How I “Prettied Up” A Play Dress

I love sewing clothes for my granddaughter!  First of all, since she’s a growing toddler, she always needs clothes.  Secondly, since children’s clothes are small, they’re generally a pretty quick sew. 😉 And thirdly, they usually don’t take too much fabric.  Sometimes I can get away with using the larger leftover scraps of fabric from previous sews, which is what I was able to do here.

I bought a yard of the Cozy French Terry from Phee Fabrics to make Lila some joggers and a cardigan.  They turned out cute, and she wore them the day we flew up to visit.  I had a bit of the French Terry left, and thought a sweatshirt dress with a woven skirt would make a cute, comfortable play dress.  It turns out that I didn’t have enough French Terry for the sleeves, so I turned to my trusty rayon spandex for the sleeves and neck band.  Remember my Made By Rae Washi Dress blogged here?  There was just enough of the Art Gallery Fabrics 100% Premium Cotton left from my dress to make the skirt.

The Stitch Upon A Time Wendybird Dress (aff link) recently jumped into my cart the last time they had a pattern sale, so I couldn’t wait to print out the pattern.  Since there was only enough of the Art Gallery cotton left to make an 11″ long by 45″ wide rectangular skirt, I lengthened the Wendybird bodice by 2″.  Although the skirt fabric is a floral, it’s not in overly girly colors, so I decided to “pretty up” the dress by adding a ruffled placket.

To make the placket, I cut a 1-3/4″w x 4″h center base out of rayon spandex.  The two inner rayon spandex ruffles are 1-3/4″w x 8″h.  The two outer AGF cotton ruffles are 2-3/4″w x 8″h.  The center French Terry ruffle is 3/4″w x 5″h.

WB placket pieces

To make the double ruffles, fold the outer cotton ruffles in half lengthwise, right sides together, and stitch along one short end.  Fold the inner rayon spandex ruffles in half lengthwise, right sides together, and stitch along one short end.  Clip the corners, being careful to not cut through the stitching line, turn the ruffles right sides out and press.  Lay an inner ruffle on top of an outer ruffle with the cut sides and finished ends aligned.  Sew a long basting stitch with a 1/4″ seam allowance, and pull the bobbin thread to gather the ruffles.  Repeat with the other double ruffle.

Fold the bottom edge of the center base under 1/4″ and baste or use Wash Away Wonder tape to keep the fold in place.  Lay a double ruffle on the center base right sides together, with the finished edge of the ruffle toward the bottom.  Stitch along the side with a 3/8″ seam allowance.  Press the ruffle to the outside and repeat with the other double ruffle.

Next we add the center ruffle.  Because the French Terry won’t fray,  the edges are left raw.  Run a basting stitch down the middle of the center ruffle, and gather it to fit the placket base.  Keeping the center ruffle 3/8″ away from the top, zig zag down the center of the ruffle to stitch it in place.

Mark the center front of the bodice with a pin.  Use tailor’s chalk, or a washable fabric marker to mark the ruffle placket placement, which should be a rectangle 1″ wide by 4″ high.

WB mark

Line the ruffle placket up at the top of the neckline and with the markings, and top-stitch around the center base to secure it to the bodice.  Baste the unfinished edges of the double ruffles in place at the neckline.  Sew on the neckband as per the pattern directions, being sure to catch the top of the double ruffles and placket in the band.

WB placket

To make the skirt, cut two 11″h x 22-1/2″w (I would have preferred 12 or 13″ high, but that was all the fabric that I had!) panels out of the AGF cotton.  Place the panels right sides together and stitch along the side seams.  Press the bottom up 1/2″, and another 1/2″ and stitch the hem.  You can run a long basting stitch around the top of the skirt to gather it, but since it’s being sewn onto a knit bodice, I like using cotton swim elastic to gather.  Measure the bottom of the bodice, and cut the elastic to that length.  Overlap the ends of the elastic 3/4″ and zigzag to form a loop.  Use a pencil to mark the quarter points of the elastic.  Mark the centers of the skirt front and back, and they and the side seams will be the quarter points of the skirt.  Line up the quarter points of the elastic along the top of the skirt, and stretch the elastic to fit as you zigzag it in place.  It should gather the skirt to fit the bodice perfectly.

WB flat

With the skirt inside out, slide the bodice down inside the skirt, right sides together, matching side seams and center points.  Sew the bodice to the skirt, then give everything a good press.  Ta dah!  A simple play dress turns into a pretty, party-worthy dress!

Since Lila only recently turned two, she doesn’t attend a lot of parties.  But she is always ready to run and play outside, picking up sticks and leaves on her way to and from the park.

WB dress sticks

And I love that she is able to play outside in nature nearly every day.  I hope that she never forgets the joy and wonder of exploring, learning new things, and playing every day.

WB dress oh

WB dress up

When you’re done sewing, don’t forget to go for a walk, and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.  Maybe you’ll find some sticks to play with too! 🙂

Thank you for reading and sharing my love of sewing, fabric, patterns, designing, and creating. ❤

 

Capture The Moment

Have you ever witnessed a moment that seems so sweet that you feel like it should be captured in a photograph?  Watching children play, and seeing their pure joy is a frequent occurrence that leads to the thought that you wish you had a camera to catch the expression on their face.  Especially if it has been a hard or challenging day or season in life.  Seeing happiness makes us want to smile and join in on the fun.

Dan and I were walking the beach last night, and moving at a rather quick pace, since sunset was less than a half hour away when we started our walk.  We passed other walkers, joggers, and people sitting or lounging on the sand, waiting to watch the sun set.  We were strolling past a couple that looked to be in their late 20’s to early 30’s sitting on the beach.  The wife leaned in to say something, the husband smiled, and they leaned together touching cheeks, smiling towards the sun.

It was such a sweet moment that I stopped walking, turned to them and said, “Where’s your camera?  You two just look so sweet!”  The wife reached into her pocket, set her phone to camera mode and handed it to me.  I took a couple of quick photos of their faces shining in the sun, glowing with happiness, and handed back the phone.

I am not normally the type of person who randomly starts a conversation with strangers.  Dan, yes.  Me?  Not so much.  But I just couldn’t help thinking that this young couple would want that moment of sweetness and sunshine captured.  Before you think that I am too much of a weirdo asking someone for their phone, keep in mind that tourist season has started in Florida.  On sunny days, the beaches are full of visitors, enjoying the warmth, wonder, and beauty along the coast.  It is not uncommon to have a couple or group ask a walker passing by to take their photo.  And when I’ve seen a Mom or Grandma taking photos of their group, I’ve encouraged them to get in the photo and taken a few quick shots for them.

I recall my daughter telling me about when their little family was playing at a splash pad, and someone commented that they and Lila were having so much fun that their family needed to be captured in a photo.  The stranger caught the huge smiles on their faces as they played together.  It is a great photograph.

I love being able to capture a moment of happiness for someone, just like I’ve captured it in my mind.  Hopefully, every time they look at the photos, they’ll remember the fun, the happiness, the joy, they were feeling at that moment.

Dan recently sent me a photo he took when we were visiting for Lila’s 2nd birthday.  We had taken Lila to the park, and she is flying high on the swing, her hair flying up in the air as she achieves weightlessness.

swing

I love seeing her enjoy a happy, carefree childhood, filled with love and laughter.  It makes me smile every time I look at it, because it reminds me of how fun she is to play and interact with.  And it reminds me of all the times I’ve been on a swing and enjoyed that same feeling of floating while up in the air.

I’m certainly not advocating for life to be lived with a phone or camera in front of your face all the time.  There’s definitely something to be said about just savoring life, and capturing the beautiful moments in your minds’ eye.  Life is rarely Instagram perfect, and involves a lot of “cropping out” the not so pretty stuff.  But when we take the time to look around, look for the beautiful, joyous, happy, peaceful, spontaneously wonderful moments around us, we can capture memories to help sustain us during the not so perfect moments in life.  And if we can capture those moments for others, why not risk being thought of as a weirdo when you ask someone for their phone? 🙂

By all means just enjoy the power-walk, breathing in the fresh air, listening to the sounds around you.  But every once in a while you might want to stop and take a photo of the beautiful spaces, and faces, and wonders in life.

sunset 11-1-19

All The Walls

We started stripping the wallpaper in our master bedroom yesterday.  We’ve never cared for the grass-cloth wallpaper, it was on the walls when we moved in.  Like most people, every house we’ve ever lived in has been a “fixer upper”.  As time and budget allowed, we gradually improved each place, turning them into nicer homes.

Our old home of 20 years had wallpaper in nearly every room when we bought it.  From a foil print velvet floral flocked wallpaper in the bathroom, to a brown vinyl textured in the living room and kitchen (which coordinated so nicely 😉 with the brown tile countertop with an impressed grassy plant design) to the burgundy vinyl “accent wall” and plush gray, carpet-like wallpaper in the master bedroom.  It took me months to strip all the old wallpaper off, scrub down the walls to remove the glue residue, and prime and paint all the walls.  But gradually, working on it on nights and weekends, I got it done, and really improved the look of our home.

When we first moved to Florida and stayed at my Mom’s old house for three months while we house-hunted, we started fixing it up for her.  We replaced hardware and faucets, and installed a storm door on the back door.  The rotten, shredding curtains were replaced with mini-blinds.  And I stripped wallpaper.  The ditsy patterned wallpaper in the kitchen was the first to go.

ditsy kitchen

Then I moved on to the dining room and family room.  The textured wallpaper was very thoroughly stuck, and bits of drywall came off when I peeled it off bit by bit.  Which meant I had to do a lot of patching after spending days scrubbing all of the glue residue off.

scraping diningpatch dining

Eventually I was able to prime and paint, and ended up with a cute dining area in which to eat and sew.  Don’t judge- I’m sure I’m not the only one who works at their dining table!  Speaking of sewing, my Grandmother made the seaside picture on the right of the photo using trapunto, a form of quilting popular back in the ’90s.  It’s currently hung in our guestroom, and reminds me of the long line of sewists in our family.

dining

When we moved to our new home, as soon as I finished cleaning, I started painting.  I covered up the school bus yellow kitchen walls, and painted the sunroom, living room and office poo brown ceilings white.  I scraped and scrubbed the elephant wallpaper border off the walls of Dan’s office, and painted over the deep red walls.  Eventually I moved on to the main bathroom.  The metallic copper colored walls and gold ceiling had to go.  Along with the horrible wallpaper, which, one of my friends commented, looked like mold. 🙂

bath wallpaperwall mold

They must have used super strength glue, and obviously did not properly prep the walls before installing the wallpaper, because it came off in tiny little bits.  Hundreds if not thousands, of tiny little bits.

wall bits

Needless to say, after that time-consuming process, I didn’t even feel like tackling the grass-cloth in the master bedroom.  So here we are, a year and a half later, finally ready to face the task of removing wallpaper once again.  But this time I had help!  Dan helped me peel and scrape off the grass-cloth.  I started scrubbing off the residue, but it was getting late and I was tired.  So I’m maybe a quarter of the way through scrubbing, and then I can move on to priming and painting.  Yay!  And phew!

All of this talk about working on the walls got me thinking about the walls in our lives.  What kind of walls do we put up to hide, to avoid, to protect?  Protective walls can be good.  We all need shelter from the storms.  But are we putting up walls to avoid people because we’re scared?  Scared to talk to them?  Scared to reach out in friendship, or deal with a relationship?  Do we put up a wall to “block out” God?  Are we scared to have faith?  To consider depending upon someone other than ourselves?  Are we afraid of what that faith, and relationship with God, with Jesus, might require of us?

Are you thinking of knocking down some of those walls?  Of opening your heart and your mind to new relationships and possibilities?  It’s easier than you think.  Take one small step forward, crack open the door, throw open the window, and invite life in.  Pray.  It can be nothing more than a simple conversation, talking to God.  But it can mean so much more.  It can be the start, or the continuation, of an everlasting relationship.  Are you ready to knock down some walls?

 

Love You “Two” The Moon Birthday Girl!

Can you believe that my beautiful granddaughter just turned two?  I planned to write a post about her birthday party, and thought I would include photos of the decorations and snacks and treats, along with her birthday dress like last year.  But it was a super busy day, and somehow I didn’t take many photos!  So there aren’t any close-up photos of the cute star cookies (you can barely see them on the table behind her), the astronaut ice cream, or moon cheese, chosen for her space themed birthday party.

There wasn’t much doubt that Lila would choose space as a theme, since “moon” was one of her first words, shortly after “Mama” and “Daddy”.  She likes to spot airplanes and helicopters, and “Look at stars!” and “See fireflies”.  Her vocabulary is out of this world, if I am allowed to brag a bit, about all the phrases and sentences she says these days.  She mimics and picks up new words and phrases daily.  Possibly even ones she shouldn’t, such as “OK, girlfriend”, which she learned from yours truly! 🙂  It is sort of funny though, since she inserts it appropriately into conversation!

Her birthday dress was made using the free Sew A Little Seam Birthday Dress pattern.  I muslined it using some chevron foil print purple knit I found on the clearance rack at JoAnn Fabrics a couple years ago.  It looked cute and proportionate, although I couldn’t try it on her since she lives in another state.

purp bday dress

Finding fabric that looked like galaxies was a little challenging, since I didn’t have time or the budget to order a custom fabric.  But I found some hand-printed cotton at my local fabric store (that has a ton of quilting fabric, and very little knit, which seems common in Florida) that looked pretty and sort of galaxy like.  The pattern tutorial calls for a zipper if the dress is made with woven fabric, although it’s only supposed be in the bodice.  After installing the zipper in the completely lined and finished bodice, it made no sense to me to not have it extend into the skirt.  Since there isn’t a back seam in the skirt (which would have been the easiest solution) I just snipped down the center back of the skirt about 3 inches, and folded the snipped edges under.  Attaching the skirt was a bit challenging, since I needed the edges to line up perfectly in order to continue sewing on the zipper.  It isn’t the prettiest zipper I’ve ever done, but it was installed and worked perfectly.

bday flat

To up the “space” and sparkle factor, I added some metallic trimmed satin and chiffon ribbon to the bottom edge of the tulle underskirt.  A simple zig zag stitch through the chiffon layer worked perfectly, and it took every single inch of the 3 yard spool of ribbon!  I also made the hair bow, by following a tutorial on YouTube.  Fortunately, the dress fit perfectly, and Lila wore it all day long from playing in the garden, to learning to ride her birthday scooter.

bday gardenGpa push scoot

Last year, she just leaned forward in her high chair and nibbled her cupcake.  This year, she decided it was too sticky to hold herself, and wanted Mama to hold it for her!  Can you tell that she only gets sugary treats on rare occasions?

bday cupcakebday bite

The birthday party flew by, with kids, neighbors, family, friends, noise, presents, and the general bedlam that one expects at a children’s birthday party.  And it really only ended after it grew dark, and all of the neighbor children finished playing with bikes, scooters, balls, being pulled in wagons, and the adults gathered them inside for their dinners and evening baths.

On her actual birthday, we tagged along on a trip to a local farm.  Lila got to see all the animals, go on a wagon ride, wander through a maze, and look at pumpkins, although she didn’t pick one out to take home.

Lila chickenLila turkey

Lila Gma mazeWill Gma

And she got a shoulder ride from Grandpa, just like her Mama used to when she was little!

Gpa shoulderGG farm

She also opened her present of Grandma made clothes.  She wore her Petite Stitchery Sweetie Leggings (another free pattern) made from a floral double brushed polyester scrap and her Patterns for Pirates Tiny Tulip (also a free pattern), made from pieced together scraps of rayon spandex ribbing from Phee Fabrics the next day.  The leggings are a looser fit like joggers, and the 24 months size fits well.  The dropped shoulders of the Tiny Tulip make the size 2 a little bit big on her.  I had to roll up the sleeves to keep them out of her way.

PS scooter standscooter cat

I made the skirt out of some star printed vintage cotton woven my Mom gave me when cleaning out her house.  It’s just two pieces of fabric 12″ high by 22″ wide sewn together, and gathered with swim elastic.  Swim elastic works best because it’s soft, and stretches enough to gather a wide opening small enough to fit on a simple rayon spandex waistband.

PS Sweetie P4P skirt

I hadn’t tried the free (with code in their Facebook group) Halla Leggings pattern before, but gave them a try because the rise is higher in the front than some of the other kids leggings patterns.  Toddlers have round little bellies, and I dislike low rise leggings with a baby belly and diaper sticking out of the top!  There was a big enough scrap of Polartech Powerstretch left in my stash to make the size 2/3 years.  The Patterns for Pirates Buried Treasure Tunic in size 2 was the basis for the other two tops I made.

H leggings P4P tops

The sweater knit hacci was part of a panel and I didn’t have enough scraps to make long sleeves.  So I cut them as long as I could, added seam allowances, and cut the rest of the sleeves, neckband, and gathered ruffle on the bottom out of Phee Fabrics rayon spandex.  The floral print was a scrap of rayon spandex from JoAnn Fabrics.  Since the fabric was quite thin, and didn’t have the greatest recovery, I decided to use some white rayon spandex from Phee as the neckband.

btreas puppetbtreas laugh

It makes for a cute outfit that is comfortable for her to run and play in.  She also likes adding the 5 Out Of 4 Girls’ Eleanor Cardigan I made her last year when she is preparing to go play outside.  If Phee Fabrics gets any more Polartech Powerwool in this winter, I will definitely have to make her another cardigan!

eleanor cardi

We had so much fun hanging out with the birthday girl!  The 13-1/2 hour drive each way was brutal, but worth it to be able to visit our sweet, fun, loving, adorable, hilarious granddaughter.  We can’t wait to visit again for Thanksgiving, but we’ve decided we’re going to fly next time!

 

This post may contain affiliate links.  This means that at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission/credit if you purchase through my links.  As always, I only give my honest opinion.  After all, it is my blog, which represents me! 🙂  Thank you for reading and sharing my love of sewing, patterns, fabric, and pattern hacking. ❤

 

 

Offer It Up

Do you ever feel like you’re walking along, flowing through life, then someone says something rather profound, and you really feel it hit you?  I don’t think that this is uncommon.  For instance, as we are working through grief after the death of a loved one, a song, a smell, or a comment can easily transport us back to thoughts of that person.  We think that we’ve bundled up that grief, packaged it tightly, and stuffed it into the back of our mind.  Then that comment or thought floats across the surface, and it’s all brought back full force.  Maybe slightly dulled, but definitely still there.

A few weeks ago I heard some very disturbing news from a family member.  They were physically hurt, their immediate family is really struggling, and they do not see a clear path out of their problems.  First of all, this breaks my heart because I love them.  Secondly, I live 1,300 miles away, and can’t be there to give them a hug or try to help in some way.  Other family lives nearby, so they aren’t alone or uncared for.  But all I could do was call, listen, and pray for them.  And of course, worry.

That worry must have been weighing on me more heavily than I realized.  Sitting in Mass two weeks ago, Fr. Charles did something unusual.  He paused before the consecration and asked everyone to “Place all your worries and troubles on the altar, and offer them as a sacrifice to the Lord.”  Whoa!  That hit me like a ton of bricks!  And it was obviously the reminder I needed to quit my needless worrying.  The tension in my shoulders eased and my heart felt instantly lighter.  Tears sprang to my eyes and I tried desperately to blink them away.

How often does God put someone in your path to help you see things in a different way?  How many reminders does it take for you to remember to pray and put your troubles in God’s hands?  I can’t magically make everything better for everyone I love, no matter what I do.  I can certainly do whatever I can to help, and I can definitely pray.  But I need to remember that what I really need to do is to put it in God’s hands.  To offer it up as a sacrifice to Him.

birds 10-5-19

What Are You Thankful For?

We all have troubles, and things that worry us:  physical limitations and health scares; jobs (or lack thereof) and money issues; and any number of situations and problems among our families and friends.  But don’t let that become the focus of your life.

Focus instead on the wonderful things in life, the things that you are grateful for, the things that make you happy.  I am thankful for my faith.  Unbelievably thankful!  Even when there are struggles, and bad situations, it calms me to know that in the end it will all be ok.  I don’t have to worry, it is in God’s hands.  And I am constantly reminded of the goodness in life.

I can see my neighbors flag flapping in the breeze, amidst the palm trees as the sun rises this morning.  And I know that despite any political or partisan bickering and nonsense, that I am blessed to live in the greatest country in the world.

flag 7-20-19

As I reminisce about my nephew David’s wedding a couple of weeks ago, I am grateful for my family.  We all flew in from Florida, Colorado, and Tennessee, or drove across the state of Michigan to meet up and celebrate the marriage, and to welcome Caitlin into our family.  It was so much fun to spend time with people I love, to laugh and be silly!  Photo booths are designed to bring out the silliness, so you should just embrace it and have fun (which we obviously did!)

photo booth 7-6-19

I am grateful for my sweet husband, and our unconditional love.  For his good heart, his strength, and all his “handyman” skills.  For his willingness to dive in, work hard, and get things done.  Even after years of working together to turn our old “fixer upper” into a beautiful home, he wasn’t phased by the idea of tearing down a non-load bearing wall in our new “fixer upper” home to open up the kitchen.  Of course this means we’re living in a bit of a construction zone.  And since we don’t have the money to replace the flooring throughout our house, we’ll  be living with a holey floor for the foreseeable future.  But that’s ok.  We have a roof over our heads, and each other!

I am thankful for my parents instilling me with a strong work ethic.  I am grateful for the blessings of intelligence, for the creativity and sewing talents God chose to give me.

I am so grateful for my beautiful, wonderful children, and their spouse and fiancée.  I love seeing my children happy and blessed with people that they love.  And I’m so, so happy that my daughter and son-in-law brought the blessing of Lila into our lives.  This sweet granddaughter of ours is such a joy!  When we FaceTime, it’s so cute to hear her ask “Where’s Grandpa?” if he’s not nearby when I answer my phone.  She loves to have you sing nursery rhymes over, and over, and over again.  It’s so fun to hear her giggle and belly laugh uproariously when we do “This little piggy” for the twentieth time.  And to hear her sweet little voice ask for “A, B, C!” so that she can (try to) sing the alphabet with me.  I love her quick hugs, and slobbery “smooches”, and to hear her say “I love you” back to me.  She fills our hearts with joy, and I am so grateful for every moment that we get to spend with her, whether it’s running in circles around the hotel, or last minute snuggles before we checked out.

Lila Grandpa runLila Grandma 7-7-19

Do you let the wonder and curiosity and joy of playing and running in circles into your life?  Do you appreciate the awesome beauty of the world around you?  Do you pray and place your troubles in God’s hands?  Do you feed your faith by attending Mass, reading The Bible, and living a prayer-filled and grateful life?  God, gratitude, and happiness go hand-in-hand.  Open your heart, cast your troubles upon Him, and live!

 

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to my sweet husband, and to all the Dad’s I know.  Thank you for being such a great partner on the journey of parenthood.  From the moment our babies were born, it’s been super obvious how much you love them, and how much they love you.  You’ve been an inspiration to them, as well as a teacher of how to live, how to laugh, how to dive in and fix things, build things, keep trying, live fearlessly, speak your mind, be a gentleman, be a kind, loving, and wonderful human being.

Thank you for being a wonderful husband.  Our children have (and in 8 months) will have successful marriages by hopefully following the example we have tried to set.  Thank you for being my rock, for tolerating my sewing habit :-), for having the good grace to take photos of my creations for this blog, even when I get giggly about modeling.  Thank you for having fun while modeling the shorts I made you, for making me laugh, for being my best friend and true love.

Thank you for knowing how important our faith is, for letting it be the foundation in our life and marriage.  Thank you for being the shining light of love that you are.

I love you,

D