A Sweet Little (Butterfly Conservatory) Dress

This season, I took a little leap and signed up for Kid’s Clothes Week (KCW) for April 2015. I welcomed the gentle pressure and reams of inspiration that accompany the KCW tradition. The theme this season: Wild Things. What a rich theme filled with creative possibility.DSC_1125I have had far less time that I had hoped at my sewing machine this week, but I did create a “Sweet Little Dress” by Leila and Ben for my youngest daughter who turned 3 on Tuesday. Admittedly, my contribution is a bit of a stretch on the theme, but it would be a fabulous dress to wear to a butterfly conservatory and thus is a dress that would be very attractive to “wild things”.DSC_1079DSC_1086I love this pattern and have used it many times as a basis for costumes and for presents for friends. It sews up very quickly. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. For this dress, I modified the neckline with a slightly deeper scoop and lengthened the sleeves a bit. I remembered finding the sleeves a little short in the armpit and thought a little more length would help out with that. Although my daughter is a petite 3 year old, I made the size 3 and it fits perfectly. DSC_1070DSC_1157The fabric for this dress is from Alexander Henry’s “Everyday Eden” line. It’s called “Esprit” in red/orange. It’s a beautiful, slightly thicker, 100% cotton. Very easy to work with and I love how it holds its shape. The fabrics from this collection are very unique in their tones. I had bought this one to go along with another fabric from this line (used for this shift dress), but the fabrics never really seemed to go together the way that I wanted. DSC_1164Although it is a very simple dress, my “wild thing” loves it and we do look forward to a swarm of butterflies checking it out the next time we head to the conservatory.


The Franklin Dress in Liberty of London

I sheepishly admit that I worked on this dress for almost 3 months. I could possibly and fittingly blame the holidays (in part), or a busy (fun-filled) life, or even workday fatigue.  At 8:30 PM, after my wee ones are sound asleep, tackling a challenging portion of a lovely “dress-to-be” often loses out to reading a fabulous book on our super comfy couch. Regardless, here is my addition to the very fitting Franklin Dress buzz that can be heard within the kids’ clothing sewing blog community. With its pleated yoke and slightly puffed sleeves, the Franklin Dress by the Brooklyn Pattern Company has a lovely, simple elegance that it both classic and classy. I was excited to jump into this pattern and am delighted with the result. (So is the recipient. Can you tell?)DSC_0175In October, when there was still warmth in the air and temperatures a tad higher than -35 (sigh.),  Gail of Probably Actually posted her stop on the Franklin Dress tour and I was smitten. I immediately loved the design of the dress with its gathering, pleats, puffs and buttons and, in equal parts, I was intrigued by Gail’s description of the founder and designer, Erin Proud, whose past experience includes 15 years of pattern-making for Broadway, ballet and circus. Wow.

As the tour continued, I loved the way that the pattern seemed to shift and shape beautifully to a wide variety of fabrics. In addition to the chambray that Gail had used, I loved this Franklin Dress in a sweet peach double gauze by Girl Like the Sea and this one in rayon challys by Made by Sara. Gorgeous. Thankfully, I had a lovely little stash of Liberty of London fabric that my sister-in-law had given me that was on reserve for something special. This was it.DSC_0159The Process:  To my immense delight, a few weeks after cutting out my pieces and a few daunting read-throughs of the instructions, Erin announced the beginning of the Franklin Dress sew along. I was ecstatic…that may even be an understatement. I so wanted to sew my own Franklin Dress, but the instructions made a few assumptions that went beyond my sewing expertise. The sew along, however… Well, I cannot rave about it enough, so I won’t go on and on, but I really encourage you (especially if you are a beginner like me) to sew along with Erin for your first Franklin. Her writing and photography are excellent. The sew along is clear, precise, thoughtfully chunked into doable daily portions, and fun! As a bonus, she shares some tips and tricks along the way of how she does things. What an amazing opportunity to learn from such an expert. I do hope, in future posts and sew alongs, that she shares more about the creation of the cork mat that she uses for cutting her pattern pieces. This is simply a brilliant idea.   DSC_0196A few more dress details…

The fabric: Liberty of London fabric (I have just discovered) is beautiful in so many ways. It is thin, soft, 100% cotton and 100% easy to work with. No slipping and sliding and it cooperated so beautifully when being pinned and pressed. The tones are muted, yet vibrant, a contradictory (I know), yet accurate description.

The buttons: I love metal buttons. Somewhere, deep down, I have some very blurry and fond memories of childhood outfits with metal buttons. These ones were easy to find at our local sewing store and a lovely fit.DSC_0155The sizing: The pattern provides pieces for children 6 months to 8 years. My daughter is 6 and a half, but using the measurements provided, I decided to make a 5T and lengthen it to the 6T length. I wanted it to fit well and wasn’t worrying too much about allowing room for growth. That being said, she straddled the 4T and 5T sizes and I went with the 5T. The only thing that I would change is the length of the sleeves, as she keeps trying to pull them down. We realized during our initial photo shoot (we’ve tried a few times), that this is her first dress with sleeves that are neither short nor long and she’s not a fan. I’m hoping to make another one soon with full-length sleeves like this lovely, lovely dress by As it Seams. What a beautiful shade of blue and yet another fabric type that fits the Franklin Dress design perfectly. DSC_0181Overall, I love this pattern. With the added detail of the sew along, it is accessible and versatile for sewers of varying levels of experience and inviting of a creative spin, if desired. On the title page of the Franklin Dress pattern, Erin gives this debut design for the Brooklyn Pattern Company the number 0001. Such a promising number. I look forward to sewing along, again, as that number climbs.

Another Geranium Gem

Well, I will say it, again…I love the Geranium Dress by Made-by-Rae. It is a beautiful pattern. The pieces are flawless, the instructions are clear and easy to follow, the pattern is versatile and inviting of creative flair and embellishment. In short, I stick by all the gushy sentiments shared in an earlier post: “A Geranium in Slate”. This pattern is great.

IMG_1960For this dress, I sewed along with four other moms in a brightly-lit sewing space during a “Geranium Dress” workshop. It was a delight. There was expert support for any possible hiccups and we were invited and encouraged to try out the serger that sat nearby. What a treat! I’ve never been so proud of my inside seams. No pictures of those, but trust me, they are lovely.IMG_2025IMG_1951My older daughter, who was 5 (and 6 months) at the time, is the happy recipient of this dress and she has worn it well. I made the 6T to ensure a longer wear period and it fits with a little room for growth…perfect.IMG_1955The fabrics were just gorgeous to work with. They both cooperated at every turn (or “stitch” as it was). 100% cotton is a reliable “go-to” for beginner sewers. It’s soft and cozy to wear and provides nice structure for sewing.

  • Top: “toyland twinkle” by the DeLeon Design Group for The Alexander Henry Fabrics Collection (2012)
  • Skirt: Designed by Jay-cyn for Birch Fabrics. It is from the 100% cotton Mod Basics line. (Unfortunately, I can’t find the actual name of the design…sorry.

DSC_9851Regarding the pictures: My model was way more interested in frolicking at the farm than posing for a photo, so most of the pictures are detail shots and a few that show the essence of the shoot…and her character.

“Yes, Mommy, Madam. I will cooperate for a photo.”


That’s it! Until next time…


A Rainbow for Halloween

There is some confusion as to whether my daughter wanted to be a rainbow, or whether I suggested it and she kindly agreed. I hope that it was the former, but I do remember the thought wiggling into my mind as something I could possibly tackle. Perhaps my excitement to start piecing, tracing, cutting, pressing and stitching led her to indulge my creative itch. Regardless, I had a lovely time making it and she whole-heartedly embraced the rainbow as her Halloween 2014 get-up. Thank goodness. Here she is, along with her sister (in all of her store-bought glory):

DSC_3873The fabrics were a true find for the theme of the project. My daughter spotted the rainbow fabric tucked in amongst a plethora of options. It was by far the most gorgeous, with its soft rainbow tones. I was logistically delighted, too, as I no longer needed to create the shape of a rainbow on the back of the cape, as was the original plan. We soon found the perfect cloud fabric, too, and the combo fell into place; clouds on the inside with a rainbow back. I was pattern-less for the cape, so I used one from our costume bin as a template and simply traced, cut and sewed the two pieces together. My lovely Mom was visiting and helped with this part. She sewed the cape’s edge while I began to tackle the rest. The collar took me a couple of tries, but it ended up nice and thick, which was necessary to balance the weight of the cape. For the finishing touch, my daughter selected a bright pink button from her colourful button stash which is frequently used for creating a wide variety of fantastic things, including masking tape necklaces and math investigations.

DSC_3854I pulled from a few of my favourite reliable patterns for the next two pieces. The shirt is a shortened version of the “Sweet Little Dress” pattern by Leila and Ben. It’s a simple peasant dress pattern that is easily modified to match your desired length. In this case, I sewed the size 6 and shortened it by about 4 inches. The skirt is the “Swingset Skirt” by Oliver + S. This one is a size 5. Both of these patterns flow beautifully. The instructions are clear and the patterns pieces are very easy to work with. Perfect for when you have only left yourself 5 days to make a 4 piece costume. (Gulp.)DSC_3858The raindrops and crown were the last parts. Thankfully, my husband offered to tackle the raindrops while I attempted to construct the crown and we pieced them together on the eve of the Halloween parade. You can’t really go too wrong with a cereal box, felt, lace, hot glue, embroidery thread and some sparkly trim. DSC_3844As I place the ensemble in our costume box (post-Halloween), it is tricky not to wonder whether it was quite worth the effort, especially when Halloween doesn’t have a rain date, but it was. …and she has placed the rainbow skirt within her everyday wardrobe for those days when a splash of colour is needed.

A Shift Dress in Alexander Henry

Ah…summertime. Hot, humid and lovely. The perfect weather for tanks, skirts and cute little dresses. Two such projects have hung “in progress” from my sewing rack since March. It’s so wonderful to finally see them spun around the garden.

The Shift Dress:

IMG_1975Many months ago, I got caught up on the Go To Patterns website. This site is a true find with lots of patterns and lots of inspiration. Right off, one of my favourites was this Shift Dress. So simple, so hip and comfy to boot. I love the cut and style of this dress with it’s thick tank shoulders, high gathered neck, and tear drop hole at the back. The piping is not in the pattern, but the colour matched beautifully and I wanted to try it out. It makes the sleeves a little stiffer than I’d like, but it still works.

IMG_1979My daughter is a smallish “5 and three quarters”, but I chose the size 6 hoping that she’d get lots of wear out of it. As a result, the bodice is a little generous, but the length lands mid-thigh which suits the style nicely. My daughter loves belts, so I made one to help synch in the waist. I prefer it without, but it’s nice to have the option.


DSC_9944The main dress fabric is “Everyday Eden Blue/Red” by Alexander Henry. It is, hands down, my favourite fabric that I have ever come across. I rarely go into a fabric store with a colour or pattern in mind. Rather, I roam around and wait for a fabric to call out to me. This one, in particular, may have yelled. It’s so vibrant. So alive. It gives me a deep down smile every time I look at it. I’m not completely happy with the match of the sash, but it is a lovely fabric, too. The sash is from the same collection: “Esprit (small flowers) in Red”. IMG_1993

And that’s it! Now, onto the second finished project…



A Geranium in Slate

I have spotted the Geranium dress by Made by Rae on many well-traveled sewing blogs and have always wanted to try it out. It has formed the basis for a few other sewing projects that I’ve done, including a “Pinkalicious” Halloween costume for Isla last October. This time, I vowed to do it “straight up” as I’ve heard wonderful things about the clarity and precision of the pattern. It did not disappoint. Although I still find buttons unnerving and haven’t mastered flutter sleeves or gathers (yet), the pattern was smooth and glitch-free. DSC_2998

There are several options built into the pattern for a variety of sleeve, waist and neckline styles. Tunic length lines are also included. I went with the flutter sleeve and gathered waist combo with a simple scoop neckline. I couldn’t resist adding patch pockets as my daughter often needs easily accessible places for storing “treasures”.DSC_3034

One of the sample dresses on the cover of the pattern is made in a beautiful textured fabric which I love. This was my source of inspiration for my fabric choice. The main is from Robert Kaufman‘s beautiful Interweave Chambray collection, in slate. The lining fabric is my favourite fabric that I own: “Dottie Multi” from the Just for Fun line of fabric made by Birch Organic Fabrics.DSC_2983

And…I just love picking out buttons. These shiny blue ones called out to me from the rack.Somehow, the dress feels fancy and casual at the same time. It’s debut wear was at my grandfather’s 92nd birthday party. Perhaps a fitting choice; a grand occasion with a lovely family feel. Zoe had so much fun running around in it.DSC_3000

…That is, until the chocolate cake came out, and the dress took a rest to wait for clean hands.

Out on a Limb

During the summertime, I went out on a limb and created my own pattern for a simple summer dress that could double as a nightie. I used the front piece of the “Geranium Dress” by Made by Rae to guide me in creating the top and used the bottom of the “Sweet Little Dress” by Leila and Ben. I designed the top as two solid pieces so that my daughter could just yank the dress over her head without needing to do up buttons, but I still tried to line it. This is not a good idea, as it doesn’t work too well! Thankfully, the fabric that I used was light and very cooperative when it came to pressing, pinning and matching the two layers in order to hem the sleeves. And, to my surprise, I ended up with a funky reversible dress that both my daughter and I still love. I should have vowed then to stick to patterns and tutorials that provide clear, helpful instructions created by others, but…

DSC_0872…remarkably, I jumped in, again, using the same pattern design. This time, with Lotta Jansdotter’s beautiful fabric from her Glimma line. The main fabric for this dress is “Solid in Slate”. Again, I began with a lining fabric, which was a simple unbleached thin cotton.


The detail around the neckline was not planned. It was created when I turned the lining to the inside of the dress. I ended up loving how the fabric gathered and didn’t mind too much that it was a-symmetrical. Unfortunately, the ripple effect of this little detail resulted in the lining not fitting too well within the dress. (At this point, I was reminded, again, that patterns created by others are so lovely!)

The design of the bottom was inspired by this beautiful dress, which I found on Pinterest while searching “Japanese Dresses”. Sadly, I cannot understand any of the details about the dress or the ordering information, but it inspired me to try creating a pleated front. At the same time, I was creating my 2nd “Swing Skirt” by Compagnie M, so I used Marte’s inverted box pleat instructions as a guide for the front of the dress. I really like how the lightweight of the lining fabric allows it to fold and flow so nicely within the pleat.


The side view: DSC_2894

Lastly, I wanted to share the source of my “Zisla Designs” elephant labels: Ananemone Labels on Etsy. The colours are very vibrant, especially against the organic undyed cotton. They work beautifully and are available in lots of different shapes, sizes and styles. A fun touch for any handmade item.