Category Archives: Sewing

Homemade Juggling Balls

Homemade Juggling Balls | In An Orchard

Justin was pretty tickled with the kids sudden interest in juggling.  Being a self-taught juggler, I think he really fancies the idea of having his own personal juggling troupe.

After a full day of the kids wildly throwing clubs and baseballs, Justin mentioned it would be good for them to have some soft juggling balls.  Something more suitable for juggling rookies and breakable household items.  Sunday afternoon I found Justin and J in the sewing room working on their homemade juggling balls.  My plan was to make regular old bean bags for the kiddos, but Justin had a better plan.  Real, perfectly-palm-sized juggling balls.  A set of three for each of the kids.

Homemade Juggling Balls | In An Orchard

He found the free printable pattern and instructions here.  It really is such a clever pattern.  The instructions show you how to make a round ball out of a single square of fabric.  You do this by tracing the pattern onto the fabric, and then using a kind of Origami style sewing, the square almost magically becomes a sphere.  I watched Justin sew the first two just to get my barrings, and then I sat down and made 12 more.  Once you get the hang of the folding and stitching process, the balls go together so fast.  The instructions suggest sewing them by hand but I used my machine.  I don’t trust my hand-stitching enough to risk the balls bursting all over the house.Homemade Juggling Balls | In An Orchard

At first Justin was cutting the squares of fabric with scissors, but I stepped in and started cutting squares with my quilting blade and ruler.  This sped up the process considerably.Homemade Juggling Balls | In An Orchard

He also found that cutting out 1/4 of the pattern and tracing it onto the square one side at a time worked the best.  You do need to be precise with the tracing and stitching, otherwise the ball will be badly misshapen.Homemade Juggling Balls | In An Orchard

Homemade Juggling balls | In An Orchard

At first we were stuffing them with rice but we switched to millet half way through.  Rice will expand if it gets wet but millet will hold up much better to wear and tear.  We found it was best to pack them pretty firm.Homemade Juggling Balls | In An Orchard

The kids were excited about the new juggling balls.  Miss P likes them especially, and keeps stealing them from the big kids.  She has a set of her own but three isn’t enough…she must have them all!  They get put in the back of little toy cars and tractors and stuffed in play purses.  But her favorite game is what I like to call, mama bird.  She carefully makes a nest out of her special blanket, gently sets each ball in the middle of her nest, and then sits on her “eggs” with a very pleased look on her face.Homemade Juggling Balls | In An Orchard

Winter Sewing

Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

After a full month of Christmas sewing I was eager to clean out the sewing room and start making a few things for the girls.  While I was at Joann’s looking for flannel for Miss E’s nightgown, I ran across the perfect bird print, it screamed “April! I’m perfect! Take me home and sew lots of little dresses with me!”  So I did.

I made two Geranium dresses.  A tiny one for a friend who just gave birth to a sweet baby girl, and one for Miss P.   I swear, every time I make a new dress for her I think, “This looks so long and big; it isn’t going to fit her.”  But it always does; proof that she is growing faster than I care to believe. Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Look at the look on her face.  ”Mom… again with the picture taking.”

I bribed her with “fart putty” so she would stay in one place long enough to take a few pictures.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Since the weather is still cold I’ve been putting the dress over her t-shirts and jeans.  When things start to warm up she’ll be able to wear it with just a pair of Saltwater sandals.
Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

 

I was catching up on some blog reading a few weekends ago, when I came across this post from one of my favorite sewing blogs Made by Rae.  Rae was showing some of the things she had made for her son Hugo (who is just a little bit younger than Miss P) and I fell in love with the pair of yellow pants she made for him.  She used her own Parsley Pants pattern but I decided to use a pattern I already owned, one that I made for Miss E when she was just a little thing.

Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

I used the Basic Pocket Pant pattern from Meg McElwee’s book Growing up Sew Liberated.  Growing Up Sew Liberated is a must-have sewing book (in my humble opinion).  If you have little people in your house and you like to sew, then you need it in your library.

Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

There is nothing I don’t like about these pants.  It’s a simple pattern made special by all the little details that are added.  The contrasting cuffs and waistband and the bias-tape pockets are a winning combination.  So many ways to stylize this pattern.  I used two different fabrics.  The main fabric is a Heather Bailey print for Free Spirit, called Primrose.  The contrasting fabric is a Robert Kaufman chambray.  The chambray is extremely light-weight, and I hesitated to use if for the cuffs and waistband, but I added some medium weight interfacing to those pieces and it worked out just fine.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

I love, LOVE those pockets!Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Because we’re still in the middle of winter, I decided to line the pants with fleece.  I had some green fleece in my fabric stash, so I used it to line the inside of the pants.  There’s the right way to line pants, and then there’s the way I line pants.

Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Before I started to sew the pattern pieces together, I cut out a separate pair of fleece pant legs. Then, I carefully pinned the fleece pieces to the wrong side of the main pant leg pieces.  Next, I very carefully surged the fleece to the main fabric.  I took my time and made sure that both fabrics were perfectly smooth, so there wouldn’t be any puckers or ripples in the pants once I started sewing them together.  Once I had sewn the fleece to the wrong side of the main fabric, I simply assembled the pants using the pattern instructions.  All in all it worked out really well!  There’s a little extra bulk in the crotch seam but they’re loose fitting pants so it’s not really noticeable.
Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

I finished the pants just in time to test them out on a day trip to San Francisco.  We took the children to the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park over a three day weekend.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

They kept her warm and comfy all day!  That’s what I love about Meg’s patterns; she understands that children are constantly in motion and their clothing should reflect that, and not inhibit them.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

I think I need to make her at least one more pair, maybe two if I can find the time.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Just for the fun of it, I thought I’d show you the original pair of Basic Pocket Pants I made for Miss E, when she was little.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

These tiny pants are one of my favorite things I’ve made for Miss E.  Hindsight; I wish I’d have bought 4 yards of that floral print.  I used every last scrap of it, and when I went back to Joanne’s to get more it was sold out…heartbreaking.  I still have those pants out in the storage shed but they’re a size 3T, and they’re still a little too big for Miss P.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Next up on my sewing list is a few circle skirts for Miss E.  She’s been begging me for some new circle skirts to twirl around in, and I certainly don’t mind obliging her.

Handmade Christmas

Handmade Christmas | Inanorchard

I had a lot of fun making a few extra Christmas gifts this year.  I always make a little something for each of the children, a small handmade gift from mamma under the tree, but this year I carved out a some extra time and make a few things for my nieces and nephews too.

But I’ll start with the some gifts that came from the kitchen; not the sewing room.  We wanted to deliver cookie plates to our neighbors and friends this year, so I spent a few weeks mixing up and freezing cookie dough. I got up early one Saturday and started an assembly line of cookie baking.  By a little after lunch we had 10 cookie plates ready to deliver later that evening.
Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

Justin spent the morning roasting a huge batch of coffee, because the only thing better than cookies; is cookies with a nice cup of freshly roasted coffee!  Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

We had such a fun night making deliveries and being invited into the homes of our neighbors.  We had intended to just drop the coffee and cookies off, but each and every person invited us in to sit and chat.  It was a truly memorable night!

When I wasn’t elbows deep in flour and sugar, I was in the sewing room working on my small list of Christmas presents.

For my nieces I decided to make monogrammed tote bags.  I enjoy making making tote bags.  They are such a quick and satisfying project, and I was pretty pleased with the way the monogrammed letters turned out!
Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

I filled the bags with art supplies and chap stick (because every little girl loves chap stick).Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

For my young nephews I decided to make reversible hooded capes.  I used a black and silver polyester satin fabric to give the cape a dramatic, sweeping look.  I wanted it to look like a Jedi cloak or a Medieval cape.  It’s always a little risky making a handmade gifts.  There’s a fine line between being the cool Aunt who makes unique gifts, and being the crazy Aunt who makes embarrassing gifts that you hide in the back of your closet.  Handmade Christmas | In An OrchardBut both the boys seemed genuinely excited about their capes, and I was delighted to see pictures of them in the following weeks wearing their capes to the beach, over their pjs, and even to Disneyland!

I also painted up a few small snowmen and Christmas trees to tuck into stockings and other gifts.

Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

I  purchased several gifts from some other wonderfully talented women I know.  For each of my sister-in-laws I bought these wonderful crocheted face scrubs, and a bar of lemon poppy seed soap, from and Etsy shop called The Green Daisy.  I love this lemon poppy seed soap!  I’ve been using it myself for the last 6 months and I was excited to give them as gifts.
Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

For Miss P I made a new set of peg people.  Last Christmas I made her a set of animal peg dolls and this year I wanted to make her a set of family peg dolls.  I tried to get them to look as much like our family as I could.  She loves playing with them!  I ordered all my unfinished peg dolls, trees, and snowmen from this Etsy seller.Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

Miss P loves wearing “fancy” things, so I also made her a hand-painted wooden bead necklace.Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

I threaded the beads onto some leather cording and knotted it tightly at the top.  When it was finished I liked it so much I was tempted to keep it myself!

Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

I also bought Miss P this darling roll-up crayon holder from Justin’s Aunt Doris.  She is such a talented woman who makes beautiful things!

Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

For the boys I decided to make a homemade checker board. Justin helped me out with the boys gift by making the checker pieces with his 3D printer.Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

Not only did he made extra large checker pieces but he even monogrammed them!  I love the way they turned out!Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

The boys have already used their checker board dozens of times.  J even brought it to school to share with his friends on a rainy school day.  I love seeing them use and enjoy something that I have made.Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

For Miss E I made a very traditional Christmas gift; a long flannel nightgown.  I’ve wanted to make her one for years and I finally got around to it.  I have my own plaid flannel nightgown that I get out on those very cold winter nights, and whenever I wear it she says, “Oh mamma that is such a beautiful nightgown!  You look so pretty in that!”  I was absolutely determined to make her a nightgown of her own.  I’ve never made anything like a nightgown so I was a little nervous but it went together very smoothly.  I found this darling flannel print at Joanne’s Fabric, it’s from their Snuggle Flannel line (very reasonably priced).Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

My one regret was not taking a little more time to get the gathers around the neck more even.  Sometimes the gown hangs a little funky, but Miss E doesn’t mind a bit.
Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

She loves the pink lace around the neck.Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

 

And that’s all for this year’s handmade Christmas!  It was so much fun to make all those little gifts and to imagine them being enjoyed, and worn, and played with… I love the whole process, from beginning to end.

Thanks again for stopping by!  I hope you enjoyed my little handmade Christmas tour and maybe you’ve even gotten a little inspired to try making a few of your own Christmas gifts next year.

See you again soon!  ~April

From the Sewing Room

Some sewing | Inanorchard

Between all the busyness of life, sewing occasionally happens around here.  Lately, most of my projects have been gifts.  The only exception is the layered simple skirt (you can find the tutorial here) I made for Miss E’s first day of school, and the t-shirt dress I made for Miss P (I used this tutorial for the t-shirt dress).

Some sewing | Inanorchard

Some sewing | Inanorchard

When I was pregnant with Miss P I purchased The Divided Basket pattern from Noodlehead, with every intention of making one to use as a diaper basket for her changing table.  That never happened and the pattern got shuffled to the bottom of the pattern pile… until recently.  I decided to make one as a baby shower gift.  It was surprisingly easy to put together!  A little time consuming but not a complicated pattern.  I don’t usually like to make structured bags and baskets, but Ana Graham is so good at writing patterns.  Her directions are clear and uncomplicated.  It was also fun to fill the basket with books and other handmade items.

Some Sewing | Inanorchard

Some Sewing | Inanorchard

Some Sewing | Inanorchard

After I finished the basket I decided to tackle a simple patchwork quilt for my brand new nephew.  My sister-in-law planned a darling woodland themed nursery, and I couldn’t resist purchasing a fat quarter bundle of the Hello Bear line from Bonnie Christine.  This marks the first time I’ve made a quilt from start to finish.  Usually I would do the fun part; making the quilt top.  Then I would hand the quilt over to my mom who would quilt it, back it, and bind it for me.  After I finished backing and binding that small patchwork crib quilt, all I could think was, “Man, I need to send my mom some flowers and a thank you card for all the quilts she’s finished for me!”  Backing and binding a quilt is NOT my favorite thing to do.  All that being said, there is something so satisfying about starting and finishing a quilt.  I used a soft plaid flannel to back the quilt, because I think all baby blankets should be backed with soft fabric.
Some Sewing | Inanorchard

I also embroidered his name onto one of the solid colored blocks.  He has a wonderful name but it’s not my place to share it :) Some Sewing | Inanorchard

Some Sewing | Inanorchard

Some Sewing | Inanorchard

Last but not least is this Super Tote I made for my good friend’s Adoption Fundraising Auction.  It’s another of Ana Graham’s excellent patterns.  I picked up the apple fabric while we were on vacation in Colorado.  It’s a Melody Miller fabric from her Picnic Line.  I used the canvas weight material, which was perfect for this pattern.  Nice and thick without being too bulky or difficult to sew through.
Some Sewing | Inanorchard

I hastily took a few pictures before I dropped it off, and I completely forgot to take a picture of the inside.  The lining is made from a fun red checked material and had different sized pockets all around the sides of the bag.  The pockets are perfect for organizing sunglasses, cell phones, checkbooks and wallets.  I liked the tote so well I think I need to order some more fabric and make one for me to keep! Some Sewing | Inanorchard

That’s all from the sewing room for now, but as always, there is a never ending “to-sew” list.  Next up is a few Serendipity Blouses for Miss P to wear this fall and winter.  I’m hoping to make several blouses including a dress version.  As always, thanks for stopping in for a visit!  ~April

 

 

Spring Sewing

As I was scrolling through the last few months of pictures, I realized I had quite a backlog of sewing projects that I’ve never posted about.  So this is going to be a mash-up of all the projects I done over that last 3 months or more.  It’s going to be a little hodgepodge, a little this and that… hope you don’t mind.

I made the girls their first matching dresses. I used my favorite pattern, the Geranium Dress Pattern, using the cap-sleeved version.  The bodice is made from a lovely yellow dot fabric I found and Joann’s, and the skirt is made from a vintage sheet I bought at a thrift store.  I initially bought the vintage sheet to make pillows for Miss E’s daybed, but when I saw how perfect the dotted fabric looked with the vintage floral pattern, I couldn’t resist making the girls dresses.

Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

It’s not easy to get pictures of these two!Spring Sewing | Inanorhcard

I recently bought an Oliver + S, Jump Rope pattern.  I loved this skirt pattern, with its unique pockets and buttons down the front.  Miss E loves her Simple Skirts, but I wanted to have a skirt pattern that was more professional looking.  Something that could be worn to church and not just another play skirt.

Spring Sewing | Inanorhcard

The fabric is Robert Kaufman’s Dot Chambray In Indigo.  It is lovely in every way.  It’s that classic Chambray color with small white dots woven in.  The fabric texture is soft and light, perfect for a summer skirt.Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

I wanted to snap a couple of pictures of Miss E wearing the skirt but she was too busy making silly faces at her brothers, who were standing just out of the shot.  Miss P wanted to get in on the action as well.Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

She also got yet another Simple Skirt for wearing to school and playing outside.  Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

These Simple Skirts are still her favorite.  Of all the things I have made her, those little cotton skirts get worn more than any other article of clothing (store bought or mamma made).Spring Sewing | InanorchardI also had fun making a few Onesies for my dear friend’s newborn son.Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

They’re always a fun and satisfying project.

Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

I spent an afternoon making a big stack of burp clothes for friends.
Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

Miss P got another Charlie Tunic dress.  This pattern has been a great play dress for Miss P.

Spring Sewing | Inanorhcard

I also made a set of coordinating “sister skirts” for a friend’s darling daughters.

Spring Sewing | Inanorhcard

I have slowly but surely been teaching myself to sew with knit fabrics.  My girls love wearing knit dresses, and you really can’t beat cotton knit for comfort and ease of care.  There is however, a pretty steep learning curve for sewing with knit fabric.  It’s taken me a while to figure out a system that works for me.  I use a combination of my serger and a stretch double needle for hemming and necklines.  So far I have a love/hate relationship with double-needles.  When they work, they’re amazing! When they don’t… let’s just say tears are shed and swear words muttered under my breath.  Also, do you know how awful it sounds when you break your double needle (which it has a tendency to do)??  It makes a horrible sound, and it feels like your machine is going to shatter into a million pieces!

Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

This pattern is The Skater Dress by Kitschy-Coo (which it seems is not available for sale right now).  I’ve made three for Miss E so far.  It’s a great pattern with excellent instructions!  The sizes seem to run large though.  I ended up making Miss E a size 4, lengthened to a size 5, which smaller than I usually make.

Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

This yellow/floral version was her favorite.  She wore it every time is was clean.

Spring Sewing | Inanorchard

I also made this little sleeper as a gift for my friend’s newborn daughter.  It’s a free pattern.  I love the way it turned out, but it was a struggle to make.  The neckline and wrist bands were the difficult parts.  Keeping that little neck and wrist bands from stretching out and warping was a challenge.  In fact, I ended up scrapping the first sleeper I made and starting over!  I was so determined to see this one through to the end, and have the finished product I envisioned.  It was a good learning experience, albeit VERY frustrating.

Spring Sewing | InanorchardThat’s all for the moment, but I’m currently in the middle of making myself a few skirts.  I’m learning how to put in an invisible zipper.  Actually, truthfully, I’m in the middle of removing my first invisible zipper from a skirt I’m making.  Also, I plan to make Miss E several versions of Dana’s First Day Dress pattern.  Hopefully I can post about those projects soon!

Thanks for stopping by and making it to the end of this patched-together post

For the love of little sewing

Last week the sewing room was covered in sewing projects for the girls, but with so many little ones being born this winter and spring, it was time to set all that aside and start sewing for babies.

Sewing for Baby | Inanorchard

Making things for my own babies is what made me first fall in love with sewing. I never mind having an excuse to sew for babies, it feels like coming home again.  It brings back all those sweet (and not too distant) memories of having a newborn in the house and all the little things that go with those tiny beings.

My very first sewing project as a mommy was making bibs for my oldest son.  Over the years I’ve used many different bib patterns, types of fabric, and fasteners.

This is my current favorite.  I’ve made Miss P a small pile of these bibs.  It’s a free downloadable bib pattern from Darling DexterSewing for baby | Inanorchard

These two were my attempt at making gender neutral bibs.  I’m not very good at gender neutral.  They tend to all come out a little masculine looking.  These are both made from “vintage” Amy Butler farics.  I’ve had these in my fabric stash for 9 years now.  Amy Butler’s beautiful fabric lines were another reason I fell in love with sewing. Sewing for baby | Inanorchard

There are lots of ways to make a simple project look special.  Small ribbon tags, top-stitching, lovely fabric, and vintage buttons.Sewing for baby | Inanorchard

These bibs are backed with super soft cream Minki fabric.  I like having soft things to put on my babies.

This small diaper clutch is another project I like to make for friends.  It’s  free tutorial from a sewing blog I absolutely love, Noodlehead.  Ana has long been one of my favorite sewing bloggers and her tutorials are hands down, the best.

Sewing for Baby | Inanorchard

I used more of my Amy Butler fabric and paired it with some natural linen-blend fabric.  I like using a soft color pallet when I’m sewing for newborns.

Sewing for Baby | Inanorchard

Sewing for Baby | Inanorchard

The diaper clutch is such a quick sew, and it’s easy to get an assembly line going and make 2 or 3 in an afternoon.  What mom doesn’t need a pretty diaper holder to keep unruly diapers from taking over the diaper bag?  It’s a must.  When you pair the clutch with several bibs, you’ve got the perfect baby shower gift.
Sewing for baby | Inanorchard

Embellished onesies also make a great gift.  It’s a simple thing to do, but babies live in onesies for the first few months of their lives, they might as well be fun. There are so many clever ways to dress up a plain white onesie.  Just do a Pinterest search, and you’ll be scrolling for hours.Sewing for Baby | Inanorchard

One of my favorite ways to embellish a onesie is using stamps and fabric paint.Sewing for Baby | Inanorchard

I’ll give you a quick walk through:

Before I begin any sewing project I pre-wash and dry all my fabric and onesies

1. Start with some solid, light-colored fabric.  I’m using the same natural linen-blend I used to make the bibs and the clutch.  Brush your favorite stamp with a light, even layer of fabric paint, and stamp it onto the fabric.Sewing for Baby | Inanorchard

2. Trace a 1/2 inch boarder around the image and cut out.Sewing for baby | Inanorchard

3. Use your iron to heat set the images.  You do this by turning the iron up to its highest heat setting and holding it on the fabric for a few moments.Sewing for Baby | Inanorchard

4. Then use the iron to fold under a 1/4 inch of the fabric on all sides.Sewing for Baby | Inanorchard

5. Pin the fabric carefully to the front of the onesie and sew around the edge.  Make sure you keep the stitching close to the edge of the fabric.  Because the onesies are so small (especially the NB size), sewing the patch on can be a little tricky.  Just take your time.  Keep checking the underside to make sure you aren’t catching the back of the shirt in the stitching.Sewing for baby | Inanorchard

In the space of a few hours you can make a half dozen little shirts.  Sometimes I make a stack and keep them in the sewing room to use as last minute baby gifts.
Sewing for baby | Inanorchard

If, my friends, you have been tempted to take up sewing as a hobby (and I highly recommend it), these baby projects are a great place to start!  The bib is an especially good place to start.  The pattern is free, the sewing skills required are basic, and if the button and buttonhole scare you, just do what I did when I was first making them… use extra strong Velcro.  You can do this!  And the pleasure you get from seeing your little one in something you made especially for them, is a great feeling!

 

 

Cold weather sewing

Charlie Dress | Inanorchard

It’s so easy to sew in the summertime.  Lots and lots of beautiful patterns for flouncy skirts, sleeveless tunics, sundresses, t-shirt dresses, little cotton shorts… simple, breezy patterns that sew up in no time and require very little yardage.

But when the weather turns cool I seem to hit a sewing slump.  There just aren’t as many long-sleeved patterns available and even fewer that I like the look of.  I’m not a fan of layering lots of clothes on my girls.  It makes too much laundry, and it gets complicated for little girls who like to dress themselves.  I need dress patterns that avoid all that fuss.  Patterns that can stand on their own and require only a pair of leggings and a jacket.  Not that I’m against all layering; I just like to keep it to a minimum.

After spending many an evening searching for girls patterns I purchased 4 that I could use for both girls this winter.  I’ve spent the last several weeks sewing for Miss P, building up her fall/winter wardrobe.

I started with this sweet pattern.  This is the Charlie Dress another of Rae’s darling pattern creations, and there’s nothing I don’t love about this dress!

Charlie Dress | Inanorchard

I like the length of the sleeves (these are 3/4 length) but they can easily be altered to come all the way down to her hand.  I love cut of the dress.  The looser fit makes it easy for her to move around and play in.

Charlie Dress | Inanorchard

Really though, the neckline is what makes this dress.  I used some dotted chambray I ordered from Fabricworm for %50 off.  The accenting cuffs, hemline, and neckline are made from the reverse side of the fabric.

Charlie Dress | Inanorchard

Here’s a blurry shot of the backside.  I’m trying to be better about including pictures of my girls wearing their clothes.  When I get serious about researching and buying patterns, it’s really important for me to see how the pattern fits once it’s sewn up.  Anything looks cute spread out on a flat surface, the real proof is how it wears.

Charlie Dress | Inanorchard

While I was at it I made her two, because it’s always a good idea to make two!

Charlie Dress in pansy print | Inanorchard

 

Charlie Dress in pansy print | Inanorchard

I also made Miss P a Geranium Tunic.  I’ve made her many, many Geranium dresses and this is the shortened version of the dress.  I know it doesn’t look like a good winter choice, but it’s not difficult to put a cardigan over the shirt, or add a plain colored tee underneath.

Geranium Tunic | Inanorchard

Don’t you love this fabric?  It’s from an Art Gallery fabric line called “Winged”.  This particular print is called Aves Chatter in Dim. I purchased mine from Hawthorne Threads.

Geranium Tunic | Inanorchard

Last but not least I whipped up a few leggings to go with her new dresses.  I’m not the kind of girl who just makes up her own patterns (as so many other talented seamstresses do), but making a legging pattern is a no-brainer.  There are tons of tutorials on making your own legging pattern, and there are even a few free printable patterns, but they tend to be for newborns or 3-6 month-olds.

Baby leggings | Inanorchard

I don’t have a lot of experience sewing with knits, but I thought leggings would be a good place to start.  These leggings have their problems but at least they are wearable!  I’m still experimenting with different techniques, tools, and threads.  I have yet to work all the bugs out, but I’m getting there!

Baby Leggings | Inanorchard

The scalloped knit I got from Hobby Lobby.  It came in a fun mustard and coral color.  It wasn’t the easiest to sew on.  First, it’s striped which means lining up and matching all those little raised ridges.  Also, it’s thin, stretchy knit that likes to curl up on the edges.  Somehow I got through all the little obstacles and ended up with a couple of pretty cute leggings (if I do say so myself).  The lace trim was an attempt to hide some wretched looking hemlines.

Baby Leggings | Inanorchard

Here’s Miss P sporting her yellow leggings (these are the same leggings she wore under her chambray Charlie Dress).

Miss P in her baby leggings | Inanorchard

 

Baby Leggings | Inanorchard

 

I’m hoping in the next several weeks to work on Miss E’s winter clothes.  I’ve got a stack of patterns and fabric on the sewing table all set aside for her.  I’m going to be brave and attempt to make an entire dress out of knit fabric.  Stay tuned!

PS- if you enjoy my sewing posts you might want to check out my Instagram feed. Sewing posts are some of the most time-consuming to photograph and write up.  Which is why they’re so few and far between, and there are lots of little projects that never really make it into a blog post but I usually manage to snap an Instagram photo as I’m sewing.

Thanks for stopping by and saying Hello!  ~April

Sewing Flower Girl dresses

Vintage flower girl dresses

My huge sewing accomplishment this summer was making flower girl dresses from my daughters. Miss E was delighted when her Aunt Angela asked her to be one of her flower girls!  Miss P was asked as well, provided she learned how to walk over the summer :)

I knew straight away that I wanted to make the girls’ dresses myself.  It was a great chance to stretch my sewing skills and create a keepsake for my daughters.  Angela (the bride), had put together a beautiful Pinterest board with lots of pictures of flower girl dresses to use as inspiration.  She also gave me a large bag of vintage lace and collars to use.  It was her own gorgeous collection she had been building for years, and I had permission to use anything I wanted!  I felt like a kid in a candy shop!  Angela wanted the girls to all wear cream or ivory dresses, with lace accents.  The style of dress was unimportant so long as it was cream colored, lacy, and romantic looking.

I started searching for patterns right away.  I decided to use Violette Field Threads, Cosette pattern for Miss E’s dress.  The pattern was a long summer dress with loads of ruffles at the bottom and a pleated bodice.  I was a little nervous at first feeling like I had picked a pattern that was well past my sewing skills, but the Cosette dress ended up being a very straight-forward, lovely pattern to sew.  It was time consuming… very, very time consuming but not complicated.

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I had never made horizontal pleats before but the dress instructions were very clear.  The first two pleats went slowly but after that the rest went together quickly.  The dress had no zippers or buttons, which was nice!  It did however have 4 very long, very gathered ruffles at the bottom!  I used some of Angela’s vintage lace and attached it to the top of each cream ruffle.  Each ruffle had to be cut out, double hemmed, lace added to the top, carefully gathered and sewn in layers to the bottom of the dress.  That was with out a doubt, the most tedious part of the dress!  Very time consuming, but very worth the effort!

Flower girl dresses

This is a picture of the bodice with the panel of pleats and the ruffled shoulder straps.  The main fabric I chose for Miss E’s dress I bought at Joann’s.  It was a light-weight cotton that had a criss-crossed pattern made up of pin tucks and lace.  I loved the material immediately!  Unfortunately the fabric was white, and the only request Angela had made was that all the dresses be cream.  So I brought home a small sample of the fabric to experiment with.  Tea dying is a trick that is used to “age” linens and fabric.  I was hoping I could use the tea dye to do the same to the white fabric.  My big concern was the fabric wouldn’t dye evenly and that the lace wouldn’t absorb the dye at all.  The fabric swatch dyed up perfectly!  I used a large, shallow plastic storage container to dye the 2 yards of fabric I needed for the dress.

Flower girl dress

 

Cosette dress

This is the back view of the dress.  As you can see there are no buttons or zippers.  The shoulder straps are made extra long and are threaded through a loop that is sewn to the back of the dress.  Once you thread the straps through the loop, the extra length is used to tie a big loopy bow.

Cosette dress

 

Cosette dress

For Miss P’s dress I asked my very talented friend Clarita to make a flower sash to tie around the waist of her dress.  Clarita has a beautiful Etsy shop called My Faire Lady Designs. She’s made clips and headbands for my girls in the past, and I knew she would make something very special for Miss P.  I gave her a few ideas of what I wanted and this is what she sent me!  It was perfect!  Exactly what I wanted and had envisioned.

My Fair Lady designs flower girl sash

I used my favorite girl’s pattern Rae’s Geranium dress, it’s made it out of a cream colored eyelet fabric.  The flutter sleeves are made from lace and I used a little bit of vintage lace at the bottom of the dress.

Geranium Flower Girl dress

Because Miss P had only been walking for a few months and wasn’t real steady on her feet, I made her dress mid-calf length so she wouldn’t trip on the hemline.

Geranium Flower Girl dress

And here they are together with their little dresses on!  All the flower girls wore leather ballet flats.  Their Aunt Jessica and I bought them little bow-shaped necklaces and their Aunt Andrea hand-made all of their hair clips.

My Girls

And here they all are together (minus one, I don’t know where Millie was off to)!  They all looked so sweet!  Each dress was a different style and shape but all of them were cream and lacy.  Angela made some little wreaths that hung from long bows for them to carry.  You cannot imagine how challenging it was to keep 5 little girl’s clean for an entire afternoon and night!  After the wedding vows were exchanged we gave up and just let them run!

All the little Flower Girls

This isn’t the best picture (I cut off the bride and groom’s head!) but it gives you a good glimpse of the back of Miss E’s dress.

Cosette Dress back view

Me and my girls…

Me and my girls

 

I’ve made many things for my girls, but this was special.  Something we would save, dresses that maybe their daughters would someday look at.  Or… they could get pushed into the bottom of a plastic tote, buried in the storage shed, and one day accidentally donated to the Goodwill. HA!

Time will tell…

Working out the kinks

For months now I’ve been pattern searching.  Looking for the perfect dress to make for Miss P’s first birthday.  I wanted it to be simple, summery, and carefree looking.  Nothing too fussy or flouncy.  The fabric I chose for her party dress is a gorgeous bright floral pattern, so I wanted to stick with a dress that had clean lines.

I decided on McCall’s M6944.  A sweet summer dress with coordinating bloomers peeking out from under the skirt.  The finished measurements listed on the pattern were vague, so I decided to make a practice dress just to get the feel for the pattern and work out any sizing kinks.   And this is the finished practice dress-

McCalls M6944 | In An OrchardI love the pattern!  The directions were clear, and it truly was easy to sew.

McCalls M6944 | In An OrchardI added some trim to the waist line just to break up the busy pattern (and to hide some sloppy seams)

McCalls M6944 The bloomers I made in a contrasting fabric.  The bloomers gave me trouble, which seems counter intuitive… they should have been the easiest part of the dress.

The crisscross back was what sold me on the pattern.

McCalls M6944 back

The straps are adjustable and simply button on the inside of the bodice.

McCalls M6944So now we get to the nitty-gritty details.  Just because a pattern sews up nicely and looks good hanging on a hanger doesn’t mean you’re home-free.  Fitting is everything!  And that’s were things started to unravel for this dress.

While I was cutting out the bloomers a little voice inside my head kept saying “Man those look big.  They’d almost fit me.”  But I pushed those thoughts aside and kept sewing.  Sure enough…they’re huge.  MC Hammer’s got nothing on these pants.

McCalls M6944 bloomersThe dress is just too big as well.  It is supposed to be loose fitting, but this has a really big pucker in the back right were the straps crisscross.

McCalls M6944

You can see from this picture how much it sticks out in the back.  Sizing is the most frustrating element of sewing.  Pattern companies all size differently.  The store-bought size your child usually wears is not necessarily the size you will end up making for them.  Miss P is a tall girl and a bit big for her age.  She’s been wearing 12 month clothes for several months now, so I was a little surprised when the size 1 (as it’s called on this pattern) was so loose on her.

McCalls M6944Now I have to decide what to do next.  The pattern has a 6 month size (or as they call it 1/2 size…which is just dumb), but I’m worried that it will still be too big.  The bloomers are just ridiculous and not even worth trying again.  I think I’m going to cut out the smaller size, and make another practice top out of muslin.  I’m going to scrap the bloomers all together and use See Kate Sew’s, bloomer tutorial.  If that doesn’t work, I’ll make her birthday dress using Rae’s tried-and-true Geranium pattern.

I still haven’t given up on the pattern!  I just think she might need to be a little older and a little bigger before it will fit right.

So, the moral of the story: listen to the voices in your head, and make the practice dress out of cheap fabric instead of darling fabric you actually like.  Hopefully this will fit her next summer!

EDITORIAL NOTE:  After reading this post, my friend Aliya, cleared up some of the sizing problems I was having.  The sizes on the pattern are listed like this: 1/2, 1, 2, 3, 4.  I assumed that the 1 was equivalent to a 12-month size.  Aliya explained that the 1/2 is actually the 12-month size.  Which would make the 1 approximately an 18-month size? I guess?

Big Butt Baby

Last year I purchased Rae’s Big Butt Baby pattern.  Can you tell I’m a huge Made By Rae fan?  I can’t help it.  Her patterns are fun and I love her colorful fabric choices.  Made by Rae was one of the first sewing blogs I started following (my awesome friend Trisha turned me onto it) and I never get tired of her creations!

Anyway, I was looking for a simple pattern that would make a great gift for baby boys.  I debated the purchase for awhile before I took the plunge and bought the pattern.  It’s a little more money than I usually spend on a children’s pattern but I knew I would use it to bits… and I have!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese were the first Big Butt pants I made for my friend Jenny (for her infant son that is, not Jenny).  The fabric is Riley Blake’s Seaside line, which is to date my favorite boy themed fabric!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI paired them with simple onesies that I embellished with fabric paint and stamps (you can check out that tutorial here).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe pattern comes with a variety of add-ons; cuffs, pockets, ruffles, knee patches… I like the way the pattern gives you the freedom to use multiple fabrics.  This little pair was made from a lightweight Chambray with plaid pockets and rear panel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast week my sweet friend, from way back in my high-school days, had a baby shower.  She’s expecting her first child (a little boy) this winter.  I took the morning to make a matching onesie and pants.  The pants are that simple to make!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis fabric is from Moda, it’s called “Oh Deer” by MoMo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile I was cutting out the bird pants I took a moment to cut a pair of chambray and floral Big Butt pants for Miss P.  When I came home from the baby shower I sewed them up for her.  She’s in desperate need of warmer clothes!  The kid is growing faster than I can keep up with!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I talk about patterns I always want to be honest about any hitches I come across while sewing them.  This pattern does have a little hitch.  The rear panel has a tendency to pucker at the crotch.  Rae wrote up a helpful tutorial about how to avoid that pucker.  I read the tutorial carefully, but it still took me sewing the pattern several more times before I was able to make a pair without a pucker.  The rear panel just takes a little fiddling.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPearly-girl likes them!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI like them too because they are super comfy and easy to put on!  She can move around in them and they’re perfect for throwing in the wash over and over.  I just need to make her about three more pair!

That’s it from the sewing room my lovelies!  Thanks for stopping by, April