Tuesday, April 15, 2014

This dress!

     Once again, Kids Clothes Week snuck up on me (despite, more than adequate warning from my friend Amanda's blog.)   At the beginning of the week I had no projects planned, no shop orders, I had finished new stock to bring in to Make Good.  Perfect! All my sewing time this week can be dedicated to KCW and even though I did not plan in advance, there are all sorts of fun kids clothes I can sew for Annie this week, and I obviously have no shortage of fabric.  I decided to finish a romper I started last summer (for the shop though now, as it would be way too small for her,) make her some new blue Pocho Dot Nani Iro bloomers and maybe some new Go To Leggings with this beautiful, gray, organic Birch Flight knit fabric that had just come in the mail from my newest online obsession.  

     And then all of a sudden, there was an Etsy convo for a custom order…

Triathlon onesies, but with the waves on a toddler T instead.
And my first order shipped internationally! Ooh!

    And a few hours later, an order for three strawberry bibs.  Then another custom order convo about my Liberty of London dress.  Then another order for a Koi bib.  In a day. A day! I have never even had 4 orders in a week, friends, let alone in one day.  And none of these things were already made waiting to go out the door.  So, during a week when your 14 month old is transitioning down to one nap a day, and waking up pretty early every morning, four orders is pretty much all the sewing time you are going to get.  Working away all week, all I kept thinking was, 'when it rains, it pours.'  And I mean that in a totally awesome way.  I love rain, we need rain, and I love the orders and the work.  I love knowing that my work is reaching people out there on the internet and in the world, and that they like it and want to have it.  I love working on custom orders with people to be sure they are getting just exactly what they want and will love until it is outgrown, and maybe even then, handed down.

   And even though Kids Clothes week is a great opportunity to share what I am working on with all the other amazing Mom Sewing Bloggers out there, make connections, bring new readers to my blog and customers to my shop, getting orders done (and done well) and out the door, was so much more important.  But man, oh man, I felt a little stressed, having 4 deadlines at once, and the idea always sticking around in the back of my head that I really needed to be working on KCW.  

     But the orders were sewn and embroidered, washed and ironed, wrapped and packaged and shipped out into the world.  And that extra pause, before working (while working) gave me some time to think about the Birch fabric.  And some hot days on which we just had to play in buckets of water got me thinking about the San Diego weather, and exactly what month I thought we were in.  

I'd like to point out, here, that she is doing exactly what the warning
on the other bucket says not to let children do.
I was watching her!

All the very cutest pictures, with her in the bucket, making the happiest face 
I think a girl can make, are unfortunately, the kind of picture that I can't quite put 
on the internet.  But believe me when I say, they are really cute!

     It is hot people.  And it is April.  In San Diego.  It's not getting cold again anytime soon.  Maybe never.  She does not need more Go To Leggings (as much as I love them!) What she needs is dresses!!  So, thank you, Universe, one more reason to thank you for all those orders last week, bought me some time to come to my senses about turning some beautiful fabric into leggings she will outgrow before it is cold enough for them again.  

     I have never made a dress out of knit fabric before.  I had no pattern I wanted to try.  But I did have a dress, recently acquired from Gap Kids, that was knit, and cute and fit her perfectly.  Inspired by Pins I have pinned, but never actually read, I knew I could make a pattern from an item of clothing I already had.  I also knew this involved folding the item in half and tracing.  Now, if this is all you know, you should probably go back, find those pins, and y'know, read them or something.  But there was no time to waste, friends, I was excited, and wanted to get to work.  So I folded, and I traced. I added seam allowances. I looked closely at all the pieces that made up that dress and how they went together.  I wrote notes to myself on my new pattern pieces.  

Bad picture! Sorry! A pen and tissue paper, my fancy pattern drafting supplies.

And then I started cutting!  

     But really, there is something else you should do if you have never worked with knits before.  Read your sewing machine instruction manual!  And maybe a really good tutorial.  But here are a few tips if you are just too excited to go do those things.

  • Use the needle with the blue base.  It came in the pack that came with your machine.  If you don't have one, get one.  Really. Really really.  It will make a difference, and make this project fun, and not frustrating!
  • Use the stitches on your machine designed for working with knits!  On my machine, this means turning the stitch length dial to the S.S. setting (stretch stitch.)  Most of this dress was sewn using a simple, straight, stretch stitch.  To hem the sleeves and the bottom of the dress I used a fancy zig zag stretch stitch.  Play with your machine. Find what works well with your fabric and looks fun to you.  

  • And don't be afraid to get that seam ripper out.  Just work slowly if you have to, if you rip the fabric while ripping the seam, knits will have a bigger, more visible hole.  

    • And watch out for the bedtime police- they may come to take your very best helper away.     


    So where was I… oh yeah, cutting!

     And because the off white knit I was using for the top is super thin, I decided to double layer it.  This solved a lot of problems. I did not need to figure out how to finish the neckline, just right sides together and turned inside out.  It also let me sew in a tag and sew on a button and loop without my stitching showing through on the other side.

    I sewed the top pieces to each other, then I sewed them to the body.  I sewed the sleeves on to the shoulder.      

    I hemmed the sleeves using one of the fancy zig zag stretch stitch options (D on my machine!) I had no idea it would make this adorable scalloped edge!

    I sewed the side seams. 

    I hemmed the bottom edge with the same stitch as the sleeve hem, 

    But because it was a half inch hem instead of 3/8 (or maybe even 1/4- I didn't actually measure) on the sleeve, it did not scallop the edge, but I still think it turned out pretty beautifully.  

    I turned the dress right side out and took some pictures!

    And then, she was awake!  And ever since that hot, bucket and hose playing day, the front yard is the only place she wants to be.

    This tail is being hugged, not pulled, in case there was any confusion.  

       So there was my weekend (and Monday morning) sewing, finished not quite on time for Kids Clothes Week, but inspired by it.  And here is my long post, not quite a tutorial, but maybe just a source of some inspiration to take a chance, cut that fabric, figure out the details as you go along and make something beautiful, whether it is the week you are "supposed" to do that or not.  

       Or, y'know, if sewing isn't your thing, get in touch with me about making one for your tiny person, this dress isn't up in the shop (yet?) but I would love to work something out!


    1. The dress turned out super cute - good job drafting it yourself! That is something I would like to get more comfortable doing! And I am so happy to hear that things are going so well with your shop - keeping busy is awesome! I hope I didn't stress you out too much about Kid's Clothes Week - custom orders are obviously more important and I didn't have any of those!! :) And I just had to say that Annie's curls in the picture where she is climbing into the bucket are the cutest. I die. My daughter got my stick-straight hair so no curls for us, not even baby curls.

      1. Haha! No! You did not stress me out at all! You just reminded me that it was happening and inspired me with all your productivity!