Green Emery Dress

Sewing is not a mindless activity for me by any means, in fact, every step of the process requires careful focus. Even tracing the pattern. I say this because that very fact makes it incredibly difficult to find the time to sit down and sew, it’s so rare that I have a moment of zero distraction let alone several (which is probably the reason I’ve been cranking out knits that are on the simpler side of life, they’re so easy to pick up and put down again!). So when I tell you I took on the Emery Dress again, I’m really telling you that I recognized that the pattern was hard the first time I worked it and was determined not to be beaten by it again.

The first time I worked the Emery Dress, I had help from Mary Margaret of Notion Fabrics. Between thoughtful tutorials and Mary Margaret’s weekly zoom meetings, everything was aligned to set me up for success. It’s not that the pattern instructions were poor or that the dress itself was particularly difficult, it was that my skills set did not include modifing the pattern to fit my body and the process of classic dress making seemed cumbersome. When I trimmed my final thred, I swore that I would never again make another.

Fast forward a year later and I found myself staring at fabric that screamed to be turned into an Emery dress. Though I had purchased the fabric for a different intention, I found myself grateful that I hadn’t given away my Emery pattern and ready to take on the challenge of modifying the fit.

Since I knew going into this dress that the back bodice pieces created a large pocket, I spent a lot of time trying out different depth adjustments to the existing darts and rewatching dart construction videos. In the end, I needed to take in about an inch of fabric across both pieces.

All in all, I’m happy with the way my dress came out. There are a few things that are wonky (the left side of the dress looks a tad more handmade than the right, but does that really matter?), but it fits! I also discovered that my invisible zipper skills have dramatically improved, which was a pleasent surpise. I have loose plans to make another with some blue egg fabric that I aquired, but I’m also flirting with merging the Emery skirt with the bodice from the Rosie Dress because I can’t stop thinking about the collar detail.

A young woman standing in front for a floor mirror wearing a green short sleeve dress with white outlined potted plants.

Plant Lady Beatrix

A young woman walking across a grass field wearing blue shorts and a yellow shirt with a white design featuring topless women and monstera leaves.

I’ve been sitting on what I will call my plant lady yellow fabric and Beatrix pattern for a little over a year now, patiently waiting to learn what size I would need to work up when my pregnancy was over. With this in mind, you cannot begin to understand the satisfaction and excitement that came with ironing and cutting the fabric. To say I’ve been looking forward to wearing the finished shirt is an understatement.

Other than the general fit and style of Beatrix, I was particularly interested in sewing this one because Made by Rae usually has fantastic directions and I had never sewn a button placket before. Though I shouldn’t have been surprised, there were pictures in all the right places and I found myself working through what I thought would be the “icky” part before I knew it.

Due to not paying enough attention, I accidentally sewed a sleeve inside out and had to seam rip to fix it. Not a fault of the pattern, just the fault of not taking a break when I should have.

This is also the first time I’ve ever sewn with rayon and was thrilled to learn that it was not as slippery as I anticipated. Definitely see myself snagging a few more yards in the future. The only complaint I have is that it wrinkles very easily. Despite running it through the dryer and wearing the shirt all day, I have a crease down the middle from the shirt being folded.

All in all, super happy with the fit of my Beatrix (I don’t have to unbutton the back buttons to get it on and off) and love wearing it. I have enough fabric in my stash to work up a second one in a plaid wool and am thinking of attempting to make a dress version using a gathered skirt using some quilting cotton (not much drape in that though). Not sure how that will logistically work out yet though as I think I need to take a look and see if anyone has done so without also adding a lining (call me lazy but I don’t want to add a lining).

A young woman looking out across a grass field wearing blue shorts and a yellow shirt with a white design featuring topless women and monstera leaves.

Kiwi Bird Bubble Romper

Front view of a bubble romper made with gauze fabric with multi colored cartoon kiwi birds.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, we’re expecting an addition to our little family! I feel like it’s taken me forever to start crafting for them. For starters, we don’t know the gender of our child. While this doesn’t affect the colors or fabrics that I use, it does seem to have an effect on the patterns that I want to work with.

Honestly, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of gender-neutral sewing/knitting patterns out there unless you’re willing to make “just a sweater” or “just a onesie”. Don’t get me wrong, those are important and would get a lot of use… they’re just also not very fun to make. I can’t help it, if we have a little girl there will be more hand-sewn dresses in my future. It’s not that I wouldn’t knit or sew for a little boy, it’s just that there seems to be fewer options to choose from. So really, until our child starts to have strong opinions about what they wear it will be a little bit of this and a little bit of that (and even when they do start to care it will still be a whole lot of hand-me-downs).

I have never worked with gauze fabric before, and while I’m not on a mission (at this point) to try every fabric out there, Spoonflower’s Sweat Pea Gauze combined with cartoon kiwi birds seemed like a fun summer combination. Add in a free swimsuit pattern from Made-by-Rae in order to adjust the base of her Germanium Dress and you’re on your way to imagining how my afternoon went. Filled with deep breaths, “you gots this”s, and a triumphant look what I made at the end.

Back view of a bubble romper made with gauze fabric with multi colored cartoon kiwi birds.

Why not just use the entire swimsuit pattern from start to finish? To be perfectly candid, it probably would have been easier due to having fewer pieces. In my opinion, the bodice area on the swimsuit is slanted towards the feminine side and I wanted to make sure that this romper could be worn comfortably regardless of gender. Plus, the swimsuit has a lot of gathers in the top and I honestly wasn’t in the mood to mess around with that many rows.

It will be interesting to see how the final garment wears on a person as the gauze fabric has a lot of drape to it. This may be a situation where it’s less poofy from the fabric and more poofy due to having a diaper underneath, but either way, it’s a cute ensemble to add to our collection (that and it feels good to be crafting for our little one)!

Time will tell if I will reserve gauze fabric for dresses, shirts, and pants that don’t bubble as it was a little tricky to work with. I also plan on using this tutorial to modify an overall pattern I found so that it has snaps for easy diaper changes. Stay tuned, and be prepared for some baby knits to make an appearance soon!

Ballerina (Cleo) Skirt

A young woman wearing a black fitted t-shirt tucked into a long green skirt with ballerina's practicing at the bar printed on it.

The thing about sewing is that in many ways it’s not that different from knitting. Ok, in many ways it’s very different from knitting. In fact other than using your hands to make something many of the tools and techniques are different. All that aside, in many ways sewing is not that different from knitting. Like knitting, sewing projects have a way of jumping out at me when they’re ready to come to life. Like knitting, I go through phases of zero inspiration, and then suddenly a pattern that I’ve seen a million times needs to be given life immediately. Mostly, there’s a strong desire to grab beautiful materials because you know that at some point you’ll be able to use your hands to turn them into something beautiful.

We don’t make the trek to Notion very often, though a wonderful shop, it’s an hour away. When you combine that with there’s a record shop in town for my husband to patron and a delicious eatery down the street, it’s a trip that very quickly becomes a treat. So you have to understand when I say that this ballerina fabric literally jumped out at me from their clearance section, you have to understand that I typically go in with a budget and a plan. I check the clearance section as a means of sticking to that plan, not necessarily for the “OMGOSH I need this to make this and I’m going to start it tonight” feeling that ensued when my eyes made contact with this green cotton poplin fabric.

In addition to the fabric, I also walked away with a copy of the Cleo Skirt by Made-by-Rae. The plan, as I enthusiastically informed my husband over lunch, was to merge the two different styles so that I’d have a long skirt with visible front pockets. A plan that went into action as soon as I could wash and iron the fabric.

The Cleo skirt came together incredibly fast and I love the stiffness that using poplin brings to the garment. Though slightly more of a summer fabric, I do plan on wearing this with a turtleneck, tights, and boots through winter. Another project that I not only want to make again but honestly fits so well into what I tend to wear day-to-day. Perhaps a woolen version is in my future!

There’s about a yard or so leftover, so stay tuned for another ballerina project! I think I have enough to make a t-shirt using the 100 acts of sewing pattern?

A belated “Happy Halloween”

No matter how you swing it, the best part about re-sewing the same pattern again is that you’ve already assembled the pattern. Like ironing your fabric before cutting, assembling the pattern is one of those steps that always takes longer than you think it should. So when I sat down on Halloween morning to make an Ilsa dress with Jade sleeves part two, I honestly anticipated the project having zero hiccups and only taking a few hours. In my mind, it would receive a lot of compliments while I handed out candy to trick or treaters and would have paired well with the denim jacket that I would throw on to stay warm. My machine, however, had a different plan in mind for the day.

Perhaps it’s my fault, perhaps if I hadn’t waited until the day of to sew the project things would have turned out differently. Even after all the time playing around with my tension settings, I still don’t really know what happened (but am tempted to try a new stretch needle next). This is all to say that no matter what I did, my machine wouldn’t stop eating my ghost fabric and the dress that I thought I was going to make is not the dress I ended up with.

After trying, testing, and failing, to fix the problem after a half-hour, I was left with hole-y fabric and a strong desire to rage quit. Each piece had been carefully cut so that the ghosts lined up playfully along the pieces, I didn’t have fabric left over to recut anything. The situation quickly reminded me of playing a hard challenge in a video game as a child where there was nothing to do but throw the controller down and turn it off. Except I didn’t have the ability to try again later, a few of my pattern pieces were beyond saving.

So instead of rage quitting, I found myself reaching for the 3-6 month Germanium pieces that I cut out this past June. These fit perfectly within the Ilsa pieces that were still intact, so I took a deep breath and prepared to start over.

The final dress is not perfect, in fact, I messed up the bodice construction and had to make a few modifications in order to compensate for it. Technical difficulties aside, I am happy with the final product. In the end, it felt more important to sit down with my machine and sew than it did to wear a ghost dress this year. With all the knitting I’ve been doing for Blue Sky Fibers and Wonderland Yarns, it’s been easy to walk by my sewing machine and let it sit unused. In the end, it felt good to persevere and produce something unique. This little dress may become a romper so that it’s more gender-neutral, however, that’s an adventure for another day!

Baby dress in size 3-6 months made out of blue fabric with large white ghosts on it.