Archive for April, 2011

Blue Shirt

Some things about this version of A’s shirt are working and some aren’t.  I changed the darts to princess seaming, but the back didn’t look right, since it belled out a bit.  When I redrafted the back,  I moved the back darts closer to the side seam and this made the side back panel narrower, and now the back looks a lot better.  The sleeves had too much cap ease, so I had to read several books to figure out how to decrease this.   Now the shirt is looking pretty good.  I still have to put in the other sleeve, sew on both cuffs, hem it, and sew buttonholes.

Someone asked me how I put the placket into the back of a dress or for a sleeve cuff, so I looked around and found this tutorial that shows a method similar to mine:


I cut the fabric strip about 2′ wide for a dress placket, and cut the opening about 4-5″ long.

Read Full Post »

The Blue Dress

Another dress made from Butterick 4434, this time with a zipper instead of buttons.  The fabric is a lightweight denim that I had leftover from a skirt I made for A.  I couldn’t find any matching fabric for the bodice lining so I went with a hot pink to match one of the colors in the embroidery.  The pink lining fabric is actually cut from a  sheet from Target that was on sale a few weeks ago.  I think the twin set had a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, and a pillowcase all for about $12 or so, so the fabric was a bargain.

Since there was a zipper, I didn’t want to use a hook and eye so put on the usual tab and button.  I found the perfect button to match the flowers in the embroidery and sewed it on with yellow thread for the flower center.

I had fun making the dresses, but the little-girl-sewing mojo has vanished, so now I am going to start working on the business shirts for my scientist daughter.  The dresses have been packed up and will be on their way to their recipient next month sometime.

Read Full Post »

Forest Princess Dress

This dress is so easy to put together because you don’t have to gather a wide skirt.  The skirt, in addition, is nice and twirly and would please any little girl.  I didn’t have a zipper the right color, so I changed the back closing to a placket and buttons.  I needed to have a wide overlap to make the buttons work, so I decided to make the overlap on the outside and make it decorative.

I made three scallops on the back, and I really like how it turned out.

Next time I make this pattern I will try the zipper up the back because that would be a lot easier.  This dress also cost nothing since my sister-in-law gave me the fabric last week, and everything else was from the stash.  This is a size 5, and I think you could get this dress out of less than 1 1/2 yards of fabric, especially if you use a different fabric for the bodice lining.  I have several lengths of cute fabric I may make up for my niece since stash reduction is a goal this year.

The little girl’s dad says she is picky about the colors she wears and will wear anything as long as it is pink or purple, so I told him to stress that this is a Forest Princess Dress and to get her to demonstrate the twirly skirt.  That should win her over.  I hope so, because this color will look fabulous with her beautiful red hair.

This is an unusually cold and wet spring, so we haven’t gotten the yard cleaned up yet.  That doesn’t stop it from being really pretty out back in a wild sort of way:

Read Full Post »


I was in the discount decorator fabric store two weeks ago and saw this fabric on sale.  My little niece  adores the book and is in that pink-and-purple stage, so I got a yard of the fabric and sewed up this tote bag for her.  The bag is lined with some yellow denim-type fabric.  The measurements for the bag came from a canvas Trader Joe bag that was hanging on the sewing room door except that I shortened the handles a little bit to fit her smaller hands.  The bag isn’t really as lumpy on the sides as it looks, it just photographed that way.

There needs to be  a tote bag for my nephew, too, but I don’t really have many manly embroidery designs for the pocket, so I will have to look around and see what I can find.  I have some nice denim that would make a good tote bag for a little boy.

Read Full Post »

Lavender Blues

Not every project is a success.  I have (had) many yards of a pretty lavender knit, and I thought I would try making a little dress.  I cut a piece to embroider a butterfly on for the bodice,  only to have my embroidery machine clog up for the first time.  Oh well, it was time for me to learn how to clean out the bobbin area anyway.  Then it did it again in spite an iron-on stabilizer and many precautions.  I gave up the idea of using the embroidery machine on this knit and changed to a lace and woven braid trim, and then my regular sewing machine got bogged down with the fabric.  Now I decided that the fabric was to blame, so I cut the trim off the bodice, and discarded everything.  The fabric was definitely a headache waiting to happen, and  I wasn’t going to wait until it broke my machines to give up.  So I spent the day creating an annoying wadder, but that happens in sewing.  It is best to just think of something new to make and move on.

However, I do have a pretty piece of trim all assembled as the result of this adventure, so I am looking around for some nice, easy-to-sew cotton to attach it to.

Read Full Post »

When we were out of town last year for a convention my husband was attending, I saw this little dress:

I have been working on a pattern for this dress, and I drew it up in Size 4 because there is a little girl in my family who just turned that age.  Here is the pattern so far –5/8″ seams were used throughout and are included in the pattern measurements, and the skirt front and back are cut on the fold.

The dress went together easily.  I cut a slit in the back center and made a placket, and the back yoke closes with buttons.  The half armholes are finished with bias binding cut from the fabric.  The ruffle is narrow hemmed (two 1/4″ turnunders) along the straight edge and gathered along the curved edge.  The bottom hem has a 1/4″ turnunder followed by a 2″ hem. This is my first draft of the pattern, so there may be errors, though I used this plan to sew the following dress and everything turned out fine:

I used the embroidery machine to stitch the hearts on the yoke and pockets.

The yoke is lined with self fabric, then it is topstitched.  The cost to make this dress was nothing, since everything came from the stash.  I would like to try this in a plain cotton with lots of embroidery motifs.  It would also be super cute with a ruffle on the bottom.

The method I use to make the placket is the same as this one:


It’s been a long time since I sewed a dress for a little girl, and I had forgotten how fun it is.  I think I will make a few more.

Read Full Post »

After the binding was sewn to the neckline and finished off, the top was ready to go.  I really like how this turned out and hope M gets a lot of wear out of it.  Cost to make (not counting the pattern) was about $2.  I think that when something has been marinating in the stash for decades, it becomes a ‘free’ item, so I am not counting the cost for the trims.  Also, no chance I could remember what they cost after all this time anyway.

My next project is already started.  I drafted up a pattern for a sleeveless spring/summer dress for a 4 year old, and I am sewing the first version.  I haven’t made a little girl’s dress in years, and it is still fun.

Read Full Post »

I thought the yoke looked a little plain, so I hunted around in the ‘White Trims’ box until I found this edging.  The photo makes it look like the color is different, but in real life it matches nicely.  Because of the gathers under the yoke, the trim would have a tendency to flip up, so I used a straight stitch to stitch it down at the corners and in the middle section.  I stitched on the inside of the wide scallop.

M tried on the blouse today and it really fits very well.  All I have left to do is to sew on the bias neck binding,  set in the other flutter sleeve and hem the bottom.  For the first time, I tried doing a french seam at the armhole expecting it to be awful, but it was easier than I thought it would be on this pattern.  All the other seams are french seams, too, because the fabric is thin.

The curved hem on the bottom of the sleeve is very hard to turn under on this fabric, so I had to hand baste the double turnunder.  Maybe it is easier to hem this kind of sleeve on a different fabric.

We had some rainstorms last week but spring is firmly entrenched now, and my poppies are starting to bloom.

Read Full Post »

New Look 6027

Here’s the top pattern that M really likes.  She told me I could make any of the views for her because she likes them all.   I am making View B except that the shoulders are very narrow, so I widened them, and I think I raised the neckline about one inch.  I am making the first version from an IKEA Knoppa sheet which is very much like a batiste with nice drape.  To trim the front yoke pieces, I got out my box of trims.  When my girls were little, we used to go into SF to the Gunne Sax outlet where you could buy cutaways of lace and trims and buttons, and all kinds of wonderful things.  I still have lots and lots of the trims, and I am in a mood to actually use the stuff I have stashed away.  So far I am pleased at how easy the sheet fabric is to sew, and the fit seemed to be OK when I pinned the top on Madam Merp, the duct-tape dressform.  I can’t try it on M this week because she has a cold, but I am hoping it will fit nicely.  The fabric is somewhat sheer, but will look very pretty over a colored tank top and be nice and cool for the summer.

I was listening to a good mystery book-on-tape when I was cutting out the embroidery, and I forgot to line up the embroidery motifs, so you can imagine how pleased I was to see that it matches up almost perfectly.  This is total serendipity.  I still have to sew on the flutter sleeves and the bias binding, and then I am done.

Read Full Post »

Busy, Busy, Busy

I am working, working, working on several projects.  New Look 6027 tunic tops was admired by M, so I have finished the first try at all the alterations, including widening the shoulder seam since it looks very narrow.  What is the point of designing clothing that is difficult to wear?  Women have shoulder straps that need to be covered, so why design a blouse with so narrow a shoulder line?  Oh well.  Then I finished the design changes on A’s shirt for work, then I worked on the design for a peasant top for a 4-year-old girl.  I had to hunt around for a fabric suitable for that ‘pink and purple’ stage most little girls go through, but I found a forgotten, very pretty lavender and pastel striped cotton that will do nicely for the first version.  I am also playing with the Buzzbox, which transfers embroidery designs into the format your machine can use, and it seems to be great.

But right now I have to go iron a week’s worth of work shirts for the husband while listening to a murder mystery.

Read Full Post »