A little dress refashioned

What do you do when a pretty little dress gets ripped to shreds? Well, shreds might be a slight exaggeration, and to be completely fair, it probably wasn’t entirely the fault of the child. The dress was getting a bit too snug across the chest, which was probably causing undue stress on the fabric. This child is a champion grower. She’s going to be taller than me.

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She is also, by far, my roughest customer. I can’t tell you how many knees and bums and legs she’s worn through in this past Winter. I’m at the point where I won’t make anything below the waist for her anymore. It’s more sensible to buy cheap RTW leggings and trackie pants during the sales. In the past few weeks, I’ve been converting some of the salvageable ones to shorts for Summer (like the cute pink pair below). Even Miss Three doesn’t cause as much damage as her to clothes as this one does.

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This dress refashion was very simple. I cut off the yoke as high up as I could and simply attached a waistband. The waistband is a scrap of lycra from my recent swimsuit. I gathered the (circle-shaped) skirt to fit the waistband and threaded some elastic through it for a little extra security. The blue was the perfect match for the skirt.

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She looks like such a little lady here!

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The length of this skirt is so grown up. I like the look of it on Miss Five even though I know the length is going to be subjected to all kinds of horrors. No doubt I’ll end up cutting off a torn inch here and a torn inch there, like I do with all her other dresses, until it ends up as a mini. The only thing that seems to withstand this child is silk CDC and quilting cotton.

However, I don’t think sensibility should always get in the way of fashion, especially not with little girls who like length and swish. It’s become an instant hit, which is a relief. I wasn’t quite sure how she would take the idea of me refashioning one of her favourite dresses.

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Wonderland Skirt // made by makers // and a flared version

Before I talk about how I modified my skirt, I’d like to share some of the great Wonderland skirts that have been made so far.

Carly in Stitches //Ernest Flagg // Miss Castelinhos

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Tinker and Stitcher// Anna Gerard // Elle Gee Makes

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And now for my modified version. Remember this scrapbuster? I unpicked the gathered portion of the skirt to see what it would look like with a flounce. I’m in the process of putting together a tutorial on how I did this. It’s not a difficult modification but it does change the look completely.

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WIP: these little shorts

Sometimes I just can’t help myself from changing something that already works. I made some little shorts a few weeks ago that have been an absolute winner in this house. I love the look of them and my toughest critic (Miss Seven) adores her version even more.

Even though I liked the pattern exactly as it was, I thought the shorts might look cute with cuffs too. Enter fairy shorts, and the amazing, levitating Miss Three (although she’d tell you she was bunny hopping).

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I was a bit rushed with this version. I just stitched the cuff tabs on (which I would have done anyway for a three year old). Following through with hand sewing for the little button embellishments became impossible as soon as the recipient spotted these shorts. What do you think of the camera face?

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As you can see, she’s pretty chuffed with these shorts, especially the pockets. I’m pretty happy with the new design too. The legs are a little narrower and shorter which suit a turned up cuff better. I still like the old version though, but it’s nice to have more than one option in a pattern!

Death by dryer: to mini Rigel Bomber

Remember this awesome Rigel Bomber? I made it a long time ago, but it’s had an awful lot of wear since then. The outer cotton fabric is heavy and durable. My mistake was in lining the jacket with a slippery viscose. I don’t regret it though. That viscose remnant I used was totally luxurious and something I noticed every time I slipped that jacket on.

Unfortunately, viscose can be a little more delicate than other fabrics when it comes to laundering. I made sure I prewashed everything first, but it didn’t occur to me to dry the fabrics in the dryer. I rarely used my dryer in Australia. Even in Winter, with three kids, I could efficiently line dry all of my washing. This is starkly different to where I live now, where most people almost exclusively use their dryer. I initially fought this practice, but when your neighbourhood has a no clothesline policy, it’s hard not to succumb to the convenience.

So to cut this rather long story short, my bomber found it’s way into the dryer (I do my laundry on autopilot and sometimes there are casualties). The outer fabric was still perfect, but the viscose lining shrunk significantly. Death by dryer.

I wasn’t going to waste my precious fabric-of-the-year though and decided to have a shot at modifying it into a mini-bomber. It worked pretty well. I was a bit scissor happy on the sleeves, because I had to guess the length while the recipient slept. It seems this child is longer than I think. The sleeves are just long enough. The proportions of the whole jacket are also a little off because I wanted to preserve the ribbing and pockets, and I could have slimmed the sleeves and torso down a little more, but otherwise it’s not too bad.

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So what did I do:

1) I cut off the wrist cuffs and the bottom ribbing

2) I unpicked the centre back neckline and took about 2″ out of the back (and the ribbing) by sewing a CB seam. I added a bigger pleat to the lining but otherwise left it alone.

3) I unpicked the zipper, reattached the lining to the front fabric, and then simply overlapped it to fasten with buttons. Overlapping it at the front also helped balance the fact that I took a chunk out of the CB.

4) I brought the side seams in on the outer fabric by about 1″ (but could taken more out). I made most of the modifications to the outer fabric only. That way, if the viscose decides to shrink more, it won’t matter.

5) Lastly, I reattached all the ribbing, did some buttonholes down the front, and sewed on buttons.

Miss Seven is absolutely in love with this jacket. I think this is because she remembers me wearing my version so much. From my perspective, it’s delightfully weird to see her wearing one of my favourite jackets in a mini-size. But at the end of the day, she was desperately in need of a Spring weight jacket, so I’m glad that this is the one to fill that spot.

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Kwik Sew 2422 and 1615: swimsuits for my big girls

I’m going to start this post with a disclaimer: I was given this fabric for free by Funki Fabrics in exchange for making something and blogging about it. How could I say no to free fabric, particularly with swimsuit season upon us.

We all know it’s hard to be completely objective about something if you’ve been given it for free, but I’ve tried my best. For a little more information, it’s also worthwhile checking out Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow’s review here.

I made two little swimsuits with my fabric, and I have a little bit more to go yet. My first make was for Miss Five, using Kwik Sew 2422 (complete with a big raspberry drip of melted icy pole on her leg). She was quite specific about the exact style she wanted (down to the actual pattern and strap design). She also chose her own fabric; digitally printed neon tetras. She wanted to be in camouflage for her swim lessons. Obviously.

My only modification to this pattern (from last time) was to raise the neckline by 1.25 inches. Then I just measured the old neckline curve, compared it to the new, and adjusted the length of neckline elastic by the difference. I should have also narrowed the neckline a little as I raised it. Next time.

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The second pair was for Miss Seven, using Kwik Sew 1615, with the same (added seam) modification I’ve used in the past. I think she looks very chic! I only lined the front of the swimsuit bottoms, but due to the light colours, I realise now that I should have probably lined it all. At the moment, they aren’t see-through when wet, but I will have to wait and see how that goes as the print fades.

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I’m pretty fussy about most fabrics, and swimwear is no exception. I was pleasantly surprised with this haul. The prints on the fabric were spot on and exactly as I expected (I could have ordered swatches but I didn’t bother as I was mainly sewing for kids. Yes, double standards abound in this house.). For me, the enormous variety of printed lycra and foiled dancewear fabric are the best thing about Funki Fabrics. I will say though, that their website is a bit awkward, and it does take a bit of time to navigate.

Quality wise, I think the swimsuit fabric is good. In comparison to a RTW surf rashie I own, the fabric is better. But it’s not the best I’ve ever had. I think this may come from the fact that Funki Fabric is all about variety and fabric design. It appears to me that they have the same white, base fabric that they apply all their prints to. It’s a little bit thinner than some other swimsuit fabric I have in my stash, so if using it for myself, lining will be a must. For my kids though, this fabric is more than adequate on it’s own.

Overall, I’m actually very happy with this product. The fabric has a lovely, smooth hand, good stretch and recovery, and the printing is beautifully done. The lighter print (black hearts on cream) feels a little painted on, but not terribly so, and I suspect this is intended to improve the opacity of such a light colour.

We’ve already taken the new swimsuits for a few test runs (which I was waiting to report back on) and they’ve performed very well.  I can’t confirm that they helped the “big arms” actually make it out of the water, nor did I lose sight of my child amongst all the other neon fish at our local pool, but I am happy to say that there have been no saggy, baggy bottoms or immodest see-through togs.

The Wonderland Skirt: optional steps to fully line the yoke and skirt

This is a little bit of a follow on post. I introduced you to my new pattern a few days ago. Now I want to share my favourite version of those that I made. I also want to share some steps to fully or partially line the skirt.

But firstly, I don’t know about you, but I’m a firm believer that stripes pretty much make everything awesome. And this skirt is a combination of stripes and linen, two of my favourite things right now. You can check out the Wonderland Skirt pattern here:

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I had a very close call during the making of this skirt. I forgot to allow for the fact that white linen can be a little on the sheer side (especially in a closely fitted skirt yoke!), and that I should have lined the yoke from the get go. As it turned out, I had to unpick my waistband to fix this little oversight, but attaching the lining was actually very quick and simple to do and could be done so completely by machine.

Steps to line the yoke:

1) Re cut the front and back yoke pieces in lining fabric (I used silk habutai because it’s beautifully light and slippery)

2) Stitch darts in the back pieces of the lining

3) Stitch the front and back yoke lining together at sides, right sides together (just as you did with the fashion fabric).

4) With right sides facing, and the raw edges *almost* lined up along the centre back seam and zipper, pin back yoke lining to the back yoke on each side of the centre back seam. I like to pin the lining about half a cm from the raw edge to ensure that my lining is not too tight for the skirt (just in case I wasn’t very precise in cutting my slippery lining) – too tight lining will result in pulls and bubbles visible on the outer fabric, but if the lining is ever so slightly larger, nobody can tell from the outside.

5) Stitch from the top of the yoke to the end of the zipper on both sides of the back yoke centre back edge. You might have to undo the zipper to do this more easily.

6) When you reach the bottom of the zipper, pull the lining apart from the back yoke and pin it right sides together with raw edges matching (lining only). Stitch to the bottom of the yoke lining, being careful to keep the seam allowance the same as when you were stitching alongside the zipper (half a cm shorter because we didn’t line up the raw edges perfectly).

7) Turn lining and skirt out to the right side, so that wrong sides are now facing. The lining is attached only at the centre back zipper. Pin the lining to the top and bottom raw edges of the skirt and baste these edges together with long machine stitches.

8) Double check that the outside yoke is sitting flat and smooth (adjust the basting stitches on the top or bottom if needed).

9) And now you are ready to stitch on the waistband and skirt as per the steps in the instructions.

10) If you want to line the skirt too, sandwich the bottom raw edge of the lined yoke between the gathered skirt and skirt lining, right sides together, and raw edges lined up. Stitch. When you turn it to the right side, the inside of the skirt will look as beautiful as the outside.

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Squiggles on my gaucho pants

This is the BEST fabric ever! It’s a stretch cotton in a nice medium weight, which makes it perfect for shorts, pants (and playsuits of course). Quite simply, those squiggles make me smile. I wish I had enough left for a long A-line skirt now.

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This time, I made some cropped pants of the wide leg variety. They hit high on the waist so I think I can safely call them gaucho pants.

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The white top is an oldie but a goodie. I wore it A LOT last Summer and I predict it will be getting more of the same love this year.

Little gathered top: Part 1

I’ve been playing around with a little top design for my girls. I wanted something that would look cute with shorts and skirts, but wasn’t your typical cotton t-shirt. I also had some lovely little scraps of linen and cotton that I wanted to make use of.

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My first version of this top was for Miss Seven. I used some lovely soft linen. I forgot to include an allowance at the CB for a button placket in my original plans, so I had to make do with a hand-worked loop and button. It works, and I really love the look of the little loops and buttons, but they aren’t quite as sturdy as a placket. This top has to hold up to some serious physical activity.

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I’m very pleased with the fit and I love the shape of the little ruffle sleeves. I also like the high jewel neck. I wasn’t completely sure that Miss Seven would like the neckline but she seems very comfortable in this top and I know it’s getting a lot of wear because I find myself ironing it every other day. I HATE ironing (except when in the process of sewing!), but I make the odd exception with certain items of clothes that really need it. This is unfortunately one of them.

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Long sleeves in linen

I started sewing clothes for myself in 2012. Before that, my sewing was all about kiddie stuff and quilting cotton. It was also the year I discovered that I could sew with ponte knits and linen. I quite simply overdosed that year. Lucky for you guys, this was also before I started blogging.

I’ve always loved linen, but it’s one of those fabrics that I rarely, if ever, saw in the RTW shops I frequented back then. So it was mindblowing to me that I could suddenly make everything in linen. So did I? Yes. I. Did.

I’ve since had a few years without a lot of linen in my wardrobe. There’s been the odd thing, but nothing like it was in 2012. However, I feel the season changing. I am so in love with it right now. It’s like my long lost friend has returned.

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The thing about linen though, is that it is one of the fabrics I am most pickiest about in terms of quality. I loath buying it online. I’ve been disappointed a few times when I’ve opted for the cheaper option. I recently purchased a length of European white linen from Fabric dot com. In the description it was recommended for making dresses, pants, anything. Let’s just say, I’m ditching the idea of using it for a Summer top and might simply hem it for use as a pretty table cloth instead. I think I’m a linen snob.

The linen I used for this top came all the way from Tessuti Fabrics in Sydney, one of the few places I trust implicitly in buying linen from without ordering a swatch first (online shopping is sadly my only way to purchase quality fabric in the Midwest). This linen is truly delicious. I could iron it better, but I really, really love linen crinkles.

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This top is the long sleeve variation of a pattern I’m working on right now. I paired it with my long leather shorts.

If everything goes to plan, I might be ready for testers in a few weeks. It takes time because I want to make sure that even my testers get a good experience.  If you are interested in testing this or anything else in the future, please head over to my Facebook page, Lily Sage & Co. To avoid driving non-tester inclined blog readers batty,  I will only be putting the tester call out there from now on.

Miss Seven’s birthday dress and her all time favourite makes

With the exception of the odd t-shirt, and winter coat, I sew pretty much everything else my daughters wear these days. Thankfully, they are all still at the point where they are delighted with anything and everything that Mummy makes, but there are always clear favourites that get worn day after day, literally until they are fraying at the seams. I always find it interesting to see what emerges as the winner, and why.

The big winners over the past six months (based on frequency of wear) are (working clockwise from the top left): her Twirl to Me dress (I can’t help but feel a little chuffed with this choice),  her recent yellow cartwheel shorts (these surprised me!), the Oliver + S Hide and Seek dress (that retained it’s winning status even when I had to convert it into a skirt), a simple self-drafted cotton maxi skirt, an Oliver + S Ice Cream dress, her Rosie Assoulin knock off, a Go To mini Jaywalker maxi, and finally, that Oliver + S Hide and Seek dress as a skirt and Daddy’s old Ralph Lauren sweater refashioned. My personal favourite is the Rosie Assoulin bow dress. I can’t help but watch her all day when she wears that.

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So what got me thinking about her favourite makes? This Ice Cream dress by Oliver + S. I made Miss Seven a new version for her recent birthday. Her earlier version really needs to be retired, and that’s saying something, because quilting cotton is hard-wearing. The dress is such a practical and comfortable design for kids. It covers the shoulders and yet doesn’t restrict play. It’s also a super easy sew and has become her go-to school uniform.

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I used some beautiful charcoal linen and a little remnant of a floral linen/silk blend that I was lucky enough to find on the remnant table at Tessuti Fabrics many, many moons ago. I miss my weekly remnant shopping excursions. I had quite the stash of Tessuti remnants when I arrived in Kansas a year ago, but they are starting to dwindle now.

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