Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Darling Denim: A Modern take on Classic Style

We would love your vote if you can give it to us, voting closes at 8PM MST on Thursday, Oct. 2.
To be honest this week gave me a real run for my money several pieces that were sewn never made it to pictures. Several photoshoots were done with only turning out. I know usually you just see the finished products that we love but I want you to know we have our share of failures too oftentimes we stumble around until we finally pinpoint our vision and we work hard to get it right. With all that said I couldn't be more pleased with the results. I wonder if the journey I went on with this project adds a bit more joy to seeing it completed. I am going to be a bit long winded about the process and the adaptations that I made but if you are just here for the pictures that doesn't hurt my feelings.

Modified Patterns Used:
For Dress: E+M Dress Pattern No. 13 with arm hole from MHC Caroline Party Dress
I wanted to approach denim from an out of the box perspective. Denim seems so stiff and masculine, but I was out to prove that it could be soft and feminine.
The color scheme and shapes of this outfit was inspired by one of my childhood landscapes; the sunset on the craters during the winter. The colors are so vibrant and the sharp edges of the craters contrast directly to the soft gentle snow that serves as it blanket.  (I forgot to upload my own before leaving on my family vacation, but here is a fabulous example by this great photographer.  He has taken lots of pictures of our home area that you should check out cause they are amazing).
The vibrancy and sharpness and represented in the dress. Slim Jim called the vibrant floral denim, old lady couch fabric. But I didn't let that get me down I love it and this fabric is really the star of the show. It really helped pull all my materials together.  Once I had it I was on the road to a solid design. The black stretch denim was leftovers that I had from this project and the gray was leftover from this project. It is one of the few fabrics used in this project that was not denim it is a twill instead (the other non denim is the coat lining). I really like how both of these fabrics match the rose fabric without detracting from the design or floral fabric.
To make the cuts for the dress I printed two of the front bodice pieces and pasted them together on the fold line. Then using a ruler and a rotary cutter I cut across the dress diagonally from top left shoulder to bottom right hem. Then I purposely made the second cut uneven division for the second and third pieces. Due to the construction of the dress the back pieces of the dress had to be symmetrical knowing this I choose to add interest by switching the colors around from right to left side. I added seam allowances to each cut by using the same seam guides I did in week 1. Go here to download them.
Each seam on the dress is a French seam, so there would be no itchy seams or need for lining. I chose to do a double pink top stitch close to the seam edge on the floral and on the gray I did one top stitch close and one wide in black. I chose these different stitches so it would look as though they had been pieced from two different pieces of jeans as a nod to the denim patch work trend. I love the visual interest this adds to the dress and how it keeps your eye in one continual round.
I modified the back neckline dropping it down by 1 1/2 inches. I also shaped the dress to fit her body since I did not use elastic to pull in the waist. I used the arm hole from MHC Caroline Party Dress.  This gave more space in the arm hole to slip it on. The neckline and arm holes were finished using single fold bias tape. I sewed the size 2 selected by her chest measurement, under most circumstances I would have done a size 3 in height (as corresponds to her height on the pattern) but I knew that she would be wearing hers with tights and it would better match my vision of a 60s mod shift dress if it was just above the knee.
One of the pieces I really struggled in getting right was the jacket. I sewed one up that I thought would work with the dress but it was a flop. After looking at pictures from the first photo shoot, I knew my sister's were right and it didn't work (I am very stubborn so I didn't listen at first).
I went back to the mental drawing board, thought of my inventory (after a few failures this look was getting to expensive for my tastes) I kept coming back to the oatmeal colored denim. Every time I would think about it I would quickly push it away because the thought of a cream jacket was boring to me. Until I thought to myself what would Alexia do? (Valid question right, I am sure I am not alone in asking myself that from time to time). I knew she would pull out some sweet colored denim that she had picked up at Michael Levine or somewhere else in the fashion district and make an awesome jacket.
I didn't have awesome colored denim but two bottles of Rit dye (Purple & Fushia), some color experimenting and 30 minutes of constant stirring transformed the denim into a soft heathered orchid. The lining was a white on white quilters cotton with miniature polka dot dyed in the same dye bath after the denim. I love how this color takes me back to my inspiration for color scheme so many times right before the sun light completely disappears from the craters that is one of the last colors you see.
The dye really highlights the softness of the fabric. Before the dye you would only be able to see by touching it, but now just by looking at it you can get a sense of texture. This reminds me of the soft texture of the snow over the craters.
As soon as I saw the finished fabric I realized which pattern I would start with. I knew it would be the cadette coat stripped of the military styling with a hood and long sleeve added. I never had sewn that coat pattern before so was unaware of fit or trueness of size. The only person I knew that had was Alexia, so I asked her about the fit didn't tell her about what I was up to or my what would Alexia is do moment but instead am choosing to embarrass her now. When she came back with the answered spot on I knew I was on the right trail.
Since I only had a limited amount of fabric and I had an early disasters I opted to make a bodice muslin, I am so glad I did.  It was crazy tight across the shoulders. I couldn't think how it could be so off. But after reprinting to go up two sizes I quickly realized what had happened. My printer settings had gotten off somehow and it had scaled the pattern pieces off by 1/8 of an inch per 1". I print so many pattern pieces that often I forget to test my scaling square.  After reprinting it right!
I went ahead and made the size 3. Her chest measurements matched up with the size 2 but since I was using thicker fabric I sized up according the pattern instructions. I added several inches to the sleeve, I determined the correct length by measuring from her sleeve cap to her first knuckle and then added an inch for seam and hem allowance.
I also modified skirt and sleeve hem instructions so there would be no poking out of the lining. This was done by just taking the lining in deeper. For the sleeve this was a 1/4" and for the skirt bottom this was 1/2".
I knew all along I wanted this look to have a hood, because my little Boston loves hats. And I adore the coziness that they bring to a design, perfect for fall when the weather can't make up it's mind. I used the size 5 hood from Willow & Co. Mullberry Tunic. I chose this size because it matched up perfectly with the neck width of the jacket.
The final adaptation we made was the use of KAM snaps over buttons. Right now Boston is in such a go go go stage that having the snaps is perfect for getting it off in a pinch.
I hope you adore this denim inspired look as much as we do. We sure would appreciate your vote, every week has been so tight and we feel so lucky to be still be in the game we couldn't have done this without your support, thank you!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Secret Garden Dress Pattern Review, Giveaway & Discount Code

Today we are so excited to share with you the Secret Garden Dress, which you can get now by using the enter code SGTOUR25 for 25% off the dress pattern price until Monday, the 29th at 11:59pm Eastern Time.  It's such a unique and beautiful dress. I'm glad I found the time to sew this up in the midst of everything else because now I have Ty's Easter dress sewn up 6 months early. And that's a first to be done sewing something so much in advance.
I hadn't planned to make it an Easter dress, but then when were at the fabric store I gave in and let Ty pick the fabric. I had planned to go with something between a cream and a light brown color, but when she found out the fabric I had picked was for her dress she said she wanted to pick the color. In the shelves of colored broadcloth, this periwinkle was the one she chose. The white came from an IKEA drape set that I had bought this spring to make her 2013 Easter dress, but ran out of time in the midst of life.
It was hard for me to surrender because dressing my little girl in pinks and purples everyday is not my thing. Pretty much all the dresses I make or purchase for her have blue or turquoise in it because it makes her eyes seem brighter. It's been fun lately to find all the other colors look good on her too.
That being said, this periwinkle in combination with the white and the pattern design read spring to me. I don't feel like it is a very fall look so we will be saving it for spring. Plus it's about 6 months too big.
The only real modification I made to the pattern was to trace the faux cap sleeve of the Caroline Party Dress bodice onto the Secret Garden Dress bodice pattern before cutting it out. The back is just such an interesting detail I would've hated to cover it up with a sweater or put a shirt under it to cover her shoulders. I also tacked the tip of the flounce lower so that it could have room to fold twice down the back and not just once. Then I tacked the center outside of each of the bends so it would stay exactly where I wanted it.
The pattern is written so well that it has very professional finishes. It's definitely advanced in the way that you almost have to read every step as you go as opposed to how most patterns follow the same basic steps and you can do them with out thinking. The pattern uses an invisible zipper which also makes it really beautiful, but right now it's big enough that we can slide it on without the zipper. I'm definitely thinking of using it in the future with other slight modifications to fit my Ty's style.
I hope you love it as much as I do and go and check out the pattern.
PS. You should check out the other bloggers in the tour & enter the great giveaway

September 22
September 23
September 24
September 25
September 26
September 27

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dick and Jane Sew Many Books & Giveaway

If you haven't had a chance to vote yet we would sure love a vote for our Undiscovered Beauty look over at Project Run and Play. Thank you!
There is something so special about 2 1/2 year old stage that is so unpredictable, fun & alive. It is almost like their whole body is overflowing with self expression, energy and drive. We knew when we were invited by Emily that we wanted to give the stage to Heber and Boston to express their silly personalities. We ended up choosing a book from our youth, Dick and Jane. Our mom and Grandmother were school teachers, growing up it was always easy to find the timeless Dick and Jane readers around the house. And what would a Dick and Jane be without a Sally.
PS. If you would like to sew along with Sew Many Books click here. It really is such a fun challenge to create a book inspired print. We triple dog dare you to.
Boston's older brother and Heber's older sister are preparing to read. With older siblings entering the kindergarten arena next year, simple readers like the Dick and Jane books are always around. Heber & Boston thirst for knowledge has not been diminished because the lessons are for their older siblings. They are anxiously sitting close by soaking up all they can, desperately trying to keep up with their older buddies.
For the "Dick" look we used the E+M No. 2 pants made with Riley Blake's Slate color Basic Shades, a modified Shwin Designs Maxwell Top made with Riley Blakes Lula Lattice Blue.
The pants were sewn up according to the pattern instructions. We love this pattern it is such a classic pants pattern with awesome stitching detail.
For the top instead of buttons we used neon colored Kam snaps. Neon green piping was used on the back yoke detail. The top tab was taken off for a more classic feel. One thing about the shirt pattern it seemed like the curve of the collar meeting the shoulder line was a bit off. It is a darling design but in the future we will probably use a pattern with a better collar fit.
For the "Jane" look we used the Ruffle Top Dress from E&E patterns (currently retired but hopefully it will get a makeover and will come back on the market) made with Riley Blake "Lula Magnolia" by The Quilted Fish. The hair band is Lula Lattice Green.  We choose a blue floral because in the Dick and books Jane, Jane was always rocking floral prints. There always was a specific chapter where Jane's mom makes Jane a blue dress and it seemed all to familiar. We modified the neckline to feature a simple narrow hem at the top instead of a bias neck band.
For "Sally" look we used our own Small Pleats Betty Skirt made with Riley Blake "My Sunshine" by Zoe Pearn Art and Design. We added contrasting navy piping.
When Heber found out he was getting a new outfit he was so excited that mom was making him pants. When Samson came home from school Heber excitedly announced, "my pants". Samson was confused and told him no, it was for his older sister. Heber was crushed by the announcement and burst into tears. The mistake was soon corrected and his excitement returned.
We love that in the Dick and Jane books every where Dick goes Jane is keeping right up with him. In real life these two will not be outdone by each other they can be the best of buddies or the most competitive rival.
We are pretty tired and our brains are pretty fried so we will leave you with a half dozen or so cute pictures of the kiddos. And giveaway information at the bottom.  Enjoy.
The Riley Blake fabrics were given to us to try by Riley Blake but all opinions are our own. 








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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Undiscovered Beauty: Hand-me down Makeover

Thank you to all of you that supported us last week and helped us stick around for this week. We won't be able to succeed without your help, please go and vote for us.
We've had these pictures waiting to share for over a week, and let me tell you it has been very difficult to keep them under wrap. Without saying any words, these pictures convey the message that we try to share in every blog post we write. It is a message about coming home. Of natural and unexpected beauty. Within each of us there is something unique and special. We just have to take the time to recognize it and bring it out.
I love, Love, LOVE these pictures. When I see them I can't help, but start to cry. These pictures show the things I hold dearest to my heart. I'm glad to share, but at the same time they are sacred to me. Innocence. Childhood. Natural Beauty. A Child of God. Someone I want to protect, but somehow must let her gain experience on her own.
Growing up, my confidence always struggled with having curly hair and being so different. Looking back I can see that my insecurities were silly. Heavenly Father doesn't make mistakes. I've tried to teach Ty that she is her own kind of beautiful ever since she was a baby. The simplicity and softness of this dress and how it captures the personality of my sweet little girl. Too often sewing projects can outshine the true masterpiece.
These pictures were taken only a 5 minute drive down the road from my parents house. Seeing those mountains and the abandoned building brings me great joy; this project turned out great because it's personal to the Shaffer Sisters. Just like this land, there is definitely something special about selecting something cast off and forgotten, then morphing it into something refreshed and beautiful.
The theme for this week is a lesson learned from my grandmothers about making the most with what you have been given. Both ladies were incredible at taking this perspective and making the world more beautiful. The Great Depression left them forever impacted to re-use, re-use, re-use until you can't make something with it.
I remember my Grandma Betty talking about how in their day when you found out you were expecting a baby you'd run to the store to get a few yards of white flannel. You'd make your baby blankets with them and use them constantly until they could no longer be used as blankets because they were so worn. Then you'd cut them up and make them into towels. Eventually they'd need to become washcloths. Finally after they had more than served their purpose and were thread bare and could be used for nothing else they were discarded.
Since hearing this story, I found myself constantly aware of how so much in our world is easily discarded and replaced. I wanted to live more like the great ladies in my life teaching my children to slow down and see the potential of the forgotten or discarded. This project was an attempt on this goal. This summer my mom gave me a dress to use as fabric for Ty. It had hung in the closet for nearly a decade unwanted and forgotten. The fabric was beautiful, but the execution was lacking. It was my job to take it apart seam by seam and rebuild it into perfection.
To do this I used the Candy Castle Princess Dress Pattern because I knew that I loved the fit of it and could be creative in how I used my "fabric". When seam ripping original the dress, I set the entire skirt piece aside and tried to make the top pattern pieces work with the given bodice. I changed the bodice lines from sleeveless to thin straps and made adjustments to the neckline as well. I kept modifying the bodice pattern until I was satisfied with the design and could also get it to fit on my very limited empire bodice.
The fullness of the original dress was kept and gathered to fit the bodice. The fabric is so lightweight that I knew it would lay nicely without changing it. By running basting stitched up the chiffon outer skirt at equal intervals I was able to give it a soft and flowy look. To make the vertical gathers more secure in such a lightweight fabric, I chain-stitched over the basting stitch.When this was done, I shortened the underskirt to an appropriate length and admired from a distance. After trying it on Ty I was so incredibly excited at how fitting it was to the beauty of her personality. Although a beautiful dress by itself, it felt like maybe it needed something more. To complete the look, I drafted the lace jacket. It was the 6th attempt that resulted in perfect fit.
If you haven't yet, please come vote for our look at Project Run and Play.
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