Nov 22, 2011

'tis the season.... well, almost.

Just sharing a couple of little dresses I've made for my girls for Christmas.  I cheated and used a couple of little t-shirts I picked up at Target for $4 each.  I cut the bottoms off them and then attached a gathered skirt and a contrasting waistband with ties.  The fabric is some Riley Blake Quite Contrary that I've had lying around for ages. I loved the reds, pinks and greens and figured that even after Christmas was over they might wear them again.  I also embellished the bodice with a little yo-yo made out of some of the t-shirt material.

Oh, and I couldn't resist making some sweet matching hair clips!

Nov 14, 2011

Katherine Does Colour Block

I went shopping the other day to buy some Summer clothes for myself.  One thing that I saw a lot of in the shops was colour blocking.  I love the look of it but really don't know if I could pull it off.... however I was sure I knew a certain mini fashionista who could.

I had a couple of fat quarter packs in various solid colours that I'd picked up at Spotlight a white ago.  The girls had appropriated them to use as sheets in their dolly's cot, and I was happy to let this arrangement continue until I found a use for them!  Sadly, Dolly no longer has any sheets (well, she has a yellow one somewhere, as nobody was giving up its whereabouts), but Katherine does have two cute little colour block maxi-dresses for her Summer wardrobe.

My favourite is the pink and orange.

I swear the hem is even, she is just standing awkwardly (honest)!

Back view.

I made a crossover front for this one, just for something different.


Side view.  I put a little split in the back of the skirt as it wasn't as full as I'd like.  There's still plenty of room for her to move in it though.

She picked these "flowers" for me while we were outside, and brought them in.  Now the house smells like onions.

Nov 5, 2011

Been baking

We've had some glorious Spring weather these last few days.  Today, in particular, was a scorcher, topped off by a nice little thunderstorm this afternoon.  So what do you do on these toasty, almost-Summer days? Well, according to Katheirne, we were baking today.  It wouldn't have been my choice to stay inside with the oven blaring, but it was probably still cooler inside than say, going out to the park.

We made Anzac biscuits, date loaf and biscotti.  I'm going to share the biscotti recipe, because it's something that is dead easy to make, is delicious, looks a little bit fancy, and let's face it - is probably a whole lot healthier than the other two.

Cranberry & Pistachio Biscotti


3 egg whites
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup pistachio kernels (unsalted)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup plain flour


Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  
Add sugar and continue beating until dissolved.  The mixture will be thick and glossy.
Fold in pistachios, cranberries and flour until mixture is just combined.
Pour into a greased loaf tin and bake at 180C for approx 30 minutes.
Remove from oven, and when cool enough turn the loaf out onto a board.
Slice thinly with a very sharp knife - the sharper your knife, the better the result (I use a very sharp bread knife, but I have heard electric knives are great also).  
Place slices in a single layer on a baking tray and return to the oven for around 15-20 minutes, or until crisp and just starting to turn golden.  You might want to turn your oven down slightly for the second bake if you have a very hot oven - mine burns everything. 
Allow to cool and then enjoy with a cuppa.
Biscuits will keep for a couple of weeks in an airtight container.

I love making these at Christmas time with a little cinnamon and orange peel in the mixture.  It also makes a great little Christmas gift (for teachers, neighbours, workmates etc) if you package it up nicely in some cellophane bags with a bit of Christmas ribbon.  

Nov 2, 2011

Mummy's dress into little girls dress - part 2

I had so much fun cutting up my old blue dress and giving it a new life that I went rummaging through my wardrobe to see what else I could transform.  I've got so many clothes that I never wear - a mixture of poorly thought out impulse buys and old favourites that - let's face it - will probably never fit me again.

I found this dress that was a favourite when I was pregnant with Ellie.  Now it just makes me look pregnant.  It wasn't expensive, and I couldn't see myself wearing it any time soon, plus I really loved the fabric.

I had also seen this dress recently and really wanted to achieve a similar look. Yes, of course it is Pumpkin Patch!

I used this Pumpkin Patch dress for inspiration

I cut off the dress at the waist and made the dress the same way as the previous one, except for this one I didn't worry about the flutter sleeves, and I added a sash. The fabric was quite thin so I used the existing lining to line the dress. I also kept the original hem of the dress as it worked out to be a good length anyway and didn't really need hemming.  Here's the front:

And the back:

I also made a little headband with a yo-yo flower out of the scraps.

Oct 27, 2011

Mummy's old dress into little girls dress

One of the things I love doing is searching for tutorials online, looking at what other people are doing and how they are doing it.  I'm always picking up tips here and there, and even if I don't follow the tutorial exactly, they are always great for inspiration.

I've decided to do my own tute to "give something back" so I don't feel like such a scavenger pinching everybody else's great ideas!  Hopefully it will be useful to somebody!  And if anybody does decide to use my tutorial for their own projects, I'd love to see the finished product.

Mummy's old dress into little girl's dress

What you will need:

1 x dress you no longer wear 
I had a tiered dress but this would work well with any dress.  I have a dress with a busted zip down the side I am thinking of using as well - I will just have to cut out the zip and put in a side seam instead.  
Elastic - I used 3/4 inch
Coordinating thread
Ribbons, buttons, fabric scraps for decoration


First of all, I cut the dress.  This dress was lined but I only cut the top layer.  I might use the lining for something else later.  To work out how long you want your finished dress, measure your child or take a measurement off a dress you already know fits your child well.  To this measurement, add an inch for the hem, and about an inch and a half for the top casing.  This dress had a shirred waistband, so I cut it right under the waist, and again about half way down the final tier.  I've marked the cut lines in white here (obviously cut the bottom straight across, I just have a curved line here because the dress is all spread out):

From the portion at the bottom of the dress, I cut two strap pieces and two sleeve pieces, like this:

Don't worry too much about the shape of your sleeves, as long as one has a gently curved edge, and one has more of a pronounced curve, you should be right.  You'll gather it so in the end you don't really notice the shape of it.

Now you will need to sew a casing around the top of your dress. Fold the top of the dress down, to the inside, half an inch, then 1 inch. Iron in place. Then stitch from the outside right on the very edge of your casing, almost all the way around (remember you need to leave a gap to thread your elastic through).

Then put another line of stitching about 1/8 inch down from the top of the dress. This will help to keep your elastic from twisting in the casing, and also makes a nicer gather around the neckline of the dress.

Measure your child's chest - under the armpits is best as this is where the dress will sit.  Add an inch to this measurement and cut your elastic.  Now you can thread your elastic through the casing like this:

Overlap the ends of the elastic and secure with a zigzag stitch.

Now we need to make the straps. Take your two strap pieces. Iron them in half, long ways, so that the long edges meet in the middle. Then fold in half again, and iron flat. Like this:

Take your sleeve pieces. Hem the edge with a slight curve. I overlocked mine, and then turned this overlocked edge just under and did a very narrow hem. If you don't have an overlocker you can just turn it under, and under again. You could do a rolled hem if you like, but I don't know how to do one of these so I just went with what I knew!

Then, sew a gathering stitch around the other (more pronounced) curved side of your sleeve. Use a nice long stitch here - I use a stitch length of 4 as this is all my machine goes up to.

When you're done, pull on the threads of your gathering stitch until the sleeve is about half the length that it was to start with. Do the same with your second sleeve.

You now need to attach your sleeves to the straps.  Open up the strap as in the picture below, and pin the sleeve to one edge, so that when the sleeve is sewn shut, the sleeve is sandwiched inside.  Hide your gathering stitch so that it lines up approximately with where you will sew your seam.

Close up your strap and add more pins if you like.

Sew down the edge of the strap with a narrow seam (mine was about 1/8 inch), making you sure you catch all three layers together.

Sew down the other side of the strap in the same way.

Now you have finished your sleeve! Do the other one!

Once you have your two sleeves completed, figure out where you want to attach them to the dress. I convinced my model to try on her dress so I could pin the straps where I wanted them first, but this isn't always successful (particularly if she is in a difficult mood!). As the top is elasticated, you've got a bit of lee-way, so the positioning doesn't have to be perfect. Once you've determined where you want to put them, pin them in place on the inside of the dress, and then from the outside, stitch them along the two lines of stitching you've already got (the ones on the top and bottom of the elastic casing.  Try not to stitch through the elastic.  This is where mine sit at the back:

And the front:

I also decided to make a couple of little rosettes out of some scraps and navy blue ribbon that I had.  I used this tute for the rosettes, but there are heaps of them online.  You could do anything for the embellishment though, or leave it off completely, it's up to you.

Now just hem the dress and you're done!

Time to play!

I could make that

I've been pretty busy lately, madly sewing for Summer as the weather warms up.  I've finished off a few dresses now, but so far only been able to get photos of this one.  It's another dress inspired by a Pumpkin Patch one I saw.  More and more I find myself thinking "I could make that" when I'm out shopping for the girls.
The dress I saw in the store

For this one, I had to teach myself how to make and insert piping.  Also, how to sew in an invisible zip - properly! I think I did alright on both counts. Not perfect, but I was happy with my efforts for a first attempt.

The pattern I used was Simplicity 2270 - the sleeveless version, and I left out the pockets.  I found some cute printed poplin at Lincraft that I was originally going to make a little white Summer shirt with, but decided to use it for this dress instead.

It's lined as the fabric was pretty thin and a bit see-through foe a dress, I thought. I just hope that doesn't make it too hot to wear in Summer. I Made a little rosette for the neckline from a scrap I had left over from a re-purposing project. Got to blog that one yet!

Lots of blue and white in this season's wardrobe. She's slowly coming around, but pink is still the all time favourite.

Thank goodness for television... it's the only thing that can get her to stand still!

Oct 19, 2011

Refashion: Overalls into pinafore (and skirt)

I've been sewing lately, just not blogging.

I had to get a couple of Christmas presents out of the way - dresses for my nieces, which I'm not going to post as I want them to be a surprise.

I've also been busy making lots of little hair clips for the girls. I can't believe I haven't made any of these sooner - they are so easy and come up simply gorgeous with very little effort. I love that I can literally make them out of scraps and that I can make little co-ordinating clips for each of their outfits. I don't think I'll ever buy hair clips again.  Here's what I've made so far:

For a quick Sunday afternoon project I decided to make this little nautical themed skirt out of some white cotton batiste and navy blue jumbo ric rac. It's self lined and has a simple elastic casing at the waist. I finished it off with some blue and white buttons. It's for Katherine, but I don't think she has a top to wear with it so that's going to be a project for the future now!

I've been wanting to turn a little pair of overalls into a dress for a while now.  My sister actually bought these for one of her daughters, and had a similar fate in mind for them but never got around to it.  She gave them to me a while ago and last weekend I finally got around to working on them.

They were really cute and I would have kept them as overalls except for the fact that the press-studs up the inside of the legs never stuck!  They would come apart and I was forever trying to press them back together so that Ellie wasn't getting tangled up in the legs and tripping over them. So I cut off the legs and stitched a little gathered skirt around the bottom of it instead.

Advanced reader - skips the children's shelf and goes straight for the war biographies.

Then I decided I really wanted to do something with the leg panels themselves, as they had this really cute embroidery on them.

I thought they would have made a really cute denim skirt but they weren't wide enough to turn into a skirt the way they were so I used a little floral scrap I had and made a centre panel out of that. I had to unpick the original hem on the leg panels, then I stitched the centre panel in place, then hemmed the skirt again and added an elastic casing at the top.

Finally, I made a little custom hair clip to match both the skirt and the pinnie, out of some scraps I had left over.

The End