Little Prairie Girl

I have been sewing up a storm the past week — such a change from my recent dry spell — as I whip up a bunch samples for the shop. The Original Sewing & Quilt Expo* is this weekend and the annual Greater Atlanta Quilt Shop Hop** is next weekend, so there’s been a lot on my plate. No complaints, though, since I’m getting the chance to play with some cool patterns and pretty fabrics!

First up for my sew-and-tell is the Little Prairie Girl pattern by Favorite Things. I’ve made one of these before for Sarah‘s daughter but still had not managed to get around to sewing one for my own. My pal Melanie mentioned making one out of Anna Maria Horner’s new voile, which got my mental wheels turning.

I took Miss L with me to pick out the fabric and she insisted on this geometric print, in spite of all my urging towards one of the florals. Honestly, the fabric just underwhelmed me and I really couldn’t picture it as anything.

Boy, was I wrong.

Once I finished the dress and hung it on the dress form in my studio, I couldn’t stop oooohing and aaahhing over it. It is so sweet and romantic and pretty, and just the most perfect little dress I could have ever hoped for. Liesl loves it, too, which really makes me happy. (She was not up for the fashion show yesterday, which is why she looks a little less-than-enthused.)

I sewed the 5/6, figuring it would be hanging at the shop for a while and I wanted it to still fit when we get it back. I think she could easily wear this two summers with a cami under it (I opted not to make the dickie that goes into the vee of the top/dress).

The voile is just a dream to sew. Seriously. I need to pick up some of it for me and plan to make one of the Prairie Girl tops with it to wear all summer, maybe even two different prints so I don’t wear out just one of the tops.

I have to say that I’m not super crazy about the ruffled cap sleeves. I struggled to get them in right, mostly because I wasn’t reading the instructions, I’m sure. I think I’ll do the short sleeves when I make her another and definitely short sleeves for me (because these arms need a little more coverage).

Check back tomorrow for pics and a post about the Pink Fig Mish Mash skirt!

* I’m working at the IQ booth Thursday morning and all day Saturday, so come say “hi!”

**I’m working at Shop Hop, too, probably Thursday morning and one of the weekend days, so make sure you say “hi!”

Lunch with Good Folks

It’s not unusual for me to find out about a new product and then ask Sarah if she’s going to carry it at the shop. Imagine my delight the day I stopped in and she’d received the new laminated Anna Maria Horner fabrics before I’d even had a chance to ask!

I immediately volunteered to make a shop sample with them. (Admit it — you would have, too!) The laminated cottons (henceforth referred to as “lamco” because I’m such a dork) have such an amazing feel to them. They are so soft and pliable. My only complaint is that there’s not enough variety in the prints because I’d love to make more with them.

I used the two Good Folks lamcos to make the lunch bag from Favorite Things. I’ve had the pattern for a while but never got around to sewing with it and it seemed like the fabrics were a good choice. Well … yes and no. “Yes” because the fabric makes a nice waterproof lunchbag. “No” because it’s awfully hard to press a fabric you can’t actually iron.

I think the next time I make this pattern, I’ll do a couple of things differently. For one, I’ll use a woven cotton for the exterior so I can actually iron the darn thing. Next, I’ll add more Velcro strips to the flap so it closes more securely. And since I’m talking about the flap … I’m also going to lengthen the flap to give a little more coverage while it’s closed. It seems just a little skimpy, in my opinion.

Sweet Slippers

From the Favorite Things Pattern, Ballet Slippers. Made with Heather Bailey’s Pop Garden and Bijoux fabrics.

One Dress, Three Ways

Have you ever finished a project and just let out this huge sigh of relief? That’s basically what I did when I finished this dress.

It’s another Favorite Things pattern, the Little Prairie Dress. Not a particularly complex pattern and it sewed up pretty quickly.

My relief at completing it had more to do with its recipient than the challenge of sewing it. You see, the owner of the quilt shop where I teach asked me to sew this dress for her daughter. I was happy to do it but inwardly terrified. What if I messed up? What if it didn’t fit? What if — gasp! — they both hated it? I could just see my career as a teacher coming to a complete halt before it even had a chance to take off.

Yes, I get worked up over things sometimes. And, really, it was for nothing because they both loved the dress. And it fits quite nicely, despite the way it looks on my dress form. (That’s what happens when you put a size 11/12 dress on a size 4/5 dress form — LOL!)

She had given me two fabrics for the dickie part of the dress (that’s the little insert in the bodice) and told me she couldn’t decide between them. I opted to use both and stitched in snaps so they could be swapped out on a whim. There was so much fabric left over, I ended up making three headbands: One to match each dickie and one of the main dress fabric, in case she wanted to wear it over a cami instead.

I actually have this pattern myself, and had been planning to make something for both me and the little missy. Now that I’ve sewn up this one, I’ve got no excuse not to make it again.

Don’t forget — you’ve only got a couple of days left to enter my big 300th post giveaway. I’m enjoying all the questions everyone has posted and can’t wait to update my “About Me” page with them (and the responses, of course).

Back in the Saddle

I’ve been taking a sort of mini vacation from sewing. It’s not that I’m growing weary of it, not by a long shot. More like I needed some time to recharge the batteries before I get a bad case of the burnouts.

Plus, with all three kids home for big chunks of the day during the summer, it’s hard to find the place in my head I need to be when I sit down in front of the sewing machine. Someone always needs my attention, whether it’s to locate running shoes or note that we’re out of milk or to complain about a sibling. Or sometimes to tell me how unfair I am for expecting beds to be made every morning.

Today, the youngest one was off at VBS, the middle one at summer school and the oldest at work. Approximately two hours of peace and quiet where I could do anything I wanted. After doing a little Internet surfing, I headed downstairs to sew.

I made it about halfway through my project, the Little Prairie Dress by Favorite Things. With any luck, I’ll finish up tomorrow and snap a picture to share. But right now, I’m just enjoying the process and the peace of mind that comes with creating.

And the peace that comes with having the house to myself, at least for a little while every day.

Little Sunshine

I have taken a little break from sewing for others to knock out a few outfits for Miss L. Our weather rather abruptly changed from winter (fall) to spring-verging-on-summer and I had an epiphany:

The dressmaker’s daughter had no clothes.

Maybe it’s a slight exaggeration, but not far off from the truth. And so I’ve been toiling away, making sure my poor daughter did not have to venture out of the house in long sleeves and too-short jeans as the temperatures climbed closer to 80 degrees.

This darling little outfit was pulled together while L was at school on Tuesday. Yep, that fast. It helped that I used white thread on both pieces.

The bottoms are Bermuda shorts from the new Favorite Little Things pattern, Little Smarty Pants. You may have seen the all-growed-up version on me. Bloomers & Britches still has a place in my heart but I’ve now made her three pairs of these shorts and have another ready to cut and sew. Super cute, super fast to sew and really easy for her to pull on and off (Miss Independent likes to “do it myself”). Definitely see these being a wardrobe staple this summer.

I want the top in my size. Seriously. It’s Katie‘s newest pattern and I am in looooooove. Such a cute style and, of course, Katie’s easy-to-follow/understand directions make it an absolute delight to sew. I’m trying to figure out how many is too many of these tops to own. This one is made with Jennifer Paganelli‘s Sis Boom fabrics, the Casey Scroll and one of her new Bell Bottoms fabrics. (For the record, this top also counts against my Try It! challenge for this year, since I have a skirt made with the same Casey Scroll fabric (matching outfits item). Woohoooo!) You can also make a dress from the pattern; it probably goes without saying that I’ll be making one of those, too.

I did deviate from the pattern just a wee bit. On the armholes, instead of doing a narrow rolled hem (I’m really bad at them), I serged the armholes, then folded over once and topstitched. Luckily, the hem stayed nice and flat, like it’s supposed to. I think the next one I make, I’ll follow Katie’s directions for using binding on the armholes. (BTW, you can pick up your own copy of this pattern — you won’t be disappointed!)

On a side note … I just want to give a huge “THANK YOU!” to Beth and Kristin and the rest of the folks at Sew, Mama, Sew for letting me be a part of Women’s Clothing Month. They are so incredibly sweet and kind, and it’s really such a wonderful experience to take part in their themes and pattern reviews. And thank you to all the folks who’ve come over to visit my blog thanks to SMS.

Skirting the Issue

I’ve had the Amy Butler Barcelona Skirts pattern for about a year, yet have never made the first one. I did trace off the pattern, and I bought plenty of fabric for making a couple of them. I just found other things to sew first. Why? The zipper. I have an irrational fear of sewing zippers, for no other reason than the unknown.

Not anymore.

In the past week, I’ve sewn two skirts and one pair of shorts, all with invisible zippers. They’re not perfect but unlike previous zipper experiments, they are functional and wearable — and they don’t look half bad. In fact, they look pretty darned good!

This is actually the second of the two Barcelona skirts I sewed. I bought this fabric when I bought the pattern, brought it home and washed it, then promptly ignored it. And that’s a total shame, because I could have been wearing and enjoying it all this time.

I made this more or less as the pattern dictated. Instead of using sew-in interfacing for the waistband of the apron, though, I used flannel. While I like the feel, it’s a bit too heavy, especially when folded over.

I also had some issues with stitching the waistband closed. If you could see it close up, you’d understand what I’m talking about. I think part of the problem was the thickness of the waistband, courtesy of the flannel. The other part? Sewing too late again. Yes, it’s the bane of my existence. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes necessary and I guess I really need to learn to keep it together when the clock ticks past 9 p.m.

I did make a bit of bigger goof in sewing this skirt that had nothing to do with the time. I thought the first skirt I made was a little on the small side, so I added a half an inch to the middle of both the front and back sections, then used a smaller seam allowance. I now have a skirt that is too big. Guess I’ll be taking it in before I break it in.

This was my first attempt at the Barcelona skirt, using a pretty blue floral fabric from Joann’s. Boy, do I like this fabric! It’s very spring-y and sweet, but not in a cloying way. You know? I think I may even have paid full price for this fabric, I liked it that much. Glad I did, too, because it’s sold out around here.

The apron was sort of a last-minute project. I decided on Saturday to make Miss L a coordinating outfit for Easter, since we were going to church the next day for her big brother’s baptism. I thought the apron would help pull together our outfits. While I got her dress finished before I went to bed Saturday night, the apron was only about half done. Woke up early Sunday to finish it before church — and then managed to leave it on my bed when I walked out the door.

Brilliant.

I opted not to make this apron reversible, and also did not use any interfacing on the waistband. Because it’s not reversible, I did need to finish the back side and bottom edges. I think it’s one of my favorite aprons, and I actually wore the outfit at left all day Monday — even out and about. (By the way, the picture is actually a self portrait. I used my handy dandy tripod and the timer on my 30D.)

The dress on the left is Miss L’s Easter dress. It’s just a simple A-line dress, fully lined, with buttons at the shoulders. I think it’s going to be a great dress for spring and summer, very cool and fun and classic. The Easter bloopers actually continued Sunday morning. I didn’t realize I’d put the dress on backwards until after lunch. Guess I need to sew some tags on it!

My little “Stinkerbell” had fun posing today, especially the photo on the right. What a nut! Tomorrow is “green day” in her class and she needs to wear something green. I recently acquired this Tinkerbell knit fabric and knew it fit the bill. I’m not big on buying anything with characters on it but I made an exception for this one because Miss L loves Tinkerbell and I couldn’t resist. The pattern is Butterick, 3316 (I think). It’s no longer in print but definitely worth searching out. It has a curved bodice, which does make it a bit more interesting than just a basic swing dress. Fun to sew, pretty fast — except when I sewed one section wrong and had to re-cut two pieces to fix the goof. When the weather warms up, I’ll shorten the sleeves so it can be worn through the summer.

This Burda pattern is another I’ve had for a while, just waiting to get up the courage to sew something with a zipper. I hate that I missed out on a year of getting use out of it, because these pants are cute as can be. I made the bermuda length but there are two other lengths, so they can be worn year round

I love this fabric, a pretty embroidered twill with bumblebees on it. I found it at Joann’s, along with two other twills. One is pink with strawberries; the other is green with ladybugs on it. I was only going to buy the pink and blue but that little blond cutie insisted on the green ladybugs.

I’m planning to make tops to coordinate with all three pairs of shorts, but I figure I’ve got a little time since the weather is not quite warm enough for wearing them. (I can already tell that t-shirt isn’t going to make the cut for summer, cute as that pumpkin belly may be.)

I’m meeting my goal of sewing more for me this year, that’s for sure. Today, I broke in my new coverstitcher with the top on the left, Butterick B5185. I made it with short sleeves with a pretty teal knit I bought at … yes, same place. (Really, I do shop other places; it’s just how it worked with this sew-and-show.) I messed up while sewing it and had to rip out some stitches and fix it. It would help to read the directions before I start sewing.

A little love for the CP900: I never thought I’d own a coverstitcher. It just didn’t seem like a must have for me, and I was making do just fine with twin needling on my sewing machine. But then I learned about a great deal on a Janome CP900 and decided to splurge. So glad I did! It’s really amazing how great it does on coverstitching knits (and it should, since that’s what it’s supposed to do). In fact, my son was surprised to learn the shirt I was wearing was made by me and not store bought — and that made my ego just swell.

On the right is my new Favorite Things skirt, the Hip Skirts pleated skirt. I used a fabric I found at Hobby Lobby that’s one of my favorite colors (aqua). I like the skirt but did not cut the elastic small enough, so it’s a little roomy in the waist. It’s an easy enough problem to fix; I just haven’t done it yet.

Lazy Sunday

Honey headed into the office today so it’s been just me and the babies. Yes, I still refer to all of them as “babies” even though the older two have towered over me for years. Secretly, I think they like it; after all, they sometimes still call me “Mommy.”

Since conditions were right (a second camera operator) and the sun was actually out, I had J take a picture of me wearing my latest sewing-for-me project. These are the “muslin” I made for my first crack at Favorite Things‘ new Smarty Pants pattern. I did not hem them because I do not intend to wear them out of the house. Or likely ever. Nothing says “I have a big butt” like this fabric print. Why did I buy it? I have no clue. All I know is that I had enough of it to try this pattern without making some sort of hodgepodge clown pants because I had to use two or three fabrics.

But I digress.

I know capri pants are some big fashion no-no according to all those makeover shows but I don’t care. They are comfortable and hide my thighs, and they’re a bit cooler than jeans or long pants during the summer. (It’s not called “Hotlanta” for nothing.)

The pattern also makes Bermuda shorts and there are options for pockets and belt loops but I haven’t tried them out yet. And I’m not sure I will, since that style of pockets draws attention to my hips, which I’d prefer received a little less attention.

This is actually a pretty easy pants pattern. I highly recommend covering up the sizes and looking solely at the measurements to determine the best fit. Go by just your size and you may be disappointed. I know I would have been. Maybe “depressed” would be a better word.

Moving on.

The pants are only six pieces, which sounds like a lot but it’s not. Two front leg pieces. Two back leg pieces. Two pieces for the waistband. The waistband is two pieces because the back band forms a casing in which you insert elastic to fit the waist. The flat front waistband is a flattering look, and I like that the back fits closely so I don’t have to worry about someone seeing my Hanes Her Way.

Because these are a muslin, I didn’t do any serging of seams which did cut down the sewing time. Still, I made these pants from start to finish (cutting, pinning, sewing, fitting) in just a couple of hours. I think future iterations will be faster, especially because I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the assembly of the waistband. This is no fault of the pattern instructions; I’m just a hands-on learner and sometimes have to read the directions a few times, then practice with the fabric to get it down.

Favorite Things also makes these in a Little Smarty Pants version (which I also own) and I expect them to be a cornerstone of Miss L’s spring and summer wardrobe if they sew up as easily as I expect.

In other news, I added these Mommy & Me aprons to my Etsy today. I’m still loving the Heather Bailey Fresh Cut fabrics, accented here with a little Robert Kaufman floral plus a touch of grosgrain ribbon. I had originally planned to do the ruffle a little differently but I’m happy with how these turned out.

We had fun with our little photo shoot. I think L expected to keep wearing her apron as she played, since she dragged my mixing bowl and spoon into the living room. Sorry, kiddo!