A practical Elsa

I would have loved to have gone the whole hog with this Elsa dress…a fitted bodice, off the shoulder, full sleeves, and all with a slinky floor length skirt. I know Miss Four would have loved the ‘whole hog’ version too. BUT, I am nothing if not a practical mother who knows that the minute this dress was off the sewing table, it would be in hot rotation with the other completely impractical daily dress in Miss Four’s wardrobe. I for one, did not want to be responsible for her tripping down stairs, getting sunburnt shoulders, or smouldering in her first Kansas summer.

 


So, here is my watered down version of the Elsa dress. I am pleased to report that it has been met with approval (much to my relief) and I no longer have a middle child, but I am now blessed with Queen Elsa as a daughter. Let it Go, Let it Gooooooooo!

 


The fabric was from Jo-Ann, handpicked by Miss Four, and both pieces were well under $10/yd. The blue jersey is a polyester blend sprinkled with glitter. The tulle is also covered in glitter. The glitter is regrettably glued onto the surface of these fabrics which means there is now a fine coating of glitter on every surface in my house. Also what I didn’t consider was that the glitter covering also makes the outer surface of the fabric a little coarse and grippy. So instead of the tulle cape slipping and swishing elegantly, it catches the under dress a little and sticks like Velcro at times. Having said that, there have been no complaints from Queen Elsa. But I will certainly learn from this glitter overload experience.

The pattern I used was the Go To Signature dress. There are so many options in this pattern, but I ended up using the simplest version. I made a size 4 for my exceptionally tall, slightly built, 4.5 year old. She is wearing the full length version, which would definitely be closer to ankle length on an average four year old. I lowered the neckline a little and skipped the elastic waistband. I attached the sparkly tulle cape (gathered) at the back neckline and shoulder seams, and otherwise just sewed the dress up as instructed.

I admit that I purchased this pattern to be a part of Indie month, as an effort to try a new Indie designer for week 2 of the competition. The idea of so many sleeve options sold me on it. The pattern sizes run from 12mths to 12years, which is fantastic value. And I am also quite impressed with the simple, yet flattering design of the dress. I often find kids clothes too wide in the body when using commercial patterns, but this one is beautifully sized. I also anticipate this pattern making some nice nighties for my girls in the future!

Overall, this project was super simple and effective, and it certainly beat the $60 price tag that I’ve seen on other Elsa dresses online! And to leave you with Queen Elsa’s parting words, as she haughtily tosses her cape to the wind and flicks her white, side plait (yes, we are also working on growing our hair long, white, and to the side)…the cold never bothered me anyway!





Vogue 8975…comfort over style

Last summer when I was in the middle of my summer drop-waist frenzy, I made a particular favourite using a stunning printed cotton from Tessuti. It was one of those rare occasions when I had a dress in mind and then went shopping specifically to find a fabric to match that vision. Usually, I fall in love with fabrics first and then draw inspiration from them.

Now this particular fabric suited my purpose well and I liked it well enough, but I probably wouldn’t have chosen it without a specific project in mind. However, it ended up being one of those prints that I fell madly in love with more each time I saw it, which was very often, believe me. So when I happened across a lovely jersey version of the exact same print (on my farewell trip to Tessuti), I snapped it up.

I’ve been desperate to use it ever since but have been struggling with ideas. I spent a bit of time looking for a suitable pattern and eventually found one I quite liked, Vogue 8975.

V8975
 
V8975
 

I just love big, draped pockets right now and I think that was the thing that drew me to this pattern. In hindsight, none of the dresses on the cover are really my style, but I was on a mission to sew up that fabric! Can anyone else relate?

 

The experience of sewing this dress was fantastic. The drapey knit was a little fiddly to work with, but not impossible. I still don’t have my overlocker, so I used the opportunity to experiment with the stitches on my Pfaff. I have a stitch and overlock stitch-in-one feature on my sewing machine. It works well but is very slow going compared to using an overlocker. You also have to go back and trim every seam after you sew them. But the end result is good (as long as you are VERY careful not to stretch the fabric as you sew).

The drapes on this dress are just lovely and the pocket construction was ingenious. I loved making this dress and watching the puzzle pieces come together. I would have loved to place the floral pattern a bit better on the dress, but I barely had enough fabric as it was. I wasn’t planning to use any contrast fabric in my version of this dress but unfortunately necessity demanded it. I found the contrast jersey knit at Jo-Ann. It was my first fabric purchase in the US, having been somewhat underwhelmed by the fabric shopping in Kansas. I was totally spoilt in Australia, living so close in proximity to the amazing fabric shops of Surry Hills. I now realise that I am just going to have to do my shopping online, but I have prepared for this with a nice 30″ screen to view my fabric on!

But back to this dress. I think it is a fraction too roomy in the upper chest and arms for me. It may be that the size is a little large, combined with the fact that my fabric is a little lighter and a bit more drapey than that on the cover photo. You can see the sizing problem best when my hands are on my hips. A closer fit would make for a nicer silhouette.  But I have to admit that it is still quite a lovely dress. I’ve since seen some other great versions of this dress in the blogosphere, here and here, and here which you might also like to check out. Call me boring, but I think I like the monochrome versions best.

At the moment, I’m a little undecided about the hems at the sleeves and bottom of the dress. At the moment I have left them raw (they roll nicely in this particular fabric). I just felt that hemming them with a twin needle would add bulk and affect the clean drape of this particular fabric. I’d prefer to do a narrow hem on the bottom of the dress using an overlocker (when I eventually get one). I could probably do this on my Pfaff using some stabilizer but I don’t want to lose any length on the dress. I’m also thinking of adding contrast cuffs to the sleeves, or simply removing the sleeves altogether.

End note: So when I had the photos taken and first started writing this post, I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t wear this dress again. But the fabric is just so deliciously soft and the style so comfortable and perfect for Spring, that despite my misgivings, I have found myself slipping it on at the end of most days. It is a shame that this beautiful fabric doesn’t get the proper show-time of a regular day out and about on the town, but at least my neighbours get to admire it (styled with the regulatory in-house Ugg boots of course). It really has become the perfect little French house dress for me! 

The family uniform

This is very nearly my last project for a wee while. I will apologise in advance if I don’t get around to answering comments like I used to, particularly over the next few months. But I still read every single one of them and I always get super excited to see them!
Today I vacuum packed all my fabric and filled MY suitcase with most of my notions. All that is left on my sewing table is few little scrappy bits of fabric that I have allowed myself to play around with before I pack away my machine. I suspect I may have one or two little skirts left in me before we go.
But oh, won’t hubby be so very proud to see this last collection! Haha, I jest! Just look at us all in the same uniform. Of course this wasn’t planned. But there was NO way I was going to waste a single skerrick of my fabric splurge. The original dress I made with it is here.

 

So let me start with MY little shift. I used up the last main bit of my gorgeous Italian viscose for the body and a little remnant of stretchy jersey viscose for the rest, both from Tessuti Fabrics. Try to ignore the aqua bullseye if you can, and my only decent pair of shoes won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

 

The pattern I used was Vogue 8805 again. I made the following alterations:
  • slimmed down the arms (the same as here)
  • Shortened the sleeves (the same as here)
  • Shortened the bottom panel by 12cm
The next in line in the House of Iles is Miss Five. Using New Look 6016, I basically remade this dress here as best I could with the lengths of skirt fabric I had available. I did grade it up to a size 5 and make the sleeves shorter with a slight flare though.

 

 

 

And then finally, I was able to scrounge enough remaining scraps to make the same little summer frock for Miss Two. Unfortunately, I had to cut parts of the little skirt on the crossgrain so gathering it nicely was a bit more challenging, and I’m hoping parts of it don’t stretch out too noticeably over time.

 

 

Yeah Mum, I can dance!
So I am pleased to say that this is all that is left of my fabric splurge. It is the truth in it’s entirety and a voucher VERY well spent!

 

Some little winter warmers

Yes, despite the soaring temperatures here, I am neck high in wool. Well not quite, but I have raided my stash of all my remaining wool remnants and have been stitching up a storm of winter warmers (before my sewing machine is off for a service and then packed away).

It all started with New Look 6016. This is a fabulous little pattern. I first stitched up the little pinafore about three years ago. It was one of the first dresses I’d ever sewn. More recently I’ve made the leggings and the top. They make great wardrobe staples. Although I do find the sleeve and leg length a little short for my girls, and the sizing (width) is quite large.


Miss Four needed warm tops more than anyone else in the house. And yet all I had was a little bit of black merino ponte and a slightly larger remnant of a beautiful grey wool/spandex blend. Both fabrics are beautiful (picked up from Tessuti Fabrics nearly a year ago), but I knew the colours would not make the grade. Miss Four is by far my most difficult customer. I know that when I sew for her, I have to add details that I wouldn’t otherwise do.

Now, the grey fabric is actually very lovely on it’s own and I would have preferred the top to remain very simple. But in order to keep this little princess happy, I rummaged through my stash until I found a tiny piece of glittery French lace. Quite unbelievably, this little length was in the free bin at Tessutis a very long time ago. I think it may have been a flawed piece but I can’t find the flaw, other than the fact that it sheds glitter every where it goes. In fact, this was the main reason I wanted it out of my stash.

I’m afraid that I wasn’t very imaginative with it’s use. All I did was to overlay the top sleeve portion in this top. The other change I made to this pattern was in lengthening the arms by 1.5 inches. It should come as no surprise that the sight of that glittery lace suddenly made the top very appealing to Miss Four. And I am pleased to announce that there will be one less battle in getting her to wear a (relatively) simple long sleeve wool top when we move to Kansas.

The second top dress I made was originally for her too, but lucky Miss Five happened upon it first. I used the same fabric and the same top pattern, also in the largest size. But by this stage, I was running a little short of my glorious grey so I had to be creative. Instead of lengthening the sleeves on this one, I cut two wee cuffs and stitched them on instead (the sleeves would have looked longer on the intended recipient).

Now as it happened, on my sewing table was a lovely black jersey dress that I was in the process of turning into a top. I decided to use the bottom band of this dress (with intact hem…so easy!) to gather and add as a very slightly ruffled skirt. I would have preferred a slightly fuller skirt but the fabric just wasn’t that long. But I quite like how this little winter dress turned out, and so does Miss Five! Although to be perfectly honest, I am starting to think that my girls simply just like new clothes.


  


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. 

Just another jersey top

With the recent rainy weather, I realised I was a bit low on trans-seasonal tops. Lucky for me, I had some gorgeous soft jersey from a recent trip to Tessuti Fabrics. I am a bit fussy about what prints I like on jersey fabrics, but this one managed to catch my eye. Unfortunately, I only purchased one metre of it so I had to top it up with my stash of super soft modal/silk in order to complete the top. I think I quite like the colour blocking after all. And the end result is a top so soft and comfy, that I’m not totally sure I won’t be wearing it 24/7.

Christmas playsuit for Coco

It’s called the ‘Christmas playsuit’ because I used the last of my lovely reindeer print jersey to make it. I used a pattern from this Japanese pattern book.


Yes, it is written entirely in Japanese, but there are excellent pictures to guide you in the construction of the clothes. I absolutely LOVE these Japanese pattern books. There are so many books to choose from, all with relatively simple designs. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them to beginners, but once you get a bit of practice and knowledge in garment construction, then the pictures are more than adequate to guide you.


 This is Coco in her Christmas playsuit. The main modification I  made was to add a little bit of thin elastic around the leg openings rather than let them hang like shorts. I did this because my fabric is so soft and drapey but had I chosen a linen or cotton, I probably would have left the pattern as normal.


 
I am told the outfit is no good to stand still in, but is fabulous for tree climbing!
 
 
 

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.