Daddy Daughter Dance

Last year’s daddy daughter dance was when I made my first dress ever.  I can’t believe a whole year has already gone by.  This year, I really did not have any energy to make anything.  At least one person was sick in the family for the last 5 weeks, and I told little e that I didn’t have it in me to make anything and that I would just go out and buy her something. The dance was to be “Great Gatsby” themed and we were going to buy her a flapper girl dress.

However, little e came up with such a great, simple idea and I was so proud that she came up with the design herself that I popped a few Motrins and dragged myself to the sewing machine to make her dress.  Turned out, it only took 2 hours, and less than $10.

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That ruffly black fabric can be bought by the yard and we had made a plum colored “Crewcuts-like” dress with it last year.  It was on sale for 50% and turned out to be $5.50 per yard.  The 3/4 inch sleeve pattern I already had from her nightgown pattern and we spent $2 for a quarter yard of chiffon.  All in $7.50 and 2 hours, my most economical project to date and little e was so excited.  Note: gaudy accessories were her interpretation of the 1930s flapper period.  I was sadly on a business trip and had no input.

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I’m pretty happy with the result.  It’s not as finished as my other projects as I was in a bit of a rush, but feel pretty good about my sewing skills at this point, to be able to pull together a dress with no pattern and not much time.  That was what I was hoping to achieve one day.  I have plenty more to learn but coming from someone, who a year ago didn’t even know how to thread a sewing machine, I’m happy with how far I’ve come.

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Ah, little e is growing up so quickly.  She asked me to make her wedding dress one day.  Slow down, little girl…

Chambray Shirt

I love Chambray and made a pattern to make little e a long sleeve peasant shirt.  During initial fittings, I was worried because it made her look like what I imagine a Shakespearean male actor would wear, or maybe  “1800s prairie look.”  Little e did say she felt like “ma” from Little House on the Prairie due to the puffed sleeves.  However, thankfully, I think in the end, it turned out ok.  And, more importantly, it created the basis for a few other pattern ideas that are swirling around in my head for dresses.

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I love the tuck detail in the front and this is the first time experimenting with them.  I made them quite wide just based on ease of measuring at a 1 inch interval and sewing on the 1/4 inch edge of my sewing machine foot.  I ended up having to adjust my pattern to accommodate more tucks but I think it turned out perfectly for this shirt.  The process of “tuck making” is quite therapeutic: measure, drawn line, iron, sew, measure, line, iron, sew.  This is all done on a separate piece of fabric and then the pattern is laid on top of the tucks to cut.

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I also finally learned how to properly sew a button.  There are many button sewing tutorials out there so I won’t go into it but the final product is a strongly anchored button with only one clean, tiny thread line in the back.  The ends are actually all hidden, in the front behind the button, and also in between the fabric fold.  E jumped on my button sewing bandwagon and quickly handed me some of his shirt and pants that were missing buttons.  Lucky me!

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about launching clothing lines and e-commerce sites. There’s a lot to learn out there and sometimes, I think the more you know, the less likely you are to just jump out there and do it.  I was considering having my Princess Lougewear manufactured but the risk seems high that I would end up with a bunch of dresses that never sell.  So, I will just make them myself for a bit, and sell one at a time, see if anyone is even interested.  It’s scary to put something out there and I do see how entrepreneurs can be so into their own product that they can’t see when it’s just a plain bad idea.  Obviously making the clothes myself will not be a long term sustainable plan and I would probably only make enough to cover my materials and maybe get paid like $2 an hour, but at least I can see if there’s any traction.

Somebody tell me if this Princess Lougewear is just plain dumb.  =)

Well my cousin from Taiwan has already said that while she thinks it’s cute, no one would want their child to wear a floor length dress in Taiwan because they would essentially be sweeping the dusty floors.  Here in the US, that doesn’t seem to be an issue and my little princesses seem to love the floor length and moms don’t mind either as floors are carpeted or hardwood for the most part and not dusty.  Anyway, I feel like a kid about to open a lemonade stand.  It’s fun.  =)

Princess Dress #4

I’ve made another princess gown for little e.  My mom agrees that she looks like a little Korean princess with the empire waist and pouf-y bottom.  I switched it up a bit and added some 3/4 sleeves, which ended up more like 1/2 sleeves.

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I love the look actually and every night when I see little e floating around in it, it makes me happy.  She likes the floor length as well and is happily modeling it.  I like this length of sleeve better than the short sleeve version, probably because I like 3/4 sleeves in general. The double gauze is super soft and comfortable.

 

E still dislikes it.  He doesn’t get it, I guess.  When I was in third grade, my friend had a god mother who made her all these fancy ball gowns.  We used to play dress up in them and I’d wish that I had my own.  This princess dress makes little e feel like a princess because it’s floor length and poufy, but is also suited to my grown up taste because it’s so soft and not tacky, like most costume princess dresses are, in my opinion.  I know many little girls would love princess dresses because I did.

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After binge watching Shark Tank the last few weeks, I’m almost tempted to figure out how to manufacture this and see if it sells.

Grill Apron and Another Princess Dress

Little e made a grill apron as a Christmas present.  It’s reversible with chambray on one side, and black on the other.  She also used our handy embroidery machine, which has turned out to be quite useful for Christmas presents.  In addition to the grill apron, she has embroidered pouches and (store-bought) pillow cases, making simple and fast Christmas presents for the whole family.

I love how well the apron came out.  It looks very finished as there are no unsightly hems anywhere as we made it double sided.  For her birthday party this year, we are thinking of inviting her friends to a cooking class and making embroidered aprons for each of them. Little e is feeling lazy and not wanting to attempt making these in bulk but I’ll get her to come around to it.  It will be a great way to clear up my fabric stash.  I keep wanting to buy more fabric but need to finish off what I have first!  Some of the “cuter” prints that my cousin gave me from Taiwan would be perfect for these aprons.  We need 11 of them.

Next up is another princess dress I made for little e’s best bud, little a.  She loves pink and her mom loves white, so I decided to use a white double gauze with a pink velvet ribbon.  I didn’t have any pink bias tape for the collar so I had to make do with the baby blue instead. However, it’s on the inside so it’s fine when put on.

 

I’m sure it’s a bit boring to keep looking at the same dress made in different colors over and over again but I’m actually loving the process of this repetition.  When I tried to make cell phone pouches over and over again, I found it terribly frustrating, maybe because I kept getting the fit wrong.  With these dresses, each time I make them, I improve on my technique and finishes a little.  Instead of a serged hem, I made a french hem instead, making the inside of the garment more refined.  It’s down to about 2.5 hours to make and it’s the perfect weekend endeavor to do something stress relieving and make me feel productive at the same time.

My friend has 3 daughters and little a and e each have a dress now.  I can’t leave out little i so she’ll be getting hers soon!  I need to make a new pattern for her so I’m taking one of her old shirts to use as a pattern.

Here is little a looking like a princess in her gown.  The length is perfect.  She wrote me a thank you card saying, “I like that it is long because it covers my feet, keeps them warm, and that it is white with a fuzzy pink empire.  I enjoy holding it up in the front when I walk.”

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Here are the two princess sisters in their gowns:

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I just finished making little e a new one with longer sleeves for the winter.  I’ve got to go get some more double gauze!

 

Princess Dress #2

As I mentioned previously, I want to develop a line of princess lounge wear that girls can wear around the house comfortably and feel like a princess.  After making one for little e, I’ve been wanting to make these for my friends’ daughters and get some feedback on what they thought.  So, next up, was for my god daughter, also little e, so little e2.  My friend likes blue, so I made a light blue dress with some modifications from the original one I made for my little e:  more flare (as I finally am buying more yardage of fabric now that I’ve learned that 1 yard is not enough) and longer length (little e’s dress did continue to shrink a little bit after repeated washing /drying and is now ankle length rather than the trailing floor length that I envisioned a little princess would love.

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I even remembered to sew in my label into the dress.  For some reason, it’s so exciting to see my stamp on the finished product.

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Here is a full length picture of it.  I really like the velvet ribbon I put around it.  It adds just enough interest.  The dress reminds me of the nightgown Wendy Darling wears in the Disney version of Peter Pan, minus the puffy sleeves.

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I had little e model it for me.  She said it reminds her of Cinderella’s ball gown.

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I’m collecting quotes from the girls I make this for and here’s what little e2 says:

“I like it a lot and I’m glad I got it.  It’s pretty.  It’s very comfortable and warm.  I like that it is long so when my feet are cold, I can wrap my feet in it when I’m in bed instead of getting socks.”

Her sister little i (4 years old) said, “I wish I had one.  If I had that dress and you were me, you would be really sad, huh?”

I love that!  Of course I’m going to make one for little i.  Also working on a new one for little e with a 3/4 sleeve for the winter.  To the sewing room right now.

Cell Phone Case

I started making cell phone cases because my sister bought these radiation pocket shields to protect your body from cell phone radiation.  These sheets are pretty expensive, I think around $20 for 3 sheets and it would be pretty expensive to buy enough to line all of her and her husband’s pants.  So, she asked me to sew pouches for them.

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Now, who knows if they really block anything.  Has anyone ever tested this?  And, “up to 99%” blockage can mean anything… perhaps it can be 1%.  But in any case, it’s not too expensive to try out and according to my sister, got a lot of positive reviews.

So, I came up with this cell phone pouch.  The first one I created had Velcro dots holding the flap down but those quickly fell off.  I’ve never had any luck with those stick-on Velcro dots.  They are essentially worthless and I will not use them for any future projects.  For this pouch, I created a bar to hold down the flap.  It wasn’t too hard to make but I realized that I am not good at making repetitive projects.  I must lose interest and rush things or something because at least one thing always went wrong in the pouch making process. (Thank goodness for my ripper!)   It just reinforces the fact that I will never make items to sell.

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So far I’ve made 6.  I think I’m done.  Well, I may make one for E but he doesn’t think much about cell phone radiation, probably not worth the effort of making one and when I asked my friends, none of them seemed concerned, either.  So the people that buy these radiation pocket patches are probably crazy hypochondriacs like me and my sister.

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The phone fits my pouch nice and snugly.  Original prototype was way too big and a few subsequent versions were so tight that squeezing my phone in there frequently eventually ripped the seams.

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Creating something that fits like a glove is harder than you think, even for something like a rectangular iphone.  Imagine making an article of clothing fit perfectly.  It makes me want to dedicate my sewing time to creating good, quality, well fitted clothes for myself.

I recently went to a Christmas party wearing my favorite outfit of all time, a perfectly fitted Hugo Boss black dress that comes down right below my knees that will never go out of style.  That dress at regular price is over $1000.  Of course, I paid much less on sale (~$300), but the thought came to me that I should learn how to make good, quality clothing because if what I make is ordinary or poorly constructed, I might as well just buy it ready made (not to say ready made clothing is poor quality).  But if I learn to and invest the time to make something well fitted, well made, and unique, it is totally worth it because something like that would cost more than $1000.

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Check out 10 Sewing Mistakes that will Make Your Clothing Look Homemade.  I’m going to ask my sewing teacher about some of these.  But boy, I really came a long way.  I first started sewing because I wanted little e to learn and since her sewing teacher was driving out to our house to do the lesson, I wanted to give her more hours.  The first thing I said to her was that I wanted to learn to make easy things like pillows and curtains and maybe learning to hem pants.  I had no interest in making clothing.  Look at me, now, I’m completely hooked!

A Shirt for Me!

Little e and I have been busy in our sewing studio the past several weeks with Christmas presents.  Can’t share any of them as they are all wrapped up under the tree, but I did finally make something for myself.  I used one of my J Crew shirts to make the pattern and it fits pretty well, just like everything from J Crew fits me.  Over half my wardrobe is from there.

I was new to making button holes and thankfully I tested it out multiple times on fabric scraps before doing it on the actual garment because there were several kinks that had to be worked out before I could consistently make button holes.  Once again, I had only bought one yard of fabric (from Tokyo) and barely had enough to make this top.  I wanted to have pleats in the center but couldn’t spare ANY extra fabric for it.

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This type of sleeveless tunic top is super versatile for me.  I wear these all of the time tucked in with dress pants/skirts, tucked out with skinny pants and jeans, and always under a cardigan.  Being that they are sleeveless, there is no bump in the arm under the cardigan and as a temperature nazi, I can leave the cardigan on when I’m cold, and take it off when I’m hot.  I plan to make many more of these, using the Liberty fabrics I purchased from London.  I’m also planning to add some 3/4 sleeves to see how it looks.

E says that the shirt makes me look pregnant.  He’s always so flattering…  Well, he’s very obsessed with fit.  I may take in the sides a little.  The original J Crew shirt was made of silk so it was more flowy and showed my form a little more.  This one is a thin cotton, so it does come off looking a little boxy.  But under the cardigan or tucked in, it’s just fine.

I asked little c to take this picture of me.  He’s turning 4 soon!  Time flies.  He loves taking pictures with my iphone.  It’s a little blurry but not too bad for a 4 year old, right?

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Sara Bareilles Outfit

Simple skirts with elastic waist bands are so satisfying to make.  They are incredibly easy (15-30 minutes), great for using up your fabric stash, and something that is actually very useful.  Little e would wear skirts and dresses every day of the week if I let her.  As such, having a large stash of these skirts that she pairs with button downs, fitted t-shirts, and cardigans is very handy.  It is also one of the rare sewing projects that makes economic sense, as well.  Often, it’s cheaper to buy a ready-made outfit than spend the time and money on fabric and sewing.  However, being that these skirts use only 1 yard of fabric and are so easy and quick to make, it makes me extra happy to be able to put my sewing skills to use and save some money while making a unique outfit.

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E commented that I dressed little e like Sara Bareilles, hence the title of this post.  The chambray shirt is from Target and was only $14.99.  As for the short boots, I did finally splurge on them from Nordstrom for $69.95 and they are so worth it.  They go with a lot of her winter dresses and skirts.  In fact, I tried on a size 6 (largest girl size) myself, but they were a bit tight.  Otherwise, I would have totally bought a matching pair.

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The fabric my sister picked up when she was in Tokyo.  It is a cotton fabric with thin white and beige stripes and is a bit crinkly, which adds a little bit of texture.  I didn’t make a lining for this skirt because the fabric was thick enough but I plan to make one out of thin Liberty fabric and will need to add a lining to that.  When shopping at Nordstrom for the boots, I was inspired by this liberty print skirt from peek that was probably like $50. Granted that Liberty fabric is like $36 per yard, the $50 price tag makes sense, but it still feels good to make the skirt for less and also enjoy the sewing process.  Plus, wouldn’t a liberty print skirt look great paired with little e’s new boots and a fall cardigan?

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It’s off to the sewing studio for me.

 

 

Pouches for our Soccer Team

Being a soccer mom is brand new for me.  I am probably one of the most sedentary people in the world and could not have any less interest in sports, either playing or watching.  In fact, I had a Chinese Herbalist tell me that my body type is not suited for exercise, which validated my feelings of dislike for any type of physical exertion.  OK, maybe I’m being extreme.  I am quite health conscious  so I do like to take walks.

So how in the world did little e end up playing soccer this year and I end up taking her to two practices each week and 1 to 2 games each weekend?  I don’t know.  It was all E’s ploy. He convinced me that it would be so beneficial for little e to learn how to work with a team, become more comfortable around other people, be disciplined, learn how to encourage other team members, and make good friends.  Somehow, I am now a soccer mom and I actually get excited and cheer for our team, which is, by the way, ranked #2 in our league.  See, how proud I am?

The families take turns providing after game snacks for the girls and they usually get a brown paper bag filled with a drink, fruit, and some chips or salty snack.  I thought it would be fun for me and little e to sew fabric pouches for the girls with their team name embroidered on it and put the snacks in there.  My preliminary searches for embroidery machines resulted in ones that were $1000+, way too expensive for my purposes.  Finally, a week before our turn to provide snacks, I came up with the idea to write their team name with puffy fabric paint.  The only problem is that my hand writing is not great and I thought it would come out looking like a 5 year old’s school project.  Thankfully, one of my friends helped (hers are the nice ones) while I did a few because we were running out of time.

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I used a canvas fabric my mom brought back from Taiwan and picked up some braided rope-like string from Joanne’s.  That string was actually rather expensive, about $2 a yard and I needed about 1.25 yards per pouch.  Good thing I had the 50% off coupon so it brought the price down to $1 per yard.  However, I didn’t have enough for 2 pouches so I went to Michael’s and found a whole spool worth (10 yards) for $1.  It wasn’t quite as nice, but for the cost, it was a great deal.  I plan on making a lot more pouches so I’ll remember to go to Michael’s from now on.

They are not lined but the insides are nicely finished with the serger.  I love that thing!

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Here they are all stuffed with food.  E had the task of getting food and we got nutella sticks, pirate’s booty cheese puffs, organic juice, fruit jellies and fresh strawberries (which could also be dipped into the nutella.)   I think the girls were pretty happy!  They were playing against the number 1 ranked team in the league and they lost, the first game they lost all season.  They were a bit bummed so I was happy that the pouches brightened their day for a moment.

So just a few days ago, I decided to look further into embroidery machines and found this one for only $299 at Staples.  With an additional 20% off coupon, I got it at $240 and it just arrived on my doorstep today.  Little e and I can’t wait to break that open.  I will be embroidering everything!  Towels, shirts, pouches, bags, you name it!  William Sonoma now has that Mark and Graham store where everything is monogrammed .  That website is giving me a lot of inspiration for things to make.  Little e has volunteered to read through the instructions and set things up.  Let the monogramming begin!

Airline Stewardess Dress

Little e picked out the fabric for this dress which for some reason, reminds people of an airline stewardess uniform.  It was meant to look retro and originally, I had planned for it to be a black dress with white collar.  I’ve actually been looking for short boots to go with it, and I think I found this pair from Toms that I like, but it’s a bit expensive for children’s shoes that they outgrow in about a year.  I may luck out and find it at the Nordstrom Rack or a Tom’s warehouse sale.  But I think I may want it badly enough to go purchase it, even at full price.  We’ll see.  I figure, I’ve stopped buying clothes for little e, so I guess it’s ok to splurge on shoes?

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This is the first dress I  made that has sleeves, pockets, and a collar.  It is also fully lined because I find that the dress holds its shape better when there is a lining.  Sure it’s a little more work, but worth it for me.  It fits her quite well, I think.  I always make the dresses a bit longer so that there’s room for me to let it out when she grows taller.  That way, hopefully her dresses can last about 3 years.

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My teacher and I made the pattern together based on a simple drawing I did.  It’s actually my favorite dress that I’ve made for little e to date.  It’s different than most dresses I’ve seen for girls, almost like an adult dress in miniature.  My mom thought it would “look too old” on her but I think it’s cute.

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She’s happy with it though overall, she either likes floor length dresses or ones that she can twirl in.  She did wear it to the school musical so I’m satisfied that it got some use.

I wonder how long she’ll be happy to wear my handmade dresses.  Her friends wouldn’t believe that I made them because I guess sewing clothing is so rare these days.  ….To think that Laura Ingalls used to hand sew those long gowns.  That would drive me crazy!