Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Lace Flower Girl Dresses for Anne and Rose

 Wow, it's been almost a year since I started making these dresses! These were two of the first projects I started last year and although 2020 was difficult, having my sisters wedding to look forward to the first half of the year and to look back on the second half certainly made the year memorable for all the right reasons!

Anne and Rose asked/were asked (not sure what happened first 😂) to be flower girls when my sister and her then-fiance, John, came to visit us last Christmas. My sister was pretty open to the design of the dresses. She sent me some pictures of what she thought were cute and the styles seemed to all fit the same theme of fitted bodice, slight empire waist, full skirt and sleeveless. 

I had an old pattern (I think a Simplicity?) that I used for the bodices and the skirts and sleeves were my own design. I wasn't going to add sleeves at first but the dresses felt more complete with the sleeves so we added them. 

Sewing for 2 very different sized girls is interesting when you want the dresses to look just alike. I couldn't use the bodice patterns in their respective sizes as-is since the proportions also had to be right. I had to alter waistlines, necklines, skirt width and sleeve length and width all proportionally. It was just challenging enough to make it fun without it also being a headache. 

I actually found the ivory lace at Wal Mart and bought all that was left on the bolt. It is a stretch lace but I flatlined the bodice and skirt with ivory satin and lined the entire dress with plain weave cotton. Lace and satin can be really uncomfortable on the skin, as I remember the scratchy and suffocating feelings I had when wearing my beautiful (but uncomfortable!) Fancy Dresses at Christmas and Easter when I was a little girl. Those late 80's and early 90's dresses were something else! 😂

Pre-wedding selfies on the ride to the venue!

To make the skirts have nice fullness I added a built in petticoat of netting sewn to the skirts between the lining and the satin flatlining. This was cut to be a little shorter than the cotton lining so no scratchy hems! 

Selfie Queen :D

The girls picked out a pretty beaded trim I sewed along the sleeve hems and the necklines. I added ribbon sashes and a cluster of sewn on white roses to the center of each sash, attaching it to the waistline. 
At the hotel before the wedding!

I had no idea what to do for shoes so a few weeks before the wedding I got the girls matching sandals. The day of the wedding they went to the brides house to do hair and makeup, although later at the venue I redid Rosie's hair since her hair is straight and slippery and kept wriggling out of the initial hair style.

I actually wore make up too, but I haven't worn it or earrings since then 😂

The girls looked adorable and I was so happy to have had the opportunity to sew these dresses for them. We have them hanging neatly in their closet but they haven't worn them again since the wedding. Maybe they can wear them for Easter if they still fit by then. I kind of doubt it, though. Both girls have grown at least one size and it seems Anne actually skipped over a size entirely! 


Much love,


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Folkwear 107 Afghan Nomad Dress

And so the year 2020 finally came to an end. We are now almost a week into 2021, which so far is different from 2020 in exactly zero ways but it at least feels new and clean and fresh and hopeful, which counts for something. 

As last year wound down I found myself falling into a very dark mental place. I don't know why because nothing outwardly changed but I felt increasing levels of anxiety and despair and after Christmas was an emotional wreck for at least a week. Maybe it's the build-up to Christmas, the incredible sheer amount of WORK that goes into making it a fun holiday with lots of food for the kids, maybe it's just letting myself breathe and letting all the pent up emotions of 2020 hit me at once. I don't know. I'm coming out of it now, a little, but it's hard. I'm just so exhausted in every single possible way. Winter is also a very hard season for me and it seems to get worse every year. 

On social media everyone has been posting their makes for 2020. I fitted in a few things in December that I have not blogged about. I made each child a new Christmas stocking, made Anne a Star Trek Voyager jacket and trousers to go with the tricorder and communicator she got for Christmas and for myself I made a special dress from Folkwear 107, the Afghan Nomad Dress

The Afghan Nomad Dress was pretty much a whim thing. I pulled out some fabrics one night and got inspired to make it and over the course of the next week I did just that! 

The dress is really simply cut, with a rectangle for the bodice, slightly shaped rectangular sleeves, underarm gussets that form part of the sleeve and part of the waistband, and rectangular panels sewn together for a skirt - a narrower skirt for the westernized version and a very, very full, heavy skirt for the authentic version. For my version I made the full skirt but deviated from the authentic design by putting the neckline slit in the front instead of in the back and cutting my sleeves as one piece with trim sewed on top instead of piecing the sleeves. 

While all the fabrics work fantastically together each one does have a lot of meaning. This dress feels like a wearable memory album. The purple velvet I used for the bodice came from my grandma after she passed away and was given to me along with some of her sewing notions. The purple velvet bodice is trimmed with gold metallic braid leftover from 1860's frock coat projects over the years and bands of fabric left over from my 1860's red wrapper, which I made in honor of my grandmother.(still gotta blog about that!) The yellow sleeves are left over fabric from the dress I made to wear to my sisters wedding, and all 3 fabrics used in the skirt (front skirt, back skirt and hem band) came from Windy's World, one of my favorite little shops ever that I have loved ever since moving to Ohio. I have so many happy memories of going there and browsing and buying fabric and antiques over the past almost-6 years! The trim on the sleeves is from one of my grandfather's shirts and one of my sons shirts that he long since outgrew. 

There are no fastenings on this dress. It slips on over the head and the bodice is very fitted across the bust so it stays in place pretty well with no waist ties. However, the weight of the skirt in the back tends to drag the dress towards the back - which makes me glad that I put the neck slit in the front, or else I'd feel like I am choking when I wear this dress. 

Despite the simplicity of cut there was a LOT of hand sewing in this dress. For one thing, velvet is hard to sew and I had to put that part together by hand, including sewing on the trim by hand. The binding around the neck was done by hand. The seams on the sleeves were felled by hand and the skirt was gathered and whipped to the bodice by hand. 

I love the finished dress and wore it the day of Winter Solstice. I have not worn it since but someday soon I will wear it again. It's a bit much to wear around the house (the skirt is absolutely enormous!) but I made it with drum circles in mind and soon it will be warm enough and hopefully safe enough to gather with friends for such activities. 

In a shorter length with a narrower skirt and maybe shorter sleeves I think this dress WOULD make a great everyday dress too. I will make it again sometime. I have a few pink fabrics that would combine into a pretty spring dress and SPRING WILL COME. Already the days are noticeably getting a bit longer. I choose to look forward with hope. Here are a few construction pictures. I didn't do a great job at documenting the sewing process but I have at least a few photos. 

Bodice put together. The velvet is flatlined with plain cotton.

Sleeves attached!

Detail of waistband and cartridge pleats on the skirt. 

Back bodice and back skirt. 

Much love,


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Simplicity 9013 in Yellow Seersucker

My baby sister got married this summer and even though Covid-19 has shaped 2020 in ways we never imagined at this time last year, I am grateful that my sister still got to have a beautiful, perfect summer wedding and that our family was able to be there with her.
I made the girls flower dresses early in the year and hemmed them a month or so before the wedding date. After that I made a dress for myself and Simplicity 9013 caught my eye. Although long sleeved, I thought it would be nice in a lightweight fabric for a summer wedding. It's a simple style I probably didn't really need a pattern for but it was nice to only have to worry about sewing this instead of mocking up and fitting a lot.

I bought some mustard yellow seersucker and some pink cotton eyelet from Hobby Lobby and in the end decided to use the seersucker - which I am glad for! It is much lighterweight than the eyelet. Any ideas for 5 yards of heavy-ish dusty pink eyelet? :D I made the pattern pretty straight as-is with no modifications for fitting besides shortening the skirt length a bit. I probably could have taken some length out of the bodice but it worked. It's a bit blousy, and pulling the bodice down low enough to make it not very blousy pulled the high waistline down and made the dress tight across the hips. So, next time, I will take out maybe 1.5" in length on the bodice. 
I added a sash in the side seams to cover up a bit of wonky work when I installed the back invisible zipper. The dress is completely unlined which helps make it very light and airy and all the seams were serged and most of them topstitched in matching yellow thread. I had to wear a slip underneath so wore the underdress I made to go with my Summer Solstice kaftan dress. 
 I love the vintage vibes this style has and it was an elegant dress to wear. I have, however, not worn it again since the day of the wedding! I think it's definitely a dress-up style versus an everyday one due to the slim skirt. If I made this again in a shorter length and bigger skirt size I think I'd wear it for everyday. 

 The world is cold and icy now in mid December. It is fun to go back and look at these pictures from just a few months ago. What a happy time it was! 2020 has certainly been a difficult year but it has had some very special and beautiful moments. In this last picture, I am wearing a ring from each of my grandmothers, so I felt their presence their with us. My Grammie passed in 1995 and I have had her engagement ring since my 10th birthday. My Grandma Judy passed in July of this year and when I arrived in Illinois the day before my sisters wedding my mother gave me the ring my grandma had worn when she went into hospice. It was very special to have both to wear to my sisters wedding. 

 Much love, Sarah

Wednesday, October 21, 2020


October is slipping by; transitioning from the gold and blue of September to the deeper reds, oranges and browns of October. I know I have neglected my blog; it's been a busy time since the kids went back to school. The first few weeks were full of settling in to new routines and it seems at least once a week someone or another has a symptom that requires them to be kept home. This year, the nurse sent a detailed list of symptoms that could be problematic and encourages kids with any of them to stay home. Cough, tummy ache, runny nose, sore throat, etc. In the past, the only time school did NOT want our kids in was if they had a fever or were throwing up. Now, of course, we must be more cautious.
They are all doing marvelously well; David is being promoted to 8th grade in December (he repeated 1st grade, since that was the time we were dealing with his autism diagnosis) and Rose is excelling in kidergarten. Meanwhile, I've been scurrying to get them all caught up on physicals and dental visits since we had to postpone so much over the spring and summer. Judah turned 13 in September and David had his 14th birthday a few days ago.
Malachi has returned home for the time being. He wanted to go back to school this year after being homeschooled most of last but he was struggling a lot. He has chosen to do the virutal schooling option our district offers and is happy to be back home again. He is a great help with Lucy, the black lab puppy we got at the beginning of September.
I have been sewing some things as I have time and will blog about those as I can. Perhaps things will quiet down some but whenever I think they will, something new comes up to require any spare attention and time. I have made some modern things and actually did finish a historic garment. Malachi took some pictures of my new 1860's wrapper over the weekend and I am excited to have finally made my first Civil War dress in 3 years! (THREE?!?!)
This time of year always has me feeling a bit down and nostalgic but also fuels my creative drive and gets me incredibly inspired. Kind of weird, but, it works! I am taking advantage of my energy before winter comes on full force and I know I'll be feeling pretty lethargic and stifled before spring arrives.
Much love to you all, Sarah

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Summer Dresses and Nightgowns

Now that it's September, it seemed a good time to download all my August photos from my camera. I take my camera with me almost everywhere as I am still learning to use it, but often it is far easier to just pull out my phone to snap a quick (but far less quality) picture. I let my pictures on my camera pile up but it seemed like a good time to get them all off. Actually, I found a mushroom colony in the yard and wanted to take some photos of it and made myself download all my old pictures and recharge my camera battery before the fun of photographing the mushrooms.

So much happened in August - my sisters wedding, back to school shopping, the start of school! Benjamin had a mucocele on his lip that required a few dr appointments, culminating in a (quick, easy, outpatient) surgical removal yesterday. August saw the start of fall baseball season and the preparation for the coming months of hunting season, which makes the boys very happy. I made 7 cape dresses for a friend and finally learned how to construct this Plain style that has baffled me for many years. (remember all those Christian Amish romance novels teen girls read in the late 90's and early 2000's? I read them and had a fascination with Amish style dress that never quite has gone away!) 

I'm still waiting for my treadle machine to come back from the shop. They said it would take 6 to 8 weeks and it's only been, I think, almost four weeks but I am anxious about it. I keep having nightmares that I get it back and it's missing a part, or that they cannot fix it (even though the only thing it needs is a belt!) or that, worst of all, it never comes back. 

I've made more masks this past week but haven't started any bigger projects yet. I am enjoying not having sewing pressure right now. I did want to blog about the dresses I made the girls in July since I came across them when downloading my August pictures and they came out cute, I think. 

Anyway, Anne's 8th birthday was in late July and they spent the last part of the month with grandma and grandpa. Before they left I made them each a new nightgown and made Anne a birthday dress and, since Anne wanted Rose to have a matching one, and Rose had no objection, a dress for Rose too.

Anne wanted a halter style dress with a full skirt to about knee length. To avoid any fasteners we made the tops out of some stretchy t-shirt fabric and gathered the cotton skirt onto the bottom of a slightly shaped tube. After the halter was finished Anne decided she didn't like the feeling of ties behind her neck so we added loops at the back waistband to thread the ties through, so they can crisscross in the back and tie at the waist. 

To differentiate the dresses, we appliqued two different unicorns on the front bodices; Anne chose hers and Rose had the other. They both were thrilled with their new dresses and have worn them very often since we made them. Although, in these pictures, they look less than thrilled - they had been bickering about something and were not at all pleased about the idea of taking pictures together! 😂

The nighties are made from a modern Simplicity pattern I picked up at Wal Mart. It's for a loose dress and the shape was right for the idea of nightie I had in mind. I probably didn't need a pattern for such a simple garment but it definitely made the project faster since the sizing was already worked out. We eliminated the center back opening since our material was soft and stretchy and I finished the neckline with a band and the sleeves and bottom with a simple hem. The girls liked having matching nighties to take with them and they still wear these a lot, although it's been getting cooler at night and they are pulling out their flannel pajamas pants already. 

So far this week it has been very rainy and so humid that it feels like it must be hot, but it's actually not. So far school has gone well for all the children and they are settling in very nicely, except Malachi has found that he does not like band class. Rose had her first music class two days ago and was so excited that she was able to talk into the microphone and tell everyone her name! She has a new little friend named Candace and she chatters to me all evening about the things her and Candace do at school. 

Next week is fair week so they all are off - even though, this year, we have pretty much no fair. 4-H judging is all being done remotely for the things my kids were/are involved in and the only people showing at fair are those who have animals. But, the kids still get the week off school and they are not complaining. 😂

Much love,