne out of my newbie status with patterns; my sewing class focused on learning to sew, not reading patterns. I had no idea what to do with a pattern! Do I cut the pattern? Trace it? What are these markings? My “fear” of patterns led to a lengthy stage where I ignored patterns entirely and just tried to figure everything out on my own with a generous dose of help from the internet. And while there was certainly a benefit to that trial and error phase of my sewing — an interesting combination of stubborn ignorance and inflated confidence — once I started using patterns, I realized that in some ways that phase had kept me from expanding my sewing knowledge and enjoying both the beauty and convenience that can come from sewing with a quality pattern.

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The fabric I selected for this dress is designed by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller fabrics. It is from her Wee Wander collection from a few years ago. I am a big fan of her whimsical illustrations, and this one features a brown-haired little girl with a haircut just like my daughter’s. My daughter noticed her immediately and gleefully exclaimed, “she’s just like me!” I may have given myself a huge little pat on the back for that.

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I’m so glad we’ve had a long run with this dress. No longer afraid of patterns and a big fan of Oliver + S patterns in particular, I’m in the process of sewing another Oliver + S dress now, and hope to share it soon.

Scout Tee: Handmade Wardrobe 2016

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I am definitely riding a sewing high lately. Four garments sewn in the span of one week and three, including this one, blogged. And another pattern (for me!) traced and cut, fabric purchased. Will all of this sewing activity be followed by a sewing crash and burn? Let’s hope not.

This shirt, item #2 in my Handmade Wardrobe 2016, is the Scout Tee from Grainline Studio. Continuing my trend of being late to the *hot* sewing pattern party, this is my first time sewing the Scout Tee. I am, so far, on the fence about it. To be fair, I’ve worn it for only about an hour so far. While it might not be love at first site, it may grow on me; and it may just need a few tweaks and some customizing for the next round in order to elevate its status. I’m not giving up on it! And I do love the clean look of the bias trim-finished scoop neckline.

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I must admit I shrugged this pattern off for quite some time despite the fact that it was popping up all over the sewing blog world. The Scout Tee is made from woven fabric, not stretchy knit, and I just couldn’t convince myself that a woven tee would be comfortable enough to merit the effort.

The Grainline Studio site describes this pattern as follows: A woven t-shirt with capped sleeves and scoop neck. Fitted at the shoulders, this top falls into a loose shape below the bust. Let’s repeat together, “loose shape.” My failure to fully embrace this finished product is definitely due to the boxy-ness of it. I’m not sure it’s a pear-shaped girl’s best friend.

My wariness, and the reason for such, is fully displayed below.

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Based on the pattern sizing and my body measurements, I sewed a size 6 graded to a 10 at the waist/hips. There is plenty of ease to pull it on overhead (obviously necessary given the lack of stretch in woven fabrics). But that straight front hemline….. notsosureaboutthat. I suppose an easy modification for next time might be to adjust the shape of that front hem. Or maybe it needs a little shaping through the waist? Or maybe just go down a size. I’ve got some tinkering to do. I would have been well-served to have sewn up a muslin for this pattern, says the Monday morning quarterback in me.

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The backline hemline is lower for more coverage.

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Although, it’s still cut mostly straight across.

I should note — the pattern design is fully viewable before purchase. I’m not trying to indicate that the design/shape was a surprise. It’s more that I didn’t fully appreciate how the boxy, straight hem would ultimately look on my body.

Let’s focus instead on something I’m really happy about — the fabric! I finally caved on purchasing the Scout Tee pattern when Art Gallery released its new denim fabric collection a few weeks ago. I purchased three different denims, all in different fabric compositions. This fabric is the Cool Foliage from the Solid Smooth Denim palette. It’s a lightweight 80/20% cotton/polyester blend. The best way to describe the color is a grey-green; it’s definitely a cool undertone as the name suggests. It was a pleasure to sew; the hardest part was finding a complementary thread color. If you still think of denim as a thick, jeans-only material, you will not believe this is denim. It feels awesome.

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Although I’m not yet enamored with this shirt, all is not lost. It will definitely be worn. And, Grainline Studio offers several tutorials to hack the original pattern into different looks. I am eyeing the Madewell Scout variation.

Be well!