A Mini Chloe production line and pretty new labels

It all started when my daughter’s little friend pulled me aside one day and whispered, “I really, REALLY love Harper’s dress”. And that was just the icky poly tester version I made her. The poor child was suffering though the heat and weight of it that day, but she still refused to take it off.

minic3

Also about this time, the Dutch Label Shop contacted me to see if I’d like to try out some of their labels  . I was given the labels for free. It was such a busy time for me that I very nearly didn’t take them up on their offer, but I’m glad I did.

I uploaded my own design to be made into a Woven Logo Label and I absolutely love how they turned out. I didn’t expect the lines to be so defined and clear. They really do look great. The service was also excellent. They have a representative on hand to check the designs to make sure they suit the label and they contact you if needed. These labels are a little larger than what I’d normally put on a kid’s dress, but in real life, I’m much more likely to put a nice label on a coat or jacket and these will suit that perfectly. I also rarely sew for anyone outside of my direct family and I don’t make a habit of labeling everything I make. However, there is something very nice about the finishing touch that a label gives the garment.

label3

But back to my production line of Mini Chloe’s, which include some of those dresses in the picture above. The first off the rack was made in pink fabric  as requested by the little admirer. It’s the only dress I didn’t get around to having modeled (P.S. my models charge me actual money for photo shoots these days!). It’s also not my best work sewing-wise, but the fabric is divine. It’s a vintage cotton or mixed natural fibre, but it feels like washed silk. I was in a big rush to get this dress done to surprise the little girl.

Then, I made her two sisters each a version. I used some Art Gallery voile for the little sister.

mmag3

And a beautiful mix of silks for the eldest girl. These ones are a special gift so I took care with the making of them.

cchjuly3

cchjuly5

Then, I felt guilty about my middle child only having that horrid (but spritely yellow) polyester version. So I scrounged through all my scraps to discover that I had enough fabric left to whip up a rayon and silk version in her size. This one will be lovely to wear. She already has a matching skirt in this fabric, so she immediately fell in love with the dress.

cchjuly2

But that’s not all. I was sorting through my small remnants of silk and rayon for middle child’s dress, my daughters were taking delight in recalling the clothes I’d sewn with all the different fabrics. They came up with the idea of “friendship dresses” for their closest friends (who also happen to be sisters). The plan was to incorporate fabrics in the friends’ dresses that I’d already used for theirs (so they could match). I had to use a bit of creativity to find enough fabric, but adding panels to the dress design made it easy. The second one will be on Instagram soon.

ccjuly2

I love this little dress pattern and I love my new labels. The dress is so quick and easy to sew that it makes gift-sewing a breeze and the labels add the perfect final touch. I have no doubt that those cold-shoulder sleeves will be out of fashion at some point, but the dress is still a simple, classic shape. I might try sewing it sans-sleeves next summer.

 

One scrappy Christmas skirt

I keep most of my little silk scraps because they make such beautiful swishy little skirts. Mostly, the scraps are all off grain, and in awkward shapes and lengths but this doesn’t matter one bit. I just hem the edges, gather the pieces, and then layer them randomly until a skirt is formed. The waistband is just a length of elastic, encased in a fabric waistband.

I made this skirt with leftover Cracked Glass CDC from my Summertime Anna, Chanel-inspired ensemble, and little birdie polyester dress.

 It’s a very swishy skirt!

But now I must take my handbag and go Mummy.

Vogue 1344: the little birdie dress

This dress was a monumental surprise to me. I set out to make it with only two goals in mind: to test the pattern for a special silk and to stash bust. The initial vision in my head seemed exciting enough, but as soon as I started sewing the dress, everything seemed off kilter. The bodice length looked too short, the skirt too bleh, the length in nowhere zone, the fabric synthetic… I even started writing this post in that same vein of negativity. Weeeeeell….that was before I started taking photos!


So let’s talk specifics now. The little birdy polyester from Spotlight was left over from another dress last summer. It’s cute, but synthetic and y’all know how I feel about synthetic! For the lining, I used a couple of sneaky remnants from Tessuti, some acetate for the top and bit of slinky polyester for the skirt lining. Yep, this baby is fully lined! Ironically, the lining is of a noticeably better quality than the outside birdy print, but to me, this improves the overall likeability of the dress because it just feels so lovely to wear.


I was at a bit of a loss for which fabric to use for the contrast and facing. I didn’t have anything appropriate in my stash, except for several very small lengths of vintage kimono (of unknown composition). Asthetically, I don’t mind the sleeve mismatch because I now how unique and special vintage kimono is, but the heavier hand of these remnants affects the way the cuffed sleeves sit, which I am not too fond of.

The one mistake I made in this dress was to not correctly ease the sleeves into the armscye. I left some gathers in the little sleeves when I sewed them on (they are like sci fi cap sleeves before you fold them over and perfectly wearable that way too). I forgot that I would be folding the sleeves over to form cuffs, so my cuff edges are a little puffy and unsightly.


The pattern I used was Vogue 1344 and I didn’t make any major alterations. My changes were:

  • Increased the skirt (and lining) length by 2.5 inches. This dress is designed to be short!
  • Tightened the elastic waistband by a couple of inches to fit my own waist. I would suggest ignoring the elastic guide in the pattern. It just doesn’t make sense to follow it when you can easily measure your own waist to fit. The dress needs to sit snugly at the waist.
  • Used heavier fabric for the facing and sleeves. This worked beautifully for the facing (I just compensated by using a lighter weight fusible interfacing), but I’d recommend sticking to lightweight fabric for the whole dress. In my opinion, anything heavier than crepe de chine will look bulky and unflattering in this dress. The polyester I used is light, but it definitely has a less fluid hand than silk and doesn’t look as good for this reason.

I have to admit that up until I took my first Instagram of the dress on a hanger, I was unsure whether I liked it. This was even after having tried it on completed. I think I like it now, but I’m not sure that I love it. I have to admit that the dress looks a lot better on than when draped over the sewing table in various stages of construction. A few years ago, I would have ditched this project half-sewn, so for me, it’s a good reminder to keep the faith until the clothes are actually on the body!


Jebediah shorts in action

It was so great to see how these shorts actually fit. At first they appeared a little too tight on my reluctant model…everywhere! But they did relax over the course of Christmas day. Yes, he did wear them for the entire day, even though the waist is indeed an inch too tight! And that’s what I love about my dear hubby.


Next time, I will increase the waistband by an inch. He revealed later, that he had been getting around with the top button undone. I think the rest of the pants fit beautifully. They are a lot ‘slimmer’ fitting than he is used to, but I think they look good. Denim, with maybe 2-3% elastane, would be perfect for my next go at these pants.

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.
 

 


Fabric snobbery and little sparrows

Ok I will admit it. I am a fabric snob, an absolute and utter nose-wrinkling snob. I didn’t start out this way, but over the last couple of years as I learnt more about fabrics and began to develop a better appreciation of textiles and quality, I began to see my fabrics in a different way. I have a few favourite shops that I visit regularly, one more than others.

But geographically, my closest fabric shop is Spotlight. Although I rarely purchase fabric there, I do take advantage of their specials for calico, threads, and needles. I was there today on a forage for a specific zipper and thread. I had two small helpers with me and as they ran (yes ran) through the shop oohing and aahing over the most ghastly pink, floral, and sparkly fabrics they could find, a simple, drapey poly caught my eye. I generally dislike polyester because it doesn’t breath and in fabric blends, it pills like crazy. But I quite liked the cute little sparrow print and it matched the shoes I was wearing ;-).

 

You may remember my fabric splurge dress from a little white back. I absolutely love it, but I just haven’t had the occasion to wear it yet (the drawbacks of having small children!). But part of the reason is probably also because I know how special that fabric is and I feel it deserves a special outing, at least on the first wear. I’m thinking about making a sleeveless, and slightly shorter version of this dress to wear on a more daily basis. Call it my school-run dress if you please! Otherwise, I might be able to see myself in a little sparrow shell top,  but no sleeves, of course!



Jebediah for Christmas

I’m always stuck for things to buy my husband for Christmas. It isn’t that he has everything, quite the opposite actually. But everything he would like is well outside my budget, and probably also slightly outside the budget of a B-list rock-star too.

This year I made him some Jebediah pants from Thread Theory, well shorts actually, and really only a wearable muslin since I wanted them to be a surprise. His birthday is still a few days away too, so he still has no idea that I have made him anything (here and here) other than the usual business shirt. I can’t wait to see his surprise and I am desperately hoping that everything fits him reasonably ok.


I was inspired to get cracking on these Jebediah pants after reading Sallieoh’s recent post. I’d been looking at those pants for a few months but I wasn’t sure what the skinny fit would be like for my slightly larger hubby. It was great to see the pants on Sallie’s Nick. I have a Nick too and he isn’t too dissimilar in build (maybe one day I will get my Nick in front of the camera!).

Since I didn’t want to ruin the surprise by measuring hubby, I wasn’t going to waste any good fabric on these pants in case the fit ended up being horrendous. I purchased some cheap cotton drill from Spotlight, $16 worth in fact, bargain (although from the photos you can see how it wrinkles like crazy)! I also figured it was a good opportunity to push him outside his comfort zone and add a splash of colour to his wardrobe. Just check out that gorgeous blue! And of course the least-feminine button I could find in my stash was a vintage button from All Buttons and probably not really meant for a pair of men’s trouser shorts.


I love the back pocket stitching detail on these shorts and for a little something special, I used some leftover Italian shirting for the pocket lining.

 

Next time I make these pants, I will bind the inside seams and perhaps even use some decorative studs on the outside seams for extra detailing and strength.
 
I love patterns that teach me something and I learnt a great deal from these Jebediah pants. The pocket construction was new to me, but I am so proud that I finally mastered it. The instructions weren’t terribly clear, but after a bit of unpicking and rearranging of the facings, I finally figured out what I was supposed to do. I was completely bamboozled by this same technique a few weeks ago when I was trying to sew some different pants so it was especially wonderful to get that lightbulb moment.

It was also the first time I’ve inserted a fly front zipper. I was prepared to make a big mess of it and I had the Grainline tutorial on hand to help me through just in case (thanks Sallie!) but I ended up making it through fine, although I did have to read it twice and unpick once.

Well, this Christmas elf is clocking off now, having finally finished the last of her 2013 presents. It’s time for me to put my feet up and hand over the reigns to Santa! There should be a stack of photos coming your way in the aftermath of the 25th!




Lace and ruffles

This stash busting exercise was inspired by a fellow blogger. Check out this gorgeous little creation here on True Bias. The minute I saw the lace overlay on that jumper, I just knew I had to go out and get sewing for one of my daughters. 

I had a little bit of white daisy lace in my stash that I purchased from Spotlight eons ago. I’ve used little bits of it over the years, but have always been frustrated at the lay of the pattern. The flowers don’t line up with the grain/stretch so making anything special with it was always out of the question.

I also had a little bit of leftover grey (ever so slightly stretchy) wool. I ALMOST had enough for this project. But unfortunately I didn’t have enough for a bottom band for the jumper. I couldn’t get away without a band since the sweater would have been too short. I actually contemplated going out to purchase some more similar grey fabric, but in the end, I rummaged around in my stash until I found a little length of grey merino suiting that I could turn into bottom ruffles. It was stash busting at it’s finest!

I used the Kwik Sew pattern below. All I did was quilt the lace overlay to the front section and shorten it to the casing line so I could add the bottom band (or ruffle) instead.

 


The size I chose for my daughter is just a smidgen too large, but I think it is perfect for layering. I will definitely use this pattern again, but with stretchier fabric next time! My wool didn’t have nearly enough stretch so the neckband is a little snug when squeezing a head through.

And here is my beautiful model in her fabulous new jumper! At least someone is happy with the cold and rainy days we have been having.