I started the top this past weekend, and so far, so good. The picture below was before I attached the straps to the back, and before I inserted the elastic. I want the elastic casing to go along the bottom of the top-part of the dress, but I wanted to make sure I left enough seam allowance for the skirt. If you look you can see the two black marks for the seam allowance, and two black marks for where the elastic will be stitched on either side. In fact, you can see where I already attached the elastic on the left.
And here it is with the straps sewed in and the elastic added (though I haven't finished the top of the casing).
Next time I get a chance--the skirt!
I think I've figured out my design--whether it will work, who knows!
As I mentioned before, I want to go with the basic design from the monogrammed shirt & bloomers, however, I planned to add a scooped neck and spaghetti straps. The biggest challenge, however, is to figure out a way to make sure the darn thing FITS this time. To that end, I think I've come up with a plan to incorporate some elastic across the back that will make the measurements more forgiving.
I've sketched out the design above. The squiggly bit across the middle of the back is the elastic casing. I'm hoping if I stitch the elastic across the bottom of the back's narrowest panel, the result will be a sort of ruffle across the top portion. I'm worried that the resulting skirt, which will be gathered, will be overly-gathered, but I can't quite visualize, so we'll just wait and see. I'm hoping the diagonal straps, instead of the straight I've done so far, will help keep the whole thing in place.
I used the pattern that I'd drafted for the monogrammed blouse, and sketched out my altered version for this project. You can see them here, side by side. The scoop neck, the points for the straps to connect, and the part that's shaded with diagonal lines is where the elastic is going to go (the whole narrow part isn't going to be the casing--its much wider than the elastic, and I want to be sure the elastic stays where it's supposed to.
Next-up: The sewing!
Baby-Girl's birthday is on the horizon (terrifyingly close, really), and of course I would love to make her birthday dress--or maybe a romper since it is HER birthday, and we know what she'd prefer. Since it's a special occasion, I might even (gasp!) actually buy some "real" fabric--no pillowcases for my baby's first birthday! It's a big step guys. Big.
I think I am going to use the general form from the top of the too-small monogrammed-blouse-and-romper outfit. However, she's a spring baby, and it's for a party, so I think I'll make it with spaghetti straps and maybe a scoop neck. If I do a dress, I might drop the waist a bit more, so the shirt flares at her natural waist.
Since I have a had such a horrid time with fit, I think I want to find a way to work in either some shirring or elastic, so my measurements don't have to be so spot-on. I'm thinking maybe some shirring in the back, but I'm not quite sure how that will work.
I picked up a pink linen table cloth for 99 cents at a thrift store, so I'm going to use that to make a rough draft--then take it from there. Wish me luck!
Sewing Attempt #4: Shirt, Bloomers & Monograms (a.k.a. In which I learn some important lessons on baby growth rates and "ease")
I've done it--attempted to create an actual real-live outfit. I worked with care, I measured and re-measured. I was super-careful to make beautiful straight seams. I added some bias-tape trim, taught myself all about piping. And the end result:
Pretty, no? A nice, smart little outfit. Only there's one itsy, bitsy, teensy, weensy problem....
It doesn't fit.
I didn't have this problem in my previous projects, because I didn't plan them to fit--they were all intended for her to grow into. So where did I go wrong?
1. EASE--"wearing ease" is basically the difference between your body measurements and the minimum amount of room you need to comfortably wear a garment. Hint: This number has to be more than zero (d'oh). In hindsight this seems obvious--I blame the violent stomach virus Baby Girl had last week and the resulting lack of sleep! Here is a great resource all about ease from Craftsy.com
2. BABIES GROW FAST--I think someone must have smacked me with the idiot hammer, because I missed this one too. I had actually built in an extra inch of room (though I considered it "oops" room, in case my stitching went crooked, rather than "ease"), but I failed to also take into account how long it would take me to sew it. What little ease I had disappeared in the three weeks it took to get this thing put together.
Fortunately, I was able to wedge Baby in for a few photographs, but I think that's the beginning and end of this little outfit.
On the bright side, I think a lot of things worked with this little outfit, and I think I want to try again--though probably not right away.
Click thumbnails below for full image:
I liked the idea of a low back, as opposed to the nightgown I'd been making so far, so when I saw this dress over at Craftiness is Not Optional, I thought it was pretty perfect. I love the look of it, and Jess (the author) provides detailed instructions with TONS of pictures. It's a sundress, and I already explained about Baby-Girl's hatred for sundresses--so I decided to use the general idea but make it into a top and add bloomers.
I made quite a few changes.
1. One was obviously the length, since it was a top instead of a dress, but I also decreased the width of the "skirt" fabric so there would be less gathering. I didn't want it to hang to the ground and get in the way of her crawling.
2. I added some black piping. It was really easy, and I learned how from this great tutorial from over at Makeit-Loveit.com. Then I added some black bias tape around the hem.
3. Instead of cutting out 4 pieces to make the chest band, I just cut out two big ones (see image on right). It seemed easier--two pieces to cut instead of four, fewer seams (one instead of five), less pressing, etc.
4. I used hook and eye instead of buttons. My machine has an automatic botton foot, but unforunately it's possessed by the devil. You may notice on the back of my blue bustled dress that the buttons are wonky. This is because the button-holer jammed a half-dozen times, and chewed the fabric all up, so I had to adjust the placement of the buttons because the poor fabric was so mangled. I'll go back and try it again one day, but this was not that day!
5. I added a monogrammed pocket.
A while ago, I stumbled across the blog Needle 'n Thread, by Mary Corbet and was completely blown away by her surface embroidery. The woman is a genius, a complete master of her craft. She gives pointers to problems I am not nearly sophisticated enough to have. I don't do a lot of surface embroidery (hardly any, really), but I LOVE following her blog and seeing what she's up to.
In any case, of the many things available on her blog, are free monogram patterns and tutorial videos on different stitches. I decided to give it a shot and make a monogram for Baby Girl's little outfit.
I decided to put it on a pocket, because if I messed up, I could just start again on a different scrap of material until I got it right (you can see in the picture below, it took me a couple tries, so it's a good thing I did!).
Click thumbnails below for full image:
To create the actual pocket, I followed this tutorial over at Elegant Musings. Pop on over to get detailed instructions, but basically you cut out a cardboard pattern to press your edges around. THIS WAS A LIFE SAVER. Even with her helpful tips it took me a while to get everything tucked properly.
I wanted to cover the back of the embroidery (so if you stuck your hand in the pocket, you wouldn't feel the strings), so I made the fabric twice as long as it needed to be and folded it in half. So basically the pocket was a double layer of fabric. I also added a bit of bias tape along the top to match the rest of the outfit. Other than that, I followed the tutorial, and it turned out pretty well, I think.
For the bloomers, I used the pattern in Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross. Again, I added the little black bias tape trim. I can't remember for sure, but I think she uses elastic to close the leg holes, but since I wanted the trim to show like a little ruffle, I used elastic thread and shirred it. In hindsight, I would do a couple things differently. For one, I used Dritz brand elastic thread, which ended up being really "sharp" feeling--not good for little baby skin. I have since learned that Guterman has a much nicer end result. I also would do two rows of elastic, so it is stronger and more puckered, and I think that would make it feel nicer on the leg since the thin elastic would be under less stress. It would only take a few moments to pull out the elastic and do it again (me and my seam-ripper are best buds at this point), but since the top is already too small for Baby-Girl, it's not worth it. I could make a new top, since the bloomers fit fine--but that's the problem with using old pillow cases for fabric--you can't get any more!
I may have mentioned before that I have a bit of a book addiction. I lurve, lurve, lurve them. So much so, I am a librarian and an author, so when I saw these some amazingly beautiful roses made from book pages I knew I had to give them a shot.
The tutorial is from a wedding site called The 100 Layer Cake courtesy of the talented Valerie Lloyd (FYI, if you don't feel like making your own, she sells them through her Etsy shop). The instructions were clear and easy to follow--not to mention beautifully photographed.
For mine. I used an academic journal that a university was going to recycle, and it was pretty perfect. The paper was nice and stiff without being too thick (I think card stock would be too thick), was a nice creamy color, had no pictures (though I did have to dodge a few graphs), and, of course, free. The only change I made to the original design was to add the red tips. I thought it'd look nice if the petals "popped" a bit. I used a mixture of scarlet and burnt sienna watercolor to give it that vintage-y red color. The only thing I didn't like about these, were that each one took FOREVER to make (especially the painting). If not for that, I would have made a bower over baby-girl's crib :).
I've posted a few times about crafts I've done for the nursery (the pearl monogram and butterfly mobile), but haven't shone it in its entirety--so I thought I'd pop it up.
We were interested in outfitting our baby on a budget, and I think the whole room cost about $650 bucks, furniture and all. We lucked out and found a pretty crib and dresser on Craigslist in an off-white for $200. They were like new--not a scratch on em!
I love reading (I'm a librarian and a novelist to prove it!) so when I saw the adorable faux-chalkboard sign at TJ Maxx for $20 bucks, I snapped it up. The frame is a standard sized one from Michaels and I just painted it white.
They're cheap, light-weight (important when you're installing at 8-months preggo), and adjustable. As she gets bigger (and her clothes get longer!) I can take out shelves in just a few seconds.
The cloth bins are from Home Depot as well, only $7 a piece, and in nice baby-friendly colors. I think the shelves cost something like $80, and the bins were $84 + tax, so I think this final project was just under $180 and took a Saturday morning to install.
So the crib and dresser were ~$200, the closet ~$180, the rocker was ~$180 (Sam's club), the mobile was about ~$20, the sign and frame ~$30, the fabric hamper $25 (Baby's R US), the pictures ~$12, and the "M" supplies ~$10, for a total of $650 (ish) Not bad considering a lot places charge $600 just for a crib!
Click thumbnails below for full image:
UPDATE--the "chalk-board" silhouettes
My daughter hates dresses with a passion. The poor thing gets her knees caught up while she's crawling and roars in fury. So, cute though little dresses are, I decided to try something my little lady could actually wear nowish (not now now--but once it warms up). Enter: The Romper!
The romper was made from a pillowcase from my mother in law, then I followed this shirred sunsuit tutorial from Made by Rae. The only change I made is that I prefer a wider, straight strap, so that was easy enough to fix.
I did make an "oops" that I am going to have to fix. I'm not really sure what I did wrong, but the leg holes didn't shrink up quite as much as I needed them to in order to fit snugly around her legs. You can't tell in the pictures, but I have safety pins on the outside of the leg holes making them smaller until I get a chance to fix it. I was too impatient to take pictures to fix it before hand (plus the sun was pretty that day!), but I'll update the post once I get a chance.
I think the too-big leg holes could be because of one of two things:
1. Rae's pattern is for a smaller baby than mine, and when I increased the size, I didn't alter the pattern correctly. Basically I think I may have needed a wider crotch-panel (and hence, smaller leg holes) since my fabric (and baby!) is wider.
2. You're supposed to shirr on your longest stitch setting--to catch the most fabric, I'm assuming, and therefore make the resulting shirred area shorter. My sewing machine only goes up to 4, and think 5-6 is pretty common.
It could be both, or it could be a third problem I don't know enough to diagnose. I'm thinking it will be easy enough to fix--I'm planning to take in the sides of the leg holes where I currently have safety pins.
I'll have to cut through the elastic thread, so we'll see how that goes--it might loosen the whole leg band and I'll have to re-shirr, but that was pretty easy, so I'm not worried. Maybe I'll get lucky in the new stitches will keep the elastic in place. I'll let you know how it goes!
Here are some great tips on shirring that I used from Makeit-loveit.com. I was surprised how easy it was. I definitely recommend using Guterman and not Dritz elastic thread. The Dritz didn't pull up nearly as much, and it was really...sharp is the best way to describe it, inside the leg--not good for little baby skin. It may have been operator-error, but I didn't have thee same problem with the Guterman.
Once I finished the romper, I noticed I had some nice lengths of fabric left--just the right length to make some pretty fabric rosebuds...the kind that would look perfectly sweet on a little headband.
For the roses, I followed this tutorial over at Cherry Street Cottage. Her instructions are darn-near idiot-proof. For attaching the roses to the headband, I sewed them on with some heavy-duty button & carpet thread. I highly recommend doing this and not hot gluing or using regular thread, unless your baby happens to be a lot more amenable to headbands than mine! The poor thing took a LOT of abuse in the short half-hour she had it on!
UPDATE: Doctoring the "Oops"
This was a craft project I finished at the buzzer--as in, I hung it the night before baby girl surprised us with her early arrival. I guess she figured since her name was on the door, we were ready.
This is simply a wooden "M" I purchased for a couple bucks at Michaels. It was wood colored so I painted it white so you wouldn't see wood between the pearls, then hot glued a bunch of pearls on it, packing them in as tightly as I could. Michael's sells a mixed container of pearls--cream, gold, and grey--in three sizes. It wasn't what I set out to buy (they didn't have a bulk pack of one color/size), but I ended up really liking the textured surface that resulted, and I think the multiple sizes fit together a lot closer than a single size would have. The hot gluing took a lot longer than I expected, but it was an easy-while-watching-TV activity. At the end I rubbed my hand over it firmly and shook it real good to make sure any loose pearls fell off before my baby was crawling.
I came across the idea from this awesome blog Our Unexpected Journey where she made a holiday version with red berries--click over and check out the awesomeness.
Every Christmas, my husband and I spend some time at my in-law's house, and because I'm off from work, I try to take advantage of my free time by doing some sort of craft project. The catch is, it has to be fairly mobile (I'm not toting my sewing machine!).
This last Christmas was special because I was planning for the arrival of our sweet baby girl--which meant nursery decorations. If you spend any time on Pinterest, then whether you have a baby or not, you've probably seen the butterfly mobile--and I figured it was perfect. All I needed was some paper, a printer, and a pair of scissors and I was good to go (at least for the first part).
A lot of bloggers who have made this used a hole punch, which would probably save a lot of time. I had plenty of time, so I did it the old fashioned way--I found an outline of a butterfly online, made it the size I wanted, copy and pasted it as many times as would fit on a page, and changed the resolution so it printed in a soft grey (I didn't want my sloppy cutting to result in irregular black edges).
I liked the look of the double butterflies I saw someone do (I think it was at www.sosmartalex.blogpot.com, but she has since taken her post down). To attach them to the string I "sewed" through the butterflies a few times with a needle and extra-strong thread (I think it was called "button & carpet thread" or something like that). At the bottom I hung a couple of beads to add some weight (and sparkle!). The top of the mobile is made from a large embroidery hoop I picked up at Michael's and painted white and covered in some pretty ribbon.
You can't tell from this picture, but in the center of the hoop is an X made from thin wood trim with a spiral design on it I also bought from Michael's and painted white. This is where the center butterflies are hung from. I nailed them using tiny, tiny nails to the embroidery hoop.
I inherited a bunch of used baby stuff from my brother, one thing which was a mobile. The part that spun the toys came off easily, and I used that to suspend my mobile so it would play music and spin.
Click thumbnails below for full image:
I hung my mobile a little higher than most mobiles, since it's easily destructible, and the beads are choke hazards if she ever managed to rip one off, but baby girl doesn't seem to mind. She grins HUGELY whenever I turn it on. Overall, a success!
As I mentioned, the tutorial that I followed has sadly been taken down, but I did a quick search and this tutorial looks great: http://www.littlecrunchy.com/2011/08/aug-09-butterfly-mobile.html.
Emboldened by my earlier pillow-case nightgown success (except for the neckline--but I figured out a cheat for that!) I decided to try again--but this time with some custom frills (literally). Influenced more by my love of Jane Austin than any desire to create something a toddler could actually wear in public, I decided to add an outrageous amount of ruffles and an enormous bow--because what almost-one-year old doesn't need a floor length gown with a bustle??
The end result....
It's too big for her right now (I was aiming for it to fit once she's able to walk), but I couldn't resist putting it on her and snapping a few pics.
I used the same pattern as before (available here). I then dropped the waist a couple inches since the original was nearly an empire, added the ruffles in the rear, and made the sash. The work around for the dreaded collar was bias tape (I know, I know, if you've been sewing for more than an hour, you probably already know about bias tape--but it was a game-changer for me!).
The ruffles were inspired by this gorgeous dress from Sewing in No Mans Land . I love the whole thing, but it's waaaay more advanced than I'm capable of right now--maybe one day (siiiiiigh). So I limited myself to the ruffles.
And these two precious knit dresses from www.creatingbycami.blogspot.com and www.heartbreakkids.com. I definitely want to try the patriotic one for the Fourth of July--but it depends whether I'm daring enough to attempt knits before then. I've heard they're a bear.
And, of course, from a lifetime of reading Jane Austin novels and historical romances.