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.

Lua Sleep Sack

We had to stop swaddling cold turkey earlier than many sites predicted because our little overachiever taught herself how to roll early. We had a few hand-me-down sleep sacks to get us started, but the more I looked at the construction the more it felt like a missed opportunity to make something. Funny how quickly your brain takes you there once you start crafting. Surely I can make this and surely someone has thought about how to improve the store-bought design.

Dark blue sleep sack with forest animals riding in hot air balloons printed across it.

Enter the Lua Sleep Sack. Originally written to be a wearable quilt, the buttoned straps and side zipper (which as a bonus also means you’re not slicing a beautiful design in half) make it so easy to get little ones in and out of. Plus, it was so easy to use knit fabric instead of woven so that the sleep sack wasn’t as heavy. Combine that with the fact that I made two in less than an hour, it’s hard not to start buying fabric simply to crank them out.

Faux patch quilt sleep sack.

I have a third sleep sack in the works using a gauzy hand-me-down swaddle blanket. With any luck, the mod I used to make the knit sleep sacks (only the upper area is lined) will work for the gauze fabric and we’ll have a light/airy sleep sack to throw her in. If nothing else, it’s more invisible zipper practice.

Real talk: I don’t have a lot of time to sit down at my sewing machine these days and I don’t have the headspace for a lot of complications in my crafting. This isn’t to say that I don’t like to challenge myself, it’s more so that whatever I’m working on needs to be a project that I can pick up, work on for 3 minutes and then put down again. Generally speaking, knitting fits the bill because there isn’t a lot of setup time. Sewing projects tend to sit cut out on my craft table because so much prep work goes into getting ready to sew. The Lua Sleep Sack is the perfect project if you find yourself in this situation and wanting to sew for a little one. I cannot recommend it enough.

Tiger Sewing: Matching Outfits

Yellow, orange and blue spotted tiger stripped dress.

Unlike yarn, I have yet to become immune to fabric fumes and can still spend hours looking at different patterns. On the one hand, I still tend to buy fabric when I have a project in mind, on the other hand, it’s still very easy for me to want all the fabric and to impulsively buy some. Several months ago, I opted to make our daughter four cribsheets when Joann Fabrics was having a sale on nursery fabric. If I’m being honest, I actually purchased enough fabric to make five, but “accidentally” purchased a non-flannel fabric that I didn’t end up using. This means that I’ve had vibrant multi-colored tiger print cotton staring at me, waiting patiently to be transformed into something.

Then I found out my sister was pregnant with her second and everything snapped into place, that is after all why one stashes right? I knew I wanted to reuse an overall and dress pattern I put together recently, so I printed out the PDFs, cut out my desired sizes, and got to work! Since there was a little bit of fabric leftover, I threw together two scrunchies as well. I’m not sure if they’ll be used, but it was surprisingly easy to throw them together.

Yellow, orange and blue spotted tiger stripped overalls and two scrunchies.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself it’s that I start to lose interest in a project when the project requires a higher level of focus. In other words, when the end is in sight and all the final steps are small detail items. This used to happen with knitting projects, so I can only hope that as I become a better sewist I’ll dread the final steps less and less.

Some Ponyo Love

A pinafore dress patterned with Ponyo running on top of giant waves laying next to a pair of matching baby bloomers.

When we first found out we were pregnant, I enthusiastically purchased 3 yards of gender-neutral patterns from Spoonflower. A yard of firefighter fabric in their organic cotton knit, a yard of kiwi bird fabric in their organic sweet pea gauze and a yard of Ponyo Fabric in petal signature cotton. Then, I enthusiastically set off to find gender-neutral patterns to work each of the fabrics up in.

For the firefighter fabric, I made a pair of easy-knit overalls. The kiwi bird fabric became a bubble romper. Ponyo, however, sat staring at me for months because I couldn’t find a gender-neutral pattern that fit what I wanted to make with it. There isn’t a good reason as to why, but for some reason, all I wanted to do was make a Flutter Pinafore Dress out of the material. Honestly, it wasn’t even that the dress had ruffles (especially when you consider that I didn’t even add ruffles!). Something about the fabric just screamed to me that it wanted to be a dress and not overalls or a romper.

So I sat on it, occasionally taking the adorable fabric out from time to time to see if I could find a pattern that excited me as much as the Flutter Pinafore Dress. Trying to decide if I should cut my losses and make the dress for a friend or if I should compromise and convert the dress into a romper. In the end, I spent a lot of time knitting and sewing other things. Allowing my mind to forget about Ponyo until about a week ago when I started to have enough energy to start thinking about being creative.

The back view of a pinafore dress patterned with Ponyo running on top of giant waves laying next to a pair of matching baby bloomers.

I would be lying if I said that the Flutter Pinafore Dress was not enthusiastically printed and taped together. Due to looking for alternative patterns for so long, the Ponyo fabric was going to become this little dress no matter what, it was just a matter of who was I going to make it for (and I was sort of hoping to keep this one).

Monica Bacon is a fantastic pattern writer for beginners because each step shows an image of what you’re meant to do. In true Paige fashion, I hated gathering the skirt but am happy with how it came out. The only thing I would do differently would be the addition of the elastic on the back of the dress. For starters, using 1/4 in was too small to synch the back completely (but I had so much of it leftover from making crib sheets that I couldn’t help but commit). The other thing I would do differently would be to thread the elastic through the back instead of attaching it before sewing around the waist (which is what the pattern called for). In my mind, I would have less sewing to do and less ends to clip, but in the end, attaching the elastic early lead to a finicky five minutes. I also added a decorative star stitch to the bottom of the skirt, which would have looked even cuter if I had considered the color of starfish instead of using white thread (but hey it’s still cute!).

I love this little dress and wish I had the skill set required to convert it into adult size.