Monkey Bizness Smocked Sundress

Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles
Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles

This is the fastest (wearable) garment I have ever made. I made this in about two hours, and if I weren’t a mother of four, who knows how quickly I could have done this without interruptions? The mind boggles.

This is the Heather Ross Smocked Sundress. You can find the free tutorial on the Martha Stewart website where there is a video as well, or in Heather Ross’ book Weekend Sewing (though the reviews of the book are not kind). There is also a pattern for a larger dress for women, the Mendocino Sundress Pattern available to download, also for free.

Official inspection completed!
Official inspection completed!

The main criticism of her book seems to be that there are errors in the instructions and missing details. I found the instructions for this project to be alright – I mostly skimmed them. But then I’m an experienced sewist, perhaps a beginner would find them more problematic?

Heather Ross Smocked Sundress
Heather Ross Smocked Sundress

I didn’t have any problems with the smocking with elastic thread. It was incredibly easy. My machine handled it beautifully. There also isn’t a lot of seam finishing in this dress, since most seams are enclosed or involve the fabric selvedge. Yay! And fitting isn’t that much of an issue, since the dress has a lot of give in the smocking. This dress fit perfectly.

Heather Ross Smocked Sundress
Heather Ross Smocked Sundress

I only made two changes. First, I cut the dress a bit shorter than I had intended (oops!), and so I hemmed the dress with a narrow hem, instead of the wide one in the instructions. It’s still quite long, so it should last a while.

I like the length a lot. Lots of room to grow.
I like the length a lot. Lots of room to grow.

Second, I changed the straps. The directions call for four straps that tie in bows at the shoulder. It’s a cute look, but those ties always come undone. Instead I used two straps, and fed them criss-crossed through a small loop in the centre back. I anchored the loop very securely with extra rows of stitching. This way there is one bow in the back, and it can be tied more securely.

Here you can see how I made the straps work, by running them through a small loop.
Here you can see how I made the straps work, by running them through a small loop.

Let’s talk fabric! This is quilting cotton, which is great for summer – so breathable and super easy to work with. The print is Monkey’s Bizness Market Floral in the bright colourway from Alexander Henry. I really like this print. It’s a floral pattern, but not too girly. I’m not one for ruffles and frills and bows and often floral patterns are either a little too old or a little too saccharine. This one is perfect and the scale of the print is really nice too. Even my husband said it was “so pretty” (and this almost never happens!).

I used a narrow hem instead of the wider one in the instructions.
I used a narrow hem instead of the wider one in the instructions.

Another great thing about this pattern is that it doesn’t use a lot of fabric. I only had one yard of this fabric, and I only used 2/3 of that. I did cut the straps on the straight grain though. If I had cut them on the bias, I would have had less fabric left over.

I really like the way the straps tie in the back.
I really like the way the straps tie in the back.

I’m really happy about the results. I wanted something cute and easy to sew, especially after the more advanced linen shirtdress I made recently. This was both. And my daughter really loves it and says it’s super comfortable as well. Yay!

This is a really comfortable dress. I'm seriously considering making the adult version.
This is a really comfortable dress. I’m seriously considering making the adult version.

Warp & Weft Sewing Society

This is a Warp & Weft Sewing Society project. Esmari of Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles has some great fabrics. Lots of quilting cottons, but other things as well, including some really unique finds.  Right now there are three of us in the sewing society all creating projects using her fabrics. It’s quite fun, because we could all be using the same fabric, but of course we’ll come up with such different results – so much creativity! Be sure to check out the other Warp & Weft Sewing Society members, Cynthia and Carla to see what they’re up to.

Summary

Pattern Review: Heather Ross Smocked Sundress.

Size: (by measurements), though my daughter is usually between sizes 3 and 4.

Fabric: Monkey’s Bizness Market Floral in the bright colourway from Alexander Henry. Available from Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles.

Sewing Level: Beginner.

Modifications: I changed the straps to tie in the back and made a narrow hem instead of the wide hem in the instructions..

Results: Cute. Unbelievably quick to sew.

And she's off!
And she’s off!

Flowers for Summer

I made this dress two years ago, but since I took some good photos this weekend and I haven’t blogged it yet, I thought I’d do that that now.

Summer flowers are always nice.
Summer flowers are always nice.

This is Burda Kids 9702. It comes in sizes 18 months to 5. But if you’d like it in a larger size, it appears to be almost identical to Burda Kids 9755 which comes in sizes 6 to 11. I really like this pattern, so I just recently bought the larger one as well.

I made view A, a sleeveless dress with gathered skirt, buttons in the back and a bow tied in the back at the waist. It isn’t especially clear in the technical drawings, but view A has an almost empire waist, while view B is longer in the bodice. I would probably use the longer bodice if I were to make the dress again. I skipped the flowers on the waistband.

I like the bow in the back. It's girly, but not so much that it annoys me.
I like the bow in the back. It’s girly, but not so much that it annoys me.

I made it this dress a size 5 when my daughter was a size 4. It’s meant to be tea length, but it was extra long at first. But I’m glad I didn’t shorten it because it has lasted two years, which is amazing when you consider how much she’s grown over that time. Crazy!

This was a really easy pattern to make. The instructions were great and there were no hitches – just straight forward sewing. It was also quite quick. It’s a classic style, and I’ve tried other patterns in a similar style before, but this one has been the best. I cannot recommend it enough.

This dress works really well with a big print and it's comfortable for the summer.
This dress works really well with a big print and it’s comfortable for the summer.

I made the dress in quilting cotton. The fabric is Pick A Bunch Organic Blooms in Sunflower by Nancy Mim’s from Robert Kaufman. Quite a mouthful! But really cute, and the larger print works well with a longer skirt. I had a tough time choosing the thread. The entire dress is topstitched, and the colours are so different. In the end I went with a dark pink that matched the fabric background.

The entire dress is top stitched.
The entire dress is top stitched.

This dress has gotten a surprising amount of use. It’s one of my daughter’s favourites. It’s great for summer, but she also layered it over shirts in the fall and spring. But it looks like it’s almost time for a new one, she’s growing so fast!

Summary

Pattern Review: Burda Kids 9702.

Fabric: Pick A Bunch Organic Blooms quilting cotton in Sunflower by Nancy Mim’s from Robert Kaufman.

Size: 4.

Sewing Level: Beginner.

Modifications: I skipped the roses on the waistband.

Results: Great. I would strongly recommend this pattern and will definitely make it again.

Indigo Linen Jump Rope Dress

It’s been so hot in Montreal lately, the perfect weather for linen dresses.

This is the Jump Rope Dress (view B) by Oliver + S. The shirtwaist dress features cuffed sleeves, gathered patch pockets, collar and front placket. I made view B which has long sleeves and an a-line shape.

The Jump Rope Dress by Oliver + S
The Jump Rope Dress by Oliver + S (view B)

My daughter is between sizes 3 and 4 at the moment, so I made a size 4, which was a little long and slightly large, but leaves room to grow. The linen fabric doesn’t have a lot of give, so making it larger, rather than smaller seemed like a good idea.

Ack! So cute!
Ack! So cute! (The Jump Rope Dress by Oliver + S)

As with all Oliver + S patterns, the instructions are great, but this is not a pattern for beginners. Oliver + S patterns are rated by difficulty on a scale of four scissors, and this one gets three. It’s not really a difficult pattern, but it does have a lot of finicky details.

More cuteness!
More cuteness! (The Jump Rope Dress by Oliver + S)

It’s made like a proper men’s shirt, minus the collar stand. The instructions for the front placket, for example, take one full page of the pattern instructions. On the other hand, the results were great. I’ll be making another. Seems kid No 1 wants one too.

Curved collar and front placket
Curved collar and front placket of the Jump Rope Dress by Oliver + S

The only change I made was to the hem. The pattern calls for a narrow hem, but the dress was just too long for my little girl, so I made a wider one that I can always lengthen later. I also used contrasting fabric for the pocket binding and inside front placket. I’ve seen other versions where the entire collar and placket were in a contrasting fabric and that looks really nice as well.

Contrast fabric on the inner front placket.
Contrast fabric on the inner front placket.
Folded cuffs on the sleeves.
Folded cuffs on the sleeves.

I have been hoarding this fabric forever, so it was time to get it sewn up. The fabric is a cotton linen chambray in Indigo Washed by Robert Kaufman. It has a really lovely sheen, and the colour is beautiful. It handles like a linen, which means it’s a little stiff at first, but also stretches a little while sewing. The key is lots of pressing. It has to be my favourite fabric ever.

The fabric has a beautiful sheen.
The fabric has a beautiful sheen.

I love how this turned out. It’s cute and easy to wear, comfortable for the summer, nice enough for school and quite durable. I really love the pockets.

Patch pockets with contrast bias binding.
Patch pockets with contrast bias binding.

This dress is part of the Kids Clothes Week  Summer Challenge and the Stashbusting Sew-Along.

Summary

Pattern Review: Jump Rope Dress (view B) by Oliver + S.

Fabric: Cotton linen chambray in Indigo Washed by Robert Kaufman.

Size: 4.

Sewing Level: Intermediate to advanced.

Modifications: I made a wider hem and used contrasting fabric for the pocket binding and inside front placket.

Results: Great. I would recommend this pattern and will definitely make it again.

Barefoot for summer
Barefoot for summer in the Jump Rope Dress by Oliver + S

Shorts on the Line

The first day of summer! And so I decided to sew up something fun.

Here is the before shot. As part of my collaboration with Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles I received this beautiful fabric. It’s Bella Flower in Blue by Lotta Jansdotter for Windham Fabrics. I can’t tell you how long I have coveted this fabric!

Bella Flower in Blue by Lotta Jansdotter for Windham Fabrics
I have long coveted this fabric. It’s so pretty! Bella Flower in Blue by Lotta Jansdotter for Windham Fabrics.

And since the shorts on the line sew along is taking place right now, and I’ve been eyeing the new Parsley Pants pattern from Made by Rae, I figured the stars were aligned for a pair of Parsley shorts.

These are the Parsley Pants (as shorts) from Made by Rae.
These are the Parsley Pants (as shorts) from Made by Rae, and the fabric is Bella Flower in Blue. I made the pattern as shorts, added pintucks, box pleat pockets and a flat-front waistband.

I am really happy with these. They aren’t your boring, everyday shorts. The pattern has a number of variations included, and there are additional tutorials for this pattern on the Made by Rae blog. I opted for added pintucks on the front and back, box pleat pockets and a flat-front waistband.

I top stitched and edgestitched the pockets and pocket flaps.
I top stitched and edgestitched the pockets and pocket flaps. You can see the pintucks here as well. I also used flat felled seams inside (sorry, no photos).

I also followed Made by Rae’s instructions for how to make shorts from a pants pattern, and partially followed the tutorial for how to make super seams where the Parsley shorts are used as an example. I used flat felled seams for the inseam on my shorts.

Parsley shorts by The Finished Garment.
I was going for a surfer girl look, and I really like how these turned out.

Here are the shorts are on my 6-year-old. I was going for a surfer girl look, and I think this is a success largely because of the fabric. It’s fun and not too precious for my big girl. I made the shorts in a size seven, though according to the pattern sizing my daughter should be in a six. But seven fits perfectly and should last the summer. I’m so glad I opted to go bigger.

Parsley shorts by The Finished Garment.
Just the right length!

I used a 2.5 inch inseam when making the shorts. They end up being long enough that the box pleat pockets have enough room, but still look girly.

I love this pattern! And kid #2 has already requested his own pair of shorts, so the kids like it too.

There was quite a bit of extra fabric, so I decided to make a headband to match. I used this German pattern from Erbsenprinzessin. But things went badly awry. The headband turned out to be way too small. We don’t have a shortage of small heads here, so I was hoping it would fit my two-year-old, but no!

Baby headband sewn for The Finished Garment.
The first headband was so small that only my smallest could wear it. And she has no hair!

The only head that would fit is my 11-month old, and she has no hair! I’m not usually one for headbands on babies (I think she looks a bit like a ninja), but since I had already sewn it up, I figured it should be worn at least once.

Kids' headband in Bella Flower (Blue).
I also made a matching headband.

So back to the drawing board! I made the whole thing again much larger and it seems to be a big hit.

Kids' headband in Bella Flower (Blue).
The headband is in two pieces with elastic in the back only.

Now that I have the sizing right, I’ll probably make this pattern again.

Summary 1

Pattern Review: Parsley Pants (as shorts) from Made by Rae.

Fabric: Bella Flower in Blue by Lotta Jansdotter for Windham Fabrics, courtesy Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles.

Size: 7.

Sewing Level: Intermediate (with the modifications below), or beginner.

Modifications: I followed the included instructions for added pintucks on the front and back, box pleat pockets and a flat-front waistband. I top stitched and edgestitched the pockets and pocket flaps. I also used flat felled seams in the inseam.

Results: Great. I would recommend this pattern and will definitely make it again.

Summary 2

Pattern Review: Haarband für Kinder  by from Erbsenprinzessin (in German)

Fabric: Bella Flower in Blue by Lotta Jansdotter for Windham Fabrics, courtesy Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles.

Size: one size (but I enlarged it by almost 1/2 inch in all directions).

Sewing Level: Beginner.

Modifications: I enlarged the pattern.

Results: Great, when resized. I would recommend this pattern with modifications and will probably make it again.

Parsley Shorts by The Finished Garment. Headband and shorts in action!
Headband and shorts in action!

This project is part of the shorts on the line sew along and a project for the Warp & Weft Sewing Society.

Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles
Warp & Weft Exquisite Textiles
shorts on the line - a summer sew along
shorts on the line – a summer sew along

Dino Patches

It has come to this. Yes, I am blogging my mending.

Dino Patches
Dino patches. They can see each other.

I know, I know…where have I been? From reading my blog you probably know I have four kids. But I also run my own business, sit on two boards and co-organize a yearly tech conference. Add in a family health crisis and things get a bit crazy. Sometimes something has to give and this time round, it was my sewing.

This is one of the things I have managed to get done – patches. I had two pairs of jeans to patch so I used two different fabrics. They turned out quite well and were a huge hit.

Dino Patches
Dino patches.

I followed this tutorial, using method number three, by Made by Rae. They are made with three layers: quilting cotton, double-sided adhesive, and standard iron-on patches.

It worked really well. My iron was a bit hot so the double-sided adhesive didn’t work on one patch. Oh well, these would be in the trash otherwise, so I can’t complain too much.

Whale Patches
Whale patches. Just a bit overexposed.

But it did mean that stitching around the patches was no longer optional. Luckily these jeans were size four, so they just fit on my sewing machine arm. With smaller jeans this never would have worked. As it is, it isn’t my prettiest stitching. But my son loves them, and that’s what counts.

Fabrics:

Dino Dudes in Navy by Michael Miller

Bright Whales by Ann Kelle from Urban Zoologie (Robert Kaufman).