Saturday, February 25, 2017

Diagonally Striped Maxi Dress: A 'Sort-of' Tutorial

As promised, a short explanation of my process. I can't REALLY call this a tutorial, because I didn't take pictures of each sewing step all along the way. But I can at least give you the ideas. Next time I sew one (because I'm sure there WILL be a next time! I love this dress!), I will totally do a full photo-tutorial!

This dress was the inspiration.

  fabric from Girl This is Teal Green Heather Gray Half Inch Stripe Cotton Jersey Blend Knit Fabric. I got 2 yards of it on clearance. I love the fabric! Color is great, soft to the touch, nice stretch, not just printed on one side-- color is all the way through! Normally 2 yards would be plenty for a maxi for my height. Given that I needed to cut diagonal pieces, however, I would have liked to have at least 2.5 or maybe even 3 yards to make it less fussy next time. 
 This was my design/math workup. I measured myself to know how long it would need to be from shoulder to floor length. 
First thing I did was take an already tailored t-shirt pattern I've worked out to my measurements. About this perfect-for-me fit tee: I created this "Elisa Tee" using several tutorials. I like Its Always Autumn because it is so easy. She also has a fabulous raglan tee tutorial that I have used and loved. I used Rae's angel top measuring instructions as a jumping off point so that I was in the ballpark on the fit I wanted. I adjusted from there by wearing it inside out, pinching the fabric on both sides to tighten and using my wonderclips to mark the changes. Once I got what I wanted, I used THAT as a pattern so I could duplicate my fit on other projects.
Alright, so I took this tee pattern and extended it from the hips in a shallow 'A' fashion using my big ruler. I extended it to the length required in my design sketch notes. No photo to document that I now had a half maxi pattern. I then folded it over again to create a full maxi pattern. This is an extra step for THIS dress that I wouldn't normally do.

 Now, for most maxi dresses, you only need a pattern for half your body because you cut the pieces on the fold to have pieces that are symmetrical on both sides. BUT. That would not work with this dress because of the diagonal cuts AND the fact that in order to get the diagonal stripes I had to cut the fabric on the bias (and if you don't know what that is, it means to cut at a 45 degree angle to the grain line, creating a diagonal). 
Once I had the full maxi pattern, I eyeballed where I wanted the cuts to hit. for example, I knew I wanted the first cut to be just at or slightly above my hips. then I just tweaked until the pieces looked similar to my design drawing. Drew the line, cut the line. Now I've got the pattern pieces. Note: the seam allowance is NOT included on these pieces. If I wanted to be official, I could make entirely new pattern pieces by tracing these and INCLUDING the seam allowances, but you can see from my multi-colored conglomerate that I was running out of tissue paper. So in the interest of not having any more... I just eyeballed the seam allowance when I cut the fabric out. 
To make sure I had matching pieces for front and back (so that my stripes would align on the sides perfectly. I'm ocd like that! lol), I marked on my pattern where the stripes lined up  the first time so that I could duplicate the pattern placement for the back pieces. Note: the back bodice on most tees is different than the front, particularly the neckline. Mine is that way too. The front scoop is lower than the back. 

Once everything was cut out, it was time to sew!
I sewed the front first. Top bodice portion was first since it was most important to me to get the fit on the bodice part correct. Then I sewed together the 2 bottom diagonals, as you can see they need to fit together before attaching to the top diagonal.  Then I laid the entire front of the dress down and layed my back pieces (still not sewn together, over the top to make sure they would line up. Once I was certain of their placement, I clipped the back pieces together and sewed them up. 
I aligned and clipped the finished back to the finished front and sewed them together up the side seams. Then I did the sleeves and neck band. 

Some great helps:
for detailed instructions on how to sew the binding for the neckline, has a great photo tutorial, though I use clips rather than pins. and Collette as a wonderful explanation of 4 different binding methods, including the math required to get the perfect length on a neck or arm band. Very helpful! I prefer the first method she describes, banding, because it is so easy. I measure the neckline (and it is different for each item I create because it totally depends on little adjustments or slight cutting differences) and then follow Collette's math formula for creating my band rectangle. Then I serge the band into a round, fold it over and serge it half, then attach the perfect band to the neckline using clips, just like craftsy explains with the 4 anchors and stretching it along the way. Serge it all together. Then I top stitch using a double needle with matching or contrasting thread on my sewing machine to really make it look professional. 

Tah-dah! All finished!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sewing Sewing Sewing

I have been sewing like CRAZY!!!

Seriously, there might be a slight manic to it all. See, I have this stash of fabric and want to deplete it enough that it doesn't spill out of my tupperwares for our move, but I already winnowed out the fabric I don't love. So what remains is all stuff I want to use rather than get rid of... And therefore I have had lots of sewing to do as part of my moving preparations! I've been averaging one completed project a week--- which is lightning speed for me!

I made these awesome leggings which I absolutely adore! I bought the double-brushed poly from  and LOVE the buttery-softness and the non-sheer stretch! I found a pair of LulaRoe leggings at Goodwill and used them for a pattern, so basically they are my own version at a fraction of the cost. It wasn't hard, but I did have to take the waist yoke apart and re-sew it because originally I made it too large (I gave extra seam allowance bc I figured I could always make them smaller). So happy with the result!

I sewed the girls Valentine's clothes. Fabric from Girl Charlee-- it has adorable hearts and flowers in a trendy tribal print! I did Gwen's first, so her tunic-style handkerchief hem dress (I used a square circle skirt, if that makes any sense) is exactly what I wanted. Gwen loves the spin! Caroline got the fabric remnants for hers, so a dress was out of the question. She wanted a shirt so she could wear it to school. From all the remnant pieces I managed to get the stripes to line up in the front, BUT the sleeve stripes are not symmetrical, which drives me crazy. But she doesn't care, so I am letting it go. I finally had to put a ban on that shirt because she was wearing it multiple times a week and I wanted it be special for Valentine's Day. At least I know she LOVES it!

Striped handkerchief hem dress with a drop waist dress for me. I got this fabric on clearance, so it was a real bargain, and I knew I wanted to use it for a dress like this. Trouble is that the fabric I had constrained me to certain things because I got the bargain lot cuts. For example, the stripe up the sides is a cool color-blocking design element, right? One that I HAD to use because the panels weren't wide enough. I rather like that element. I would have preferred the drop waist to be not quite so dropped with the skirt length making up the difference (right now the proportions feel a little off to me), but I just didn't have enough fabric for that. I like it even if it isn't destined to be my new favorite wardrobe item.

I made the girls these purple floral dresses. I love this dusty rose fabric from Girl Charlee and think these dresses turned out great! Comfy and cute, what more could I hope for?

I made a maternity dress that I suppose I could model for you, but it wouldn't quite look right. lol

I made this wonderful diagonally striped maxi dress! I think it is so flattering! I will do another post later with more info on my design and pattern-creation process for this one.

And guess what? 

Now I can close those fabric tupperwares!!!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Kiddo Valentine's Day

 Valentine's Day was more like Valentine's WEEKS around here. The kids made some new decorations for us to enjoy. 
and worked hard on their valentines for Grandparents. They LOVED making these bugs! And can you see that Gwen made origami hearts?
Making our valentines for classmates was fun and not TOO laborious, since there was a free printable (here), but it definitely required adult assistance. 
Caroline dutifully signed her name on the back of each one!
 Daddy tied the strings. Gwen was all over her list of names and chose a bubble color for each friend. 
 Okay, now who can tell me the difference between the above photo and the below photo?...
  If your answer was the tearful face in the background, you can see this was not a quiet activity of contentment all around.
 Now ask this boy why he is sad. 
 "I blow these red bubbles... please?"
 "Emmett's red bubbles." 
(intentionally not a question mark)
 distraction and placation: raspberries. 
 All in his mouth at the same time. Chipmunk cheeks! :)
 For the past couple weeks I have been baking lots of treats. Fun pink deliciousness! Sometimes I have helpers, but usually I bake while Gwen is at school. She is always very happy to help as my assistant chef when the confectioning occurs on the weekends!
 These pink oreo cheesecake cookies (recipe here) were a hit! The girls' favorite part? No eggs in the batter means more pre-baking sampling! lol
Enjoying the fruits of our labors. 
Cupid's Crazy Cafe was a huge hit again this year! All the free printables and blank menus here. I'm told this kind of mixed up dinner is more commonly done on April Fools. Yes, I'd say that makes sense! But we sure enjoy doing it for V-tines! They write down numbers on their menu without knowing the corresponding food item. 

 Each one of the kids (even Emmett!) helped me make a few heart-shaped chicken nuggets. Recipe here. And they were actually WAY easier than I would have thought! Not as convenient as frozen dino-nuggets, but considering how really healthy and delicious they were (JUST chicken breast, eggs, and bread crumbs!), and how well they went over on the kids, definitely a keeper recipe!
 Items from our line-up of potential foods were mostly healthy. That way I don't feel bad if they eat out of order. Heart cucumbers, heart tomatoes, heart nuggets... seeing a theme here?
The cinnamon roll was the exception. Gwen and Emmett both got that on their first course. I knew Gwen would eat everything no matter what, but I was concerned the sweet roll would throw off Emmett's food consumption. I needn't have worried. He didn't even eat it. I ended up eating it. He just wanted more strawberries!

and yes, on Valentine's Day I let them bring a 'friend' to the table to share the love. Emmett chose to bring his letters. Well, as many of them as I would let him put in front of him. I said 'no' to the whole alphabet. Sorry, bud. Did that break your heart? You'll get over it. 

We got a crazy visit from Cupid, of course... funny thing is Daddy happened to be 'outside taking out the trash' (cough cough) when Caroline booked it up the stairs ahead of us and peered out the back door in anticipation of Cupid's next drop. She was surprised that Daddy didn't catch a glimpse... close one! *wink wink*

Sunday, February 12, 2017


Our taxes are finished. My house is clean. I don't need to be cooking anything right now. Kids are all playing nicely together. Guess I have time to blog!

I've been reading a lot lately. Trying to chew through the top-reads on my list before I get too busy with moving stuff. I've enjoyed some of the books, but my most recent reads have all been slightly disappointing considering the reviews they have. I always make a point to finish my books before I pass judgment, though.
Sometimes that is really challenging, given that I have 5-6 books checked out from the library at any given time and it is oh-so-tempting to abandon a mediocre one in favor of the next!

I've been working on growing our workout group and feeling really good about the increased participation. I LOVE having friends to dance with, friends to grunt and sweat and agonize through the hard parts with, and friends to push me and encourage me to give it my all. I am really grateful right now for supportive strong workout sistahs!

 I love my dance fitness playlists and it has been exhilarating to try some crossfit workouts--- I think I'm going to need some resistance bands so I can keep progressing in my pullups! oh and it is a good thing I'm working so hard on the exercise side of things, because I'm definitely enjoying the food side of things. I love baking all the fun Valentine's treats!

I'm almost finished with a fun family history scripture project that I can't wait to share (but you'll have to wait til I'm finished)! I've also been sewing a TON, but I'm also saving that for another post.

Emmett has been expressing interest in sitting on the potty. He's never actually attempted to GO, but hey. Interest is interest. He amazes me with how he is growing up. He is such a little BOY now, hardly my little baby. He is loving magnatile 'airplanes' and 'rockets' for his animals.
And he also obsesses over the letter "o". The most trying thing he does right now is refuse to nap and then be a grouchy whiney kid for the rest of the afternoon and evening. The sweetest thing he does right now is sing along when I'm putting him to bed. He always requests, "Church, Temple, Child of God, A-di-dong, and Go To Sleep". and then we blow kisses to EVERYONE he can think of before he will consent to close the door.

Caroline is reading! A lot. And she wants to play Starfall and ABCYa every day after school. I'm so happy that she is learning names of her friends (finally!) and getting along so well with Emmett too. She is becoming quite the little "mommy" as she professes love for every single baby she sees. She asks several times a week about when we are moving, the kinds of things we'll do once we move ("will there be kickball in Idaho?"), and asking if we will bring items with us. I don't know if she is asking because she is excited or anxious or possibly both. She also thinks her birthday is really soon and I am constantly reminding her of the months between now and her big day. Caroline is obsessing about planes and rocket ships right now! She wants to be a pilot and also gets ridiculously excited when she spies a jet trail in the sky because she thinks a space ship is reentering the atmosphere, lol!

Conversation with Gwen today:
Gwen: "Most girls in my class are not interested in travel and adventure"...
Eric: "oh really?"
Gwen: "Yeah, they just want to stay home and do their hair."
Gwen thought that was riotously funny.  She is a beautiful blend of sparkles and dirt, adorable teeny fluffy animals and fearsome predators/squirmy bugs, twirly dresses and athletic sneakers, changing her earrings every morning to match her clothes and finding passing up adventures in favor of doing hair to be hilarious. I love that. Such a wonderful balance of femininity with practicality. :) Gwen's latest thing is origami. We'll see how long this interest lasts, but so far she has made about 50 projects for friends, teachers, and members of the family to enjoy. She even showed entrepreneurial ambition by charging a penny for a lesson on how to make an origami house.

Well, I think that is pretty much it! Stay tuned for a post about my sewing projects, our Valentine's festivities, and the scripture project!