When Isabel was little Rosalie and I used to come up with elaborate projects to celebrate her birthday. There were treasure hunts and fancy cakes. One year we tried to make a maze from our bedroom door to the kitchen by hanging sheets from the ceiling (that was not our most successful project – it’s hard to stick a sheet to the ceiling). But the year she remembers most fondly, the one she still talks about today, was when we played princess with her for the entire day.
This weekend she asked us to recreate that favorite childhood memory with her. Sadly she started feeling sick soon after she completed her costume and had to go lie down, so you won’t get to see her pink and white princess outfit. But I took pictures of me and Rosie.
My top is knit from this pattern.
I spent the weekend working on two of these long white dresses with double layered ruffled skirts. The fabric is beautiful and I enjoy working with it, but I hemmed nearly 12 yards and gathered even more this weekend and the dresses still aren’t done. I’ll dream of endless white dotted swiss tonight.
The closure on this dress is a bit complicated. I had five beautiful buttons I wanted to show off – just enough for the top of a dress. But the buttons run out at my waist as the skirt begins, which wouldn’t leave enough of an opening to get into the dress. I fixed this problem by having the front pleat snap shut. I sewed up a little bit at each fold just to help it lie flat, but the pleat is mostly open when the snaps are undone, leaving plenty of room to get into the dress. Then I snap up each edge of the pleat and cover it with a belt, and it looks like an ordinary box pleat.
I thought this shirt was easy to make, but it doesn’t compare to the one I made for Isabel this weekend. She started describing a shirt she’d seen: square, slightly cropped, very drapey. I asked her to draw a picture and she drew a rectangle. Yes, I can do that.
We found the drapiest fabric in the house, a fairly loose knit left over from Rosie’s weekend project. I measured her, cut out two rectangles, sewed up the sides and shoulders, cut out the neckline, and 10 minutes after she asked for it, she had a new top.
To make your own you will need half a yard of drapey knit fabric (a bit more if you want it longer). Avoid fabric that is in any way stiff or you’ll end up with a boxy shapeless shirt.
Decide where you want the sleeves to come to. Holding your arms straight out, measure from one sleeve edge to the other. This will be the width of your rectangle. Measure from the top of your shoulder to the point where you want the shirt to end. This will be the height of your rectangle. Cut out two rectangles as long as the sleeve to sleeve measurement and as tall as the shoulder to hem measurement.
Put the two rectangles together with the right sides of the fabric facing each other. Using a slight zigzag stitch (so the seams will be stretchy like the fabric), sew half way up each side and all the way along the top. Cut out a neck hole in the top. I cut a boat neck, but any sort of neckline would work.
Over the weekend I made a longer, tunic version of my favorite shirt.
Isabel and I went outside to take some pictures after dinner. It was really too dark to take pictures and most of them turned out blurry. But the city lights make such a pretty backdrop.
The dress came from Isabel’s trip to Thrift Town last week. It started out much too big, but she liked the cut out in the back, so she took it in along all of the many seams.
Saturday afternoon I came back from dance class to discover my sisters had been so inspired by my outfit they had put on the same colors (they claim it was a coincidence, but I know better). Rosie made the shirt she’s wearing from my tutorial, and reports that it took about 40 minutes. She traced a shirt that fits well up to the armpits and used my approach for the sleeves and cowl neck. Isabel and I took advantage of the chance to wear each other’s clothes – she is wearing a skirt I made (tutorial here), and I’m wearing one she brought back from Vietnam.
This top was my birthday present to Rosalie. It’s a bit summery for our current weather, but she was nice enough to model it for me outdoors anyway.
To make this top I used 1 yard of the dotted fabric, about half a yard of lining fabric, a 9″ zipper, and 33 inches of ribbon (an inch more than enough to go around her ribcage). The pieces of the pattern are:
Cut the straps of the front longer than you need to leave room for tying. It is easy to shorten them once you’ve put the knots in and can measure accurately. The skirt should be a bit bigger than the person wearing it so it hangs away from the body (I made Rosie’s about 8 inches larger than her: 4 in front, 4 in back).
To put it together, gather the bodice and its lining at the bust. Sew the bodice to its lining and turn right side out. Knot the straps. Measure and cut straps to the right length. Pin the straps to the back. Sew the back to its lining, catching the straps in this seam. Sew up one side of the bodice. Sew up the same side of the skirt and gather along the top. Sew this gathered top seam to the bottom edge of the bust. Add zipper to the open side and sew up the rest of the seam. Hem the bottom of the skirt.
If I left something out, or you’re wondering what that unlabeled piece on the left of my sketch is (it’s the back of the top), please ask!
My sister Isabel is home from college! Just about the first thing she did on getting home was go to Thrift Town with her friends, where she found this dress. After chopping off about half the skirt, she’s quite happy with it.
This coat was beautiful in my head, in the sketch, and even half sewn. But when I finally put it all together it didn’t look right. Continue reading