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…




This dress was made for twirls!

 

I’m actually very comfortable with how I look now. I can’t change who I am and I love myself exactly as I am (although this wasn’t always the case!). Some people would say I am incredibly lucky. I am blessed with those tall, lean genes that we see in so many magazines, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t dreamt of being smaller or curvier, or bustier in the past. As a dietitian and mother, I spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to convince girls and women that they can’t all look the same and to love the body they were given. Make it healthier, yes! But to love and embrace themselves for the way they were born. 

Having babies, in particular girl babies, played a massive role in making me reassess the way I judged and treated my own body. I realised that if I couldn’t speak aloud about the things I loved about myself, to accept my flaws, as well as compliments with aplomb, then how was I ever going to teach my daughters to do the same. Every time my daughters call me a princess or tell me I am pretty, I make sure I say thank you and agree with them wholeheartedly. Over time, you start to believe what you say. But what makes me the happiest of all is to hear my daughters talk about themselves and their bodies with such love and confidence. I know they are young yet, but I am hopeful we are getting off to a good start for a body-loving future.

Now, the point of this post is not to analyse the intricacies of body image, but rather, to introduce you to my latest creation…the product of my fabric splurge! How I got off track in the first place was because this dress is just made for curves, of which I clearly have none. It is a significant departure from my usual style of relatively fitted clothes. But it is also a style of dress that I have secretly always wanted to own. Slinky, trapeze dress, thank you for finally finding me. I think we are going to have lots of fun together. Especially since I have discovered that I can solve the problem of my missing curves by swishing and twirling and never allowing this wonderful dress to sit still. So if you see me twirling down the street, you will know why. This dress is made for curves or failing that, big twirls!


 


On the sewing side of things, I was a wee bit nervous about getting stuck into this project, not only because of the decadent fabric I was using, but because the type of dress I was making was outside my comfort zone. Most things in my wardrobe are quite fitted. I also wasn’t entirely convinced that my fabric choice was going to be able to sufficiently ‘modernise’ the vintage pattern I had chosen to use. View B by the way! But with a lowered front slit opening instead. I am still thinking of adding a little seed bead cord/tie to fasten or loosely tie the front edges. I love the sleeves at the moment but I can convert the dress back to a sleeveless option if I want. It has fabulous big pockets and I love that it is tea length. Although after seeing my photos, I realise I should have made mine a smidgen longer. 


Making the dress was a great experience. I learnt a few valuable lessons. Viscose is tricky! At least, long lengths cut on the bias are tricky, but not unmanageable. I needed to take my time, pin carefully and baste often. I also learnt about the power of patterns. NEVER, ever disregard the pattern. Now I knew this gorgeous fabric had a pattern, but I thought it was random enough to skip matching the circles. I also didn’t think I would have enough fabric to match them. But now I look at my completed dress, and the mismatched pattern is a little bit of a disappointment to me. At the very least, I should have thought to reposition the blues and greens at the centre front instead of the sides, since they are my favourite colours. You can see my mismatch below.


But on a positive, I also learnt how to fit sleeves into the armscye better, specifically fitting them for my own body shape. Sleeves have always been a great source of frustration to me. No matter how carefully I attach them, they still never quite fit me properly. So I referred back to a great little book I had read in the past. Apparently, with forward pointing shoulders like mine, I need to rotate the sleeve cap forward a bit and redistribute the ease accordingly. Amazing! This was one of those lightbulb moments that make all the frustrations of sewing worthwhile. Now, I finally GET it and will look forward to lots of perfectly fitted sleeves in the future! 

 
 

The big TWO


Happy birthday my little midgie! No, that’s not really her name, but that’s what she goes by in our house. She is the delightful little runt of the litter, average in height compared to her tall sisters and Miss Five quite likes the fact that ‘midgie’ is also the name of a tiny biting fly.

It may come as no surprise that her gift from me was a birthday dress. Made with some beautiful cotton/silk voile from Tessuti Fabrics. I lined it completely in cream voile because the fabric was a bit sheer. It is a simple lightweight frock in my own design, perfect for the summer heat, and a little loose to see her all the way through summer (assuming my midgie grows!).

Linen inspiration and Simplicity 2365

My inspiration is a dress I found recently on Pinterest.

I am using a gorgeous creamy white linen for my dress and adding a block of metallic camel linen to the hem. Once again, my fabrics are from Tessuti. In fact, most of my stash is made up of Tessuti remnants.

The closest pattern I could find to this style was Simplicity 2365, but I am making quite a lot of modifications.


I like the idea of the collar and the tucks in view A. I pretty much winged the tucks, just ironing creases and doing a slap dash sew. I really should have measured and pinned them on the linen, because in the end I had to re-do them completely, and now I have a spare set of bodice bits that sort-of match each other.


I chose the best looking bodice pieces. My tucks looked like this in the end. They aren’t perfect but I am hoping they won’t look too out of place on a soft wrinkly linen.



I am pretty happy with the bodice so far. The collar worked out quite well. I misjudged the amount of self-facing I was going to need for the front placket so my buttons won’t be centre front, which is a little disappointing. Although I haven’t ruled out using hidden snap fasteners instead of buttons, which might solve this problem.


I blended the sleeves on this pattern to recreate the slightly gathered 3/4 sleeves you can see in the inspiration photo. Basically, I just stuck the pattern pieces together, tucked in any protruding paper and cut the sleeves like that. I also cut the pattern off at the waistline to form a bodice.

The gathered skirt was super simple to make, just two big rectangles about twice the width of my waist. I decided to make pockets in the skirt at the last minute because I am a mum and all my clothes need pockets (if not for my keys, for other ‘treasures’…like rocks and leaves). I’m hoping to have some time to put the sleeves and skirt together tonight, over a nice glass of red and a movie of course. Hubby is away so I am free to multi-task with my sewing…probably why my tucks ended up so wonky in the first place.

Seeing triple

This is what happens when I get dressed BEFORE my girls in the morning. Thankfully, we were mostly inside the house today, braving the hottest October day in history!


Seeing triple in some simple Ralph Lauren floral cotton. I made my dress about a year ago but only used up the little leftover bits recently. I had a bit of trouble keeping the lions still for a photo shoot.

 
 

The surprise pyjamas

A few months ago I purchased some novelty fabric from Tessuti Fabrics. It normally isn’t my style to purchase fabric speckled with pictures of animals and trees, but then I don’t usually see a lot of novelty fabric at my favourite shop either. And this fabric was particularly soft and sweet, just crying out to be made into some fun Christmas PJs or tops.

Now, I also have a middle sized ‘ballerina’ that that wears out my negotiation skills at bath time. Every single evening, she gets upset at having to take off her daytime dress in order to put on her pyjamas (shorts and t-shirt). Some nights I can’t be bothered battling and let her put a skirt back on over her pyjamas anyway. So last night, after yet another battle and everyone was finally snuggled into bed, I set to work whipping up a nightie for my girliest of girls. To be honest, having recently done a few bigger projects, I also just wanted to make something quick and easy that I could get a bit of immediate satisfaction from. 

And this is it! It is a little big for her but I definitely didn’t want it to be too small and I needed it to be long since she never stays covered by her sheets at night. This is also one little girl who is not bothered by extra swish or ruffles. I left the edges unfinished because the fabric is so soft and pretty rolling up.

 
 
When I finished the nightie, I snuck upstairs and put it on her while she was sleeping. She smiled with her eyes closed but didn’t wake up.

 
Someone was pretty chuffed coming down the stairs this morning (with her handbag of course!).

 
She loves her new nightie and was super excited about the surprise of waking up in a princess dress! Lucky hubby is away. This Mummy gets way too much delight from spoiling her girls.

Spring frock dyeing project

So this is it. I modified a pattern I drafted for a little linen top last summer and turned it into a swishy floaty summer frock with a graduated hem. It feels beautiful on…and my little middle chickee loves it so much that she has put in an order for a hi-lo hem on her next dress. 

It is possibly a little sheer on the bottom as I didn’t want to line the skirt with anything less than silk for fear of affecting its floatiness. However, I figure I can get away with nude underwear on a normal day and a light slip if I ever planned on attending a dressy daytime function. The silk crepe de chine is beautifully cool and swirls with funnels of air when I walk. I am pretty happy with the way the dye job turned out ,but I will still be interested to see how it will wash and wear.

This style of bodice was actually a bit fiddly to make with such a light and slippery fabric. As always, there is the matter of front access for me to consider (I am still feeding my not-so-bubby chick. Not that I am encouraging all day access, but those strong little fists manage to destroy any neckline in her way). Hence, the ever present invisible zip down the front of my dress. Buttons down the back or an invisible side zip would have looked so much better. I am dreaming of the day I can make myself a boat neck button back tank top!

In any case, I am looking forward to some hot days at the end of the week. You will most likely find me swishing elegantly around the backyard with my smallest peeps. Once again, thank you Sallieoh for the fabulous dyeing inspiration!