Friday, September 26, 2014

Hello and an Étage Dress

Hello you guys! Long time, no blog! My blogging goal at the beginning of the year was to get in at least one post a week and I was doing pretty well up until mid-August and now I've totally blown it. Oops.

I guess I just got busy and blogging didn't seem like the thing to do. I did some contract work on an exhibit, we had carpet put in our whole upstairs (which meant bringing everything that was up there down... and then back up... whew), I've been doing a little pattern testing, and I've been enjoying the gorgeous fall weather we've had this past week.

Etage Dress sewed by Dandelions and Lace, pattern by Sew Straight and Gather

Oh, did you catch the part about the pattern testing?? Because that's what I'm here to share with you today. I've been part of the team helping Terri from Sew Straight and Gather test out her new, almost-but-not quite-released pattern, the Étage Dress & Top.

And what a fun pattern! The dress has four cascading layers of flowy knit that is both dressy and casual and perfect for twirling!

Etage Dress sewed by Dandelions and Lace, pattern by Sew Straight and Gather

There are three sleeve options (half, short and no-sleeve) and the top option is just as adorable as the dress! I'll be sharing one of those shortly.

To top it off, Terri, the pattern designer, is super-sweet and such a perfectionist that she has gone back and made revisions to the pattern several times to make sure it is exactly as it should be. So, I can't give you a release date yet, because it is still being tweaked, but know that it will be worth the wait!

For my Étage, I used super-thin floral and striped knit from JoAnn for the bodice and bottom two tiers of the dress, then I used a thicker Ponte de Roma solid black knit for the lining and first tier. I think it turned out just adorable and my daughter loves wearing it! So comfy! Know that the pattern has gone through some slight revisions since this dress was made, but it will be very similar to this when it is finished.

Etage Dress sewed by Dandelions and Lace, pattern by Sew Straight and Gather

So cute!

Etage Dress sewed by Dandelions and Lace, pattern by Sew Straight and Gather

Be sure to check out Terri's shop in the coming weeks for the Étage's official release. You won't want to miss it! :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

reversible apple pinafore

It's back-to-school week in our neck of the woods (not here for a few years yet, thank goodness!). In honor of back-to-school and almost-September, I decided to sew my daughter an apple top.

tulip pinafore by too sweets, sewed by dandelions and lace

I used the Tulip Pinafore pattern by Too Sweets that I got awhile back in one of the Sew Fab pattern sales (told you I'm a sucker for pattern bundles!). It's a cute, basic top that I think she will get a lot of use out of.

Although I think the pattern is adorable, I wasn't a huge fan of the open back in real life, so I paired it with a white t-shirt and I think it looks even cuter. Kind of like a jumper. Oh man, jumpers... I was a school uniform kid, and just the thought of jumpers brings me back to milk cartons and pencil sharpeners and four square and crayons. And crossing our fingers during the first and the last weeks of school that it would be hot enough that the jumpers could come off and we could wear shorts for the rest of the day. Anyone else with me?

Anyway, back to the the present.

tulip pinafore by too sweets, sewed by dandelions and lace

I decided to make the pattern reversible by sewing two buttons back-to-back, one on each side of the top. It works great except that I didn't realize it would make the buttons so tight that the fabric would barely be able to slide under the button to close. It's alright, but next time I would try not to sew the buttons on so tight.

The pattern was pretty easy, but for some reason the construction of this top seemed a little harder and more complicated than it needed to be. I have sewed a couple other items that are rather similar but were much simpler to sew up, so if I use this pattern again, I might play around with it and see if there is another way.

I used dark-colored denim (above) for the first side. For interest I added a few apples cut from the lining fabric and attached with fusible webbing. I didn't stitch around them, so I am hoping they will hold up well in the wash.

tulip pinafore by too sweets, sewed by dandelions and lace

For the other side I used a colorful apple fabric I found at JoAnn appropriately called "Bright Appleseed."

There you have it. A new top and a little girl who is suddenly looking way too big for her own good. Someone please tell me where my baby went!

tulip pinafore by too sweets, sewed by dandelions and lace

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

hanami top

I decided to make my daughter a Hanami Top this week and it turned out too sweet. I got the pattern from Perfect Pattern Parcel awhile ago and have been wanting to try it out. (side note: pattern collection sales are one of my weaknesses... they are usually such a good deal that I just HAVE to buy them... then the patterns languish on my computer forever. I really need to try exercising a little restraint, because I'm way more likely to sew a pattern if I purchase it individually... but that's what I say every time, haha.) Anyway. The Hanami Dress & Top pattern by An at StraightGrain Patterns is the main reason I bought this particular bundle. It is just such a cute pattern.

hanami top by straightgrain patterns, sewed by dandelions and lace

I used Sunnyside by Cloud 9 Fabrics (purchased at JoAnn) for the bodice (it has kitties on it!!!) and some matching gray cotton for the sleeves. One of my favorite features of this pattern is the crossover back, so of course I had to sew that option (there is also an option for a zipper instead). I also chose the tulip flutter sleeves. The instructions were easy to follow and overall it was a pretty easy sew - very straightforward with no particularly tricky parts.

hanami top by straightgrain patterns, sewed by dandelions and lace

Love it! 

hanami top by straightgrain patterns, sewed by dandelions and lace

The only thing that bothers me a little is how much the skirt flounce sticks out. I think I might have to go back and iron down the seams better and possibly even stitch them down so that it lays a little more flat. I've even considered taking off the flounce and turning it into a dress instead - I think I have enough fabric for that... is that a good idea or would you leave it as is? Either way, I think it looks adorable on my little Miss!

hanami top by straightgrain patterns, sewed by dandelions and lace

Friday, August 8, 2014

whale lulu top

Long time no sew... eh?

Does anyone else have trouble getting back into gear when you've been away from your machine for awhile? I took two vacations so I've done hardly any sewing all summer and I'm having trouble getting inspired to start. I know as soon as I do everything will be great, but it's that initial foot-to-the-pedal action that is evading me.

Anyway... I missed this season's Kid's Clothes Week because I was on the vacation I shared with you last week. Like, literally, I was gone for the same exact days that Kid's Clothes Week was running this summer. Bummer. But I sewed up a cute top for my daughter before my Iowa trip (in anticipation of KCW!) and still haven't shared it yet, so I thought I would today.

It's a Lulu Top by Craftiness is Not Optional. This is a fun pattern because it allows you to mix knit and woven fabrics for combos that you wouldn't normally use.

I sewed the top length (rather than the dress length like I did with my first Lulu) partly because I didn't have enough cute whale fabric for a dress and partly because my darling girl is STILL NOT WALKING. Yes. She'll be 18 months in a couple weeks so I'm really starting to get antsy. I want to make her some dresses, dangit! Plus, even though I'm pretty sure there's nothing wrong with her besides the fact that she's just taking her own sweet time (she's taken a couple steps in the last few days), if she's not walking by her 18-month appointment, we might have to see a specialist. Sooooo... if you have any tips or tricks, please let me know, haha.

Anyway, she LOVES her whale shirt and wants to wear it all the time. Both the whale quilting fabric and the fushia knit came from the JoAnn Fabrics remnant bin. 50% off, baby!

I do love this pattern because it is so comfy to wear and easy to make, but both times I've had a little trouble with the collar... the pattern explains how to create bias tape from a piece of knit and sandwich the collar in between the folded bias tape to sew. Sounds simple enough but I'm having a heck of a time getting it to catch all the layers and look neat and tidy. It may just be a case of practice makes perfect, but if you have any tips here I'd welcome them as well!

I have some more things in the works, just have to figure out how to get my butt back in gear! :)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

road trip

My husband, daughter and I just got back from an epic road trip through the Southeast. Not only did we visit/drive through a whopping FIVE states that I've never been to before (Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida), we saw lots of amazing things and places in the process. Truly memories we will have for a lifetime.

Our trip started with a drive to Birmingham, Alabama, where we visited the Barber Motorsports Museum (for my husband!). I'm not really too into motorcycles, but the museum itself was amazing with ramps, a glass elevator and hundreds of beautifully displayed motorcycles. Like an art museum for motorcycles, actually.

Next we drove on to Asheville, North Carolina for a few days. We spent the first morning at the Wheels Through Time Museum (also a motorcycle museum... see a pattern here??) in Maggie Valley, NC. This was a completely different experience as the bikes were mainly left in their original state and displayed in a much more casual way.

The next day was our anniversary and we spent it touring the Biltmore Estate, built by George Vanderbilt starting in 1889. The estate is massive, spanning over 8,000 acres, and the house itself is like a castle. I especially loved touring the servants' kitchens and quarters in the basement of the house. My daughter loved seeing the chickens and goats in the farmyard at Antler Hill Village on the estate. We tasted Biltmore Vanilla ice cream and walked through the expansive gardens. If you ever visit, plan to spend most of the day, because this place is huge!

That night we had an amazing southern-inspired anniversary meal at the Tupelo Honey Cafe. Delish. I had the special Rosemary Peach Lemonade - strange at first but interesting and tasty!

Then we drove on to Jekyll Island, Georgia to spend some time on the beach. I must say, I was looking forward to this part of the trip the most, and it didn't disappoint. The beaches were gorgeous and the island is rather remote and isolated so there are very few other people around - this was my favorite part and I really wanted to experience a beach in as natural and untouched a state as possible, but my husband thought it was maybe a little too isolated because there were very few food/shopping/attraction options on the island (and this from the man who hates crowds with a passion!).

Anyway, we walked the beaches many times looking for seashells. This might be my most favorite thing to do ever. In my next life I will live on a beach. Or maybe sometime in this life, if I'm lucky. Baby girl loved the beach too (except for one afternoon we went out when it was too hot - she wasn't ok with that) and loved feeling the sand and the water. Twice in the evenings she even fell asleep in the baby carrier on my back to the sound of the waves. It was so sweet to feel her nuzzle her face into my back.

We walked through the historic district, saw the ruins of a house from the 1700s, saw the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, visited the Jekyll Island Museum and learned the history of the island (site of the first transcontinental phone call and the first meeting of the Federal Reserve!). We visited the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and were lucky enough to see a rehabilitated loggerhead turtle released back into the ocean. 


On our final day, we took a short drive over to St. Simon's Island and climbed the 129 steps to the top of the lighthouse. It's definitely more work with a 28-pound child strapped to your back but the views were gorgeous!!

Finally, we had to say goodbye to the sand and head home. After a grueling 2-day drive, we arrived to a 103 F day, and a hot house. The air conditioner wasn't running and it wouldn't turn on either. How's that for a warm welcome?  Luckily, the AC has been fixed and we are settling back into our home routine. As always, it feels good to be home and sleep in our own beds, but it's a bit sad to think that the vacation we have planned for and looked forward to for so long is over. It's always a little bittersweet.

Have you planned or taken any trips this summer? Where to? Or where do you wish you could go?

Friday, July 11, 2014

the best of times

I've been a little scarce around these parts lately, but that's because I've been on the most wonderful vacation. I just got back from spending two glorious weeks with my amazing family in the Midwest. Spending time with my parents, my sisters and even friends and extended family that I haven't seen in years was just what the doctor ordered. 

Other highlights included playing in the pool, swinging at the park, attending a family wedding, visiting a farm, playing with awesome "vintage" toys, and spending lots and lots of time with the people who mean the most to us. Thank you so much, Mom and Dad, for making this trip so perfect! We love you!