Doggy dress lessons learned

The dress is a hit with Bean, but the fit has minor issues. That’s okay, this dress was meant as a prototype. She can still wear it fine, but it’s not as polished as it could be, even within the limitations of my skill.

– Neck binding stands up too much, so the shoulders do not lie flat. Next time finish by folding under (remember to add allowance!) and topstitching before joining shoulder seams. As a bonus, I won’t have to iron self bias tape!

– Do a better job with skirt gathering. Do not skimp! Use the double thread method next time. (I used a single thread this time.)

– Sleeves too narrow for a woven. They cannot be cuffed or rolled up for messy projects! I will probably just cut and re-finish the sleeves to make them short or cap sleeves once Bean approaches 3T size. But for the next dress, make the sleeves a consistent width throughout. These were tapered.


New dress for my Bean

I had a day off recently and I blew it on sewing a new dress for my Bean <3

A child's dress in a red fabric with a printed dog pattern (front side)

A child's dress in a red fabric with a printed dog pattern (back side)

I used the free Bell Sleeve Dress pattern in size 3T and made a number of modifications. The fabric (woven cotton print) is about a year old, from Jo-Ann Fabrics.

The pattern was designed for knits, and my kid is a small 2yo. To be safe, I added enough width in the bodice to match a store-bought 2T dresses. I wanted a fuller skirt (plus I had made the body wider) so I eyeballed it—I think it came out to maybe 1.5 times as wide as the bodice. I did not use the bell cuffs, just the straight parts. Since this is a woven, I needed to add a back closure to allow her head to go through, so I added a back seam and a tie closure. The tie, which also acted as neck binding, was self bias tape that I made by hand (it was okay but I am never doing it again, I’m buying a bias tape maker asap). Since I forgot to remove the back seam allowance from the front, I converted the extra width into a tuck detail; you can see the pattern is discontinuous in a very narrow slice of the chest. That’s the tuck.

I had cut the fabric quite a while ago, I would say that took about an hour. Sewing took about 6 hours with a lot of interruptions, and a whole hour of that was hand sewing the tie, which was really narrow and I didn’t think I could pull that off on a machine. Maybe if I had an edgestitch foot … anyway. Bean has yet to try it on.

After adjusting the pattern based on how it actually fits, I plan to lengthen the bodice and learn to line a dress so I can make her more cool weather dresses. I plan to imitate Jenny Gordy’s patterns for her daughter, here and here, but I will probably throw in a few mods of my own. (She is the coolest, okay. I love her patterns, her taste, her expert designer’s eye … ahh, she’s amazing.)


Wool Base Layers: A PSA

Eff Minus 33. I bought a pair of their midweight bottoms last winter because it was cheaper than the SmartWool equivalent, which I also bought a pair of (on heavy discount, which was still $$$). Well, the Minus 33 developed a cluster of small runs in one area with three that developed into full on holes. I mended them yesterday (I hand baseball-stitched them shut – the holes were essentially vertical) and there will definitely be more repairs in the future. The time lost is/will not be worth the $30 or so that I saved. For comparison my SmartWool leggings are still pristine. But the good stuff is $$$, so I’ll try to get through this winter with these two pairs and wait until next winter to swap out for a second SmartWool pair. Sigh. 便宜没好货。

(“Kara why are YOU buying wool base layers” – I have picked up the unfortunate habit of commuting to/from work on my bicycle. Good exercise, but an enterprise that occasionally requires new clothes.)


Bloomers for a Bean

A toddler in shorts, with the head cropped out.

I love sewing but don’t usually have enough uninterrupted free time for a project. So on Memorial Day, I treated myself to a morning spent making Wiksten bloomers for my almost-two-year-old Bean. Three hours to make and three weeks to outgrow! If I’m lucky.

Now for a brief review of the pattern, followed by process photos. I consider myself an adventurous beginner (applies to sewing and pretty much the rest of my life). The pattern was perfect for my level. Highly recommended, especially if you have a small human on hand. If not, perhaps you will make a relative or friend very happy.

Paper pattern pieces cut out and taped together.
The cut out pieces of the pattern, taped together and ready for action.
Cut fabric with pins for sewing
Fabric, after cutting & pinning. The hardest parts!
Wiksten bloomers (leg openings not finished)
“Where the #$%@ did I stash the rest of my elastic?”
Wiksten bloomers, finished
The finished bloomers!

I enjoy many creative endeavors but sewing and knitting are special to me. I think it’s because of the unspoken the guarantee of the craft: if I do all the preparations and follow all the instructions correctly, I will end up with exactly what I intended. For this writer, that is the true treat above all treats.