Starry Sky skirts for Clementine

Clementine's Starry Sky skirt

These simple gathered skirts are so easy and addicting to make. I used the Starry Sky skirt project that I contributed to the most recent issue of Making Magazine for these. Perhaps the fact that I made not one but three for Clementine is evidence that they are basically Sewing Crack? They nearly fall off my machine. Bonus: she’s worn these three skirts non stop since January. When it was cold she’d wear them with leggings underneath, and now that it’s warm she wears them with those shorty-legging things that are called tumble shorts or undershorts or something like that.

Starry Sky skirt for Clementine

This first version is made with a Japanese quilting cotton that I picked up on a trip to Seattle last year at a great shop in Kirkland called Circa 15. Great quilting fabric selection but also a great selection of apparel fabrics (union chambray, double gauze) there as well. It’s hard to see but there are tiny little pandas scattered in the flowers. Clementine picked it out.

Starry Sky skirts for Clementine

The second one is a Nani Iro brushed cotton that has some sort of magical glitter ink (unicorn blood?) so the flowers sparkle. The sparkles are a Big Win with my girl, and the brushed cotton makes it super soft.

Starry Sky skirts for Clementine

Starry Sky skirt for Clementine

Check out my little vampire. Until a couple of weeks ago we were convinced those front teeth would never grow back. She’s been completely toothless in front for nearly six months. And then, a few weeks ago, a solitary front tooth started growing in, and the dentist assures me there are more to come.

Starry Sky skirt for Clementine

One thing I should point out (that you can really see in the photo above) is that Clementine is taller than the size I made for her, so the hem on these skirts lands a little higher than normal on her. She measures a size 7 in her waist but a size 9 height, so a I made a size 8 as a comprimise. There’s still a 2″ hem, however, so I can take them down yet in fall. I also like to leave a little excess elastic in the waist so that I can take the waist out too. These skirts really can last a long time if you want them to!

Starry Sky skirts for Clementine

I made the third skirt with my Sidewalk Knit in the green pencil print. I’ve discovered that this print is nearly impossible to photograph correctly; I think it must be a combination of the super bright colors with that teal hue…for the life of me I cannot get my camera or editing software to get the colors right on screen, though the closest one is above.

Starry Sky skirt for Clementine

The knit makes the skirt drape closer to the body, so there’s less “poof” to it than the other two, but it’s comfortable and swishy.

Starry Sky skirt for Clementine.

Starry Sky skirt for Clementine

If you’re looking for the instructions for this skirt (it comes in both children’s and women’s sizes), pick up a copy of Making Magazine issue 3! It’s now available online from the Making shop, as well as many other local yarn and fabric shops. Here in Ann Arbor you can pick up a copy at Spun in Kerrytown.

Starry Sky Skirt – Making Magazine no. 3

Starry Sky Skirt

I am so honored to have been asked to contribute to Making magazine’s third issue, Dots, which is out this spring. For those of you not familiar with Making, it’s a themed print magazine that includes sewing, knitting, handwork, and all sorts of other craft-related articles, patterns, and tutorials all compiled in the most beautiful layout. The magazine is the work of Carrie Bostick Hoge of Madder, who serves as both its editor, designer, and chief photographer. This issue’s theme is “Dots;” issues one and two are Flora and Fauna. All are visually stunning.  I love how Making brings together so many areas of of craft together; there are tons of patterns and tutorials alongside articles that include recipes and interviews and stories about makers in such an artistic format.

Making magazine no. 3 dots

Starry Sky Skirt for Making Mag

photo above by Carrie Bostick Hoge / @maddermade

I first became familiar with Carrie’s work through Quince and Co, one of my favorite yarn companies. Carrie designed a number of knitting patterns for Quince that are available in the Quince shop that I’ve admired and purchased over the years. I was so honored to be asked to contribute alongside of so many other talented artists and makers. My friend Anna Graham blogged here about the wallet pattern that she contributed for the issue.

Starry Sky Skirt for Making Mag

photo by Carrie Bostick Hoge / @maddermade

Starry Sky skirt
The project I contributed to the magazine is a tutorial for a simple gathered skirt called the Starry Sky Skirt. A simple gathered skirt is — as my friend Erin said recently when she posted one on Instagram — the “gateway drug to the sewing world,” and it’s certainly a lovely thing to throw together two rectangles of fabric and add a waistband. But although I’m certain many people have written tutorials for the basic gathered skirt before, something I felt was still missing was specific length and width dimensions for gathered skirts for a broader range of humans; not only children’s sizes but also all the way up to adult sizes (including plus). The pattern includes dimensions all the way from a children’s size 1 (12 months) all the way through the nine women’s sizes my patterns currently span, which is to say, from a waist size of 19″ to 45.” The skirt is designed to hit roughly at the knee, and has length built into the hem for extra adjustability and height differences. I love having these dimensions at arm’s length; it takes the guesswork out of making a quick skirt for me, which means it’s an even easier project to whip out in an hour or so, and of course I’ve provided step by step instructions to help even the beginner tackle this project. If you have the magazine I hope you’ll find this useful for making piles of simple skirts for yourself and little ones!

Starry Sky Skirt

The fabric
When Carrie first told me the theme was Dots and shared her inspiration board with me, I was inspired to create a skirt out of dark fabric with lighter dots scattered over it like a starry sky. Initially I thought I might try to figure out a way to stamp a solid blue fabric to get the desired effect, but when Carrie mentioned she had two double gauze fabrics that might work already in her stash, I was really excited. The fabric she sent for me to make the women’s skirt is a now out-of-print Nani Iro double gauze, and it’s absolutely gorgeous, don’t you think? I’ve already received a number of emails asking where to find this fabric, and regrettably I don’t think this particular print is available any longer, but I do recommend checking out Jones and Vandermeer, Miss Matatabi, and Red Beauty Textiles if you want something similar. All of those shops are places that carry a nice selection of Nani Iro and I’ve purchased from all three of them in the past.

Starry Sky Skirt for Making Mag

photo by Carrie Bostick Hoge / @maddermade

I also love the reversible dotted double gauze (above) that Carrie sent; I was able to make two children’s skirts for the shoot, one with the blue on the outside and one with the white (below) on the outside. They made an adorable pair (see top photo).

Starry Sky Skirt for Making Mag

photo by Carrie Bostick Hoge / @maddermade

Making Magazine issue 3 is now available online from the Making shop, as well as many other local yarn and fabric shops. Here in Ann Arbor you can pick up a copy at Spun in Kerrytown.

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

It’s Friday, friends. And what a week. Let’s talk about something fun, like this cheerful knit top I made for Clementine!

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

I started with my Flashback Skinny Tee pattern in a size 7/8 (how is she so big? WAAAAAH *weeps into coffee cup*), cut off the bodice halfway between the armpit and the hem and added a gathered skirt to the bottom. I made the skirt twice as wide as the bodice and about 11″ tall. Everything else is exactly the same as the original Flashback pattern (cuffs, neckband, fit, etc). I’ve made Flashbacks with skirts before (here and here), but as dresses instead of a top.

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

This awesome fabric is a Monaluna knit in Groovy Lotus and I love how it has a very Scandinavian-esque vibe, kind of like something you would find in Hanna Andersson. I’ve always loved the feel and modern designs of Monaluna fabrics (owner Jennifer Moore is a friend and so lovely), so I almost can’t believe this was the first time I sewed with one of the knits. Verdict? Nice and soft, nice amount of stretch, yet still very easy to work with. Love that it’s 100% organic, too! So nice that I went out and bought a bunch more from her shop last month when she had a knits sale (hint: get on the shop email list!).

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

And here is my little goofball illustrating her favorite poses:

 

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

Some serious walk-off fodder here.

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

And…cross-eyed. That’s my little lady.

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

Have a wonderful and relaxing weekend, everyone!

Ice Cream Birthday Dress for Clementine

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

Clementine has been obsessed with her birthday since March when the boys had their birthdays. I had to make a rule that she couldn’t ask me about her birthday until June 30, one month beforehand, because I thought she was going to drive me absolutely bonkers with the persistent questions and birthday plans. It was seriously unrelenting. But of course that’s what makes birthdays fun at this age, right? It’s that golden age when you finally understand what a birthday is but you haven’t yet realized that birthdays also can be emotionally overwhelming and ultimately disappointing. How’s that for dark?

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

She decided she wanted an Ice Cream theme for her birthday sometime around April, which was right around the time that my friend Dana announced her new line of fabrics for Art Gallery, Boardwalk Delight. Talk about perfect timing! The entire collection is bright and adorable and Dana’s awesome bold and modern aesthetic comes through so clearly in this collection. I love it.

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

I knew immediately that the “I scream, You scream” print was destined for Clementine’s birthday dress. I used the ever-popular Geranium Dress which is such a pattern chameleon; it seriously works for everything, I swear (I’m not biased, not in the least), and added a double-fold hem band to the bottom edge in the sprinkles print.

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

For the lining I used the twinkle lights print, which adds a pop of fun mango orange color to the inside of the dress.

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

Clementine loves her dress! She wore it for her birthday party, which included a swim with a few friends at the city pool (in her ice cream cone swimsuit), ice cream sundaes, and an ice cream felt banner that we made together. She had a really wonderful time…as far as I could tell, no hint of Birthday Disappointment in this one yet.

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

Also pictured here: the Clara doll we got her for her birthday, which she refuses to be separated from. It’s neat because Hilary Lang’s blog, Wee Wonderfuls, was one of the very first blogs I ever followed way back in the day, so I was excited to see that she was licensing her dolls with Land of Nod. All of her dolls are so cute.

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

Fabric: Boardwalk Delight by Dana Willard (Made Everyday) for Art Gallery Fabrics
Pattern: Geranium Dress Sewing Pattern (size 7)

 

Aqua Swim Coverup

Aqua Swim Coverup

We bought a city pool pass for the summer and have been to the pool twice already since school got out hurrah!! Unfortunately we had to leave mid-way through the first trip due to a “contamination” at the pool, but…let’s move on. Clementine decided she needed a swim coverup, and had clear ideas about making it, so we got to work.

Aqua Swim Coverup

She’s discovered the joy of having an idea and then sewing it to life, which gives me a great deal of joy, as you can imagine. For me (and I’m sure for many of you), sewing is more than just choosing fabric and a pattern and making something; it’s about realizing a vision, and I’m excited that Clementine is starting to get that. She doesn’t feel restrained by pattern pieces (though it probably would be easier if she did), she just decides what she wants and says “let’s make it!” It’s still my job to figure out how to get from idea to finished thing, but I’m sure over time she’ll begin to understand the fundamentals of clothing-building. She can operate the sewing machine pretty well with minimal supervision (she has her own Hello Kitty Janome), so that’s fun.

Aqua Swim Coverup

This project took all of an hour, since it’s basically just a rectangle of rib knit fabric (purchased here) sewn together at the side to make a tube, with some shirring on the top and straps added (similar to the Beach Goddess Maxi, but shorter and with straps). I didn’t even hem the top and bottom; I just used my serger to finish the edges with the standard serger overlock stitch. I did most of the sewing this time, while Clementine stood by and barked orders. She did find the shirring part to be pretty fascinating.

Aqua Swim Coverup

The coverup shrunk by about 3 inches in length when I threw it in the wash, even though I prewashed the fabric, which reminds me to mention that when you are sewing with knits, you really should prewash and dry your fabric two or even three times if you’re worried about shrinkage. It wasn’t a big deal her since it started out a little long (and now, perfect!), but if this had happened after I had made her a tee, I would have been frustrated. Takeaway lesson: PREWASH KNITS MULTIPLE TIMES!

Aqua Swim Coverup

Aqua Swim Coverup

As you can see, she’s still a character. But she’s grown so much bigger this year…waaaah!!! Aqua Swim Coverup

shirring infographic

Here are some more shirring posts from the blog:

Tutorial: Shirring with Elastic Thread (how to shirr!)

1. Aqua Swim Coverup
2. Beach Goddess Maxi tutorial
3. Baby Sunsuit Tutorial (free!)
4. Pomegranate Pierrot with Shirring
5. Princess and the Pea sundress
6. Yellow Birthday Dress with Bows
7. hello pilgrim!
8. Rainbow Dress Tutorial (free!)
9. Summersville Washi Tunic

 

 

 

Kitty Geranium Dress with sleeves

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One of the most common pattern-related questions I get over email is “is it possible to add a sleeve to the Geranium Dress?” The pattern has been such a huge hit so it’s only natural that people would want to add a sleeve when the weather gets cooler. I have made the dress with a sleeve a few times before (in fact, one of the earliest “Geraniums” I made featured a sleeve); usually I use the Charlie Tunic‘s sleeve and just gather the sleeve cap. This year I finally got around to fiddling around with a sleeve that is fitted; this takes a bit more work than a gathered sleeve because the sleeve cap has to be drafted to fit the armhole and you have to play around to get the right amount of ease, whereas a gathered sleeve just gets gathered to fit (super easy). Anyway, this is the result of our fitted experiment. I love it. The kitty fabric is part of Lizzy House’s recent Catnap line.

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I’ll be completely honest, this sleeve isn’t ready to distribute in any meaningful way; it’s not even graded yet, and I’m not sure how to put it out there once it is. I really dislike multi-sized stuff being given away for free online; I think it devalues the work it takes to make something multi-sized, so my current thinking is that we could maybe make an expansion pack for Geranium, something like the Washi XP. Maybe some collar and sleeve options, and I have another idea for the pattern that I think would be really fun that I’m testing out right now. Anyway, I’ve got plenty of other projects on my plate right now (the Moon Pants Pattern is currently being tested, and the pattern pieces are ready for this new women’s pattern in the works), so my guess is that there probably wouldn’t be anything concrete until next fall at the earliest.

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Please don’t pin or reuse photos of Clementine where she’s looking into the camera; I’ve put a bunch of cropped and side shots in this post that you can feel free to pin. Too complicated? Check out the ones I’ve already pinned right here on Pinterest. THANKS!

Mochi Geranium Dress for Stylo

Mochi geranium dress

This is the third in a series of posts detailing the outfits I made using Cotton and Steel fabrics for Stylo Magazine last fall (see the previous posts here and here). This outfit features a Geranium Dress made with a cotton from Rashida Coleman-Hale’s new Mochi line, the Moon Pants made with Bespoke double gauze (previously seen in this post), and a gold pom-pom headband. Both Mochi and Bespoke are Cotton and Steel lines currently available in fabric shops.

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For me to even consider doing such a large project within the first year of having a baby, I knew I would need to do a significant amount of planning. So I’d like to talk about what it takes to get a project like this off the ground. If I didn’t know anything about the project I might have guessed that the photoshoot itself probably took the most work, but I personally think the shoot is the easiest and most fun part. It’s the planning that can really kill ya, in my opinion.

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Perhaps it will surprise you to know that this project began last summer (or maybe not?). Here’s a brief timeline for the project:

June: Discuss with Stylo possible contribution to Fall issue
July: Correspond with Cotton and Steel to ask about possible collaboration
August: Cotton and Steel sends Fall 2014 samples, select and photograph samples, plan fabric/garment combinations
September: Fabric arrives, commence actual SEWING (six garments, three headbands), photo shoot, Edit photos, deliver photos to Stylo
November 3: Stylo Issue 3 release

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I decided to do the spread because I knew it would be a great way to promote my children’s sewing patterns in a highly visual way, while at the same time producing a cohesive set of clothing samples that could then be used later to promote the patterns in other ways. I love the way that a magazine, digital or print, can really produce a stunning visual presentation, and Jess and Celina do it really well with Stylo. The next question was: which fabrics? Initially I thought I might use Lotus Pond, but as the magazine was set to release in late fall, the summery cotton prints would have been amazing but a bit out of season. My next thought was Cotton and Steel, because they’ve made an attempt to create cohesive collections that are printed not just on quilting fabrics, but on other garment-friendly fabrics as well, making it easy to create outfits for children that coordinate (a pair of canvas pants worn with a cotton gauze shirt, for instance). That is something I’m pretty sure is unique to Cotton and Steel, by the way; no other company that I know of does that, though most fabric companies do offer unique lines on their various substrates.

Mochi Geranium Dress

I initially asked Melody Miller, the founding designer of Cotton and Steel, about using their Spring 2014 fabrics, but at that point they already had samples for their Fall fabrics so she suggested that I might like to try those instead, which were to include one of my very favorite fabrics, DOUBLE GAUZE (EEK!). It was definitely hard to keep the whole thing on the hush-hush until the fabrics debuted at Fall Quilt Market. Another bonus: because the deadline for the magazine was nearly a month before Quilt Market, the samples could also be used for the Cotton and Steel booth.

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One more thing: I did very little of the sewing for this project. Karen and my assistant Tashina did most of it. I did some of the cutting (that double gauze can be tricky!) and I did some of the sewing and all of the hand-stitching for the Charlie Tunic (see this post), but mostly I just hovered at the studio with a baby on my hip.

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Anyway, the dress is Clementine’s favorite of all of the things we made for this project; she even wore it for school picture day (and it would have shown up in the photo if she had taken off the sweater she wore over it *facepalm*). I also want to highlight a couple of the other accessories because she really enjoyed those as well: the gold tattoos were designed by Rifle Paper company for Tattly, and the sparkly TOMS I found at Bivouac in downtown Ann Arbor by my studio. Both were instant hits with my girl who is pretty fond of sparkly things.

Elsa Dress for Christmas

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A couple of months ago it seemed like every single one of my sewing blogger friends who had a daughter was dedicating themselves to recreating an Elsa dress because Halloween was on the horizon. There were some pretty impressive versions, I have to say, but I was totally smug. I had no intention of sewing a single stitch for Halloween. MY daughter was going to be TINKERBELL and I was going to order that costume online and be done with it, BAM! No slaving away over some stupid princess dress for me, NO SIR! BWAH HAH HAHAHAHAHAHA! Shoulda known.

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The thing is, when your kid asks for an Elsa dress for Christmas, and then you go to the store and look at what the $40 Elsa costume looks like, somehow it seems completely sane to immediately make a beeline for the nearest JoAnn so you can buy $50 worth of fabric to make your own (I KNOW. I didn’t have the 50% off coupon. GAAAAH!!! *smacks head against wall*).

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But I will tell you, the look on her face when she opened it up on Christmas Eve and then proceeded to put it on and prance around the house and then wear it every waking hour since that time has made it totally worth it. Completely and totally worth it. She has been spinning and twirling and singing “Let it Go” like it’s her job. The best is when I catch her staring at herself in the mirror with sophisticated Bad-Girl-Snow-Queen expressions.

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Her favorite part is the giant train. She races around the house with it flying behind her and her neck twisted as far back as possible so she can see it. Two yards (and $30 worth) of (probably plastic) snowflake fabric, gathered and carefully inserted between the two pieces of knit that comprise the sheath dress. I would also like to mention that sandwiching a gathered layer of poofy plastic between two layers of knit is not as easy as it sounds. Neither was sewing that heart-shaped seam on the front (shown below; let’s all pretend that she is singing Let It Go rather than expressing her frustration with the photographer). But otherwise the design is pretty simple and the dress itself is super comfy.

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There was also an enlightening conversation at dinner this evening which began with Elliot asking why it was called a “train” and was that related to a choo-choo train, and then ended with me discovering that Mr Rae has no recollection whatsoever of my wedding dress:

Me: I had a short train on my wedding dress.
Mr Rae (suddenly paying attention): Ah yes, I remember it well!
Me (looking skeptical): Oh, REALLY. What did it look like?
***long pause***
Mr Rae: Well…it had sleeves…?
Me (laughing): No it did NOT. UNBELIEVABLE.
*intermittent hysterical laughter continues throughout dinner*

Anyway, for a really good time, ask your husband to describe your wedding dress. I’m completely serious. Please do, because I really want to know what happens.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

Pierrot and Moon Pants for Stylo

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Let’s take a look at another outfit I designed for Stylo Magazine using the Cotton+Steel Bespoke Double Gauzes! (I blogged about the first outfit in this post).

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This fetching ensemble is comprised of a Pierrot Tunic, Moon Pants (a pattern-in-progress…for more information, see this post) and a headband made of double-gauze blossoms. This is a slightly different version from the first pair of Moon Pants in that the cuff is separate and there is a beautiful crescent moon-shaped pocket.

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If I had to pick an outfit as my absolute favorite of the four I created for the Stylo spread, it would be this one. Which is funny because it started out being my least favorite, mainly because I couldn’t really get either of the garments to photograph very well when I took the initial flat “still-life” photos. Pierrot is oversized so when you lay it out on a table — let me be honest — it’s not at its best. But as soon you put it on your kids it’s Instant Cute. So when Clementine put them on they really sprung to life and I ended up LOVING it. The double gauze just creates a beautiful drape when the clothing is worn that you can’t capture when it’s on the hanger. And the tiny stars on these prints are really, really gorgeous.

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Here’s a closeup of the double gauze ruffle on the Pierrot Tunic — when you cut the double gauze on the bias and stitch with a zig zag along the edges, it creates an amazing texture. After making the ruffle on the tunic, I decided to take more strips and turn them into the flowers for the headband. I’ll try to figure out a way to post more about the headband because it’s pretty cool: I made it with a strip of velcro on top and then put velcro strips on the bottom of each of the flowers so you can move them around and mix and match the colors!

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Clementine rocked this outfit. Clearly.

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She’s wearing this outfit with a sherpa vest from Mini Boden that coincidentally had stars on the lining too. Perfect!

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To see the entire spread, complete with the three other outfits I designed, follow this link: Stylo Issue 3 (my spread starts on page 99)!! You can see the entire collection of Bespoke Double Gauzes over at the Cotton and Steel website (they ship early next year). And of course, the Pierrot Tunic Sewing Pattern is available as a PDF download in my pattern shop.