Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Inspired By: Little Grey Dress via Pinterest (plus a gift for you!)

Ah, it’s felt good this week to create a few things that didn’t involve a lining or underlining! I actually have finished eight items this week! I’m not planning to post all of them, they are not all exciting enough for a post. But this new little dress is!

I was inspired by this dress pinned on Pinterest:

It’s simple, yet elegant and looks so cozy and warm. I’ve had this picture in my head for months. I knew this was first on my list of winter dress sewing for the girls. Here’s a look at my version:




With the inspiration photo, I was always perplexed by the fact that it was a sleeveless fleece dress, worn in the summer – it seemed more fitting to be either layered or have sleeves as a winter dress. So in this first version I whipped up a couple of my favorite TNT t-shirts to layer with the dress. Tights and shoes from Target (I picked this color combo to go with the tights, not necessarily to match the inspiration photo).

Then I thought it would be nice to try a version with sleeves so that layering wouldn’t always be necessary.


Whoops! Looks like my hem is coming down on that sleeve! Better go fix that. ;)

I really like how they turned out and thought just maybe you would like your own. So I put together my first PDF Pattern for FREE download.

Its completely digital and I would say it’s comparable to a size 4T/5T in RTW. I’ve put together a tutorial for this pattern, click below to see the step-by-step tutorial with photos.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Burda 9501 – Another Story of Sewing Success!

As promised, here are the details (and photos) of my girls wool winter coats. You can find my son’s coat post here.

I started with Burda 9501, I just loved the photo on the pattern envelope. As with my son’s coat, it is made of wool coating, underlined with cotton flannel and lined with satin charmeuse.

This pattern is pretty good, it was my first time sewing a Burda pattern. I thought the instructions were a little vague in a few spots (as is the general consensus regarding Burda instructions I hear) but I’ve been sewing for a long time, so I figured it out.

The only alteration I made was adding length to the sleeves. I did construct it just a little differently than instructed, both on the pockets and the lining. Ha, it’s funny now that I think of it. I opted to hand sew the pockets on, but changed the order of construction on the lining in order to eliminate hand sewing. I’m not a fan of sewing by hand, but every now and than, when it really warrants it, I will sew something by hand.


Can you believe they are twins? Ha ha, every time I photograph them, the “Little One” gets so much taller than the “Wild One”.

OK, back to the coats. I really like how they turned out! The only difficult part was the collar. I think it is overall, just a little too small, it should have been a little wider to allow more to roll and lay nicely. I also really really regret not cutting the under collar just a little smaller than the top collar to help the seam to roll to the underside. It took a lot of steaming and molding to get them to behave as well as they do. Here are a few close ups:


I cut them the same size, based on the measurements of the bigger of the two girls. It fits really well around both of them and is just a little long on the smaller girl, hence the rolled up sleeves. While I would like them to make it to next year, I just know they are going to grow too much for that to be true. Sigh, I’ll just have to make them new coats next year. :)

This was a big project! They day after the last coat was finished, I felt a little lost in my sewing room. I wasn’t sure what to work on! That quickly ended and I made two things for my son and started work on a new dress design for the girls.

But I learned a lot about coat making.

- It’s not that hard. Just a little more detail and more time consuming, but not necessarily harder than other garment sewing. So if you’ve never made a coat before, give it a try!

- I love working with wool, it really does sew and press unbelievably well.

- Wool apparently doesn’t shrink as much as I thought it would when pre-treated. I over bought in yardage to account for shrinking when I steamed it before cutting. I think I ordered 1 yard extra, and I was really afraid I under bought and would be short. Well, I received almost a full yard MORE than what I ordered when it arrived in the  mail, and as mentioned, it didn’t shrink as much as I anticipated it would. In the end, I still have 3 and a half yards of this beautiful wool coating. And that means…. Momma’s getting a new wool coat too!!!

But not right now, I’m tired of coat making! It was fun to be sure, but I’m ready for some instant gratification sewing.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Oliver + S School Days Coat – Total Success!

I am so completely satisfied, my kids are guaranteed to be warm this winter. I am finished with all three winter dress coats!

First I’ll show you my boys coat, made from the Oliver + S School Days pattern. Stay tuned for a later post on the girls’ coats.

This was my first ever Oliver + S pattern. I had read so much about how great these patterns are so I was excited to make one myself. I couldn’t be happier! It was so well drafted, the instructions are crystal clear and the finished coat is beautiful. And it went together very quickly. I had the coat done, start to end in two short evenings(not including cutting it out, that was done previously). I say short because both evenings were full of constant interruptions. Not bad for a fully lined, very RTW looking wool coat!

And my son really likes it. He is almost five and is very appreciative when I sew for him. Admittedly , I do sew more for the girls, partly because there are two of them to just one of him, but also because it is a bit easier for me to sew for girls. So when I make something for him, he really is happy. I hope this lasts!!

So without further ado, here it is!


As I wrote about before, it is made of a wool/nylon blend coating, underlined with cotton flannel and lined with satin charmeuse, with the exception of the hood, which is just the wool and flannel. I didn’t think a satin lined hood would be as comfortable nor would it stay on his head.


I had some care labels in my stash which I inherited from my mom’s stash so I added a Dry Clean Only label in the side seam of the lining. However, I think with the pre-treatment of all my materials, I should be able to hand wash this coat in cold water and line dry it without any risk.



These wooden toggles were the only ones I could find locally, and I looked long and hard. At first I was really disappointed about not finding black toggles, but now the contrast of the wood is growing on me. I had looked around online and found a few Etsy seller that had some nice black toggles, but I didn’t want to wait for them to be shipped. My son’s old coat was really too small and he needed this one to be finished!!

I used sew-on snaps for the closures under the front plackets, I always sew these on by machine with a narrow zig-zag set to a short stitch, similar to sewing on a regular button by machine. It makes me feel like I get it on more securely than it would be if I hand stitched them on – especially for something that is going to be snapped and unsnapped by a kid!


I did have some trepidation when it came to choosing a size to cut for him. When I compared his freshly taken measurements to the size chart on the pattern, he was all over the map. He measured at a size 6 for height, 5 for weight, 4 for chest and 12-18 months for waist and hip!! Hum, I always knew he was tall and skinny, but c’mon!! However, with so many gushing reviews of Oliver + S patterns, I still had reason to trust in their sizing. So I pondered it for a while and decided to cut a size 5, with added length of 2”. My goal was for it to come out just a little long and wide enough to be worn over a thick sweater comfortably. And it did! Provided he doesn’t grow 6 inches in a year (which he probably will since I don’t want him to) this coat should definitely last him for this winter as well as next winter.


I cant say enough about how happy I am with this pattern. It will get used over and over again. And I am so happy that Oliver + S has brought it back as a Digital Pattern, available for download. Although I purchased a paper pattern immediately when I found out it was going OOP, it’s nice to know that the digital option will be around should anything ever happen to my copy.

Pattern Review can be found here.

Next up, the girls’ coats.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Still Here!! Just Busy Sewing….

So sorry for the posting drought last week! I’ve been working on the coats so much and really nothing else. I did get the girls coats finished on schedule!!!

They have worn them a couple times already and they are fabulous!! I want to do a proper post on them, and I haven’t had a chance yet to photograph the girls in the coats, so I’ll leave you with this teaser photo.


This tag is so true, this has been a labor of love. My kiddos will be warm and cozy all winter long.

Also, the size tags that I mentioned before came just in time!!! I absolutely LOVE them. They came much faster than expected (I was told it would take three weeks, they arrived in one) and are exactly what I was looking for. In case anyone else is interested, I ordered them here. They have some other labels that I just might order in the future.


One of the things I like about these tags is the fact that they are reversible. The size is on both sides of the tag and can be sewn in vertically or horizontally.


I’m making progress on my boy’s coat, and would be farther along if not for the light bulb in my sewing machine burning out the other day. Little hard to do strait topstitching without the light. I do plan to finish it up before the end of the week still. The long weekend will help!

And I’m so excited about my most recent pattern purchase!!


I have been wanting this pattern for sooooooooooo long, but have not ever been able to find it in the above highlighted size range, as it is OOP. But I happened upon a shop in another state (via an internet search) that had some left in stock and I was able to order it. I’ve been just dying to sew it up, but I’m determined to plow through this last coat and get that finished before I start anything else new.

Next post, I promise, will have some finished objects!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sewing Expo and Other Updates

It has not been productive over here this week. One of my girls had a serious case of the stomach flu this week, therefore not much sewing has taken place.

However, I did spend yesterday at the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo in Minneapolis. My mom and I went together. In previous years, this has been at the Minneapolis Convention Center and has been really fun. But this year it was in a hotel and much smaller than before. I must say, we were both very disappointed.

We went through all the vendors in less than an hour and I really didn’t see a whole lot that thrilled me. I did pick up one neat tool though. This bias ruler and binding tool. The woman at this booth had a few great examples as she demonstrated it, so it came home with me. It will likely come in handy when my latest pattern purchase arrives in the mail – I FINALLY found the Oliver + S Sunday Brunch pattern in size 4-8 - so I’m anxious to try it myself then.

There is also a helpful YouTube video on it here.


There was a booth with lots of trims. ribbons, elastics and buttons, so I picked up a handful of buttons for my girls along with a piece of wide cotton elastic.


Since we left the Expo disappointed, we went to JoAnn’s and I picked up a few patterns for $1 each (except that Burda, that was a bit more)


some cute printed sweatshirt fleece that was in the Red Tag section with an additional 50% off


and some fabric dye, to go along with that cotton elastic from the Expo -  more on that later!


And I actually have made progress on the coats! They are even starting to look like coats. Really the only things left to do on these are construct and attach the lining and add the buttons/button holes, so these will definitely be finished this week!


My plan is to have my boy’s coat finished no later than the end of next week, but I’m still throwing ideas around in my head when it comes to the closures. I love the toggles, and I will keep those for sure, but I think I may want to add a zipper to make it easier for him to get on/off himself. Supposedly other have done this with success, but I’m not finding any photos or blog posts about it out there. Leave me a comment if you have made this coat with a zipper or know of someone who has!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Inspired By: ModCloth Academy Dress

So before I tackle all the sewing on my big coat project, I snuck in a quick project for myself!

I was inspired by this dress from ModCloth: Academy Dress


And I’ve had this in the works for a long time!!! I hinted about it back in September when I worked up this McCalls tunic. Well, when I made that tunic, I knew it was a great base pattern for this dress. With a few modifications, I think I got pretty close!




I was really a fairly easy dress to knock off. I took photos of my process and have put together a tutorial of how I did it. Click below to see the tutorial.

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