Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sewing: Gold and Ivory Dress for Audrey

As Audrey's birthday approached this year she informed me it was her "Golden Birthday". I had never heard of such a thing, but evidently it's a thing: 8 on the 8th in her case. Eight is also the year children are baptized into our church, so it is a special birthday we had been anticipating.

I had planned to make Audrey a white dress to celebrate her baptism (as my mother did for me, and is traditional) but when she mentioned her Golden Birthday and I happened to see this amazing gold and ivory jacquard fabric in my hunt for STYLO 2 fabrics, I thought an ivory and gold dress would be perfect for her!

Audrey had a lot of input on the design. I was inspired by this Jacadi dress to design a bodice with what I would call "raglan" sleeves, though that word doesn't seem pretty enough for a dress. And was thinking of a pleated skirt but Audrey didn't like the idea of pleats. So I made a paneled a-line skirt for the dress and added some gold piping for a little more contrast. 

I was so careful about measuring and cutting to get this dress just right. I lined it in the softest gold satin so it would be comfortable. I tried to match up the pattern...I really wanted it to be perfect. (It made me wonder what it might be like to sew wedding dresses for my girls. I wonder if I will do that someday?) But it turns out the metallic thread in this fabric has a mind of its own. When everything was sewn the fabric wanted to curve where it should have been straight, even after a good pressing. So the skirt "bells" a bit at the bottom. (I promptly ordered a book on couture sewing techniques--I bet there is a solution for stabilizing fabric such as this.) 

Oh well. Life is not perfect. But it is still beautiful. She looked beautiful...

(But she doesn't love having her picture taken.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Cooking: Roasted Salmon with Mustard and Dill (Recipe)

Now that we've officially kicked off the summer season (did you pull out your white linen?) I thought I'd share one of my favorite recipes for summer entertaining: Roasted Salmon with Mustard and Dill. Cooking a big salmon fillet (or two or three) is such a great way to feed a crowd. It's easy, it looks beautiful, and I always get requests for the recipe. 

Even better, this salmon can be prepared ahead and served chilled. It's actually my favorite way to eat it.

Click through for the details.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sewing: Photo Floral and Faux Leather Bateau

Well, in a surprising move, I've sewn something for myself. I need to do more of it! I've been perusing patterns and looking through my stash dreaming of some summer dresses or skirts. It's just difficult to make myself the priority when I have three little muses running around!

This top is a grown up version of my Bateau Neck Top (a bit more fitted too compared to the striped bateau I made last year) with the Kangaroo Pocket Tutorial add-on. I was inspired by the faux leather and fleece top I made for Audrey a couple months ago. And I was dying to use this photo floral knit again! (I made Tess a simple Bateau Neck top) with it earlier this year.

(work it...)

I still don't have this fabric out of my system and I have a bit more so maybe a skirt is in my future too. I could try the pencil skirt tutorial by my Simple Simon friends.

So I have a new top for Spring, to go with my new shorter hairdo, and my new blog header. Three new tops for spring! With summer just around the corner.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Sewing: SOLEIL Dress Pattern Tour

When I saw the SOLEIL dress pattern by Selvage Designs I predicted Scarlett would love it. And I was right! I think she would wear this dress every day if I didn't insist on washing it. It's just her thing--comfortable, swingy, cute and cool to wear. I am definitely making her at least one more.

If you've seen all the cute examples of this dress on Instagram or on Lauren's blog you may note a few differences here. I really love the original design with the open back but I wanted a dress Scarlett could wear to school now and this Fall, so I opted for a closed back. I also needed to add a little sleeve to meet the dress code. (If this is something you'd like to try it turns out that the bottom back bodice piece for the original design works almost as-is as a sleeve! I trimmed some length and made a bit narrower to fit.)

I already have fabric picked for my next two versions of this dress and I think I'll make them per Lauren's original design. I'm sure we'll get plenty of wear from them this summer.

This pattern was a dream to work with! Seriously. Lauren's work is impeccable. And if you dream of designing your own high-quality patterns she has an online course for that: Pattern Workshop!

I think my favorite design detail is the way the gathers in the front of the skirt sit between the pockets. So cute.

For this dress I used Summer Bambi organic jersey purchased from Ottobre Design with some pink ribbing at the neck, sleeves and pockets. I love it and I can't wait to play with some other combinations. 

Let summer begin! We're ready!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sewing: Gold and Blue for STYLO 02

When STYLO Magazine 01 was introduced earlier this year I was completely blown away, as I'm sure you were. What a fantastic concept! What a great collection of talent. And what a lot of work by the creators, Jessica and Celina. This is the type of magazine I would subscribe to in any form for all of its inspiration. A fashion+sewing+children magazine=perfect! And how awesome that it's all been created by "real" women, fitting in these projects between carpools, laundry, dinner making, and baby changes, and day jobs!

Well STYLO Magazine 02 launched today! And it does not disappoint. It is ebullient with fresh ideas for Spring. Bright. Fun. Creative. Beautiful. You'll find contributions by some of your favorite bloggers and brands. I am simultaneously humbled and over-the-moon to be included. It's a dream come true.

I blog because I love mulling over a concept, sewing it up, photographing it, editing it and picking a few (or sometimes a lot!) of photos to share with some text. It's my favorite creative outlet. This project was similar but it had the added twist of a talented creative director, Celina, picking from my contributed photos, adding some beautiful type, and combining them with other contributions to create a whole new, amazing work of art. Part of the anticipation for me was discovering which photos she had used! I'm sharing some outtakes here--you have to visit STYLO Magazine 02 to see what Celina picked to create "The Big Blue" set of spreads with my work.

I was inpsired for this project by a funky local scuba diving pool, which I thought would be an unexpected setting for some luxe dresses. I found a bunch of gorgeous gold fabrics: a burnout silk with gold lurex from Michael Levine, a Jo-Ann Glitter Solids in a pretty off-white, and an amazing Kobalt Embroidered gold silk from an Etsy shop. I've known gold was on its way back but now I can admit to being obsessed! In fact, I have a few more gold projects in the pipeline.

I couldn't resist taking this concept all the way to the pool! So I sewed gold racer style suits (a first for me) from this Laura Leotard pattern and turned my three girls into a synchronized swimming trio. I loved this pattern and I used swimsuit lining (also from Jo-Ann) to make these suits perfect for the pool, however, the elastic/fabric combination chafes--so sad! I am planning to bind the openings with gold FOE to solve this. 

I love the giant gold sequin caps--reminds me of the fun swimming caps I remember seeing at the public pools as a child. (These aren't to be confused with functional swim caps however!)

What an experience! It was a challenge for sure, and there were some serious bribes for the girls. But it was worth it. You have to check out all the other amazing work: STYLO Magazine 02.


On Scarlett (left):
Dress pattern: C’est Dimanche “Charleston” (it's in French--but I figured it out)
 Dress Fabric: Jo-Ann Legacy Studios Glitter Solids Quilt Fabric in Ivory and a Gold Organza for the collar, also from Jo-Ann

On Audrey (center):
Dress pattern: (coming soon) The Sophisticate Dress by Wee Muses Sewing Patterns  
 Dress Fabric: “Kobalt blue flowers on gold India silk fabric” from Silks by Umf on Etsy 

On Tess (right):
Dress pattern: (coming soon) “The Romantic Dress” from Wee Muses Sewing Patterns 
Dress Fabric: “Silk Burnout Print with Gold Lurex” in Black from Michael Levine 


Swimsuit pattern: Laura Leotard from TumbleNTwirl (Etsy) 
Swimsuit fabric: Jo-Ann “Performance Fabric Gold Gold Ultimate Poly Spandex
(Note: this fabric seems to work fine in the pool though it isn't specifically called swimsuit fabric, however it did chafe at the openings...FOE may solve this.)
 Swim caps: self drafted pattern
Swim cap fabrics: “Big Dot Sequin Mesh Fabric” from BigZFabric on Etsy

Sunday, May 11, 2014

FYI: Mothers and Angels

"The errand of angels is given to women."

This is the first Mother's Day I haven't hosted a gathering of siblings to celebrate the mothers among us and the memories of the mothers who have gone before us. It's nice to not be so busy today but I also miss the gathering. Not to mention the distraction. It is such an amazing gift to be a mother myself. Nothing is better then the three smiling faces who greeted me this morning (even if it was a bit early for my taste). But there is still that twinge of missing my own mother. The one person who loved me the longest and most unconditionally, and who knew me the best. I miss her encouragement and honest advice and enthusiasm for all good things, especially her family.

I am awed today by the blessing of a good mother, and mother-in-law. I would have liked to have had them here longer but I had them. And I still have them. They are examples in so many large and small ways. I was thinking of my elegant mother-in-law yesterday when I was getting ready for a formal event. She was admired for her grace and style, but those weren't her best qualities. She was incredibly generous and smart and loving and a great sport! She raised an incredibly good son with whom I share my life. She was so thrilled to be a grandmother. Every child deserves a mother such as these and I hope I can emulate them in some way for my daughters. 

"One of the best ways to have a little bit of heaven in your home is to have someone you love in heaven."
My friend, Suzi, shared this anonymous quote with me today.

I know these women are parenting me still in ways I don't understand. I imagine them consulting with each other and cheering me on. I've felt them flanking me when I've felt lonely for them on my daughters' birthdays. I hope they will nudge and inspire me in the important things that lie ahead. (Please, oh please....) Parenting is the most challenging, rewarding and instructive thing I've done. Thank goodness for these influences.

"There are few things more powerful than the prayers of a righteous mother." 
source: Boyd K. Packer

My mother prayed me into my own motherhood. I know she did. And she promised me she would continue to pray for me after her death. Thank you, Mom. 

I love to think about the generations of women who preceded me. I wish I could chart the qualities, talents, personality traits and physical characteristics they passed on to their daughters and eventually to me. It's fascinating to think about how they've shaped me. 

My mother's mother, Verla, lost her own mother when she was eighteen. She was so capable and an incredible example of enduring to the end. What poise she had no matter her circumstance. She maintained high standards and was a woman of few words but we had some tender conversations in the years between my mother's death and hers. She was my confidante. I knew she loved me very much. And I owe her for the joy I find in sewing: she sewed for and taught my mother, who sewed for and taught me, and I cherish the handmade things she gave to me.

My father's mother, Lola, set a dinner table that was unparalleled. Food was a manifestation of her love. She made every sort of homemade relish and preserve and bread and cookies. I loved her sugar cookies with a slivered almond on top and her mustard pickles. She was a horsewoman in the mountain west and a dress model in San Francisco and after she was married went from a comfortable city life to the hard work of a farm. She raised a large family and never ceased taking care of them and worrying over them despite her own illnesses. She loved to read and watch basketball games and knitted sweaters for her grandchildren. I still have the monogrammed set she knit for me when I was a baby.

I envy the gathering of these women in a place I cannot visit. I envy too the gathering of mothers and daughters here. How amazing it is to be able to pick up the phone, or stop in and visit, to ask your mother for advice! 

Thank goodness for the other women who mother my children: My sisters and sisters-in-law who support me and all my funny ways, and love my family without judgement. My friend who watched Audrey from 3 months of age when I worked part time and has since cared for all my girls when I've worked or had an appointment or just needed some help. She is like a sister to me. My mother's best friend who remembers my girls' birthdays and lets them climb in her lap for teasing and hugs. A neighbor with an open pool for swimming and another who always has German candies for them. The woman who lives behind us and is teaching Audrey to quilt! The girls' great aunts who send emails and packages. Their teachers at school, church, swimming and music. I appreciate the individual ways they care for and nurture my girls. And I am so grateful for my friends who are raising children now too and teach me by their examples. They had wonderful mothers who helped them into the women they are.

Motherhood: It's the highest, holiest service assumed by humankind. It's the definition of selfless service. It's both a daunting responsibility and a glorious opportunity.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers and women who mother.

My "FYI" posts share news or a perspective about something that's been on my mind. You can read them all here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sewing: Easter Dresses 2014

Easter seemed so late this year (but I barely made it with the dresses anyway). And the lateness meant it actually looked like Spring! It was so beautiful and green. And it seemed everything was blooming! So I took a lot of pictures (fair warning!)....

Sewing Easter dresses is one of my favorite traditions for the girls. My mother always made me a new dress for Easter so I love doing the same. I know a dress is unimportant when it comes to the significance of the day, but it is still nice to have something brand new and beautiful for Easter Sunday--it's a symbol too of rebirth, just as are all the blooming things.

I decided to use a bright preppy color palette this Easter: green, pink, yellow and white.

I was so excited about this patchwork cotton fabric with the rick rack trim I found at Joann! Scarlett loved it too. I used my Apron Wrap Dress pattern to make her dress and my upcoming Romantic Dress pattern to make her white dotted Swiss batisteblouse. This blouse is tunic length and pretty awesome on its own. I hope she'll wear it over some shorts this summer.

I haven't taken pictures of the girls with their bunny baskets before. I'm glad to have them. Audrey's Nana gave her this plush bunny Easter basket for her first Easter and when Scarlett was born I found one for her, and purchased a third for Tess when she arrived. Identical baskets makes it easy. They love playing with them and the Easter Bunny always hides them after filling them with chocolates and Peeps on Easter morning.

Matching baskets but coordinating dresses. I am trying to sew more specifically to suit their individual personalities. Audrey's dress is a new pattern I am really excited about and hope to finish up soon (right after The Romantic Dress, of course!): The Sophisticate Dress. It has generous pleats around the neckline and a simple sheath shape. I used white piping on the neckline and bracelet length sleeves.

It's fully lined, which makes it more comfortable and beautifully finished. Audrey was truly excited about it, which puts me over the moon. This tailored style really suits her. And she loves the "hound" aspect of the fabulous green and white houndstooth fabric I found on Etsy.

I included an exposed zipper in the back. I have been so partial to buttons but I love a zipper for this and exposed is so fun! I found this great gold metallic "fashion" zipper,which was just what I had in mind. 

Tess's favorite color is yellow so that is the color of her dress. This is another Romantic Dress. This may be my favorite version. I love the full, ruffled, three-quarter length sleeves.

I used this dotted Swiss for the dress and a bit of Heather Ross Briar Rose Calico Pink Floral fabric for the piping on the pockets and the covered buttons. I love this combination. The dotted Swiss is so lightweight and pretty, but it is a bit floppy for the neck ruffle. I think I could compensate by adding a bit more fullness. I'll have to play with that.

My three girls, and their bunnies.
(And their matching gold Saltwater sandals.)

It was a happy Easter. 

I hope you have been enjoying and celebrating this Spring with the traditions you love, whatever they may be. It's such a beautiful, optimistic time of year! There is such an abundance of things to appreciate and be grateful for. Enjoy them all!

(Easter dresses from previous years: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...