Monday, November 21, 2011

Loving Children at Play

I ordered some Sarah Jane Children at Play fabric when it first came out and have been looking at it ever since.  I love it!  It is so cute and colorful, but so not very fall at all.  Therefore, it sat in my cupboard for a while until I finally couldn't stand seeing what others were doing with it and made this dress.  My four year old picked out which fabrics she wanted to use and where they would go, with assistance from me.  I used McCalls 5835 pattern, with a lot of adjustments and alterations.  This is one horribly written pattern, yet I like it for the pieces.  I made adjustments to the bodice as follows in this tutorial.   And, for this particular dress, I added 1/3 to the width of the skirt by adding a blue panel in the middle front and back.  Further, I took the ruffle and doubled it's length.   And I left off the sleeves, per you know who's request.  So, here is the result.  It is 39 degrees in this picture, but sunny, so she thought it would be a perfect dress to play outside.  Go figure!  At least, it twirled nicely!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Back in the saddle!

After more than three weeks of illness (three weeks!!!), I am finally well enough to sew again!  When you have bronchitis AND sinusitis, it is truly difficult to find the energy to sew.  And, the noise from the sewing machine just does not feel good on the already painful head.  Thankfully, I am finally well this week and back to sewing!

So, what have I been doing!  First, I made this lovely twirly skirt for the winner of my blog give-away.  I love this color combo and I hope the wee girl and her mama do as well.

And, for the same lovely mama, I made another Pretty Peacock peasant top from my beloved Dena Designs Monaco peacocks. I literally never get tired of this fabric!  You can buy your own version in my store, see link at top right of blog!

Now, I am beginning some knot dresses and then some tank dresses.  Should be fun!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Modkid Penny as a nightie

The search for loose-fitting nightgowns that are 100% cotton is a fruitless effort in the USA, what with our child protection safety laws.  They are all treated with fire retardants that are proven to cause long-term health problems.  So, what's a sewing mama to do?  Make her own! *

With that in mind, I bought some lovely light-weight pink floral fabric from a sweet sewing mama on Facebook and decided to use Modkid Penny as my pattern.   The fabric turned out to be a nice weight but does not have a ton of stretch.  Still, I went ahead and used it for the whole nightgown rather than spend lots of time and money searching down something with more stretch to use as the binding.  Frankly, binding drives me a bit nuts and since my own kids don't care, I just went ahead.

Here is the finished result. In less than one hour, from cutting out to finished product, including serging and finishing all seams, we have one cute nightie and one happy girl.

I highly recommend Modkid Penny.  It is a great pattern, very simple to use, nice instructions.  Be sure to trace your pattern pieces so you don't have to cut into the paper pattern and you can make many sizes.    Penny have four views to it and several more options: short sleeve, long sleeve, top, dress, contrasting sleeves or bodice, and ruffled hem. A very useful pattern indeed!

* I take full responsibility for any fire liability for my child alone.  You are on your own. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gonna toot my own horn

I am going to toot my own horn here for a minute.  I love this dress! I have had the Joel Dewberry Modern Meadow fabric for over a year.  Bought it from Treasure Bay Fabrics in the hopes of making a dress for my oldest daughter.  But she scoffed at it.  (how dare she?!?!) I found the Benartex Habitat fabric at a local quilt shop.  Then, I got the Tula Pink Prince Charming, also in the green and blue.  Finally, I discovered Timeless Treasures Portabello line and ordered some of that.  Pretty soon, the navy and green section of my fabric stash was looking a bit full!  And I found a small piece of Amy Butler fabric I didn't remember I had.  Love it when that happens.

So, what's a girl to do?  I made a peasant dress for my youngest! She is always willing.  Love her for that!  (love oldest, too, but wish she would still wear dresses)

Anyway, I fiddled around with these for a while until I came up with this combo.  Then, I had a mild panic attack because I realized I needed ribbon down the front!  Luckily, Les Bon Ribbon on Etsy came to the rescue!  Isn't the ribbon trim down the front more lovely than any ribbon imaginable? I mean, come on!  That is one amazing ribbon!

So, I ended up making two of these.  I was not sure which size would fit my four year old since, in my opinion, Portabellopixie Claire pattern runs a tad large.  The size four ended up fitting her great, a tad roomy but that is ok. So, the size 2 is now up for sale in my store, Delphinium Designs, on Etsy.

I have to say that I am in love with this dress.  The colors are just beautiful.  I almost wish I could quilt because I would love to have a bedroom quilt in these fabrics!   This dress is made from two patterns.  The top is Portabellopixie Claire peasant, with added tuxedo ruffle and sash.  The skirt and ruffle come from Romeo and Mae's Lucia dress pattern.  Both of these are among my favorite patterns for little girls.

Here are pictures!

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Here are the winners of my giveway!

First off, the winner of the twirly skirt is Ros!  Random number generator chose post #10 which was her.  Please contact me at

Next, the winner of the ruffle pants is mollibijouscloset!   Random number generator chose #7.  You can also contact me at

Thanks for participating!  I uploaded a few pretty peacock dresses on the Etsy page and they sold!  I will upload some more within a few days, I promise.  More fabrics and ribbon are arriving daily and I am trying to sew a few hours a day.  Hard to get everything done when you are a busy mom but I am doing my best!

Thanks for your support!

Monday, September 19, 2011

More Peacocks!

Looks like I may have found more Dena Designs Monaco peacock fabric!

Yeah for mislabelled listings on ebay! Woohoo! I bought everything the store had, so I should be able to make more of this lovely peacock peasant!  I might even try it as a dress!

Don't forget that my store, Delphinium Designs, opens up again this Friday, September 23rd.   See the post below this one for the contest.  Join the fun!!! I am giving away a pair of ruffle pants and a twirly skirt.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A fair trade

One thing I love about the crafting community is how generous people are, especially with trading. I have never participated in a trade before but this one caught my eye.  On my facebook page, Handmade Dress Haven, a mama posted that she had a pile of Fabric Organizers she was not going to use and wanted to trade for a few handmade items for her daughter!  Right up my alley!  We ended up working out a deal where I made her two Ellie-style tops for her two year old.  As far as what I would charge for them, it worked out to be a very fair trade.  Here are the tops I made for her:

 First, this one is copied from my original Peacock knot dress, using Dena Designs Monaco fabric as the foundation.  The ribbon comes from Flame Cranium/Treasure Bay on Etsy.
This lovely is Benartex's Habitat fabric in the skirt and bodice.  Amy Butler in the sash and Benartex Backyard Butterflies in the straps.  This is one of my favorite fabric combos ever. I just love it!

She also sent me the legs from some brown linen-blend pants that she wanted to try to make into ruffle pants for her two year old daughter.  I was able to turn them into almost exactly enough fabric for size 2 pants!   Here are the finished pants.  They have two layers of ruffles.  The waist had to be made with the smallest elastic possible to give the pants as much length as possible. 

 I think it is pretty funny to look at how little I fabric was left!  I really maxed it out.  I loved learning how it was totally possible to upcycle a pair of pants!

So, now (TADA!) The Fabric Organizers! I have been wanting to try these but they are the type of thing that I don't often buy for myself.  I tell myself "you can just fold your fabric neatly, you don't need to spend money on fancy boards."  But, of course, the reality is that I don't fold my fabric neatly.  This is what my fabric looked like this morning:

One wire rack full of messy woven fabric, three bins with knits, fleece, etc. 

And here is what I got to work with!  I got 36 of the larger size and one small.  I assume the one small was a teaser.   These are from The Fabric  Organizer Company.  These are acid-free, white foam boards designed for long-term fabric storage and efficiency.  I love them so much I could hug the inventor!

Do you see the small rectangles cut into each?  Those are tabs that pop out for you to hold the fabric down.  Like so.  You then wind the fabric around until it is all done and secure it with another set of tabs.  At least, that is the idea. 

Now, I always have to do things my own way because my brain just does that.  (I guess that makes me a "divergent" thinker.)  Anyway, having only 36 to work with, and only at most 2 yards of each fabric, I decided to double up.  I put two fabrics on each and I organized them by color story.  Since I was putting more than one fabric on each, I secured the fabric with small sewing pins instead of using the tabs.  No biggie! I still love them!  

So, here is what my wire shelf looks like now! 

  I still just have the wire rack.  I am going to ask Santa for a nice shelving system for my sewing area for Christmas.  Or I could stop buying fabric and save up to buy one myself.          

Nah, that is no fun!  "Dear Santa, please bring me a shelving system for my sewing area that will fit under my window and hold my fabric organizers in a pretty display.  Thank you, love Kathy."

Until such time as Santa arrives with a new shelf, this is how I have to display the fabric.  On it's side.  But I do really like seeing the color stories.  It will be very inspirational to be able to see nearly all my fabric this way and get ideas for sewing. The picture above is the bottom shelf, where I put spring colors.

Here are the middle shelves, where I put colors that might fit any season.  That 
Hokkah Garden Night collection (black and rose) is calling to me right now.  The most gorgeous fabric ever!  Check it out!

Okay, now what to do with fat quarters and miscellaneous yardage? I will have to clean a bin out, I guess.

Did you know I had so much Benartex Ariana Cocoa Bubbles? Neither did I! 
I have like 4 yards! LOL!  The things you discover when you clean up your crafting area.

I also have a stash of Children at Play fabric in the cupboard.  Need more Fabric Organizers and more shelves!

And here is my Christmas fabric stash.  

Oh well, I am trying to be organized!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Summer Tank Dress, #2

Once again, I made a dress with the Jocole Shoreline Tank top pattern as the basis.  This one is for my tweenage neighbor, who is super sweet to my own two girls.  She deserved a personalized thank you. So, she picked out the fabric, Michael Miller Mod Blooms Knit, and here it is.
shoreline tank elongated

And thank you to Sewing Mamas for helping me make the binding a bit better than the last time. Still needs work, but it is better!!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Copyright and the home sewing business

I have been reading a lot about copyright issues lately so I have decided to blog a bit about what I know.  Now, first of all, I am not an attorney.  So, don't quote me or use me as your legal defense!  Secondly, I am a home sewist who likes to sell a bit of sewing to others and I have researched this as much as time allows.  So, I feel like I have something useful to share.

So, what is copyright?   Princeton's Wordnet defines it as "a document granting exclusive right to publish and sell literary or musical or artistic work."  Now, what this means with a pattern is that, if you have it copyrighted, you have legal right to the pattern itself.  Only you can sell and publish that copyrighted item.  But, with sewing and knitting patterns, what does this mean for the article you create from said pattern?  Technically, in the United States, a copyright does not give you control over the articles made from your pattern.  Many people who create patterns think that it does and they will even list on their pattern that they do not give you the right to sell anything you create from it.  But, they are wrong.  And sometimes they will sell licenses for you to make their products, but, according to what I  have read, they don't actually have a legal footing on that one, either!

So, how do I know all of this?  Well, first of all, there is an interesting website called Tabberone and they have a great deal of information online about all of this.  They have a page for copyright definitions.    From their page on patterns:

We cannot locate a single federal lawsuit that went to trial where someone has been sued over the use of a pattern. Consider the millions of patterns that have been sold in the last sixity years plus and not one lawsuit? It certainly cannot be because purchasers are strictly following the demands of the pattern manufacturers. Patterns manufacturers do not have the legal right to make many of the demands that they make. Of the major pattern companies, Simplicity, Butterick, McCalls and Vogue, not one has posted on their web sites anything remotely concerning customer limitations on the use of their patterns. Why do you suppose that is? They know they cannot legally restrict the use but they will tell you differently if you email them. The pattern companies are in the business of selling patterns and the great majority of them routinely lie about the use of those patterns.

Now, doesn't that make sense?

A pattern can be a template, or set of templates, for manufacturing an item, be it a bird house or a dress. Templates are not copyrightable. A pattern can also be drawings accompanied by instructions for knitting, crocheting or quilting. A method or procedure is not copyrightable. While the drawings themselves could possibly qualify for copyright protection, the actual instructions are not copyrightable. The only other aspect of patterns that could possibly qualify for copyright protection would be the artwork and that would only be if its intrinsic properties allowed it to be separable from the design, which very, very few designs can do. And to be enforced a copyright almost always must be registered.

Now, that makes even more sense!  And, according to Tabborone, pattern makers are lying if they try to tell you that you cannot sell something you make from their pattern.  

Now, I know that I, as a home sewist, would be very scared if Amy Butler or Ottobre or some other company sent their lawyers to call on me to tell me to stop selling items made from their patterns.  I purposely do not sell items I make from those patterns.  But, I do find it annoying that they try to bully people into buying with these lies that you are not supposed to do it!   And I wanted to share what I know with you.  

A few other items of interest learned from Tabborone:  

You can sell anything you want using licensed, character fabric. Once you buy the fabric, it is yours to do with what you please.  Tabborone has more information on legal actions about that on their site.  

 Cottage licenses are total bunk.  They are just a way for the pattern maker to make more money.  You don't need to buy one.  They are not legally required for you to use the pattern in your cottage business.

Knowledge is power!  Have a look around the Tabborone website. It is incredible!  They have tons of legal citings and definitions. It is a great resource. 

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer tank dresses

jocole shoreline tank to dress

Summer finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest this weekend.  It is currently 79 degrees and sunny!  It was equally nice yesterday, which marks the first two really warm days we have had all year.  So, it was fortuitous that I decided this was the weekend to make tank dresses for my oldest daughter and her doll, Amy.  You see, the American Girl doll opened near us, in Lynnwood, WA (they call it Seattle but it is not).   We want to visit soon so it is important that our non-American Girl doll, Amy, have a dress matching to her owner.  Don't ask me why this is important, but it is.  Here they are, doll and girl, in their matching dresses.

I spent a good week looking for a tank top dress pattern, one for a size 8 girl and one for a doll, and could not find what I wanted.  Finally, I discovered Jocole Patterns on Etsy, and her Shoreline Knit Tank Top pattern fit the bill as much as was possible. I knew it would be very simple to lengthen the pattern to turn a top into a dress.

First of all, this pattern is excellent! I cannot rave enough about how well written it is and how nice the owner of the store is!  She sent me a few messages to make sure I ordered the correct size and I knew she was available by email for help.  What a sweetie!  The pattern itself is full of details on how to work with knits and how to do the bindings in different ways.  Very nicely done!!

Here is what her tank top pattern looks like upon completion (from Jocole on Etsy)

As you can see, it is a cute tank top with two ruffles across the front.  Very feminine and sweet.  The pattern size I ordered is for girls size 8 thru 14 as well as dolls.  It is challenging to find pdf patterns for tweens so this was a great find. 

Secondly, since I did not want to make a top, I needed to find a dress to use as a sample for the length and width I wanted.  I used this Hanna Andersson dress that still fits my daughter, one she wears often.  It is a size 130 and falls just to above her knees.  We like the way the skirt is A-line.  So, I printed out the three pieces for the Jocole pattern and decided I only needed the top two parts because I intended to flair the skirt out.  Here you see the top two parts of the Jocole pattern, attached together (parts A & B).

 The next step was to use the Hanna dress to create a longer pattern.  I used a piece of printer paper for the middle section and then realized I need more width.  So, I taped together a piece of Swedish Tracing paper and attached it all with clear 3M packing tape, for strength.  Here, you see the whole dress pattern, taped to the Jocole pattern.  Because the Jocole pattern has straps and the Hanna dress does not, I had to modify the bodice placement accordingly. 

Then, it was a matter of following the Jocole directions.  As I said, it is a very well-written pattern.  She gives you options for binding.  You can use cotton knit and use regular thread with it or Wooly or Bulky nylon.  You can use a straight stitch or a zig zag.  You can also use fold ever elastic.  For the ruffles, you can use elastic to ruffle or you can ruffle in other manners.  I chose to use the same cotton knit as the dress for the bindings and elastic to ruffle.  The fabric I used is a cotton interlock knit from Chez Ami.

I decided to give Bulky Nylon, from Gutterman a try, and boy do I regret that!  My old, fussy Singer did not like that thread at all.  I tried it on the bobbin only and it caused me annoying tension issues until I finally gave up, put the regular Gutterman thread on the bobbin, and switched to a zigzag stitch!  Aaah, relief!  No more issues! 

I am not the best at sewing bindings so these came out a tad messy but they look ok.  Ok is better than ugly, right?  LOL!  I sewed a dress for the doll, Amy, first, and then one for my 8 year old.  I think they turned out pretty cute! I needed to custom-tailor them to fit well, but that is the point of home sewing, right?  So, here are the finished products.  We are ready to have lunch at the American Girl doll store/restaurant!

 Here is Amy and her tank dress.  Amy is a Madame Alexander 18" doll

 Here is my 8 year old and Amy.  The sun was in her eyes.
And here they are in the shade, very happy with their new dresses!  

jocole shoreline

This is a great pattern! I highly recommend it!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

On vacation in Bend, Oregon

 Handmade Dress Haven has been on vacation for a week in warm Bend, Oregon.  Being from the very cool coastal Pacific Northwest, Bend seems warm to me.  It was in the high 70s the whole time, which is cool for them.  The reason?  The whole west coast was covered by a huge rain storm!  Lucky us, we got out of it for a week.  The coastal rain showers kept temperatures low in Eastern Oregon.

At any rate, what did we do while we were there?  Well, we spent some time at the High Desert Museum.  My littlest had to wear her Delilah capris I made for her from Simplicity 2171.  Perfect for a warm play day!

The highlight of the visit was Tumbleweed, the 10 week old porcupine baby.  Here he is sucking away on his bottle.  Did you know that porcupines do not throw their quills at enemies?  Quills are just like hair.  They can only come out if you touch them.  I did not know that!  So, just don't touch a porcupine and you will be fine.

The High Desert Museum specializes in saving injured local birds.  Here are some eagles who were too injured to leave and will live out their lives in their very nice habitats.

Bald Eagle

Golden Eagle

80 degrees is warm for me so here I am, keeping cool with a head scarf.

While we were nearby, we took a drive up to the Cascade Lakes Loop and spent the day at Elk Lake.  Here is my oldest daughter.  That is Mount Bachelor in the background.

My nemesis, Cooper.  I have no idea why he hates me.  He is my mom's bird and he hates her, too!  He likes my dad and my brother.  Strange bird, that one.

The highlight of the trip? Making homemade pizza with my dad, Poppa John!  He makes the dough and sauce himself and then cooks it in his pizza oven.  Great stuff!

Now, of course, when you are a sewist who is working on her stash, you have to visit the local famous quilt shop!  I happen to love Valorie Wells' fabric and since we were only a half hour away from the quilt shop she owns with her mother, The Stitchin' Post, I had to make a trip to see it!  Located in very cute, but touristy, Sisters, Oregon, this shop is very nice.  I did not see Valori while there but all her patterns were at the store and she and her mother have accumulated a very nice and large selection of fabrics, including Valori's new Wrenly line.  My daughters helped me pick this selection which we are going to turn into skirts for them.  Yes, I am going to put a bird on it!    This is a rarity for me.  LOL!

Finally, Valori and her mother have an awesome selection of Kaffe Fasset at their store so I had to pick up a couple of yards.  So hard to choose!!!  Here is what I got.  Not sure what to do with it but it is sure lovely!

Now, since the storm is still hovering over the entire west coast, I will have lots of time to sew this week.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How to make a knit ruffle rosette swirl

Just how do you make the knit ruffle floral rosette swirl above?  Well, after much practice, I think I have it down.  So, I thought I would share.

Now, keep in mind that my brain seems to work differently than the average person.  For example, jokes usually have to be explained to me.  This tutorial may not be the best way to do this ruffle or the most common way, but this is where I ended up after trying it out a few other ways.

Here we go!

First of all, this is luscious bamboo knit jersey fabric I bought off Etsy from Bamblue Fabrics.   I was looking for this particular color and not necessarily for bamboo.   But, I have to talk up this knit. It is incredible!  It washes great, did not shrink a lot, and is the softest fabric this side of fine silk.  Seriously! Buy some!

Okay, here's the tutorial:

1.  I folded the fabric in half the long way, and in half again.  

 2.  I cut out one two inch wide strip with my rotary blade.  I think it would be hard to cut this knit with scissors because it wants to curl.  I used the rule to hold it down.  It is sheer concidence that my ruler is two inches wide.
 3.  Now I have a long, bamboo knit snake! 
 4.  I used my hem gauge to find the middle and I sewed a long stitch down the whole middle.    My machine has stitch length zero to 4.    I chose stitch length 4. 
 5.  I pinned it to the fabric by hand, scrunching up about an inch as I went along and pinning about every half inch.  Does that make sense?  It looks like this when done.  I had marked my starting point and ending point on the skirt panel so I knew where I was headed and I just eyeballed how to make it even from one side to the next.  This is a skirt for a size 2T top.  If I was making a larger top, I would use the same length of knit but it would not be as ruffled and it would not wrap around the back, as this one is going to do.
 6.   Taking the end thread, I gently pulled, using my hands to space out the ruffle as I went and making sure it did not pull the fabric along with it.  I do it this way because ruffling it first by hand created a piece of ruffle that was very difficult to pin and sew down.  I do not have a ruffle attachment for my machine nor does my serger ruffle very well.  So, I do it by hand.  Ruffling with wovens is much easier but knits are more difficult.
 7.  Then, I sewed right on top of the previous stitch, this time not such a long stitch.  My machine has stitch length zero to 4.  This is stitch length 3.
 8.   Now, it looks like this.
 9.  Now, I need to make the swirl.  This time, I folded the knit in half width-wise and cut out a two inch wide piece.  Again, I am making this up because I don't actually have a pattern for this!
 10.  I started in the same way as above, by sewing a long stitch down the whole length of the piece of fabric.  Next, I start by overlapping what I had just sewn on and, using the same technique, I pinned about every half inch while gently pulling up about a half inch to one inch of fabric.  I turned as I was doing this.  I only do the outer part of the rosette.
 11.  I then pulled the end string gently to create the ruffle and sewed it one, again sewing right over the previous stitch.  I did this very slowly and used my fingers to adjust the ruffles a lot.
 12.  This is what it looks like now.
 13.  I pinned back the insides of the rosette so that I won't sew over them for the next step.
 14.  Using the same technique, I pinned the inside of the rosette making sure my stitches will not overlap the outside layer.  I sewed this very slowly, making sure to take pins out as I sewed so I didn't sew one and break a needle.  I also used my fingers a lot to make sure the rosette would come out the way I wanted it.  This is a very forgiving fabric so you can be a tad messy with it and it will still look like a flower.
 15.  Finished!
 16.  A blow of steam from the iron later.....
 17.  And, once again, the finished dress.  This is a rather large rosette. If you want a smaller one, you could just make the swirl tighter together or make the knit less wide.