A Denim Dress for the Birthday Girl!

Just a couple more weeks left to go before Baby Serrentino makes his appearance!! Jose and I have been making the finishing touches on the nursery, washing baby clothes, and putting together all the baby gear. It’s all becoming more and more real!! Tomorrow will be the last day at my office job before my “new” job starts – mommy hood. :) I’ll still be working on my masters part-time, but other than that my new job description will read “stay at home mom”. I’m equally nervous and excited for the transition. It’s hard to know what to expect at this point, but I feel like we are ready, nonetheless.

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I’ve been working on sewing up several things for the nursery, but I’m not quite done with everything just yet (hopefully the baby doesn’t inherit my tendency to procrastinate!). Everything’s coming together, though, and if he can hold off arriving until his due date then I’m sure I’ll have things finished up and ready to show off here on the blog when I’m done.

Anyway, last month my baby niece Kelsey turned one year old, and I decided at the last minute to make her a birthday dress for the occasion. :) I first came across Made by Rae patterns when I found out I was expecting, and I just fell in love with her designs! I really like how many of the patterns come with multiple variations – it’s easy to tweak her pieces to work for a variety of age groups and seasons throughout the year, depending on which fabric you use.

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Here are all the details about the dress:

Pattern: Geranium Dress by Made by Rae patterns (Version A, dress with flutter sleeves)

Fabric: Dress made from leftover cotton / linen chambray from my fabric stash (I believe this is a Robert Kaufman chambray, similar to this). The lining is made from a teeny piece of Liberty Tana Lawn, also leftover from another project. :)

Time Spent: From cutting out the pattern to hand-sewing the snaps, I’d say about half a day, plus an extra evening finishing up the hem and snaps. This was my first time making any type of kid’s clothing, and – like other sewing bloggers out there have mentioned – I was surprised at how quick and easy the whole thing came together!

Overall Thoughts about the Pattern: The pattern is labeled as “intermediate”, though I think it’s safe to say that anyone who has any experience in making a lined garment should be fine with this pattern (maybe “advanced beginner”?). I think the hardest part was, because the dress was so tiny, I didn’t have a lot of room to sort of smooth out any mistakes like I would with a larger garment. The sleeves were a bit tricky, but again, I think it’s because I was gathering something that was so TINY, that it made things a little hard. The instructions are fairly clear, although maybe not as clear as some other patterns out there, like from Colette or Sewaholic. Again, not really a problem since I’ve had some experience with lining and gathering – I sort of knew what to expect. :)

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The pattern calls for either button or snap closures in the back, and I originally wanted to use buttons before I realized I didn’t have the right foot for my sewing machine. So I went with snaps, instead, which were fine – although I think the dress would have been much cuter with little buttons on there. Oh well, it ended up working out, and now I know that I need to buy that particular sewing foot before I try anything else with buttons.

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All in all, I love how the dress turned out!! I can’t believe I haven’t tried making any baby clothes before – they really are so quick to make, and take very little fabric at all. I don’t think I’ll be making TONS of clothes for our little one – unfortunately, the opportunity cost of time + money spent on making clothes doesn’t outweigh the cost of just buying baby clothes on sale at the store. BUT I have realized that I can make simple basics in a couple of hours with just some remnants of fabric, which will be fun. :)

Finally, here are some shots of little Miss Kelsey modeling the dress herself!! The color of the dress is a little brighter here, but I love how the denim fabric makes her blue eyes pop!! Isn’t she gorgeous? My sister-in-law took these shots in Birmingham, and had wanted for Kelsey to model in the fallen leaves on the ground. But Kelsey kept reaching for her pacifier the whole time, and they ended up taking the pictures in the driveway. :P That last picture is just so cute. Her paci = pure happiness!! Hehehehe…

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A Baby Shower Saltspring Dress

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The time has flown by since my last post! I’m currently 32 weeks pregnant, but these pictures were taken last month at 29 weeks. At the time I thought my belly couldn’t have gotten any bigger, but now looking back, I realize how much I’ve grown since then. Let’s just say I no longer wake up in the morning and forget that there’s a baby inside my stomach. ;)

So September was a pretty busy month for us. It always starts out kind of busy – we both celebrate our birthdays that first week of September, and then of course football season keeps us busy watching games on the weekend. ;) But this year, we were also lucky to have so many friends, family, and co-workers who wanted to throw us a baby shower – that we ended up having 3 showers in row those last weeks of September. They were all so special to us, and made the whole experience feel a lot more REAL. Not to mention, having so many events lined up helped us forget about all this waiting around for the due date. ;)

I knew I wanted to make at least one of my shower dresses, and the Sewaholic Saltspring dress was a logical go-to pattern for the occasion. It’s loose and flow-y, and didn’t take too much thinking in terms of changing up the pattern to fit my growing bump. I ended up wearing this dress to my office baby shower, and styled it with a navy cardigan and thin braided belt (not pictured).

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Here are the details about this dress:

Pattern: Sewaholic Saltspring dress, maxi version with double strap variation (tied in the back)

Fabric: Light rayon challis, with a beautiful drape (the exact fabric is Valori Wells Peony in Gold –  you can find it on sale here!)

Changes / Alterations:

  • I cut a size 10 bodice, and size 16 skirt in order to allow for plenty of ease around the belly.
  • I shortened the bodice pieces (4″ off of bodice, and 3″ off of bodice lining) in order to create less of a “blousing effect” on the top. I’ve come to realize with maternity wear, I prefer for at least part of the outfit to be more fitted in order to show off the bump (and also because I want people to know that I’m pregnant, and not simply choosing to dress in a tent for 9 months). :P
  • In addition to shortening the bodice for less blousing, I raised the waistline another 3″.
  • Lowered armholes by 1/2″.
  • Swayback adjustment on skirt back by 3/8″.

Tutorials Used: I followed along with all the posts from the Saltspring Sewalong. Even though I probably could have survived without them, I just love how these Sewalong posts take the mystery out of any steps that may seem vague in the pattern instructions (in this case, inserting the elastic or sewing in the zipper). I still consider myself to be a beginner sewist, and would definitely recommend anyone else who is new to garment sewing to check out the other Sewalongs that are available on Tasia’s website. I live in sort of a remote area of Texas, and there aren’t many places around town that offer classes on specific sewing patterns (like classes I’ve seen offered in LA, Nashville, Austin, etc.). I consider these Sewalongs to be the next best thing to having a teacher at my side, walking me through step-by-step of a pattern.

I also used Tasia’s tutorial on a hand-picked zipper, which I’ve written about and used before, but I always like to have it open each time I sew one in, just in case I forget anything. :)

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Overall Thoughts: Overall, I think this dress was perfect for the occasion! I felt both beautiful and comfortable wearing the dress, which I think is the goal for any momma-to-be when getting dressed in the morning. :)

I was afraid the fabric might be a little see-through in the skirt, but because it’s gathered it really wasn’t a problem at all (although I would recommend wearing nude-colored underthings if you make anything with this fabric – you can see the dark dress form is showing through in the picture above).

If I had to pick, the only thing about this pattern that I’m not crazy about would be the tie straps. It was nice not having to worry about the strap length before sewing them into the bodice pieces – but, trying to make the straps even while making a pretty bow in the back was a little annoying, and it took me several tries to make sure the dress was hanging evenly from  both of my shoulders.

Also, if I make this dress again, I might opt for sewing in a regular zipper, rather than using the hand-picked method. You might be able to see in the photo below, but the elastic sort of pulls at the hand-sewing right at the waist, and I think that machine stitches would have been stronger and held the bodice pieces in place a little better right at the elastic.

In the end, I think this is the perfect special occasion dress, if you can find the right fabric. I actually made another version previous to this dress that turned out not-so-good, only because it was too heavy. I made it out of a lightweight linen / cotton chambray, which I thought would be light enough, but the maxi skirt was so heavy that it pulled the elastic waist down too much and just ended up looking really bulky. So for those of you who are considering making this dress – follow the fabric recommendations closely and only use a very light fabric (lesson learned – I need to pay more close attention to those recommendations myself – they are there for a reason!).

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Baby Quilt for Kelsey Ann

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Last spring, when my brother and sister-in-law announced they were expecting a baby, I knew immediately that I would be making little him or her a baby quilt. Even before they had announced the sex, I decided I wanted to make a simple patchwork blanket that would be sturdy enough and big enough for the child to grow into as they got older.

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So as soon as they announced it was a girl, I got to digging through my bins of fabric to see what I had on hand. I’m happy to say that every square I used for this quilt was from fabric that I already owned!

I was heavily influenced by some of the patchwork quilts that Rita from Red Pepper Quilts has made (like here and here). I am so in love with the mix of floral and gingham!! It’s fresh and modern, but the combination is one I think will last the test of time.

It looks like the pattern I used for the quilt is no longer available to purchase (though I did find a pin to the pattern here). However, there are tons of basic patchwork patterns out there if you Google search, and it wouldn’t be that difficult to come up with your own pattern for such a simple quilt like this. I used the pattern as a reference, but really, after determining the size of each square and final dimensions, I didn’t really have to follow the directions that closely. Just for reference, I cut out 4″x4″ squares, and the final dimensions of the quilt were roughly 55″x55″ (perfect for a throw-size quilt).

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I had several fat quarters of vintage bedsheets that I had ordered a while back from Etsy that were perfect – a little retro and cutesy, and all in bright colors. I then added some basic stripes and gingham in different sizes and scales. I particularly love how the large scale gingham pops out from the design. For the binding, I knew I wanted to use either black and white stripe or gingham, and luckily, I had just enough black gingham leftover for the bias binding.

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Mixing the fabrics together was so fun. Although it took me a while to place the layout, it was a good creative challenge and I’m really happy with the result. Picking out the backing was probably the most difficult, because I knew I wanted to use a solid – something that would complement the colors on front, but not be too “matchy-matchy”. I ended up using this fuschia color – I believe the exact color is Kona Cotton Hibiscus. I love how it’s a perfect mix between pink and purple, in case either one ends up being baby Kelsey’s favorite color someday. :)

Like my last quilt, I sent the quilt top off to a long-arm quilter to take care of the quilting and binding. I wanted to keep the quilting lines very simple, and asked for her to shadow the seam lines on either side by about 1/2″. I love the grid work lines that show up on the back, and also how it highlights the pattern of each square on the top.

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And lastly, I added a label to the back of the quilt. I kept it simple and stiched out Kelsey’s initals, her birth date, and my initials. My embroidery is not the best, but I think it’s important to label quilts so that later generations in our family can trace back who the quilt belonged to and when it was made.

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And finally – here are some pictures of my gorgeous niece at Thanksgiving, modeling the quilt as a playmat. Kelsey’s already grown up so much since these photos were taken! Doesn’t she make the cutest faces? And those pajamas… adorable!! Her sleepwear is more fashionable than some of my fanciest clothes!! ;)

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I miss those little cheeks so much!

Until our next FaceTime date, Miss Kelsey – xoxo