Wednesday, May 30, 2012


It's been a busy couple days.  Monday, I cut out two outfits for the girls-- for Gracie a modified version of 1983's Simplicity 5561--

I lengthened the top by four inches, which, considering that it didn't have the usual 'lengthen or shorten here' lines, was interesting. After Gracie told me it was a "baby dress", I switched out the bloomers in favor of shorts, which I modified from Simplicity 4203.  I also borrowed the pockets from the original version, in size 3, of Simplicity 2392.

It just made sense because of the color I backed it in to do a two tone pocket, and the curved upper edge was nice because it echoes the scallops in the bottom.

For Nikki, I made McCall's 2213, which I believe has been renumbered into McCall's 6303 since I bought it.  I made this one for Gracie when she was Nikki's age, and the bloomers are so poofy as to be ridiculous, so I went down a size.  It wasn't quite enough, though--the dress part was a little big this time around, so I ended up moving the buttons down so it would stay in place.

If I did it again, I think I'd move down a size, and add better contrast; Gracie's looks better simply because things don't blend in as much.  It's downright hard to see the pockets (this is view A, BTW.)  and they're easy to see on Gracie's.

This one also has the traditional bloomers.  My mother was of the opinion that i should have gone with shorts for Nikki, too, to add to the contrast, but I didn't have a shorts pattern small enough and didn't want to go hunting for one!

These are a size smaller than the pattern envelope says Nikki needs.  But as I said before--I made this pattern a couple years ago... it was completely reversible, even the bloomers.  And those, well, at the time, you could fit two Gracies in them, and I swear that she could still wear them now!

 This is still a little big and a little long.  By moving the buttons, though, I managed to shorten it by an inch.  If I manage to find the time, maybe I should redo this one smaller and with the same kind of pockets that Gracie's outfit has!

I love the scallops on Gracie's pattern.  It's why I bought it when I tripped over it on ebay three years ago.  Part of me is kind of sad that with her imminent birthday, she'll be too old for this style next year.  The shorts, though, that was what turned it from a "baby dress" to a comfy shirt.  Simplicity 4203 has cuffed shorts.  The hem allowance on them is 2.25 inches, so I cut a 4.5 inch piece of my print, and sewed it on the bottom, and then followed the regular instructions.

The fabric is so busy that it needed the plain color, and the hot pink makes the white fabric turn pinkish.  The next time I make these, I may lengthen them a bit, though.  I'm not sure.  I was afraid that the rise might be a bit too high for Grace, but she surprisingly didn't have a problem with it.  To be honest, they looked longer on the pattern picture.  And we like our shorts longer on Granny Lane--in the Georgia heat, skin sticks to things if it's not a bit more protected!

Grace loved it, as this silly picture shows!  She tried to tell me it was too tight, but when your entire hand slides easily into the arm and neck holes... (The tickle monster arrives!)  Anyway, if I make this one again before she outgrows it, I may lengthen the straps by an inch or two!  The pockets were her favorite part.  And looking at them, well, they're just a double sided round pocket that's been sewed on upside down and the round part folded down and ironed there.  I did stitch them down a little just for security.  But I did it by hand so that it wouldn't show.

Last night, after I finished these two, I cut out the next outfits.  Vacation cometh, and time is short, so I'm pretty much having my own personal marathon to build small wardrobes of handmade clothes for the girls so their Aunt Jessica can drool over them!  Okay, not only that--the stuff I make is better made, cooler, and comfy for our summers.  And you can't buy clothes like these!  Anyway, my next two projects, which are cut out, ironed, and pinned, ready to sew, are Simplicity 4203--

I'm making the shorts again, with the strappy top.  I've lengthened the top by five inches, the straps by 3.5 inches, and I"m changing them to button straps so that it's a little adjustable.  I'm also doing what I did with the shorts last time--this time they'll be regular pink, by request, with the patterned fabric working as a cuff.  

Nicole's next outfit is a Kwik Sew pattern, 3971.  I fell in love with it and just had to have it.  The main fabric is a heavy cream color with tiny pink and red rosebuds on it.  In some ways it wouldn't be out of place on vintage flour sack dresses!  The contrast, though, is leftovers from Grace's baby quilt.

I got them cut out last night, and the ironing done this morning.  Which, since the outside raw edges are bound off with homemade bias tape, there was a lot of it!

I had planned on sewing through the girls' naptime, but I'd promised Gracie that we'd play in the wading pool this week but we hadn't manage it yet.  And their parents have the rest of the week off, so we won't see them.

Nicole was really cranky when she got here, so I got Gracie changed into her swimsuit and got the wading pool out while she took an early nap.  As you can see, she liked it!  This is version B, which fits better--last time, the bottoms were so loose, I thought they'd fall off!  Version A of Nicole's suit was tried on last week, and fits fairly well without alteration.  So instead of starting on sewing together the next two outfits, I spent the afternoon playing in the water and avoiding splashes!  Hopefully, tomorrow I will have finished outfit #2.  I love spring and summer sewing!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I'm in love!

Meet Dritz's quick turn fabric tube turners.  I'd liked them before, but that was before I had to turn the fabric strings for Bit's swimsuit without them--they're somewhere, still packed, in a box in my bonus room.  After I tore yet another hole in the fourth ruined tube, (and after taking almost five hours to turn said tubes for my first swimsuit attempt), I gave it up as a bad job nd went and bought another set.

Oh the happiness, joy, and rapture, that comes from turning a tube in ten seconds!  My fingers are happier and less perforated, too!

This past weekend (Friday and Saturday) I've been making swim suits.  Kwik Sew 3606 for Nikki and then, when I found out she needed one, too, Lizzy.  They're surprisingly easy, and made easier once I read the Kwik Sew instructions.  For the most part, Kwik Sew has some of the best instructions on the market, and if you're making something for the first time, they're a great place to start!  I got a great deal on swimsuit lycra, you see, so it was cheaper to make swimsuits instead of buy then this year.  Especially since I prefer to have extra ones here for Gracie and Nikki.  Thing is, I usually only have one here for the girls, but since I got it in a four yard lot, that was plenty enough to make duplicates.  I did view A, with the ruffles.  Easiest.  Ruffles. Ever.  Kwik Sew 3606 was about a three hour project, start to finish!  And yes, that involves tracing the right size and cutting out, too!

And the result is attractive, too!  After looking at the pink lycra was thin, and I was afraid that the white would turn see through when wet.  So I went back to my favorite bulk fabric source, and found some swimsuit lining.  Really, it's just gunmetal gray lycra.  I wanted white, but the least expensive source was sold out of that.  Lizzy's is almost identical, except it's one size bigger, and I found some white lycra in my knit bin that I didn't know I had, so it was lined in that instead.

It was apparently a success, too, because Nikki kicked up a huge fuss when I took it off to dress her in normal clothes! 

Gracie's suit was actually the first I made.  Because of Swistle's post a year or two ago about swimsuits for her daughter, I knew that I wanted a tankini so that Gracie could go to the bathroom easily.  But, I still wanted it to look like a one piece. If only I'd seen Stef's post over on Girl Inspired a few days earlier!

The tankini I made was from Butterick 4504.  I lengthened the top by four inches, so that it would meet the bottom, and kept the bows on the bottoms.  It's cute, I guess, but not as cute as the Santa Monica Sweetheart Tankini.  Which, if I manage to score more swimsuit lycra, will be next year's model!

Evie loves it, though I've tweaked this second one, because the bottoms were much too big.  I'm hoping that this one fits better, because the first set of bottoms would have floated away because of how loose they were.  I ended up folding over the sides and stitching them down, but I'm hoping that Joanna will trade with me if this fits better.

And since I'd made swim suits for everybody else, it didn't seem fair to leave Ricky out.  So since I'd seen a pattern recently over on Running with Scissors, the Euro Swim Trunks pattern.  It's small enough that I made it out of leftovers--the green came from last year's Vampire Pumpkin costumes, and the gray was a scrap of leftover lining.  It was an easy project, too.  The thing is, it would have been even faster if I'd just left well enough alone and did it as drafted.  But I wanted to do the diagonal color blocked ones, and I wanted the top color to go all the way around.  So I redrafted the back pieces, and ended up with this--

The gray goes all the way around, due to some pattern hacking by yours truly.  Really, I just redrafted the back pieces to match the front pieces, and removed about an inch and a half from the back top panel.  It's the one incomplete one--it still needs a drawstring.  But when I head out to the Memorial Day sale at the fabric store, I'll find something that will work, like skinny twill tape or cording.  Swim suits were easier than I thought they'd be!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Tangled" dress-- Simplicity 2065

Bit is having a Tangled birthday party next week, complete with a tower birthday cake.  Since Simplicity has a pattern out, I naively volunteered to make it, thinking it would be simple.  It's not.  Now I've constructed some fairly complex garments in the past, but this one takes the cake.  The bodice, front and back, has five pieces.  Then there's ten grommets, it's fully lined, and has a facing.  I will however, admit that the prepwork takes longer than anything--there are ribbons appliqued on the sleeves, the sleeves themselves are in two pieces, with more ribbon added to cover seams.  Add to that the two skirts, plus the lining skirt (that I didn't make because Bit has crinolines already) and I swear they were trying to make the costume bulletproof.  I broke five needles attempting to do the necessary serging of the waist.  I ended up fray checking it just to be sure--poly organza and poly satin have a tendency to fray if you look at them wrong!

Gracie is in love.  In her almost four-year-old eyes, it's the prettiest dress ever because it's her favorite colors.

I would like to say that in my opinion, it runs a little small.  It's hard to zip up, and I used less than the called-for seam allowances.  (I did 1/2 instead of 5/8)  I haven't decided yet if I'm going to put the half crinoline on underneath, too, yet.  Most likely, I'll talk my SIL into coming over to help decide if she needs it.  It still needs a hook and eye in the back, but other than that it's done.  I promised her that if it still fit come Halloween, I'd make the hair, too, but with the way it fits, I doubt it will!

Update: (October 2012) Bit's preschool is having a storybook character themed Halloween party, so this is being reused as a Halloween costume, too!  Considering the tight fit, I'm thankful that it does still fit!  And, well, I'm not sure I'd make this again.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


This past week or so, a few of the blogs I follow have been talking about labeling clothing.  Now, I have embroidered labels that I'll use up before I start making my own, but the idea of putting sizes in garments sounds like a fantastic idea to me but...  What do you do about the difference between RTW sizing and pattern sizing?  We all know that it's different.  For example, Gracie is currently in 5T for length.  It's still a bit too wide on her, but she needs the extra size in most cases so that her tummy isn't hanging out.  But in pattern sizes, she's a 3 in both toddler and child patterns.  So which size do I put on her Aunt-Laura-Made-It clothing?  Any opinions?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Well, *that* was worth it!

The past week, I've been fiddling with knits--swimsuit knits specifically.  I got a great deal on swimsuit fabric, making it completely cost effective to make swimming suits for the girls this year.  Total cost for one is around $5.  Which means that I broke out the size 4 double needles to do hems, etc.  Here I was, sewing merrily along, hemming the armhole of Gracie's tankini, when the red plastic stop at the top of the needle broke, hit me in the face, and dropped the needle into the machine.  I dug around and found another to keep sewing, but the more I thought about it, the madder I got.  I'm a penny pincher, I admit it.  I pinch a penny 'til it screams as much as I possibly can.  And twin needles are not cheap.

So I went to Schmetz's website, found an email form, and complained.  Within hours, I got a response, asking for my snail mail address with an apology and an offer of a free needle.  Of course, I sent it along, and today, I got a package-- three needles and a helpful how-to-choose-your-needle booklet! 

Totally worth the ten minutes it took to complain!  I know I've been absent lately, but Granny Lane has gotten really busy.  This week, expect a post on vintage toys and the patterns they're made from, the Tangled dress from Simplicity 2065, and if I manage it, the finish on the swimming suits.  Gracie and Nikki and their parents go on vacation to Florida in June, so there's a lot of sewing to do between now and then for vacation outfits!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I feel smart!

There are times when you come up with an idea to fix something and it just makes you feel so clever!  Such it is with me at the moment.  My battery charger and extra battery for my camera are packed--somewhere.  With our busy household, unpacking everything simply hasn't happened yet.

The thing is, when I went camera shopping for Christmas a couple years ago, the extra batteries for my sister's Olympus and my Nikon were the same.  And I realized this, so I borrowed her charger.  After all, if I was wrong, and it didn't work, I'd be no worse off than before.  But it worked!  So I now have a fully charged battery in my camera.  Yay, me!

Friday, May 11, 2012

The mail run-around

I know it's been radio silence here for a while, but in my defense, it's toy season.  See, all the kiddos were born in May.  So that means that I'm busily making toys in April and through May... and then it starts over again in October and November!  And sometimes, the supplies I need for them have to be ordered, because I can't get them locally.  So it was with soutache braid for Gracie's Alice in Wonderland doll. 

Now, this is a 40s dolly pattern.  Which means that this sort of thing was more readily available.  Joanns in our area has three colors of soutache braid--red, silver, and black.  So  I started looking at online sources for soutache braid.  Ebay was first, but after a disappointing experience, I turned to Etsy.  And the only people that had it in the right color were overseas.  Of course.  So I ordered it.  But we weren't home when the package got here, so because it had to be "signed for" being overseas, they left a slip.

Today, we went after the package, and what should have taken 20 minutes, tops, took two hours!  The guy behind our tiny post office's counter said that they didn't handle that sort of thing anymore and sent us to the next biggest one where we had to wait in line, again, to be told that it was at our local post office, and have their manager call our post office!  So in the girls go again to their car seats (And by this time, Nikki is having a meltdown because it's getting close to naptime and she wants her bottle of warm milk) and we make the trip back to our post office and after waiting in line again, we finally get the letter sized package of five metres of blue soutache braid.  Which, by the way is a perfect match to the fabric of the Alice dress.

I'm afraid I don't have pictures today, either, because I have yet to locate my camera battery charger and extra battery, and the camera is almost dead!  As soon as Alice has actual clothing, I'll talk about the toys and what I've been up to, lately!