as a recent transplant from the midwest to california, 80 degree days right through october have my internal fall mechanism totally on its head.  where are the apple orchards and changing leaves?  the chunky sweaters and knee high boots?  i’m told it will cool down soon (i suppose it already has since summer days routinely broke 100 degrees) but for now, we’re enjoying the northen california indian summer in our short sleeves.  indian summer is always my favorite time of year, all the sights, sounds and smells of fall, but with the warmth of summer.  the best of both worlds!  if that means 80 degrees instead of 65, i really can’t complain.

i recently went on my first shopping spree at joann’s and picked up this rather subdued seersucker.  unlike the numerous other yards of fabric i bought, i had a very clear vision of what i wanted this to become.  a simple dress for bean and matching pants for reese.  i have a similar stigma about little girl dresses as little girl skirts, that they’re impractical for climbing and sliding and digging and somersaulting, but i really intend this one to be worn over pants when it becomes pants weather.  i don’t think my kids have ever matched themselves let alone each other a day in their lives, so the outfits aren’t necessarily intended for mutual wear.  i just thought the print would look cute on both of them.

i have to say that after a week of moderate failure creating children’s garments, i am really happy with how these turned out.  the patterns are extremely simple, which i wanted both for ease of construction and wear.  i don’t know anything about fashion, but the black and white stripes seem to give a vintage feel (and i couldn’t resist the pop of color with the red buttons!).

for the dress, i used leila and ben’s sweet little dress pattern, which is remarkably fast, easy and endlessly customizable.  perhaps the best $6 i ever invested in bean’s wardrobe (and the sizes go 12m to 6 years!).  the pants are a continued effort at drafting my own pattern for little reese pants, but i finally found what i think is the winning tutorial for my efforts.  it has the best step by step instructions that i’ve been able to find with a lot of explanation beyond “trace a pair of pants that fit.”  after i finished them i realized it would have been a nice touch to add some pockets, but we’ll have to save that for next time.
as for the dress pockets, i loosely followed this tutorial using the shirring method.  this is particularly exciting for me since my previous and first go at shirring resulted in total mayhem.  honestly, i didn’t think i’d reattempt for months.  however, shortly after this shirring disaster, my 2.5 month old sewing machine appeared to forfeit its will to live (or at least alter thread tension).  i hauled it in for service only to learn that apparently, i’d never been threading it correctly (the drawbacks of self-teaching).  now i appreciate that tension is to sewing much like gauge is to knitting–you can get by and even create some lovely things without paying much attention to either.  but if you want things to turn out as you’d planned and in some cases, avoid total disaster, you ought to make sure they’re both correct.

anyhow, now i have a happy bobbin, appropriate thread for garments (i was informed i was using “the worst possible thread” before), and good tension, so i thought i’d give it another go as this dress seemed to be begging for gathered pockets.  and, with a few minor adjustments (tension set at 8), it worked!  yes!

final touch, i added these little name tags by stamping onto twill tape.  i got these alphabet stamps at michaels years ago to make our wedding save the dates, and recently bought a stamp pad called “staz-on” that boasts on the cover it will stamp glass, metal, ceramic, elephant hide, etc.  clearly then, it should be able to stamp fabric.  i turned it over to read any specific instructions last night and it states in 4 pt font, not recommended for fabric.  what?!  i hope that’s because it stains, not because it washes off.  i realize the wise thing to do would have been to stamp a sample and put it through the wash, but i had already utilized my patience stores for the day.  and the tags just looked too cute not to sew them in immediately!  i really think they add to the vintage feel of the pieces.

the kids both like their outfits *and* they both fit.  while both of those issues tend to change quickly among toddlers, today it feels like a real success.  happy sewing project, happy kids.  and look who else wants a seersucker outfit…

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  1. […] seeing as i’m neither an experienced seamstress or a big planner, there are a number of things i would do differently if i made this again.  for example, i would not be too lazy to just wind a red bobbin (i hate winding bobbins!  it’s always at the most inopportune time, even if it does take only 30 seconds!) rather than telling myself the contrasting white thread (revealing my impossibly crooked seams) would look cool…  because of my aforementioned personality traits, i treat pretty much everything i make as a wearable muslin–fully expecting it to flop, and not putting 100% effort in as a result.  if something comes out wearable, i’m pleasantly surprised, and because kids grow so quickly and can be so finicky, i’ve never felt it necessary to be more meticulous in my clothes-making.  and when something does surprise me, my sloppiness sometimes opens doors for finishing touches that otherwise wouldn’t have come to pass (you can read more about stamping on twill tape here)… […]

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