Introducing: The Bedford Dress

It's here! It's here! The Bedford dress has arrived to complete our summer patterns. I'm so excited for this one! It's a fun and gratifying dress with simple lines and a dramatic back. It's a tank dress with a little attitude. I'll be making a lot of these this summer!

My favorite thing by far about the Bedford dress is the exposed zipper. It's not only functional but it adds a really cool design element to an otherwise sleek a-line dress. It keeps you cool on those hot summer days, the ones we're having right now. Just don't forget to put suntan lotion on her shoulder blades!

Did I mention this pattern is also a top? We've added a separate pattern for the top so you can wear it with shorts or a skirt. Not every girl wants (or needs) a dress and we've given you the option to add some versatility to her wardrobe.

A small but not to be overlooked detail is the shirt hem. It's subtle but unique. It makes the dress more than just a tank dress. Details like this are what give a handmade dress a special touch. It takes a little extra time but pays off in the form of memorable dress.

Why Bedford? If you haven't figured it out yet, our patterns are named after the prominent streets in Brooklyn neighborhoods. Bedford Avenue is the main street through Williamsburg, the artist enclave of Brooklyn, and a major inspiration for my designs. The mood is whatever goes and on any given day you can see fashion that ranges from couture to grunge and everything in between. But the common thread is comfort and fun, seen especially in the young artists. The Bedford dress encapsulates that attitude of freedom and individuality.

Do me a favor, get crazy with the zipper! I love that a little contrast goes a long way and even a subdued solid color can have some pop in the back with a contrasting zipper. It's small but it packs a big punch. I guarantee people will notice.

My goal this season was to introduce two patterns for two different types of girls. The Bedford dress is for running fast through a field and the Henry dress is for taking a moment to pick the dandelions and blow the seeds. I hope you find one that suits your little lady's personality.

I am so thankful for all the wonderful feedback and excitement surrounding our new patterns. Your support and kind words put a huge smile on my face and keep the spirit of Brooklyn Pattern Company going.

Stay tuned for an exciting blog tour in a few weeks where we will tour the world from Australia to Portugal to England and back. I'm so excited to see how these dresses take shape in the hands of so many talented makers. Until then, enjoy your summer sewing!

Introducing: The Henry Dress

I am so excited to introduce our newest pattern the Henry dress! After an amazing reception for the Franklin dress, it's been really exciting designing a new dress to add to the Brooklyn Pattern Company collection. I hope you like it as much as I do!

The Henry dress design is inspired by Henry Street in the neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights. It's one of the most beautiful sections of brownstones and tree lined streets in the city. It's quiet and historic and as you can imagine, an idyllic place to stroll on a cool summer night. I wanted to design a casual yet sophisticated dress that girls could wear for a slow and thoughtful walk through their neighborhood. Pockets to collect treasures in and an easy and comfortable garment to move in.

It's hard to choose what I like more, the sleeves or the pockets. Both are smart details that make this more than a simple sheath dress. The pleated sleeve is an element I've been thinking about for years. I once saw a similar detail on a fellow subway commuter and I secretly snapped a picture of her arm. Years later I dug up the picture and realized the memory in my head was vastly different from the picture, but her sleeve inspired this design.

I love pockets so I try to incorporate them when I can. Children love a little hiding spot for all the random things they find and want to squirrel away. In our family we gather rubber bands, pennies, flowers, chalk, and bits of crumbs from random treats. The pockets are that perfect size for holding treasures and discovering them weeks later.

I used two different types of Cotton and Steel fabrics for my model. The green and gold version is with their cotton and linen canvas blend designed by Rashida Coleman-Hale. It's a slightly heavier cotton, but the extra body helps give the sleeve pleats some lovely dimension. And the straight cut of the dress works well with a heavier fabric. You can try linens, chambrays, even a lightweight denim could be fun.

The navy and lime green dress is a standard 100% cotton designed by Sarah Watts for Cotton and Steel. I loved this fabric so much I pieced together a Franklin tunic with the very last bit of scraps. The colors are wonderful and the light cotton is another great option for this sheath dress.

Don't be afraid to go with an even lighter fabric. I made a wonderful version with voile and it was so soft and comfortable.

The square neckline not only makes the dress easy to get on and off, but it also helps accent the front and back panels. No zippers, no buttons, no problems! The mix of the angled pockets and side front seams allows for an infinite amount of mixing and matching colors and patterns to personalize the dress for your little girl.

I am indebted to my wonderful photographer Virginia Freire for bringing this dress to life and finding the inner cherub in my model. Little Miss C was patient, sweet, and a huge fan of her dresses. This Brooklyn babe has got some serious spunk that Virginia was able to harness so well.

Thank you to everyone for your support and excitement about our new patterns. We've been over the moon seeing the many versions of the Franklin dress and can't wait to see how the Henry dress will inspire you.

Wanting more?! The Bedford dress is in its final stages so keep your eyes open for our second summer pattern in the next few weeks.

STYLO: All about the boy

In our final installment of STYLO love, I'll talk a bit about our boy outfit. Up until recently I hadn't been sewing that much for my boy but now that we've found a few go-to patterns and the introduction of a serger, the kid's developing a pretty rad wardrobe.

I really wanted to add a boy to my STYLO mix but wanted to keep the Alison Glass handcrafted fabric subtle since it was a busy print. I used it sparingly in a few places so he coordinated nicely but didn't overpower the dress (my main focus).

I did most of my fabric shopping at Mood Fabrics because they have an enormous selection of knits and denim, both of which i needed for this look. My little man LOVES the color purple so it only made sense to make him a purple shirt and the turquoise pants were a nice pop of color next to the dress.

I used the Clean Slate Shorts pattern from Blank Slate Patterns because I wanted a slim cut short with slanted pockets that would show off the fabric. I added belt loops and opted to put darts in the back instead of elastic since I wanted a more grown-up cut for my dude. There is something intensely satisfying about sewing tailored shorts. Taking the time to carefully put in a fly zipper is a cathartic experience. So many times I'm just whipping through dresses with my eyes closed. These shorts were a labor of love and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The belt is a quick make just using a strip of the African wax print to tie it all together. I bought a pair of D-rings from M&J Trimming and just stitched a long 1 1/4" wide belt.

Oh, and the tattoos! Tattly is an awesome temporary tattoo shop.  Started by Tina Roth Eisenberg of Swiss Miss, she wanted an alternative to the cheesy tattoos her kids were bringing home from birthday parties. So she reached out to her graphic design friends (she has a lot!) and started Tattly. There are so many to choose from and they are for kids and adults alike. We have a stash for special occasions.

The shirt is Figgy's Banyan tee. I liked the slimmer neckline (hidden under the bandana) and the slim cut. The fabric is tissue knit which means thin and hard to work with. But it didn't curl on the edges nearly as much as I thought making this a pretty quick shirt.

The bandana was an easy 15" x 15" square with hemmed edges. It completed my Brooklyn vibe along with the hip hair cut and funky Native shoes. Every part of this outfit has been worn repeatedly which is a sure sign that he likes it!

I think that just about wraps up our STYLO re-cap. Kind of sad to be done with it because it was such a phenomenal experience. But patterns are coming! Patterns are coming! So I've got to keep it moving. So long!

STYLO

To say I'm overwhelmed with excitement would be a huge understatement. I have been jittery all week waiting for the debut of the latest STYLO magazine which I contributed to. EEEEEK. It's been a tough secret to keep. I am so utterly grateful to Jessica of The Sewing Rabbit and Celina of Petit a Petit & Family for inviting me to be part of this rockstar line-up of seamstresses and bloggers. I'm definitely a little star struck.

Check back for a few blog posts going into the details of my section and how I reigned in my wild imagination. It was tough but so fun.

For now, grab some coffee and close the door because you are going to love this summer issue of STYLO.


Book Review: She Wears the Pants

I guess I must have done something right because I'm back at it with another Japanese sewing book review and I'm really starting to like this gig. Just released this Tuesday from Tuttle Publishing is the latest in English translations of gorgeous and timeless sewing books. She Wears the Pants by Yuko Takada is an adult sewing book with 20 different sewing patterns for the sophisticated dresser and you will not be disappointed.

Unlike many sewing books, this one concentrates heavily on tops and pants rather than dresses. The clothes are definitely edgy but can easily be personalized to your taste with the right fabric. Below you'll see my take on a simple blouse. Lately I've been reading more about minimizing your wardrobe to a select group of garments that can be mixed and matched to an easy and classic uniform. This book lends itself perfectly to that concept with classic pieces that can easily pair with items you already have.

When I review sewing books I like to make at least one thing out of the book. I feel like I can get a real sense for the actual assembly of a garment by attempting to read, cut and sew a pattern. This holds true espcially for Japanese sewing books which can be quite challenging to follow. For this review, I chose pattern No. 5, the Velour Blouse. I really liked this simple, boxy blouse and after sifting through my fabric, I found the perfect double gauze that I had been hoarding.

As discussed in my last book review, finding and copying your pattern is by far the hardest part of the book. Five patterns are stacked across and around one another on one piece of paper and it's up to you to find and trace the right pieces and sizes. I like to use a colored pencil to draw in the corners of my pieces before I jump into tracing them with Swedish tracing paper. But once you conquer the pattern pieces, it's pretty smooth sailing from there.

She Wears the Pants Blouse

Like the other Japanese sewing books I've read, the garments are actually really easy to sew and you get a very rewading garment. I love this blouse! It was so easy to assemble and if I hadn't bought a super soft and wudgy (that's a techincal term) fabric, I could have breezed through this shirt. Instead I had to do a lot of pinning to also match plaids and serge everything to keep it from fraying. The results were great and in under 90 minutes.

She Wears the Pants back

My one small warning on this book is that the patterns run very small. I am 5'6" and normally wear a size 4-6. I am the largest size in the book which fits a woman with a 35 bust and 27 waist. The clothes are boxy so there is some wiggle room but the patterns are sized for a more petite woman.

I really liked this book and Yuko Takada's designs are amazing. If you're looking for more inspiration you should check out her Ready to Wear collection. So many things that make me drool. I'm a big fan of the modern Japanese asthetic but I think this blouse shows you can still have fun with a little color and cool fabric. Tuttle was super generous and sent me another sewing book for children so keep your eyes open for another review later this month. This one's going to be adorable.

**Author's note: Tuttle Publishing contacted me to write this review but all opinions are my own.

Kid's Clothes Week: Wild Things

If you look back on last season's Kid's Clothes Week post you'll remember how much fun I had upcycling a dress shirt for my little lady. I was super into it and really excited for this season to start. Of course I had grand plans which didn't quite come to fruition, but I did have a lot of fun and each kid got a piece of clothing that has not been removed since the photos were taken. I consider that a success. 

Wild Thing kids

The spring theme for Kid's Clothes Week is Wild Things which allows for a huge variation of clothes depending on which way you want to go. I had originally thought of carving animal stamps and printing my own fabric, but when i dropped by the store down the street to buy a stamp making kit it had sold it. Probably just as well as I would have made myself crazy trying to perfect a new craft the week of KCW. I went back to the drawing board and decided on stenciling instead. 

I've tried a few different methods in the past but always come back to Dana's freezer paper method on Made.  It's quick and easy and highly effective. The three things I treasure in sewing these days. 

For Curly Sue I had been envisioning a short sleeve tunic sweatshirt. I had seen one at Gap this winter and really loved the style of it. I consulted my friend Erin over at Hungie Gungie on the best raglan sleeve pattern to use and she suggested Oliver and S's Field Trip Raglan. Great tip. The top is a little boxy for what I wanted so I used an 18 month size (she's a 2T) with a 4T length.  I cut the sleeves pretty short and got pretty much exactly what I wanted. 

Wild Things Raglan Tunic

I just pulled my serger out of storage and I've been on a knit kick this last week. I'm kind of obsessed with the speed and professional look that a serger can give you. I cuffed the sleeves and hem with a little tricky serging and found that I love this shirt. I warmed up my serger and knit skills with this great video from Dana's Made Everyday YouTube channel. It's worth checking out for some solid sewing techniques. 

To work the Wild Things theme into my tunic, I decided to stencil a large elephant on the side seam. I really love Indian block printing and thought this would be a fun way to incorporate an animal into my shirt. I googled Indian Elephant Block Print and got a lot of great possibilities. I tried to find the right mix of interesting but not too complicated. This stencil was definitely tedious at times, but I'm really thrilled with the outcome. 

Indian Block Print

Here's my image from google. I used a picture of a block and inverted the colors so i could easily trace around the elephant. 

Wild Things Freezer Paper Stencil

Here's my freezer paper stencil that I traced over my google image. You can see me trying to figure out light and dark space. It gets a little confusing in the depths of the belly. 

Elephant Stencil

Here's the stencil as I'm transferring the pieces to the fabric. I had to do some improv in places where lines didn't quite match up. The nice thing about block printing is it's meant to have variation so I wasn't too particular. 

Elephant Stencil on the shirt

And here's the finished stencil. I used Tulip fabric paint that is a little heavy on fabric, but I liked the silver glimmer with the elephant. I also had to battle the side seam a bit because it was hard to iron pieces over the seam, but I just touched up a little after the fact. I'm so happy with the whole process. I find that I have a lot of ideas in my head that don't always make it to fabric like I want but this was a success!

Now my little dude has been asking for some clothes for a while. Between making samples for our spring line and fun dresses for Curly Sue, he's definitely gotten left out. So this was the perfect time to try my hand at the Mini Hudson Pant from True Bias. While I was still in my stamp-making phase I thought I might make him some Nantucket crab pants. But sometimes I think less is more and opted for just a sneaky dinosaur in his pocket. He approved. (I think.) 

Dino in my pocket

With my serger out of the box these pants went together so fast. And he loves them! I mean loves them. He's a bit of a bean pole so I cut the 4T size with a 5T length. They fit great. And he loves to run in them. The fabric is a super soft Rayon/Spandex from Mood Fabrics that has a nice thickness to it. And there's definitely enough left for leggings for our other minion. 

Dino pocket

The only thing I'd do different is stencil the dinosaur onto the pocket before i made the pants. That seems obvious but I was in a rush and wanted him to try them on before the waistband was on. And I wanted a little surprise. So if you open up the pocket you'll see it's just a floating Triceratops head. Oops. 

Wild Things goof troop

Overall my crew is super psyched about this spring's Kid's Clothes Week. And me too. It's definitely worth checking out the Kid's Clothes Week blog to see all the inspiring Wild Things clothes. Thanks for following along!

Flippin' for spring

Spring has finally sprung in Brooklyn which of course gets us thinking about shedding our coats and frolicking in Prospect Park. It's the perfect timing for Frances Suzanne's Flip this Pattern and some great spring hacks. If you're looking for inspiration, we've rounded up some spring details to help your warm weather Franklin dress sewing.

Chambray and ribbon. We love this Hanna Andersson top that uses trendy chambray with a playful ribbon touch. Add some flutter sleeves and it's perfect for spring.

Mixing polka dots and stripes. Pastels and primary colors. Mini Boden is one of our favorite brands and we love their pattern mixing.

Fringe. Why not?! Get a little crazy with some fringe and suede for a really rocking version like Zara does so well.

A bubble dress. We love this Uniqlo version with a modern check. Cut a slightly shorter lining that's slimmer than the outer skirt and seam them together at the hem for a flouncy version.


We didn't so much as flip our own pattern as just gave it an updated summer flair this week.

If you follow us on Instagram, you may have noticed that we've been a big fan of Avril Loreti's new line of voile fabrics from Cloud9. We were super fortunate to get a first look at her Let's Have a Party line and make a few samples using some of our favorite sewing patterns. We couldn't resist making a Franklin dress (or two) which matches perfectly with the softness of the voile. This version is with the fabric We Got the Beat (even the names are fun).

This is one of my favorite models. She's a good family friend and always wears our clothes so well. This fabric was so fun to work with and I was so psyched to find the perfectly coordinating buttons in the garment district. It's pretty cool how a button can bring together an otherwise simple dress.

The added bonus of working with Cloud9 was getting to know Avril on a more personal basis. I love her design and illustrations and couldn't be happier for her. It feels like her star is rising and it couldn't be happening to a nicer person. I really lucked out.

This is one of my favorite pictures because I asked our model to jump. It looks like she's levitating and suprised that she got this high. We paired the dress with navy leggings to help transform it into a spring tunic. Perfect for our lovely weather. Finally!

Are you participating in Flip This Pattern? It's a wonderful opportunity to have some fun with our pattern and put your own personal stamp on it. Plus there are great prizes from Imagine Gnats and Urban Sew to entice you. Kids Clothes Week also starts next week so you can double up and multi-task. So much great community sewing going on to set up your spring/summer wardrobe. Good Luck!

Book Review: Girly Style Wardrobe

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Laurence King Publishing and asked if I'd like to review a newly translated Japanese Sewing book from Yoshiko Tsukiori . Would I? It was like being asked out by the homecoming king. How fast could i say yes without looking desperate. The answer: not fast enough.

I love the simplicity of Japanese design and  Girly Style Wardrobe by Yoshiko Tsukiori is a wonderful addition to the Laurence King catalog. Yet another timelessly designed and beautifully photographed Japanese sewing book to make its way to the States. As you can imagine, it did not dissapoint. It starts out with this tear producing poem that gave me pause.

As I watch you grow day by day from a little girl into a woman, I am

Filled with joy

Filled with smiles

Filled with love

Filled with happiness....

And I wanted to let you know how I feel

This is my gift of a wardrobe just for you

Season by season, just for you

I hope you will wear it nice and neatly, in a girly way

A little something, from me to you

I'm sorry. I'm having a hard time typing with blurry vision. What a thoughtful sentiment about sewing. Old Navy never makes me feel this way.

What a pleasure to flip through this book and envision the different dresses I can make for my little lady. The dresses are simple and sweet. Made with linens and cottons, it's easy to see my girl running through Prospect Park and dancing in the grass. The things that childhood is made of. The books spans all seasons so there's a pattern for everything. Multiple dresses, skirts, airy tops, pants and even a light weight coat. You truly could outfit your girl from top to bottom.

Let's get technical here. The book sizing spans aprroximately size 3 to size 10 across 4 pattern sizes. The simple design allows for some wiggle room amongst sizing so it's important to measure your model before you cut. Every pattern piece for all 28 items are on one large sheet of paper, front and back. Does that sound crazy? Well, it was definitely a bit chaotic. You cannot cut the patterns directly from the sheet without cutting into multiple pieces. Instead you have to trace your pieces onto seperate paper. May I offer you my newest discovery via Oonaballoona, Swedish tracing paper. It's a thicker version of tissue paper that you can easily see through to your pattern pieces. It cuts easily, but doesn't really rip, and you can even sew through it for mock-ups. Kind of amazing! I used it for this project and will never look back.

I can't review a sewing book without actually doing some sewing, so I chose a very simple blouse and gave the pattern a test run. Here are the results!

Top B wall

I decided on Top B, a raglan sleeve blouse with a small tuck in the front and a collar that morphs into a bow closure. This shirt is adorable and easy. I want to make one for every girl I know, including myself! Once I had deciphered the pattern and traced my pieces, this blouse went together in under 2 hours.  It also offers a dress version if you can't get enough.

Top B on bench

My model is a standard size 4 so I decided to go with the smallest blouse size (size 100) and add an inch to the hem to make it more of a tunic and extend it's lifespan into age 5 and 6.

Top B window

A note on the directions. While this blouse was easy to put together, the directions assume an intermediate level of sewing knowledge from the reader. Each garment has a simple set of directions and a few illustrations to follow. The dresses themselves are simple silhouettes so they are not complicated, but this book is not for a novice.

Top B bow

One of my favorite details of the dress is the neck opening. On the left side, you stitch back the seam allowance of the sleeve instead of seaming together, and use the bow to close up the top. It's in the details.

Top B full length

It's such a relief to see so many Japanese sewing books being translated into English. Just this Christmas I had a friend's mom partially translate a book for me so I could muscle through the patterns. They are too cute not to try. This book is a keeper and I've already cut out a second blouse. I'm hooked.

**Author's note: Laurence King Publishing contacted me to write this review but all opinions are my own.

Kid's Clothes Week: The Upcycle edition

This week was my first time ever participating in Kid's Clothes Week and to say I am hooked would be an understatement. I loved the challenge. I loved the concept. I loved the community. In my head I thought I would just whip out a dress for Curly Sue. But it was so much more fun than that. This little girl got treated to a labor of love. And I couldn't be more happy with the outcome.

KCW Before
KCW After

The challenge of this season's Kid's Clothes Week was to sew an item of clothing by upcycling another piece of clothing. It was too good to be true. I've had a huge bag of mens' dress shirts sitting in my closet for this very reason alone. The hardest part was picking out the right shirt. There was a lot of plaid (the shirts came from an urban woodsman), but I really wanted to go stripes. I wanted to play with the stripe directions and frankly, I didn't have a choice as I hacked up the shirt.

KCW back view

I started out with Made by Rae's Geranium dress as a template. I tweaked the armhole by finding a happy medium between the two sleeve options. And I skipped the lining by instead binding the neck and armholes with bias binding. I really wanted to show the contrast between vertical and diagonal stripes in the bodice and the binding helped me do that.

KCW back close-up

I recycled the shirt placket in the back to make the opening which was not only a fun accent but a great short cut. I added a middle button hole to close the gap between the top and bottom and popped a button off the cuff to complete the back. To compensate for the lack of lining and to bring in the original shirt details, I fake flat-felled the seams.

I loved the idea of making the skirt with contrasting horizontal stripes but the shirt was pretty slim cut so I had to add a 2 1/2" bottom band to cover the length. It wasn't in the original plan but it was a happy accident and ultimately I like it better. I had to put the band together by cutting and piecing the sleeve remnants, but stripes are very forgiving when you are hiding a seam so you can't see the 4 or 5 sections in the hem.

KCW skirt bottom

The only downside to hacking up a striped shirt is having to follow the actual stripe which got tricky as the fabric got scarce. I had to face the bottom band to cleanly finish the hem and I got a little desperate. The perfectionist in me wanted to have another stripe around the bottom even though no one will ever see it. But I'll know!

KCW hem facing

It makes me a little nuts to see stripes not aligned, but I had to step away from the machine and let it go. Elsa would be proud.

What I know is that my little stinker loves this dress and was dancing and yelling in the atrium of the Brooklyn Museum where we took our pictures. Trying to get a toddler to stand still for pictures is almost impossible. So the fact that I got any was a minor miracle. She mostly did a lot of this.

KDW light picture

And this.

KCW sitting

She stopped long enough to check out a slightly creepy Rodin sculpture.

KCW full dress

I'm pretty sure this dress will become a staple of our summer wardrobe just as soon as the 2 feet of snow melts outside. So maybe 3 months if we're lucky. Hopefully not longer because there is not a scrap of fabric left. Upcycling mission accomplished.

Flip this Pattern

BIG news on the home front! Amidst all this snow and ice, we are super excited to announce that the Franklin dress will be part of Flip this Pattern's spring edition!

Starting April 4th, you are invited to alter, adorn, cut and dream up all the different ways that you can play with the Franklin dress. Watch the fun unfold or play along and win great prizes. Unfamiliar with Flip this Pattern? Read here for all the details and begin your designing.

We cannot wait to see how many creative and beautiful ways the Franklin dress can be made. This year's competitors are a quartet of talented dressmakers who are sure to wow us.

Kerry from Sutures and Sandpaper

Kim from Kimmie Sew Crazy

Olga from Kid Approved

Jo from Dotta Sews

with introductions from

Ana Sofia of S is for Sewing

Stay tuned for updates as our snow melts and the competition draws closer.  In the meantime, February is a Free For All, where loads of talented bloggers will be stitching up a storm from free patterns. Keep a look out!

 

Our little elf

Every year since my little man was a baby I dress one of the kids up as an elf when we travel. It first started as a joke, but quickly became a tradition when I realized how nice everyone was at the airport when your kid is dressed up. We fly through security like the HOV lane.

Little man is now old enough to know better although I'm sure he would do it if I asked. But Curly Sue is the perfect age for an airport outfit. She's not so much an elf as she is a holiday helper. More cute than silly.

Franklin dress elf edition by Brooklyn Pattern Co

It just happened that Santa was making an impromptu visit at the Charleston Airport. I think she was skeptical of a strange old man giving her candy (as she should), but it was a sweet moment. 

Franklin dress elf edition by Brooklyn Pattern Company

I love how subtle the red on red polka-dot is on this print. It gives just a little bit of dimension to this Christmas red dress.

Franklin dress elf edition by Brooklyn Pattern Company

What you can't see is the broken candy cane on the floor that Santa gave her. The photo shoot ended fairly quickly after this was taken.

Franklin dress pattern Christmas edition by Brooklyn Pattern Company

Little man didn't get an elf costume but I made sure he got in the Christmas spirit with his red striped sweater (and purple shoes).

Franklin dress, the holiday version.

Our friends at P&B Textiles were gracious to send us this great little red dot fabric for Curly Sue's dress. I used the Franklin dress pattern with a few tweaks.

I cut the dress yoke as a size 2 since Curly Sue is 20 months. But I wanted more of a tunic to show off her hilarious striped tights so I cut the body at the 6 month size. There are no pockets because I've been burned before with washing clothes with stuff in the pockets (blueberries!). And I shortened the sleeves to a very tiny hem and cap sleeve since the weather is so good down South.

Now that we've made it to South Carolina for the holidays we're going to relax and enjoy our time with my family. Our wish to you is for a joyful holiday and healthy new year. See you in 2015!

Handmade Ornament Swap 2014

Every year a small group of my friends virtually get together for an ornament swap. It started almost ten years ago when I was in graduate school. Myself and my two classmates, Reina and Jade, joined an open swap through cake + pie and Freshly Blended, two blogs who have since dissolved (I think). You entered your name and were assigned to a random group. It was hit or miss. We each got some real keepers and at least one that looked like an item on regretsy. But we were all immediately hooked on handcrafting ornaments.

So while years have gone by and our lives have gone in all different directions, Reina, Jade and I have reconnected every Christmas through our love of handmade gifts. And more recently I've brought a few new friends into the mix to keep the tradition alive. Six members. Six ornaments. How hard can it be?!

Every year I over commit myself to the swap and find myself staying up way too late. This year is no different. A few weeks ago I saw this embroidery on Shiny Fabulous Darling's tumblr page. It blew my mind. I wasn't even sure how to do French knots but YouTube helped me out and I was on my way. I seriously underestimated the time it would take to do six ornaments.

All my friends are spread across the country so I wanted to do something special with each state. I was inspired by this ornament and this ornament. Combined with the french knots and you get this!

Ornament swap pic tree

I estimated that I did about 1500 french knots in the last two weeks. My eyes are crossed. My neck hurts. But I really love this ornament and am so happy with how it came out. I started by printing the silhouette of each state out from the internet. Then traced it in pencil onto linen and set it into a hoop to do my embroidery. I used the Laurel Canyon thread pack from Sublime Stitching and just began french knotting at random.

French knot close-up

I'm not the best embroiderer so I still have a few things to learn. Like how to keep the back pretty. I worked with three colors at a time so that means I crossed and knotted a lot of thread on the back. Fortunately it is forever hidden.

Ornament back

 

Thank goodness each person is in a different state so there are no repeats.

Group ornaments

Each ornament was backed with a yellow or purple fabric and then stuffed to make a little pillow. Easy and cheap to send across the country. I put a little heart in the city where everyone lived. I think Seattle, Washington is my favorite. I love how the NW water inlet turned out. I hope everyone loves them.

Mine are just rolling in, so I'll be posting a few on Instagram.

Our favorite gifts

Stuck on those last few gifts for the loved ones in your life? Look no further! We've put together a simple list of can't-miss gifts from some of our favorite small business owners. We've done all the hard work so grab a hot drink and start crossing off your shopping list.

 

Women

Women's gifts

Keep her warm and looking fresh with double gauze infinity scarves from Imagine Gnats.

A classic and practical foldover tote from the talented designer and maker Katie at Stitch & Rivet.

Carry the initials of those you love most close to your heart with a hand crafted necklace from Quintessentially Us.

 

Men

Men's gifts

Wow your favorite nerd with an AT-ST Walkman t-shirt from the talented illustrator Will Holmes.

Keep it hot with Sunny Bang Private Label Hot Sauce made in Brooklyn.

The greatest lounge pants ever made. Do you need to know more? Visit Lounge County if you do.

 

Kids

kids gifts

The softest, sweetest bath towel you can wrap your little one in from One Lemon.

Pair some Prismacolors with a coloring book made for adults and children by Stella & Crosby.

Get your budding chef an apron and tool set from Odette Williams.

 

Hostesses, In-laws, Bosses, Secret Santa, Teachers

home gifts

Everyone has to dry their hands, so give them a beautifully illustrated tea towel from Claudia Pearson.

This is at the top of my wish list. Pair a bag of your favorite coffee with this happy mug from Sew Caroline.

Even for the pickiest friends you can discover one of a kind vintage finds with an urban feel from The Milk Shop.

Franklin dress Sew Along Day 8: Hemming

We made it! We have come to the end of the Franklin dress Sew Along. And if all has gone accordingly, then you have a sweet little dress ready for holiday dinner. This has been such a fun two weeks and I hope you had a great time following along with us. I had a lot of fun making and photographing this version of the Franklin dress. And this little lady had a blast wearing our Sew Along dress.

Franklin dress Sew Along miss S Day 8

But before we get to the action shots we have to finish the hem. The final step! This is the time where you can bring in your lovely model and have her try the dress on. One of the nice things about the Franklin dress is it has room to grow. It can easily transform into a tunic over time. Check out Sanae Ishida's tunic version here. So if your little girl has sprouted up over the last week you can still enjoy a tunic and leggings.
 

The easiest way to fit your model is to quickly turn up the hem and safety pin it up. Try it on your model and make sure the length is good. Ideally, you want to the hem to hit right at the knees. It's sewers choice so if you want to go shorter, just place a safety pin where the hem should go up. Or if you want it to go long, take out the hem you have safety pinned in and see how you like that length. Once you've decided where the hem should be, it's time to finish up.

The pattern includes 2" of seam allowance in the hem. So we'll start by turning the hem up 1".

Franklin dress Sew Along hem Day 8

Measure 1" with your ruler and press the hem with your iron. Repeat.

Franklin dress Sew Along hem iron Day 8

Measure up another 1" and press again. Pin the hem up and get ready to stitch.

Franklin dress Sew Along hem pin Day 8

Stitch along the top edge of the hem. Press it flat.

You're done!!!!!

Franklin dress Sew Along finished hem Day 8

Congratulations you have completed the Franklin dress pattern and made a beautiful dress that your little one will love to wear.

I really hope you enjoyed this pattern and that the Sew Along was a huge help in getting you to this point.

In the meantime, we couldn't just put this dress in the closet. We invited one of my favorite little ladies, Miss S., to road test the dress at the New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show.

Franklin dress Sew Along Miss S Day 8

I've known Miss S since she was just a sparkle in her mom's eye and she embraces the spirit of the Brooklyn babe. She can navigate this city with her eyes closed and she has absolutely no problem getting dirty in her Sunday best. Her mom is one of my closest friends and another pattern maker extraordinaire.

Franklin dress Sew Along Miss S roses Day 8

If you're ever in NYC during the holidays you can't miss the Holiday Train Show. It is eye candy for the young and old. Model trains moving through the garden's conservatory, creating an enchanted experience. It's so fun to watch little kids run through the gardens watching the trains zip through dozens of iconic NY buildings made from natural materials. I love it!

I couldn't resist Miss S. hamming it up for the camera. This picture perfectly captures her spirit and the dress.

Franklin dress Sew Along Miss S ham Day 8

Thank you so much for joining me these last two weeks. I hope you are thrilled with your dress. I also hope your turkey isn't dry and your pumpkin pie is delicious. Happy Turkey day.

 

Franklin dress Sew Along Day 7: Attaching sleeves

Wow. We are so close. So close. So exciting! Today we will finish up the last big part of the Franklin dress before hemming. We'll be setting in the sleeves. With some precise pinning, this should go quite quick.

Do you remember where you put down your set of sleeves from day 3? Now's a good time to find them because they are going in right now.

Pick up your dress and we'll get it going. The sleeves are identical so it doesn't matter which sleeve you start with. Pick an armhole and a sleeve and let's start.

With right sides together, match the edge of the sleeve seam to the edge of the dress underarm seam. Secure it with a pin.

Franklin dress Sew Along underarm pin Day 7

Continue to pin the sleeve flat to the armhole from the underarm seam up to each sleeve notch. Again with right sides together, match the top sleeve notch to the shoulder seam.

Franklin dress Sew Along pin notch Day 7

Pull the gathering stitches evenly on each side so the sleeve gathers flat to the armhole. Pin along the gathering line so that you'll have a much easier time stitching the sleeve in.

Franklin dress Sew Along sleeve gathering Day 7

Starting at the underarm, slowly stitch around the armhole. After taking your pins out, stitch again 1/4" towards the edge to reinforce the sleeve. Pink or serge along the edge to finish it off. Repeat with the other sleeve.

Franklin dress Sew Along armhole stitching Day 7

And that's it! Your dress is wearable and ready to fit. Tomorrow we'll be hemming the dress and taking a look at one of my favorite little models strutting her stuff in the Franklin dress.

 

Franklin dress Sew Along Day 6: Buttonholes and Dress Assembly

Welcome back from a nice long weekend. I hope everyone was able to relax and kick back. I didn't get nearly enough sleep or enough sewing done, but it was fun and warm! So no complaints.

We are really close to being done which is super exciting. Today is the last really intensive day with buttonholes and dress assembly and then smooth sailing from here. So let's get started with the button holes.

Grab your seam gauge or ruler and a light colored pencil or disappearing ink pen to mark the button holes. We're marking the buttonholes on the left side of the yoke so lay that flat on the table for marking. The pattern calls for 3/8" buttonholes so we are marking our buttonholes accordingly. For any buttonhole measurement, you want the buttonhole to measure 1/4" bigger than the size of the button.

The top buttonhole starts 1/4" down from the top of the dress yoke. Place a tiny cross mark at the 1/4" mark.

Franklin dress Sew Along 1/4" button Day 6

The button holes are 5/8" long. Starting from your first mark, measure 5/8" down and put another small cross mark. Connect the two with a line. There's your first buttonhole.

Franklin dress Sew Along 5/8" button Day 6

The second buttonhole starts 3/4" from the bottom of the yoke. This measurement includes 1/2" seam allowance and then 1/4" more from the eventual stitch line. Make a mark 3/4" up from the bottom of the yoke. Just like the top bottom, measure 5/8" up and make another mark. Connect the line.

Franklin dress Sew Along bottom button Day 6

The final button falls exactly in between the two buttons. Place one end of the ruler at the bottom of the first button and measure down to the top of the third button. Find the center of that measurement and make a tiny dot.

Franklin dress Sew Along middle button Day 6

The middle buttonhole falls exactly over the center of the dot. Meaure 5/16" up and 5/16" down, marking on either end. Connect the marks for your final buttonhole. Does that sound super specific? It is! But that will get you the most accurate buttonhole.

Franklin dress Sew Along three buttonholes Day 6

Using the buttonholes setting on your machine, it's time to put in your buttonholes. Follow the markings you just made and go for it. If you're a little unsure, I always recommend trying a buttonhole or two on a scrap of fabric. It never hurts to practice.

When you've put in your buttonholes and your satisfied with the result, you can cut the buttonholes open. I use an Exacto knife. because it makes a nice accurate cut and has a strong point. If you're going to use scissors, be very careful you don't cut into the top of bottom of your buttonhole stitching.

Franklin dress Sew Along Exacto knife Day 6

Once the buttonholes are in and opened, we're ready to set up the yoke to attach to the skirt. If you haven't done this already, pin the yoke to the facing around the edges so you are treating them as one piece. And then overlap the center fronts of the yoke and pin down the front. (You can't see the buttonholes in this picture because I took it beforehand.)

Franklin dress Sew Along yoke pins Day 6

Grab your dress bottom. Before we move on, we need to put our gathering stitches in the top of the dress. Just like the sleeves, stitch two gathering stitches from notch to notch. Using the largest stitch, stitch 1/2" from the edge, from notch to notch. Stitch again, 1/4" closer to the edge. Do this on the front of the dress and the back of the dress.

Franklin dress Sew Along gathering Day 6

Starting on the back of the dress, place a pin at the top edge in the center of the notches. This marks the center of the dress and will match up with the center of the yoke. With right sides together, start matching up the dress back with the yoke back. Start at the armhole and pin the yoke and dress flat together from the edge to the notch. Do the same at the other armhole. Find the center of the back yoke and match it up to the center of the back dress. Pin together. Slowly pull the gathering stitches so that the back dress gathers down to the back yoke.

Franklin dress Sew Along back gathers Day 6

Even distribute the gathers between the two notches. Pin along the gathering line.

Franklin dress Sew Along back pinning Day 6

Move to the front and do the same thing. Match the CF of the yoke that you pinned with the center of dress. Pin and gather again.

Franklin dress Sew Along skirt gathers Day 6

Stitch the skirt to the yoke where you pinned.

Franklin dress Sew Along dress stitching Day 6

Finish off the edge of the seams by pinking or serging.

Franklin dress Sew Along pinking Day 6

Take the dress to the iron and press the seam allowances up towards the neckline.

Franklin dress Sew Along press up Day 6

Turn the dress to the right side and topstitch along the edge of the yoke 1/8" away from the seam.

Franklin dress Sew Along topstich Day 6

Do the same for the front side.

Franklin dress Sew Along front topstitch Day 6

Since we're here, let's put the buttons on. With a pencil. Mark a small dot directly through the center of your buttonholes, along the CF line. This is where you'll hand sew the buttons on.

Franklin dress Sew Along mark buttons Day 6

Heck, go for it! Get the buttons on and we're almost done.

Franklin Dress Sew Along buttons Day 6

Tomorrow we put on the sleeves and then bam! We've got a dress.

Franklin dress Sew Along Day 5: Yoke

It's Friday and it's been a fun week of getting our Franklin dress to the half-way point. I'm super excited to put my dress down and start planning our Thanksgiving dinner. Which means reserving my meal down at the local grocer. Confession: I hate to cook!

Ok, let's get right into it with putting the pleats into our yoke. Pull out your front yoke pieces with the pleat lines on them -- piece # 5. Following the pleat lines on the pattern piece, lightly mark the lines on the right side of the fabric with pencil, chalk or disappearing ink. Also mark the Center Front (CF) line as well. You should have 5 lines total on each yoke piece.

Franklin dress Sew Along draw pleats Day 5

For the purpose of this tutorial, I hand basted the lines so you could see them better. You definitely do not have to do this. A lightly drawn line is perfectly fine. You can see I also marked the CF line too. That will come in handy next week.

Franklin dress Sew Along pleat lines Day 5

To make the pleats, start with the two lines closest to the arm hole. Pin the two lines together forming a pleat to the right side of the fabric.

Franklin dress Sew Along pleat pin Day 5

Pin the whole pleat from top to bottom of the yoke.

Franklin dress Sew Along pleat Day 5

Do the same for the next two lines to form the second pleat.

Franklin dress Sew Along Pleats Day 5

Stitch each pleat from top to bottom. Repeat for the other yoke. When you've completed all four pleats, take them to the iron and press the pleats towards the CF. Hold the fabric taught with your non-ironing hand to put a little tension on the pleats and your pleats should press nice and straight.

Franklin dress Sew Along press pleats Day 5

Now admire your handiwork before we move on. This is the focal point of the dress and will look so cute on your little lady.

Franklin dress Sew Along 2 yokes Day 5

The next step is to put interfacing on the yoke facing to give an extra layer of protection for the button holes once the dress starts getting pulled on and off by your free-spirited gal. Cut two 1" x 5" pieces of interfacing for the center fronts of both sides and place them on the yoke front on the ironing board. The edge of the interfacing should line up with the edge of the fabric and the fusible should be facing down. It's ok if it is a little longer than the fabric. It will get trimmed off later.

Franklin dress Sew Along interfacing Day 5

Fusible interfacing can really gum up the iron if you're not careful so I like to use a press cloth. It's just a scrap of muslin or light colored cotton fabric that acts as a shield from a hot iron. Lay the press cloth over the yoke and interfacing and press. The press cloth will also keep your fabric from burning when you have to keep the iron on the interfacing for an extended period of time. Press cloths are good for pressing delicates like chiffon and synthetics like polyester. Anything that has a chance of getting burned by an iron should be protected by a cloth.

Franklin dress Sew Along press cloth Day 5

Grab both your back yoke pieces and all of your front yoke pieces. Pin both front yoke pieces to the back yoke at the shoulders. Do the same for the front yoke facing and back yoke facing.

Franklin dress Sew Along pins Day 5

Stitch the shoulder seam 1/2" from the edge and pink the seams. Do this for all four shoulder seams (one yoke and one yoke facing).

Franklin dress Sew Along shoulder stitch Day 5

Press open the shoulder seams.

Franklin dress Sew Along press shoulder Day 5

Make sure you have two stitched yokes that look like this. One yoke with pleats. One yoke with interfacing.

Franklin dress Sew Along two yokes Day 5

Place the yokes right sides together so that all the edges match up. They should be exactly the same size (give or take a smidgeon for human error). Pin along the CF edge and neckline.

Franklin dress Sew Along pinned yokes Day 5

Stitch along the front edge of the yoke, 1/2" from the edge. As you approach the front corner, back stitch a few stitches past the turning point. Turn the corner with your machine needle and backstitch a few spots again to secure the corner. Check out the picture to see this in action. Stitch around the neckline and back down the front.

Franklin dress Sew Along corners Day 5

Trim the front edge and neckline to 1/4".

Franklin dress Sew Along trim Day 5

Trim the corners of the fronts at an angle.

Franklin dress Sew Along corners Day 5

Clip into the curves of the neckline. You want to clip right up against the stitch line without clipping the stitch. Don't hesitate to liberally clip the neckline. It will help it lay better when you turn the yoke right side out.

Franklin dress Sew Along clipping Day 5

With the point of your iron, press open the front seams on both sides. You won't be able to get all the way up to the corner, but do your best to get as close as possible.

Franklin dress Sew Along press front Day 5

Carefully try to press the neck curve open using your fingers and the point of the iron.

Franklin dress Sew Along press neckline Day 5

We're almost there! I can feel the weekend calling my name.

Turn the yoke rightside out.

Franklin dress Sew Along yoke Day 5

The yoke looks a little bubbly right now which is ok. We'll press it out right after we push out the front corners.

I like to use a chopstick to push out the front corners. The goal is to get a nice sharp corner without poking through the corner. It's fairly easy to do so be gentle pushing out the corner. The chopstick is nice because the point is blunt.

Franklin dress Sew Along chopstick Day 5
Franklin dress Sew Along push through corner Day 5

After I've got a nice square corner, I'm ready to press. Since we pressed open the seams a few steps back, it should be fairly easy to press the yoke with the edges nice and crisp.

Franklin dress Sew Along finished yoke

Since it's the end of the week I've decided to do the buttonholes on Monday. Too much thinking and calculating for a Friday afternoon.

Enjoy your weekend! I know I will!

Franklin dress Sew Along Day 4: Pockets

I am one of those people who doesn't know what to do with my hands. I'm very awkward in that way. In pictures, my hands always hang limp or are on my hip in a weird way. That's why I love pockets. They are my escape from the uncomfortable. And that's why I'm committed to putting pockets into all of my dresses for that little girl who can't stop fidgeting. I'm here for you.

These in-seam pockets are quite easy so it won't take up too much time in your day. The secret is accuracy. Those little dots are there for a reason. And that's to make good pockets.

Start off by getting your four pockets and front and back dress pieces ready. You'll pin two pockets on the front of the dress and two on the back. Starting with the front, pin one pocket to the dress side being very careful to match the dots up. In fact, put a pin into the dot to secure it.

Franklin dress Sew Along pocket pin Day 4

Stitch from top dot to bottom dot starting and stopping precisely at the dot. Backstitching carefully to secure the stitch.

Franklin dress Sew Along pocket stitch Day 4

Take your dress piece to the ironing board and flip it to the wrong side facing up. Press the seam towards the dress body only where you stitched.

Franklin dress Sew Along press pocket Day 4
Franklin dress Sew Along pocket iron Day 4

Stitch and press the other three pockets the exact same way so that you have 2 pockets stitched and pressed on the front side and 2 pockets stitched and pressed on the back side. We're getting there!

Place the front of the dress on top of the back of the dress with right sides together, lining up the side seams but don't pin them yet. Put a pin through the dot from the front to the back of the dress on each pocket. The pockets should lay exactly on top of one another. Pin around the edge of the pocket and get ready to stitch.

Franklin dress Sew Along pin pocket Day 4

Stitch around the pocket 1/2" from the edge, starting and stopping exactly at the dot. We're still being precise here. It matters! Then to secure the pockets so no coins or rocks fall out, stitch the pockets again 1/4" from the edge. Stop right above the dots on both ends so as not to stitch into the dress seam allowance.

Franklin dress Sew Along stitch pocket bag Day 4

Pink the edges of the pockets before proceeding. Press the dress and pocket seam allowances back towards the pocket bag.

Franklin dress Sew Along press pocket bags Day 4

Now pin your side seams together above and below the pocket. Stitch from the top of the dress side seam down to the dot. You'll know where to stop because it's where the pocket stitching starts. Back stitch and cut your thread. Start again at the bottom of the pocket bag and stitch down to the hem. Pink your side seams when you're done stitching.

Franklin dress Sew Along side seams Day 4

Your pockets are in. That was fast! Last thing to do is press open the side seams above and below the pocket. Press the pocket towards the front of the dress.

Franklin dress Sew Along press open side seams Day 4

And just like that, you're done for the day. Tomorrow is the yoke which is probably the trickiest part of the dress. Leave a little extra time to get it right and we'll be half way done with our sew along.