Twinkly tulle for Miss FOUR!

Finally, finally, finally, after several months of anticipation, this little girl turned FOUR. I’ve never known anyone to be quite so excited about reaching a birthday milestone. So it was only fitting that she should be showered with her heart’s desires on this special day…pink and tulle.

Even I am delighted with how beautifully the ‘ballerina’ dress turned out. You may remember my other posts about it here and here.

 

Now on the other side of things, I may be a dietitian, but I don’t particularly enjoy baking. So I am also pleased to report that Miss Four was equally as excited about her cake this year. Looking at her delight in this photo makes me smile. I think I met her ‘pink’ expectations. She made the sponge portion with me (pink, by the way) and I surprised her with the pink icing and candy decorations.
 


And if you are paying extra attention to this photo, you might notice Miss Two’s finger poised to attack. She was painting tiger stripes on her face earlier in the day, as you do.

Christmas dress for Harper

This little summer frock is my own design. I’ve made a similar one for Miss Two in the past and it was an absolute winner. I use elastic inside the shoulder straps to create the crumpled look as well as to improve the fit by keeping the dress firmly up. The high waist also looks super cute on little girls.

 

The dress can actually slip over the head without any closures. However, I put an invisible zip in the back and two little pleats in the bodice back to prolong its life and create a closer fitting bodice. So as Miss very-nearly-four gets bigger, we can use the zip and then eventually release the pleats. 

The fabric is a gorgeously soft Japanese double gauze cotton from Tessuti Fabrics. I really wouldn’t have known what this meant in the past. But now I realise that it is two very fine layers of fabric laying together. It feels a little like very light and soft flannelette. It is a really beautiful fabric for children and the print is so pretty.


Drop waist dress – version two – and a very Merry Christmas to all!

Well after the success of my first drop waist dress, I couldn’t wait to get started on my second, but this time in a heavier weight woven fabric. I was after a stiffer and more fuller silhouette. My sources of inspiration were:

 Dior
 
and Victoria Beckham.
 
But as I do not live on the covers of Vogue and I need an element of practicality in my life, I chose to make a dress more like the one below, designed by Cynthia Rowley.
 
 
I’m pretty happy with the way mine turned out. It certainly feels a little more structured than the knit version, but I am not entirely sure which one I like best as yet. The fabric is amazing! I chose it especially for this dress (from Tessuti Fabrics) and I absolutely adore it. My poor tired brain wasn’t functioning well enough to match the print on the front of the dress (around the invisible zipper), but I did manage to line up the florals on the back nicely (although this was hardly neuroscience!). Like my other version, I achieved the shape of the long bodice by using very long French darts.
 

 


A few too many blurry shots in this photo shoot. I think Miss Five may have found my stash of rum balls ;-).

 
This is my Christmas dress this year. It wasn’t planned that way, but I managed to finish it in the nick of time and it feels perfectly festive to me. So on that note, I am going to wish each and everyone a wonderful Christmas, filled with laughter, love, and perhaps a few ruffles! See you all in the aftermath! X 


Little sparrow swing dress

There isn’t a lot to say about this dress. It is a lovely easy style for summer and as always, I love the big pockets.

 
 
  
 
I made Version A of vintage Vogue 7210. 

 

This is simply a shorter version of my fabric splurge dress dress with a few small modifications. I lowered the neckline a little, cut the back on the fold, and added an invisible front zipper. I also found I needed to trim back the armscyes quite a bit for the sleeveless version. But unfortunately, I didn’t think of doing this until I had already put the dress together. I ended up pinning the armscyes together and trimming a guestimate of excess fabric away. It wasn’t the most accurate way of doing things and I certainly won’t be doing it this way again, but it did get me out of a sticky situation.
I also experimented a little with ways to bind armscyes. I don’t particularly like commercial bias binding as I prefer to make it myself. I had already cut my own using the same fabric but the polyester wouldn’t press nor keep a fold, and it was so slippery that I new it would end up a big mess. In the end, I found this tutorial online. I now have a new way to bind armscyes. I could also see this method working beautifully with a contrasting fabric. My armscyes in this dress were a bit rushed and pretty messy, but I can see the potential. I would also make them much narrower next time.

But for now, I will enjoy my summery sparrow dress in all of its floaty glory.
 

 


Drop waist obsession

I have suddenly become a little obsessed with drop waist dresses. I’m not quite sure what happened but I woke up a few days ago and everything in my wardrobe seemed dated. I was craving something much like this!

My first port of call was to track down the marvellous Malvarosa dress pattern by Pauline Alice that I had seen a while back. Of course, at that point, I couldn’t remember the name of either the dress, blog or designer, and when I searched my bloglovin account, I couldn’t find it there either…disaster! So after racking my brain, Marvelosa, Malarosa….and fruitlessly searching Ebay and Etsy for other suitable matches for the picture in my head, I finally ended up drafting my own design with the help of Alice (my beloved dress mannequin).

After creating the pattern pieces, I decided to create a wearable muslin using a cotton knit rather than use my ‘nice’ fabric right off the bat. I chose the cotton knit for two reasons. I have a tendency to misjudge the amount of ease I need when I drape on Alice, and secondly, I wanted to use up a fabric that I wasn’t quite sure I loved anymore. I must also add that halfway through cutting my own design, I had a massive moment of doubt, finally tracked down the Malvarosa pattern, and purchased it.

But I really shouldn’t have doubted myself! I love the way my dress turned out and I love this fabric all over again. I don’t regret purchasing my Malvarosa pattern as I might still make a long sleeve version of this in a few months time, using my own bodice pieces as a guide (assuming they fit as well in a woven fabric).

Upcycling Nan-Nan’s skirt

My mother-in-law had a lovely cotton lace skirt that had worn out in the waistline but was otherwise in beautiful condition. The fabric was so pretty that she thought I might be able to do something with it. I wish I had taken a photo of the original skirt as well as the process I followed as it turned out wonderfully, albeit a fraction too large as it was originally intended for her bigger sister.

 
 

The skirt started out as a large, lined, knee-length circle skirt with a ribbed stretch waistband. The lining and waistband were useless but the cotton lace was lovely, even though it was mostly on the bias. All I did was cut off the waistband following the same circular waist shape. I left all the side seams intact. However, I did cut down the centre-back so I could add a zipper to the dress I was planning. I then gathered the basically intact skirt, added a simple gathered lining and whipped up a basic bodice out of a scrap of pale blue linen I had on hand. There was only a skerrick of lace remaining so I added this as overlay to the back of the bodice. In the original skirt, the lace edges were left unfinished and slightly frayed, so I kept this feature in the dress too.

And this is the result, absolutely fabulous for swishing even if I do say so myself. Miss nearly-Four claimed the dress and I think her Nan was quite chuffed to see how her skirt had been repurposed.

 
 

The Little Truck Stop Top Dress

Did I mention that I purchased 3m of that Marc Jacobs cotton knit fabric?! It would have been a good amount if not for the leg placement disaster of my own playsuit. But as it happened, I had enough for one more little top dress.


I had been eyeballing the Little Truck Stop Top for months but finally decided to get out there and purchase it, even though I knew it was still going to be a few sizes too big for my littlest girl.

As I’ve already mentioned, this little project was to use up the last bits of my Marc Jacobs knit. I also pieced together about six tiny lengths of some Liberty leftovers to make a beautiful bottom ruffle. I am a little obsessed with Liberty of London cotton right now so it might feature again pretty soon.

I cut the pattern to a size 7. It is way too big but it doesn’t gape immodestly. Miss Coco has not yet decided whether she will wear it as a dress or a nightie to rival her swishing sister.

And by the way, I managed to ‘roll’ the neck binding beautifully this time. I was so pleased with how it turned out after my earlier efforts, that I decided to push on and bind the sleeves before I went to bed. Wrong! I was obviously sleep-sewing. As you can see, I bound them the wrong way again so this is why there is no lovely ‘roll’ on the armscye. 

Another swishy nightie dress

Ok, so this little girl really does not need another night dress but what else was I to do with the remnants of my playsuit? I had to piece the back together in two small sections but you can barely see this due to the pattern.

 
 

The design is my own, basically a sleeveless and slightly shorter version of the other nightie I made for her this Spring. I’m planning to make a Little Truck Stop Top for Miss Five with the last little bits of this fabric so I thought I’d have a go at the interesting sleeve binding feature you see on this top. At first, I wasn’t sure what I did wrong because I simply couldn’t get the fabric to ‘roll’ the correct way. But now I realise that some fabrics just prefer to roll a certain way and I should have just attached it to the other side of the binding fabric instead.


Miss nearly-Four is now completely sorted for the hot summer nights ahead and putting on pyjamas is now a thing of great excitement for her each night. High five for Mummy making bath times a breeze and adding the swish factor to Miss nearly-Four’s nightwear!  

 
 

Twinkly tulle all ready to be wrapped

I am officially all tulle-ed out.


But Simplicity 2464 worked a treat with the added tulle, and just look at all those sparkles. I didn’t want to overdo the tulle, but there is still over four metres of ruffles in that skirt. I can’t wait for my little princess to unwrap it. Now the next item on her list is a sparkly, diamond encrusted tiara…

Layers of tulle for my Christmas baby

My middle Miss turns four only three days after Christmas. She is my Christmas baby. I always try very hard to make her birthday special, since it could so easily get lost amongst the hype of the festive season. This year we are at home for Christmas which makes things simpler, but we are also on an exceptionally tight budget while we renovate our house to sell.

But that’s no problem, because this middle child of mine has a few very specific and doable wishes for Christmas and her birthday. Her list consists of and is limited to:

1. A massive layered tulle ballerina dress
2. A tiara
3. A fairy wand

I am aiming for Christmas to be a mostly handmade affair within our family this year. So bearing this in mind, I got started early and already have some lovely summer frocks and handbags (bento bags) wrapped and packed for Christmas Eve. So now I am free to get started on this extra special birthday dress. Although I hate to say, the thought of this project does not excite me at all.

Over the past few years, I have made several fancy frou-frou dresses for my girls. And there’s been others too!


All three of my girls love these dresses, but no one so much as my middle girl. She is a ballerina girl through and through. She nearly passes out in excitement at the mere glimpse of glittery tulle. I, on the other hand, am well and truly over those big ‘ballerina’ dresses. I mean, have you ever tried doing up a seatbelt around one of those things… in the pouring rain no less!

So despite my lacklustre feelings, I am making this dress entirely for her, all the way down to the OTT sparkly pink tulle on vintage floral. The pattern I will be using is actually very sweet and I am hoping to pick up a few more ideas on construction technique by doing it. I particularly love the cute little bodice section of the dress with the elastic in casing on the back.


The fabric I’ve chosen for her is not my cup of tea, but then this dress isn’t for me. It is for my sparkly fairy ballerina and I am hoping it will tick every one of her fantasy dress boxes. Unfortunately though, I am anticipating seeing this blasted dress on her every second day throughout the entirety of 2014…