Pink & Green Dresses: Conjuring Lilly

Pink & Green Dresses: Conjuring Lilly

If we were playing a game of word association and you listed “pink, green, dress”, I’d respond “Lilly Pulitzer!” I’d bet many of you would respond the same. And while it’s not really my style and nothing from the brand has ever graced my closet, there’s no denying it’s an iconic brand that evokes automatic recognition.

The “socialite turned fashion designer”, as she’s so often called, passed away earlier this month. (You can read the biographical article here). She created a clothing brand that allowed the high society, country club crowds (and those who aspired to such) to step out on a fashion limb in a manner that was respectful of their social standing. Her styles attracted immediate attention for their embrace of bright colors and bold prints, but it has never really been about truly pushing the limits of style. I’d characterize the brand as safely allowing the country club girl to show a bit of her wild side — instead of having one too many martinis and dancing on the clubhouse bar, she could get funky by adorning herself in a blend of pink and green and flamingos. Donning a Lilly didn’t (and still doesn’t) mean trading in your pearls for a leather studded choker. And none of that is a bad thing. Heck, I may not wear Lilly but I don’t wear leather chokers, either.

I didn’t really intend this post as an ode to Lilly Pulitzer. But when I started this pillowcase style dress, her brand came immediately to mind. This dress is made from a panel of fabric (Pillow & Maxfield for Michael Miller) actually intended for making a pillow (one side in green; the flip side in pink); although you certainly can make a pillowcase dress from regular, non-panel fabric. I just happened to like the colors and print (oh my, maybe I’m actually a closet Lilly admirer!) and the ease of working with a panel for making this dress. I took the idea of making a pillowcase dress from a fabric panel from this post by Anneliese of Aesthetic Nest. It was an easy project to pull together for Kids Clothes Week Challenge.

I like the back (pink) side of this dress best. And I’m re-thinking my choice of the green polka dot tie. I like how it looks with the pink side, but I think it gets kind of lost with the green front. I may have to swap it out for a solid, light pink tie. At least that’s an easy thing to switch and doesn’t require any alterations to the body of the dress.

I sized this to fit my daughter as a dress for this summer. She’ll more likely wear it as a summer dress without a t-shirt underneath, but the shirt was necessary for an outdoor, springtime photo shoot. Hey, I don’t want to be accused of abusing my models! Pillowcase dresses are so flexible with sizing that she’ll be able to wear it for a long time to come — with long sleeves and leggings in the cooler weather, and as more of a tunic style as she gets taller. Unless of course I become so tired of the color combination or print that I retire it to the attic early!

Maybe I really do harbor a secret love for the pink and green combination because as I was dressing my daughter the other day, I remembered this knit top I made a few months ago but never posted. It was actually too big for my daughter when I made it. I have to admit she was sleeping when I drew the pattern and sewed it up, and I was really guessing on size because I didn’t have her current measurements at the time. I was antsy for a good sew and eager to work with this stretchy cotton knit, and that eagerness got the better of me. It’s a much better fit now, although there is still room to grow.

You hear a lot of talk about people being reluctant to work with knits, but so far (and don’t let me jinx myself by typing this next part…) I’ve been pretty lucky with my knit projects. Then again, I haven’t exactly tried anything particularly tricky with knits. I was really happy how this fabric came together at the seams and the front cross-over, with the chevrons and colors matching up.

Now that Daisy is walking, she’s a whole lot harder to photograph when modeling clothes. She would not stay still for photos wearing this top. It was mostly, literally, a blur. Of course, it didn’t help that I was running after her as she disappeared around corners or crawling up the stairs. That just evoked giggles and more movement!

Despite my high hopes of sewing some clothes for my son during this week’s Kids Clothes Week Challenge, it would appear my daughter took the new clothes cake this time around! I do have fabric and a pattern in mind for him, though. Stay tuned.

Have a great weekend!

Girly Sewing: Ruffled Hem Pants

Girly Sewing: Ruffled Hem Pants

You know how everyone always says that little girls have their fathers wrapped around their finger? Well, I think this applies equally to mothers, because I’m beginning to think my little girl pretty much has me all wrapped up too. Pants with ruffled hems are just not the sort of thing I ever imagined in my child’s wardrobe, let alone did I imagine they’d be something I would actually sew for her wardrobe. And yet somehow these pants came to be. It was as though once I started imagining her baby-chub legs adorned in something so girly-cute, I couldn’t hold back.

This past weekend I scored some fun fabrics by Lisette during the Jo-Anns “daffodil dash” sale. The fabrics were on the red tag shelves, and all red tag fabrics were an additional 50% off — bonus! Despite the fact that I left the house telling my husband it would be a quick trip because I wasn’t shopping for fabric, I came home with a generous amount of yardage in very cute prints. I swear I was only going to pick up some trim and thread. But really, how could I pass up such a deal! And since I’ve already put some of my finds to use, I think the purchases are completely justified.

I drew my pattern based on an existing pattern I made for a recent pair of pants for Eli, and then modified for Daisy’s measurements. The most obvious modification was to make the pant leg shorter than usual to accommodate the length of the ruffled hem. I cut my hem pieces 3.75 inches tall by 1.5 times the pant leg opening.  The leg opening here was approximately 12 inches, so I cut the hem pieces 18″ long; you could certainly cut a longer piece if you desire a more tightly gathered look for the hem.

I didn’t take photos of the process but it was very straightforward. To create the ruffled hems, I did the following for each leg: (1) sewed the short ends of the hem fabric together, right sides facing, to create a big loop of fabric, (2) hemmed one long edge of the fabric (fold over 1/4″ and press, then fold over another 1/4″, press and sew hem), (3) machine gathered the other long edge to create the ruffles (using basting stitch, highest tension, and slightly holding the top thread between my thumb and pointer finger to add further tension), (4) evened out the gathers and made sure the gathered hem piece was the same size as the leg opening, (5) placed the gathered hem piece around the outside of the leg opening, right sides of fabric together, raw edges aligned and side seam of the hem piece aligned with inside leg seam (note: the hemmed edge of your ruffled piece should be positioned toward the waistband of the pants), and then (6) using a regular straight stitch, sewed the ruffled fabric to the leg opening, using a seam allowance that placed my new stitches closer to the waistband of the pant than the gathering stitch line on the ruffled piece (so the gathering seam doesn’t show once the ruffled hem is attached). I then serged the seam where I added the ruffled piece to the leg to create a cleaner look and eliminate fraying, but you can finish the seam according to your preference.

If you have a pair of pants that still fit your little one everywhere except in the length, adding a ruffled hem could definitely give you the length you need to extend the life of the pants. I imagine a pair of too-short jeans would look adorable with a cute ruffled hem attached.  Of course, my daughter is on the shorter end of the height spectrum, so she has yet to outgrow the length of any pants prior to outgrowing the waist! I think this would also be such a cute look for a pair of pajamas — maybe ruffled hems on the pant legs and the arms! Oh dear, I have definitely been bitten by the girly-clothes bug.

This week is the Spring 2013 Kids Clothes Week Challenge — one of my favorite sewing times of the year. Created by elsie marley, the KCWC is a challenge to spend at least one hour a day for the week sewing kids’ clothes. It always manages to focus me on wardrobe needs for my children, so I appreciate the challenge. I tackled a few more items in addition to these pants, which I’ll be posting about soon. Check out the new kids clothes week blog and the related flikr pool for a peek at the kids clothes awesomeness that is being sewn up this week! And on her own blog, Meg from elsie marley is documenting how she is using each of her hours of sewing during the KCWC to create a great dress for her daughter. It’s so fun to watch it all come together – hour by hour, post by post.

Okay, enough about time spent indoors sewing, I’m off to enjoy the outdoors on the gorgeous spring day. Hope you can, too!

It’s a Cinch

It’s a Cinch

The elsie marley Kids Clothes Week Challenge Fall 2012 is off and running (yikes, how did it get to be Thursday already?) and I am trying not to be discouraged by the fact that at this point in the Spring KCWC I already had four or five clothing items completed and so far … I have finished one item for the Fall challenge. Oh well, that’s the way it goes sometimes. Actually, that’s the way it goes a lot of times; especially in parenthood. In part this is due to the fact that my schedule has been victim to the “when it rains, it pours” effect. I have a lot of stuff going on right now — good stuff, which I’ll share soon — and I have been attempting to judiciously allot my time to the various projects while muzzling my usual over-achiever attitude of thinking I can fit all of it in and sacrificing sleep and sanity in the process.

I do have to ask, though, did I really need to have pre-school snack duty added to my list this week??! Ugh. It’s ironic though – when the snack “rules” were distributed during school orientation, I was a bit disappointed to see that homemade snacks were prohibited. I thought it would be so much fun to make healthy treats alongside my son, since he loves to help in the kitchen; and it just seemed like the obvious thing to do. But, Betty Crocker beware, homemade snacks have been outlawed by the food allergy police. Yesterday, however, with an ambitious to-do list in hand, I was more than accepting of the snack rules and gladly tossed a couple boxes of Teddy Grahams (of course, not the chocolate ones, people!) and jugs of apple juice in my cart and crossed that chore off my list. And I even remembered to bring them to school at drop-off time this morning, which is more than I can say about my son’s backpack on Tuesday morning. Sometimes I think pre-school is more about testing the parents’ organizational skills than it is about school preparedness for the children!

So, enough about that, it’s time for the big reveal….. What have I made so far for KCWC? A cinch-waist dress!

Presumably this dress is for my daughter. I intentionally sized-up when drafting the pattern so let’s hope it eventually fits her in all the right places at the same time. Ha! That did not happen with one of the first dresses I made for her. I made it before she was born in anticipation of her arrival, so I wasn’t working with actual measurements. I put it on her when she was about 3-months-old and quickly observed that the bodice probably was a good fit a month earlier and the arm length would be great in about another month — oops.

I haven’t sewn her anything lately and have been really eager to do so, but when I thought about this dress, I envisioned her running around and playing in it because the lightweight fabrics and bright colors seemed so fun and playful to me, but — slight complication — she’s not running anywhere just yet! That’s okay; the dress and the running are something to look forward to.

The dress is essentially a peasant dress with an elasticized cinched waist and a ruffled layer added near the bottom for some extra pizzazz. The main, solid-colored fabric is Clementine from Michael Miller’s Cotton Couture collection. I love how cheery it is, and it made me realize how infrequently I use solid colors when I sew. I’m always drawn to the fun prints and overlook the beauty of solids. It convinced me that I need to change my solid-avoiding ways.  The cinch fabric is from Patty Young’s Heaven & Helsinki collection for Michael Miller. Having spent my junior year of college abroad in Finland, it would be sacrilege for me to not own something from this collection (for the geographically-challenged crowd, yes, Helsinki is in Finland). I compensated by purchasing three of the prints, which actually required restraint because there are so many great coordinates in the collection. Finally, the ruffled piece was made using a voile from Anna Maria Horner‘s incredibly popular Little Folks collection. You really need to see this fabric without the ruffled effect to enjoy just how gorgeous it is; and it feels just as good as it looks. The whole collection is a-MA-zing. I have several prints and I can already tell I’ll have to fight the selfish tendency to hoard it away and save it for some as of yet undetermined special project.

The dress came together quite easily, which makes it so much more satisfying. Nothing like whipping up a dress in a short period of time! Oh honey, you need something to wear? Here you go. I made you a dress this afternoon. All you need to do is learn how to walk and run, and it can be yours.

Okay, back to to-do list conquering and, hopefully, some sewing. Hope your week is going well and you are crossing things off your lists, too!