This is a fabulous sewing project – it is quick and very easy, and because of the nature of the knit fabric, the fit is almost guaranteed! I got the idea from one of Fancy Tiger Crafts‘ Instagram posts, and I really like the fabric their sewing sample featured – Pickering yarn-dyed jersey (55% hemp / 45% organic cotton). It’s a little heavier than most knits, and I think that helps it hang better. I chose color Storm and had no problem cutting size medium (8-10) out of 3 yards.
Moneta is a Colette pattern, and I think it’s accurately rated as beginner. You will need to have a jersey knit machine sewing needle, and understand the stitches on your machine well enough to choose the right stitch for knits. I didn’t have a twin needle, so I finished off my hems with a zig-zag stitch – it really didn’t matter because the marled nature of the fabric means that your stitches don’t show at all, which is an added bonus if you’re worried that they may not look very neat and straight
I had never used clear elastic for gathering a knit fabric before (this is for attaching the bodice to the skirt), so I reviewed Colette’s tutorial, which I found helpful. It’s really a very cool trick, and worth remembering for future projects.
The only part I struggled with was the hem along the neckline – because it’s a knit fabric, you don’t need a facing, which is nice. However, after I sewed the shallow hem, I found that the neckline gapped some right in front. I experimented with several ways to address the problem – maybe the neckline is cut too wide? – but in the end, I just folded the front of the neckline in again and sewed a little deeper hem, gradually fading it out to the sides near my collarbone. It’s still not as tight as I would like it to be, and the wide neckline means that sometimes my bra straps show, but I think overall it looks neat enough.
I would highly recommend both this fabric and this sewing pattern – it makes the perfect spring/fall transition dress, easy to sew and very comfortable and easy to wear – and I love that it has pockets!
For the past few months, I have been inspired by several maker blogs that focus on apparel sewing. I had been thinking for some time about sewing my own clothes, but often felt too frustrated and intimidated by the process. However, the posts of other bloggers, particularly Karen Templer of Fringe Association, really made me think about some crucial issues, as well as the concept of honing down my wardrobe to several basic, well-made pieces that all worked together. What a relief it would be to go to my closet and have only a few pieces – but beautiful, well-made pieces – to pick and choose from! That might seem like a strange thing to say, but it feels like the more clothes I have, the less I appreciate each piece, and the more overwhelming it is to figure out what to wear each day. In any case, I just end up wearing the same core pieces over and over, so why do I have a closet full?
I did know how to sew, and I’d sewed clothes for my daughters, but I’d never successfully sewed my own clothes – at least, not pieces that I ended up liking in terms of fit. I was worried that if I tried it again, I’d have the same frustrating results, so I decided to buy a few private lessons at Modern Domestic, a great sewing/fabric store in Portland, and see if I could learn some tips that would get me started.
I began the lessons in late July, and since then I’ve sewn an Everyday Skirt (Leisl + Co), two Scout Tees (Grainline), two Tiny Pocket Tanks (Grainline), a Zinnia Skirt (Colette), two Aster Shirts (Colette), two tank dresses that my instructor and I hacked from a store-bought dress, the Tofino Pants (Sewaholic), and I’m currently working on the Moss Skirt and Lark Tee (both Grainline). I feel like I’ve learned so much through this process, not just in terms of technical sewing knowledge, but even more, what it takes to try to sew a wardrobe that I will actually wear. I sat down and put to paper some of those thoughts:
Lesson One: Fabric Matters I guess I should have already known this, given what I know about the importance of choosing the right yarn for a knitting project, but I think it might be even more crucial with sewing apparel projects. Unfortunately, while a knitting pattern will have a recommended yarn – whatever the sample was knit in – the same is not true with sewing patterns. Instead, the pattern lists only broad categories: cotton, lawn, etc. A good pattern might give some further recommendations about how light or heavy the fabric should be, the drape of the fabric, etc., but most of the time, all you’ve got to go on is “cotton.” Of course, that’s like listing the yarn for a knitting pattern as “wool.” What weight, gauge, hand, drape, and a million other descriptive terms? My most successful sewing projects were sewn with the exact fabric that my instructor recommended – and, I found, it’s much easier to buy a pattern you like and then find a good fabric to sew it in, rather than picking out a fabric you love, and then trying to match it to a pattern. Sometimes I was steered away from fabrics I really liked and agreed to choose something I wasn’t as crazy about, but I always liked the end result better than when I plowed ahead with a fabric I was drawn to, even if it wasn’t ideal for the pattern I was working on. The moral of this story: choose your pattern, then get help from knowledgeable experts in a fabric store to choose the best possible fabric for your particular project.
Lesson Two: The Right Tools Make All The Difference As in so many handcrafting hobbies, I found that a few crucial tools made a world of difference. First amongst these were sewing machine feet – I quickly acquired an overcast foot, an edgestitching foot, a foot with a seam guide, and several others. Even though they’re a little expensive, they’re well worth in if you plan to keep sewing clothes. The reason: they allow your sewing to be more precise, especially the stitches that you will see when the project is done, and it is the preciseness of these lines that makes your project look professional. A straight and even seam line goes a long way to making a project look well done! Sewing feet and other tools take a lot of the guesswork and struggle out of the project. Some of my favorites (all under $10): a seam guide, Wonder Tape (for adhering buttons so they stay in place while you’re sewing them on), a chalk marker, and Swedish tracing paper (for tracing and customizing your patterns – this might be more like $15).
Lesson Three: Get Help! When I began this journey, I already knew how to sew – I’d sewed many quilts, blankets, tote bags, curtains, pillows, etc – all things that didn’t require much fitting! I had also sewed a lot of cute dresses for my three daughters. But once they got old enough that they didn’t want to wear what I sewed for them, I wanted to try sewing my own clothes. The problem: every time I sewed something for myself, I felt like it fit poorly. I was following the directions, so what was I doing wrong? I decided that there must be some tricks of the trade that I didn’t know about, so I signed up for a series of private lessons with a sewing instructor at one of Portland’s great sewing and fabric stores. This was immensely helpful, not only in teaching me important techniques, but also in teaching me little tricks and tips that are never in the published sewing patterns, and in increasing my overall confidence.
Lesson Four: Be Prepared to Sew a Pattern More Than Once I almost never knit the same pattern more than once, especially if it’s a sweater – let’s face it, a lot of time and yarn money go into one sweater! Sewing a piece of clothing takes less time than knitting, although it doesn’t go as quickly as you might think when reading the pattern because set-up (pressing and pinning in a hem, for instance) often takes as much as 3-4 times as long as the actual sewing. Nonetheless, for me it was much more feasible to sew a pattern twice than it has been to knit a pattern twice. Which is a good thing, because I think you have to sew each item you make at least twice in order to achieve a good fit. Once I accepted this – and looked at it as an opportunity to try out different fabrics – I was a lot happier with my finished products. I will likely wear the “first run” items I sewed, but it’s the tops and skirts that I sewed a second, or even third or fourth time around, that I like the most. I think this is especially true with tops, because the fit tends to be much more exacting than with a skirt (unless the skirt is form-fitting- most of mine had some gathering, so the fit wasn’t so exact).
Lesson Five: Fabrics Cut on the Bias Can Help With a Flattering Fit My greatest success was when my instructor and I took a factory-sewn dress that I liked the style and fit of, and hacked a pattern straight from the dress. It was extremely easy – no sleeves – but the final result was beautiful, so much so that I sewed two of the dresses, and I’m working on a third. While working on this project, I learned a lot about cutting fabric on the bias – how it is much more difficult and expensive, since it requires a lot more fabric, but how it also can result in a much more flattering fit, because fabric cut on the bias stretches and drapes in a way that helps positively accentuate your form. I now look for patterns where at least part of the apparel piece is sewn on the bias, because I think it’s much more likely that the result will be a flattering fit.
Lesson Six: Sewing Bias Tape is an Essential Skill I discovered that of the most essential – and difficult parts of sewing any kind of shirt or top that looks like it fits well is how it fits around the neck (and armholes, if it’s sleeveless). By and large, this is a matter of how well you sew (and edgestitch) the bias tape. One great trick I learned: if the neckline seems to gap or hang open, it means that you need to tighten up the bias tape a little. In other words, when you’re pinning the bias tape to the neckline, pull on it – just a little. It’s very stretchy (of course, since it’s cut on the bias) so you don’t want to overdo it, but by increasing the tension on the bias tape, you’ll help tighten the neckline a little, to prevent gapping. Good pressing will help too, but it won’t completely solve the problem of a neckline that gaps or hangs open.
Lesson Seven: Choose Your Patterns Carefully I have found that I prefer the patterns published by independent designers much more than the traditional patterns (McCalls, Butterick, etc). However, the independent patterns are much more uneven in terms of a good fit, clear directions, etc. For that reason, once I find a designer that I like, I’m inclined to buy more of that line of patterns. For instance, I’ve found Grainline patterns to be explained clearly and to actually fit a wide variety of “real” women’s shapes. Because a pattern often doesn’t have a single photograph of the actual item, being worn by an actual person, I found it very helpful to use Pinterest and Instagram to see how the finished product was being sewn – and worn – by real women. If I saw a variety of women in different shapes and sizes, all able to wear the piece and have it look flattering on them, then I knew that it was the pattern for me!
In the next couple of weeks, I will post photos of me wearing my newly sewn wardrobe – I think you get a much better feel for how the pieces look and fit when someone is wearing them, but it’s a lot more time-consuming to put together that kind of a photo shoot
This was a wonderful fabric for this dress – I love how it looks almost denim, but it is incredibly lightweight – a “light, crisp drape,” as they describe it. The fabric is Robert Kaufman Chambray Union Crossweave Indigo – I bought 4 yards of it, which was WAY too much, so I’m guessing that I only used approx. 2 yards (if that, because the fabric is 57″ wide).
The pattern is Oliver + S Hide & Seek Dress, and as with previous Oliver + S patterns, I found the sizes in the upper range to be incredibly far off. I suspect that this company sizes their patterns based on young kids, and then just mathematically increases the proportions, without actually checking to see if they fit real kids that age. Because my daughter just turned 9, I sized up and cut for the size 10, and cut the size 12 length for the skirt pieces. The fit ended up almost too tight in bodice, but a little oversized in the skirt, and the length was ridiculous – even cutting the length for a size 12, I had to add a FIVE-INCH panel at the bottom, just to make it reach beneath her knees! Since my daughter is at the 50%tile for height – that is, exactly average for a nine-year-old – I’d like to know which 12-year-old this length was sized on!
Also, this pattern was only available in downloadable form, which I’ve decided I don’t like – yes, you get it immediately, but it is a huge pain to print out the partial pattern pieces on regular-sized pieces of paper, and then to have to cut them all out, match them up, and tape them together. I much prefer the “hard copy” patterns!
I get really frustrated with patterns that don’t have a good, accurate fit, because even though you can make adjustments as you sew, at some points, there’s just nothing you can do, especially if the pattern pieces have been cut too small. Luckily, my sizing up worked (with the exception of having to add the bottom panel) and it fits her well enough.
What I do like about Oliver + S is the clear directions – by and large, I found them easy to follow, and I didn’t make any modifications. I also like all of the unique design features – welted pockets, cuffs on the sleeves, and the way that the dress has side panels that go all the way up and over the shoulders is really cool.
I used the Heather Bailey Embroidery Blooming Borders for the design across the bodice (inspired by a similar sewing project I saw on Pink Chalk Fabric’s blog). I love how much the little touch of embroidery adds, although I was amazed at how long it took me to embroider this small design – probably because a lot of it required fill-in satin stitch, which is definitely not my best embroidery stitch!
I used a really beautiful lawn fabric from my stash for the bodice lining – I think that the pattern actually calls for using a different fabric for the outside of the bodice, but since I used the same fabric for the entire dress, I wanted something pretty for the lining.
The buttons are also from my stash – handmade ceramic in a beautiful spring green, I found them years ago at a yarn store and they’ve just been waiting for a perfect project to use them for!
I’m amazed by how differently the color of the fabric photographs inside vs outside – I would say that the outside, natural light gives the more accurate color, although really the true color is probably just about in between the inside and outside photos. I love the cross weave patterning in the fabric, and how it gives flair to the simple chambray.
My youngest daughter, age 8, is the only one who will still reliably let me sew clothes for her (and actually wear them!) Together, she and I planned this project and it was easy enough to finish in an afternoon. I used a wonderful cotton voile, which is so light and fine, yet still easy to sew. I wanted a fabric that would make the most lightweight dress possible. I bought two yards of Robert Kaufman’s Organic Voile in PFD bleached white (57″ wide), and had plenty left over.
I didn’t use a pattern, or create a yoke – the entire design is based on a single rectangle. The width of the rectangle is twice the circumference of my daughter’s chest, plus a few more inches added in. Her chest is 27″, so 27 x 2, plus 3 more inches = 57″. The length is her measurement from underarm to however long I wanted it to be – I used a length of 28″, then subtracted 3″ for the ruffled bottom, so I cut the piece 57″ x 25″. I cut this piece so that the 25″ length was paralell to the selvedge edge, to allow for maximum stretch of the fabric. For the ruffle, I cut a piece as long as my remaining fabric (approx 100″) x 5″ (I added on a little width to account for the seam and the hem).
* Finish one long edge of the ruffle with a rolled hem; stitch a gathering stitch along the other long edge, gather it into ruffles, then sew right side to right side to one of the 27″ edges of the main piece, and then press the seam toward the main piece and top stitch 1/8″ from the seam.
* Finish the other 27″ edge of the main piece with a rolled hem, then sew 8 rows of shirring with elastic thread, starting 1/2″ from the top and spaced 1/2″ apart.
* Measure the piece around the child, pin and sew the side seam, and trim the seam to 1/2″.
* Make straps – I cut one long piece of fabric 1 1/2″ wide, folded each long edge to the middle, then folded the strap in half lengthwise and sewed along the length (this way I didn’t have to turn such a thin, long piece); measures the straps on the child, to get the right length, then cut off the extra and tuck in the raw edges and sew inside the bodice, right along the rolled hemline.
That’s it! I loved it in clean, pure white, but my daughter wanted to experiment with RIT dye, which I’d never used, so we chose the violet color in powder form and followed the directions here for ombre dyeing. I didn’t think that this worked out well for several reasons. First, you’re supposed to wind the fabric onto a dowel and lower it section by section into the dye, but this fabric was so light that it wouldn’t lower evenly into the dye; it had to be pushed underwater (using gloves, because the dye really stains and it’s really hot!) and this resulted in uneven borders between the darker and lighter sections. Second, the fabric soaked up the color incredibly fast – maybe because it’s such a lightweight fabric – and as a result, I couldn’t really get an ombre appearance, because even when I dipped the last section in for only a second, it turned bright purple. And then, of course, I had three gallons of VERY purple dye, and nothing to do with it . . .
I think I would try a different kind of dye next time, or perhaps try RIT again using a heavier fabric. I’m fascinated with the idea of using dye on fabric, but RIT isn’t very user-friendly for dying by hand, and least not based on my experience here.
I’ve had this set of fabrics in my stash for a while, bought last year from Bolt because I loved the colors and designs, but had no idea what to sew with them . . . in my ongoing attempts to use up the projects and supplies I have before buying more, I decided to sew a simple summer sundress.
I decided to try the tutorial here, because I was intrigued with the idea of sewing a dress without a pattern. This tutorial just uses rectangles, cut based on your child’s individual measurements. I was sewing for my ten-year-old daughter, and these are the measurements I used:
Front bodice (orange dots) – two pieces, each 6.5″ x 17.5″
Back bodice (birdies) – 6.75″ x 25.25″ (the back piece is longer to accommodate the shirring)
Skirt (pieced together birdies print and birdies in trees print) – 26.5″ x width of fabric (WOF) – approx 44″
Skirt band (grey dots) – 6.5″ x WOF
Shoulder straps/ties (orange dots) – two pieces, each 2.5″ x WOF (this made them extra long – they could be shorter, but this way, there was no question that they’d be able to tie in a bow)
I would have made both the front and back bodice pieces from the same fabric, but I ran out and I’m working on using what I have, instead of buying to supplement – I find that this helps to develop my creativity! I think that the two different fabrics looks fine on the front and back. I also would have used the same fabric for the entire skirt piece, but again, I was limited by what I had, so I pieced together two different prints. The tutorial uses two pieces for the skirt, each WOF, which results in a very full skirt. This looked nice on a younger girl, but I thought that for my pre-teen daughter, a straighter skirt – more in the style of a maxi-dress – would look better.
This tutorial uses several unique sewing techniques – for instance, you fold the skirt band in half, then sew the long raw edge to the raw edge of the skirt, which gives you a finished bottom edge to the skirt without hemming (of course, it also means you can’t adjust the length of the dress once you’re done). And, the front bodice is in one piece (you use the second piece as a lining) and you join the back to the front by inserting the short raw edges of the back piece sandwiched in between the front piece and the lining piece, and then topstitching.
The sewing order was as follows:
* Sew long edges of skirt together to form a tube
* Fold skirt band lengthwise and sew long raw edge to raw bottom edge of skirt, then topstitch
* Sew one short edge and long edge of straps together, right sides to right sides, then turn, press, and topstitch
* Sew front bodice pieces together along one raw edge with the raw edges of the straps tucked in between (each 2″ off from center), then press
* Sew rolled hem along one long edge of back bodice piece
* Insert short raw edges of back bodice in between short edges of front bodice and lining, then topstitch together
* Sew a gathering stitch along the top edge of the skirt, then sew skirt onto bodice, right sides together, and then topstitch
* Shirr the back bodice piece
That’s it! The tutorial has more exact directions and photos, but that’s the gist of it. I sewed the entire project, then had my daughter try it on. Disaster! The bodice was huge and hung off her, even with the shirring. I had to rip the bodice off the skirt, then rip the back bodice off of the front pieces (I HATE seam ripping!) I cut a full 2″ off each side of the front bodice – not sure how my measurements were so far off – then sewed the bodice together again. One side benefit of doing this was that I tucked all of the exposed strings on the back bodice from the shirring inside the front bodice pieces, so they were all secured and hidden.
When I originally stitched the skirt onto the bodice, I did no gathering at all because the two pieces were the same size. The result was a dress that hung too straight; once I made the bodice smaller, I had to do a little bit of gathering on the skirt before sewing it to the bodice, which was a good thing. I learned that you need some gathering to make this look good, even if you don’t want a full skirt. This means that a skirt piece at least a little bigger than WOF would be the way to go.
Another thing I would change would be to space the straps out more – at least 3″ each side from center. They work okay, but for my ten-year-old, they’re pretty close in to her neck.
This was the first time I tried shirring, and it was nice to learn a new technique. My first try was very successful – it’s a little time-consuming because you have to hand-wrap the bobbin with the elastic thread, and then it was hard on my machine to get the bobbin thread up through the footplate, but once I got going, it was no problem. I learned that it was better to hand-cut the threads at the end of each row, instead of using the sewing machine scissors, because otherwise the bobbin thread would pull back down inside the machine. I stitched the shirring rows approx 1/4″ apart, stopping after two rows to stitch a buttonhole in the center of the back bodice (to pull the tie straps through). After shirring, I steamed the back with an iron, which made the shirring pull tighter. I think I’d like to try shirring a nightgown, next – very cool technique to create fit on a garment!
I’m not sure I would sew this pattern again – it’s a great quick and easy approach, but because the bodice is just a rectangle, and not shaped at all, the fit isn’t very good – at least on a ten-year-old. Still, she was willing to wear the finished product, which makes it a success in my book!
If only I had the time, I’d make these dresses in every color that this pattern line comes in – I especially love the red, teal, and lime. I made the skirts a little longer, but otherwise followed the pattern dimensions, and they fit my almost 8-year-old and 10-year-old perfectly.
The directions were clear and well-written, and I had no problem with the simple sewing skills, including pleating, an elastic band, buttonholes, and sewing the bodice to the skirt. The lack of sleeves made the project that much easier, but it took a while to put together the pleats on the skirts.
The buttons are handmade ceramic from Jennie the Potter – I’ve had them for a while, and they ended up being the perfect size and color matches for these jumpers.
My sister got married yesterday in an evening garden ceremony; for the occasion, my mom and I sewed flower girl dresses for my two youngest daughters, and a junior bridesmaid dress for my oldest daughter. I used the opportunity to experiment with different embellishment techniques I learned from this class – it was fun to make each of the dresses complementary, but with different features and flair. I think that they all looked beautiful!
I was also in charge of all of the flowers at the wedding, including the ceremony, table centerpieces, and all the bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres. With the exception of some of the blue hydrangeas (from friends’ bushes at the coast – mine were too far gone already) and some supplemental green Annebelle hydrangea blooms from another friend, all of the plant material was cut from my garden. I couldn’t have done it without the help and artistic expertise of my friends Genevieve and Carolyn – girls, you could do this professionally!
Back in April, I took an intensive all-weekend class at Josephine’s Dry Goods taught by Mary Adams, the author of The Party Dress Book. It was an amazing experience to get to learn from such a master designer – everyone in class made their own versions of the basic dress pattern in Mary’s book. I focused on several design elements, including soaked silk taffeta, sewing my own ruffles for the underskirt and the bodice, and adding a petticoat. Other wonderful design variations in the book include applique, quilting, pintucks, bias strips, and more.
My own pattern – I knit the bodice from two skeins (really barely needed any from the second skein) of Debbie Bliss pure cotton in dusty rose, on US 7s. Here’s the pattern:
CO 120 sts
P 1 row
K in the round until 4 ½”
BO 12 sts, work 48 sts, place on stitchholder, BO 12 sts, knit remaining 48 sts
SS from the point forward (not in the round)
Next row – BO 3 sts, knit to end
Next row BO 3 sts, purl to end
Next row BO 2 sts, knit to end
Next row BO 2 sts, purl to end
(next time – BO 16 sts for armhole, skip the following 4 rows of 3-st and 2-st BOs)
SS 10 more rows
Neckline: K 12 sts, place on holder, BO 13 sts, work remaining 12 sts
Purl 1 row
BO 2 sts, work to end
P 1 row
BO 2 sts, work to end
SS 19 rows (ending on WS)
BO all sts
Place 12 sts back on needle, rejoin yarn w/ WS facing
(WS) BO 2 sts, purl to end
Knit 1 row
BO 2 sts, purl to end
SS 19 rows (ending on WS)
BO all sts
Place held sts of back on needle, join yarn w/ RS facing
Work 21 rows, ending w/ WS
K14 sts, BO 19 sts, K 14 sts
P 1 row
BO 2 sts, knit remaining 12 sts
P 1 row
BO 2 sts, knit remaining 10 sts
P 1 row
BO 2 sts, knit remaining 8 sts
Work 5 rows (ending on WS)
BO all sts
Rejoin yarn, WS facing
BO 2 sts, P to end
K 1 row
BO 2 sts, P to end
K 1 row
BO 2 sts, P to end
Work 4 rows (ending on WS)
BO all sts
To make the skirt, I cut a piece of fabric 52” wide by 36” long, sewed a row of gathering stitches along the top edge, pulled the stitches to gather it to the same dimensions as the knitted bodice, then sewed the skirt side seam together to form a tube. Then I machine stitched the bodice to the skirt (right sides together). Finally, I machine stitched a 1” hem.
The skirt material is Japanese floral cotton from this Etsy site. The dress would be considered size 7, I suppose (since that’s Alia’s age!)
Inspired by this Stitched in Color blog post, I used the Marissa dress pattern to sew two different versions of the same dress. I used size 9/10 – a perfect fit for my 9 1/2-year-old daughter – and sewed the skirt at 40” long and 80” wide. I used the Birch Fabrics organic Mod Basics bundle in color Grass from Fabricworm for the skirt – just pieced together each of the fat quarters for enough length to make a strip for the skirt. I needed six quarters and I didn’t like how the solid color matched (or rather, didn’t match), so I snagged a sixth from another fat quarter bundle of the same fabric line that I’d purchased for a different project.
I initially tried using the complementary solid color for the bodice, but the color was really off, so I ripped it out and luckily, I had used white lawn cotton for the lining – the lining became the exterior, and the solid green looks really nice as the lining. I’m glad I took the time to rip some of it out and re-sew it like that, I’m much happier with the finished product.
I wanted to dress up the waist cummerbund a little bit, but didn’t have another fabric I wanted to incorporate, so I used shiny green variegated embroidery thread and just sewed lines back and forth – it looks great when it’s pleated up to make the cummerbund.
One of the easiest patterns to follow that I’ve ever sewed – the dress took only a few hours, if that, even though it includes sewing in a zipper (something I always struggle with). I liked the pattern so much that I sewed a second dress – same dimensions, but this time I used a beautiful Japanese floral cotton from this Etsy site, and some pink satin that I picked up at the local fabric store. Because I had limited fabric and wanted a little different look, I sewed the skirt with less fabric around (I think approx 50”) – less gathering meant a skirt that wasn’t as full. I thought that the straighter skirt looked a little more formal.
This dress was made for my cousin’s daughter’s (would that make her my second cousin?) third birthday, and it fit beautifully. However, I’d have to say that it took me longer than probably just about any other project I’ve knit, at least recently, because the entire dress is made from sock yarn. The skirt portion is 16” long, and it took over an hour to knit one inch, so you can see that there’s at least 20 hours of work in the skirt alone! I do love how it turned out though, and how nice it looks on Iris.
The pattern is Charlotte Dress and I picked it to highlight one of my impulse buys at this year’s Sock Summit – two skeins of Little Red Bicycle Tandem Sock yarn in color Tobias. This is a great little independent yarn producer, and the sock yarn is 80% superwash merino wool and 20% nylon, 400 yards per skein of fingering weight yarn.
I thought I’d have enough for the entire dress, but ran out right when I started the bodice, so I switched to a matching sock yarn in my stash – Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn in color 5630 (similarly comprised of 75% merino superwash and 25% nylon). Because it was just a little smaller gauge yarn, I found that it knit up too skinny, and I didn’t want to switch needle size because I worried that the sizing wouldn’t come out correctly. Instead, I doubled the yarn, which made for a little thicker, more tightly knit bodice. I think it worked out really well though, because the tighter knit worked well with the smocking and made the bodice fit better.
I used the recommended US 3 needles and knit the size 3T, which fit Iris – newly turned three – nicely, with room to grow. If you can stand endless – and I mean ENDLESS – stockinette stitching with sock yarn – this dress makes knitting socks look like a breeze! – then I definitely recommend this pattern.
The apple trees are blooming in my orchard and, even though the weather isn’t cooperating, I’m lusting after the summer prints in the fabric shop and thinking about all the little girls’ dresses I could make. I love this dress pattern – super cute, a great way to combine fabrics, and easy enough to finish in one day.
The fabrics are from Hollyhill Quilt Shoppe (which has horrible hours, but great fabrics) and the pattern is Fig Tree & Co’s Polkadots and Summer dress. The pattern only goes up to six 6 (which is the size I used) but I’m thinking it’s simple enough to “expand,” so I’m going to try it in an eight-year-old size next. The pattern also includes a bandana, which looks so adorable in the pattern photo, but I had my doubts as to whether I’d ever get it on my daughter’s head (much less get it to stay there . . .)
This pattern is simple enough for a beginning seamstress, with clear directions and a chance to learn a few new techniques (like pleats and finishing off arm holes and neck hole).
This was a yarn-driven project – I found this yarn at Coastal Yarns in Cannon Beach and thought it was so beautiful, I bought it, even though it’s sock yarn and I’ve sworn off socks (they take too long, on too small of needles, I hate doing the second one, and then no one appreciates them because they’re on my feet!) I jumped on Ravelry to find projects that would show off this yarn, and here’s what I came up with (all newborn size):
The booties are amazingly small – no longer than my big thumb – and I knit them in less than an hour, but my favorite is the hat, because of the trim and the flower – I think it would be better shown off in a solid color. The dress is knit in white in Debbie Bliss’ book – again, I think the solid color, especially the white, shows off the pattern and design better, it tends to get loss in the variated color here.
I need more friends who are having babies – especially baby girls – so that I have a use for all of the fun baby girl patterns that I have been knitting lately! This was a yarn-driven project — I found this pima cotton yarn at a new yarn shop in Cannon Beach and loved both the subtle color and the incredibly soft texture, so I bought three skeins (always hard to know how much to buy when you don’t have a project in mind yet!) and then found this Pinafore Dress pattern from Minnowknits. I knit the size one year with a US 8 (the needle size called for by both the pattern and the yarn) – however, the pattern said that I’d only need yardage totaling two skeins of this yarn, but I was well into the third before I finished.
The yarn is called Queensland Collection Pima Fresca (100% pima cotton in color blush) and it’s hard to appreciate both the color and texture in these photos – really a perfect match for this pattern. I had enough left for a hat – I ran a little short so I finished it off with the Manos del Uruguay Cotton Stria in color coral, which I think actually adds some flair to it. The two make a nice gift set, I think. One note: Both are the same color (this just shows how much a photo can throw off the color, the hat and dress look really different below) and the true color is closer to the dress photo than the hat photo.
I love the yarn and the weight (of course, bamboo silk isn’t exactly machine washable), but it turned out too short (barely to knee length) for my five-year-old , even though I knit it in size 5T. Next time I would add at least two inches on before beginning the bodice. Also, it’s none too loose at the top – definitely wouldn’t fit anyone over the age of 5.
I need to finish some of my other knitting projects, but I can’t help picturing this in a lilac purple . . .
It’s rare that I knit the same pattern twice, but this one is quick, just easy enough without being too boring, and I love the finished product, so I thought it was worth another shot to get the size I was going for. I wanted to knit it with Cascade Ultra Pima, but the yarn isn’t a large enough gauge, so when I tried it last time, with the Creamsicle Dress, I ended up with a size 3 even though I knit the size 5 pattern. This time, I used the Elenka pattern again but I increased needle size to US 8 and double-stranded the yarn throughout. It took a little more than four skeins of Cascade Ultra Pima yarn in lime sherbet – I knit the size 5T and it fits my five-year-old daughter perfectly, with even a little room to grow.
The armholes and neck hole seemed really large, so I changed the white trim stitch to match the bottom of the dress (pick up stitches around the opening, purl one row, knit one row, cast off purlwise). This really tightened up the openings nicely, making for a better fit.
Now I’m going to try one in a bamboo and silk yarn for a birthday present . . .
That’s what this summer dress reminds me of – creamsicles and warm summer days. Good think it’s a dress for little girls, because the lacework on the skirt (and the daisy pattern on the bodice) made it pretty see-through! The pattern is Elenka, published in the Summer 2009 issue of Knitty. I knit it in Cascade Ultra Pima, which was a slightly smaller gauge than the yarn from the pattern – as a result, I dropped from the recommended US 7s to US 6s, and even though I knit a little longer on the skirt to increase the length and used the specs for a size 5, it came out more like a size 3 (WAY too small for my just-turned five-year-old). It took only two skeins of Marigold, and the trim is done in White.
The white edging is supposed to be crocheted, but since I don’t know how to crochet, I knit instead: The bottom border is done in the round on 24″ US 6 (p/u stitches all around, purl 1 row, knit 1 row, bind off purl wise) and the neck and sleeve edging is done on US 5s (DPs for sleeves, 16″ for neck) (p/u stitches all around, rib knit P1 K1 for two rows, bind off in pattern).
I love this yarn for this dress because it’s got a sheen to it, so in order to try it in bigger sizes, I’m going to double-strand the yarn next time and move up to US 8s. I think I’ll try lime green next . . .
I found this pattern on a knitting blog and thought it would be perfect for my youngest daughter – I knit it a little over-sized, a size 6 (the largest size offered by the pattern) and on one size larger needles (US 7) than recommended – better too big than too small! This way, she can get at least two summers of wear out of it.
The recommended yarn worked beautifully – 5 skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Skinny Dyed Cotton in color cherry (appropriately enough). The pattern contains a lot of beautiful touches – the picot cast-on and bind-off, which is time-consuming but makes the cute little balls on the hem and neckline edging – the lace at the hemline, and the ribbing around the bodice. The armholes aren’t finished off in any way, but I don’t think they need them – they naturally roll inwards. I highly recommend this pattern!