Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Lorelei's Building Block Dress Adventure

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When I heard about Liesl Gibson's new Building Block Dress book, I was super excited to see it. Not only has she chosen to self-publish it, but the book itself is like having a garment teacher in your sewing room. Your very own Liesl Gibson, if you will. Liesl's Oliver + S patterns are some of the first modern garment sewing patterns I first noticed when I first started quilting that made me think to myself, hey, maybe I should try sewing garments!

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The Building Block Dress book is focused on the art of learning a simple dress, the Building Block Dress, and then learning a zillion ways to alter or customize it, to make it in a bunch of different ways, essentially giving you a ton of new skills along the way. I look forward to spending more time with this book because I know I am going to learn ever so much from it!!! There's custom sleeves, different skirt options, pockets, necklines, you name it. Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books? It's like that, but with garment patterns, in sizes from 6 months all the way up through size 12. For a beginning seamstress like me, it's a little overwhelming to start from, but at the same time, it's super exciting because I know it's the kind of book I'll come back to over and over again. In fact, I need to take it to my local UPS Store to get the binding cut off so I can have them spiralize it!

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Download your own planning sheet right here!

I started off planning to make a sleeveless tunic for my daughter, Lorelei, who's now nine months old and crawling up a storm. I still love putting her in dresses, but she seems to get kind of irritated by them lately, because they get caught under her knees. Measuring her to figure out how long I could make a tunic however, proved to be easier said than done so what I thought could be a tunic, really wound up being a dress. For that same reason, I also didn't quite follow Liesl's advice about making a muslin - though I think maybe next time, or maybe when she stops growing so quickly, I will go that route. I definitely can see why that would be wise.

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While not everything went exactly as planned in making this dress, partly because I managed to slam my thumb in a car door (for the record, it's my right thumb, not shown above, and you're welcome for that!) and it severely changed my hand's normal mobility, I'm still super proud that I made this dress. I love that I sewed a bias neckline. I love that I shortened the bodice and skirt of the dress without fear. I love that my dress is unique, and is a mish-mash of many different techniques in the book. I think it looks adorable and I can't wait to plan out my next Building Block dress.

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You can check out all things Oliver + S, including their fantastic patterns, great videos and tutorials and so forth on their website right here. And best of all, you can find the new book right here.

Have a wonderful week everyone, and hopefully once my thumb heals, I can manage to sneak into my sewing room to sew up another Building Blocks dress, or do some more fun cross-stitching. :)

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A place for everything, and everything in its place

Oh my, it's been an embarrassingly long time since my last post. Sorry about that, friends. Summer is so crazy around here, but thankfully school is back in session - well sort of, school was off for the last several days thanks to Hurricane Hermine but the kiddo goes back today after yesterday's planned Labor Day holiday, so here's hoping a regular routine can get underway. Because if you've read my blog for any period of time, I think you probably have figured out that I'm just a smidgen Type A and that routines are my jam.

Elizabeth Dackson Sewing Room

You know what else puts a smile on my face? Organizing things. Even things I don't like very much, like the Legos I frequently step on in my son's room, but I digress, because I spent much of the holiday weekend organizing something I like very much, my sewing room. Sadly I didn't think to take a real before shot, but suffice it to say, there were piles everywhere.

Elizabeth Dackson Sewing Room

Piles of fabric, piles of items for Mom's Secret Closet of Goodies (which happens to also be my sewing room closet), piles of baby toys to entertain the baby when she comes in to sew with me, piles of random things that apparently got deposited in my sewing room for some mysterious reason, you get the idea. It was a disaster zone. And it was driving me crazy.

Elizabeth Dackson Sewing RoomElizabeth Dackson Sewing Room

I know there are loads of creative folk who thrive on chaos, and messes, and I love them, but I'm not one of them. The mess was totally zapping my sewjo. So I started going through the mess Saturday morning before the kids got up and kept chipping away at it bit by bit throughout the holiday weekend.

Elizabeth Dackson Sewing Room

I stumbled upon an awesome deal at Michael's on Labor Day for craft storage items, and I went to town, stocking up on bins and organize-y items, and got to work. Put on my headphones, listened to some good tunes, and just went through things. I even managed to come across my first ever cross-stitching, which I did with my mom when I was eight.

Elizabeth Dackson Sewing Room

Now if only I had another long weekend to sew up that quilt top that's all ready to go on my design wall! It'll have to wait until next weekend :) Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Elizabeth Dackson Sewing Room

Monday, July 18, 2016

Hello dry spell!

The dog days of summer are fully upon us - and for me, that means very little sewing time. Summertime is typically pretty busy with my work for the MQG, and with my older munchkin home from school and now a second kiddo for the first time also home in the summer, it's been interesting to say the least. Needless to say, I've spent maybe 20 minutes in my sewing room over the past month, and it was to tidy up the crazy mess of new fabrics I seem to have accumulated over the last month.

Summer's more than half over here already - the kids return to school in a mere four weeks - and I'm hoping to get a better balance going to get me at least a smidgen of summer sewing in. I figured I'd start small - I picked up a little cross-stitch project to hopefully wind up with a quick finish. It's a cute little pair of foxes, but all I've managed to stitch thus far is part of the frame, so it doesn't look like much yet.
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In the meantime, since I have no pretty pretty project pictures to show you, I can at least show you how big Lorelei is getting - she's six months old now and determined to get the hang of this walking business like right now. She's babbling and vocalizing a lot, and she's got two teeth thus far. Her feet are ticklish, and she loves to pet the dogs. She'd also really like to ride them! She cracks me up, and we all love her to pieces. Here's hoping she and I can spend some more time in my sewing room this week! Have a wonderful week everyone :)

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016


The last several days have been awfully challenging to be a citizen of this world, let alone a citizen in Florida. Like so many of you, the recent Orlando tragedy has both shocked and saddened me, but I am proud to see that the quilters of the Orlando MQG are banding together to try to bring comfort to those affected by this tragedy, the best way we know how: quilts.

The Orlando MQG is collecting heart blocks and quilts of heart blocks for the victims, victims' families and first responders. There's a very simple heart block tutorial from Cluck Cluck Sew you can use right here, or if you're not a fan of stitching and flipping you can download my new free heart paper piecing templates right here or via Craftsy. There's no cutting instructions on these templates, they are strictly templates, but they're extremely simple and easy to use.

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While you may say, who needs quilts in Florida, you'd be surprised how many my family piles on in the wintertime, not to mention how much joy a quilt draped across a couch can bring. There's loads of ways to get involved if you don't want to make blocks or quilts, and you can check out all of the details right here: The Orlando Modern Quilt Guild.
Monday, June 6, 2016

Even more adventures in garment sewing

Thanks for all the encouraging comments last week! They were just the kick in the pants I needed! I spent the weekend, well the free time at least, working on my first Geranium dress. If you haven't heard of the Geranium dress, it's a super adorable little girls' dress or top pattern by the indomitable Rae Hoekstra (a.k.a. Made by Rae), and it's a garment pattern that I've heard from some friends was not entirely scary, so I decided to go for it, after my successful attempt at knits.

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I will say this - I tend to bite off more than I can chew, so to start with, I truly considered making four of them. At once. Then the rational side of me took over and I decided to try one first, sew it all the way through, before cutting into the other pretty, pretty fabrics I gathered for my Geranium possibilities pile. I narrowed it down to a gorgeous Eastham by Denyse Schmidt print, and got to pressing and cutting.

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Everything was going well with the cutting and such until I got to the actual sewing and realized that while I thought "View A" in the pattern was the cuter of the options (though both are adorable), it was also the more challenging one, for me, because it required gathering, which I am absolutely dreadful at. I always pull the threads so hard that I break them. And unsurprisingly, I did just that in this project, but kept on trucking and gathered the best I could.

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Aside from the gathering, I didn't really struggle much. I fully expected to struggle. A lot. With the whole three dimensional-ness of garment sewing, I expected that I'd have a hard time understanding what to do and where, but the instructions are written quite well, very clear and concise at the same time, so it was really a breeze.

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The dress still needs buttons or snaps - I haven't decided which yet, in part because I've never installed either, but also because the mom in me thinks the snaps are more practical and I don't have any so it requires a trip to Jo-Ann's - but other than that, it's totally done. All hemmed and everything. And it's super cute!

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And it even fits her! Look how darned adorable she is in it!

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So, I think the chances that I'll make another (or twelve!) are mighty good. This pattern was definitely a good one for a complete garment novice like myself, so if you're on the fence about trying your hand at garment sewing, go for it. It's not as scary as I thought it would be. Need some proof? I even bought a few adult garment patterns, like the Scout Tee and the Bianca top/dress. And I might actually use them! Have a fantastic week everyone :)

Welcome! I'm Elizabeth, mom to a very busy eight year old boy and a newborn baby girl and I sew for my sanity. Let's get to quilting, shall we?
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