Tag Archive | dress

Princess dresses

Last year, the girls were not overly happy at the pattern I had chosen for their Easter dresses. With no defined waistline, they said it felt like wearing a baby dress. They’re probably right. So in an effort to redeem myself, I let them choose their pattern and fabric this year. On the plus side, they were both happy. The downside is my girls have expensive tastes. Even after I reined them in a bit! Next year I’m going to have to tighten up the parameters a bit. The pattern was Butterick 3351 — definitely a flower girl dress. The girls chose different bodice views, in which the only real difference was the straps. The pattern itself was actually quite simple to sew. Nothing tricky or unusual, just a very basic dress. It’s the fabric that sets this one apart. Each of the dresses has a sheer overlay on the skirt. In the case of Granota’s dress, it’s a lace, whereas Rana’s is just a sheer fabric with sparkles (we can always tell where she has been when she wears this dress; the trail of sparkles attests to her presence).

IMG_7028  IMG_7029 IMG_7022 IMG_7024 You may notice that Granota’s skirt is a bit fuller. She requested a “foof” to go underneath it. That’s a petticoat to the rest of us. I don’t have pictures of just the petticoat, but I used Sugardale’s tutorial and a soft nylon mesh. Rana didn’t like the idea of a foof, so I didn’t make her one. Since it is still a bit chilly here in the Pacific Northwest at Eastertime, the girls were concerned that they would be cold in their sleeveless dresses, and wearing a big coat over them just wouldn’t be right. I suggested little shawls because I am a glutton for punishment care about my children’s comfort. So in addition to sewing four Easter outfits, I was also crocheting two shrugs.

IMG_7030 IMG_7031 IMG_7025 IMG_7027 Granota’s shawl was from a book I have here at home. Rana’s was from a pattern I found online that I am too lazy to find again (I think it was off of the Red Heart site). Two more happy kids at Easter!

UFO —> FO #2: Little bunny’s dress

Is this really only the second UFO I’ve completed? Dang.

Not much to say about this one. Other than I wonder why I subject myself to making teeny tiny clothes because I hates it, precious! I hates it! Although I did feel some personal satisfaction for having saved miniscule cuts of elastic. Are all crafters hoarders?

Anyways, here’s pretty little Mai in her pretty little dress. Rana was so happy to see the dress finished and has had all kinds of fun dressing Mai and an assortment of other stuffed bunnies in the dress. Yes, in just the few hours since I completed it yesterday afternoon.

IMG_5776

To keep the ball rolling, I pulled my next UFO project.

IMG_5780

Evidently, somebody has been messing with my camera and has set the time stamp. I have my suspicions as to who it was…

It looks like I’ll be working on a gingerbread house just in time for Halloween! Er, I mean, well in advance of Christmas. That’s a good thing! Maybe I’ll actually be able to display it this year. Y’know, 3 years after I started it.

UFO #2: Peasant blouse

Oh youse guys.

This is bad. Like, really bad.

This peasant blouse was supposed to have been a transitional maternity top for me last spring/summer. And in that respect, I made an excellent choice in pattern (Butterick 5217 for anyone who really cares).

Guys, I can't see my toes.

Guys, I can’t see my toes.

When I put it away last spring, or, more accurately, when it just sat in a lump on my table for months on end, I had already sewn the yoke together, constructed the sleeves, and had sewn the front and back together. I even put French seams in this bad boy! All I had to do was put the above-mentioned pieces together and it would have been done! But…

I decided that beige linen was boring. It needed something to spruce it up, give it a little visual interest. I found some kind of whirly fiddly little design that I wanted to embroider on the yoke. For Christmas, Mr. Gren had given me one of those fading ink fabric pens. I drew on the fiddly little design and set to work. When I was 80% done with it, I left on my trip back East. That was the last time I touched it. The ink had faded by the time I returned and, for some reason, despite my growing belly, I had no interest or inclination in finishing this particular project.

I got the embroidery 95% completed this time before I decided I didn't care anymore.

I got the embroidery 95% completed this time before I decided I didn’t care anymore.

And let’s face it, peeps, my embroidery skillz ain’t so hot. But the whole project was hung up on me finishing the embroidery before attaching the yoke and bodice, otherwise I’d embroider through the yoke facing and I needed all the ugly side to be sandwiched between the two layers of fabric where it would be protected from unraveling. So I got to this point and went, “Eh, less is more” and sewed the yoke and bodice together.

Then I thought it would be fun to try it on.

i haz a sad.

i haz a sad.

You’ve heard the phrase “sad sack”? Now you have a visual reference. This is a sad sack. No, I take that back. This sack is downright depressed.

Plenty of room to grow! Except... baby was born 4 months ago.

Plenty of room to grow! Except… baby was born 4 months ago.

The plan was that this could serve me through pregnancy yet also be something that wasn’t overtly maternity and even have an extended life as a cute top postpartum and beyond. Obviously that’s not gonna happen.

“What about belting it?” you ask. I asked myself the same question and tried it out with a belt. They’re all worse. Laughably worse.

There's no helping this atrocity.

There’s no helping this atrocity.

Baby Sprinkaan was asleep in my room at the time of the photo, so I couldn’t get to my belt, but you get the general idea. Cinching in the waist does strange and unflattering things to the bust region. The heck is up with those pleats?? There really isn’t any point in attaching the sleeves now. In fact, this UFO is destined for the scrap basket. I think there is enough fabric in the bodice that I could make something for one of the kids; I just haven’t hit on that something yet.

Next up on Disasters in Linen…

Remember this dress? IMG_0073

I unpacked it recently to find a large, yellow stain on the front. It looked like mustard, but surely I would have noticed that when I packed it away? I ran it through the washing machine. Heh. Not only did the stain not come out, this happened:

IMG_4092

It’s unsalvageable. There are two more rips like this on the skirt. The peasant blouse makes me laugh. This one actually does make me sad. So, I’ll be clipping all the buttons off and throwing this one in the scrap heap, too. {sigh}

Enough of that. Next up in the quest to conquer my UFOs:

IMG_4095

I’d better get a move on.

 

 

 

 

.

Beachy dress

Apparently I am trying to satisfy some kind of latent desire to live in the tropics with my garment choices of late. Heaven knows nobody can wear this at “the beach” in the Pacific Northwest. We don’t even call it “the beach” here — it’s the coast. And it takes a hardy kind of person to enjoy a day out on the coast, as evidenced by this hilarious commercial put out by a local insurance company.

beach bum

Click to watch the short commercial! You will laugh! Well… I laugh.

I can see the floor-length version of this dress being worn with pretty jeweled flat sandals by a girl with lightly tousled hair and movie star sunglasses as she strolls the hot, sandy beaches of California or Florida. The floor-length version of this dress would not be practical, however, for me as I hike up a steep, gravelly trail through the ferns and firs just to get to my car.

McCalls 6555

McCalls 6555

So, for the sake of practicality and also versatility, I made the knee-length version. My thought was, not only can I wear it during the summer, but in the fall I could put on a cardigan, tights and boots and keep on a-wearin’ it. In fact, that blue Pearl’s Cardigan that I made awhile back might be just the ticket.

IMG_2505

The fabric is rayon challis. As you can see, it is a sort of gussied-up stripe print. As you can also see, I paid not a whit to the stripes when I was cutting the pieces. Never even occurred to me to match stripes. I had extra fabric, so I could have matched them. Alas. For some reason, the print never really registered in my brain as “stripe.” I just saw wild swirls and stuff. Fortunately, I think the print is wild enough that I can get away with mismatched stripes. And if not, just nod and smile and play along.

IMG_2510
One thing about the print that I’m a little disappointed about, though, is that it hides the pleats where the dress meets the yoke. That was kind of the main design element. The dress also hangs a bit more sack-like than I would have preferred, which I think would not have been so noticeable in the floor-length version. A little belt may have to be employed.

Another small disappointment is that the middle of the back gaps.

IMG_2512

This is not the first time I’ve had this problem. In fact, it happens nearly every time I make a dress. Why I haven’t paid closer attention to this phenomenon, I can’t say. But it is apparent now that my back measures narrower than the Big 4 pattern companies think. Obviously, I’m going to have to get a measurement and then compare it to the width of pattern pieces from now on. It should improve the fit quite a bit! What I really need to do is make another duct tape dummy of myself and then make a sloper (a sloper is a sort of base pattern fitted like a second skin to your body, then disassembled and used to adjust the sizing of printed pattern pieces to ensure good fit). All this sewing-your-own-clothes stuff is great and fun, but it’s also a lot of trial and error. I’m glad, though, that there are always new things to learn.

IMG_2509

Have you learned anything new lately?

Black and white

If you’ve been following my blog at all, you’ve seen an assortment of dresses that I’ve made for myself. One thing those dresses all have in common: they are all lightweight. I’ve shivered through the last few winters going to church in thin cotton dresses, but there’s only so much layering you can do before you just give up and wear jeans. I needed a winter dress. I knew this several years ago and bought a couple of yards of black & white houndstooth corduroy. The pattern it was intended for was a vintage 60s sort of military-inspired dress. I don’t know what I was thinking. That style uses a lot of folds and tucks, which 1) would not have worked with corduroy and 2) would have induced eye-crossing optical illusions with the houndstooth print. Sometimes I don’t plan things out very well.

Houndstooth and corduroy!

This past spring, I decided that I needed to work through a lot of the fabric in my stash that didn’t really have patterns to go with them. I bought a bunch of patterns on sale and one of them was McCalls 2401. It’s a simple sheath dress: a front, two back pieces, two sleeves and the facing. The construction is very simple. The fit is gained through four darts in the front and two in the back.

M2401

I had to let out the hips a tiny bit and take in the two vertical darts near the top to really get a nice, close fit.

Pretending that I’m not freezing to death.

I didn’t notice during all my multiple fittings that the back neckline was not lying flat. I think next time, I will pinch in small darts on either side of the zipper to take out some of the excess. I can’t do it on this one because the facing is already in and it would require a lot of deconstruction to do that. I’ll just tough it out and count on my hair to cover the gaping.

Pretty proud of my invisible zipper, though.

I wore the dress all day Sunday — to church and an afternoon of Christmas shopping. It was warm and comfortable!

I don’t have anything all that interesting to say about it. I will be using this pattern again with some navy blue wool.

Mr. Gren told me to act natural. Now I want to make a sailor dress.

The last successful sewing project

Remember that wedding I went to this summer? Remember how I told you that I had sewn a new dress for it? Remember when I used to blog three times a week? Yeah, I suck. But hey, I’m here now.

So about that dress. I had fallen in love with a vintage Vogue reprint.

Vogue 8789

It looked like a good wedding-y type of dress for a summer wedding. But it was also an evening wedding, so I felt like the fabric needed to have a little sparkle. I chose an Asian print — cherry blossoms on a plum background with a touch of shimmery gold here and there.

One thing I particularly loved about this pattern was that the facing was actually part of the bodice piece. Sheer genius. Why aren’t all V-necks made this way? Tell you what, from now on, that’s what I’m going to do. I just had to finish the edge and then fold it in and tack it down. Brilliant.

One thing I did not like about this pattern was the armhole facing. The pieces are weirdly shaped and continually want to flip out, even with understitching. I think I would have been better off just binding them in bias tape. And that’s what I’m going to do if I ever make this pattern again.

But I may not because this thing is a fabric monster. 5.25 yards. That adds up fast. This dress turned out to be much more expensive than I had intended. With the look Mr. Gren gave me after I bought the fabric, I kinda feel like I should wear it everyday just to make it worth it.

I’m also coming to the conclusion that, while I like the idea of this style of dress, this particular silhouette is perhaps not the most flattering on me. To really give that dramatic look I need a tiny wasp waist and, let’s face it, after three kids, that tiny waist may never come back. I’m thinking princess lines are going to be my go-to from here on out.

As I said, this thing takes over 5 yards of fabric, and obviously, the majority of that is in the ginormous skirt. But one can’t just leave those swathes of fabric hanging from the body. If you’re going to do that, you may as well just pin Miss Ellen’s portieres over your shoulders and call it a day. So, I am wearing not one, but two petticoats under this sucker (both of which I made myself and I will write about some other day). I probably could have even gotten away with a third, but in this day and age, people just aren’t accustomed to dresses that poof, so I figured it was best to go the conservative route. Or something.

Even big girls like to twirl.

You may have noticed in the pattern drawing that there is a cummerbund as part of this look. And you may have noticed that I am not wearing one. I made it, I did. It’s gold. Remember how I don’t have a wasp waist? Yeah, Vogue, your one-size-fits-all cummerbund: bad idea. Even with the couple of extra inches that I added on. Even with it being cut on the bias (that gives it some stretch). At that point, it was the night before we had to travel and I was out of fabric, so… ya get what ya get. I made the executive decision that zero cummerbund was a better look than being slowly sliced in half. Personal preference. You can do what you want. I won’t judge.

*     *     *     *    *     *     *     *     *

In other news, today is Rana’s 7th birthday! No homemade presents this year, but I did buy her a tiny little sewing kit of her very own. Singer has these cute little pink and black tackle boxes that come with a few sewing “essentials.” I had already bought a few a la carte and decided to swap out some of the ones that came in the box with the ones I had chosen because I liked them better. I also included three fat quarters so that she will have her very own fabric to work with and not just my scraps. I hope she loves it!

Wouldn’t you know it

We got back yesterday afternoon from nearly a week of family reunion/wedding stuff. It was great, a lot of fun, but hectic! At any one time, there were 13-25 people in the vacation rental house, and seven of them were children under 6 years old. “Busy” is an understatement. The day of the wedding reminded me of the scene in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” — people running up and down the stairs in various states of dress; Oops forgot to grab the girls’ hair ribbons; Has anyone seen Mom’s shoes? Somebody needs to get out of the bathroom ’cause I still need to do my makeup! — and we were the family of the groom!

Things didn’t get any better when we arrived at the reception site for pictures. I went to help my sister unload the wedding cake from her car and we were greeted by a mass of mushed up cake and frosting in the back and dripping off the hatch onto us. It was horrendous. In ten years of my sister making and decorating wedding cakes, she has never had one collapse. She was heartbroken and we all felt awful for her. My little brother has the most even-keeled personality of anyone I know, so he took the news in stride and L’s family were all very gracious about the cake disaster. My grandpa took my sister to the store to try and find some kind of replacement cake. When the pictures were done, Mr. Gren took our crazy monkeys back to the house to burn off some steam before the wedding and I stayed at the reception site with my sister to help her dress up the pseudo-wedding cake. We still managed to have some time to wind down back at the house before the actual wedding.

Everyone should get to see how lovely the cake was before it died.

At the wedding, Mr. Gren found his seat and carefully distributed brand new coloring books and crayons along the pews where the six little flower girls and one little ring bearer would be seated after they performed their duties. Meanwhile, my sister, sister-in-law and I were corralling all the kids in the back room waiting for show time and trying to keep them out of the way of the bridesmaids and bride. Of course, right when the wedding coordinator popped her head in to let us know it was almost time to line up, I noticed that Konik wasn’t smelling so fresh… and Mr. Gren had the diaper bag. Ugh. But the kids all did a good job walking down the aisle and filed in to their seats just like they were supposed to (and then Mr. Gren whisked Konik away to get him cleaned up).

In the midst of all that chaos, neither of us got a picture of little man in his spiffy wedding clothes. Not even at the reception! So, unless one of my family members got a photo of him, we’ll have to try to stage a shot. And of course, it didn’t occur to any of us to take a picture of me in my new dress, either. I’ll try to get some pictures taken this week!

Rana waiting for dinner at the reception

But, despite all the craziness on our end of things, my brother and his bride were beaming the entire day and thoroughly enjoyed all the festivities. And that’s the most important part!

Congratulations, S & L!

 

Betrayal and triumph over adversity

This is the tale of the purple floral dress that almost wasn’t. But first, it almost was.

Last week, I told you how I was merely sleeves and a hem away from completing the dress. It was looking good so far. Well, all except for the zipper; apparently I had been out of the game for too long. The next one will be better, I promise!

The dress was laying out on my cutting table to stay out of the way while I worked on the sleeves. But, as happens so often around here, something distracted me and the sleeves were left on the ironing board and the dress remained on the table for another day. Until…

“I cutting! I cutting!” came the happy little cry from the other side of the cabin.

I was only half-paying attention as I was thoroughly engrossed in Twitter something really important. “Ok…” I absently replied.

“I cutting!”

This time the words sunk into my brain and I glanced up in horror. “Where is he?!” I demanded of Mr. Gren.

“I here!” Konik answered happily from my sewing area.

“Oh no! Oh no no nonono!!!” I dashed across the cabin to the scene of the crime. Konik looked up at me in terror and threw down the scissors he had been using. My gold-handled DMC scissors that I had bought in France. The gold handles had been peeking out from underneath my sewing machine cover, beckoning, luring little 2 year old hands. Oh, my scissors, how could you?! I trusted you!

Konik ran for his life while I crumpled over my purple floral dress with its new fringed hem treatment. The snips were nearly 2″ deep. I was too distraught to do anything about it that day and I needed a day to think things over and decide the best course of action. Because the dress has princess seams, adding something along the bottom would just look unnatural. Besides I barely had enough of the fabric for the dress (darn 36″ width sneaking in there amongst the 44″ bolts!). There was nothing to do but trim off the cut up edge all the way around and just suck it up and deal with a shorter dress.

Pre-surgery, I was really liking this dress. Once I finished it and put it on, I felt like an 8 year old. I always feel a little ridiculous with skirts above the knee, especially on a flared silhouette like this. I went ahead and wore it to church anyways and got a few compliments, so I guess it doesn’t read as juvenile to everyone else as it does to me.

Apart from the length, the armscyes turned out to be a little… restrictive. I wore the dress all day but never could get over the sensation of having my arms cut off at the shoulder joint. Apparently it was made for people with matchsticks for arms and I do not fall into that category. The pattern (McCall’s 6504) does have sleeveless options, so I’m seriously considering just removing the sleeves altogether, cutting the arm holes bigger and then just binding with bias tape since I have no fabric left for facing. In fact, if I’m going to wear this dress again, I’m going to have to do this. I hate having to go back and do major reconstruction (I know, somebody’s going to tell me that this is what muslins are for), but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that big of a deal and I’d rather have something wearable.

But there’s not time for that this week — I’ve got to finish getting wedding clothes sewn! More on that to come.

Celebrate good times, come on!

Oh yeah, it’s a party! Never have I been so relieved to finish a project as I was with Granota’s Cuddle Muffin jumper.

A little background history on this thing:

I have a Tunisian crochet book with a really cute jumper pattern that I wanted to make for Granota. One day, I was at Joann’s, wandering through the yarn and found their store brand self-patterning baby yarn, called Cuddle Muffin. Cuddle Muffin is what I used to call Granota, so obviously, this was meant to be! I struggled through the Tunisian pattern for several months. At first it was because I was new to Tunisian, but once I got the hang of it, it was just slo-ow. My wrists were worn out and I was coming to terms with the fact that Granota would outgrow the jumper before I ever finished it. The final decision to rip it all out came one day when Konik and Granota had the great idea to “decorate” the living room by winding my working yarn balls around all the furniture. I was so disgusted that I just crammed it all into a bag for a couple of months until I was of a sufficient mental state to untangle all that yarn.

The next time I tackled this jumper, I decided to go with good ol’ traditional crochet. I had another jumper pattern in a different book that I followed loosely. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But then I lost the scrap of paper that I had made all the changes to the original pattern on. The next few months were spent wracking my brain to try and remember what stitches I had used where, how many, what I had done to decrease at the waist… Sometimes I’d be hit by a flash of inspiration and crochet up a bunch only to discover that it didn’t match what I had done the first time. Somehow, finally, it all came together. Good thing, too. My brain cells were all about ready to jump ship if it didn’t work out soon.

The payoff is good, though. I have a happy little girl in a cute little jumper.

Rana asked me to make her one like Granota’s. I laughed at her.

Dress = Done

Last week turned out a little differently than I had planned. After posting on Wednesday, my French class was canceled just as I was about to walk out the door. Too bad, but that did mean a whole day to sew that I hadn’t been banking on! I was able to finish my shirt dress and Granota’s Cuddle Muffin jumper that evening.

For my dress I used McCall’s 4769. Pretty basic style, not much that really stands out. It would probably be great in a novelty print, but for this incarnation I chose a pale blue cotton/linen blend. This way I’ve got a blank canvas that I can spruce up with accessories to change up the look. I don’t currently have much in the way of accessories, but I do have a couple of silk scarves and a couple belts that I can use. And, hopefully without the distraction of pattern or color or unique features on the dress itself, I can get a little more creative about the kinds of accessories I can add to my wardrobe in the future. Future being: when we manage to get Mr. Gren a better job than ringing up plants and patio bricks.

We can always hope.

M4769

The other side of the lapel went together with about the same amount of fiddling as the first side, but at least this time I knew that, as ugly as it is on the inside, it turns out well on the outside. Just as miraculously, my machine didn’t jam up a single time while doing the buttonholes. That may be a first! At the waistline, there is a hook and eye to keep things together so that belts or sashes won’t get hung up on a button.

Went with the blue leopard print scarf this time.

I like those McCall’s guys. These are funny guys. They told me to “hem skirt by hand.” Bwhahahahahaa! Yeah, right. I barely got through hand-tacking the collar and facing down without wanting to kick a puppy. Good thing we don’t have a puppy. Besides, why hand-sew a hem when you can blind stitch it! That’s what I’m talking about. My first attempt several years ago at using the blind stitch on my machine resulted in a less-than-blind hem. I get better with every one I do. I can’t claim that this one is perfect, but a person is going to have to get pretty close to my knees to see the few stitches that managed to peek out.

Konik’s about the right height to examine my hem. Fortunately, he has no idea what he’s looking for.

Oh! And did I mention pockets? That’s always fun in a dress. The fabric was light enough that I went ahead and used it for the pockets, too, instead of a lining fabric.

I ain’t afraid of no crease

A lot of people shy away from linen because of its notorious tendency to wrinkle. What can I say, I’m a sucker for punishment. No, not really; it’s just that I love natural fibers. Besides, anyone who hasn’t worn linen is missing out. I wore this dress to church today with a navy blue belt and navy blue crocheted-by-me beret. I looked pretty sassy if I do say so myself. You’ll just have to take my word for it because Mr. Gren had to work today and couldn’t take a picture to document it for posterity. The dress passed the wearability test — it was comfortable and, despite sitting in the car for 40 minutes round trip and sitting in the church pew for another 90 minutes, the dress wasn’t too horribly wrinkled. I changed out of it when I got home because I had to start a fire and I would have been oh-so-sad if I’d gotten soot on my new pale blue dress. Soot is an unfortunate accessory of life in a cabin, but I can at least try to limit it to jeans.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

You may have noticed that there was no French Friday last week (Hi, Mom). They used to be my most-viewed posts, but lately they were getting really low numbers. I have to admit that I was getting a little burnt out spending two or three hours on a post that only 12 people look at (Hi, Gma). So, do me a favor, peeps, if you like French Fridays, will you let me know? And if there are things you’d like to hear about my experiences in France, let me know that, too! Thanks. Carry on.