Saturday, November 6, 2010

The sweater never goes out of style

Publish Post

Thirty one years ago, I crocheted a couple of sweaters while pregnant with my first child. I had learned to crochet as a child, but hated the fact that my grandmother had made me do a sampler instead of something cool, so I never used my skills to make anything. But suddenly I had a great need to cover my child in things I had made, so I sewed and crocheted for months. Kimonos, shirts, pants, sweaters and blankets flew out of my crochet hooks and sewing machine like water.

Sadly- a large baby born in June hasn't much need for sweaters, and he didn't get to wear them much. In fact, at all. But still, proud Mommy and proud fibercrafter, I put him in them, and took a picture. I even sent the picture to Crochet World Magazine. It was published in the summer of 1981.

My grandmother (She of the sampler incident) kept a copy of the magazine, folded open to this page, and with his name written under the picture, in the magazine rack in her guest bathroom until the day she died, so all visitors to the house could enjoy him.

Fast forward 30 years- this is the daughter of that cute baby, wearing the sweater.

And here she is wearing the other sweater. Sometimes I hate being a packrat and keeping too many things, other times I am glad for it!

By the way- this is another June baby, not nearly as large as her daddy was, and STILL the sweater is too small when the season is right! Someone is going to have to have a fall baby...

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Other Ruffley Butt Baby

This is the other recipient of the Pansy Ruffley Butt outfit, Miss C. L. A.

She seems to like it...

I think she looks like her Daddy...

Three generations of overalls.

And three generations of sleeping

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More Ruffley Butts!

Remember this post from back in the spring? I made a purple ruffle butt outfit for my then-unborn granddaughter. My sister Amanda requested that I make one for a friend of hers whose baby was due in mid-summer. Because I am the best of all possible older sisters*, I did so. I got a picture today of Miss Ruffle Butt herself- isn't she a doll? So tiny! In this one she looks worn out from carrying all those pansies around with her!

When I get a picture of my granddaughter wearing her pansy outfit I'll post it, too- but she is growing like a weed- hope she hasn't already outgrown it!

*I guess I can't really claim that "best of all possible older sisters" title, but I am in the top 4.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pink Daisies and Polka Dots

When I saw this, admittedly very odd, dress at the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter Thrift Store, I was both horrified and intrigued. I mean, it really is peculiar.

I knew it would be a great little girl dress. In fact, I believe one of my sisters had a dress made from a very similar fabric back in the '60's.

I took the dress apart. The construction was simple, but weird- Imagine folding a piece of 8.5 by 11 paper, and drawing a t-shirt shape on one half. Cut the bottom of the arms, the sides of the shirt and the bottom off, but don't cut the fold. Cut a round hole in the middle of the fold for the head, and then sew a little angle across the top, wider at the edge and getting smaller as you go ALMOST to the cut out circle, to make the angle at the top of the arms. The seam at the top of the arms didn't go all the way to the neck, which was bound by a piece of hem tape. Then there was a tie for the back that brought the sides of the dress in so it had a little more shape. Strange. It was, however, easy to take apart, just rip up the side seams.

I didn't want the dress to be entirely daisies, and I wasn't sure what else to put with it. I went through my fabric stash to see if I had anything I could pair with it. I had a black and white gingham, and the same gingham I had overdyed pink, but somehow I didn't like them.

The daisies had a green edge, and I tried to find something in that color, but was unsuccessful.
I eventually decided on a cotton print- pink with black polkadots, and another black with pink polka dots.

I used a dress design similar to the jumper from the Mickey Mouse dress, except I re-engineered the skirt to have pleats across the front. I used the daisy print as the skirt, and the polka-dots as the top. There was so much of the daisy print that I made 2 little dresses- in sort of mirror images- one used the black for the outside and was lined with the pink, the other was the reverse.

The buttons were fun- Shrinky Dink plastic again. I scanned the daisy fabric, and then used Photoshop to add black polka dots, so the buttons had an element of each fabric. I printed out four of them on the ink-jet printer.

Before baking

During baking

After baking. A couple coats of clear nail polish to seal them and make them shiny, and they were stitched onto of concealed snaps.
I punched holes in the buttons before shrinking, but the shrinking process made them close up. Chuck used his Dremel to drill out new holes so I could sew the buttons on.

When trimming the seams of this one, I stupidly cut a hole in the lining fabric. I repaired it and it didn't look TOO bad...

The "Big Girl" dresses were so cute I decided to make a "Little Girl" outfit as well. I made a onesie of the black polka dots, lined it with the light pink, and made a skirt of the daisies. The skirt is ruffled with the polka dot fabrics, and has an elastic drawstring
And here are the girls wearing their new outfits. Sadly, Granddaughter #2 is growing like a weeds, and is too big for the onesie, but the skirt is still cute.

I think she's dancing here-

The skirt is not as cute as the baby, but cute.

Granddaughter #1 in her dress. She's cuter than the dress, too. I kept the pink polkadot dress here- I haven't decided what to do with it. Sell it? Give it away? Stay tuned. AND there's still enough fabric for a hat or two...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Grandma hits one out of the park!

Grandma made the CUTEST dress ever. And getting to see Granddaughter # 1 in the cutest dress ever made the almost paralysing fear over granddaughter #2's hospitalization a little easier to live with.
The cutest dress ever began with a pair of jeans from Better Days Animal League Thrift Store. Granddaughter # 1 is a HUGE Mickey Mouse fan, and when I saw these, I could not pass them up. And for a buck 50, why should I? They had an interesting Tropical Minnie and Mickey theme, although I am disappointed Minnie doesn't get to surf, just hula.

The shorts were on the small side- but not tiny. I took them apart to get as much usable fabric as possible. Sorry, no photos of the deconstruction.

I chose an a-line jumper pattern, size T-2 Vivienne, which is free from Burda. You can print it out- it prints on 6 sheets of 8.5 by 11 paper, which I taped together to make the entire sheet.

I did have to make some changes- since the shorts were small-ish, I had to seam the center front and center back of the skirt- couldn't get a piece of fabric large enough for the entire pattern piece. Also, to my dismay, I didn't have enough fabric to cut the bodice out. But I thought "No Problem- I have plenty of old jeans stashed around, waiting to be made into rag rugs."

No problem- HAH- the denim in the shorts had an odd grayish tone, and the denim in my rag rug bag did not- none of it. But there was part of a white pair that had belonged to my older son- he of the zebra placket bowling shirt picture. As you see, he decorated his clothing in many ways... Still, even the white jeans didn't look right with the Mickeys. But I have a fix for that...

I cut off the legs of the white jeans, and popped them in a dye bath- I use Procion. I was hoping to get that coral color of the flower blossoms, so I mixed a little yellow with magenta. The finished product is not really salmon, but looks OK with the fabric.

And here is the dress. The little charms are Shrinky Dink plastic, and are sewn onto jump rings so they can be removed to wash. But even with the dangling Mickeys, it looked unfinished. A cute bow did the trick. Voila!

Close-up of the dangling Mickeys. I failed to mention it is fully lined- I stuck some unbleached muslin in the dye bath as well, so the lining matches the bodice.

And here is the princess wearing it- When she opened the package after it arrived in the mail, her mother reports she said "Oh my goodness Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Dress!" and had to put it on right away. Thank goodness it fits- but it's a little short. I was worried about it being big enough around, and once again forgot the long-waistedness. Oh, well, a t-shirt and tights or pants will make it last into the fall.

What more could a grandmother ask for?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More bibs

These were gifts- the orange one to my friend D for her granddaughter, and the green to my friend B, for her daughter. These two and my granddaughter were all born the same year, and (almost) share a name- if they were a secret society, they could be called "The Triumvirate of E".

My son has been calling the bib I sent his daughter "Food Armour", and these two bibs have a Shrinky-Dink (tm) tag that says "Marvelous E's Food Armour". I love the idea of putting cupcakes on food armour!

The pink flowers and butterflies were purchased appliques, the cupcakes were cut from a piece of fabric. A desing addition- I added a pocket to the bottom- suggested by my son, who said that the bib kept his daughter clean but the floor was still pretty messy. His father told him that was why we always had dogs...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Baby Sewing- Reclaimed clothing

I have been doing a lot of baby and toddler sewing recently- and it's been a lot of fun. Recently I came across something that really caught my attention- a woman in California who is making a new article of clothing every day. She uses dresses purchased from a thrift store for $1.00 and repurposes these finds. Her blog, New Dress a Day shows a daily before and after picture, as well as in-between pictures and commentary.

I've been hoarding interesting clothing items for a while, and I thought I would do something similar, focused on baby clothes. Not one a day, certainly- both of my granddaughters have more clothing that they could ever wear. And probably not $1.00- but close.

Without further ado- here's dress number 1. It was an odd floor-length gown, from the Better Days Animal League Thrift Store, and cost $1.50. Odd, because in order to make a dress for my 2 year old granddaughter, I didn't make it any smaller around. I just cut off length. Now, think about that. She's 2... This dress was floor length for an adult... Hmmmm.

So here is the before picture- this is a VERY slender dress made by stitching with elastic around the top. I loved the color and the paisleys.
Here in this extremely close shot, you can see that the elasticized portion is 9 inches long- well, you can see the 10 on the tape measure, and it's just below the elastic. You can also extrapolate that if I had taken a picture of the width of the dress, something I didn't do and should have- it would be about 9 inches as well- about 18 inches around, with relaxed elastic.

And the dress is just a hair short of 41 inches long.

OK, I'm an average height- 5'4", and a 41 inch dress would be a comfortable floor length for me in this strapless design. 18 inches around I am most definitely not. My granddaughter, who is a good sized girl at 35 inches tall, measures 24 inches around her little round tummy.

Who on earth could have worn this dress?

I'll never know the answer. The mysteries of life are what make it interesting.

I wanted to cut off some of the elastic area- 9 inches seemed too much for the little dress I had in mind. Because the lines of elastic stitching didn't match up well enough for me, I ripped the one seam to make a flat piece of fabric.

I cut the elastic stitched portion in half-ish- I left 5 inches attached to the skirt, and cut off a 4 inch piece, which was promptly cut into two 2 inch pieces. I made straps for the dress from one of the 2 inch pieces, and a headband with the other. I cut off 20 inches of skirt and saved it for other projects.

And here is the beautiful princess wearing her dress. She's not wearing the matching headband because I forgot to mail it to her. Bad Grandma.
The straps are a little long- one of the hazards of sewing for someone 700 miles away is that it is hard to fit things...

Some of those gorgeous paisleys were cut out and appliqued to a toddler-sized bib for the princess. Made from a hand-towel, these simply have a neck hole and an opening slit cut, the cut edges are bound with bias tape, and a piece of velcro attached to close.

I really like the idea of remaking thrift store clothes into other items. It feels, well, both thrifty and as though it sponsors stewardship of the earth. In addition, it's an interesting mental challenge, and the finished items have a unique appearance. My older son used to have me repurpose thrift store finds for him- I remember a bowling shirt to which we attached a faux zebra "fur" collar and placket. In fact, here's a picture:

Ah, those punk days.