Archive of ‘pattern’ category

Another Wiksten Tova Dress

wiksten tova made by a happy stitchI cannot stop making clothing for myself. It’s taken over my life, guys.  Every waking moment is spent dreaming about my current project.  I am not exaggerating.  I open my eyes in the morning and think about things like fitting sleeves in armholes and how to attach bias binding.  It’s insane. I love it.

When I showed a student of mine my first Wiksten Tova dress she commented, “I love this dress. I could make seven of these for a whole week’s worth.”  And just like that I entertained just that idea.  A whole week of Tovas!  I’m not there yet but this is my second Wiksten Tova dress and it’s a wonderful lightweight voile fabric & fully lined, once again. wiksten tova made by a happy stitch

The fabric is from Mood in NYC. It had no designer or fabric manufacturer information on it.  It’s lightweight and breezy & that is about as much as I know.

By the way, I feel like Mood Fabrics has this almost mythical-like reputation but in real-life it is kind of insane.  Fabric stacked on fabric in a dusty window-less space.  Sometimes you have to get on your knees on the crappy carpeted floor just to SEE the fabric.  There are banged-up file cabinets just laying around the place. It’s all part of the charm but I get overwhelmed in a matter of minutes when I’m there. Just so you know.

wiksten tova in lightweight fabric by a happy stitch

The cuffs and front bib area have a contrasting fabric, also from Mood with no identifying information.  It’s a sweet, lightweight, subtle fabric.  If you follow me on instragram you know that I accidentally washed these two fabrics together and the contrast fabric is a bit pinker as a result.  Doh! Such a rookie mistake.  I was so frustrated but everyone reassured me that it looked ok & I do like the end result.

The Wiksten Tova in lightweight fabric - made by A Happy Stitch

Once again I am impressed with the fit and shape of this Wiksten.  Making it a second time it came together so quickly.  My only concern is that with such lightweight, drapy fabric it’s a little short and I’d be nervous wearing it without leggings or jeans in case of an outfit mishap.  Other than that, I’m thrilled to have another everyday dress in my ever-expanding handmade closet.

My Swan Song, a deer & doe sureau dress

swan dress!  a deer & doe pattern in michael miller swan fabric

I took one of those Buzzfeed quizzes they other day. It told me I was Bjork and I balked.  I’m not quite that quirky!  No offense to Bjork but, seriously, her & me…just not that similar.  And then I remembered that I was making a swan dress and I had to laugh at myself.  So I suppose this is technically my Bjork moment because check out my swan dress! swan dress--sureau pattern from deer & doe made by a happy stitch

The fabric is from Michael Miller, it’s called swan dive, and similar to the coral dot fabric of this dress, it’s ‘hi-density’ which gives it just a little more drape and makes it more amenable to garment sewing than standard quilting cotton.

I’ll be honest, I was really nervous that I might end up hating this dress. I’m not normally into using a novelty print for my clothes.  My friend Kait at Michael Miller (otherwise known as “the fabric dealer keeping this junkie hooked”) assured me it was going to be great when I hesitantly told her, “I might be nuts but I just really want to make a swan dress!”.

swan dress from deer and doe pattern- made by a happy stitchKait was right.  It is great.  I love my swan dress!  The pattern repeat is small enough that it works.  (Perhaps I need more novelty print dresses?  Not sure.  Anybody else use novelty prints in your own clothing? What’s your philosophy on that one? )

swan dress--pattern by deer & doe by a happy stitch

The pattern is from the amazing deer & doe pattern company.  They are out of France and I’m in love with everything they are putting out these days.  The patterns are simple and clear.  This dress has a fake front button placket and a side zipper.

As happens with many fitted dresses, I had to scale out from the bust to the waist and hips to different sizes because my body is different sizes at those places.  It was a fairly straightforward adjustment.  Next time, I need to further adjust the bust area and take in a bit of the hip.  Otherwise, the fit is great and it’s cute and comfortable. I’m also eager to try out a few different collars.  Wouldn’t this be cute with a peter pan collar?  Or a tie-front collar? I’m searching for a soft, simple chambray for the next one…more of an everyday wear kind of dress.

the swan dress!  From Deer & Doe's sureau dress made by a happy stitch

Are you starting to feel spring coming on?  Is it influencing what you want to sew?  I can’t stop making summer clothing despite steady rain and nippy weather.  Get here already spring!  I’ve got a swan dress to flaunt.

disclosure: I was given the opportunity to choose this fabric from Michael Miller without any additional compensation or stipulation.  My opinions about it are my own.

The Ava Top

I got a little fancy pants, y’all!

the ava top - paper pattern parcel #1 by a happy stitch
It was the least I could do after being invited to be involved in the wonderful launch of the Perfect Pattern Parcel.

If you haven’t already heard, the Perfect Pattern Parcel is this crazy great pattern sale brought to life by the wonderful minds of Jill at Made with Moxie and Rachael at Imagine Gnats.

Here is how it works: you buy a package of patterns supporting indie designers, at a price of your choosing (yep, you pick the price), and that money is divided between the designers AND a charity that helps teachers.  I know, it’s a lot of amazing-ness to take in.  At the end of the day you get a slew of great patterns, indie designers get support/love, and teachers get cash to build better learning environments.

Hello! That is worth getting fancy for.  The sale is for a limited time and it ends tomorrow. So, get on it.

The patterns included in this sweet little package are:

Parcel 1 CollageAccordion Bag by Sew Sweetness
Summer Concert Tee by Dixie DIY
Ava by Victory Patterns
The Skater Dress by Kitschycoo
Dandelion Dress & Top by Disparate Disciplines

ava top from Perfect Pattern Parcel by a happy stitch
I jumped at the chance to make the Ava Top.  It looked like a challenge and I’ve been eager to challenge myself lately.  I stitched it up with a lovely swiss dot-like sheer fabric I had on hand and Art Gallery Sweet Nostalgia fabric on the bottom portion.

The Ava Top is really fun, it felt very satisfying to successfully make something fancy & outside of the norm for my extremely casual wardrobe.  It had some tricky bits as well…a side zipper and fitted bodice. I was looking for a top to wear out for drinks with my girlfriends and this top fits the bill.

Ava Top detail from a happy stitch

That sweetheart neckline up there.  Oh yeah, that intimidated the heck out of me.  But it worked! The pattern is clear and straightforward and it made those intimidating things easy to accomplish.
AVA top out of PPP - by a happy stitch

That said, I don’t fit into this top very well.  I’ll need to make some adjustments next time around.  What is that you said?  I should probably have made a muslin to tweak for fit before cutting into the good stuff?  Well, yes, I should have.  Thank you for that lecture.

The main issue is that my (ahem) bust doesn’t fill out this top and it gapes a bit at the armholes as a result.  It’s also got a bit of fun flounce to it but a bit too much for a girl with hips like mine.  I think it would be perfect in a knit…kind of like this Wonder Woman mash-up by Kitschy Coo or this one from Crafterhours!  It’s not that I won’t wear it, I just wish it fit perfectly, you know?

Ava Top by ahappystitch

the ava top by a happy stitch

Want to know more?  You will find tons of details over here at Jill’s blog and enter the humonguous giveaway here (with over $250 in prizes!).

Be sure to check out all of the incredible things made by all the bloggers participating in the Perfect Pattern Parcel launch:

One Little Minute
SeamstressErin Designs
One Girl Circus
casa crafty
the quirky peach
Sew Caroline
Fishsticks Designs
the Brodrick blog
sew a straight line
Adventures in Dressmaking
true bias
Idle Fancy
La Pantigana
Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy Crafts
Max California
la inglesita
Diary of a Chainstitcher
four square walls
Lauren Dahl
mingo & grace
Dandelion Drift
Sanae Ishida
Sew Jereli
Froo & Boo
Disaster in a Dress
Things for Boys
mama says sew
sew Amy sew
Sew Busy Lizzy
Made With Moxie
imagine gnats

Disclosure: I was given this parcel of patterns and agreed to make one of my choice and discuss it here. All of my opinions about this fantastic support of indie pattern designers are my own.

Sorbetto top and it’s all mine, because apparently it’s all about me now.

I’ve been feeling a little bad about how all of my sewing has been for myself lately.  I mean, it has been one thing after another for me, me, me around here.  What’s up with that? Aren’t sewing mama’s supposed to be all giving and whatnot?

sorbetto in voile - a happy stitch

Then it hit me…the boys aren’t excited when I sew for them lately.  And, my husband, bless his Irish heart but with him it’s mostly understood that anything I make for him I do for the fun of making it not because he wanted it.

The things these people NEED are frankly a little boring to make and can be purchased at a used clothing shop for $2.50 each.  Bam.  My closet just got happier & more carefree.

sorbetto in voile

This breezy, pleated tank top is a particularly happy one.  It’s made using a free pattern, the famous Sorbetto from Collette Patterns and I got the fabric for a steal at a yard sale.  Considering how expensive sewing can get sometimes, this feels good.  The Sorbetto is such a basic pattern that it’s really easy to alter and indeed, I played around with the pattern a little.

For starters, I used bias tape (as the pattern calls for) on the neck and shoulders but moved it inside the top thereby narrowing the shoulder straps and exaggerating the scoop neck a little.  I also inverted the front pleat to make it less obvious than the in the pattern and I didn’t enclose the pleat at the bottom because I wanted a more a-line, flow-y look. It’s kind of a hippy, summer love shirt.  For me.

sorbetto in voile

Has this we-don’t-need-you-to-sew-for-us thing happened to any other sewists out there? Is it because I have boys?  Does your family love when you make things for them or is it sometime a labor of (your) love? All the bloggy pictures out there seem to be filled with happy recipients.

I’m not going to be able to participate in the upcoming KCW because I will be away and I’m sad because I haven’t missed one in a long time but also need some time to brainstorm something fun to sew that the boys will love.  A dapper hat, maybe? Might be time to get more inventive with t-shirt stencils.  I’m open to any ideas.  Of course, I will be here (yay!) so I’m not all that sad to miss KCW.

A Wiksten Tova in Pendleton Wool

wiksten tova in wool This is the pattern company whose name I hear echoing in the wide, open spaces of every fabric shop…Wiksten…W i k s  t e n…. W i  k  s  t  e n.  As a skeptic, I wondered what all the fuss was about for patterns in the $20 range.  I mean, that just feels pricy.

It’s undeniable, however, that everything I came across made from a Wiksten pattern was somehow simply amazing. Not flashy or complicated but just seemed to fit right and look great in an easy-breezy, perfect kind of way.  So, when I discovered the digital pattern for $10, I bought it.  I really, really hate piecing together pattern pieces.  Like full-on despise it.   When it means I save almost $15, however, I will slap a smile on my face and happily piece together a digital pattern.   I guess I can be bought. 🙂

wiksten in wool

I love my Wiksten Tova dress, it is as good as they say.  The fabric is from my stash, the very, very special section of my stash of Pendleton Wool.  My great-grandmother worked for Pendleton, the Omaha branch, and she and my grandmother had tons of their lightweight wool.  When my grandma  moved into a smaller apartment I was given all of her Pendleton.  I know.  Amazing.  Trust me, I know how lucky I am.

wiksten tova in wool

I really like this dress.  The wool is perfect, it keeps me warm and it has enough weight that this tunic-like length doesn’t feel like something someone my age shouldn’t wear.  I did line it with a thin red polyester fabric because otherwise the wool would stick to my leggings and the lining keeps it from being a dress I have to fuss with.  I also altered the neck facing. The pattern calls for a neckband twice the size of what I made.  I just wanted a simpler neckband.

As you can see the side seams don’t line up AT ALL, which made me a little self-conscious at first. I decided I’m going to focus on how well the front bodice seams do line up instead of worry about the side seams.  Ok, those aren’t PERFECT either but I’m not one to worry about perfection.

Wiksten in pendleton woolI’m happy with the dress and psyched about the pattern.

For whatever reason, though, I have the hardest time picking fabric for this dress.  With uber-plain fabric it seems so boring (although lots of people are rocking it with the plain but sophisticated look) but with bold fabric it’s a bit like fancy scrubs.  Example A is my version of the top in some long-hoarded Lotta Jandotter fabric:

wild and crazy wiksten

Oops. If you’ve got any tips for picking fabric for my next one, I am all ears! Especially tips on how to mix and match fabric for the bib and main dress body!  I’m terrified of doing that but really want to!

a playtime dress, leggings and a confession

T in the playtime dress and leggings from Oliver + S

It’s the first day of Kid’s Clothes Week, the winter edition!  I’m posting about this little Oliver + S outfit to kick things off. It’s the playtime dress and leggings pattern combination and it’s painfully adorable.  Especially on my beautiful little friend here. Isn’t she the cutest?  I can’t even handle it.playtime dress and leggings from a happy stitch

I got to make this dress and leggings as a sample for my upcoming class at Rock Paper Scissors. I can’t wait to teach this one.  Leggings, my friends, are so darn easy to make! If I had girls I would make so many leggings! I’m going to attempt to make some for myself for sure.

Playtime Dress and Leggings

The dress comes together easily and the instructions are clear and professional. This was my first time using an actual Oliver + S pattern, though I’ve sewn things from their book Little Things to Sew.   Liesl, the pattern maker behind Oliver + S is a true pro and it shows in this pattern.  She writes a straightforward, clear pattern with little details that take the dress beyond plain jane and make it look store-bought in the good way.

back of the playtime dress from Oliver + S

I’m not sure what the fabric is, unfortunately.  Both the pattern and the fabric were shipped to me for the purposes of making the sample so I didn’t catch the name of the adorable bike fabric. Edited to add:  the fabric is Bike it, it comes from Jan Cyn Designs for Birch Organic Fabrics.

It is a knit fabric but a sturdy knit so it sews easily and makes for a warmer dress.  The pattern is written for either woven or knit fabric, which makes it really versatile.

I’ve been making a lot more out of knit fabrics these days and I have to say that learning to sew (mostly) confidently with knits has been the most useful expansion of my sewing skills ever!  It’s what the boys want to wear, which mean I can stitch up everyday clothes for them!  Ok, one more photo of J and the cuteness that is his best buddy.

playtime dress sillies

Now that you are distracted by all those cute pictures, it’s time for the confession.

There are great downsides associated with being the child of a sewing mama. The biggest downside, of course, is that by virtue of the fact that your mama CAN make you things like pants and winter hats you don’t actually HAVE any of those things because they are buried on sewing mama’s To-Do list.

My poor ragamuffin children. C is literally wearing sweatpants with knee holes in them every single day and both boys have hats with holes big enough that their hair pokes out. Did I mention we are in the midst of a polar vortex in these parts? Oh yeah, it’s really, really cold in these parts. Way too cold for them to have aerated clothing.

Kid’s Clothes Week to the rescue. KCW, one hour of sewing for kids every day all week, is always my best motivator for ticking things off the old To-Do list.

Do I actually have a list you are asking?  No, not yet. Do I have patterns ready and fabric set aside? I do not.  None of those things.  I have a will.  That’s what I got.

kid's clothes week

surprise! the flower quilt was for grandma

flower quilt made by a happy stitch

Remember the flower quilt I was being all cagey about before Christmas?  My grandma got it.  My grandma is 91 and had a difficult year, she really deserved a quilt.  She had open-heart surgery several months ago.  Yes, a 91 year old lady had open-heart surgery.  Not just any lady but my grandma. My beloved grandma who believes, no matter what, that her grandkids are amazing.   That everything I sew is incredible and perfect even though she sews well enough herself to find all the flaws if she were looking for them.  My grandma who spent my childhood summers sneaking me Twizzlers while cooking in her swimsuit at their rustic lake house.  My grandma, who as a young pregnant woman, walked herself to the hospital during a snowstorm to give birth to my aunt.  Only stopping to sit down in snowbanks and wait through any contractions.

It seemed for a little while after her surgery, when her time at the ICU kept extending and intubation and pain kept her from doing anything but pleading with her eyes, that the doctors had forgotten this was my grandma.  She had been a healthy, woman just weeks ago.  The surgery was a pre-emptive decision based on the condition of her artery.  My mom blew up a picture of her from the church directory and tacked in on her door to remind them.   And, slowly, she got better.  Amazingly, she is now walking around and back to living on her own in her apartment enjoying wine and movie nights with her friends.  It still blows my mind that we could have lost her.

flower quilt quilted (from a happy stitch)

Despite all of that, everything heroic she went through, if I had just asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she would have replied like she always does.  “Oh. I don’t need anything”.  The unspoken end to her sentence being “…because I probably won’t be around much longer.”  It’s what she says every time.  So, I didn’t ask.  My grandma deserved something priceless and in my mind, the time and care it takes to make a quilt makes them all priceless.

flower quilt detail (from a happy stitch)

As soon as I saw the free pattern designed by Ellen Luckett Baker up on the Sew Mama Sew website I knew that was the one for her.  I was able to use special scraps, some from pairs of pajamas I’d given my mom or things I made for myself.  All of it worked its way into the quilt.

Of course, December was crazy for me with classes and markets and the quilting and binding of the quilt almost didn’t happen.  When I did get to it, it happened quickly and frantically.  The quilting is pretty simple, as a result.   I was right down to the wire.  For real.  Very down to the wire.  I finished the quilt, took it outside for these pictures and then had to wash it because of the snow (!).  While it was still hot from the dryer I stuffed it into a Priority Mail box and it arrived to Grandma the day before Christmas.  Phew.

flower quilt

I wasn’t there when she opened it but when we talked on the phone she was so thankful and happy to have it.  She thought it was amazing, of course.  (I know she is ignoring the larger than 3/8″ sewing errors.)  She also told me, in a whisper, “The quilt comes right back to you when I’m gone.”  Ha! I guess grandma got the last word anyway.

Love you grandma!  Stay warm.

I finally made The Washi Dress

DSCN9939I finally made the super-popular Washi Dress from Made by Rae.  Rae recently released her crazy-popular digital pattern in paper form and I was lucky enough to be asked to make a sample dress for my favorite shop Rock Paper Scissors.  The pattern and the fabric were given to me and the dress currently lives in the shop.  I did manage to snap a few (awful) shots of me (on a cloud day) wearing the dress before I sent it off.  The fabric is from Violet Craft, her Waterfront Park line, and it really is perfect.

washi in violetcraftPeople are totally mad about this dress and I get it. It has pockets and a sweet little cutout in the bodice. The empire waist is a really flattering cut on most women as well.  I know it certainly is for me. I made the small size because the pattern suggested making the size that matches your bust measurement.  Ah yes, that would be small. Unfortunately, it is a little tight in the shoulders.  It fits really well everywhere else. The fit on this dress is almost guaranteed to be pretty good, at least in the bodice,  because it has elastic shirring in the back that will keep the front of the dress looking cute and tight.  The shirring also ensures it is comfortable to wear without requiring lots of fussy effort to get a perfect fitting bodice.

I made a second Washi to try to correct for the tight shoulders.  I didn’t want to go entirely up to a size M because I was afraid of making it really bulky in the skirt (you know, my fear of looking pregnant).  Instead, I altered the pattern to be an M on top and size S on the bottom…basically the complete opposite of what I usually need to do.

washi dress in denise schmidtIt mostly worked.  The shoulders fit better for sure.

shoulder detail on my washi

 For some reason the bust darts are droopy, which has never happened before.  The pattern has a unique way of constructing the darts, the fabric that usually makes up the darts is completely cut away.  It helps to reduce the bulk that sometimes can build up around darts and I had no problem with the first dress…not sure why I have boob droop on this one.  I was a little disappointed with this fabric, it’s from Denyse Schmidt and is really cute up close but kind of drab from far away.  A Washi shouldn’t be drab!  A Washi is a chance to show off a fun print!  So, that’s a bummer.  It looks better when I wear my red sweater.

washi in dotsBy the way, my lovely husband took the pictures of me in the second dress and apparently it is very hard for me to avoid smirking when he’s taking the pictures.

Have you made a washi? Did you have boob droop?  Any helpful alterations you would suggest?  I do want to make another in voile, probably this. Has anyone made a washi in voile? Did it need to be lined?  I’m concerned about making a see-through dress. I have many questions today, clearly.  I need much guidance.  I think if I got it just right I would make a closetful of Washi dresses, I just need the perfect tweaks.

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