Monthly Archives: September 2008

Sketching and stitching and dreaming

Last week I had a major breakthrough.  I received some seriously beautiful fabric and was immediately drawn to making it into something other than another nice pretty folded piece for my collection of nice pretty folded pieces of good design intentions.  I couldn’t stop thinking about what would definitely be a dress.  I dreamt of it, I doodled it, and finally, I began with a solid idea.  As I was drafting the pattern and arranging the pieces on the fabric, something kept me from cutting everything and then sewing it all together.  I cut, then stitched, then decided on a trim, then stitched, then tried the pieces already sewn onto Formella and then I stopped.  I realized what I already had was something pretty special.  Ideas fell into place, and I was able to continue to construct what was initially a dress idea into a pinafore that I feel is simply perfect on its own.  I decided to construct the remaining portions of the dress idea as a separate dress altogether and I couldn’t be happier with the results so far.

Here are some photos of the pinafore (still awaiting its underdress) The photos do not do this fabric justice.  The colors are so rich and deep that I just want to sink into it.  I wonder if I could get away with wearing this in my size? Probably not. partypinafore 004 partypinafore 003

I was thoroughly inspired by this skirt to get a little ruffle-y.  (Once I read the post and devoured her entire blog, I discovered that Miss Jona has a gorgeous little fabric shop, Fabritopia.  Orders were placed and received.  A new bookmark has been saved.  Go there.)  You may notice that I finally learned how to use that contraption that has been sitting in my sewing room, taunting me from its box for over a year now.  That ruffler is my new best friend. My ruffle is more of a pleat, I confess, but I love it on  this pinafore. Crisps up the edge of the magnificent meandering blossoms, I think.

The underdress is coming along nicely in a gorgeous plum baby corduroy that feels like velvet.  The sleeves are going to be simply magical,  if I have my way with the fabric!

Construction has been halted however, in favor of a very specific request by Miss Ella (did I tell you she asked me to call her that?)for a “Fairy Costume, Orange One” for her upcoming birthday.  I have scoured the web, trying tutorial after tutorial after tutorial and yet, after fearlessly attempting these techniques at home, I understand why people charge (and pay) so much for those lovely tutus and pettiskirts…they are a pain in the ass to make!  Plus, none of these tutorials, though really, really great (especially that last one, WOW!) are exactly what I want for my little Orange Fairy.

I’m going to try to dream about this one tonight before my mom comes over to play with ellabella tomorrow.  It will probably be my last chance before the birthday to get it done.  Otherwise I’m going to be baking cupcakes like mad (and enlisting brothers and sister to frost and sprinkle fairy dust on them!)


Wish me luck!


1 Comment

Filed under creativity, inspiration on the web, life, motherhood, sewing

some things I don’t want to forget….ellabella is 23 months old

So Ella is not yet 2, but almost, and she has been learning so much – I want to remember every last thing from before she was 2….

Yesterday she asked to use the potty.  This was not the first time, because earlier in the week she had made a little “deposit” for us and was SO proud.  She likes sitting on the potty lately.  She’s asking more and more often, so I found her a sweet little cushion-y seat so she can be comfortable.  I have a feeling I’m going to spend the next few weeks on the floor of the bathroom while she works on her new project….good thing I have a nice laptop and an extra battery so I can work!

Last night at dinner we were reading her book while we waited for the sushi.  She pointed to a small gnome and said “gum?”  Was she reading the “g” in Gnome?  When we answered her and said “Gnome” she threw her head back and laughed, my loud bark of a laugh.  She’s been experimenting with laughs lately.  It’s as if she borrows one of ours to try it on.

She likes to change her clothes.  At least 3 or 4 times per day.  Funny that her dollies are not allowed to wear any clothes.  All babies must be naked!

Her favorite bedtime song lately is ABC.  Not the Jackson 5 version, unfortunately, but the alphabet version.  Repeatedly.  Hundreds of times per week.

August2008 015 She LOVES to color.  She has always held her pencil/crayon/writing implement properly.  So much so, that the triangular fat crayons meant to encourage proper grip are annoying her!  Her favorites are the small IKEA crayons because they color bright, bold shades.  When a crayon leaves only a faint mark she becomes agitated and says “working!  NOT working!”

She has a great sense of humor, and makes rather sophisticated jokes.

She uses proper verb tense.  Always.  she even corrects herself and chuckles when she makes a mistake.  (“I go (hee hee) went to kitchen.”)

Every day is a new adventure.  I’m so grateful that we get to spend our days together.  At the same time I feel like I cannot believe she’s almost two, I cannot believe she’s ONLY almost 2.  We’re going to enjoy this last month of being 1.  J keeps saying “she’s two” but she isn’t.  She’s only one so far, and I’m in no hurry to rush her.  I relish every moment of this precious one year old!


Filed under motherhood

Woodland Adventure Dress

We love this dress around here.  After Ella’s tremendous effort during the draping process, I just finished it today.  She loves it now, and was complemented at every turn when we were out in it for diner.  We both love when that happens.  I wanted to make something with gentle folds, and have been dying to try out this beautiful Tencel I purchased a while back.

In case you’re wondering what Tencel is (I was, before I bought it):

Tencel (Lyocell) is the first new fiber in 30 years, and being made of wood pulp cellulose, it is the first new natural fiber in a lot longer than that. The properties and production processes were unique enough for the US Federal Trade Commission to designate tencel as a separate fiber group. Tencel was developed by Tencel, Inc., and Tencel is the registered trademark of Tencel Ltd. (Tencel, Inc. in the US), for lyocell fibers.

Tencel is a manufactured fiber, but it is not synthetic. Tencel begins with cellulose which is processed with a non-toxic, recyclable dissolving agent, most of which is recycled back into the fiber manufacturing process. Tencel can be woven in 100% tencel fabrics (but it still is a bit expensive), or blended with other fibers. Like other natural fibers, tencel is naturally biodegradable. Tencel is yarn dyed and absorbs colors much better than most other fibers, and it is particularly striking in deep tones, taking on a jewel-like appearance. Lyocell can be made into microfibers (very fine fibers), offering depth and body to fabrics combined with luxurious drape. Short staple length fibers give a cotton-like look to fabrics. Long filament fibers give the finished fabric more silk-like qualities.


So, here she is in the Chrysanthemum Overshirt (v2) and her Woodland Adventure Dress.

OGC_FallSeason08_TencelDressChrysanthemumOvershirt2 001OGC_FallSeason08_TencelDressChrysanthemumOvershirt2 043  OGC_FallSeason08_TencelDressChrysanthemumOvershirt2 020  OGC_FallSeason08_TencelDressChrysanthemumOvershirt2 034

The Tencel truly does feel like  washable, drape-y silk. Randomized tucks at the neckline and inverted box pleats at the sleeve cap control the volume, while providing some interesting detail.  The bound sleeve hem is perfectly soft and comfortable on the inside, and pushes up to the elbow for dinnertime.  There is a tiny box pleat to shape the front hem.  The trim is done in the same Kokka Ouka Chrysanthemum Pinwheels fabric as the Overshirt (in the twig/lavender colorway).   They could be worn together, but they don’t have to be paired like this.  There are so many colors in the Ouka  fabric, but this putty grey happened to be the dreamy, ecologically friendly Tencel I’ve been dreaming of for this dress.

The raglan sleeves fit beautifully, and the single-button closure at the left shoulder is very easy to get onto a wiggly toddler.  I used the same caramel button as on the Overshirt from Grandma’s button stash, but will have to find some similar buttons for any Overshirts sold in the shop.

OGC_FallSeason08_TencelDressChrysanthemumOvershirt2 060

She’s ready for anything in this dress…and before you ask, the boots (aren’t they fabulous?) are of man-made materials from Target. J actually ran over to Target to get a size 9 because we have a 7 now and he doesn’t want her to grow out of these yet this winter. Silly daddy. OGC_FallSeason08_TencelDressChrysanthemumOvershirt2 037


Filed under sewing

My little fashion designer

My little fashion designer

Originally uploaded by Pranamama.

Ella insisted the dress needed more pins at the hem. In Fact, she used all of my pins (it was so heavy when she was done!) She insisted that I warn her each time that they are sharp, and after each pin (upwards of 100) she said “Look!” while awaiting my surprise and admiration. This was one of the most productive 90 minutes I have ever spent on “work things” while she’s been awake. Break out the pins and magnetic bowl!!

If anyone had told me I would be giving my 23 month old daughter scissors and pins to play with I would have looked at them like they had 3 heads. Alas, it is I who have 3 heads.


Filed under creativity