Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What I'm reading: I Am Cute Dresses

One of my favorite places to pick up sewing books is my local library. I'm lucky to live in a large college town, which also has a great city library. There are quite a few sewing books, so I can usually find something I want to browse. Some books I use for detailed instruction, some I just look at the pictures and maybe make some sketches/note ideas for later. Right now, I'm doing the latter for this book, I Am Cute Dresses, by Sato Watanabe.

Source: Amazon

This book was originally published in Japan. The first half of the book features 25 different dress designs. The last half gives instructions for cutting and assembling. There are no patterns included, just dimensions and illustrations of the general shapes. The dimensions were originally written in metric and then converted when the book was published in America, so keep that in mind if you happen to be creating anything from it.

Most of the dresses featured are simple, boxy silhouettes, and are over-sized. Almost every time I finish a new garment, I show it off to my husband and he tells me it looks too big. So, the large shapes in this book probably won't make it into my project list. I'm also cheap when it comes to fabric, so if I have to buy three yards of material just to make a baggy dress, I'd rather buy one yard and make a shirt! There were a few details I liked in some dresses, and those are the ones I've noted for later. One dress showed an asymmetrical top with buttons on one side. As a mother nursing a baby, dresses can be hard to wear unless there's some way to whip out a snack for AB. I can't exactly pull UP a whole dress, so being able to pull down/button down a neckline is important.

If you like intentionally roomy designs, then I'd say you'll find a few things to love in this book. For me, it's mostly a pass, but like always I'm trying to learn something no matter what!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sewing Project: The Ashley Dress

When I saw the pattern for The Ashley Dress from Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop, I had to have it. For whatever reason, I have a hard time finding kids' patterns designed for knits. Do babies really wear linen?? Or, should I say, are moms dressing their babies in it all the time?

I seem to be drawn to relatively simple, classic patterns, whether they're for me or my little one. Let's be honest, a fancy party dress may be fun to make, but how many parties will a stay-at-home mom and baby be attending? Actually, in high school my friends and I made up reasons to wear our prom dresses to places other than prom. We did this thing called Chuck-E-Cheese Prom after every semester, because if you brought in your report card you got free tokens for A's. Yes, it IS as ridiculous as it sounds, but it was actually very sweet to have little girls come up to us and ask if we were princesses. And besides, it's not like we were running into anybody we knew at Chuck-E-Cheese.

For the Ashley Dress, I first made a wearable muslin out of my husband's old tshirts. And when I say "old" about anything my husband owns, that means he wore it twice and either didn't like the fit, or grew out of it. He lifts weights, so yes, he's still growing.

Yes, those are grenades and skeleton hands.

I actually LOVE how it turned out. The two tshirts were from...I want to say Express? So they weren't cheap. I used the bottom of the shirts for the two ruffles, which saved me from hemming them AND it looks more professional. The green buttons I got from a jar of old buttons that I bought at an antique mall.


Once I knew I liked the fit, I went ahead and ordered "real" fabrics. These are both from Girl Charlee, who has the best prices on knits that I've ever seen. Plus they're always adding new fabrics and exclusive prints. Seriously, they're awesome. When I made this version, AB was crawling a lot, so I only did one tier. I had planned to go back and add another later, but now it's cold and she has to wear pants with it regardless, so I didn't. Also, I'm lazy. The other difference in this one is that I put snaps on the shoulder instead of buttons. I only have pink and purple snaps, so when I have a good reason to use them, I do it!

Action shot with her BFF, Ruger.

I plan to make this dress over and over for her. For summer, I want to make a short-sleeved version. It doesn't take much fabric for a baby dress, and since the tiers and bodice don't necessarily have to be the same, you could even get away with using scraps in some cases (or old tshirts!).

Just keep swimming

I have always been the kind of person who didn't like anything I wasn't good at doing. You should see me on the golf course...my inner salty sailor comes out there. I'm competitive, so if I try and fail, I pretty much give up whatever I'm doing. It's not a trait I'm proud of, but there it is. I'm pretty sure that when my husband bought me my first sewing machine for Mother's Day last year, he assumed I'd try it for a while, then quit. He knows me too well. Thank goodness he also knew when to indulge me (I'd been dropping hints bombs about wanting a machine).

I have definitely failed a LOT while learning to sew. But for whatever reason, I keep coming back to it. Maybe because it's somewhat personal, not like a team sport. If I make a shirt that doesn't fit, I can toss it in the scraps pile and nobody will be the wiser. If I strike out in softball every single time, well, people will notice. Or maybe each of us has that one THING that keeps calling our name, whether it's running, writing, or setting the world record for amount of time spent on Facebook. All I can say is that if that's true, I'm so so happy to have found my one thing. And if you haven't yet, don't worry, you haven't failed. You just need to keep looking.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Stop Googling and start doing!

I've learned a lot in the 8 months that I've been sewing, and most of it is due to blogs (and books...) devoted to sewing. I feel like I should give back a little of what the internet has given me. So, here it is! My own sewing blog. One of millions, I know, but if even a morsel of what I have to say helps someone else in their sewing, then I'm happy.