Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Princess Dress

A Christmas dress for my little Abigail! This is the first Candy Castle pattern I've used, after eyeing them for several years! It's the Princess Dress.

(sorry for the quality of the photos - it's dark, I haven't learned my flash properly yet, and she was not patient for long!)
I made the size 3T slim, as she measured perfectly for that size. There is only just enough ease in the dress though, so wondering if I should have done the regular 3T.

I found this fabric a couple of months ago - bought it from a lady who owned a dress shop and was going out of business. It's an iridescent satin, sort of silvery-blue with a matte back, and she had this matching crinkle-textured satin, also with a matte back too. I think I paid about $12 for 4 yards? So I was able to mix up the textures and contrast a bit in the layers.

The only stitching on the outside of the dress is the ruffle hems and the buttonholes. I wanted a beautiful finish for the gorgeous fabric, so I was careful to understitch or just press where needed.

The sleeves are also hemmed by hand.

The neckline is very pretty. I think it I were to make this over I'd go with a slightly higher neckline though, as when she moves around much it slides a bit low for my taste. Also, the sleeves are a bit close to the body so the dress lifts up a lot when she raises her arms. I think this is probably due to the sleeve head shape, a touch steep, maybe.

I didn't do bows at the back, thinking they would just be crushed when she sits. Not sure if you can see (this shiny satin is incredibly hard to take a nice photo of!), but I spread the gathers smooth at the point of each swag to keep the ruffles flat there.

Sad little Missy - turns out the inside is uncomfortable, probably the serging at the waist seam. I thought that might happen and now I wish I had handstitched the lining of the bodice over the seam as I've done in other dresses. Guess she needs to wear something under it now, or maybe I can figure out a way to make it smoother inside.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Wonky Stars and Snowy Forests

Getting excited about the holidays yet? I'm featured on So Sew Easy again today - you can find my tutorial on how to make this pretty little Wonky Star Mug Rug there.

I've been working on a bit of abstract "art" the last couple of weeks, using the rest of the fabrics from that mug rug!

A couple of years ago I pinned this gorgeous paper-pieced block by Trillium Designs, thinking it would make a beautiful full-sized quilt, if only I could find the right scale of prints. I printed the pattern for the block, enlarged to 175%, redrew all the seam allowances back to 1/4", and then just started piecing. I mixed and matched strips to get a long, narrow forest of birch trees.

The gray/white branch fabric and the binding are from the Holiday Cheer line by Jan Shade Beach, as is the pretty red print for the raw-edge appliquéd cardinal. The wood grain and "snow" (glitter polkadot) fabrics are just from Fabricland.

I found the cutest wall quilt hanger at our local quilt shop and made a simple sleeve for it, just a 2.5" strip with both raw edges sewn into the binding and then handstitched onto the backing.

Be sure to check out my tutorial and more photos of the tiny wonky stars in my mug rug! Would make a perfect gift tucked into a stocking, or mailed in place of a Christmas card!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Michael Miller's 7th Day of Christmas - skirt tutorial

Merry Christmas! 

I'm excited to be part of Michael Miller's 12 Days of Christmas! They kindly sent a selection of fabrics from their new line, All the Trimmings (coming soon!) for me to play with. I fell in love with the sweet owls cuddling in a tree, and so did my little Abigail.

It wasn't hard to come up with a fun combination of fabrics from the same line to use for this yoked skirt with elastic waistband, ruffle and "ribbon" and bow!

Of course, her brothers needed a little something to coordinate! Bowties, using the free SisBoom Bosco Bowtie pattern.

Wanna make your own little lady this cute ruffley skirt? Michael Miller Fabrics has lots of fun holiday themed coordinating fabrics to choose from!

What you'll need:
  • main fabric (I used All The Trimmings Christmas Lovebirds Winter)
  • fabric for the yoke and trim (Candy Cane Stripe Santa)
  • fabric for ruffle (All The Trimmings Tangly Lights Candy)
  • 3/4-1” wide non-roll elastic
  • Thread and other sewing supplies
  • All seam allowance 3/8" unless specified.
  • Finish seams with your preferred method, such as zigzagging or serging the seam allowance.
  • I've done the math for all the sizes based on finished skirt measurements - you will be best checking your child's waist measurement and the skirt length, and then you can make any adjustments necessary.
Approximate waist
Elastic cutting measurement
Skirt length
6-12 months
12-18 month


Fabric 1
Fabric 2
Fabric 3
Size 6mo-3T
1/4 yd
1/4 yd
1/4 yd
Size 4T-6T
1/2 yd
1/4 yd
1/4 yd

Prepare your fabric. It’s important to prewash and dry the fabric the same way you will be caring for the garment. Once it’s washed, press and lay it out to cut the following:

Cutting Chart

Fabric 1
Fabric 2
Fabric 3

Main skirt (cut 1)
Waistband (cut 1)
Trim (cut 1)
Bow (cut 1 each)
Ruffle (piece to make your measurement)
6-12 mo
5” x 30”
4” x 20”
2.5” x 31”
all sizes:
5” x 6”
2.5” x 3”
2.5” x 44”
12-18 mo
5” x 31”
5” x 20.5”
2.5” x 32”
3” x 47”
7” x 32”
5” x 21”
2.5” x 33”
3” x 49”
8” x 33”
5” x 22”
2.5” x 34”
3” x 51”
9” x 34”
6” x 23”
2.5” x 35”
3” x 53”
10” x 35”
6” x 24”
2.5” x 36”
3” x 55”
11” x 36”
6” x 25”
2.5” x 37”
3” x 57”

Let's start with the main skirt. Take the main skirt piece (fabric 1) and stitch the short ends together, right sides facing. Finish the seam. Repeat this for the ruffle (fabric 3), piecing together your strips to make the required length. Press each seam to one side.

Make a narrow hem on the ruffle by pressing 1/8" toward the wrong side, then folding 1/8" more and stitching.

Run two rows of basting stitches along the top edge of the ruffle strip and pull up to gather.

Take the main skirt piece and pin the ruffle to the bottom edge, right sides together, pulling the basting threads to make them match. Pin well.

Stitch the skirt and ruffle together and finish the seam.

Press the seam up toward the skirt.

Take your bow piece (fabric 2) and fold in half so that the two 5" ends match, right sides together. Sew this seam, leaving a gap for turning about 1.5" at the centre, backstitching to reinforce each line of stitching.

Roll the tube you now have so the seam is centred, then press the seam open (this seam doesn't need finishing as it will be enclosed).

Now stitch each end closed, then trim each corner at an angle, taking care not to cut through the stitching.

Take the bow loop piece and fold it so the 3" ends are matching, right sides together and stitch.

Turn both bow pieces right side out and press each, centering the seam on the smaller piece.

Accordion fold the bow piece to make a pleasing bow and use a pin to keep it together for now.

Take the loop piece and wrap it around the bow and trim if necessary, then stitch the ends together and finish.

Turn the seam inside and press.

Accordion fold one end of the bow to feed it through the loop. Arrange the loop so that the seam is toward the back.

Now take your trim piece (fabric 2) and sew it into a long tube, right sides together. Turn it right side out, using a tube turner or a safety pin. Press with the seam centred.

Lay it out around the hem of the skirt to see how long it needs to be, mark and trim if necessary. Stitch the ends together.

Press the seam open. Topstitch one edge of the trim loop.

Now lay your finished loop of trim around the skirt. I chose to centre the seam where I wanted my bow, right next to a pair of cuddling owls, off-centred on the front of the skirt. Pin it carefully in place over the ruffle and topstitch in place.

Place your bow over the seam and handstitch in place.

Nearly done! Take your waistband (wider strip of fabric 2) and bring the short ends together, right sides facing. Stitch together, leaving a 1" opening near the end (to thread your elastic through), and then stitch the last approximately 3/8" again, reinforcing at each stop and start.

Finish each side of the seam separately and then press the seam open.

Finish the edge nearest the gap. Now fold that edge down enough to make a casing for your elastic. Topstitch the edge and stitch down the casing.

Gather the top edge of the skirt to match the waistband piece as described above. Stitch and finish the seam, then press it up toward the waistband.

Insert your elastic in the gap in the casing, using a large safety pin or bodkin to pull it through. Then overlap the ends by about 1/2", stitch together, and pull the elastic into the casing.

Handstitch the opening in the casing closed - and you're finished!

Enjoy your pretty skirt! And maybe try a matching bowtie from the scraps. :)

And just to show how much fun (hah) it was to try get photos of three wiggly kids, here are a few outtakes:

(thank goodness for leggings!)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sew Fab Bundle - Extraordinary Girl and Capitol Hill

The new Sew Fab Bundle is here! This time it's a Winter Women's Bundle, with 10 new patterns, available till December 15th.

And, yes, that's me, top right corner, wearing the Extraordinary Girl by Filles à Maman. I also did my own version of the Capitol Hill by Straight Stitch Designs. For pattern descriptions and size charts, take look over here.

For the Extraordinary Girl, I did two versions during testing. This pattern is fun - I would never have thought of a lap-shoulder top for a woman, but it's a fun and unique detail and surprisingly easy to sew. This was my first try with the original pattern (since then the sides have been shaped a little more).

I used some fashion jersey, almost a coral colour with dusky roses printed all over it. I used the reverse of the same fabric for the contrast yoke and neck bands. I made my usual adjustment for long back by adding 1.5" inches to both front and back and 1" to the sleeve length.

With the final pattern I made my favourite version:

The fabric for this is much softer feeling - it's a Michael Miller knit from the Heaven and Helsinki line by Patty Young. The orange-red was a remnant I picked up ages ago.

This is a very bold colour for me! I usually stick to greens and blues and blacks for myself, but this was so happy I had to try it. I love the slight hi-lo hem.

The twin-needle hems worked out great - this time I just used regular thread in the bobbin instead of wooly nylon, as lately I can't get any good tension with that stuff.

I also tested for Kimberly of Straight Stitch Designs. After a lot of hard work and versions, she came out with this gorgeous design:

The Capitol Hill top and dress has lots of options and unique details! I did the elbow length banded sleeves and 3/4 circle skirt tunic length for mine. There are also options for a gathered skirt and full circle skirt, each in tunic or dress length, and long sleeves too. The bust shaping comes from overlapped double pleats at the centre, which Kimberly did a video walkthrough of as well as a thorough description in the pattern.

So check out the rest of the Sew Fab Bundle and enjoy!