Category Archives: sewing

Emma’s Portrait Dress

Homeschooling friends of ours love American history. They love it so much that every year, sometimes even twice a year, they put on a week-long Adventures in Learning day camp for homeschooled children in the area to dress, play, learn, reenact, and create based on a specific event or time period.   They’ve been doing this for years. Our oldest two children were able to participate when we lived in Maine the first time. Our middle children have been participating since we returned. And now one of our Littles is finally old enough to go along.

IMG_3699Emma was looking forward to this for weeks. The sweet families that run Adventures in Learning has costumes for all the participants to wear, but when the program first began years ago, part of the week was spent creating costumes, so it’s a family tradition now for our children to wear their own instead of borrowing.

This fall, Adventures in Learning focused on the French and Indian War. We prepared Zach and Maddie a little bit by having them watch a PBS program on the war so that they’d understand more about what was happening and why. And then we got to the fun of costuming.

Maddie was able to wear a dress that Cate made when she attended the program. It needed a little bit of repair and altering, and the time period for it wasn’t quite right (I think Cate made it during a Civil War program.)  It was funny to think that Cate was sewing this when Maddie was only a baby, and now Maddie is wearing it.

Zach wanted to wear the Native American outfit I made him earlier this year for the Native American program. We had to add a bit to the length of the shirt, and we added a little bit more to the decorations. But that was all he needed.

IMG_3701Emma needed a new dress.  I chose the Sensibility Portrait Dress pattern and used some cotton fabric that was in my stash.  It’s a pretty French blue print with very small gold squares. Quite appropriate for a French and Indian War dress, yes?  Since I made this pattern before (was it really almost 3 years ago?), it was a whole lot easier to put together this time.   I stitched up the gathered bodice option for Emma. The fit seems to be a little more flexible than the smooth bodice and I’m hoping she can wear this for a while.

IMG_3697I wasn’t going to make a petticoat for her, but at the last minute I decided to whip a simple one up. (There are directions in the pattern for a petticoat. It’s really just the skirt portion of the dress stitched to a waistband.) I took a very quick measurement of Emma’s waist the night before the start of the French and Indian War and sent her to bed. It turns out that my measurement was taken just a little too quickly. The snap that I sewed on for fastening wouldn’t stay fastened because the waist was a little too snug. So a simple safety-pin came to the rescue, although it does make the petticoat hang a little crooked – the hemlines are all straight, but the petticoat shows more in the front than in the back.

IMG_3696Emma is pretty happy with her new dress. I’m hoping that it will become part of her regular wardrobe. Little girls in long dresses are a favorite thing, even if the dress isn’t white with a blue satin sash.

I’m linking up with Katy at No Big Dill‘s Sew all 26 weeks alphabet project. This dress is perfect for week F I think – for the French and Indian War Dress.

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4 Dresses

Well, I did a better job at sewing than I did at blogging. I doubt that you were hanging on pins and needles (no pun intended) wondering if I’d get all 4 dresses done before Christmas Eve.  Well, guess what!

Done! Not without a few problems and delays along the way. (Of course I checked the length of the skirt on Emma before cutting it out. She must have grown 6 inches overnight!) 

I couldn’t have gotten them finished without the help of my family – they pitched in with cooking, laundry, shopping, and cleaning while I feverishly worked on the dresses for the girls. I literally finished them an hour and a half before we had to leave for church. Phew!! I still need to adjust the back closures a bit, and the fabric for the sashes never arrived, so I quickly cut a sash for Maddie from some ribbon I happened to have. The other girls looked adorable even without a sash. My only regret was not getting better pictures of all 4 girls in their matching Christmas dresses.

Go ahead. Tell me how adorable they all look.

And since I did the sewing in the middle of all the other Christmas-y things – shopping, wrapping, visiting, caring for sick children (you mean that isn’t a Christmas tradition for all families?), schooling, and trying to keep the house from falling apart, I think I’m going to settle down for a long winter’s nap!

4 Dresses, 14 days (day 3)

Um. Well. This is where I post what I was able to do on the dresses.  Look at this cool photo my son edited for me: 

Oh, you already saw that? You want something new? Sorry. Between schooling, homing, parenting, etc. there was no sewing accomplished. But that’s ok. I spent the day thinking and planning how I would make the bodices fit the little girls. Yep. That’s my story.

4 Dresses, 15 days (Day 2)

Wednesday – I traced the pattern pieces I will need for Emma, Sophie and Allie. They’re all just about the same size the bodice, so this should be a smooth process.  Then I cut the pieces out in muslin to test and stitched it up, and tried it on Sophie for size. Uh-oh. Apparently I did something wrong. The chest fits pretty well, although a little big, but the waist is WAY too small. So I measured Sophie again and compared her measurements to those on the pattern. Nope, I did it right. The size 1 dress should fit her with a bit of room. So then I looked at the directions and the pieces I traced. Yep, sewed everything together correctly. Yep, traced them correctly too. (Go me!) So I took out my tape measure and measured out the pattern, added it all up, subtracted for seams, and came out 3 inches too small in the waist. Fortunately, Sense and Sensibility Patterns has a FANTASTIC degree of customer service, so I hopped onto the forum and posted my dilemma. A few emails later, and it appears that there’s a good possibility the pattern was printed incorrectly.

After taking a dinner break, thank you to my wonderful husband for cooking so I could focus on figuring out how to alter the pattern, I went back to the original, decided to change the seam allowance to 3/8″ instead of the allowed 5/8″, and slashed the back pattern pieces (there are 3 of them) from the bottom to add 1/4″ to each one, which should give me the 3″ I need in the waist. (Yes, math really is a useful subject.)  I cut new muslin pieces, restitched it, and tried it on Emma – Sophie was not very cooperative – and it fit! Almost. Now the chest was too big (probably because I changed ALL the seams to 3/8″), but with a tuck here and a fold there, we might have a workable pattern. Woohoo!

(Sorry, no cool photos edited by my son today.)

4 Dresses, 16 Days

I haven’t sewn anything other than a quilt for Allie in years. Years. But then I saw this pattern. It’s beautiful. And I decided it would be a perfect Christmas dress for my youngest girls, and my granddaughter. I ordered it, I bought muslin, I traced the patterns I’d need. And then I got so busy I didn’t have time to work on it. Until I realized that Christmas was coming pretty quickly, and if I wanted these dresses done, I’d better get busy. So I thought I’d blog about it.  And my oldest son even made the very cool photo you see above. Love that boy!

I started working on the dresses on Tuesday, December 7. I wrote a blog post about what I did. And then blogger deleted it. I’m not going to try to rewrite the post, but just know that on Tuesday I worked on Maddie’s muslin. It’s a little snug over her head and will need some adjustments, but I don’t think it will be too bad.

Celtic Wallhanging

So, I stayed away from the computer for 3 days, and look what happened! I sewed something. Unfortunately, the colors don’t really go with our current color scheme – in any room, but I had the time, the motivation and the energy and just raided my stash for colors that worked together and TADA! – I made a Celtic Wallhanging. Go me.