Toki Hops, Toki Sews

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“Toki” (rabbit in Korean) hops to it this Easter, but not soon enough and only finished one dress for my two girls!  Uh-Oh.  Good thing I pulled out a pretty satin dress with coral flower prints on it that the older one outgrew and was brand spankin’ new to this younger girl so we avoided a possible melt-down.  Whew!  Well, actually, if my younger girl didn’t get a dress, she probably would have pouted for a second then forgotten about it.  She’s pretty easy-going and very forgiving, which is a blessing since I’ve supposedly (according to some health articles) lost memory brain cells every time I had another child; quite unfortunate for all children involved.

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Speaking of memory loss, I really wish I could remember where or when I got this pretty fabric, but I bought a lot of it (maybe 5 yards) and I had been saving it for a special occasion to make a dress out of it.  Not only is the big watercolor floral prints just beautiful, but the material itself is gorgeous; silky yet thick, definitely isn’t slippery, and doesn’t wrinkle too much.  Perfect material for a dress!

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I revisited my favorite little girl’s dress pattern “The Fairy Tale Dress” by Oliver+S.  I bought the digital pattern, downloaded off the site, printed and pieced the pattern sheets together, and traced the pattern pieces for the correct sizes and view of the dress.  I made this dress in the size 6 and it fits my 6 yr old just right with a little growing room.

This is definitely a very “nice” dress, fully lined bodice, sleeves, and skirt with a layer of tulle with the skirt lining to create more lift and “fluff” to the skirt and has an invisible zipper.  It is a beautiful end product.

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I used this pattern last year to make the above dress in a gorgeous blue and green print with the green Peter Pan collar and big green sash in the back.  I followed View B of the pattern to the T and loved how it turned out. Although, I did think the front waist could use a little sash because it did look a little “boring” aside from the collar at the top.  I do absolutely LOVE the big bow/sash in the back though.

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This time, I made View A from the pattern with a few adjustments.  I got rid of the Peter Pan collar and cut the neckline out into more of a boat-neck rather than a very high-neck round.  I also used piping around the tulip sleeves and piping around the waist by using matching purple fabric with some cording to make the piping.  I bought very light gray cotton fabric to line the inside of the dress.
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I LOVE how it turned out!   I think i spent a total of about 8-10 hours on this dress.  I procrastinated and started it Friday evening, stayed up until 1am, then worked on it again off and on Sat afternoon and into the wee hrs of Sat. night.  Good thing this dress will be handed off to my younger girl later so we can get as much mileage out of it before they both outgrow it.  Very spring and a nice sophisticated little girl’s dress perfect for this special Easter season where we remember the miracle and love of our Savior!

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We had gone to the town Easter Egg Hunt for the last 2 yrs but didn’t go this year due to a busy game schedule, but luckily a friend was hosting one in her lovely backyard so the kids got a hunt in this season. We also did a cute scavenger hunt from Pinterest where they followed clues to find 3 big (plastic) eggs filled with candy (of course) at the end of it. They LOVed the clues and my oldest boy has since made a scavenger hunt for his two younger sisters and one for my husband and I with a lovely note at the end of the hunt.

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Hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend and a nice spring holiday for others.

As always, thank you so much for visiting and please subscribe!

-Flora

 

 

 

 

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DIY Tutorial: Girl’s Tunic Dress

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I have a growing problem: I like to hoard pretty fabric.  The clothes that I used to toss into the “donate” bag are being stored in every nook and cranny of our home if there’s even an inch of fabric to be salvaged; all because I will “someday” make use of the fabric to upcycle the garment and give it new life.  I think the TLC show “Buried Alive” may soon come knocking at my door if I don’t start whipping out some projects from this stash.  So I decided to use hubby’s old, nice, striped dress shirt with some floral fabric from my other stash to make a tunic dress for my little A.  My little princess loves dresses and every day is a battle to get her to wear pants with the much cooler weather that has been blowing into the bay area as of late.  I am usually successful in threatening convincing her to wear pants or leggings under her dress but my victory only lasts a couple hours when she takes them off at preschool.  I hope to whip out many more dresses and skirts for my girls so I can reduce the ever-growing pile of “fabric” in our already cramped home.

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Here’s hubby’s shirt that he doesn’t wear anymore because it wrinkles too easily? Sure~ I’ll take it!

I originally used a tunic block pattern from the book: “Pattern Making for Kids’ Clothes” but ended up using one of A’s play dresses to make adjustments after cutting the fabric because it would have been much too big for my A.  The book does a great job in explaining the purpose of a block and sloper (which I had never heard of before… linguistics major here) as well as how to use these basics to create an entirely unique design.  This book was also a loan from my library and it really makes me feel like I’ve hit the jackpot when I can gain access to these awesome pattern books without having to buy the book myself!  I love shared reading. 🙂

To make your own pattern from an existing dress, just fold the dress in half, lengthwise, trace, and add seam allowance.  I ended up doing basically that since the tunic block needed to be adjusted due to it being too big.

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Tunic dresses like these are my favorite to make and to put on my little girls. I love pockets on dresses too and my A totally agrees.

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Trace the tunic block and make adjustments to make a tunic dress.

I printed the tunic block following the link given in the book, pieced it together, traced it onto freezer paper, then made my adjustments.  This tunic block is the 5-6yrs size and it was much, much too big for my 5 yr old.  I wanted to make a tunic dress so I lengthened the skirt, slashed through the armpit of the pattern to make a separate bodice, and added 1.5″ to the skirt width to make gathers (since it’s on a fold, you would be adding 3″ of fabric for gathers).

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After all the adjustments for the front of the tunic dress.

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Trace the back tunic block and make adjustments, keeping in mind the foldovers for button plackets

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I did basically the same thing for the back of the tunic: lengthened the skirt, slashed horizontally through arm curve, added 1.5″ width to make the skirt gathers.  But this time, I adjusted the back bodice portion so I have enough fabric to fold under twice and overlap for buttons and button holes.

Add 1.5″ from the first line for one side of the back bodice, then add another 1″ from the middle line you just drew for the other side of the back bodice. Make sure you cut mirror images of the bodice pieces, one should have a longer “flap”.

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These are my pieces all ready to go.

I ended up having to adjust and cut a narrower shoulder width for the bodices later…  Also, eyeballed and cut out a pocket pattern and used the sleeve from the tunic block, just shortened it since it came as a long sleeve.

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Iron 1/2″ then 1″ for both sides of back bodice.

Add a strip of interfacing to the buttons/buttonhole plackets and then iron a 1/2″ then 1″ to the main bodice line for bodice with the shorter flap.  Do the same thing for the other bodice: you fold over 1/2″ then 1″ and iron.

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line it up to overlap an inch. Should match your front bodice piece.

You should have a 1″ overlap of the back bodice like in the picture above so you can have your buttons on the bottom placket and buttonholes on the top placket.

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pin and sew across shoulders

With right sides of fabric facing, sew the shoulder seams.  See how wide the shoulders are?  I cut it down to size using a nice fitting dress as reference after I had already sewed the shoulders together.  Zigzag stitch raw edges.

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Pin the two back bodice pieces together or you can baste it together, if you prefer.

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Gather stitch

Stitch straight across the top of the skirt piece for both the front and back skirt pieces using a long stitch length (4) and “0” tension.

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Pull threads to gather

Pull the thread on the ends to make gathers and evenly distribute them to fit the width of the bottom of bodice.

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attach skirt to bodice front and back. Skirts are still two separate pieces.

Pin the two skirt pieces separately onto the bodice front and the bodice back with rights sides facing.  Then stitch in place.  Zigzag stitch raw edges.

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topstitch skirt seam to bodice.

Iron the seam up towards the bodice then topstitch along the edge of the bodice close to the skirt.

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attach sleeves to armholes.

Pin your sleeves onto the armhole curve and stitch in place.  Zigzag stitch raw edges.

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prepare pockets

Prepare you pockets by ironing your raw edges onto the wrong side of the pocket.  You can baste the edges if you want to.  I added elastic to the top of the pocket to create gathers and also to give it stretch when the hand goes into the pocket.  Forgot to take pictures of that step.  Basically, cut a thing strip of elastic to the width you want the pocket top to be, pin the elastic to both top ends of the pocket, pin the middle of the elastic to match the middle of the pocket top, then stretch the elastic as you sew it onto the pocket top.  Here’s an example tutorial by Indiesew.  They use it on knits, but basically the same thing I’m doing here.

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prepare pockets and attach to skirt. I did it at the end, but it may be easier while two skirts are not attached.

Find where you want to place your pockets on the front of your skirt, pin it on, and stitch in place.  Think where their hands would naturally fall.

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sew on the pockets

Backstitch a small triangle into the top corners of the pocket for added durability.

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Finish neckline

Cut out a strip of 1.75″ wide fabric and make your double fold bias tape then pin and stitch in place.

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sew sides of skirt all the way to the bottom of the sleeves. I wasn’t going to do sleeves but changed my mind later so this picture doesn’t show sleeves.

Sew the skirt sides and the lower sleeves together with right sides facing.  Zigzag stitch raw edges.

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sew on the “hem” part of skirt.

I cut out about a 2″ strip of fabric to match the width of the skirt to hem the bottom for a cleaner look.

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finish the hem

Fold and iron at the seam then iron the raw edge onto the wrong side, pin, and sew.  Hem your sleeve as well by folding in and ironing about 1/4″ of the raw edge onto the wrong side then folding in and ironing again about 1/2″, pin and sew.

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find desired button placement

Now figure out how many buttons you want and place them on the back bodice.

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mark where you want your button holes

Carefully mark where the buttonholes need to go, make you button holes, and sew on your buttons.

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Finish buttonholes and add buttons!

Finished buttons and buttonholes always leaves me with such a sense of accomplishment!  Perhaps because I was afraid to buttonholes for the looooongest time.

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Voila~ Done!

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My little girl wanted to wear it to school the next day and I couldn’t say no when she was so willing to wear her denim leggings under them and put on her cardigan.  Good thing I took pictures of her in the dress before school because when I picked her up, she had pink glittery paint all over her dress.  I started to worry the paint wouldn’t wash off and couldn’t get my mind off of the paint the entire drive home.  Needless to say, I hand-washed the dress right when we got home and the paint did come off with a bit of scrubbing.  Don’t worry, I won’t freak out next time.  It’s just the day after I finished it, so I was a bit sensitive (and sleep-deprived).  🙂

Go ransack your hubby, brother, whoever’s closet and there’s bound to be shirts they don’t wear that have perfectly good fabric for making children’s clothes.

Until next time… Have a great week and thanks for reading!

-Flora

On the Hunt for Korean & Japanese Sewing Patterns

It’s a week from Easter and here I am sewing a dress in a green that looks like it would be more fall appropriate.  But I don’t care, I love the color, the fabric, and the design of the dress.  It really is simple in construction, but it took a lot longer to finish this garment due to some language stumbling blocks which sent me searching the Korean-English online dictionary for words in Korean I have never heard before (I never learned “topstitch” or “interfacing” in Korean!!!).  Despite the hiccups, I was determined to finish the dress and am going to make almost every pattern in the book.  I’ll have to think about the little capri pants with a sideways uni-suspender though.
I’ve been wanting to get my hands on a few Korean and Japanese children’s sewing patterns books for a while and found them extremely difficult to get without having to pay 2x the price of the book for international shipping.  I know there are quite a few Japanese sewing books that have been translated into English and are available for purchase on Amazon, but they didn’t have the same draw that this book did.  I was able to see sample pictures of the book on a Korean e-bookstore and even tried drafting my own pattern (still in the works) after a cute and simple girl’s tunic from one of the books, but I still wanted the other patterns… Well, I found a copy of the book on Etsy in Korean and ecstatic is an understatement to the joy I felt when I finally got it in the mail; international shipping needs to be quicker.  I did have to pay a bit more than I would have liked in shipping fees, but it was better than other online bookstores shipping from Korea.
Direct translation of the title: My Child’s Closet
I know it’s hard to see the pictures of the patterns making up the table of contents, which is such a cute idea!  The book includes patterns for dresses, a tunic, shirts, pants/shorts/capris, tutu, and one too many jacket/coats; I will likely attempt no more than one coat pattern.  I learned the hard way that seam allowances are NOT included in the pattern pieces and you have to add seam allowances according to the book.  For example, you have a skirt, and it says to add 1 cm seam allowance on all sides except the hem, you add 4 cm.  Also another thing I wasn’t used to was the metric units and the different symbols they use for “fold” when you cut.  I’ve come to realize that I like having seam allowances already built into the pattern pieces.

This dress, “Baggy Look One-Piece”, is one of the first patterns I’ve tackled from this book and it just may be my favorite little girl’s dress design.  I love the loose, comfy linen fabric that’s shown in the picture, the colors, and the cute pockets.  I tried to find a linen-type fabric as close to the one in the picture as I could, but I think mine is a bit thicker and has a bit more structure than I would like.  I actually like the way the dress seems to be a bit baggy and drapey on the model…

My little A loves the dress (of course) and says it’s now her favorite dress, but then she says that every time she gets a new dress. My sweet little girl.  She says it’s her fave because of the pockets.  Come to think of it, I don’t think she has pockets in any of her other dresses.  I love pockets in my dresses too and I didn’t know some wedding dresses have pockets!

I cut the pieces out for the dress a week ago and finally got out my sewing machine last night to construct it.  I really thought I would be done in a couple hours, but like I mentioned before, I got stuck on the Korean…  and here I was pretty confident about my Korean… I guess what other opportunities do I ever have to brush up and practice my Korean?  The only other time I use Korean is when I talk to my mom (over the phone) and when I make a conscious effort to use Korean when talking to my kiddos (which I forget to do most of the time).  It’s hard to remember to talk to them in Korean and it’s also inconvenient because I know they’ll understand me right away when I talk to them in English…

I really do love this dress! I want one in my size!  Probably wouldn’t look to flattering on me though.  That’s why I love sewing for little girls.  They look so sweet and cute in almost anything.

Maybe a muslin-type fabric would give the dress the loose, baggy, look that I was going for.  Next time.

For now, thanks for reading!

-Flora

Night Owl Projects: First Day Dress

Hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend.  I think I did, but then every weekend seems to be a blur of activities with the only trace of it ever happening, safely documented on Instagram thanks to my overgramming addiction.  I do recall purchasing a pattern, tracing and cutting the pattern pieces, cutting out my fabric pieces, and sewing them all late into the night, but then I didn’t Instagram that process so I can only conjecture.  *wink*  As my kiddos are getting older and participating in more activities, our Saturday schedules are becoming packed with back to back activities.  I find it quite fun and fulfilling at this point, but ask me again in a year.

I used to print patterns for boy’s shorts, neckties, skirts, etc. from Dana Made It a couple years ago and really liked all the tutorials and free patterns she had on her site.  That was when I was trying to learn how to make children’s clothes for my littles and had been scouring blogs and printing off everything that was free.  When I revisited her site last week, I found this First Day Dress Pattern that I just had to get and make for my girls.  My older girl is 5 and she will only wear dresses (as mentioned in a previous blog post) and her little sister, almost 3, is following in big sis’s footsteps.  So I have been meaning to make more dresses and skirts for them in hopes to also use up some of my hoard of fabric I have been sitting on for years.  This was the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

I love how simple and quick this pattern went and love that you get multiple dress and top options.  I made the A-line dress and the Swing dress both with full linings and it got so many compliments when the girls wore them to the Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday.

I know the navy blue one is not very Easter-y in color but I loved the little apples on it and thought it would be perfect for my my little C since she will be starting preschool for the first time this fall.  I made her dress in the size 3 and my older A’s dress in the size 5.  They fit nice but have to put it on with arms fully extended straight up and my help for now.  There’s enough growing room for them both for the duration of the year or so they wear it.  Good thing C loves hand me downs from big sis.  Such a waste otherwise.

A is loving the skirt portion of her dress and the way it can “twirl like a princess”.  They wore it all day yesterday and today for church.  I’m already thinking of making more of these.  I might even venture to add some pockets on C’s A-line dress.  We will see how that goes and I will document the process on a future post.

Thanks for reading and sharing in my enthusiasm for darling girls’ clothes!