Tag Archive | dresses

Happy Easter 2015

Yes, I’ve been gone. However, absence here means productivity in real life! And I have most definitely been productive. I’ll write at more length later about the kids’ Easter outfits, but I know that there are plenty of people who wanted to see the outcome after a solid month of sewing (and some crocheting).

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IMG_7052Wishing you all a happy Easter!

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Easter 2014: A Dress Odyssey

It is a well-known fact that there is exactly one week between Palm Sunday and Easter. It happens every year. Palm Sunday. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Easter. I know this in my head. The crafty portion of my brain is, however, disconnected from logic and basic chronological concepts (maybe this is why I couldn’t tell time until junior high? Even now, my grasp is tenuous at best). Last week — Palm Sunday — I thought, “I should make the girls Easter dresses! I’ll choose a simple pattern; it won’t be too hard. I can sew two dresses in a week.”

What a week it was.

Monday: After dropping the girls at school, the boys and I hit the fabric store. Sprinkaan slept, and Konik was engaged up until I changed my mind about the two bolts of fabric I had been carting around with us. Then I split my time between choosing new fabric that I liked better and playing hide-and-seek with the boy who had had his fill of fabric. “I wish you would have just left me in the car!”

Monday is my laundry day, so I got the fabric washed and dried while I traced off the pattern pieces for Granota and cut out the larger size for Rana. All in all, a pretty productive day.

The pattern I chose

The pattern I chose

Tuesday: This was to be my big sewing day after taking the girls to school. Right out of the gate, Tuesday did not go as planned. I had all the kids ready to go, piling out the back door as I pushed the garage door opener. When I came out, I found the kids standing in front of the open garage door with confused and helpless expressions.

 

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Houston, we have a problem

It was jammed and I couldn’t get it open more than about a foot and a half. Looks like we’re walking to school today, kids! Except that, I had allotted enough time for driving to school, not walking, so we were definitely going to be late. Also, Granota had a field trip first thing that morning. I ran inside to call the school and was surprised to be greeted so enthusiastically by the school secretary until, as I regaled her with the trials and tribulations that had beset us, she paused and then informed me that I had called the girls’ old school. We laughed and I assured her that we would not be walking the 20 miles to that school. I called the current school, told my story again and this secretary told me that the buses for the field trip would leave at 9:00, could we make it? “I think so!”

Before we could leave, I had to get the stroller which… was in the car which was stuck in the garage. So I performed a little Indiana Jones homage, belly crawling under the garage door to get it out. Then four kids and I hustled our hind ends to that school! We arrived just as the kindergartners were lining up outside for their field trip. Whew! I gave Konik a piggyback part of the way home while I pushed the stroller (and later perched him on the handlebar). By the time we got home, we were both beat and sewing was the last thing on my mind. Whether it was from that unplanned jog to school or what, Konik got sick later that afternoon, throwing up everywhere. No sewing that day.

Wednesday: I still didn’t trust Konik’s belly, so I was keeping a close eye on him; Rana woke up with a fever, so I decided to keep her home from school. But when I went to take Granota, once again, the garage door got stuck despite Mr. Gren having fixed it the night before. I told her that she would just have to stay home, too, that day. The difference between Tuesday and Wednesday: Tuesday was warm and sunny; Wednesday was rainy with two sick kids. The two sick kids perked up by lunchtime, but it was still raining, so they were all stuck inside. No sewing that day, either.

Thursday: We got smart and parked the car outside the night before so there would be no issues getting children to school. I got about a third of the way through Granota’s dress. It occurred to me that I haven’t really sewn anything in months. I felt rusty and slow.

Friday: Panic was beginning to set in. I had to get these dresses done. I finished Granota’s and, miraculously, things were moving a bit faster with Rana’s. When Mr. Gren left for work that night, he asked me how late I was going to stay up sewing. “Until I start making mistakes,” I replied. One thing that I figured was pretty mistake-proof was putting in the gathering stitches, so I took every piece that needed gathering and did that. By the time I went to bed, all the individual pieces were ready to be put together.

Saturday: Whether it was having made the pattern once already or just another Easter miracle, I was able to finish up Rana’s dress in just two more hours. I sewed the buttons on both dresses right before I went to bed. Down to the wire! I still excel under pressure, Mom.

Easter Sunday:

In the tradition of family Easter photos the world over, Rana hams it up, Granota looks stiff and unnatural and Konik wonders what's going on.

In the tradition of family Easter photos the world over, Rana hams it up, Granota looks stiff and unnatural and Konik wonders what’s going on.

The fabric for Rana’s dress was called “rose sorbet” and Granota’s was “spring medley.” Cheery, no? It’s hard to see, but there are little rick-rack-bordered patch pockets on the dresses. (I did not make Konik’s suit — it’s on loan from my dear friend, V. Thanks!)

More Easter ham

More Easter ham

Yoke detail with rick-rack and ball buttons.

Yoke detail with rick-rack and ball buttons.

All four chilluns

All four chilluns

I did make the suit that Sprinkaan is wearing; Konik wore it for his first Easter! It’s a little blue and white seersucker overall and jacket.

Sprinkaan in his big brother's Easter suit. Making it look good!

Sprinkaan in his big brother’s Easter suit. Making it look good!

And a close-up of the baby, because he’s adorable and photogenic and actually smiles for his pictures.

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What I learned last week is that I can, in fact, sew two little Easter dresses in six days, however, it’s not really enjoyable and I could benefit from a little planning ahead. Easter 2015 is April 5th (you’re welcome), so I ought to start March 5th, to accommodate sick children, garage door mishaps and whatever else might come my way. I might even have time to sew something new for myself! (Hush, Jennifer, that’s just crazy talk)

Hodge-podge

My sewing machine has been gone since Saturday and I still feel lost without it. Adrift on a sea of unsewn fabric, hearing the whispers of patterns pleading, “Make me! Make me!”

Ok, it’s not that dramatic. I have been keeping myself occupied. Both of my girls need new summer nightgowns, especially Rana. I’ve wanted to learn to smock for a long time, so I found this to be a good opportunity. The girls like to pull their knees up under their gowns, so I’m hoping that the smocking will give it the extra fullness it needs to accommodate little girl legs. I’ll write more about this once I’ve completed one. Right now, it’s not too exciting.

Today was “Make-it Monday” in our house. Each Monday during the summer, I try to have a craft planned for the girls to do to keep them out of trouble. It works for a few minutes. Today’s project was pseudo-sun catchers. The old 1960s craft book I have suggested using tissue paper as the base, but that seemed too fragile to me. We used wax paper instead, and then glued little bits of colored tissue paper, sparkly ribbon and glitter all over it. I drew simple shapes on the girls’ paper and they filled in with all their decorations. At first, Rana requested a unicorn, but I talked her down to something a little less fiddly — we went with a bunny silhouette. Granota made it easy on me and just asked for a flower. The project went… ok. While I was fighting with Granota’s glue bottle cap to get the gunk out of it, Rana opened up her glue and dumped it out all over the table. Thank goodness for the layer of newspaper I had put down. I didn’t take pictures of the process or the finished products because Granota was feigning helplessness and I wasn’t sure I could trust Rana long enough to go get the camera. Suffice it to say that the girls are very proud of their masterpieces which are now taped to their bedroom windows.

And now, so this post won’t be completely devoid of photos, I’ll show you the finished patchwork pillowcase dress, happily modeled by Granota. Just to review, this was made from two thrift store pillowcases + some bias tape I already had + one button from the button jar = $2.

She's not naturally blue; that's sidewalk chalk.

Despite the print, the bodice seemed plain, so I pinned a silk flower to it. Removable for washing. Thinking ahead right there, uh huh. The Minnie Mouse ears are not removable. She evens sleeps with them. Usually we can convince her not to wear them to church.

This dress receives the 3 yr old Twirl Factor Seal of Approval

And next, a grown-up dress. I think I finished this one late April/early May. I wore it for Mother’s Day, then hung it up and forgot about it until last week. I was attempting to go a little out of my comfort zone with the big print on this. Stuck with my favorite colors, though. It was also the first time I sewed with rayon. I’m pretty happy with the fit, but for some reason, if I’m not wearing shoes, this dress suddenly looks like a nightgown to me. Guess that will prevent me from going out barefoot in public .

Little bit of a hippie vibe

I'm not wearing tights; my skin is just that fabulously pale all on its own.

 

Thanks for checking in today! Hopefully Wednesday will be more interesting!

Tissue paper time machines

I grew up in the 80s and, while I did partake of poofy bangs, pegged jeans, and neon colors, I’m not your typical “child of the 80s.” Musically, I grew up in a time warp — from the time I got my first radio, I always listened to the Oldies station. My dad and I used to play a game in the car to see who could name the band first: Buddy Holly, the Beatles, Three Dog Night, CCR. And those are the easy ones! In high school, I even discovered an AM station that played 30s and 40s music and I loved it! I lived blissfully ignorant of the crime that is 80s music until I married Mr. Gren, who has made it his mission to educate me; I would still lose on the “name the band” game.

Like my musical tastes, my sartorial aesthetic definitely veers towards older styles, specifically the 40s and 50s (well, and pretty much everything between 1200 and 1830, too, but it’s harder to get away with that in modern life). I like a lot of the tailored looks and hairstyles from the early 40s and I drool over the full skirts of the late 40s/early 50s, but, up until just a few years ago, it never occurred to me that I could actually make these styles. Somehow, I stumbled upon the great blog A Dress a Day. Not only is it about dresses, it’s about vintage dresses and vintage sewing patterns. I didn’t even know these existed! This was an epiphany, an awakening, the beginning of an addiction (don’t worry; I can stop any time). There are sellers of vintage sewing patterns all over the Innermet! Another revelation! I don’t often buy, but I do love scrolling through listings of all these great patterns. To date, I’ve made 8 dresses from vintage patterns from the 40s and 50s. A lot of times, they make more sense than the modern patterns.

I’ve got two to show you today. The first is the Very First Ever dress I made from a vintage pattern. There was some minor panic when I first opened the envelope to discover that, Hey! The really old ones aren’t printed! Probably other people knew that, but remember, this was all new to me. Well, it turned out that this pattern went together like a dream. Never before nor since have I had a dress come together without a hitch like this one. I had no way of knowing it would work so nicely, so I made my first dress out of a king-size sheet. One day, I will make this one again in a fabric I’m actually excited about, but for now, this does alright.

What the heck am I doing? Hugging an invisible child? Preparing to salute?

Look at those humongous pockets! I need more dresses like that, then I wouldn’t have to carry a purse. This dress has princess seams and a flared skirt. The side pieces of the dress form the cap sleeves, so no setting in sleeves, gathering, easing and all that rigmarole.

My most recent vintage project was actually started last summer. But then our weather turned icky and I had no occasion to wear a sleeveless dress, so I abandoned it, just a zipper and hem shy of completion. This spring, I finally got tired of it laying around my sewing room, so I buckled down one day and finished it. Hurray! Here is the pattern I used:

I liked View 2 with the collar, pleats and narrow keyhole (which is hard to see in the picture). I thought the other style made her shoulders look wide. I used a great black cotton with a big cherry print to make this one. Cherries belong on a 1950s dress. The one thing that disappointed me when I was done is that the collar is too small to fasten at my neck without choking me. I don’t get that cute keyhole effect, but oh well. It looks pretty good and no one’s the wiser. Except you, because now you read this. But you’re going to agree with me that it looks fine. Right? Of course, right.

A friend of mine took some lovely photos of me wearing my awesome black cherry dress this past weekend. See what you think!

I am wearing a crinoline (that I made) under this; it makes a huge difference in the look.

If I can ever satisfy Rana’s appetite for new dresses, I will make something for myself again. I’ve already got lots of fabric paired with some more of my vintage patterns. I’ve got 5 yds of white cotton with big navy polka dots that would make a fantastic dress for summertime. I’d better get on it soon, though, otherwise you’ll be reading about it this time next year.

Three non-winter dresses

We don’t quite know what to call the season we’re currently experiencing out here in the Pacific Northwest. Our calendars claim that Summer begins tomorrow, but I think we’re at least three months behind. In other words, we’re just now getting our Spring. I think we should adjust our calendars accordingly so that we don’t feel so disappointed when we look outside. At any rate, back when our calendars claimed it was Spring, Rana and I checked her closet for Springtime dresses and found that she had outgrown everything from last year. I’ve already shown one dress that I made for her, so now I’ll show the others I’ve finished.

Please excuse the fuzzy baby head zooming through the photo.

This dress began life as a pair of pillowcases that I rescued from the thrift store for 99 cents a piece. Not too shabby, eh? I’m all about saving myself time, so I kept the original pillowcase hem for the skirt. Despite the stripes, the dress looked too plain once I had finished, so I embellished it with a hand-painted daffodil. See? Sometimes I can paint.

Who else wishes they were in Hawaii?

This was the first of my Hawaiian shirt conversions and at first, it went very, very wrong. I had used Rana’s Easter dress as a template, but… I only traced one side and then just folded the shirt in half and cut. Moral of the story: Trace both sides of your template, just to be sure. I happily went sewing along, thinking it would make a good surprise for Rana when she got home from school. And we were all surprised when we found that this dress was too skinny even to fit Konik, my 18 month old son. Obviously, some alterations were in order. I didn’t want to lose the button placket on the back because that would make more work for me. So I whacked off the top half of the front, took my daughter’s measurement (sometimes I do smart things), and scavenged among the scraps of the original shirt. Lucky for me, when I opened up one of the sleeves on the side seam, it was just the width I needed, and I sewed it right on. You can see the hem of the sleeve now marks the dress’ waistline (through the middle of the trees). How’s that for creative sewing? I was going to put little flutter sleeves on the dress, but Rana preferred the wide straps. I wasn’t going to complain — less work! (Notice a theme, here?)

The taste, the taste, the taste is gonna move ya!!

This dress was fun. How can you not be happy looking at fruit fabric? This was just a small, lonely piece of fabric hanging sadly between placemats and sheets at the thrift store. It needed a better life, so I saved it, too. When I got it home, I found that there were strange black smudges in a couple of places, so I had to get creative with how I cut out the pieces. It all worked out ok, though! The skirt fabric was leftover from a hospital gown I made for a friend a couple years ago (she wanted to have her baby in style, not some faded hospital-issue sack). Once again, Rana was at school while I was sewing, so there was no measuring involved. This dress is ankle length on her and, if not for the citrus fruit and bright colors, would look a little “Texas compound,” but she thinks the length is great. I’ll just be sure never to do her hair up in a bun when she wears this.

Current work in progress is the bright pink dress with the patchwork skirt. I admire the people who can sew without the use of patterns, but I think I’m ready to admit that I am not one of those people. The two pillowcases I hacked up didn’t yield enough fabric to make this into, well, a dress. It’s going to have to be something more akin to a tunic. And, much to Rana’s disgruntlement, it’s going to have to be for Granota. There was simultaneous shrieking and cheering at that announcement. Hopefully, the girls don’t try to reenact the Cinderella shredding-of-the-dress scene whenever Granota wears this.

Tomorrow, I’m going to attempt something cool. I’ll post about it if I get it done in time!

I’m on a roll!

I love days like this where everything comes together as it should and I’m able to get so much done. I didn’t sew any pieces on backwards; I didn’t have to rewind my bobbin two inches from the end of a seam; my seam ripper sat docilely in my tackle box; and best of all, I have tangible results (unlike when I’ve spent hours tacking in facings that no one ever sees)!

My good sewing mojo began yesterday when I was able to knock out a dress for Rana. Coming into this spring, we realized that the girl has been growing like a weed and all of her springtime dresses from last year were scandalously short on her this year (good news for Granota whose dress wardrobe doubled). I planned on making her about five dresses and didn’t want to spend the money on that much new fabric, so I hit the thrift store. I love the thrift store for fabric shopping. It’s a little bit more of a challenge to find nice prints sometimes, but you can’t beat the prices. I came away with two men’s Hawaiian shirts, two orange/yellow striped pillowcases, one plain hot pink pillowcase, one hot pink pillowcase with orange and light pink flowers, a scrap of jersey with a bright fruit print all over it, a butterfly sheet, and a red gingham checked sheet — and spent about ten dollars for all of it! Score!

Up to this week, I had made three dresses: one from the white Hawaiian shirt, one from the two orange striped pillowcases, and one from the fruity jersey (using fabric I already had on hand to make the skirt). And I haven’t taken a photo of a single one of those! Yesterday, I finally got the urge to clear all these thrifted fabrics out of my room. They’ve been draped across the back of my chair and slung over my dress form for months. It’s about time. Loosely following cheytown’s Button-down Shirt Recon (four years and still going strong!), I made Rana a dress from the red Hawaiian shirt. Ok, I used cheytown’s tutorial from memory for the white Hawaiian dress/shirt, too, but it’s also a little different from the “original.” Back to the red dress: Rana loved it and wore it to school today. She was in a funky mood when she got home and consented to pictures only if she could hide her face. Unlike the original, this one buttons in the front and I had to do a little pleating along the back neckline to keep it from dipping down too low.

Men's large shirt becomes a dress for a 5 year old

Today, with all my sewing super powers still in full force, I began another dress using the hot pink pillowcases. I completed the bodice (using an old Simplicity pattern). Rana likes twirly dresses especially, so I am making the skirt in patchwork tiers; I’m making it up as I go along. I’m still in the pinning process on that. If everything keeps going smoothly, I’ll finish it in a couple of days! I sure do like progress.

That's a lot of little squares to sew together. This is why I don't quilt.