Sunday, August 30, 2009

Back to School!


Sewing For the First Day


Tomorrow will be the first day back to school for many of the country's children. Mommies and grammies everywhere are putting the finishing touches on their little darlings First Day outfits, making special lunches for the brand new lunch boxes (and writing love notes), and packing up the school supplies for the big event. Some have even arranged a bouquet and/or polished an apple or two for the new teacher. Here in Florida, our first day was August 25th and I had the privilege of making my godchild's First Day of Kindergarten dress. I also have the pleasure of being her teacher! The photo at the top of this post is of my godchild, Cassidy, and me before school started on the 25th.

Making her dress brought back sweet memories of making my own daughter's school wardrobe. I not only made her First Day outfits, I made her a special dress for every day of the first week of school! My sweet Victoria-Rose is now a sophomore in high school and she has long outgrown the desire to wear themed school clothing. Luckily, I still get to make these special outfits for other special little girls!

I have selected some of my favorite First (or Second) Day outfits
to share with you:

Appliqued Apples (For V-Rose)


First Day of First Grade (V-R)

Swiss embroidered collar and appliqued pinafore bib that tied under the arms
with red satin ribbons.

The dress could be worn without the over bib, too.
First Day of Pre-K (Cassidy)
A dress of many pockets a la Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes.
Appliqued Apples Dress and Shorts (Abbey)





Cassidy's First Day of Kindergarten


Paper-Pieced Apple for Ashlyn's First Day of Kindergarten
Back View of Victoria-Rose's First Day of Kindergarten Dress

Front View
This is one of my favorite dresses!

Counterchange Smocking For Ashlyn
I loved making this dress. The colors were so pretty on Ashlyn!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Love and Kisses For Natalie

From Vintage Pillowcase to Smocked Sundress


I adore vintage linens and can't seem to stop collecting them. I can do most any kind of embroidery and I know the untold hours spent in making these textile works of art. I think about the ladies making these treasures and wonder if they were made for their hopechests or as gifts for someone they love. I both hate and love when I find something this lovely in the bottom of a bin in an antique store or an estate sale. I hate that the owners had no respect for the work and have discarded it and love that I have now found a new treasure for my collection. Some things are in excellent condition and can be used as is, others need to be repaired or cut up to make a new treasure.


Many people make pillowcase style dresses using fabric yardage. They are very cute and comfy. They are quick and easy to make and sizing is rarely a problem. Lately my collection of vintage pillowcases have been 'calling to me and requesting' that they be used in some way. I decided to make pillowcase dresses and blouses out of pillowcases! This beauty is named for the sweet little one whose grandmother bought it and for the French knot O's and little cross stitched X's in the original embroidery.


I smocked the top of the pillowcase with an adaptation of Ellen McCarn's smocking plate "Jennifer". I did a less fancy version on the back and the front smocking was adorned with bullion flowers that resembled the flowers in the original embroidery. I used flosses that came close to matching the embroidery on the bottom but we have to remember that this is a vintage case that has been laundered countless times. A perfect match wasn't possible. I used the cut off section from the seamed end of the case to make a pair of panties to cover a diaper. (Using new cloth would not have matched at all!) I embroidered some flowers like those the original needle artist made on the seat of the panties for a little whimsy. This little set is one of the things that I have enjoyed working on the most. I hope you like this creation as much as I do!


The original vintage pillowcase.


The 'love and kisses' and flower hearts on the bottom.



The smocked back before blocking and finishing.

The smocking and embroidery on the panties before construction.

Close-up of the smocking.

The completed sundress and panties.

Lemonade: A Peasant Blouse

Making Lemonade From Lemons


Did you ever have a time when you were sure something you were going to make would take just a couple of hours that took far longer? This sweet little peasant blouse did just that to me! It was made to go under the "Love and Kisses For Natalie" smocked sundress.

Finding the right shade of yellow gingham was the first hurdle. I wanted something soft that would meld well with the soft white of the pillowcase and the pastels of the smocking and embroidery. I went to all the stores near me with no luck. Would you believe that I found a small length of this pale yellow in my own stash? It was left from a past project and there was just enough to make the blouse and a pair of bonus bloomers. Yea! Now to cut out the pattern and begin.

Well, I now had the second hurdle to overcome: no pattern for a blouse in Natalie's size. I had a dress pattern, though, and could make my own pattern from it. Unfortunately......I didn't do such a great job drafting the pattern and the little blouse didn't have enough ease at the bottom. It needed more so that it could skim over a bulky diaper and panties. Of course, I didn't have any pieces left that were big enough to start over. Soooooooo......

I sat and stared at that little blouse and kept telling myself that there had to be a way to fix the problem! When given lemons, make lemonade!!! I remembered something that I had read about how dresses passed down in one family got prettier over time because the mother had to be creative in letting out and taking in so that it would fit her different sized daughters. She added bands of lace and insertion, ribbons, etc. I had it! I got out my hoarded stash of Swiss insertions and began playing with different designs. I cut the whole top off the blouse and added insertion all the way around, then I carefully measured and cut the bottom front vertically three times and added the insertion into each opening. I added a band of the edging used on the sleeves to the bottom and voila! It was much prettier than it had been and the necessary ease was where it needed to be. Now it could even be worn with the bonus panties without the sundress as a casual play set. Lemons to Lemonade!

The dark spot in the next picture under the insertion at the center front is the clamp holding the panties on the stand.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pink/ Red/ White Mix & Match Doll Clothes

Special Doll Clothes for a Special Little Girl

I loved making this set because I just love the little girl for whom it was made. Nadia was never in my kindergarten class but I have known her since her kindergarten days. Our meeting was momentus. Her mother was volunteering in our school cafeteria when my then 8 year old son choked on a large piece of hot dog. Logan tried to get the adult cafeteria assistant's attention but she thought he was fooling around. Nadia's mother saw him from across the room and knew something was very wrong. She saved his life by using the Heimlich Maneuver. We became good friends on that day!!! The next year Nadia joined my after school Piano Club and I have gotten to know her well. She is a talented musician and one of the sweetest young ladies I have ever met. (She is just like her mother!) Although Nadia will be starting middle school this year she still loves her 18 inch doll. This is a set I made for her this past January. To see the rest of this set and some of the other doll clothes I have made, click on the Creations for Dolls section to the right under the section My Other Creations. Enjoy!
This little outfit needed the little sweetheart necklace made of tiny glass beads and a golden charm. The skirt is reversible.



Sunday, August 2, 2009

Old Fashioned Sundress Completed

Great Grandmother's Rose Garden
The Dress

I am so pleased with how the dress came out! I added a couple more of the flower buttons on the skirt and embroidered some leaves around them. The skirt is quite full (80 inches). Perfect for twirling! I had enough of the large floral to make a pair of matching panties. I can just imagine a little princess twirling about in her garden wearing this pretty dress. I bet the faeries will be jealous of this one! I hope you like it as much as I do!


Auditions For an Old Fashioned Sundress

Great Grandmother's Rose Garden
The Auditions
How do you start a project? Do you sketch out an idea first? Get fabrics out? Look through magazines or other people's blogs? See something in a dress shop? For me the process varies. This time I was asked to make some sundresses for a sweet little princess and I went to my fabric stash and looked for inspiration. I came up with some fat quarter bundles that I had fallen in love with last winter. I played around with them for a while and then ideas started to form. Out came the paper and pen to start sketching. Next, I went looking for some trimmings and found a vintage handkerchief, some sweet flower buttons and some pastel cluny edgings. So far, the auditons were going very well! The fabric was already washed and ironed and my favorite sundress pattern was traced....It was time to begin to sew!




I'll post the completed dress and panty set in a day or so. I can't wait to show you!

Fit for the Faeries!


Fit for the Faeries
Flower Petal Dress and Tulip Hat

Thank you for stopping by! What could be more perfect for a blog with the name Butterflies & Faeries than to open it with a little ensemble that would be fit for a little faerie princess?! This was made for a little 18 month old beauty named Natalie. Her grandmother ordered a ‘petal sundress’ and this is what I came up with. I combined several patterns and designed the removable floral trims with some lovely fabrics I had in my stash.













Don’t you just love it when it all comes together? I hope you will join me again soon!

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