Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First Day Of School Dress!

This week, the kids started school at their new international school here in Tokyo.  I wanted to make some back-to-school clothes, but The Boy will be wearing uniforms this year, so I only had to worry about Little Sister's wardrobe.

It's been a little tough to do any fabric shopping in the last few weeks, with family visiting and kids out of school--I don't think they'd have much patience for a trek across town on the trains to visit a fabric store--so I had to make do with what I had.  I brought one box of fabrics from the states, and I have some scraps from my fabric shopping earlier in the summer while the kids were in summer school, so lucky for me, Little Sister likes having matching outfits with mom!  Her back-to-school dress was made with a piece of knit fabric I brought from home and the leftovers from my deer-print Sorbetto tank.

My starting point for this dress was the raglan tee tutorial from Craftiness is not Optional.  Since I left all of the old pattern pieces I had drawn up for the kids back in Portland, I drew a new raglan tee pattern using one of Little Sister's t-shirts.  Then I adapted the sleeve pattern by adding extra height and flaring up the opening a little so that I could use a woven fabric for the sleeve, and I wanted to get a little flutter in there too.   When I sewed the sleeve in place, I followed the directions just like I would have for a knit sleeve, but I reeeally stretched the neck binding all the way across the top of the woven sleeve fabric to create a slight gather.

The striped piece of knit fabric that I had was only about 15" long (it came from a box of quarter-yard cuts I had ordered from Girl Charlee a while back), so I just cut the bodice of the dress as long as I could while still lining up the stripes.  Luckily I didn't need to hem the bottom since I was attaching the skirt, so it didn't matter that I didn't have enough fabric to make a full-length shirt.  I cut the neckline binding from a pink stripe using the rest of the width of the fabric.

Check out that side-seam stripe matching!

The skirt is just a rectangle, again cut as large as I could make it from the scraps I had left over!  I cut one big panel, about 30" by 12", and put the seam in the center back.  I used the selvage edge for the bottom, so I didn't have to hem it.  I just gathered the top until it was a few inches bigger than the bottom of the shirt, then lined up the raw edges (slightly stretching the shirt to make it all fit) and sewed them together!  On the inside, I ironed the raw knit edge down over the raw woven ruffled top of the skirt fabric and added a top seam to tuck those loose ends inside.  I just can't get enough of this fabric, and I'm so excited that I had enough of it to make this dress for Little Sister.

I think the scale works so well, with the wide stripe and the dainty print, and the colors matched up perfectly.  Plus it was a quick sew!

Bonus?  Little Sister loved it so much that her dad let her wear it on the second day of school too!  Pretty sure you can only get away with that when you're four.

She didn't even get any popsicle on it!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mother-Daughter Matching!

I have to admit, I think it's fun to make matching clothes.  Whether it's coordinating outfits for the kids or in this case mommy/daughter dresses from different patterns with the same fabrics, I just get a kick out of it.  ESPECIALLY in this case, because Little Sister specifically requested a dress like mine--or as she puts it, "Let's be matchers!"  How could I refuse?  Especially when it's a way for me to get her to wear something that isn't pink or purple.

The Ruby Dress from Made by Rae and The Cupcake Dress from Baste and Gather

Sis has a couple of halter-style tops that she has been wanting to wear almost every day, so when I saw that Baste and Gather was offering a free printable halter dress pattern, I knew I wanted to make it for Little Sister.  I asked her to choose her fabric from the small stash I have here in Tokyo, which was when she found the leftovers from my Ruby Dress.  That fabric is PERFECT for this pattern--a floaty cotton that somehow isn't see-through at all.  This would be the most comfortable thing to wear on a steamy Tokyo August day.

However, Little Sister refuses to wear a dress without pants underneath it these days, for some reason.  AND she always wants to wear socks, and won't wear any of her sandals.  She is a total crazy person.  When we took theses pictures at the park, she was so sweaty, but wouldn't take the pants off.

It's HOT out here!

Definitely having a bath tonight.

Anyway, I made a few alterations to this pattern, the most obvious being the elastic halter strap.  I love the look and adjustability of the tie straps in the original pattern, but we are working on Little Sister's independence, particularly in our morning routine, and the elastic puts the dress into the "I can do it myself" category.  It was a little tricky to get the length just right--long enough to easily stretch over her head while still keeping the bodice up high enough.  The elastic in the back portion of the bodice helps with that too.  I keep debating whether to go in and shorten the neck elastic a little bit more--it does tend to sag when she's been running around, as you can see above.

Another alteration was that since I was using scraps of fabric from my dress project, I wanted to just use what I had.  My skirt pieces were about 6 inches wider than what the pattern calls for, and a couple of inches longer.  I just went ahead and used it all, rather than having useless scraps.  Little sister would never complain about another foot of fullness or a little extra length!  I'm really happy with the way the skirt turned out.

How do YOU feel about it?

I did have to cut off a couple of inches of elastic in my back panel--I cut out a size 4, and Little Sister is still on the small side so tightening up the elastic really helped with the fit.  I probably could have cut off even more, but I kind of like the way the lower back makes the skirt into a bit of a high-low skirt.

As soon as the dress was finished, Little Sister wanted to wear it to the park, and she insisted that I change into my matching dress.  I agreed, with the stipulation that she would have to pose for a few pictures with me to show off our twin outfits!

This fabric was a find at my local Walmart in Portland that made the cut for traveling to Tokyo with me.  I had two yards that I had bought at $4/yard, so I'm pretty excited that I was able to get two dresses out of it!   And now I have used every last scrap of it up!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Couple of Summer Sorbettos

Colette Patterns has a great reputation, and I've had the free pattern for their Sorbetto Tank Top saved for AAAAAAGES, but never made one until now.  My main reason for putting it off was that, well, I guess I just didn't like it that much!  So why make it now?  I guess I'm finally confident enough in my sewing and fitting skills that I knew I could take the basic shape of the pattern, which is really well-written and clear, and I could adjust it to make it into something that is more my style.

The main problem, for me, with the original pattern, is that the shape is pretty boxy.  And I just can't do boxy--I never like the way that style looks on me, no matter how cute I might think it is on other people.   Also, I wasn't sure about the center pleat--it seemed to add to the boxiness somehow.  I saw a blog post where someone made the tank with an inverted pleat, and I liked that both for the subtlety and the shaping--it gave the tank a slight a-line, since the fabric isn't sewn in the middle all the way down, only at the top.

I also added quite a bit of length, based on comments I saw on other blogs.  I think I added about 4 inches, plus I made a sort-of curved hem, just for the fun of it.

I just COULD NOT get a good picture of how the side hem curved up and down with my remote!  You'll have to imagine.
I messed with the neckline a bit too--narrowing the straps and widening the neckline, and deepening it a little bit.  What can I say, I like an open neckline!

I like it best with a pencil skirt--this one is denim, so it's still a casual look.  It works well with a slim bermuda short, and I imagine skinny jeans would be good too, but I cannot FATHOM putting jeans on with the heat and humidity here in Tokyo in August!  Maybe I'll try that outfit in a few months.  

The best part of this top is this fabric.  I found it at Okadaya, a 5-story fabric store in Shinjuku, and I LOVE IT.  I can't remember what I paid, but I remember thinking it was surprisingly affordable--I'm thinking between $6-$8 a meter?  I bought 1.5 meters and used most of it, but I probably have enough left to make a fun bodice on a dress for Little Sister.  It's a really lightweight soft cotton--not quite a voile, but definitely lighter and drapier than a quilting cotton.  And with the breezy shape you get using the inverted pleat, it is SO nice for the hot weather.  It barely touches your body!  But check out this print--I love it so much!

Oh deer!
For my second top, I made a few more adjustments--I really like how the first one turned out, but it did still seem a little too big in the bust, and my straps came out a little wider than I like (it's a little tricky to keep my bra straps hidden).  So I cut a new pattern, slightly different than the first, but the style is closer to the original Sorbetto top.  

Thanks to The Boy for taking this picture while we were playing at the park--no official photo shoot for this top!

I thought I'd try the pleat after all, and what do you know--I actually like it!  I made the matching bias tape as well, and I think that looks great too, even though making the tape is a bit of a pain.  This fabric is one I brought with me from the states, and I used up every last scrap of it making this top!

And this photo credit goes to Little Sister.  Don't worry Sis, we didn't need to see my head.  
This pattern does have a wider, deeper neckline (and therefore narrower straps) from the original pattern.  I also added length here--about 4 inches again--and I cut the bust at a size 2 but widened out to a size 6 at the hip to get the a-line shape I like.  

And here it is in the wild--this was on our family visit to the Odawara Castle.

I made one more that I haven't managed to get pictures of yet--I omitted the pleat altogether due to the print on the fabric I was using, and I added an elastic waist and a skirt (with pockets) because basically all I want to wear in this weather is dresses.  So I'm happy to have another sundress in the closet too!  After spending my life in the Pacific Northwest, it turns out that the hot-humid-summer-weather portion of my wardrobe is woefully lacking.  And now that summer's almost over, I've just about got that situation rectified!

I've got another one laid out to cut now that I feel like I have my pattern just right.  I want to try this overlapping back technique--looks like a good way to keep it cool!  I also want to try another one with some smocking in the back to bring the top in a little more--I'm going to play around with some ideas I have about that.  Then when fall rolls around, maybe I'll try making one with a peter pan collar and some sleeves!  What's so great about this pattern is that since it is such a basic piece, with great directions, it's easy to mix it up and get lots of different effects.  So that it doesn't look like you're basically wearing the same shirt every day.  That's what I'm telling myself, anyway!