And then they…

the things we do to live a better life.

Archive for the tag “sewing”

A New Dress for Alma

The other night I totally had the urge to sew something.  Since I’ve been working, I haven’t made anything, and I’ve been missing my hobby. While I’ve made quite a few dresses in the past, they have all been sort of complicated.

I have been wanting to try to make a simple dress pattern, so I just gave it a shot!  I sketched out a simple sun dress, then drafted up a pattern.  I just took one of Alma’s dresses and used it to estimate the bodice proportions, then made a couple simple ruffle layers.

I’m really happy with how it turned out!  I love the colors together, on Alma.  She is really into foxes these days, so it was fun to include those.

I will definitely be making more patterns and dresses in the future!

And Then They - Sundress 4And Then They - Sundress 6And Then They - Sundress 5 And Then They - Sundress 3 And Then They - Sundress 2 And Then They - Sundress


Sewing – How I Got Started, Part 2 (or a love letter to Oliver + S)

And Then They - Sewing - How I got started Part 2, or a love letter to Oliver + SAfter I tackled my first quilt, I felt like I was ready to try something a little more difficult.  I decided that I wanted to make a baptism dress for Alma, but I wanted to make something she could wear for more than just her baptism (ie not a traditional ‘gown’).  My mom and I were at a fabric store in Portland when we saw a sweet pattern for a sweet dress.  It was the Oliver + S Family Reunion Dress.  We picked out a fabric that was mostly white (to keep it somewhat traditional) and I was set.

But of course, I got scared.  I decided to sew a rough draft.  I read through the directions and got terrified.  It was so crazy and confusing to me!  There were button holes, pintucks, ruffles, interfacing, hems, collars, lots of scary stuff! I figured the best thing to do was to just jump right in and start sewing.

One of the first steps were doing the pintucks.  These ended up being fun, because I sort of felt like a professional-sewing-super-star after seeing how cute they were turning out!  The instructions were so clear and easy to follow.

I kept on sewing.  Whenever I got to something that seemed confusing, I would take a break (sometimes a few days…).  Once I finally got around to trying it, it was always way easier than I had expected.  Soon, I had a fully constructed dress and I felt silly for doing a rough draft.  The instructions were so great that I totally could have done the baptism dress on the first try!

And Then They - Olive + S Family Reunion Take OneI got started right away on the actual baptism dress.

And Then They - Oliver + S Family Reunion for baptismThen I decided to make three more for Alma and her cousins to wear to their aunt and uncle’s (my brother) wedding.  This time I had to make them in different sizes.  I also decided that since it was a summer wedding, I would make them sleeveless.

And Then They - Oliver + S Family Reunion without slevesI felt like I had learned enough tricks from Oliver + S to alter the pattern a little bit.  I ended up making my own bias tape and just finishing the bodice sleeve openings with it.  The girls looked so sweet in their cheerful dresses!

And Then They - Oliver + S Family Reunion for Three Little Cousins at their aunt and uncle's weddingNext up were winter hats from the Oliver + S Little Things to Sew book.  Again, I stretched my comfort zone a little bit and used new fabrics that can be hard to work with – velvet and wool shirting.  The instructions were amazing again, and I had two cute hats for my two little lambs to wear.

And Then They - Oliver + S HatHalloween was coming up, so I thought my freckled-faced-almost-redhead would make a cute Pippi.  The biased trim apron seemed like a perfect costume idea (that we could use as an apron after Halloween!).  This one taught me a lot more about how to use bias tape (and taught me what I had done wrong when I altered the dresses – ha!).  I also learned a cool way to make a pocket!

And Then They - Oliver + S ApronI was on a roll.  For Christmas, I decided Alma needed a doll carrier for the baby doll Harriet brought her from the hospital.  Another way to make a pocket, more practice with curved edges, and a couple button holes later, and Alma had a fun doll carrier!

And Then They - Oliver + S Baby CarrierNow it is time for Harriet’s baptism.  I wanted to try another Oliver + S pattern and finally decided on the Fairy Tale Dress.  Now this one was scary!  Fully lined, petal sleeves, invisible zipper, peter pan collar!  Oh my!

And Then They - Oliver + S Fairy Tale Sleeve Detail

Again, I just took it step by step and it all worked out.  Ohmygosh is it cute!

And Then They - Oliver + S Fairy TaleI love these patterns because they are great for a beginning seamstress.  The steps are clearly explained, with simple, yet complete illustrations.  I love the feeling I get after every step, when the dresses start to look like dresses.  I love that I go from being terrified of messing up, (to messing up), to doing it right, to having an amazing finished project!

I also love that I can use the skills I learned in the patterns for other projects.  I have so many skills in my back pocket now!  I even have enough confidence with the aspects in these projects that I am toying with designing my own dresses for the girls.

(I should note that Oliver + S has no idea that I’m writing this.  They don’t know who I am at all, though they did once comment on one of my instagram photos and made me feel like I had a brush with fame.)

(I also want to note that I got most of my fabrics from Piece by Piece and if you’re in Eugene, it’s my absolute favorite fabric store in town.)

Sewing – How I Got Started, Part 1

If you are thinking about starting a project, perhaps your first one, here’s a piece of advice.  You won’t be able to screw it up as much as you think you will.  Before my first project, I was terrified that if I mess it up, it would be utterly ruined and a waste of money and time.  I quickly learned that, yes, I would screw up.  Again and again, but it is actually very easy to fix mistakes when sewing.  Just tear about the seams, and start again.

Before I was pregnant with Alma, I had never really sewn anything.  As a child, I played around and made a few little thingies, then in home-ec in middle school I made and awesome lip shaped pillow.  Other than that, I had never used a sewing machine.

The summer before I had Alma, the nesting kicked in and I wanted to make her a quilt.  I didn’t really know how to start, but I wanted to do something easy.  I came up with the idea of doing a gradient rainbow quilt, so I went to the fabric store and bought 16 pieces of fabric in a rainbow of colors.

Then I did some math and figured out how big I wanted the quilt to be.  I wanted the sizes of each strip to vary, so I just cut out 1, 2, and 3 inch pieces of each color.  Once I had all the pieces cut out, I lined them up on my floor and arranged it so the colors would overlap horizontally through the quilt.

I then sewed 12 vertical strips with one piece of each color in each strip. This seemed pretty easy, because the pieces were only 4 inches wide, leaving not a lot of room to mess up.

Then I got scared.  I had to attach each strip to the next, which meant I would be sewing two long strips together using a continuous stitch.  This felt like a lot of ways I could mess up.  As a beginning sew-er I felt like something would go wrong for sure and everything would be ruined.  I didn’t think I’d be able to sew a straight line for such a long distance.  I probably left the strips sitting for a couple weeks before I built up the courage to attempt my long lines.

I finally got brave and sewed two strips together.  It was quick, and easy!  I was amazed!  I kept going, and soon I had a complete quilt top, and I was really happy!

Then came the next scary part – the actual quilting.  I got my backing, my batting and my quilt, sandwiched it all together and found some good tutorials online.  I thought I would do a straight line down the middle of each strip, but quickly found that a wavy line would be much easier, and actually kind of cute.  I did 12 wavy lines and all of a sudden, I had a quilt!

Then the scary task of adding a binding!  I found this wonderful tutorial and basically did what it said.  The only thing I did differently was machine sewing it on, instead of hand binding the front.  Since it was for a baby, I knew it would be washed a lot, so I wanted it to be really secure.

Holy cow, I had just made a quilt!  I was basically a super hero in my mind.  I had come up with an idea, done math, sewn a bunch (192!) of pieces of fabric together, and – poof! – heirloom!

And Then They - My first quilt - a great beginner pattern and tutorialI basically took it (and still take all my sewing projects) one step at a time.  I gave myself permission to make mistakes.  I took breaks, short and long, along the way.

What are some projects you’ve been wanting to try, but have been too scared to take the first step?

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