Thursday, June 27, 2013

Google Friends Connect Out and Bloglovin' In!

Hi Everyone!

Just a friendly reminder that if you are following us using Google Friends Connect, it's time to make a switch!  As you may already know, Google Reader and Google Friends Connect are going away at the end of the month.  This means that all of your blog subscriptions (not just ours, but ALL of them) will be lost- UNLESS you switch to either Bloglovin' or Feedly.  There may be others out there, but these are the two I've heard the most buzz about.  I've personally switched to Bloglovin' and have been very happy with it.  It only take a moment to sign up, and they will automatically transfer ALL of your blog subscriptions from GFC to your new Bloglovin' account.  You can sign up to receive an email once a day that contains all the new blog posts for that day.  Plus you can arrange your blog subscriptions into different categories (who doesn't love to be organized?!)  You can follow us on Bloglovin' by clicking on the button below.  If you don't already have an account, it will help you get set up in no time at all! 

Y'all have a great day!!

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sew and Tell with the Miss Lily Dress


Do you love sewing up sweet little dresses your daughter can show off at church?  Ha, I do!  The ladies at church love to "ooohhh" and "aaahhh" over my daughter in her mommy made creations, and I eat it up, lol!  We're featuring a pattern today that will be sure to turn heads and create a fuss wherever you are ;)  And it's 25% off on the website until June 30th, 2013!

This is the Miss Lily Dress from The Handmade Dress.  It comes in sizes 6m- 4T or 5T- 10 years (sold separately).  The bodice is a peasant-style top, the skirt has a bubble hemline, and there is a sewn-on ribbon sash.  Reading through the pattern, I was super impressed at how detailed the directions are.  There are only 14 pages total including the pattern pieces.  Each step is numbered and accompanied by an easy to understand colored illustration.  And if you happen to drop your binder of PDF patterns, and they all fall to the floor in one big mess, don't fear- each page is numbered and all the pattern pieces are labeled  :)  A size chart is included so you can measure your child and decide on the perfect fit.  Samantha (the fabulous designer) also includes tons of tips and tricks to make this project, as well as others, a breeze!  My favorite part of the pattern is the one-page Quick Reference Guide that gives you a condensed, yet surprisingly thorough, run-down of the entire it!!! 
As I mentioned above, this would be such a beautiful "Sunday Best" dress, but would also look great in a variety of other situations.  In all white, with a colored ribbon sash, it would be a beautiful flower girl dress or Easter dress.  In a beautiful red taffeta, this would make a stunning Christmas dress (just add a bolero).  Wear it for photo shoots, kindergarten graduation... anytime your little one needs a special dress!  The bubble hemline gives the skirt a lot of body and creates a more "fancy" feel!
This is what our reviewer, Heather B. of MimiLove Boutique, thought of the Miss Lily!
My name is Heather, and I have enjoyed sewing for as long as I can remember.  I handsewed a lot of things when I was just 7 or 8 years old, and most memorably, sewed a pillow for my sister who was born when I was nine, which resulted in it being her favorite "security blanket" so I was constantly doing repairs to it.  I even hand embroidered her name on it and trimmed it with lace :)  It was only the last couple of years, when that same little sister gave me a niece, that I ventured into the world of boutique clothing.  I was determined she would have the cutest wardrobe around!!
 Today I am reviewing The Handmade Dress's "Miss Lily Dress" in size 6m - 4T.  I chose to make it a size 2, for my niece's Easter dress.  As I always do with a new pattern, I followed it exactly.  I feel like this gives me a chance to "get to know" the pattern better, actually see what I like or dislike about it, and what I would want to do differently the next time.  The only thing I think I would do differently on this pattern is create a sash made from coordinating/contrasting fabric, as I'm not a big fan of the ribbon.  I also think that because the bodice of the dress seems quite roomy, I may try shirring it next time for a slightly different look and fit.
The instructions are very clear, and the illustration guide is very helpful when you get into construction of the skirt (and bubble skirts have always confused me, so this really helped to keep me on track)!  I also loved the quick reference guide - I wish all patterns came with this, it will be so simple to put this dress together in the future with this Quick Reference Guide.
Overall, I was very pleased with this pattern and how the dress turned out.  My niece loves it and so does her mom.  I used a pink and white damask fabric for the full dress and a cute light blue ribbon with pink owls on it.  For the underskirt (not visible) I used a light grey, lightweight broadcloth.  I recommend doing this, so you're not using your designer fabric in an area that won't be seen.
I would recommend this pattern, especially to anyone that is intimidated by the bubble skirt - this pattern makes it SO easy, and it turns out just as cute as you hope it will!
That turned out so pretty, Heather!  It made a gorgeous Easter dress!  Didn't her niece look like she loved it, too?  Doesn't matter how cute a dress is, if your little one won't wear it ;) 
Let's Pair it Up now!  This week, we'll take a look at a few of my other favorite bubble styles that are a bit more casual, but just as irresistible!
The Poppy Bubble Tank Tunic from LilyGiggle is a really fun way to wear a bubble hemline- on top!  This knit tunic is a great way to recycle old T-shirts, or use some of those pretty knits sitting in your stash!  It's really easy to embellish the bodice with the sassy ruffles by following the directions provided in the pattern.  The result is an awesome girly top that's perfect for all your summertime activities!  You can make this pattern in sizes 12m- 7 years.
If a bubble skirt is more your style, the Sadie Bubble Skirt from Hadley Grace Designs is a great choice!  It comes in a huge size range- from NB- 14 years.  Plus, this is a skirt that you can dress up or down by changing up your fabric choices.  It looks just as adorable as an everyday skirt in cottons as it does as a dressy skirt in satin!  Plus, it looks really cute paired with leggings for added modesty and/or warmth when the air starts to turn cool. 
Hope you all enjoy your week!  Don't forget to purchase your Miss Lily pattern right now for 25% off!  Be sure to choose the correct size you need for your little one since there are two versions available! 
Go sew something magical!!   

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sew and Tell with the Ava Knot Dress

Knot dresses are one of the most beloved styles for little girls to wear.  They're cute, versatile, and easy to make!  Whether you wear it in the summer with some cute sandals or in the winter layered over a long-sleeved tee, leggings, and boots this is a great design that you'll want to make over and over again! 
The Ava Knot Dress from Pink Poodle Bows is a beautiful sewing pattern that is available in sizes 6m- Girls 12.  The optional apron front gives just a hint of vintage charm, while also providing a fun contrast of fabric.  The fabric combination possibilities are endless... Every piece can be a separate print for a really fun and unique dress, or you can mix and match just 2 or 3 prints to keep it clean and understated.  Sometimes simple can be more  :)  The fit tends to be very forgiving on dresses with the knot straps because you decide where on the strap to make the knot.  There isn't any worrying about whether your button placement is a tad off with the possibility of making the dress sit too far down on the chest.  Just make your knot higher on the strap to make the dress sit higher. 
Apron dresses allow you to really get creative!  I've been quite surprised at some amazing things women have done with their aprons.  You can showcase a unique panel, add decorative trim, use applique/embroidery, make it patchwork, sew on fabric flowers or other embellishment... just have fun!!  My favorite part of sewing is being able to put my own creative spin on a project, and an apron dress gives you a great blank canvas to work with! 
Here's a review sent in to us by Julia T. 
I decided to make the Ava Knot Dress from Pink Poodle Bows for your review.  I thought it was a super cute pattern and would look adorable on my 18 month old granddaughter!  I've been sewing since I took Home Ec. in junior high, so I've been sewing 45 years.  I can make most anything, but really enjoy sewing for children.  When my son and daughter were small I made most of their clothes.  We would just go to the local store - they would tell me what they liked, and I would duplicate!!!!!!!!!  That was much cheaper, plus they had original designs that no one else would be wearing.
The Ava Knot Dress is so cute and simple!  You would definitely need some sewing experience, but with some help most anyone could make this little dress.  It took about an hour to cut out (including tracing the reusable pattern pieces) and about 2 hours and 15 minutes to sew from start to finish!  I read through the instructions, and they were clear and concise, but I usually batch sew and just used them as a guide.  I used a combination of dancing teapots fabric and Williamsburg blue microcheck gingham.  I chose to interface the bodice to make it a little "crisper" looking!  The gingham is such a lightweight fabric I felt it needed the body!  (Especially for the buttonholes.)  I also chose to topstitch the garment which makes it look less "homemade".  I did not add one, but definitely think a fabric sash or bow would add to the back of the dress.  The apron on the front is a cute accent for that side!  I would definitely recommend this pattern to everyone who sews!  It looks adorable on and sews up quickly.  I believe it will be a cool addition for my granddaughter's summer dress wardrobe!
I just love blue on a baby girl  :)  So precious!  I adore the first photo where she is waving to us, haha! 
If you want to sew up one yourself, grab a few coordinating prints and get the pattern here for 25% off right now!  We'll have it on sale for about a week, so make sure you get your copy while it's at this great price!  We're also pleased to tell you this pattern comes with both pattern pieces and fabric measuring charts, so you can cut out your pieces whichever way you prefer.  This would be a great pattern to use for a patriotic 4th of July outfit! 
For our Pair it Up feature, let's take a look at a few of our other favorite Ava patterns! 
Every little girl needs a cute little pleated skirt.  This is the Ava Pleated Skirt from Hadley Grace Designs.  It comes in sizes NB- Girls 14.  That's an excellent size range for the price!  These are so cute paired with appliqued t-shirts or embellished tanks.  Another great pattern that you'll find lots of uses for throughout the seasons! 
You can never have too many tote bags, especially when they are as gorgeous as this one!  The Ava Rose Tote from Artsy-Crafty Babe is as functional as it is pretty!  You can even make it reversible!  Use it as a purse, diaper bag, to carry papers and grade books back and forth from school, carry it to the pool... we know you'll be able to find a use for it! 
Hope you all have a wonderful week!  Go sew something magical!!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sew and Tell with Charlotte's Dress

Happy Friday to all you out there!  We're celebrating my son's 6th birthday this weekend, so we should be having oodles and oodles of fun as all 30-something members of our family converge on our house.  I actually do like to get together with our families.  They're a fun bunch ;) 
Even though we'll be having an outdoor pirate-themed water party, I still wanted to sew up my daughter a new pirate-inspired dress.  Then I realized how silly that would be.  She'll be in a bathing suit.  I've got the cutest pirate fabric, and Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop's Perfect Peasant Dress was calling my name... but, alas, that will have to be for another time and place. 
If you are lucky enough to have a fancier party (or photo shoot, holiday, church, special event) to sew for than I did, may I suggest Charlotte's Dress from Olabelhe Patterns?  This is such a classic and feminine style that will flatter any little girl!  The bow at the waist gives it just the right touch of charm, while the full double skirt (with a crinoline underskirt) give this dress a graceful fullness with beautiful movement!  Everything Olabelhe designs is golden in my book!  Every little girl needs a dress like this hanging in her closet!  So many opportunities for embellishment mean that you'll get plenty of use from this pattern.  How cute would it be to add a ruffle where the contrasting fabric bands are or to change it up and attach a fabric flower instead of a bow?  I adore patterns that allow for personal creativity so you can truly make the design your own!  Charlotte's Dress comes in sizes 3- 12.  Want to add this pattern to your stash?  You can get it for 25% off right now on the website
But before you head off to purchase, read the review sent in by LisaAnn!
I've learned to sew entirely by myself by trial and error and a few good books.   When my first daughter was born after my first three boys I just HAD to have some girly updates to all that boy stuff ;)  That was several years ago, and I consider myself to be average at the skill of garment sewing.

The beautiful grey/cream sample on the cover of the pattern caught both my eye and those of my two youngest daughters.  We went fabric shopping and they wanted the same colors, but we ended up with something much brighter that suits them.  The fabrics are mid-weight cottons-  Easter Crosses Tonal White by Eggscelent Prints Fabric, which is bright white small crosses (about an inch high) on a duller white background for the main dress and He Is Risen from Holiday Inspirations, which is a bright yet deep purple with small (about 2 inch) stained glass designs of doves and hearts in light blue/grey/white and the words "He Is Risen" and "Alleluia" in white for the contrasting bands and bow.  The crinoline (underskirt) was plain white broadcloth and fine white tulle with light glitter.

The pattern came with the bodice pieces printed which took only moments to cut out in my size 10 as needed for both girls.  I then covered the pattern with clear packing tape for stability and durability as I see myself using this many more times.  I pinned it to the correct layers of fabric (I cut out both bodices at the same time), making sure to put the fold edge on the proper folded edge of the fabric for the fronts.  The skirts were a matter of cutting rectangles of fabric in the correct dimensions on the correct fabrics.  I urge you to please be sure your directional prints are lined up correctly before cutting!  I cut out all of the skirts and folded/stacked/labeled them as well as the bodices in less than 30 minutes.  Then I moved on to the banding strips which took another 10 minutes.  I stacked/folded/labeled those as well.  As a note- I ended up needing two more strips of each row of banding for the completed project.  I don't know for sure if it was a pattern issue or a problem with my measurements, but I was about 15" short for each row. You may want to cut extra just to be sure.  I made matching headbands out of extra strips as well :)
This pattern is not terribly difficult for even a beginning seamstress.  The most difficult part is the gathering of the skirts, but the author has even included a nice diagram of the correct way to do this. The only other suggestion I have on that is to pin the four center quadrants first (like N,S,E,W on a compass) then pin in between each of those, THEN do the gathering technique. This will keep things evenly spaced around the skirt and make it much more manageable in general.  I was glad I knew about this beforehand, or it could have been frustrating to get it all even.
Sizing on the pattern is pretty close to average store sizing, but runs a bit larger, especially around the waist.  You may want to try it on and adjust before the final assembly.  The dresses for my girls are both a little larger in the bodice than I prefer, but they fit the way the girls like it- loose and comfortable, which also gives them growing room.  If we were doing this for an event like a wedding I would make a size smaller to have a more snug fit.
Although my daughters both wear a size 10, one has longer legs and other is a bit shorter so I adjusted the skirt lengths accordingly.  That is an easy way to customize and change up this dress so you can make several different looks with the one pattern. 
I used a half inch sized crystal button, and the size 10 needed four of them for good spacing.  I don't have the cool, fancy ruler shown in the pattern so just measured the bodice length and divided by four then spaced them accordingly.  You could easily use different sized buttons and adjust the count as needed. That is another great way to customize the dress.
Overall we all love the dresses made from this pattern, and it was easy enough to make that I am willing to make several more in other fabrics for their summer wardrobes.  They received many, many compliments on the dresses at Easter church service.  I can't wait to see what other looks we make from this pattern!  
 So elegant!  If that's not a perfect Easter dress, I don't know what is!  What beautiful girls we have modeling for us, too!

To go with our party theme today, our Pair it Up feature will showcase some tea party necessities :)

This AWESOME pattern collection from The Sewing Loft contains a pillowcase apron, felt doughnuts, and sugar cookies!  Everything your little princess needs to host her own tea party (except her tea set, of course!)  Make her apron as dainty and whimsical as she likes!  Her "guests" will adore those scrumptious treats she has prepared.  All of these individual patterns are included in the Tea Party Collection.

 If you want to add some variety to her tea party menu, take a look at the Petitfore Pincushions from Indygo Junction.  These deliciously sweet pincushions look good enough to eat!  Make a few for her to use at playtime and whip up a few for yourself to decorate your sewing table with ;)  These are perfect for pincushion exchanges or just anytime you want to create something unique! 

Hurry over to the website and get your copy of Charlotte's Dress while it's on sale!  This gorgeous pattern is worth every penny!  Y'all have a great weekend!

Go sew something magical!!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

For all you out there having a rough day of sewing...

If you're like me, some days you just can't catch a break in your sewing room.  Something that should only take an hour to do turns into a "staying up past midnight, where has the time gone, dear goodness why can't I just be done with this" ordeal.  So for all of you out there with machines that don't want to cooperate today (because it's never our fault, right??), this one's for you!!
My dear friend went into labor a few weeks early, so I was caught without a gift to take to with me to the hospital.  I received word baby Lily had arrived about 6 PM on Saturday night, and we had arranged to go visit them on Sunday after church.  So about 6:15 I sat down and decided what I wanted to make her.  I choose to do a quick and easy (heh, heh) bib and burp cloth set.  I've got an embroidery machine and about 500 applique designs I've hardly touched, so I browsed through my library and found this pretty little frame from Lynnie Pinnie...
... and fell in love like it were the first time I was seeing it all over again.  So I decided to pair it with a pink and white seersucker fabric I had on hand and a pretty floral ribbon I had found at Wal-Mart a while back.  Then I spent the next 45 minutes painstakingly searching through my extensive embroidery thread stash to perfectly match up the thread colors to the flowers in the ribbon, because I'm that OCD. 
After all this prep work I've inflicted upon myself, I start stitching the bib.  And it looks A-MAZ-ING!  I keep calling to my husband to come look at it while it's stitching on the machine, and he keeps giving me the sideways glance coupled with an "mmhhhmm" like he could care less.  But I'm just beyond giddy to give my friend this gift the next day, so I let it slide, haha.  Everything is going well, so I decide to go ahead and cut out the fabric for the burp cloth and get started on it.  If I only knew then what I know now....
Once the bib was finished stitching, I took it off the machine and admired my work for the next 5 minutes.  At this point, my husband decides to go to bed and asks when I'll be heading that way.  "Oh, soon!" I tell him.  "Just need to stitch the design on the burp cloth."  I've already done the hard part of picking the design, thread, fabric, etc.  So then I go to take the bib off the frame so I can now stitch the burp cloth.  But what do I find?!  Since I wasn't paying attention to the bib anymore, part of the neck piece somehow got tucked up under the hoop and was being stitched to the back of the bib.  I can't even get the bib off the hoop because of the way it was stitched on.  Holy moly you've got to be kidding me!! 
At this point it is 11 PM.  I think to myself, it's ok, I'll just take out those stitches that are connecting the two pieces together, and then I'll just re-stitch that section.  So I get my trusty seam-ripper, and get to work.  After 45 minutes of this (bibs are hard to take stitches out of since there is a looped pile), I realize that somehow there are stitches under the neck piece, too.  I don't even know how to describe it, but there were tons that needed to be taken out.  I may have shed a tear or two.  After another 20 minutes of picking stitches, I realized I was making a big hole.  There was no saving it now.  So basically, the last 5 hours of my life had been in vain.  I had to cut the dang thing off the frame. 
Now at this point, I'm really tired.  Absolutely have to go to bed.  Have no gift to take to my friend.  Am started to freak out because I don't even have another white bib to use (thankfully I did find one the next day).  Am furious that I spent so much time on something that is going in the trash.  And feel defeated.  Did I really just waste that much time on something whose sole purpose is to clean spit-up, just to throw it away?!?  Time for bed. 
But, the bright side to this tale of woe is that on Monday I was able to finish up this pretty little set, and I am in love with it!  Haven't been able to see my friend again yet (trying to give her some space that I always appreciated/needed after bringing a baby home), but I think she's going to love it, too! 
So moral of the story is that if you know your embroidery machine is out to get you the first second you take your eyes off of it, then don't take your eyes off of it.  Other take-home points are that everyone has bad sewing days, so don't feel like the lone ranger, and it's really just best to sew during the day when you aren't tired and prone to making mistakes.  Hope my story helps someone having a bad sewing-day feel a little better.  And remember, a bad day sewing is better than a good day not sewing!
So go sew something magical!