Monday, November 23, 2015

A Thrifty Thanksgiving Dress

Oh my goodness . . . Thanksgiving is on Thursday! This was the thought that hit me hard this Sunday morning as I realized my baby girl has no outfit for the holiday. I had thrifted like crazy but found no dresses for the occasion. Everything I found was either too formal or too summery. So on our cold and snow covered Sunday I trekked over to my bin of thrifted goods awaiting refashions. And pulled out this shirt/dress (way too short for anyone to really wear as a dress) that I had bought for 69 cents purely because I loved the embroidered hem! 

I began by cutting the cups from the top of the dress and then I unpicked all of the elastic thread that was creating the ruching in the empire waist. I then measured up from the hem and cut across where I wanted the length of the skirt to be. 

Unfortunately, the remaining two pieces from the waist area would not be big enough to fit the front bodice without piecing it but a seam down the middle wouldn't be too terrible to do. Plus, I had some beautiful crochet lace left on the cups of the shirt. It just needed a really good press. 

I turned to one of my favorite patterns for completing the bodice and a sash, The Cottage Mama's Party Dress pattern. Sign up for her blog and receive the pattern for free. Believe me, it will quickly become one of your favorites! I cannot get enough of her fabulous patterns. 

After a while, I had the perfect dress for my little girl to wear at our Thanksgiving dinner!

The sash was added using a tiny bit of some embroidered fabric I had found at Goodwill a while back for $2.99. What are the odds that the colors would match so perfectly?

It felt so good to tackle this project that I decided to attempt one more dress that same day. Because once again, despite a lot of thrifting, I had not found the right dress for the kids' photo with Santa Claus. There's no time like the present to get to work. I dug a little deeper in my thrifty finds bin and pulled out this dress that I also got for 69 cents. 

It was an outdated juniors dress but I had loved the fabric and the flower. I actually bought this back when I was still pregnant with my little girl in hopes of creating something beautiful for her. Once again I cut up from the hem at the length I wanted her skirt to be. I had the same issue on this one, the remaining fabric just wouldn't be the right height for the bodice. Unfortunately, due to the stretch on this one I could not turn the pattern to make it work so I had to get a little more creative. I took the same bodice pattern piece as above and drafted a variation of it so that I could incorporate some red velvet that I had also gotten from the thrift store for $1.00. I used less just a small corner of my fabric.

And I created a two toned bodice. I must say, I am kind of in love with the look and will probably incorporate it into her Christmas dress next month. 

I assembled the rest of the dress using as many bits of the original dress as possible.

It is going to be adorable with some white tights and black dress shoes!

Until next time . . . have a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Back to Scrappy: Quilted Burp Cloths

Now that Halloween is behind us it was time for me to get back to quilting. And what better way than with a small scale quilting project? If you remember my Great Adventure Quilt, then you will recall it was made for a very dear friend who was expecting her first baby. Well, her beautiful baby is now here so I had to make some goodies that I could send to compliment her quilt. I created some burp cloths using the scraps from the quilt!

I figured I would share my process in case anyone else wanted to use their scraps in a similar fashion. I began, of course, with a few scraps. I decided to stick with 3 strips to keep all uniform but I varied the width of my strips between each burp cloth. I cut my strips to be just as wide as the burp cloths. 

I pieced all three together and pressed. 

Then I laid a store bought burp cloth (or diaper cloth as I believe they are labelled) out upside down on my ironing board. 

I stitched my quilted fabric with the right side facing the back of the burp cloth and the bottom edge along the bottom edge of the burp cloth.

 I then pressed the top edge of the quilted piece down by a 1/2 inch. 

Then I pressed the quilt piece down onto the burp cloth with the wrong side of the quilted piece against the right side of the burp cloth. 

At this point I folded the edges of the quilted piece under and pressed so that they were even with the edges of the burp cloth.

Then I topstitched around all the edges. 

To keep with the quilted look, I stitched in the ditch of my quilted panel. Though this would be equally cute with some free motion quilting. 

Finally, I wanted my burp cloth to appear completely uniform so I flipped it over and followed the stitching lines that run vertically across the back over my quilted areas. 

Which left me with this finished burp cloth!

Of course, I could not stop at one. I had to make a full set. But this was a wonderful way to create a coordinating gift set for the baby! 

Off to start Christmas presents! Until next time . . . happy sewing!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Frozen Halloween: A Dress Fit For a Queen

The fun of costume creating took up my entire month of October (okay, and about half of September too). And the hardest costume I did was my own. As I explained in my previous post, my son had decided our Halloween costumes and he chose Elsa from Frozen for me. I was honored to be dubbed the queen in his life but there was no way in heck I was going to wear a very sheer ice queen costume in what usually proves to be a miserable and cold Halloween in our neck of the woods. And thank goodness for that line of thinking because they are forecasting a very windy and rainy Halloween here. So naturally, I opted for the coronation dress and the luxuriously warm looking cape!

My costume began with a very simple find, a thrifted turtleneck that I found for just one dollar!

I placed it on my dress form with the turtle neck folded over and drew a V in chalk where I believed the slit on the neck should sit. I stitched along this line, clipped, and turned the turtle neck the wrong way, which would now be the right way.

I moved on to stitching applique details on by hand while watching television in the evenings over the course of a week. In the meantime, I was spending my sewing machine time working on the bodice. 

I took apart a thrifted dress that had a bodice that was the exact shape I wanted. Have no fear, it was a dress that was badly damaged and had been stripped of re-usable parts. It also helps that I got it for less than a dollar! I unpicked all the seams, labeling my pieces as I went, and then laid it out to trace a pattern on freezer paper. I extended certain areas to create the point in the front of Elsa's dress.

I took some muslin fabric and created a quick sample of the bodice that I had created. As I suspected, this first attempt turned out much shorter than the look I was hoping to achieve.

I took all my pattern pieces and extended them as I thought might be necessary and repeated the process of cutting and constructing out of muslin. This time it turned out just as I had hoped it would.

I created the skirt from scratch just using my waist measurements while attempting to follow the seams of the bodice. It turned out nearly perfect using the muslin.

It was now time to be brave and cut into my fabric. Once again, I was stuck using the horrendous costume satin. This time I attempted to ease some issues by lining all of it with interfacing (thank goodness I had found an entire bolt at the thrift store earlier in the summer for $1.50). It definitely helped but the fabric still snagged like crazy. I will never again purchase that stuff. I started with the skirt since that was the easiest bit of all.

I then began working on the bodice. I tested after finishing the outer bit before adding the lining. Luckily it all was going together nicely.

I appliqued the bodice then added the lining. I did the front and the back and added a pretty gold trim that I had found at Joann's. It was one of those affordable spools that had 3 yards for $2.50.

I then hemmed and began appliqueing the skirt. I will note, while I did not use a pattern to create the dress, I did use Simplicity 1210 for the applique pattern. But I did change the colors to better match the film version. At this point I had also finally finished the applique on the turtleneck.

I also used the Simplicity pattern for the overlay on the cape but I did not use it for the cape itself. I wanted a fuller, longer cape that also more accurately matched the film. So once the overlay was put together I draped the cape to create the look I was hoping for. 

Once the cape was sewn up, I sat down and began sketching an applique design for the bottom of the cape to match the cape in the movie. 

This bit was actually cut out of the leftover felt from my daughter's cape, which is wonderful because all of our costumes seem to have coordinating colors! 

The cape is very heavy thanks to it's length and was pulling on my neck a lot. So I installed snaps on the cape and the shoulders of my turtleneck so that the weight would be better distributed. It helps a lot! I also installed snaps in the bodice to keep it held up to the turtleneck when holding my baby girl. 

I think the costume turned out pretty well. Not too shabby for it only being my second garment constructed for myself. It was a wonderful challenge and I learned so much in the process. 

Of course, I had to have the iconic Elsa hair, so I also dabbled in some wig styling this week. That was a new experience and while it is not exactly as I had hoped I think it is still very obvious as to whose hair it is supposed to be. I just have to add the crown!

Off to put the finishing touches on the Kristoff costume! Until next time . . . happy sewing and have a safe and happy Halloween!

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Very Frozen Halloween: A Warmer Anna Costume

It is finally my favorite time of the year. I love the changing colors, cooler weather and delicious flavors of fall. But most importantly, I love Halloween! I love dressing up (yes, I know I am a full grown adult, but there is a kid in all of us), and I love, love, LOVE making costumes! Now that my son is old enough to communicate costume ideas, Halloween has become my ultimate challenge. 

Like most young girls, my daughter has come down with Frozen fever (only 2 years after most other young girls). Her brother has found a fondness for Olaf in her endless insistence on watching Frozen 3 times a week. So when I asked what they would like to be in mid-August he proudly proclaimed that he wanted to be Olaf and that his sister should be Anna. Challenge accepted. 

The big plus to being 2 years behind on the Frozen train is that so much movie memorabilia can be bought at a discounted price, and an Olaf costume was no exception. I found my son a nice quality costume for much cheaper than I could have crafted it for. However, Anna costumes were a little trickier. The prices were right but they were paper thin. Tissue paper sleeves just wouldn't cut it for a Midwestern October so I began plotting a costume that would not only keep my daughter warm but also be more authentic to the movie.

I began with some costume suede and a wonderful pattern from the Cottage Mama! I have her book of patterns and absolutely love it. But this pattern is a freebie that you obtain from following her blog. I highly recommend her blog, her book and her patterns to any mom that is looking to sew for a young daughter(s). These patterns are how I found a love of sewing garments. I will admit, I altered the bodice of the pattern to be shaped more like Anna's.

I also tried my hand at some free motion machine embroidery. It was a challenge and I definitely need more practice but it was also fun!

I used a cheap costume satin for the skirt. I should note . . . I would never, ever again waste my money on costume satin. This stuff was horrendous to work with. It snagged like crazy and never really seemed to be on grain. I should have thrifted a little harder for a better fabric at the same price. But I went with it. I altered the pattern here again creating a shorter over-skirt and a warmer layer as an under-skirt. Then I gathered as normal and connected to the bodice. 

I scalloped the top layer and then sewed it to the bottom layer. Once this was done I began free motion machine embroidering all along the scallops. 

The turtle neck was created using a wonderful free pattern from Kuka and Bubu! I have to admit, I had never done anything with sleeves for my daughter but the pattern was a breeze. I used a fleece lined sweatshirt material for warmth and added some ribbon embellishment to mimic Anna's undershirt. 

Finally I drafted a cape based off of the cape found in the Simplicity S0733 pattern. My daughter is only wearing 18 month clothes so I had to alter down from their size 3. 

Instead of using the applique pattern I decided to use ric rac around the cape (for time and sanity's sake).

I think it turned out quite well and will keep my daughter very warm. But my son didn't just want the two of them to dress up. He wanted this to be a family affair so I also had to create a Kristoff and Elsa costume! Stay tuned for more . . .

Until next time . . . happy sewing!