Lucy's Blessing Dress

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In my LONG blog absence I was busy busy laying on the couch in pregnancy exhaustion and then subsequently having a baby. Her name is Lucy and she is sweet as can be, and now two months old! I'm planning to share her birth story (like I did for Charly and Caroline) but today I'm jumping the gun and sharing the blessing dress I made for her special day last weekend (a baby blessing is something we do in the LDS church and is similar to a christening). I made dresses for both of my other girls (here and here) so while I'm still super duper in love with Caroline's dress and contemplated using it again, it only seemed fair to make our little Lucy her own.

I decided to go a totally different direction with this one after doing some searching and pinning. I put together this board and realized I was digging a 60's babydoll vibe.

The only problem was I couldn't find a pattern that suited my vision. And true newborn patterns are hard to find- most start at 3 months- and I just couldn't get past the idea of having it actually fit her tiny shoulders. So I drafted my own! It was great to jump back to drafting a bit as I haven't done much since releasing the Blue Ridge Dress.

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This dress is a baby doll or tunic length, a line, lined and features a bow front detail, hem facings, and front pleat. I used a hook and eye closure at the back neck because I was strapped for time, but I had planned to do a button and loop or ties.

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I used dupioni silk that I had left over from a wedding dress I made for a friend of mine a few years ago, and while I love the look, it definitely wrinkles like the dickens. The bow detail is a sequined lace from Joann Fabrics. I brought the sequined lace in to the bloomers, as well, which are made from the free Blousy Bloomer pattern from Sew Caroline. While I love the details of these bloomers, they aren't well suited for this fabric and ended up too baggy looking. I also sized up, so both those are my own fault. I'll definitely give these a try in another fabric some time- I love the options for trims and contrast fabrics with the front panel.

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My little Lucy looked precious on her blessing day and was given a wonderful blessing by her dad. We were happy to share the day with some family. I'm so happy with the way her dress turned out and that I could make her a special keepsake.

And since I've already drafted it, I'm tweaking a few things and planning to release it in newborn size as a free pattern! I'll have lined and unlined options for a more casual look. I can't wait to make a few more of these for her for summer- keep your eyes peeled for the free pattern in the coming weeks!

Thanks for reading!

Fashion Revolution- a guide to a more ethical wardrobe on a budget

My Photo for the #insideout and #handmadeinsideout
Today is Fashion Revolution Day- a day to remember the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh just one year ago, and a day to ask the question, "Who made my clothes?" A day to bring awareness to sustainable fashion and make us all think a bit about where our clothes come from, and who makes them, and how they are made. Because it matters. And if you don't know why yet, watch this five minute op-doc about the Rana Plaza collapse. It's good. Really good.
I've had sustainable fashion on my mind for a bit now, ever since I came across this article- 6 Things You Should Know About Your Clothes- in my facebook feed. (You should really read it, and the follow up post, 4 Things You Should Remember Every Time You Shop for Clothes). Here's the thing- I've always been a seeker of bargains. I pride myself on finding a good deal, but this article made me rethink the cost of those "deals.'  I'd started to see the light on quality over quantity (as a twenty something who naturally wants ALL THE THINGS this is a slow going change) but I'm more committed to that change every day, as I'm learning about the options I have as a consumer. I'm on a tight budget, which means I can't afford to buy all organic cotton, sustainably sourced, ethically made clothes for myself and my family. I'm using this fantastic and lovely graphic by Sarah Lazarovic, along with the ideas in the articles linked above, as my guide to navigating a more ethical wardrobe, on a budget.

source: http://longliveirony.com/?p=575 by Sarah Lazarovic

1. I'm gonna use what I got. When I look through my closet there are always those things that I pass by because they don't fit just right, or a button needs to be replaced, or there is a hole somewhere. Well guess what- clothes can be fixed! Mending and alterations can extend the life of clothes you already have. I do mine myself, but when I don't know how I usually search the internet for a tutorial or video. If you want to learn how, the information is there! And if you don't want to learn how, find a tailor or someone who can do the work for you. Costs range on this quite a bit, but it never hurts to ask, right?
Matt and I both had holes forming in the crotch of our jeans a few months back. I finally convinced myself to try patching them because we just couldn't afford new ones at the time. That was 5 months ago, and we are both still wearing them with no signs of them wearing out, and the patches aren't even visible!
2. I'll borrow and swap when I can. I don't have a clothes borrowing friend near me now, but when I did I loved it. For family pictures or a special occasion, raiding a friends closet can give just the extra something you want without purchasing anything. I've also borrowed maternity clothes. Pregnancy can be a tricky time for clothes, so borrowing makes so much sense. Something you wear one week may look terrible or not fit the next, so borrowing from others was a great way for me to have a wardrobe I wasn't sick of by the end of my pregnancy. Oh, and kids clothes? Borrowing saved us from having to buy a new infant wardrobe, since my girls were born in opposite seasons. Moving forward I'll try to lend more, too.
3. I'll keep on thrifting. Its no secret that thrifting is one of my true loves. Sometimes when I need to get some "me time" at the end of the day I'll leave the kids with my man and go to the thrift store. Yeah, I know how to party. Needless to say I'll continue to thrift for my family's wardrobe- and alteration skills come in handy here too- and thrift for pieces to upcycle or refashion. Which brings me to the next part of my plan:
4. Make, make make! Wearing something I've made makes me happy. Seeing my girls wearing something I've made makes me happy. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm betting seeing Matt wearing something I've made would make me happy. I'm going to try to add to all of our wardrobes with handmade when I can, using lots of thrifted materials, and try to use patterns by indie designers (my fave!) whenever possible. For anyone who doesn't sew but wants to, the online sewing community is one of the nicest and most helpful out there! There are tutorials! Patterns! Bloggers galore! So many resources to help anyone, at any skill level, hone the skills needed to sew. It doesn't take a special talent, just patience and practice. If you've ever thought about learning to sew, DO IT!
5. I'll put my money where my mouth is. Yes, I'm sure I'll still be buying lots of things, but I'll try to do a little research and buy less 'fast fashion' and more quality products from companies who treat their makers well. Because I sew, so I know the skill it takes to make clothing. I want to show, with my dollars, that I value that skill in the global market. I'm not promising to only buy from a certain company, or to only buy organic, but I am going to be a more conscientious consumer. Because it matters.
So what about you- how are you going to be part of the fashion revolution?
Check out Behind the Hedgerow, Petit a Petit and Family, and Things for Boys for more info on #handmadeinsideout

Refashion: The Market Skirt

This weekend I went ahead and tackled the easiest refashion from these fabulous dresses I posted about last week. I have yet to decide exactly what to do with the other two, but am definitely taking any and all suggestions!

Although I loved the pink buttons on this jumper, there was no question the top portion had to go. I'll use those buttons down the line for something else. This totally nineties jumper...

 ...is now a breezy mid-calf length skirt, perfect for a day at the market (or outlet mall, in my case), and is therefore called, The Market Skirt.

 Seriously, it was hot and humid high 90's on Saturday here, and this skirt was a dream to wear as we perused the goods at the outdoor outlet mall nearby.

As promised, I took lots of pictures of the whole process. Here's the tutorial, for any of you who are looking to add to your summer wardrobe! I tend to over-explain things (I prefer to be thorough), so don't be intimidated by the paragraphs at each step. It really is very simple!

Supplies:
-1 old dress, with a breezy/flowy fabric
-1 yard 2in wide knitted elastic (more or less depending on your waist size)
-Thread to match

1. Cut skirt portion from bodice.
I liked the length of the skirt already, so I cut right below the elastic that attached the skirt to the bodice. If you want to adjust the length, it is much easier to cut it to the right length in this step and keep the original hem. Hemming is a beast, so I try to avoid it at all costs. To figure out where to cut, try the dress on and pull the skirt portion up from the waist to the length you want, then mark 1" above your natural waist. Cut straight across at that mark.

Discard the bodice of your dress- or save it for some other project if you are a fabric hoarder like me:)

2. Gather the waist of the skirt. 
This is done by first sewing a basting stitch all the way around the waist of your skirt. A basting stitch just means use a long stitch length.

When you sewing a basting stitch you do not backstitch at the beginning and end- just start sewing. Make sure to leave a long tail of thread at the beginning and end-this will help you when you are gathering later. When I am gathering something large like this, I divide my area to be gathered in to a few sections and baste them separately. This way you are less likely to break the thread as you gather and get really angry and give up. Not that I've ever done that :)

I use the edge of my presser foot as a guide for my basting stitch.

I sewed 3 sections of basting stitches. When I finished the first and cut the thread I pulled the fabric back toward me an inch or so and started the second section of stitching to the side of the first. I learned this little trick after I discovered that the areas where the sections of stitching met usually weren't gathered well. By overlapping a little you end up with a more even gather.

The first row of stitching ends on the right and the second starts next to it on the left. 
On one end of each section of stitches, tie the two threads together. This will keep your gathers from falling out at the end of your threads. 

On the other end of each section, grab the top thread and gently tug so the fabric gathers toward the knotted end. Continue with each section. You'll adjust the gathers later, so don't worry too much yet about how they look. 

3. Make the waistband.
Here is where your elastic comes in. Wrap your elastic around your natural waist, holding the ends together. Adjust so that the elastic is slightly taut- you don't want the waistband to dig in to your belly, but you do want the elastic to do its job in keeping your skirt up. When you are happy with the size, mark where the ends should meet and be sure to allow 1/2"-1" for seam allowance.

Making sure your elastic is flat (no loops or twists) pin the edges together where they should meet. You can cut the excess now or after you have sewn.

Sew using a wide zig zag stitch, which will allow the elastic to stretch without breaking the thread. I used this wide multi step zig zag, which allows for a lot of stretch.

After you have sewn the edges together and trimmed the excess you can do this quick step to help your seam lay flat, but it isn't necessary. Fold your seam allowance to one side and stitch it down.

Your waistband should now look something like this:

4. Attach the skirt to the waistband.
My skirt had seams on the sides and in the front and back. If yours doesnt, you'll want to mark the middle of the front and the middle of the back with a pin or marker. Pin the middle back of the skirt to the seam you just made on the waistband.

Pin so the front of the elastic and the front of the skirt are facing the same direction.

Do the same thing with the side seams and middle front of the dress, making sure to space them evenly on the elastic. I folded the elastic to figure out where the middle and sides were.

Once it is pinned in those 4 places, adjust the gathers so the skirt is the same width as the elastic, and so that the gathers are evenly spaced. As you pin, you need to make sure the top of the skirt stays parallel to the elastic. I did this by measuring with this seam guide, but you could use anything as long as it stays consistent. What we don't want is a skirt that ends up being an inch shorter in some areas- so be consistent!

Continue until you have pinned all the way around the skirt.

Now its time to sew! I used a medium width zig zag stitch, but in retrospect wish I had used one a little wider to allow more stretch when I pull it on over my hips.

Using the edge of the fabric as your guide, sew all the way around the waistband.

Trim your threads, remove the basting stitch (or leave it and hear the unpleasant sounds of snapping stitches as you pull the skirt on), turn right side out, and you are done!

The total cost for this cute summer skirt was $5.99! The dress was a $4 thrift store find and the elastic was $1.99 for a yard. I already had thread on hand. It doesn't get much cheaper than that!
I am really excited to have this new skirt to sport. I have a super hard time dressing in the summer. I'm a layering, sweater and boots wearing kinda gal, so adding to my summer wardrobe is a priority right now. Anybody else have that problem? What do you wear in the summer?