Quick Sewing: Ruffle Raglan Floral Dress

Sewing is perhaps one of my favorite Sunday activities. I try not to go all “Project Runway” by pinning, hemming and cussing as I’m walking out the door to church, I try to approach Sunday sewing from a more meditative perspective. Strange, I know.

Sewing can be so relaxing for me sometimes!

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A couple of weeks ago I was in one of those moods. I had the time and the energy and blue thread already in my serger. I picked up this leftover fabric from these leggings, the Recess raglan pattern and set to work. I literally squeaked out every square inch of the leftover floral fabric! I had under 10 square inches of fabric left when I was done sewing up this dress. Kind of a proud moment to use up every scrap. Usually what happens is I have an awkward amount of fabric left over and I don’t know what to do with it. Give it away? Throw it away? Try to recycle it to something else?

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I opted for simple finishings with this dress. The sleeves and hem are raw with a simple band for the neckline. The knit on the sleeves is curling up ever so slightly now so it looks like it was left that way on purpose. The un-hemmed ruffle seems to finish off the bottom without an actual hem.

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When I was sewing it up, I actually just eyeballed the length of the dress, assuming it would fit. And it did. But with Penelope growing so much, she’d be able to wear this as a dress for about 3 days before growing too tall for it. The ruffle adds the perfect amount of length to the bottom, letting it graze right at her knees so she’ll have the whole summer to wear it alone, and the fall and winter to wear it with leggings.

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The floral fabric is a 25% stretch cotton knit that I scored at the thrift store a couple years ago. I may have gotten the yardage for somewhere around $2 for 2 yards. $2 for leggings and a dress? Major win. :) I also love that this print has a lot of masculine colors incorporated with the feminine print. It just fits Penelope to a T. She’s a girly girl getting more obsessed each day over hair, makeup and clothes; but there are only boys her age on our street. And she not only keeps up with them, but she keeps them on their toes. It’s pretty cute.

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One of Penelope’s preschool teachers a few years ago told us, “She’s the girliest tomboy I know.” Which I think is the best of all worlds!

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When I surprised Penelope with her new dress, she gave me the world’s best reaction. Seriously, this girl knows how to make her mama feel loved and appreciated. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll have time to sew her a fancypants Easter dress this year. I’m hoping to put something together after the holiday, though.

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I told Penelope to strike her most adorable pose. This girl is ridiculous.

Do you have an Easter dress tradition in your house?

Sewing: Maternity Raglan Circle Tee

YUP! Another baby bump!

We’re so thrilled to announce that we will be welcoming Esplin #3 into the world the beginning of October. The news wasn’t completely real until I heard the heartbeat last week (at 14 weeks!). That first listen to the heartbeat gets me so choked up every time.

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All the discomfort and nausea is for something. Although, I must confess this time around has been much easier than with Felix or Penelope. As long as I’m consuming a steady stream of soda water, gummy bears and pot stickers; I seem to be just fine. It’s mostly been my energy and focus levels. They’ve been at an all-time low lately. I’ve been working on clearing my plate of extra work, slowly but surely that’s happening (as you can tell with the lack of posts here).

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Penelope is thrilled with the news. She’s hoping for a girl. And secretly, we all are. We only have a girl name and girl clothes! Felix destroyed all of his clothes, so we’d have to start completely from scratch if we had a boy. I don’t know why, but my heart has been set on a girl from the beginning. We’re happy with a baby, boy or girl. But I still want a girl. ;)

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I’m about 15 weeks along and quickly starting to show. I’m at this awkward point where I still fit in my old clothes, but I feel like if I wear anything too form-fitting; I’ll look like I ate a giant burrito, not pregnant. That’s pretty much what I’m thinking all the time. Can we blame those crazy thoughts on hormones?

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Besides that, I’ve been thinking and sewing up various pieces that I feel may be versatile during and after pregnancy. I don’t want pieces that make me look like a giant tent; but things that I can wear alone, with a belt or a blazer and feel perfectly comfortable in my own skin.

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Inspired by this look, I used the base of Hey June’s Raglan tee, did a little slash and spread (I use the same technique in the maxi wrap tutorial) and lengthened the hemline by about 7-8 inches and created a slight high-low curve to the base.

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The funny thing about this fabric is that it seems to stretch vertically as the day wears on. I steamed the shirt not long after and instantly added 4 inches to the hemline! Strange, right? I’m thinking this hemline will work for now, but I won’t know for sure until after I have washed and dried the garment for the first time. I’m tempted to keep the longer hemline because my belly is only going to grow 10 fold, too.

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Adjusting the pattern of this top took about 20 minutes and sewing up the top took just under an hour. I used a slightly different method for hemming the sleeve and neckline. instead of sewing the bands with folded side out, I sewed them with the raw edges out. So the top is finished with all raw edges, but it looks more finished than if I had just left it as is. Given the pattern on the shirt, this detail is incredibly subtle, not something that the camera could pick up really well.

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I’ve got Penelope to thank for pictures today. She was such a doll, beaming with excitement to help me in the studio. It’s fun to have my own little assistant in-house!

Outfit details:

  • glasses: c/o Coastal.com (use code SAC1PE6T for 25% off)
  • necklace: c/o Cambria Cove
  • earrings: etsy
  • bracelet: THP Shop
  • skinnies: Forever 21
  • shoes: Forever 21

Download: Keep Moving Forward Desktop Wallpaper

I had the pleasure of working with Chelsea Costa on a new desktop wallpaper series for her blog. I met her at Alt Summit over two years ago and fell in love with her clean style and honest approach to writing and crafting. When she did a call for calligraphers, of course I was on board.

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She gave me a few quotes to choose from, and about 2 weeks ago I felt like Walt Disney’s quote was the most appropriate for what I needed to hear internally. Sometimes life gets overwhelming. Work bogs you down. Kids can be so much work. And the house is never clean.

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Sometimes when my to-do list gets too long for me to handle, I just stop. The mental load of having so much to do brings me to a screeching halt. I need to remind myself to keep moving forward. Because if I’m moving forward, I’m getting something done. And that’s an important feeling.

Check out Chelsea’s blog and download the wallpaper here.

Now if you want me to bore you with technical details, I used a #5 automatic pen and a #8 sable round brush to complete this work. I experimented with a Neuland variation and brush script. For pigments, I used Daniel Smith Phthalo Turquoise and Cobalt Teal Blue.

Calligraphy: Whitney’s Wedding Invitations

Unique wedding invitations are just about the best possible gift I feel I can give to a family member about to get married. It’s not something that I like to do for clients that often, but I love designing them for family members.

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I guess you could say it’s another hobby of mine, even though it’s very much related to my business of teaching calligraphy to others. I love it so much.

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My cousin Whitney is a very classic girl with a modern twist. I knew she and her mom would have very timeless decor at the wedding with simple elegance, so I conveyed that in a nearly all-calligraphed invitation.

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The twist? Printing the names instead of lettering them. It sounds like a gimmick when I write it out like this, but it helps break up the blocks of calligraphy without making the invitation appear busy.

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The ceremony invitations were done mostly in text with special little flourishes here and there.

It’s hard to tell from the photos, but the invitation paper is off-white and the printed text is a dark olive green. A slight variation on the traditional black and white invitation.

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I didn’t know a whole lot about how the reception was going to go, but it turns out the invitations set the tone for the celebration perfectly. The venue was an old 1800s meeting hall with cream walls, white 10″+ moulding, original hardwood floors and stone masonry construction. The party was decorated wall to wall with garlands of doilies and large center-pieces of baby’s breath. Simple, yet oh-so-elegant.

How to Organize Sewing Patterns

The silence over here has been killing me! It’s been a crazy couple of weeks around our house. Chris got the renovation bug not too long ago and we’ve been working our tails off on completing the last unfinished bedroom in our house (pics soon!) and updating all closets. The new closets are heavenly!

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While in spring cleaning/nesting mode, I’ve taken the opportunity to re-organize my sewing patterns. They’re out of control. I’ve drafted about as many patterns as I’ve bought, so coming up with a good system for easy storage was necessary.

In the past, I’ve bought envelopes the same size as as standard pattern envelopes and tried to stuff drafted patterns into those. It’s not terribly effective for me, since most of my pattern envelopes end up sitting on my desk for weeks simply because I’m too annoyed with the thought of putting them away.

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A few fellow sewers mentioned to me how they organize patterns in clear sleeves in three-ring binders. Genius. Wanting them to look polished in my new closets, I went for leather binders*. They’re gorgeous. So far I’ve only separated out tops and bottoms. I’m filling these binders fast, so I’ll likely need to branch out to more categories. Here’s how I’ve done it (and you can too):

Supplies:

  • binders, either 8 1/2 x 11 or 12 x 12
  • clear sheet protectors
  • large labels
  • fun marker or pen

Step 1:

I never cut into store bought patterns. They always remain intact, I simply trace the appropriate size on tracing paper and make adjustments there. I bought a giant roll of 36″ wide x 50 yard tracing paper at a local art supply store for somewhere around $20. If you sew, it’s a worthwhile investment. Store bought patterns stay in their envelopes and those envelopes get stored in a box. Pattern tracings, PDF patterns and self-drafted patterns get stored in binders for easy-access.

Step 2:

Pack the sheet protectors with your pattern (one pattern per protector).

Step 3:

Label the protector. I labeled it with the pattern maker (i.e. Megan Nielsen, Hey June, Self-drafted), pattern name or description and traced size or estimated draft size at the bottom.

Step 4:

Sort. Alphabetical order, style, preferred fabric type, etc. Figure out a system to easily find your patterns and your done!

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I had a lot of fun busting out my brush markers and washi tapes to fancy-up the labels for each pattern. The lettering is far from perfect, but it was great practice.

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Let’s end on a keeping-it-real note. This is how awesome my studio looks at the moment. I’ve got a lot of organizing ahead of me, but with binders, cute boxes and new shelving I feel unstoppable!! WEEEEE!!

How do you organize your sewing patterns? Do share in the comments below!

*Binders and sheet protectors provided by Lifestyle Crafts.
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