Thank Heaven for Little Girls

Thank heaven for little girls, cause little girls need fun dresses every birthday. Thank heaven for little girls, cause aunty's get to buy more yardage and yell hooray!

You've probably figured out from my little ditty that sewing toddler dresses is one of my favorite things. Every year I wait with baited breath and credit card in hand for my niece's birthday. If you're buying girlie, girlie knits for someone else it doesn't count as stash. Froggie told me so.  I hear some of you saying, "Pffftt that frog is the biggest enabler ever." Well I must defend Froggie's honor and say that he gave me the purchasing limit of fabric for one dress, the fairy print.  Then we tossed the stash and pulled out the owls knit and some beefy pink spandex for dress number two.  See, see, just a little bit naughty with the fabric purchases. Don't ask about our chocolate intake.

Both dresses are the Kitschy Coo kids skater dress with a few minor alterations.  Froggie and I though we should shake things up a bit since the little girl in question already has a few regular skaters.  We also had the extra creative challenge of discovering there wasn't quite enough of the owls knit for a 3/4 T skater after cutting out the skirt. Oops, we are usually much better at laying everything out before cutting.  Must have been too hopped up on chocolate.

For the fairies dress a Comino cap like seam was dropped into the bodice. One of us is obsessed with that pattern and the other said he'd been told little girls like princessy clothing.
For the owls version Froggie and I did another sort bodice piecing to get around our yardage snafu. We though a big "belt" like waistband would look similar to woven dresses with wide ribbons around the waist.
Our original plan was to do a Katie MD flutter sleeve, but thought the dress needed a banded sleeve to balance out the waistband.  Instead we slashed up the pattern, creating a puff sleeve.
After completing these two cute dresses Froggie took a nap.  Sewing excitement really wears him out.  I remained awake and put in a little more elbow grease taking pictures of how to make these design changes.  Must....infect....you....with...more.....hacking.

Sweet heart neckline version
1. On the front make a mark on the side seam 3/4" down from the armhole.

2. Place french curve on the pattern like so. The tail in should touch the side seam mark.

3. Trace the curve from the CF over towards the armhole, but stop before you get to the side seam.

4. Flip the french curve the other direction and complete the sweetheart seam line.

5. Cut the pattern in two pieces along the line.

6. Add seam allowance to each side of the newly drafted seam. (I put 1/4" SA on these pieces)

7. On the back draw a mark on the side seam 3/4" down from the armhole.

8. At that mark, draw a straight line perpendicular to the CB across the pattern.

9. Cut the back apart on that line and add seam allowance to both sides of the new seam.

Puff Sleeve Version
1. The "waistband" piecing is the same idea as the cormino cap seam above.  Measure 2 1/4" up from the bottom of the bodice. Draw the line following the curve of the bodice waist seam. Cut apart and add seam allowance.

2. Trace a copy of the short sleeve skater sleeve.

3. Mark 1" along either side of the sleeve head notch.

4. Draw vertical lines through the sleeve at the new marks and at the sleeve head notch.

5. From the sleeve head edge, cut the pattern along these lines but not all the way through.  Leave a small hinge at the cuff edge so that the sleeve can be fanned open.

6. Decide how much extra ease to add to the sleeve. I decided to add 3/4" to each slash line for a total of 2 1/4" extra ease.  Each slashed area was then taped open at 3/4".

7. Smooth out the new sleeve cap with a ruler and cut off all the overhanging paper.
Ta Da! You are now prepared with patterns for outfitting adorable bounty hunters. Watch out, she's packing suds! Don't encase me in a bubble. Noooo!


Walking like an Egyption Mabel

Way back in the Spring when Colette announced they were going to release some knit patterns I was pretty excited. After all I'm an equal opportunity knit/woven pattern hoarder collector.  Weeeeell, you can't please everyone all of the time and the two patterns didn't really "do it for me."  As explained in my Fauxneta post, the dress was something that could easily knock off with my existing pattern collection.  As far as Mabel was concerned I figured the sight of a fitted knit stretched my rear end was something the world should be spared from. Yet here I am wearing a Mabel.......hypocritical much?
So how did this happen?  First I was seduced by fabric, really, really awesome ponte fabric. Secondly when cashing in my Sew Dolly Clackett winnings at Harts and could either pay shipping or throw in a pattern and get free shipping. Hmmmm let me see here, what would anyone do in this situation? Yes, buy another pattern.
So I made version 3 out of my awesome, awesome ponte, put it on and went "Meh."  But why? Like all Colette patterns, Mabel had excellent directions and the drafting was great. I like pencil skirts and knits so all this should add up to another pattern that makes me froth at the mouth.
The only thing I can put my finger on is that the skirt feels like it might fall off at any moment. This has got to be my brain messing with me, cause I have enough ass to keep any kind of fitted skirt in place. My "knit sewing instincts" feel that there's not enough negative ease in the pattern when using the suggested size. On the other hand, I don't want a lot of negative ease in this area of my body. AHHHH my kingdom for a stretch woven!  At least my brain knows how it likes those types of pencil skirts to fit.

Colette Mabel I sewed view 3 in a blended size M/L.

Fabrics used
Coda Ponte from Marcy Tilton. (Still in stock)
Rayon Scraps for waistband lining

Pattern changes/alterations
1. Blended the size medium at the waist into the size large for the rest of the skirt.

2. Took in  1/2" at waist on CB skirt seam.

3. Cut down side seams of back waistband to match the ease taken out of the CB seam.

- I didn't read instructions again and assembled the waistband in a completely different method that was not better.

- Seems that with a busy print you can accidentally walk around with your skirt on sideways without noticing.  Even after you take about 30 pictures. Classic Heather.

Husband Comment
"Why aren't you making the shorter version?"

My Final Thoughts
OK, despite my apathetic feelings about this pattern, I feel like it deserves another go. My plans are to trace a smaller size and see if I like that fit better. My brain still thinks that a lot of negative ease around my lower body is a bad idea, too many lumps and bumps around there. I might have to admit that this pattern is not for me and stick to stretch woven skirts.


Billie Jean Sundress

Last month I did a fun little hack of the Billie Jean pattern and finally got my shit together and wrote about it. Can I blame waiting for the right accessories to arrive in the mail?  Cause cherry shoes and brooches are awesome. All hacking details and some fun wind blown photos are over on the Bluegingerdoll blog.
P.S. This hack is so darn easy. You'll spend more time trying to turn those devilish spaghetti straps than altering the pattern.


My Quick and Dirty Hollow Chest Adjustment for Comino Cap

As I sat writing the meat of this post I kept thinking of a twitter conversation I had with Jo_Sews. She mentioned that he mother sewed for years, but had no idea about fitting.  She assumed that if a pattern didn't fit her out of the envelope it was because there was something wrong with the pattern. This stuck in my brain because it made me think, "How many people out there right now think the problem is with the pattern? When actually the problem is that they aren't aware of their own fitting issues?"

I distinctly remember in high school making a red brocade dress. (Tone on tone floral from JoAnn's. Probably polyester.... uggh) It was Asian inspired with a neru collar, frogs along the neckline (the decorative kind you know, not the fluffy kind that sits on my table) and a long slit up the leg. Even though the pattern measurements clearly showed I should have been blending two sizes, it never occurred to me to do so. I made the size that fit my hips and which made the bust area was way too big. The fit on the final dress was horrible and I never finished it, but didn't really put two and two together about why the project was a disaster. It was college that made me realize that garments need to be fit to particular bodies, even if they didn't really show us how. It took a lot of book reading, experimentation and muslining for me to figure out how to solve most of my problems, and I'm still learning new things.

Guess this is the long way of saying, "This is why I talk about my fitting changes all the time." I don't want someone to think there's a problem with the pattern, when the real problem is that we're all differently shaped. Showing my fitting fixes is something I like to do because I've been helped by other people doing the same thing. Sew smarter, not harder. :)  So let's actually get to the sew smarter part and talk about my hollow chest adjustment for the Comino Cap. Sorry for the unplanned long winded detour.

I think it's safe to say that we all have indie favorites based on style, but also based on how close our figure is to the designer. After all the designer is the "fit model" used for the drafting of the pattern. If our figure is close to theirs, then the amount of alterations needed to get the pattern to fit us are minimal.  I'll freely admit that this is one of the reasons I'm a big Kitschy Coo fan girl.  I need to make very few adjustments to Amanda's patterns because our body type is fairly similar.  But there is one area were we are completely different and that is where our bust fullness is. Amanda's bust fullness is fairly high on her torso, where as mine is working it's way down to my waistline. (Thanks for the genes great grandma.) On a one piece top I don't really notice this. However with the added visual interest of the sweet heart princess line the excess ease bothered me.  Cue the visual examples.....

Comino Cap without any changes - I get some pooling of fabric at the mid point of the bust and over towards the arm.
To figure out how much ease to remove for the seam line, I pinched out the amount of fabric naturally folding up on the seam. On me that was 1.5" of extra ease.  Then I went back to the pattern and removed that amount from the sweet heart seam.

Comino Cap with sweet heart seam line ease reduced - Smooth baby, smooth.
So now I'll show you the "quick and dirty" method used to reduce the ease on this seam line.  It's quick and dirty because instead of slashing and closing the pattern, I'm darting out the excess ease.  You can do this kind of half assed alteration to knits because the stretch gives you a larger margin of error. But It's not the "correct way" and my pattern drafting teacher would dock my grade.

This fix will work on bodies with large busts with lower fullness like mine.  I'm not so sure it would work well as a SBA type of adjustment. Amanda is going to write up a tutorial on adjusting the pattern for small busts on her blog. If a SBA adjustment is one of your standard alterations then you might want to wait for that.

It might also be helpful for everyone to know that I did not make any kind of hollow chest adjustment to the one piece version. Without the seam line to attract the eye to that area the extra ease didn't bother me.

How to Modify the Comino Cap for Hollow Chests
I'll be demoing the fitting changes on the dress bodice pattern piece. The process is the same for the shirt version.

1. Trace off a copy of the front contrast piece and the front dress/shirt piece.

2. We'll be marking out the amount of ease to be removed on the lower piece first.  The amount of ease I'm removing is 1.5".  Because this is a rather large amount for on "dart", I decided to break it up into two 3/4" segments.   The first is 1" away from the side seam.  The second is measured from the bust matching point. I used the notch as one side of the 3/4" marking.

3. Fold the first marked out area like a dart and tape it shut.

4. Repeat step 3 with the second marked out area.

5. Now we need to remove the same amount of ease from the top contrast piece. Mark out the two 3/4" (or your measurement) in the same areas of the pattern.

6. When folding the first marked out area like a dart be sure not to take very much length out of the armhole. You might want to angle the fold like this.

7. Fold the second marked out area like a dart, letting it go up into the shoulder like so.

8. The fitting adjustments are done but the patterns "as is" would be a real pain in the butt to cut. You'll want to trace new copies.

9. For the lower piece I suggest first tracing the vertical fold line, then trace the modified sweet heart line off of the adjusted piece. "True" the seam line so that it is nice and smooth and remember to transfer the center bust matching point

10. Now take the lower piece and place it on the original pattern. Trace the waist/hem seam and then blend the original side seam from the bottom up to the new edge of sweet heart neckline.

11. The upper contrast piece is relatively flat compared to the bottom, but you might still want to retrace it to smooth out the sweet heart seam line and the armhole curve.

12. Cut your new traced copies out and you're ready to make a spiffy new Comino Cap.
Ahhhhh, doesn't fixing fitting problems make you feel good? Like dancing? Then get down with your bad self. "She's a fitting freak, fitting freak, she's super freaky now...Yooewww."


Comino Cap - How I love you

I've got a scandalous confession to make today. Since the beginning of the summer I've been having a long and passionate affair with a pattern. It's identity had to remain a secret for awhile, but finally I can talk about our love. Let me introduce you to my summer pattern soul mate, the Comino Cap from Kitschy Coo.
Oh my Lord, I was already a raving Kitschy Coo fan girl, but this pattern takes me over the edge.
-Top and dress options, check.
-Two bodice variations, check.
-Super cute, comfortable, and easy to make, check, check check!

I fell for it hard and made a bunch of versions. To keep your eyes melting into your face, I'll show only the basic variations I've made.  Trust me, there's about umpteen sweet heart tops in my drawer and I've yet to make the one piece bodice dress version. But I will. Oooooh yes and maybe throw the lady skater skirt on it cause the patterns can be mixed and matched. Double your Kitschy Coo, double your fun wild hacking plans.

All garments are a straight Kitschy Coo size 4 and I've noted the specific fabric details for each with the pics.

Sweet heart top variation 
My first "real fabric" version of the Comino Cap and still a favorite. I should note that this shirt is "version 1" of the pattern and has slightly shorter cap sleeves/deeper neckline than the release version. These fabrics were gifted to me from the lovely Gillian Crafts and I believe they are rayon jerseys.   The contrast solid green is on the drapy side, while the stripes are more stable.

On the sweet heart versions I did take ease out that seam line because of my hollow chest.  I'll break out the alteration into a separate "how to" post since this one is already picture heavy.
This top is in a twice a week rotation and I'm still grumpy when it's dirty. It goes with so many things.

Sweet heart dress variation
I waited until all the major pattern changes were finished to whip out a dress version.  Mostly because I'd been hoarding this recently purchased Hilco print "Fly me to paradise" for just such a project. The contrast top is Lillestoff solid dark pink jersey.  Both knits are of the stable variety with good stretch recovery, however the Hilco base is a touch thicker than the Lillestoff base.  I think the stiffer knit works well with the A line shape of the Comino Cap skirt. The skirt has a lot less volume than the lady skater skirt, so you can squeak out the dress version in about 1.5 yards. I've lengthen the skirt by 3" because those of us with big butts need more length for bending over.
Put your hands up for birds! Tweet, tweet.

One piece bodice top *with bonus toddler photobomb*
Say you're not in the sweetheart top mood, but love a good cap sleeve tee.  Just make up the one piece view.  I've made mine in the Tomahawk print, part of the new Arizona line from Art Gallery Fabrics. I'm pleased to report that the knit base they've used is great.  It's also a stable knit with good stretch recovery, but in a lighter weight.  It washes up very soft and is easy to work with.
With no princess line seam to match up, this version can be knocked out in a couple of hours. I've got plans to make a couple solid color ones to coordinate with some print skirts.  Then maybe bring a leash along to the next photo shoot to keep "someone" from hogging the center of the frame.
I could sing the praises of the Comino Cap for a lot longer but I think you get the idea.  If knit dresses and tops are your thing, then you'll get a lot of mileage out of this baby. Head on over to Kitschy Coo's website, grab your copy, and start plotting knit fabric combinations. Use the coupon code VATFREE for a discount on the pattern and fabric orders for the next 24 hours. If you wear a size 4 I'll be over with cookies to "supervise." Mmm yeah, use that fabric.