Monthly Archives: June 2018

Happy Hippos and Dotted Daisies

Sewing for children is a specialized category, one which is certainly not of interest to everyone. For that reason, I sometimes skip doing a post on some of the clothes I make for my two little granddaughters. However, these two dresses turned out so cute that I thought I would share them.

I had not really intended to make more summer dresses for my two little ladies, but this hippo fabric made me do it!

This fabric is by Hoffman California.

I have had this piece stored on my fabric shelves for well over twenty years.  I really do not remember why I ever purchased it.  I always thought it was cute and cheerful.  As luck will have it, my older granddaughter’s favorite animal is a hippo! Little Miss Aida has a stuffed hippo who is well loved (almost to the point of being bedraggled!) and definitely a member of the family.  There really could be no better time to use this fabric to make her a dress, especially as, at age 5, she is still happy to wear a cute print like this. (By age six, maybe not?)

As I only had enough fabric for one dress, I needed to make the dress for her 3-year-old sister from another selection.  This navy, pink, and white fabric I have only had for a couple of years (no time at all in the realm of my sewing room!), purchased specifically with my two girls in mind.

I found this fabric at JoAnn’s. It is one of their premium cottons, and really quite a lovely quality.

Over those two years, however, I have slowly been using sections of it to line a number of “baby bags” which I often make for gifts, leaving me with only enough yardage for one dress, not two.  So voila!  This worked out perfectly – and the cheerful daisy print suits little Miss Carolina’s personality quite well.

I have made so many of these bags and they always seem to be a welcome baby gift. These are made from a Noodlehead pattern.

Showing the daisy lining.

For the dresses, I used the Children’s Corner “Louise” pattern again, this time without a separate band on the skirt.

However, to add interest, I made the collars out of coordinating fabrics, and I added pockets to the skirts.  Luckily, in my fabric collection, I found dotted cottons which worked perfectly for the collars and pockets.  Then rickrack provided the finishing touch.

When I am sewing long-distance for these two little girls, I am usually in a quandary over the length of the hems, especially as they are always, always growing and growing so fast.  This time, they were here for a visit, so I saved the completion of the hems until they arrived.  No guessing this time!

The bodices are lined with a white, lightweight, and very soft linen.

I used aqua colored buttons on the hippo dress and pink buttons on the daisy dress.

This was a very satisfying project – the girls love their new dresses, and I felt very virtuous using two fabrics that have been folded away in my sewing room closet, waiting for their new lives to begin.  Hippos and daisies turned out to be a winning combination.


Filed under Uncategorized, Buttons - choosing the right ones, Sewing for children

The Mystery Dress

The last thing I need is more fabric for Spring and Summer dresses, but try telling that to my rational side.  She doesn’t listen. So last Fall, when I saw a cotton sateen in a large navy, orange and white floral print in the Etsy Store of Promenade Fabrics, and it was the last yardage on the bolt, I decided I had better act fast and put it in my “cart.” I certainly was not disappointed when it arrived, as it was beautiful quality, with a slight stretch to it, and the colors were just as dramatic as I had hoped they would be.

I forgot to take a photo of the fabric, so here is the finished dress instead.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, and I was scratching my head as to what pattern to use for it After washing and drying the fabric, I had about 1 5/8 yards.  Fortunately it was 54” wide.  I originally thought I would make a shirtdress with three-quarter sleeves, but I quickly determined I did not have enough yardage for that.  Then I thought about a skirt, but that did not excite me too much.  I kept coming back to the idea of a sleeveless wrap dress, and enough yardage or not, I was determined to try to make it work.  I pulled out this pattern which I had made a few years ago (and it is still one of my favorite dresses to wear.)

The Simplicity “version” of the Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress. Obviously, I intended to make this sleeveless.

I had a very workable muslin for it, and as this particular wrap dress pattern is for woven, not knit, fabrics, I knew it would be appropriate.  I also knew I was going to have to be creative in my layout.   I almost always cut things out single layer, and of course, positioning your pattern on a single layer of fabric gives you much more flexibility and what I call “wiggle room.”  Also to my advantage was the fact that there was no right side up for this fabric, so I could arrange the pieces upright or down, without regard to the design on the print.  After much head-scratching and  many calculations, I  made a list of the changes I needed to make, thus solving the mystery of whether I could, indeed, make a wrap dress out of this fabric:

1)  reduce the flare of the skirt by about 9 inches.

2) eliminate the facings and, instead,  line the bodice.

3) forego pockets, which were not original to the pattern anyway

and the big concession, 4) reduce the length of the sashes by about 8 inches AND make the sashes with one side in the fashion fabric and one side in a dark navy blue cotton broadcloth (which I happened to have in my fabric closet, fortuitously!)

Fortunately, I was able to fit the collar pieces in!  Here’s what my pattern layout looked like:

The lined bodice, with that snap I always have to add to the front closure of wrap dresses!

The two-toned ties!

The shortened length of the ties means I cannot tie a bow, just a knot, but that’s okay!

I was so glad I managed to squeak out the collar!

Back to my story – with my fabric all cut and ready to sew, one would think this dress would speed right along. And it would have, except that about this time we were getting our porch furniture out of storage in our garage. I had forgotten that our porch cushions and pillows had looked so awful last year that I didn’t even want to use them.  This was the year I needed to do a major home sewing job and recover those cushions and pillows. So that’s what I did.  By the time I got back to my wrap dress, my momentum was definitely lacking speed, and then the mystery was just how I was going to get excited about completing it!

I have to say the only thing which kept me focused on finishing this dress was the fact that I have so many other projects in my queue.  Now that it is finished, I am so glad I pushed through!

Such a windy day – a good test for a wrap dress!

This is a good basic Summer dress!

One thing that is not a mystery – I think I am finished with making wrap dresses for a while!



Filed under Wrap dresses