Monday, January 28, 2013

Dresses for Mina

I'm pretty sure I might need an intervention at the rate I'm going. So far I have made two dresses and a coat for Mina this month. I made one dress out of an old pair of stretch Levi's that I wore during my pregnancy. The other dress was made out of two black tee shirts.

For the denim dress I used an existing dress to draft the bodice pattern.  I used it mainly for the shoulder slope and the armscye.  I made the waist a little bigger and I thought I made the skirt longer (more on that later.) I hadn't taken into account the fact that the "fabric" wasn't nearly as wide as the pattern pieces I had drafted for the skirt.  I pieced the front and back pieces and hid the seams in the pleating.

I had drawn a little sketch of the dress when I drafted Mina's coat pattern.  A little while later I found a very similar dress on the BabyGap website.  I made a few minor changes because I liked the BabyGap dress so much.
Mina in her finished dress!

She still isn't totally steady, hence the death grip on her arm.  She was wiggling all over.

Some things that I learned as I made the denim dress:
1. I should have continued the facing down the sides of the keyhole in the back.  I just folded over the seam allowance and top stitched.  It would have been a better idea to make an L shaped facing for the back and mitered the corners.  Oh well, live and learn.

2. The waistline was a little tricky to maneuver around when we put the dress on Mina.  Part of the issue might have been that James put a long sleeved onesie on Mina under her dress.  It was pretty trim to begin with so the extra layer wasn't helping.

3. You can't tell in the pictures but the skirt was a little short and the waist was a little long.

4. I don't own a serger so I need to finish the edges in another way.  The hem should have been roll hemmed and the seams should have been zig-zagged or finished in SOME way.

Round Two- Tee shirt dress

I wanted to remedy some of the problems with the denim dress and make another dress for Mina to wear to church.  I had two hand me down tee shirts that apart from being too short, they were in great condition.  I decided to branch out and make a knit dress for Mina.

My little sketch, a pin tucked bodice with long sleeves and gathered skirt.

I used the same bodice pattern and altered it to accommodate the detail in the front.

One of the tee shirts and some of the pattern pieces.
Cutting out the bodice...

I got the idea to sew the sleeves into the bodice at the armscye from Delia and her baby cardigan tutorial. It makes it so much easier to sew a tiny sleeve into a tiny arm hole!

The finished dress:

And this is the only picture I took of Mina wearing the dress, it's just a picture of her face.
And the lessons learned?

1. Knit is hard to sew without a serger.  I had to re-stitch several seams where the machine skipped.  It wasn't a massive problem but I was making a little dress so I guess it was proportional.

2. Knit doesn't really pleat that well.  I probably should have used a piece of lightweight interfacing on the front to give more structure for the pin tucks, it might have made them look neater.

3. The keyhole was pretty big. I will probably add another button to wrangle it in.

4. I sort of cheated a little with the hem and the cuffs.  I lined the pattern pieces up with the finished edge of the shirt so I didn't have to hem it!

And one final lesson:
I need to take an extra minute and use my camera to take pictures instead of my cellphone. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Coat construction

Once upon a time there was a sweater.  It was grey and made out of really soft wool.  The sweater went on an exciting adventure to Switzerland where it kept a fantastic missionary warm.  The sweater did not have an easy life, however, and it was subjected to the washing machine and the dryer.  This caused the sweater to shrink and become tight.  Luckily the sweater's owner hung on to the shrunken sweater and gave it to his wife.  She wore it through a horribly cold Logan winter and was kept very warm.  Stupidly, she washed it and dried it multiple times until it was too small even for her. Thankfully the life of the sweater was not over, it would find new life as a COAT.

Okay, the stupid story is over and here comes the fun stuff.

When I decided to make a coat for Mina I needed to decide what I wanted the final product to look like.  What features did I want it to have? Did I want a hood?  How about a collar?  Would it fit over her dresses for the cold walk to the church?  I had looked at numerous other coats for babies and kids so I was able to get an idea of what I wanted. The coat posts can be found HERE and HERE.

After I drew up a tiny sketch I took measurements and then I started patterning.
I used a 6 month onesie to get the shoulders and armscyes in the right place.  Mina currently wears a 3 month size so hopefully the coat will fit for a while.

After I finished the pattern I cut the pieces out of the sweater.  I realized later that I hadn't taken any pictures of that step.  I should have measured the sweater beforehand so I knew how full the skirt of the coat could have been.  It wasn't nearly as full as the pattern.  I was able to still have cute pleats in the front but the back pleats weren't as successful.

As I attached the peter pan collar I realized I didn't allow for the bulk of the collar at the neckline.  I used some of the ribbing from the sweater sleeves to fill in the gap.  I think it worked out pretty well!

This was after I attached the buttons and finished off the cuffs.  I am STILL getting used to the automatic button hole function on my BabyLock.  I wish I was better at it.  Just don't look too close at the button holes if you see the coat in real life.

I lined the coat with silk that was leftover from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at USU back in December of  2010. I painted 30 or something yards of silk and this was my test swatch.  I steam set it with the other painted pieces and kept it.  I figured the silk lining would keep Mina a lot warmer than the crappy polyester lining that usually comes in coats. I ran out of the Midsummer silk and subbed in a swatch from Avery's Cinderella dress.
I used the ribbing from around the bottom of the sweater as an earwarmer and bow for Mina's head.  I love that little girl so much!  (And the slightly creepy looking guy hiding behind her)

I added a bow to the back because bows are cool and because I messed up the center back mini pleat twice and didn't want to fix it again.  I heard it is just fine to put a bow on something that doesn't work.  Right?

Edit: I took some pictures of Mina with my camera.  Sometimes it works pretty well, sometimes it doesn't.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mina's stocking

I'm going to let the pictures mostly tell the story of Mina's stocking...

Never mind the crooked name, it's supposed to look handmade...right?

My Gramma Keller made my stocking almost 30 years ago!  I made James' stocking two years ago and Mina's was finished last week.