Nine

IMGP0264The Dancing Queen is nine years old!

Last week, my third child turned nine. For her birthday, I gave to her pattern, fabric, and notions needed to make herself a new dress. The pattern is also for a matching doll dress (which we will make another day). Part of the gift was hours of one on one time with me as together we cut, sewed, and eventually modeled and photographed this new dress. It was lots of fun.

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This pattern in super cute – with button holes in the back of the bodice that the shoulder straps lace through.

IMGP0268And the matching shorts underneath make it very playground friendly.

IMGP0269Which was a good thing, considering that her birthday celebration was at John’s Incredible Pizza.

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So, another year gone by. Another child inches towards independence (or, should I say, shoots towards it at break-neck speed!)

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Happy Birthday, Dancing Queen! I love you!

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My latest sewing adventure has ended and I am thrilled with the results!

The pattern is Simplicity 2588 and the fabric I used was 3 yards Joel Dewberry Fabric- Aviary II Collection – Sparrows – Bark. (I don’t usually blog about sewing, so that sentence felt very awkward. How does one describe fabric? Is there a format?) I got the fabric from this Etsy shop. And, hey! I found out that fabric shopping is almost as fun as yarn shopping! Who knew?

I changed only one thing – I replaced the fabric belt with an old faux leather belt that came with a pair of pants and has been sitting in the back my sock drawer for years and years. It works perfectly.

This dress was inspired by a dress that I can’t afford, found here. I like mine better, but I still want that one, too. Ha! Amazingly, as expensive as it is to sew your own clothes, my handmade version of this dress dress cost me about half of the price of store bought one.
Disappointingly, The Man doesn’t like it. I don’t know about you, but I dress for my man and I want him to like what I am wearing. It is very discouraging that he hasn’t really liked any of my homemade dresses so far.

But, I really like it. A lot. A really a lot. Oodles and oodles a lot. So I can’t wait to wear it to my cousin’s wedding in two weeks.

Next I am going to try to sew some corduroy pants for The Boy and a dress for each of the girls to wear to the wedding. In two weeks. We’ll see if I can do it….

… in between all the spinning and knitting that I also want to do….

 

 

Two More for the Wardrobe

The sewing machine has been a buzz again and I have two more dresses to show for it.

First up was a kind of personal challenge. I had two yards of jersey knit and I wondered if I could make a dress with it. I had a design in mind and I wanted to be able to nurse The Fraggle while wearing it. I acheived both, but it does require a tank top underneath (I am a modest kind of gal).

This fabric at first did not really do it for me, and I started out using it as a kind of junk fabric to make the pattern with. After it was all figured out my intention was to cut it apart and make the real dress in something more “me”. But, once I put it on I really liked it. I don’t think that I need a pattern to make another one with the originally intended fabric (a lavender and white striped jersey knit). That will be proven (or not) when I next get a sewing bug. I have no pictures of this one, because I can’t find it right now… maybe it is in the laundry? I wear it that much!

The second dress was a variation of the green dress that I made a few weeks ago (blogged here). Using the same pattern, I changed the neckline and the length and fullness of the skirt. This one feels more formal to me and I can’t nurse in it. I guess we will see how much I wear it once The Fraggle is weaned.

This fabric was leftover from a blouse that my grandma made for me when I was a teen (why she had four yards leftover is beyond me. She must have approached fabric purchases the same way that I approach yarn purchases). I was going through the “black” phase, as most teens seem to do and the blouse was a 1990’s fashion wow. I can’t look at this dress and not think of that blouse… and the bangs that I wore with that blouse. In time I hope the negative sentiment fades because I really do like it and I want to wear it. Time will tell.

Oh, and for the bonus, those headbands that I showed you how to make (here)? Yup, I made some for these dresses, too! 🙂

All of this sewing has been very fun, but I am getting frustrated with my lack of knowledge. So far, I have made up each of the patterns that I have sewn, and I have come to the end of that road. So, I just ordered some patterns and some fabric from Etsy so that I can keep going on this quest to fill my closet with handmade clothing. Should be fun.

Tomorrow we will start a new weekly comic strip. The Bookworm and I have been working on it for a few weeks and we are so excited to be putting it on the blog! See you tomorrow!

There She Sews Again

In my daydreams of sundresses and strappy sandals (as described yesterday), my head is usually adorned in matching headbands. So, of course, I had to engineer a pattern for that, too. What I came up with was so easy, and looks so great, I thought I would show you how.

Welcome to another WoolAndChocolate tutorial! 🙂

How to make a reversible headband for summer wear.

1. Make your pattern. Roughly it should look like this. A single piece of paper isn’t long enough, so you may need to tape another page to the first to make it long enough.

2. Cut out two pieces, placing the wide end on the fold of your fabric. I chose two very similar fabrics for this one, but it is fun to mix and match contrasting fabrics, as well.

3. Sew the two pieces together, right sides facing each other. Sew along the sides, leaving the ends open. Now, notch the curves so that they lay flat and trim wherever it’s needed.

4. Turn right side out and press it flat.

5. Now turn the ends under and press them in place.

6. Using a matching thread, top stitch around the entire edge.

7. Tie on your head and enjoy!

Sundress Prototype

It is not often that I pull out my sewing machine and try to design clothing for myself, so last week was very, well… interesting. With the hot summer weather approaching I have visions of sweet sundresses and strappy sandals. I imagine an entire wardrobe made by me, for me in gorgeous colors and airy fabrics. I started searching for inspiration on the internet and found bucket loads of ideas. Then I went stash diving – not the knitters stash dive into wool and alpaca, but the seamstress’s stash dive into cotton lawn and organza. This is what I came up with –

Being without a pattern, I remembered the wisdom of my grandma, and I got out some plain muslin to make a first draft. I somehow managed to fashion a dress and then (regrettably before taking a photo) I cut it into pattern pieces. With those pieces, I made this-

Okay, okay, I will model it for you…

(Why is it that when I model my knitting, I feel awesome, but when I model my sewing, I just feel like a dweeb?)

So, this little green number still has some areas that need work. It is too short and the skirt is too full for my figure (a feature that looked nice in muslin, but not so nice in lined cotton). I like it, though – it is comfortable and cute and nice and cool.

This dress is fully lined, because I love lining dresses (call me crazy), and because the fabric is a little shear, and if I have to wear a slip with it, it will hang in my closet for two years before getting thrown in the Goodwill bag having never been worn!

I have also completed a second dress, this time with an a-line skirt and gathered bodice –

But it doesn’t fit right and I think I am going to have to take it apart and try again. That is a little discouraging, so I have been stalling for a couple of days.

All this sewing is exhausting and I remember now why I turned to knitting. But, it is rewarding, too, and I am getting better at it as I go. Maybe before the heat gets here, I will have that wardrobe that I am dreaming of.

Or maybe I will just knit another pair of socks….

She Sews, Too!

My sewing machine has been seeing more of me since I found the Prudent Baby website. I was especially inspired by the snappy toddler dress pattern and I went a little crazy sewing up a bunch of variations on the idea.


Cute, huh? Here’s a modeled shot.


I’ve got several sizes made, and they are each one different. I think I might try to sell them on Etsy to pay for the snap press that I bought to make them… (a tool which I totally love, by the way)

A Cute Miscalculation

Remember my little sewing extravaganza in which I churned out a bunch of boxy bags?

Well, I want to make some matching notions pouches for them.

Here is my first try.

Apparently, I shouldn’t have gone so small.

Here it is compared to the size the pattern makes.

I did much better when I sized them up. But, I have lots more zippers. So I guess I can try again.

And, the kids love it. Everyone is begging for their own.

Too bad – I am busy knitting socks…. (maybe next week)

Obsessed? Me?

I see more boxy bags in my future.

I had to pick up some more zippers when I went into town a couple of days ago, and I have been busy, busy, busy ever since. Today, however, I have no plans, no appointments, no schedule. It’ll be me, my sewing machine and lots and lots of boxy bags.

Oh, and there is some knitting happening, too.

This is the February Fitted Pullover from stashknitrepeat.com in Schaefer Yarns Miss Priss. The colorway is called Mary Walker Phillips and is totally to die for.

This yarn is my new favorite yarn of all time. It is soft and squishy and luxurious. Knitting with it is like a special treat for my hands (especially after weeks of knitting that cotton/linen baby blanket). I love, love, love this yarn. (We will have to wait to see how it holds up.)

And the pattern is really great, too. It is easy to memorize – most of what you see there was accomplished yesterday while visiting with my new knitting buddy – and it showcases the yarn and the color amazingly.

Now, I know that I should be knitting baby things. There are so many babies on the way, which means fixed deadlines (aka: due-dates) and lots of little knitting. I will get to it. (I finished another of those tops a few days ago… ) But, for now, I just want to work with this heavenly worsted weight. Sigh. It is almost winning out over the boxy bags… but not quite.

And, now to get to some sewing…

Sewing Boxy Bags

As planned, yesterday I sewed up some little gifts, following this online tutorial. I made the first one exactly as instructed, and it looks like this:

It is kind of small and somewhat wonky. But, it was just the practice project (I picked colors I liked, because this one is for me). The instructions given left a little room for guessing, so I really just stumbled through that first bag.

After that, however, I had a better understanding of the thing, and so went into assembly-line-mode, and kicked out 3 more – a little bigger and a little better. (these are the gifts)

In case you are interested, the modifications that I made are thus: instead of a 12″x16″ piece of fabric, I used 16″x16″; instead of interfacing, I used a heavy canvas material for the lining (it was all I had, and it worked beautifully) –

and, lastly, I used this wonderful ruler to make the triangles all the same (this is how I solved the “wonky” bit) –

But, wait, there’s more. (And this is the best part.) When I turn on the sewing machine, my kids come running. They want to know what I am making and can I make one for them, too? So, I figured it was time for a sewing lesson. Once I had worked through the bugs of this pattern and successfully made a few, I turned to The Boy, The Dancing Queen, and The Princess for their turn. We picked out some fabric and I helped each of them make their own. The big kids got to use the rotary cutter (scary moment for Mama, but they did just fine), and they all got to work the pedal on the machine and lift the presser foot and cut threads.

The Boy even used the machine by himself for the first time!

It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon – sewing with my kiddos. Sigh. Does it get any better?

A Collection of Unrelated Thoughts

1. I have a difficult choice to make. Last night I finished the center square of the baby blanket. It is gorgeous. I love it.

This is an Estonian lace pattern in DK weight yarn on size 6 needles. (Ravelry project page link) It is supposed to have a lace border. I cast on for the lace border last night…. and then realized I was using the wrong needles. So, I pulled it out and then that little evil voice inside my head started whispering. “Who needs a lace border?” it said. And, it is right. This is a perfect size even without the border. But, I want to do it completely and I think I will be happier if I knit that border…. maybe later. I do have until June, you know.

2. I have created a Linus… somehow. New Baby hasn’t even gotten here, yet, but the Munchkin is already showing some signs of insecurity. Maybe it is because she made the switch from crib to big girl bed. Maybe it is because I have been so sick and tired and crabby (read: not a very good mom). Maybe it is just her age. Whatever the reason, she has taken to carrying her wool fleece (which she has slept on since birth) and sucking her thumb all day.

Oh, and also chanting, “Weeweee! Weeweee!” in sheer delight. (That is “wooly” for those of you who don’t speak Munchkin) I had to cut a piece off the wooly so that she could have a portable wooly during the day – we call it the “Wooly-Bit”. I am not worried about it. I just didn’t expect this until after the New Baby came along.

3. I finished the lace shawl for the Bookworm’s birthday ahead of schedule.

It is a shawlette, and will fit her little shoulders perfectly. I made a terrible mistake at my first go, and didn’t realize it till I got the the border! So, I had to frog it all the way back and re-knit. For that reason, it took me twice as long as it should have. This is an excellent pattern for a last minute gift – I think I could make it again in a solid day. (Ravelry Project Page Link) I will do a post on it after her birthday when I can have her model it. For now, it is going from the blocking board to a little hiding spot. I am so excited to give this to her – she is going to flip. 🙂

4. I have three gifts to make today (on top of school, laundry and cleaning…. sigh). I am thinking about making some of these pouches. I have tons of cute fabric that gets left out of all the fun that my yarn experiences every day. Time for the fabric to get some attention. I may even make one for me. Yippee!

5. I passed my six month mark last week and didn’t say a word. Oops. I am happy about it, really, I am. I just feel lousy because of a sneak attack from a sinus infection. But, pregnancy-wise I am doing excellent. Baby is growing steadily and moving a lot. All my vitals are excellent. I would give you a belly shot, but I am still in my jammies and I am not ready to get dressed, yet. (Must finish the first cup of coffee…) Only 16 weeks left… (wow, that almost sounds too soon!)

6. I cast on another project. But that isn’t really news, is it? I have not made much progress, so I will keep you in suspense until there is something to show for it. (ooh, I am so eeevil!)

Now I am off to get something done. Maybe I will even get dressed and make my bed…