Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dainty Dresses: Smockin' Dots

I've been wanting to make some vintage style dresses for Natalie for quite a while now.  Does it get more vintage than hand smocked little dresses out of dainty little prints?

The purpose of smocking is to gather the fabric effectively, and in some cases, create elasticity or stretch in the garment.  These days, most "smocking" is actually shirring with elastic thread.  I've done that before, but I wanted the vintage feel of hand smocking.

I didn't know a single thing about smocking heading into this project.  And I had a little trouble finding helpful information and tutorials at first.  Did you know that there are different types of smocking?  There is English smocking, where you start out with your fabric already pleated, and then embroider on top of the pleating to create the smocked design.  They can get quit intricate or stay quite simple.  The best tutorial I found is here.

There is also North American or Canadian smocking, where you start out with just a grid on your fabric and you gather and make pleats as you go.  Traditionally, prints that already had a grid on them, like gingham and swiss dots were used.  This is also called counterchange smocking.

For this dress I used a honeycomb smocking technique, which is North American style smocking.  This is the tutorial I used.

 Since I loathe doing buttons and buttonholes, I used snaps instead, at least it works with the white dot print.
 I adore this sweet little dress, and loved spending the time smocking the top by hand.

 You can easily adapt a dress pattern you already have for the honeycomb smocking technique by doubling the width of the pattern front, keeping with the proportions of the pattern.  Since the smocking is doing the gathering of the skirt for you, you'll also want to cut the front of the dress to length.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

Another quilt to share

This is t-shirt quilt #3 this graduation season.  Another purple quilt, I think this is the seventh purple t-shirt quilt I've done.  This mom is incredible.  This is the 4th (and last) quilt that I've done for her, and she has saved EVERYTHING that her kids could possibly want to see on their t-shirt quilt.  Things from elementary school, middle school, high school, summer camps, interests...  I can only hope to be as thoughtful as my kids grow.  Although, if my hoarding tendencies are as bad as I know they can get, we'll have enough memorabilia for 10 t-shirt quilts, lol.

I can't believe that this is the first quilt I've done with signatures on a t-shirt.  While I'm sure the memories are fantastic, it was a bit of a pain to try to get maximum signature exposure without taking up 1/3 of the quilt.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dainty Dresses: Gingham Wrap Dress

Today's dress is a ruffly wrap dress made from a red gingham.  I started with the Snap Wrap Dress pattern from Prudent Baby.  
(That is her "cheese" smile.  Isn't she just too much ;)

I wasn't feeling the limitations of the snaps, I wanted the dress to grow with her as much as possible, since she has such terrible growth spurts.  I used ties instead of snaps and added strips of ruffles.
The hem was actually a happy accident.  At first I had the dress 2 inches longer, but it looked funny when I put it on her.  I had already sewn the ruffle to the hem, and did not feel like seam ripping, re-hemming and adding the ruffle again. So I folded up the edge 2 inches or so and sewed it down again.  I really love how it turned out.
The ties were easy to add.  One attached to the edge of each side.  Of course that leaves the matter of getting the inner tie out.

A simple buttonhole on the side managed that quite well, and with the ruffle you can hardly see it.
There you are, another installment of Dainty Dresses for summer fun.  This may be her 4th of July attire, does it get more American then red gingham?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dainty Dresses for Africa

 I love the Crafterhours blog, they come up with so many cute ideas and fabulous tutorials.  When they posted about Dresses for Africa I decided to send in what I could to give these girls new dresses.

 I used what I had sitting around my sewing table- red gingham, and an entire bag full of t-shirt quilt leftovers.
 I was worried about how the gingham would hold up since it is a looser weave, so EVERYTHING is super duper reinforced.
 The other dresses were made from t-shirts like the tee-to-tank tutorial on Crafterhours.  Once I got started with the t-shirt dresses I couldn't stop :)  I ended up sending 17 (!!) dresses off today!

The only thing about making t-shirt quilts that bothers me is how much t-shirt fabric is left over.  It is often too little to be useful yardage and too much to just throw away.  I have a bin full of leftovers stored in the barn, and a full bag from the last 3 quilts.  I was able to make 15 dresses of varied sizes just from the sizable leftovers in the bag.  I did have to piece together some of the smaller widths to get the length I needed.
 I also stumbled upon an idea that kept me from needing to make casings at the top.  The hems are already there!  These are tubes from the bottom portion of two shirts joined together with the armholes cut out of the white tube.  This opened up the hem and allowed the straps to be fed through the casing easily.  I used a zig zag stitch to secure the ends of the hem so that it wouldn't unravel.

 I hope the recipients enjoy these just as much as I enjoyed making them!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dainty Dresses: Infinity Dress

 Last year I was on an infinity dress kick, I made a few for myself and one for Natalie.

 I love how light and comfy they are. 
 There are so many cute options with all the strap configurations.
I made another one this year. I was stashbusting, so I had a few "make it work" moments, but I love it when those happen :)  Things turn out so much better when you stretch yourself.  The contrasting straps were a result of the fact that I didn't have much of the purple knit since it was a remnant.  A knit jersey, preferably with a bit of spandex, is the best fabric for this type of dress.
An infinity dress is basically a glorified circle skirt with long straps attached.  First you need to take measurements.  I measured around Natalie's chest (20 inches), and from her chest down to just past her knee (19 inches).  I won't go over how to cut a circle skirt.  Dana did an expert job at explaining how to make a pattern for a circle skirt here.  Just substitute the chest measurement for the waist measurement.
Cut our your circle skirt, two straps that are 1.5 times as long as the height of your subject. These straps are 5 inches wide.  A general rule for strap width is the chest measurement divided by 4.
Overlap the two straps by about 1-2 inches, then place on the edge of the circle skirt.
Pin the straps to hold them in place.
Sew or serge down the straps to secure them for the next step.
This shows how the straps should be overlapped.
The next step is to add a band around the waist.  I made the band from the same jersey as the dress in the red dress.  This time I happened to have grey elastic that matched the straps.  I cut the elastic to size (chest measurement), and joined the ends.
Then I attached the band to the skirt at the two side points as well as center back, and center front.  I placed the seam of the elastic on the side because sometimes the back of the dress can be the front when tying the dress up.  Overlap the elastic and the edge of the skirt by 1/4".
Stretch and sew the elastic down and you are finished.
Have fun trying out the infinite number of looks you can get.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dainty Dresses: Yellow Ruffle Dress

 I've been promising Bug some pretty dresses lately, and all of the sudden I've had the urge to make good on my promises.  So the Dainty Dresses series has begun.  I have lots to share!
 First up is the ruffle dress.  Natalie and I saw ruffle fabric at Hobby Lobby and neither of us could resist.  She requested yellow, and her wish is my command!
 This dress seriously took 10 minutes from start to finish.

I folded the fabric in half, right sides together (shook the ruffles so they were all facing down).
I placed a dress that I knew fit her well on top.  I traced dress and pinned the fabric together.  Cut the dress out and sewed the side seams.  Then I cut out the top, being mindful of the ruffle placement.  No hemming needed, because the fabric won't fray.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Vintage Doll Furniture

I received this treasure on my wedding day.  My aunt saved them for me after my great grandmother passed away.
My dad made them himself from soda cans when he was a kid.

 He made this set as pincushions for his grandmother, which is why my aunt saved them for the sewer in the family :)  I love having something that he made to remind me of him.  He was a very handy DIYer and my mom has always been crafty, I think it's safe to say I got my creative spirit from my parents.
 Apparently, this type of crafting was popular in the 60's and 70's.  Tin can furniture was also used as dollhouse furniture.   I was fascinated by the detail, and recreating this project has been in the back of my mind for nearly 4 years.  I finally decided it was time to try it out yesterday.  I googled high and low, but there really isn't much information out there on quilling tin cans into doll furniture.

So I studied the two pieces I had, and tried to recreate them. Here is what I came up with!

 It took about 2 hours to cut up and quill the cans, and the cushions took about 30 minutes. Not too bad, all things considered.
 I learned a few things just from doing it on my own, and I'm planning a tutorial to share what I learned.  I'll share how I made the chair, footstool, and hopefully a rocking chair as well.  Tutorial is up here!
Natalie was ecstatic when they were finally finished and we could play with them (she desperately wanted to play with the originals when I pulled them off the shelf to study them).  She's had little wooden people from her train set sitting on them all day :)