Monday, April 6, 2015

Springtime Fabulous

I have the privilege of having the fabulous Kelley Fantasma of Fantasma Imagery as my sister.  We love to work together and our kids are gorgeous, so we made a springtime/Easter fashion shoot happen this year.  She did, as usual, an AMAZING job capturing these cuties.  

The patterns:
For the boys, I used Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop's Little Gentleman Pants and Vest and Little Gentleman Tie.   Amy Hindman writes designs fantastic patterns for slim kids.  My sister and frequently struggle to find pants that our boys don't swim in.  These fit the bill perfectly, and were a snap to put together.  I didn't make their shirts this time, but I have also used Peek-a-Boo's oxford shirt pattern many times, and it's pretty great.  We just happened to be able to pick up these white shirts for next to nothing at Goodwill.  Ditto for Baby Guy's suit.  It was super cheap at the thrift store is is basically identical to the ones I made for the bigger boys.  If I had it to over again, I might size up on my older son's outfit.  He's kind of between sizes, and I went with smaller instead of larger, but it was fine.

The fabric for the boys is cotton blend suiting I found in the value section at Hancock Fabrics.  For the ties, I used what little scrap satin that was left after the girls' dresses (more on that in a minute).  I did narrow them pretty significantly, as we were going for more of a skinny tie than the pattern calls for.  And I was nearly out of fabric.

Aren't they handsome?  I love these guys.

I will fully admit to not spending nearly as much time on the boys' outfits as on the girls.  My vision for the whole thing was based more upon the girls' dresses.  The boys suits turned out nicely though, and they felt so grown up and good looking in them.

For the Girls
The pattern: Violette Field Threads Chloe in the tea length version.  I modified them slightly by adding length to the sashes and sewing the skirt lining and the skirt layers together with the bodice sandwiched in between, so there would be no scratchy edges where the skirt attaches.
The fabric: Oh, my.  This was a pain.  The dress requires four different fabrics (satin/silk/whatever for the bodice and skirt lining), chiffon, tulle, and netting.  When I imagined this shoot, I wanted the colors to be a gradient of the same color.  I did not realize that this is next to impossible.  Everywhere I looked, I could find all but one or two of the TWELVE different fabrics I needed.  At one point, I found what I needed at one store, but four of the bolts were a yard or more short of what I needed.  I left that day without buying anything.  I ended up with the shades of pink/purple because it was the closest I could get to that.  Most are from the Casa Collection at JoAnn Fabrics, with the orchid colored dupioni as the exception.  I got that one at Hancock Fabrics.  The bodices are all slightly different fabrics, too (again with the lack of matches to the tulle and chiffon).  The ballet pink is a glossy satin.  The orchid is poly dupioni.  The dark purple is matte satin.  Three trips to brick-and-mortar stores and countless hours spent looking online, and I finally got it all together, but just barely.
The fabric flowers are out of the leftover chiffon from the dresses.  This tutorial is the basic idea, but I added more petals and gathered them up a bit.  I used this tutorial to make the little veil, except I hot glued it to a metal barrette.  I knew a comb would fall right out of my daughter's silky fine hair.  The barrette made it stay firmly in place.

The dresses are swishy, twirly, delicious princess perfection.  I am so pleased with how well they turned out and how much they loved them.

Side note: It's a great idea to get holiday pics taken before the holiday.  These outfits were also all these wonderful kiddos' Easter clothes.  I rolled into church Easter morning with six gorgeous, perfectly dressed angels (my niece and nephew had slept over the night before), and we left with ripped tulle and multiple chocolate and Dorito stains. Kids will be kids, and that's definitely part of the fun.  I would almost like to do a "trash the dress" shoot of the pale pink one with fingerpaints and chocolate pudding.  But's hoping the dry cleaner can get smashed M&M's out of chiffon.
I love these crazies!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Pixie Perfect

One of the first things I learned to sew was cloth diapers.  I could go off on a tangent here about how great cloth diapers are and how fun they are to make and how much money your family will save by using them, but there are literally hundreds of blogs devoted to that, and I would be beating a dead horse.  I'll just link you to a few of my favorites: Rocket Bottoms, a really great source for paid patterns that are wonderful for beginners and well loved in the cloth diapering community, and Arfy's blog, which is great for free templates and patterns to get you started on different types and styles of cloth diaper.  You can head down the rabbit hole yourself on those.

Over the years, I have picked up TONS of the washable laminated fabric intended for the waterproof exterior of cloth diapers.  It's fantastic for it's original use, but also very useful for other applications.  Since it tends to be pretty pricey, when I see it on sale, I jump on it.  I've made a few super cute little jackets for my girls out of it, and one of this post's Stashbusters is just that.  

The fabric: For Holly- Babyville brand PUL purchased from the Red Tag section at Jo-Ann and ivory broadcloth I got at a garage sale.  For Tessa- knockoff "Donegal Irish Linen" that I bought at the same garage sale that actually ended up being polyester.  No good for traditionally linen items, but a perfectly useful jacket outer.  Also two prints from Riley Blake's "Happy Ever After" collection that I used last year to decorate the girls' bedroom.  I had about a half a yard of each of them, and I thought they would be pretty cute for the lining.  

The pattern: Pixie Hood Coat by Big Little Patterns.  I've had this one for ages and this was the first time I sewed it up.  I definitely regret that now!

Something you will notice as you follow this project is that I almost never use mainstream patterns.  I love independent designers, and I love PDF patterns.  One reason for this is that on children's patterns, the sizes are typically nested rather than overlapping. 
Because of this neat feature, I was able to cut out Holly's size 6 jacket first, then cut around the lines on the pattern to cut Tessa's size 4.  Major time saver.  I did not cut Holly's as written, because I thought that at six years old, she may be a little bit too mature for a pointed pixie hood.  I cut her hood rounded instead of with the point.  I made Tessa's exactly as written.
I made the two jackets at the same time, and it was a quick sew.  I got both done in a single afternoon with both Tessa and Declan (who is 15 months old and a VERY busy boy) hanging around.  
Its been a while since I've sewn any diapers, so I had forgotten what a total pain in the behind PUL is to sew without a teflon foot or a walking foot.  But I'm lazy, and didn't feel like rooting through the messy closet looking for my walking foot for such a quick project, especially since sewing the laminated sides of the PUL parts was such a small part of it.  After ripping out a couple of stretched, messy seams and cursing just a little (a lot), I remembered that in a pinch, you can use a zipper foot to make sewing laminated fabrics a little easier. 
aahhh....much better.
I'm a little bit obsessed with my sewing machine's embroidery functions.  I topstitched Tessa's yellow jacket with green thread using an embroidery stitch that coordinated with the princess pattern in the lining fabric.  It totally made the jacket.  
The fit of these jackets is a little on the big side.  Not to the point that they are unable to wear them by any means.  We should be able to use them with the sleeves rolled a bit for the windy, nippy days of early Spring and for wading through the crunchy fallen leaves in Autumn. 
Don't my girls look great?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Happiness is a Twirly New Dress

For my second stashbuster, I made a deliciously twirly sundress for Holly, who is six years old and in kindergarten.

The fabric: navy and white slubby cotton gingham found on the clearance table at Hancock Fabric's for a dollar a yard (a DOLLAR!).  I bought eight yards, so this one will be reappearing over the spring or summer.  Trim fabric is a blender cotton I found at a local quilt shop.  It was not a bargain, but you can't always cheap out.  I like to support local businesses any time I can, and it was fun to chat with the lovely lady who cut it for me.  It evened out with the practically nothing paid for the main fabric, anyway.
The pattern: It's a bit of a mashup.  The main dress pattern is Chloe by Violette Field Threads - available here.  The collar is from the Piper dress pattern, also by Violette Field Threads, available here, which is one of my very favorite little girl dress patterns on its own.  I've made it five times now, and have plans to make several more.  I used the size 6, which is what she wears in ready-to-wear clothing.  I did not make the Chloe dress exactly according to the directions.  The original design uses tulle, chiffon, and netting for a big, glamorous, poofy skirt and does not feature a collar.  I was going for something more casual and play-appropriate, so I made the skirt out of a single layer of cotton woven instead.  I added the collar because I wanted to tie in the teal with more than just the sash, and because I am obsessed with bias trim lately, and wanted a way to add some.  
Any time you put patterns together without enough planning, there are risks.  If I were to do this again, I would copy the neckline from the Piper dress on the Chloe bodice, rather than leaving it as-is.  The collar doesn't lay down quite as well as I wanted it to.  It's still cute, but not exactly right.  Certainly wearable, though.  I added the bow because it was still missing something when it was done.  
I made a pretty little matching hairbow, too, from this free tutorial.  To modify it for fabric instead of felt, I cut out the pattern pieces with at 1/4 inch added seam allowance.  I cut two of each, sewed right sides together, and turned and topstitched.  Then I put it together exactly as instructed and hot-glued it to a barrette.  Super cute.  Holly told me that she would have made the bow teal and the center of it gingham, but that my way was acceptable, too.  
She loves the dress.  She said it rubs a little at the armholes and the waistline, but when she said it, she had been wearing the dress for two days, including having insisted upon sleeping it it.  I think that assessment can be taken with a grain of salt.  
My twirly girly.

Monday, March 9, 2015


I am something of a bargain hunter.  When I find a fellow sewist's garage sale or a fabric store going out of business, I STOCK UP!  Four years of accumulated finds have led to my basement containing more random fabric and craft supplies than some small fabric stores.  Before I  go on any more buying sprees (and since garage sale season is right around the corner), I need to do some serious sewing.  Coincidentally, my two girls have sprouted up like crazy over the winter, and need an entirely new wardrobe for spring and summer.  (The boys are growing too, but the oldest still fits in his summer clothes from last year, and the baby has inherited a TON of hand-me-downs.  I will be sewing some for them, but the bulk of this project will be for the ladies).  Huge fabric and pattern stash plus leggy children equals summer stashbuster project!  I'll be detailing my adventure as I go here, as regularly as I'm able.

My little girlies are six and four years old.  They love to twirl and dance, and enjoy all things sparkly and fancy.  They also love to play outside, ride bikes, and bury their toes in the mud.  They're best friends, and they're a lot of fun.

So the first stashbuster was a birthday dress for Tessa, who is four years old.  She is completely obsessed with Hello Kitty.

The fabrics: A heavier stretch denim from the Red Tag section at Jo-Ann during their Coupon Commotion event.  I think once all my coupons and discounts were used, it was about $2-3 per yard.  As accent, some Hello Kitty licensed quilting fabric out of the remnant bin.  I had about 3/4 of a yard.

The pattern: Jane by Violette Field Threads - available here.  I love this pattern.  It was easy to follow, and true to off-the-rack size.

I made it for her in size 4.  It was a little bit big, as she's kind of between sizes right now, but that's ok.  It should last her into the fall, I think.

She LOVES it!  I made it a couple of weeks ago, and she has wanted to wear it straight out of the dryer every time it's been washed.  She gets tons of complements on it.  I'll definitely be using this pattern again at some point in this project.

Friday, September 12, 2014


There's this kid that keeps coming over to my house when I'm nursing the baby or taking a shower or am otherwise occupied with something other than silently looking my four children directly in the eye.  He seems to go by the name "Nobody."

Somebody needs to find this Nobody kid and give him a swift kick in the arse.

Yesterday, I discovered the crumbles and salt from a nearly empty bag of corn chips in a basket  clean laundry. (Who am I kidding?  It was a giant pile of clean laundry on the floor in the laundry room.  The baskets are all full of dirty clothes) Minus the bag, of course. Now, this was confusing for me, as my laundry room is a full set of stairs plus a good ten child paces from any place where my naturally obedient angels know they are allowed to eat.  So I rounded them up and asked my children who was eating corn chips in the laundry room.  They all looked at me with wide, bewildered eyes.

"Nobody did that, Mom."

Nobody.  Who keeps letting that kid in here?  Nobody keeps drinking my coffee when I answer the phone.  Nobody leaves toys in the yard.  Nobody has even taken my children's shoes out of the closet, where they always put them away, and hidden them, one in the car and the other under the recliner in the living room.

I know that all too soon, my children will tire of Nobody's company.  While they are out with friends and off to school, Nobody will be sitting on my sofa watching America's Funniest Videos laughing riotously.  Nobody will get lonely or sad and come snuggle with me long after bedtime.  Nobody will be so adorably proud when he makes his own sandwich, despite getting more peanut butter on the counter than on the bread.

Nevermind the arse-kicking.  Nobody can stay a while longer.

He just needs to quit eating corn chips in the laundry room.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

New Regulations

This post is a bummer...but I have to push through.
As of 9/29, the Consumer Protection Safety Commission will be enforcing new rules about soft baby carrier safety.  Some of these are good: all materials used are required to have lead and chemicals testing, and safety labeling is more standardized. Some are, in my opinion, less than ideal.  These are the ones that apply to small artisan makers.  There really won't be any room for variation in stock carriers or "made from scratch" i.e., canvas or linen carriers.  The design will have to be tested by an independent lab, which will drive up the cost of all structured carriers, industry wide.
The rules governing wrap conversions are extremely vague, and I haven't been able to get any kind of really clear instruction from the CPSC, so I'm going to proceed as follows.  After 9/29, Bambino Dolce will only be accepting brand new, with tags, unwashed and in the package wraps for conversion.  It's even better if you have it shipped directly from the retailer.  Conversions will be classified as aftermarket alterations to an existing carrier, and will have appropriate warning labels attached.  Rest assured that all of the materials I purchase for use in a carrier are safe and compliant with regulations.
This also may be a temporary arrangement.  The CPSC is going to begin considering testing rules about unstructured carriers, which includes wraps, ring slings, and Asian style carriers.  If mandatory testing passes, it will be devastating to small businesses that produce these products, and will all but end the production and sale of unique, handwoven wraps in the United States.  If this is something of importance to you, write the CPSC and let them know that you, the consumer, do not want increased regulation on these products!
I am, as always, committed to keeping my handmade carriers safe for their very precious cargo.  Thank you for understanding the new changes.  I love my customers.  You all are a pretty amazing bunch :)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Carrier Conversions

We're nearing the end of preloved wraps being converted... Here are some pics of the beauties that I've finished up lately.
This one is a Girasol Harvest with charcoal weft.  It's converted to a full buckle soft structured carrier with a sweatshirt hood featuring dino spikes.  It's actually mine.  It gets lots and lots of love from my nine month old and my three year old.  

This is a Girasol Zig Zag herringbone weave with creme weft. It's converted to a full buckle soft structured carrier with a hidden hood, zipped waist pocket, and suck pads.  It turned out so pretty!  The mama this belongs to loves the colors of one side more than the other, so I cut it in such a way as to feature those colors more than the rest.

Here it is with the hood opened and the suck pads attached.  So colorful!

Hood is snapped up.  See?  All blues/purples/pinks!

This is a KoKaDi Ahoi converted to a half buckle hybrid carrier with no hood.  The waist buckles like a structured carrier, but the top straps are wide like a wrap or mei tai.  I love the nautical theme.  
If you want a conversion like one of these, you have to hurry!  I only have two conversion slots left, and I don't know if there will be time to add any more!