Monday, March 31, 2014

Frozen! An Elsa Dress Process Post

A few people have asked about the Elsa dress I made for Abby, so I thought I'd take a minute and do a little post.

While clothing construction doesn't intimidate me at all - I was a clothing seamstress before I was a quilter, after all - I'm not at all good with sizing or drafting patterns, so I started out with this basic costume pattern from Simplicity.  Abby is pretty much a size 5, although the dress was a little long - which is fine because her mommy and I wanted her to be able to wear it for awhile.

I scoured the internet for images of the Elsa costume that showed the detail of the gown, and made my plan. 
The costume pattern had much more fullness in the skirt than the Elsa costume, so when cutting, I took pleats in the pattern pieces to remove most, but not all, of the gathers.  Abby's mommy wanted this to be a dress that she could get on and off by herself, so a bit of fullness was desirable, if not totally accurate.

In addition, the pattern only comes with only puffy short sleeve options.  Since I wasn't home and didn't have access to a long sleeve pattern from my stash, I opted to pleat the fullness out of the sleeve until the measurement of the curve in the sleeve was about 2 inches larger than the measurement of the armhole.  Then I drew straight lines down both sides of the sleeve and cut it out.  The sleeve is a bit too long, but since we wanted the dress to be able to "grow" with Abby, the added sleeve length was desirable.

The bodice, however, was perfect.  Originally, I intended to make the top of the bodice and the sleeves out of just the sparkle tulle, but one brief fitting and Abby's comment that the tulle was "itchy" made me realize that if the dress was to be worn and enjoyed, comfort and practicality trumped authenticity.  I ended up using the tulle as an overlay instead.  It might have been better to use a lighter blue lining under the tulle to give it a more authentic look, but by then the "when will it be finished, Grandma?" litany had begun, and another trip to the fabric store just wasn't politic.

The floor under the sewing machine while I was working on the sparkle tulle.
 Abby's mommy had already purchased the fabrics - a stretchy dancewear lycra for the main part of the dress, the sequin fabric for the overlay, and the sparkle tulle for the cape. Perfect choices, although be forewarned that the sparkle tulle is MESSY!  Not just messy to work with, but messy as in all-over-the-house messy as the child plays.  After a washing or two the sparkles are mostly gone, so you may want to make another choice to begin with.  I think Amanda will be vacuuming up sparkles for a long time (the good news is that the children fight over getting to help vacuum!)

And, as I mentioned above, the sparkle tulle is itchy on a child's skin, so you probably don't want to run the risk of making a dress the child won't wear.  One last comment on the tulle - it is fairly fragile.  Abby's mommy told me just this week that Abby has already ripped the tulle while playing outside.  I think I might opt for a chiffon or other fabric in favor of the tulle.

To make the cape, I cut a piece of the sparkle tulle about 2" longer than Abby's neck-to-heel measurement and hemmed it on 3 sides.  I cut a scrap of the dancewear lycra 2" wide and about 2" longer than the width of the back of the dress, and used the lycra scrap as a placket to hold the cape.  I fully enclosed the gathers inside the lycra so they won't pull loose.  Then I topstitched the cape onto the dress along the upper back seam.  Since the cape isn't attached within the seam, if it is necessary to change out the cape, it should be a fairly simple matter to do so.

And Grandma's efforts are being soundly rewarded - my little princess is having a blast with her beautiful dress.  Her mommy said she has worn it every day since it was finished, which is, after all, the true test of dress-up greatness, right?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Visit to the Grands'

Once again it has been way too long since I've visited my little blog...  I'm sure it is feeling neglected.  I went to Utah to watch the grands so their mommy and daddy could have a much-needed weekend away.  We had a blast.  Of course, there was our traditional breakfast at McDonald's.  (Britton is getting so that he actually plays on the equipment - which is really fun until he gets "stuck" and I have to send Abby after him.  Still, it's very fun to watch them!)

There were several trips to the park, which is only about 4 houses away, so it's super convenient!

It's really fun to watch them grow up!

One of my favorite parts of visiting is that Abby comes in every morning to wake me up and keep me company.  This little game usually involves Netflix or some other wake-up game on Grandma's Iphone.  Here, she's taking a selfie (how do they know about these things at such a young age?)

Grandma had the opportunity to make Abby an Elsa dress (from the Disney movie, Frozen.)

Which caused a huge mess - there were sparkles everywhere!

And the cape was perhaps the biggest hit of all...

But it was really fun to see how much Abby liked her dress - in fact, her mommy says she's worn it every day since it was finished.  Guess Grandma needs to get busy and make a couple more dresses and give this one a rest.

A bag of pom poms an a couple of embroidery hoops provided an entire morning's entertainment while Grandma was sewing (although I'm not entirely sure Britton was thrilled with the selection of "manly" colors allotted to him by his sister.)

It really doesn't take much to make these two happy.  I love that they just play with whatever's handy.  A cardboard box makes a great toy, doesn't it?  It was always one of my own kids' favorites.

And then there's just the way their little personalities are developing! 

He has so many words now - so many more than when I was there in November!!  (Can you tell we're having quite the conversation?)

This little guy is so fun!  And he's all boy!

Oh yes!  Grandma had a very fun time!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bee Blocks - A Cautionary Tale

I haven't participated in a real online bee for about a year,  until now.  I just got kind of burnt out with the make a block every month circus.  Most of the bees I participated in were fun and no-to-low-drama, but that is not always the case.  I tend to be much happier living a drama free life.  But a new book came out recently, and everyone on Instagram was pretty excited, someone organized a bee and bunches of people joined.  I'm in Hive 8, so that must mean at least 96 people are playing along.

And this time, I am the slacker.  We didn't get organized until sometime in February, and the February block was due before I knew it (and February was a darn short month this year, says I!)  Nevertheless, only a couple of weeks late, I sat down yesterday to make my block.  We sew from our stash in this bee, and the Queen Bee this month chose yellow and gray for her colors (and we all know how I feel about gray.)  I made this block and was pretty darned satisfied with it.  In fact, despite the fact that it was gray, I liked it a lot.  It went together like a dream, all my points matched up, my seams looked perfect...

Until I thought, "That's a really big block."

So I went back and re-read the instructions.  The book says that the unfinished block should measure 15-1/2"...

Mine measures 16-1/2".


A rookie error, and I should have known better.  But I was still aggravated.  I cut perfectly.  I sewed perfectly, and the block was too big!  Waaay too big.  I missed this one little instruction that said to trim your blocks.  Darn!

I was tempted to just send it the way it was, but that wouldn't be right.  I thought about ripping it apart, trimming the blocks, and putting it back together, but that thought left me cold.  Really cold.

 So I dug in the stash and found some more gray, made some new HSTs and trimmed them to the correct measurement...

And this one measures exactly 15-1/2".  Perfect.

While I was at it, I went ahead and made March's block.  The QB requested aqua and yellow (always a favorite combination of mine.)  This time I was much more deliberate, and paid a lot more attention to the instructions.

But when I got my HSTs trimmed, I have to admit I was slightly annoyed.  The author had you cut the squares to 3-1/2" and then trim the HSTs to 2-1/2"  I wasted a ton of fabric.  An extra 1/2" just to cut off is kind of ridiculous.

At least the re-made blocks weren't so wasteful.

Two blocks done.  Ten more to go! 

Woo hoo!

Monday, March 10, 2014


After almost 2 full weeks of playing, I came home from church today determined to get caught up on some stuff, most notably the February and March bee blocks from the Modern InstaBee that I joined back in January.  There has just been so much going on, I hadn't taken the time to sit down and make these blocks.  But, as so often seems to happen, I was frustrated at every turn.  Both the February and March queen bees want Kona white as their background.

Do I have Kona white?  Nope.

I haven't bought any since I bought the bolt of Moda Bella White several months ago.

And they are not the same - I know, because I mixed them in a quilt and you can tell.  You can really tell.

So, tomorrow I will haul myself off to Joann's or my LQS and buy some Kona White, and get these boogers made.

I hope.

Yesterday at our ECMQG meeting, Diane did a demo and workshop on improv curves.  I've done some improv curves before, but our sew days at ECMQG are really fun, and I haven't been able to stay for awhile, so I dragged my baby sewing machine off to the meeting, and decided to play with the group.  I used 5 of my FQs from the warm FQ Scrap Pack I bought from Westwood Acres Fabric (those scrap packs are so fun!) and played with the curved piecing Diane showed us.  I managed to get my 5 blocks put back together before I left, but they were a little boring so I sliced them up going the other direction and put them back together again and this is what I ended up with.

No idea what to do with them now.

They kind of remind me of the Oh Fransson Crazy 9-Patch and Lattice Quilt  blocks

That I used to make this quilt (which was one of the first "modern" quilts I made and still one of my favorites...)

And this one, which was a charity quilt made from donated fabric (definitely not a favorite, but I didn't choose the fabrics....)

I'm thinking of squaring them up and maybe cutting them up again.  After that I'm kinda stumped.

But I'm open to suggestions...

So I spent the afternoon writing blog posts and surfing Pinterest.

Don't judge me.  {please!}

Saturday, March 8, 2014

12 {Really Fun} Days

Yup - it's true that the blog has been slightly ignored lately, but I have been playing with my girl.  She came to visit last week and happily was able to stay several days longer than she originally planned.

We enjoyed several local activities, such as the Renaissance Faire and Pirate Festival, Mardi Gras (although we totally forgot about the parade)...

We did some girly stuff, like shopping and trying on makeup...

And was even home long enough to do some of the boring stuff, like dental and eye appointments.  I love her new glasses!

We had our own little Harry Potter marathon and watched all 8 films...

We had a mini Jane Austen marathon, too, but never quite managed the 6-hour P&P event we planned.  Maybe next time.

All in all, it was a wonderful visit.

I think I'm really going to miss that girl!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

14 in 2014 - March Goals

If February was crazy, March promises to be equally so.  Youngest daughter is here for another week (yay!) so I know I will be doing lots of playing.  We have plans for field trips almost every day, including a trip to the nearest outlet mall, a trip to the local mall, and educational visit with a friend to learn about Photoshop Elements, and lunch with another friend.  The next week, WH is on Spring Break, and the following week I will be watching oldest daughter's children so she and her WH can go away for a few days.  Whew!  I'm tired just thinking about it.

Nevertheless, I do want to make some progress on my 14 in 2014 project.  Since this Avignon Picnic quilt is all basted, it shouldn't be too much of a stretch to think that I might actually get it quilted.  That would be awesome!

And my Modern Maples is also basted and ready to quilt, so it shouldn't be too hard to get this one done either, right?

And if I get these two quilted (and bound, hopefully), I should only have one quilt a month to actually complete the 14 in 2014 challenge.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

February... is Gone ~ Just Gone!

February was just a w-i-l-d month here at the prsd4tim2 household.  It started out at the end of January with that crazy ice storm that invaded the South and produced icicles and even snow. 

Then I went to St. Maarten for a few days to visit daughter #2 in her new digs.  (Which was absolutely wonderful, and a glorious change after all the cold!)

And then I got sick... and nothing happened.

And then I spent  several days running up and down the Gulf Coast depositing and collecting family members from various airports to and from various trips...  and put more than 600 miles on my old van in 4 days - and didn't go anywhere.  But I did have daughter #2 and her brother here together for two days, which was super fun.  We had lunch at the buffet at the IP Resort on the way back from the airport in Gulfport, watched some movies together, and even went to the Pensacola Renaissance Faire and Pirate Festival as a family.  That's Arielle in the petting zoo with a Highland Cow.

But as for what went on in the sewing room, I'm a little befuddled.  I finished the bookshelf quilt.  That was on my list of 14 in 2014.

I made a baby quilt from leftovers.

I made a Newtown Auction pillow...

And matching mug rug.

And finished the Avignon Picnic quilt top...

It got basted, but not quilted yet.  That's some progress on a project that's been sitting almost 4 years, right?

I made Arielle a neutral table runner (at her request)...

And a turtle pinnie similar to the first one I made a month or so ago.

And I made some siggy blocks for a swap.

So, not a stellar month in the quilting arena, but still not entirely devoid of progress.  And it leaves plenty to do in March, right?