Friday, July 18, 2014

A Year of Dresses: Sweet Summer Halter

Can you believe we are on week 12 of A Year of Dresses already?  I plan to make it through all 52 weeks of the year, showing you different pattern options, highlighting new patterns (like the Coral Dress), showing fun and simple modifications, and a few bonus tutorial along the way!

There is so much fun and excitement coming up in the TDD world with last week's launch of the Diva Collection.  Come follow us on Instagram for sneak peaks of upcoming patterns and peaks into our lives beyond the patterns!

The Sweet Summer Halter....I have had my eye on this pattern for a long time but never gotten one made.  I knew that it MUST be made for A Year of Dresses this summer, and summer has most definitely been in full swing in my neck of the woods.  This dress is extra special to me though.  I've been saving this Pretty Little Things fabric by Dena Designs especially for Sweet Pea's 2 year pictures, which will be in a couple weeks.  (The entire collection is available Hawthorn Threads). What could be more perfect than a sweet summer dress for a sweet summer baby?!

The Sweet Summer Halter pattern has all your little girls covered from 0 months up through size 8.  Depending on your needs, you can purchase the pattern in baby sizes 0-24 months or girls sizes 2-8.  The curved halter straps really make this dress stand out! I love the contrast trim all the way around the bodice.  I chose to use the same fabric for my hem band for a more uniform look, but a third fabric on the hem band is also cute!  The Sweet Summer Halter is an intermediate level sewing pattern simply because of the the curved piecing on the straps.  If, however, you are a confident beginner, this pattern is for you too.  The instructions include a full step by step tutorial for successful curved piecing.

See this post for how to fussy cut a print on your bodice.
I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly this dress went together.  Even with a misbehaving sewing machine I was able to finish this dress in just a few hours.  I'm sure it would have been much shorter had my machine been behaving!  Thankfully I was able to get to the bottom of it's issues; I dread having to be without my sewing machine.

If you have been reading A Year of Dresses consistently, then you know that Sweet Pea is a mix of sizes.  I debated whether to make this dress in 18-24 months or 2.  Because of the halter style of this dress I did not want it to be too big around her chest so I used the 18-24 month size and adjusted the length a little.  I added 1/2" to the bottom edge of the bodice.  This made it the same bodice length as a size 2.  I also added 1" of length to the skirt.  The end result is a perfect fit!

I also added fullness to the skirt to make this dress just a little extra special.  According to the pattern the front and back skirt panels were each to be cut at 26" wide for my size.  That would have made a very nice, two times gathered skirt which is perfect for everyday.  Because this is a special dress for Sweet Pea's birthday I decided to make it a little more full and cut each of my skirt panels 36" wide.  You can add width to any gathered skirt panel and easily have a fuller finished skirt.  36" was a bit of an arbitrary number, not an exact ratio for this skirt.  I was feeling a bit indecisive on how full I wanted the skirt to be and this was between 2.5 and 3 times the width of the bodice.  Any time you are looking for an easy way to fancy up a dress for a special occasion, consider adding fullness to your skirt.  It is very easy and effective!  And, if you want even more fullness, try adding the underskirt from the Sugarplum Skirt pattern as a petticoat!

Extra full makes extra fun!
As I have been working with Jen, I am ever more and more aware of how tirelessly she works to make sure that her patterns fit just right for you.  This dress is of course no exception.  The armholes are perfect, the back is snug so it stays in place, but not uncomfortable.  The neckline is neither too high or too low.  Perfection!

I look forward to taking Sweet Pea for special birthday photos (much better than my humble attempts at photography) in this sweet dress.  I love having the memories to look back on and they are made even more special with a Mommy Made dress!

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Now for your pattern highlights:

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Year of Dresses: The Coral Dress and Top

It has been an exciting week at Tie Dye Diva! The Coral Dress and Top, the first pattern of the Diva Collection, is now available. The Diva Collection is designed to be a little more full, a little more flair, a little more fun!  Perfect for every girl in your life that likes more modern styling with some extra frills. Let me tell you, you do not want to miss this pattern!  Oh, and wait, there's more....  It is ON SALE through this evening (7/11), AND can be combined with the fabulous new tiered discounts!

Of course, everything that you know and love about Tie Dye Diva is still there!  The instructions are fabulous, detailed, and clear.  Pictures help you along each step of construction.  Sizing is spot on.  Jen takes extreme care to make sure that all her patterns fit just right and never stops until they do.  Vigorous testing makes sure fit and construction works for everyone.  A  huge thanks to all the FABULOUS testers on this pattern!

The Coral Dress and Top also includes extended sizing.  TEN sizes are included covering all the way from 6 months up girls 10!  The pattern is loaded with options.  Choose from cap or flutter sleeves, or choose straps that tie in a cute bow.  Make a dress or top, both lengths are included.  There is also an optional apron that is the perfect place for fun embellishments.  Think lace, buttons, applique....  Here's Sweet Pea's top length Coral with cap sleeves and apron paired with Pretty Pantaloons.

If you've never shirred before, have no worries!  There is a full shirring tutorial included.  If you can sew (mostly) straight lines, then you can shirr!  The shirring on this dress is done after constructing the tiers.  There are a couple options when it come to the shirring and it is entirely personal preference, but I'll show you how I like to do it.  When I shirr I like as few ends as possible that need secured, but I also want to know that if my thread breaks I won't need to fix more than one round of shirring.  So here's my solution.

This is one side seam on my dress.  If you look closely you'll see that there are several small stitches through the seam allowance.  I set my stitch length to 1.0 and take about 5 stitches.  This is my favorite way to secure shirring and I have never had it pull out.  Also, and what I'm not sure you can see here, is I do not break my thread each round.  Instead I take a few stitches down the seam to the next row.  If you are familiar with quilting at all, this can also be called 'stitching in the ditch'.  Using this method I can shirr the entire bodice with only two thread tails and still have my stitches secured each round.

I want to show you shirring from the inside too.  The elastic thread used in your bobbin sits right on the surface in side the garment.  It is soft and stretchy!

I have finished both the top and hem of this dress with a rolled hem.  I personally love the rolled hem on top and it makes a super quick and easy hem also.  But, if you don't have a serger, no worries!  Jen's patterns never require a serger.  There are also instructions for making a narrow folded hem.

Sweet Pea's Coral dress is a size 2.  She is at the bottom of the height range for a 2 and I knew that with a shirred bodice the chest would fit without any problems too even though she is still at the bottom of a 18-24 month size range by her chest measurement. 

Don't forget a Coral for Dolly too!

Coral dress falls below the knee and has a great twirl factor.  I'm hoping that the longer length and tie shoulder mean this dress still fits next spring. That might be wishful thinking....good thing Mama can make another one.

I adore the fullness of this skirt.  Sweet Pea is still new to twirling, but she sure tried!

I seriously can't get enough of this sweet dress; it will be worn everywhere.  Play, parties, church, you name it.  Just because I love it so much, here's a few more pictures for you.

As always, here's you quick pattern rundown.

  • Ten sizes from 6 months to girls 10
  • Top and Dress length
  • Three sleeve options: cap, flutter, and straps
  • Shirred bodice (full shirring tutorial included)
  • No serger required
  • Dolly Dress also available!

Friday, July 4, 2014

A Year of Dresses: Seaside Sailor

Happy Independence Day! It's been a busy week, have you seen all the news at TDD?  The website is now easier than ever, has tiered pricing up to 30% off, and the exciting Diva Collection is coming soon.  To stay in the know, sign up for the TDD newsletter!  It comes out only 4 times a year and includes exclusive info and discounts you won't get anywhere else.  You can sign up at the link:

Also going on this week is (of course) A Year of Dresses! We are on week 10 of 52! In honor of the 4th of July this week's dress is my favorite Tie Dye Diva nautical style, and of course it is Sweet Pea's 4th of July dress. The Seaside Sailor Dress is simply charming!  What's not to love about a full sailor collar and bow detail?  Sweet Pea is wearing Seaside Sailor Dress for Baby, available to make in sizes 0-24 months. Seaside Sailor Dress for Girls is also available and covers sizes 2-10. Baby and Girls dresses are not exact matches in these patterns, but they complement each other perfectly.

Baby Dress includes a full sailor collar, button front bodice and skirt, a sweet little bow!  The sailor collar is the ideal place for embellishment.  Choose from rick rack, ribbon, bias tape, or lace trim. The collar is also the perfect place for applique or embroidery.   Seaside Sailor for Baby buttons all the way down the front of the dress for super easy dressing of small babies.  Finish the dress off with a sweet little knotted bow.  It ads just the right spark of contrast without any dangerous tails for baby to pull on. Included in the pattern is also the option of making a contrasting under-collar.  From time to time you may be able to glimpse the red lining of Sweet Pea's dress.

For this dress I used one row of large rick rack. 
Such a sweet bow! And don't you love it when you
 just happen to have the perfect buttons?!?
Sewing this dress is really quite easy.  The pattern is rated as an Advanced Begging sewing level because it requires buttons and buttonholes (or press in snaps). As always you can trust that Jen has provided easy to understand, thorough, and detailed instructions. If you've never sewn a collar, rest assured that Jen will walk you through each step of the way!  I think my very favorite sewing element of this dress is that there are absolutely no exposed seams!  Not one!  It is a simply brilliant construction.

Isn't the inside beautiful too?
I made two super simple alterations/additions to this pattern.  First, as you know if you've read the past Year of Dresses posts, Sweet Pea is quite tall and thin so I added 1" to the skirt length.  Simply add (or subtract) the desired amount from the skirt length when  cutting out the skirt panel. Second, I added rick rack to the hem of my dress.  Seaside Sailor for Girls includes instructions for doing this, but the baby version does not. If you'd like to add rick rack to your Seaside Sailor Dress for Babies, here's how:
  • Form your placket and hem as directed in the pattern. Then grab your desired trim.
  • Measure the amount needed and add about 2 1/2"
  • Heat seal the ends by quickly passing it through a flame.  
  • Now wrap one end of your trim over the edge of your skirt at the hemline. A dab of glue stick here will help hold it in place.
  • Sew the rick rack to your hemline by topstitching down the middle of your trim. 
  • As you approach the opposite side of your skirt, wrap the trim over the edge again and stitch through all layers (2 layers of trim plus the skirt).
That's it!  Enjoy your rick rack trimmed hem!

Sweet Pea will be wearing this to all the festivities today and  I know that she will be cool and comfortable for playing on top of festively dressed!  She wore it to the lake this past week and definitely had no problems playing in the sand, throwing rocks in the water and admiring the boats as they went by!

The Seaside Sailor dress is certainly not limited to nautical themed sewing.  It is beautiful in just about any fabric.  To read more about the Seaside Sailor (including some pattern modifications) and find lots of fabric inspiration read through the Seaside Sailor Sew-a-long posts from last month! Also, if you are using a print fabric with obvious repeats be sure to read Jen's post showing you how to match the pattern across the button placket.

Just because you don't see the brothers very often!
They are usually just outside the frame in every photo shoot!
Here is your quick pattern rundown:

  • Baby Sizes 0-24 months
  • Girls sizes 2-10
  • Fully lined bodice
  • No hand stitching
  • At knee length
  • Button Closure
  • Beautiful Sailor Collar
  • Sweet Tie Detail

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Year of Dresses: 4 Way Baby Dress

This week for A Year of Dresses I'm sharing a dress that is so sweet for summer!  It is light and airy, soft and flowy, and loaded with options!  The 4 Way Baby Dress fits sizes 0-24 months.  It is designed with an empire waist and multiple skirt options.  The armholes and straps are made from bias tape that ties in cute little bows on the shoulder!   There are 4 skirt options: Simple skirt with ruffled hem, open back, split front with underlay (the version I made), or full Diva style including both front and back splits with underlay!  A sweet bow (worn on front or back) completes the look.

For this dress I had the pleasure of sewing with fabric from the True Blue Collections by Ana Davis for Blend Fabrics (these fabrics were provided to me free of charge, but all opinions are my own!)  I love the pink and navy together and this collections does it perfectly!  The hints of green are just the spark it needs to set is apart.  If you love these fabrics too, you can see the entire collection (including a classic red and blue color way too!) at Hawthorn Threads.

If you are enjoying this blog series, please pin your favorite picture to your Tie Dye Diva Pinterest board for easy reference in the future.  We've made this very easy!  Simply hover over the picture you would like to pin and click on the large Pinterest icon that appears.  Also make sure that you follow Tie Dye Diva on Pinterest and the A Year of Dresses Board.

For your pinning pleasure!

Let's talk about sewing your 4 Way Baby Dress.  This dress goes together very quickly!  I made it in an evening.  It is an advanced beginner pattern or recommends experience following multi-view designs.  As you know, Jen's instructions are outstanding and if you ever need help there are over 4000 members in the Tie Dye Diva Patterns Group on Facebook that are always amazingly helpful!

I made a size 18-24 month dress for Sweet Pea.  I made just a couple super easy pattern alterations.  First, I cut the skirt just a touch wider, making a slightly fuller skirt.  The pattern instructions for this size call  for 18" of width for each the front and back skirt panels.  I used my full fabric width, split in half for front and back, so my skirt panels were 21". I also added a bit of length to the skirt portion or this dress.  Sweet Pea is getting SO tall (just not any wider)!  Adding length is not difficult but requires a little thought when cutting the curved cut-a-way.  Instead of cutting the curved pieces directly from the pattern piece, I started by cutting an extra skirt panel my desired length and width. I then folded the panel in half widthwise and placed my pattern piece on the fold.  You can see my extra width and length in this picture.

Begin cutting at the top of the curved edge.  Cut a few inches and stop. Now move your pattern piece down so that the bottom edge is aligned with the bottom edge of your fabric, and continue cutting the curved edge.  Easy Peasy!

Because my skirt panels were a bit wider I also cut my ruffle strips the full width of the fabric (minus slevedges) instead of the 36" width in the pattern.

Don't you just love late in the day photos with camera shadows!?!  I try to get my prep pictures taken in good daylight, but sometimes it just doesn't quite happen!

I fussy cut the bodice of this dress. That means that I purposely placed my pattern piece to center or focus on a particular portion of the fabric.  In this case I wanted to center an anchor on both the front and back bodice.  Again, this is super simple, but requires forethought.  Fussy cutting is not the most efficient use of fabric in most cases, but yields beautiful results.  For ease of seeing my fabric placement I started by cutting a bodice piece from transparent interfacing.  I then marked the center front and the 1/2" seam allowance on the top and bottom edge.

I was then able to place this piece on my fabric, choose the best placement. and cut.  I did this for both front and back bodice pieces.

See how pretty it comes out!

The most time consuming aspect of making this dress is most definitely gathering the ruffle on both the under and outer skirt. I most often gather with the two thread method (it yields beautiful results), but it is time consuming. Remember I made this dress in an evening?  In an effort to speed up the process I pulled out my ruffler foot.  I had previously tried it with limited success.  Now I'm not sure what the problem was.  This time I attached to to my machine, inserted my fabric and started stitching.  It ruffled beautifully!  YAY!  Instead of piecing my ruffle strips as directed in the pattern, I pieced all 5 together in one long strip and gathered it all.  I then cut the lengths that I needed from my long ruffle.

Isn't it pretty?
That's it for sewing.  Follow Jen's amazing instructions and you can't go wrong!  Now let's look at wearing your 4 Way Baby Dress.  What is not to love, it is so SWEET!  The shoulders tie in a cute little bow making this dress simple to take on and off (without any buttons or buttonholes) and allow for an adjustable fit.  If you've never made your own bias tape, I strongly encourage you to try it.  It is so much softer and than purchased bias tape and more economical too.  Jen shows you how at the end of the 4 Way Baby pattern.  I used a plain pink for my bias, but it is a great place to use a small print too.  Dots, checks, and stripes are all lovely.

I adore those little bows!
I love the split skirt.  It is great for combining fabrics and adding a little flair!  I couldn't help but love how it blew in the wind during our photo shoot at the lake. 

And finally, that little bow center front, it is a perfect finish to a perfect sundress!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so I'm going to let them take you away!

I know you have one final question... What is the versatility of the 4 Way Baby Dress? I am happy to tell you that is easily transforms as the weather changes.  I had never seen this dress layer with a tee, so I decided to try it out.  What do you know, it's adorable!  Simply loosen the shoulder ties a bit to accommodate the tee without being uncomfortable under the arms. 

Now for your 4 Way Baby Dress pattern rundown:
  • 5 sizes covering 0-24 months
  • Advanced Beginner sewing level
  • 4 Skirt options
  • Empire waist
  • Bias bound armholes and straps for an adjustable fit