Playtime

The second I saw the Oliver and S Playtime dress pattern playtime dress I knew I had to have it. The dress is similar in style to many of my younger daughter’s “go to” dresses so I knew there would be little fight about wearing the dress once it was done.
I let Delilah, age 3.5, choose the fabric from the red tag selection at Joann’s. While there are some instances where I don’t mind spending a little extra on fabric, it didn’t make sense to me to sew up a dress that was going to be worn mostly for play with full price fabric. Delilah chose a printed baby corduroy that is very much her style. Anytime I have let her choose her own fabrics for projects she almost always selects small prints.
The challenge with the pattern began when I realized I ordered the wrong size. I ordered the one that starts at size 5. Delilah will be four in February but she is small for her age. She is just now starting to wear a size 3t. She has long torso and short legs so I was pretty confident that I could make the pattern smaller rather than ordering a new one.
To make the pattern smaller I cut each bodice piece and facing half an inch smaller. This made the bodice an inch smaller overall. I took the half inch off where the patten piece would be placed on the fold. On the back pieces I took the half inch off near where the dress opens. If I had just made the dress half an inch smaller at the side seams, the neck opening would have been huge and the shoulders would have been off. I didn’t shorten the bodice length to account for Delilah’s long torso. To determine the best length, I just cut the skirt two inches longer than a similarly styled dress that we own. I also moved the pockets up a bit to account for Delilah’s short arms.
Even with all of my changes the dress still sewed together easily and quickly. I decided not to add the collar design or the pocket design because it wouldn’t have really shown up on the fabric Delilah chose.
Once the dress was done, I felt like something was missing. So I added a grosgrain ribbon at the waist. I edge stitched the ribbon and tucked it under the facings so the inside would still look finished.

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Delilah loved the dress and I think the fit worked out okay.

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Process not Product

This year some friends and I decided to have give our children a cooperative preschool experience.  We choose the Wee Folk Art Homeschool Companion  as a guide for curriculum and crafts.  One of the craft projects is a batik quilt.  I decided that a quilt didn’t quite make sense for us because we would only end up with one finished product and only one family would get to keep it.  Instead, I decided to make the batik squares into table runners for each family.

I was a bit skeptical about the idea of preschoolers batiking fabric with glue and acrylic paint.  The directions are in the curriculum, but I just wasn’t sure if it would work.

Here is what we did.

First, you “draw” on your fabric with gel glue.  You need to wait for the glue to dry before you can put paint over it.   In the interest of time, I premade some squares with glue designs for the children to paint.  I also had the children create their own designs with glue for painting at a later date.

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Once the glue is dry, you paint over it with acrylic paint.  Be warned, arcylic paint is not washable so whatever your children are wearing to do the project may also end up paint covered.

There are three different days in the curriculum that have quilt square as a craft.  We only did it twice as it seemed like the children were losing interest and I was getting tired of cleaning up paint.  The first day we let the children paint, I supplied them with paint straight from the tube.   They completely saturated the fabric with layers of paint. The next time that they painted, I watered down the paint before giving it to them.

Once the paint dries, the fabric squares need to be washed by hand in warm water.  I found that the squares that had undiluted paint on them were very difficult to rinse.  I had to scrub with a scouring pad to get the paint to release.  Sometimes I had to flip the squares over to check for spots that needed to be scrubbed.  The squares that were painted with diluted paint were easier to rinse off, but it seemed harder to rinse the glue off.  The squares with layers of undiluted painted dried more like art canvas while the ones with the diluted paint ended up feeling like regular old fabric. Here is what I mean by the squares looked like painted artist canvas.

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I took the rinsed squares and sewed them to some fall printed fabric to make the table runners.  I used a brown fabric on the back with a tiny print, so it almost reads solid.  The backing overlaps to the front to bind the runner.  In between the layers is a thing batting to give it body.  I was a little bit concerned sewing through the squares that felt like canvas.  I thought maybe the excess paint might get on the needle and gunk up my machine, but it worked out fine.  However I did break a needle as I edge stitched through the section that had a canvas-like square.  But that is likely because I was sewing through so many layers at that point and my machine isn’t super powerful.

In the end I think the runners came out cute.  I constantly have to remind myself that it is about process not product when working with children.  This time, it was about both they had fun making the squares and the end result is something that I know each of us will look forward to taking out each autumn.unnamed (2)

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Ten Little Headbands

A good friend’s daughter’s school has a holiday fair every year that borders on magical.  This year I decided to make something to donate to the holiday fair.  I felt it was the least I could do for my friend who has been so generous with her daughter’s hand me downs.  Her mother has hand knit countless things for my daughters.  My friend even let my dad use her home while she was out of the country so that he could be here for the birth of my son.  Most of the things at the holiday fair are hand made and in many cases, made by truly skilled artisans, which I am not.

Initially, I though I would make a cape from Little Things to Sew but when it came down to make the item, I couldn’t find the book in my house.  I am fairly certain, I squirreled it away when we were having company, but I just can’t remember where.  So instead of one cape, I decided to make many headbands.  My daughters are always drawn to headbands in stores plus I have a ton of fabric scraps accumulating around here so it seemed like the right project.

I didn’t have a pattern for the headbands.  My daughters either wear plastic headbands or they wear ones made of stretch knit like these.  But I didn’t have enough stretch knit scraps and my serger and I are currently in a bit of a battle over tension so I needed a different plan.

Initially I tried putting a 1/4 inch hem around the edges and pintucking the fabric where it met the elastic but I didn’t love the result.  It was too thin for my taste with just one layer of fabric and all the ironing involved didn’t lend itself to making many headbands fast. Here is a quick picture I snapped at school of my younger daughter wearing the first prototype.Image

Back to the drawing board I went.  What I finally came up with was a slightly narrower reversible headband.  I used fold over elastic (FOE) on these because I had a bunch on hand from my days making cloth diapers.  It is very soft and has just the right amount of stretch. The headbands fit my daughter’s head perfectly.  Due to the nature of the stretch, I was also able to get the headband comfortably on my relatively small adult head.  So I am fairly confident that these will fit most little girls and some adults, who have small heads.

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It was a walk down memory lane choosing the fabrics.  Almost all these fabrics were used to make things from my daughters.  The teal floral one was a vintage fabric that I found cleaning out my mother’s house a before she moved.  The matroyshka doll fabric was used for pockets on a lazy days skirt for my younger daughter.

My absolute favorite headband  is this one made from Joel Dewberry Sparrows fabric.  I used that fabric to make myself the Noodlehead Supertote

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I still have a bit of that fabric left and I might make myself a headband out of it, or maybe I will save it and make a little clutch for myself.

As you can see they fit pretty well on a little head.  My daughter is 5 and has, what I consider, an average size head.

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Once I figured out the design on these, they sewed up quickly.  It is the perfect assembly line project, assuming you work with fabric colors that don’t necessitate constantly changing thread and bobbin colors.

Of course, my daughters would like to keep all of the headbands for themselves rather than send them off to the holiday fair.  So I see some more headband sewing in the future.