Unicorn Dresses

A few weeks ago someone absolutely destroyed my sewing scissors. I still don't know who or how it happened. I don't think that mere paper could have caused those nicks and warped the metal blades. It is a mystery.

But I was in the mood to sew something, so I turned to the pile of projects that I already had cut out.

I am not 100% happy with these, but they will probably stain and destroy them fast enough anyway. At least they are finished.

Fabric- Joann Pattern- Uptown/Downtown Dress

My girls love unicorns! If you like them too you might want to check these out...

Unicorn Parade London Dress

The Easiest DIY Unicorn Costume Ever!

The Flower Girl Dress

I actually made three of them, but I don't feel comfortable posting other people's kids'  pictures on my website, so I only have pictures of the one that my daughter wore. As with any sewing project, there is more to the story. My niece asked my daughter to be a flower girl and also asked if I would sew the dresses. I love sewing pretty little girl dresses- especially matching ones- so I was excited about this project! Except, I procrastinated. Yes, I use that "P" word an awful lot here on the blog. Part of my excuse was waiting for a swatch, part of it was waiting for our difficult summer vacation to end, and part of it was other commitments that had earlier deadlines. But, really, most of the problem is my indecision.

I overthink just about every decision. I make things entirely more difficult than they need to be. Finally, when I have no time left to change my mind yet again, I just get it done. (Project Run and Play was a great exercise in this area!) So, after much debating, I went back to my original plan and sewed like the wind a few days before the wedding.

Not everyone has such confidence in my procrastinatory sewing. The bride herself, was amazingly cool about it. A few other people close to me expressed their doubts, if only in the realm of "what if you fall down the stairs and break both arms and can't sew." (Duh! That is why I teach my kids to sew!) For some reason, I was not AT ALL stressed about it. I was completely cool and confident. (A certain someone called me cocky.) Anyway, they really ticked me off!

I know that I am rude and inconsiderate for stressing other people out who may not understand who they are dealing with here, and for that, I am sorry.

But everything went FINE! I only made one, tiny, easily fixable mistake in the entire process. All three dresses were the same size, so I did them assembly line style. All of the tops were finished in about 4 hours Wednesday evening. I leisurely completed the skirts Thursday. I even threw in a bonus mother-of-the-bride dress hem. All of them fit perfectly. So... :p to those who doubted!

My rant went a little long there.

I loosely followed the Cairo dress pattern from Violette Field Threads. I own the tween pattern so I sized it down to a 3T on my own. I also wanted these to be simple, flowy, and short to complement the boots and bridesmaid dresses. So, the skirt is a layer of lining and a layer of gathered eggnog tulle.

The top is made of a satin remnant and lining fabric. I handstitched the linings closed so the elastic back is only sewn to the inside. The lace straps are from packaged hem facing. Finally, I glued a flower from the scrapbook section to felt circles and pinned it to the dress to coordinate with the wedding theme even more.

 

Congratulations to my niece and her new husband! Thank you for having confidence in me and letting me make these adorable dresses!!!

Sweet Caroline

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My great-grandmother, Caroline, was Bohemian; so "boho" means a little something different to me because I think of her.  I remember her fierce hugs and the stories of her spunk and determination. Widowed, with three young children, she moved from the city to rural PA and married a bachelor farmer.  I have always thought she was brave, and I wouldn't be here if she hadn't taken a chance. Characteristic of her generation, she was very resourceful.  My baby quilt is pieced from flour sacks and her quilt templates were cut from old cereal boxes. One Christmas, we all got stuffed pigs made from polyester scraps.  She also worked hard and never gave up. She had to quit school to help at home, but got her GED in her 80s because it was something that she had always wanted to do. I still remember her showing us the certificate hanging proudly in the frame on her living room wall. She made the best out of any situation with creativity and determination. That is a bit of what I tried to do this week. We had 2 feet of snow and 3 snow days, so I had to "make do" with what I had on hand, although it meant a lot more work. In the end, both outfits cost less than $5 to make and all that I had to purchase when I finally was able to leave the house was some thread, embroidery floss, and buttons.

Boho week for Project Run and Play!

I still tried to incorporate the modern "boho" style in my designs. First, I made a tunic from an old shirt that was given to me. I loved the color (with a slightly uneven dye effect) and it was a thin, flowy fabric perfect for what I had in mind. I removed the bottom ruffle (the open part was badly torn) and the bottoms of the sleeves. Then, I carefully cut the rest of my pieces from what was left of the shirt. I drafted a bodice with a curved front and trimmed the front of the bottom skirt portion a bit to create a high-low effect. The original ruffle was resized and sewed onto the bottom of the tunic. I embroidered the neckline with some simple flowers and vines. It took awhile, but it was definitely worth it to add some lovely detail. The top is lined with remnants of a really soft sheet I used to line THIS dress and I understitched along the inside neckline. I reshaped the sleeves to create a loose, flutter sleeve with a bit of gathering at the top. Then, I sewed it to the bottom and added buttons on the back. I also made a pair of leggings from some olive green knit fabric that I found in a tote after digging a path to my storage shed.

Before...

before-picture-of-shirt

After...

hand embroidery and understitching

buttons on the back of a flowy, boho tunic

butterfly sleeve boho tunic

double needle hem leggings

hi-low hem tunic upcycled from a womens shirt

purple hi-low tunic refashioned from a womens shirt

Hand embroidered girls boho tunic

My other daughter wanted a maxi dress and I found a dusty coral sheet I had purchased years ago on clearance at Target and stuffed under my fabric table. I only used about half of the sheet to make this dress. I drafted the pattern to have a drop waist and long, gathered tiers. I was careful in my cutting and able to use the original sheet hem, too! Yay! This time, I put the buttons in the front and hand embroidered the button placket in the same intricate flowers and vines. Oh, and those buttons? My husband made them from a dowel rod! He sanded them on the belt sander to make them round and carefully sliced them off of the dowel. I sanded them by hand to smooth and even them out. After a last-minute trip for 1/16th inch drill bits, he drilled holes in them for me. The straps are made from braided strips folded like bias tape and sewn together. They cross in the back and I added an elastic casing so that it would fit well and not gap in the back.

Some more before pictures...

dowel-buttons     flat-sheet

After...

Girls boho maxi dress made from a sheet

embroidered flowers

braided crossing straps

boho style maxi dress from a sheet

braided straps

Elastic casing to keep the back of the dress from gapping!

handmade wooden button

We tried to do a farm themed photo shoot, but it is hard because our options right now are: a) snow or b) mud. At the end, I decided to try to take some pictures with our new chicks, but it was clearly a bad idea. Let's just say that this was the second week in a row that an outfit had to be washed right after the pictures. Ew!!!

peeps_edited-1

peep-pooping

You can vote for your favorite "boho" look HERE over at Project Run and Play!

Thank you again to all of those who have voted and shared and supported me!!! Thank you to Aunt Karen for the purple shirt. A very special thank you to my sisters this week! Loni, you did an awesome job as my hairstylist and ironer. (Also, thank you for returning my vintage crimping iron.) Thank you to my husband for those awesome buttons and for carrying girls over the mud for pictures! Thank you most of all to my grandmother and other family members who pass down stories and leave a legacy to inspire future generations.

Boho style outfits made from a sheet and an old shirt!

Ombre Dyed July 4th Skirts

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I haven't been sewing lately, but I have had this idea in my head for awhile to make ombre dyed skirts for the girls and July 4th was as good of a reason as any to try it out. I had some knit in a tote that was given to me about 9 years ago (back when I was still scared of sewing with anything but quilting cotton). So, this project only cost me about $3 for the dye and only took a little bit of time.

I let the girls choose what they wanted. Two wanted maxi skirts and two wanted high-low circle skirts. The youngest got what was left over. The maxi skirts were constructed very similarly to THIS tutorial, but I made a waistband measuring their waist size by 6 1/2" (which is folded in half) instead of a fold over yoga waistband. The circle skirts were cut the same as THIS tutorial, but sewn to a waistband made the same way as the maxi skirts. The smallest skirt was just a gathered piece of what was left sewn to a waistband (which I made too big - poor girl was losing her skirt at the picnic!) Always make the waistband a little on the small side so that it stays up! 

I timed myself on one of the skirts and it only took 15 minutes to make! I didn't hem them because I just wasn't that ambitious and it doesn't really matter.

So, we took some before pictures with them all in white. I liked them this way and hated to dye them!

Then, came the dyeing. It went OK and we found that a good way to increase the ombre effect instead of having a distinct line between the white and color was to water down some dye and pour it across the skirt. Then, we sprayed it upwards with the hose.

The circle skirts were made with a different piece of fabric than the other skirts, and did not take the dye well at all. We left them in the bucket for a really long time, but they were just not absorbing the color. They were such a thin fabric that the girls had to wear bike shorts underneath them.
These were both dipped in blue dye. When I washed the circle skirts, the remaining color came out and they are white again. Lesson learned. Check the fiber content or test it out.
The red turned more pink, which I expected. I never have much luck with red Rit dye.
Not my best work but, overall, they were still cute. The girls mostly liked them (except one who wanted her skirt off to play even though I told her it was fine to play in it and get it dirty.) The blue bike shorts under the one skirt gave it a cute cotton candy effect. :)

 

Honestly, I kind of want an ombre dyed maxi skirt for myself now!
Link Parties where I sometimes hang out...

Peasant Dress Quick Sewing Tutorial

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I know there are peasant dress tutorials galore, but I am going to show you how to make these dresses using a few tips and tricks we have picked up over the past few years while making hundreds of these dresses for groups like Project Yesu. I already covered the "system" we use for cutting them out quickly and efficiently. Today I am showing you how to sew them together.

I mentioned yesterday that we will sometimes add a contrasting band to the bottom of the dress. It also makes a fun, color blocked effect. To do this just cut a strip the same width as the rest of the dress and the length needed to make it the desired size. Sew the strip to the bottom of the dress and serge or zig zag over the edge to keep it from fraying.

Gather all of your pieces. There should be 2 dress body pieces and 2 sleeves.

Line up the arm scythes of one sleeve and one dress piece with the right sides together.

Sew them together with a 3/8" seam allowance, back-stitching a little at the beginning and end. DON'T stop and pull it away from the machine. Leave your presser foot down. We are going to do a little chain piecing here. It is faster and makes fewer thread snibbles that scatter all over the place.

Just grab the other dress piece and sew it to the other side of the sleeve you just sewed.

Then sew the second sleeve to the other side of the dress piece you just sewed. (No picture. Musta' missed that.) 

Finally, sew the second sleeve to the first dress piece you started with.

It is all kind of a circular thing. It is easy once you get used to it.

NOW you can remove it from the sewing machine and snip all the connecting threads.

This is what it looks like now.

Next you are going to sew the sides. Grab the corners of the sleeves and make sure the armpits line up.

You need to press the seams in opposite directions with the top one going towards the sewing machine and the bottom one pointing towards you.

I know it is shifted a little bit, but I am trying to show the seams.

Use a 3/8" seam allowance. You may need to pivot a little bit at the armpit because the angle changes there. 

Next, the raw edges need to be finished. I use a serger or overlock machine. It goes so fast and does a really nice job. There is really only one trick to it. You see, when you get to the armpit it naturally bends a little.

Just go ahead and pull that straight as you are sewing. The overlock machine produces a stretch stitch, so it will be fine. If you don't straighten it and try to pivot it, chances are the cutter will leave knicks in the armpit.

Now, it needs an elastic casing for the neckline. I have found that the easiest way to do this is to fold it under 1/4"...

...and again about 1/2"...

...and just keep folding it as you sew. I like to use my presser foot as a guide. I keep my needle in the left position so the stitching is about 1/8" from the left edge of the fold. You need to leave room between the stitching and the right folded edge to insert 1/4" elastic so that gives it about 3/8".

IMPORTANT!! Make sure that all of the seams get pushed in the same direction. I feed them towards me as I am sewing so that they go to the right. If you don't it is a pain in the behind to push elastic through there. 

Also, leave an opening to thread the elastic through!

For the sleeves, you can leave them open and loose as we usually do, or you can make a casing just like the neckline on those and thread elastic. It is totally up to you. Here are some I did with elastic in the sleeves.

To hem the sleeves if not adding elastic, I just fold it under about 1/4" twice.

To hem the bottom, I fold it under about 1/2" twice.

I kind of wish I had topstitched where the two strips meet. I have done it that way before and it is a little nicer.

Last step! Put elastic into the casing at the neckline. We use 18" for the smaller dresses and 19" for the bigger ones.

Do yourself a favor and pin one end to the dress. It is so sad when the end of the elastic gets pulled into the casing. Put a pin on the other end and push it through the casing.

Now, I know there is a way to sew the elastic in while sewing the casing, but I thought it was a pain and we usually have helpers that are looking for non-sewing jobs to do.

Overlap the ends and use a zig zag stitch to hold them together.

Sew the opening closed.

TA DA!

I can sew one of these together in about 15-20 minutes, so they really are fast to make.

This tutorial is for personal, non-commercial, or charity use only. It would be great if you could make one of these or a pillowcase dress for Project Yesu. If that isn't possible, please consider donating just $10 towards the costs of transporting these dresses to Uganda.