Fishsticks Designs Playhouse dress

Despite the plethora of dresses already hanging in her wardrobe, when Stella asks me to make her something I find it really difficult to say no.  She especially wanted a new dress that could have a sparkly transfer ironed on to it.  Of course she did!

Fishsticks Designs Playhouse dress

Stella is quite definite about her likes and dislikes, and chose the fabrics and how to combine them herself. First of all we looked at some of the dresses already in her wardrobe and identified some favourites, and what it is that makes them preferred over other garments. Stella definitely prefers knits, with full or swingy skirts, that are easy for her to get on and off. So, that’s basically a t-shirt dress, albeit with volume in the skirt. We then spent time going through the pattern box to decide on what she thought would be suitable.

Fishsticks Designs Playhouse dress

This one came in the girls Pattern Parcel that I bought a couple of months back.  It is the Fishsticks Designs Playhouse dress.  From the website: The Playhouse Dress is the perfect dress for playtime or dress-up time! In sizes 12 months to 12, this dress can be sewn with all knits or with a combination of knits and woven quilting fabrics. The Playhouse Dress features a knit bodice, a circle skirt and puff sleeves which can be sewn short or long.  As you can see, we chose the short sleeved version, and printed and cut out the size 6 for Stella.  The pdf allows you to just print one size rather than multi-sized if you prefer, which is quite handy. And the skirt is very flared, but I’m not sure that i would describe it as a circle skirt – it’s definitely at least a half-circle though, so is certainly swishy.

Fishsticks Designs Playhouse dress

I applied the neckband using the handy tip on Gillian’s blog that helps to estimate how long to make it. I discovered this recently and it’s definitely helped my hit rate for applying knit neckbands in the round (often I do them before sewing closed the second shoulder, and I’m pretty familiar with just how much to stretch to get it right when applying them that way). I like the way that it accommodates the more extreme curve that is found in the front of the neckband, that simple quartering never seems to allow for.

Fishsticks Designs Playhouse dress

Otherwise there’s not a great deal to say about this make. I used the overlocker throughout, with twin needle stitching on the yoke to secure the neckband and the curved empire seam. I also twin needled the hemline after securing it with a non-Vliesofix tape that is such a thick layer of glue that I can’t wait to use it all up. It took quite a bit of stretching of the sleeve bands to get them to fit, but the pattern was designed that way so that it gathers at the bottom, and the instructions do let you know that will be the case. It all worked out fine. And the final touch, which was the most important part of the whole design as far as Stella was concerned? Yes, it’s that sparkly iron-on transfer, picked up from Clear It a little while ago! She is very pleased.

Fishsticks Designs Playhouse dress

Both fabrics were in stash, and are cotton/spandex blends. I have to admit that I didn’t like them together all that much when Stella first chose them, but now that the dress is made I think that the final proportions of each colour – and the fine white stripe in the blue knit – work very well! She’s chosen a colour combination that isn’t too cliched.

Fishsticks Designs Playhouse dress

based on Simplicity 1479

Spotlight are selling Simplicity patterns at 5 for $10 at the moment.  Unheard of!  Of course, most of the ones that I was interested in getting for me weren’t in stock at my local Spotty (might need to get my Mum on the case to see if they are at hers) but there were a few in the drawers that I thought Clare would like.  Simplicity 1479 was one of them.

based on Simplicity 1479 view B

I titled this blog post “based on” Simplicity 1479 because although I used four of the pattern pieces from view B I didn’t make the dress according to the instructions. I am quite sure though that I’ll use this pattern again – there are some lovely design options.

based on Simplicity 1479 view B

The bright coral (almost fluoro) stretch mesh came from the Darn Cheap Fabrics $2 table. Clare wanted a very simple dress, so we decided to just make a shift and line it with a contrast. We tried a few different fabrics in a few different colours underneath before settling on this vibrant blue viscose. Clare love the feeling of rayons and viscose next to her skin, and was very happy with her choice.

based on Simplicity 1479 view B

I used the provided pattern pieces to cut the underdress/lining pieces from the rayon, and the overdress pattern pieces from the mesh. I cut size 8 through the body with size 10 length, and lengthened the mesh overdress pieces so that they would be longer than the underdress/lining. I stuffed the neckline facing pieces back into the pattern envelope, as I’d already decided how I would construct the dress and it wasn’t going to include facings. In summary, I did this:

  • sewed the shoulder seams of the overdress and underdress
  • sewed the necklines of both dresses together with the right sides facing one another
  • understitched and trimmed the neckline then turned it right sides out
  • used the burrito method to join one armhole underdress to the overdress by rolling the dress up from the opposite side until I could make the underdress and overdress armholes meet right sides together
  • stitched and trimmed the armhole and turned it right sides out
  • repeated with the opposite armhole
  • then sewed up the side seams with each side having a long seam with overdress right sides together, pivoting at the underarm then sewing the underdress right sides together
  • and hemmed the underdress, leaving the overdress with a raw edge that was longer than the underdress.

Phew! Clear as mud? I really like this method of sewing lined sleeveless tops and dresses – it gives such a nice clean finish with no fiddly sewing together of shoulder seams as the last step.

based on Simplicity 1479 view B

It’s a very simple dress, but the fabric combination makes it that little bit special to wear. Clare was happy! By the way, did you notice her doll, Rosie? Clare sewed Rosie’s dress from a Burda pattern, and made the coordinating headband and shoes from loom bands.

Burda doll dress sewn by Clare with loom band shoes and headband

She did prefer to have me give her step by step guidance on what to do rather than taking her time to read the Burda instructions. Not sure if that is a reflection on Burda, or simply the result of having me available to ask! Anyway, she did all the cutting and sewing herself, and I am rather proud of my not-yet-twelve-year-old. Now I just need to persuade her to sew her own dresses.

based on Simplicity 1479 view B

And thanks everyone for your comments on the Celestial dress – as you know, I love it, but it’s rather cool that you do too!

Oliver + S Library dress

I suspect that I now own almost all the Oliver + S patterns.  Oh my!  Well, there are possibly a few missing from the collection, but I certainly have purchased plenty of them.  My latest make is the Library Dress.

Oliver + S Library dress in Spotlight cotton/linen

These are such reliable patterns. They are always beautifully drafted and finished, and the instructions are excellent. This one was no exception. Clare chose to have it made with short sleeves and no collar. I added flat piping made from bias strips of chambray to highlight the edges of the neckline, sleeves and the front band.

Oliver + S Library dress in Spotlight cotton/linen

There was impetus to get this finished – Clare was going to a Japanese themed birthday party. We thought that a dress that looked Japanese inspired would be better than a costume as such, and this fitted the bill nicely. The fabric is cotton/linen from Spotlight, and the selvedge describes the print as being of a Polish folk design. Not terribly Japanese at all!

Oliver + S Library dress in Spotlight cotton/linen

This was lovely to sew. I think I used size 10, and as you can see it is quite roomy in width. She did need the length of the 10 though. The contrasting buttons down the back please me greatly.

Oliver + S Library dress in Spotlight cotton/linen

The pattern description says: This sweet, little mock-wrap dress includes a wide front waistband with optional piping, a pleated skirt, and buttons up the back. It can be sewn in two different versions: a short-sleeve dress with a collar or a three-quarter-sleeve dress with notched cuffs.

Oliver + S Library dress in Spotlight cotton/linen

This is a style that works well on tweens. It’s not too “little-girl” frilly, yet has nice swing to the skirt and feminine details. Nowadays I always choose to buy my Oliver + S patterns in pdf, so that I can easily reprint different sizes as required. While I mention pdf patterns, I have to say that Oliver + S are my favourite ones. Each pattern piece prints separately. Pieces that are small enough to fit on one page are on one page, and those that need to be assembled are still on as small an amount of paper as possible. I love just assembling one piece of the pattern at a time – highly preferable than trying to align and tape a massive sheet that won’t even fit on the table.

Oliver + S Library dress in Spotlight cotton/linen

I have a few more Oliver + S patterns in the works for this summer, especially since Clare has grown a little and needs some new dresses. And I get to pass the other Oliver + S ones that she has outgrown down to Stella, and enjoy seeing them all over again! Win win!

Another Asymmetrical Drape Top

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As the title says, another Asymmetrical Drape Top for Clare. This is from the rest of the laser cut floral printed neoprene (say that ten times quickly) from Darn Cheap Fabrics. It’s size 8, the same as the previous two tops. Because of the nature of the fabric I left off the neck band and just turned the neckline to the inside once and topstitched it down. Seams were all sewn on the overlocker, and topstitching was with a zig zag stitch on the sewing machine.

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The fabric choice has given it a different look to the last two tops, as it doesn’t have the same sort of drape. Clare has also turned the hem band underneath to shorten it a little, as she finds that in this fabric the whole top tends to want to migrate down further and almost become a dress, whereas the other tops have the band sit more firmly on the hips and the extra side fabric just drops into the folds rather than attempting to straighten themselves out.

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That said, she really likes this top – the neoprene and floral combination ticks all the correct boxes for her and negate any issues with it “growing”. In fact, she wore it rock/wall climbing! It’s another interesting example of how different the same pattern can look and behave in different fabric substrates (let alone different prints or colours).

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Big Joey dress for Clare

A number of my sewing buddies know that I actively avoid Make It Perfect patterns after a not-so-good experience with them a few years back.  I suspect then that they will be surprised to discover that I have recently purchased and sewn one!  I rather liked the look of the Make It Perfect Big Joey dress when I saw it pop up on a few blogs (actually, more than a few) and when the patterns were on sale for half price, I decided that it was time to give them a second chance.  And I have to say that I really like the finished dress on Clare.

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

This pattern comes in three size ranges. The smallest is 0-5 years, then the Big Joey for 6-10 years. There is also a Women’s version. The size chart only lists chest and base of neck to finished hem as a guide to sizing. It didn’t say if the chest measurement was actual chest or the finished garment chest. Clare measured size 6 around the chest if “chest” meant actual body measurement, but I had a feeling that just wasn’t going to work so made an executive decision and went for size 9, guided by the base of neck to finished hem measurement. As it turns out the size 9 is fine but certainly doesn’t have much room for growth. I will make size 10 next time.

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

The pattern description from the website: A mini version of the Make It Perfect women’s Skippy dress, Joey is a pretty, everyday dress for little girls made with your favourite stretchy knit fabric. There’s plenty to smile about with its pretty gathered sleeves in a choice of three lengths, an optional cowl neck and a swingy skirt. Joey has a great, everyday shape featuring handy kangaroo-style pouch pockets. Make it in a solid colour or mix and match prints and patterns for endless different looks. Easy to put on, comfortable to wear and perfect for play. Joey is a dress for all tree-climbing, puddle-jumping and bike-riding adventures.

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

The front pocket definitely attracted Clare to this pattern, and she also liked the dropped waist. Although the skirt is described as “swingy”, it’s really a simple A-line. It’s drafted with the hem extending in a straight line to the side seam, which makes the skirt longer at the sides than in the centre front and centre back. I measured the length of the side seam and altered the pattern piece to lengthen it at the centre front/back, curving it gently to meet the side seam. It’s only a small amount, but makes a difference. As far as I am aware – and do correct me if I am wrong – the designer does not have formal pattern drafting training or experience, and to me it is in areas like this that it shows. The skirt on Clare’s dress is the same length all the way around, and it falls and sits much more nicely in my opinion than many of the others I’ve seen.

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

Clare chose the short gathered sleeve option for her dress. I didn’t pay much attention to the instructions when constructing the dress, both because I am fairly experienced in making knit dresses for kids and because I’d not been enamoured by my previous experience with Make It Perfect instructions. However, I did look at them briefly for this section. They suggest that the sleeves be inserted flat before sewing up the side seams and before adding the sleeve band. Since these sleeves were so short and had a fair degree of gather at the sleeve head I did it differently and inserted them in the round after sewing up the side seams and attaching the sleeve band. Once again, the drafting wasn’t great at the bottom of the sleeve where it attaches to the band, but because it’s a knit there is some leeway and it all worked out okay. I’ll alter the pattern piece a bit in that area before I make it next. The armhole depth is not all that great, although the shoulders are fairly wide. I might alter that too.

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

The fabric came from Clear It, and is lovely quality. You’ve seen it before in Stella’s Ethereal dress, and the other colourway in Clare’s Belinda dress. The contrast bands were a random cotton/spandex knit from stash. They really give the dress a bit of added pop!  Construction was primarily on the overlocker, with the machine used for gathering and for twin needle topstitching.

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

Next time around I’ll make the size 10 for my almost 12 year old, and will make the same pattern changes listed above. It is quite a versatile pattern, and one that I will use again, but I’m still not all that thrilled by the pattern drafting from this pattern company. However, I do like the finished dress, and so does Clare. Hooray!

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

Asymmetrical drape top

When the latest Perfect Pattern Parcel popped up in my feed reader I jumped straight on it.  Patterns for tweens – just what I’m after!  And it includes casual patterns for knits – plus the Figgy’s Sunki dress, which I had been considering buying anyway.  So a click or two later, a pattern download and a press of the “print” button (plus some scissors and sticky tape) and before I knew it I was cutting out an Asymmetrical drape top for Clare.

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

This is such a simple top, and has similarities to the You Sew Girl! Drape dress that I have made myself a couple of times and the almost ubiquitous side draped top from Drape Drape 2, the Japanese sewing book. After measuring Clare we decided to make size 8. It’s still rather roomy, and long enough to wear as a tunic over leggings. I suggest choosing the size by hip measurement.

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

The fabric is from Darn Cheap Fabrics, and is an ombre print that fades from orange down to almost white. We cut the neckband from the orange part, and the bottom band in a way that it incorporated the white and the orange. The bottom band is great – it means that Clare can easily hitch it up higher to give it more side drape, and it stays in place.

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

The neck band is very narrow, as it is only recommended to be cut at 1.5 inches wide and is folded in half. When I stretched it to fit the neckline it narrowed ever further. Once it was pressed and top-stitched the viscose knit gave quite a nice neckline, but I suspect that if you were using a cotton/spandex mix or similar that you would need to cut the neckline a little larger and the neckband a little wider and longer. As with most knits, experimentation is the key!

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

Since I had the pattern out, and it was only one piece for the front and back (with the front neckline cut lower than the back) plus the hem band and neckband I figured that I should just go ahead and make two. This brightly striped viscose knit (also from Darn Cheap Fabrics, I think) behaved in pretty much the same way as the ombre fabric, also resulting in a narrow neckband. The sleeve hems were finished by overlocking around the edge then turning to the inside once and topstitching with the twin needle. I did the topstitching with two colours this time, bright pink and bright orange.

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

The pattern actually gives two options to create more or less drape on the side – this is the one that creates more. The lower band and the neckband are also optional. These should fit for all the summer and potentially next summer as well.

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

I sewed these on the weekend – Clare wore one the following day and the other the day after. Clearly they tick all the right boxes! I’m looking forward to making more from the Pattern Parcel – next on the list is the Lily knit blazer, in the leftover fabric from the Finlayson sweater.  The Pattern Parcel is such a cost-effective way to buy patterns from different independent designers you may not have encountered before – I suggest taking a look at this one if you have a tween girl to sew for.

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

yet another Ethereal dress

This is the last Ethereal dress for a little while, surely!  I made it a couple of weeks ago when I was on a “sewing for the girls” binge, but it only had its first wear on the weekend just gone.

Figgys Ethereal dress in knit

This is another sleeveless version, which should be terrific for summer but obviously can be easily layered over a long-sleeved tee and leggings for the cooler days of spring that we are currently enjoying. The fabric is a printed knit from Clear It, possibly from the Alannah Hill range.  I bought quite a bit, and both girls are fighting over who will have the next garment made from it.  If it looks familiar that is because you have seen it before in another colour way in this dress I made Clare earlier in the year when I was at Sewjourn.  Speaking of Sewjourn, is it too soon to start the countdown to our November trip?

Figgys Ethereal dress in knit

I can make these dresses rather quickly now! As with Clare’s most recent Ethereal, I omitted the back opening and simply cut this on the fold. It slips on without needing to be unbuttoned. The edge of the flounce was finished with the rolled hem setting on the overlocker, and the skirt hem and bodice seamline were finished with twin needle stitching on the overlocker.

Figgys Ethereal dress in knit

The fully lined bodice is easy to construct, with the “burrito” method used to finish the armholes before sewing the side seams of the bodice outer and lining in one step. I must remember that method for lined sleeveless bodices! In fact, I think I’ll use it on my next Myrtle dress – I’ll just have to remember to cut two back bodice pieces in order to do it.

Figgys Ethereal dress in knit

This is the same size as the Foxy Ethereal dress that I made for Stella a few weeks earlier, size 4/5 width but 6/7 length.  Do I really have to put this pattern away for a little while and move onto another one?  I like it so much!

Figgys Ethereal dress in knit

And did you notice that gap in her smile?  Adorable!