Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Signature Sewing Style

 handmade dress haven style

 Last week, I missed participating in week four of Project Run and Play because I was sick. I had a very bad ear infection. And, when your ear and jaw hurt and your eustachian tube is so congested you are a tad dizzy, sewing is not a good idea!  So, I put off sewing my signature style until this week.

And here it is!  My signature style is floral, ruffly, very feminine, basically a dress that looks like a walking flower garden.  Since I was a little girl, this has always been my favorite clothing to wear.  My mother, bless her heart, preferred for me to buy simple clothing that I would not tire of wearing. But, as soon as I was old enough to buy my own clothing, beautiful floral dresses started entering my wardrobe. And, I still have two suitcases of the ones I first bought, waiting for my girls to get big enough to enjoy. 

Currently, as a stay at home mom, I live in yoga pants or Levis and brightly colored t-shirts, but I do occasionally pop on a nice floral skirt if I want to be fancy.

I had originally planned to sew a very feminine Handmaiden's Cottage Petticoat dress out of the same swiss dot fabric Lynn used in her pattern listing. I found some lovely Shabby Chic white and lavender floral and my vision was something Elizabeth Bennett would have worn. However, I learned the hard way during design your own fabric week, white and lavender are very hard for an amateur to photograph correctly! 

So, I switched to a jewel tone garden dress and used up a bunch of my Jennifer Paganelli fabric stash. The main body of the dress is Natasha in green from Crazy Love.   The yellow floral ruffle is Victoria in mustard, also from Crazy Love. The navy floral at the bottom is Emma in navy from Lucky Girl. The turquoise ruffle is Rosetta in blue from Honey Child.  The other three ruffles are miscellaneous fabrics from my stash.  The lovely ribbon is from Les Bon Ribbons. You will not find lovelier ribbon anywhere else!   The pattern is the amazing Tea Party dress from Handmaiden's Cottage Patterns.

crazy love natasha fabric

jennifer paganelli dress

So that, my dear reader friends, is my signature style. My little one LOVES it and it makes me very happy to look at, which means it is a great success.  I may not win any awards for originality and I don't design my own patterns, but I love this dress and so does E and that is what makes a style your signature. That you love it and it brings you joy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Blog Hop - Tie Dye Diva Patterns Perfect Party Dress - Hosted by Handmade Dress Haven

Starting Monday April 28, 16 bloggers, including myself, will be showing you a different way EACH to use the fabulous Perfect Party Dress Pattern by Tie Dye Diva. This fabulous pattern should be a staple in the sewing wardrobe of everyone who sews for girls.  It comes in girl's size 2-10 and baby sizes 0-24 months. For the sake of disclosure, I will let you know that I was a pattern tester for this pattern and I received the girl's size for free.  But, I have since made it many times, which I would not do if it was not an amazingly well-done and useful pattern. I am an affiliate for TDD patterns, which means I might get a few cents if you click on the link in the ride side bar and buy something. But, I created this blog hop because I love the pattern, not because I hope to get anything out of it. And, I want to help people learn to use patterns in creative ways, not just the one or two ways the designer shows you.  We all can't be pattern designers, but we can all think outside the box now and then and get creative!

This fabulous pattern is the one I used a few weeks ago for my entry in the Project Run and Play weed #3 design your own fabric sewalong.    Monday, April 28, I will be sharing with you a tutorial on how to make pintucks on the front of this pattern, instead of a bib, as well as how to do a ruched sash instead of flat.


Here is the schedule for the week. Each blogger is going to give you a tutorial on how to customize the wonderful pattern.  Come back to Handmade Dress Haven each day next week for links to the other hoppers!  And enjoy!!

April 28 Kathy, Amy, Michelle
April 29 Tasha, Ren and Alyssa
April 30 Sara Beth, Shawnta, Shelly
May 1 Jenny, Meriel, Victoria, Nichole
May 2 Deanna, Zura, Kim


Friday, April 18, 2014

Pattern Designer Interview - Lindsay of The Cottage Mama

1. When did you start designing patterns and how did it come about?

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, Savannah Rose, I got this urge to create things for her nursery. I really wanted to sew some things such as curtains, pillows, etc.  but I didn’t know where to start. I had grown up with my mom sewing, but never took the time to learn from her. Since my mom lives in Texas and I live in Chicago, I didn’t have her there to teach me. Luckily my grandmother lives close by so I took a lesson from her and off I went. I consider myself self-taught for the most part, but she taught me some very important skills during our one sewing lesson.

After Savannah was born, I started creating clothing for her and I fell in love with designer quilting cotton fabric. As she would wear the clothes around town people would ask me if I sold clothing or baby goods. Shortly thereafter I started my blog ( where I shared my love of sewing, cooking and crafting and shared mostly the different sewing creations I made for Savannah (and our second daughter, Matilda). About a month later I started an Etsy shop selling handmade clothing. While it was fun at first, I slowly realized that I didn’t like creating the same piece of clothing more than once and what I truly enjoyed was sewing for my own children. As the demand got stronger, I began to lose some of the joy in sewing. And once I came to that realization, I knew I needed to make a change. I decided I would offer my clothing designs as printed sewing patterns that mothers and grandmothers could then sew themselves at home.

I offer all of my patterns in printed paper and PDF form now. The printed patterns are sold retail as well as through shops around the country and are mostly sold through my wholesale distributors. The PDF patterns are sold directly through The Cottage Mama website or through The Cottage Mama Etsy Shop and are available for immediate download.

I released my first book in October 2013 called ‘Sew Classic Clothes for Girls: 20 Girls’ Dresses, Outfits and Accessories from The Cottage Mama’. The patterns in the book are in PDF form on a disk in the back of the book and you can use the patterns to create an entire handmade wardrobe for a little girl in size 12 month – 10 years.

Buy the book here!

And finally, I have two sewing DVD’s out  too. One is a companion DVD to the book where I show you many of the techniques found in the book (it’s great for visual learners). The other DVD is about pairing fabrics and trims and I walk you through an adaptation of my Charlotte Apron Dress pattern.

2. What training do you have or how did you learn?

I didn’t go to school for fashion design……I actually went to college for musical theatre (yes, I sing and dance) and got my degree in Finance. If you would have asked me 10 years ago if I ever saw myself doing what I do now, I would have called you crazy. I learned pretty much everything from books and online and A LOT of trial and error.

3. What is the process of designing a new pattern like?

I flat draft all my patterns, so I generally draft it in a size 4 and then it is graded down to a size 6 month and up to size 10.  I use basic blocks that I’ve created and the patterns are created off of those. The pattern usually undergoes 3 – 4 modifications before I’m happy enough for it to go into grading. Once the pattern is graded from 6 months – 10 years, then the pattern goes into testing with my online Facebook group that has 55 of my beloved pattern testers that make sure that each and ever size and variation are up to The Cottage Mama standards.

4. What is the hardest part about designing a pattern in pdf form?

Interesting question. I guess it’s making sure that everyone understands how to print it properly. If the 2” test square is off when someone goes to print, the pattern won’t line up properly and the fit will be off. Even if it’s 1/16th of an inch off, the fit will still be off. So educating people about PDF patterns and how to use them is the hardest part.

5. What is your favorite of your patterns and why?

This one is easy…….The Georgia Vintage Dress. It’s my favorite dress I’ve designed or sewn EVER. It’s everything a little girl could hope for in a dress. It’s  sweet, feminine, a little vintage, has a tad bit of whimsy and the fit is spot on (if I do say so myself). It also has a lot of wow factor and looks like an incredibly difficult dress, when in fact, it’s one of my easiest patterns to sew. Plus the fabrics can make the dress look completely different and it’s a fun pattern to use with embellishments.

6. Do you sew for your own family or for sale? What do you prefer more, sewing or pattern design, and why? 

At this point, I only sew for my family. I love sewing. That’s where my heart is, but what I love even more is inspiring others to sew and creating patterns is what helps me to do so. My favorite part of my job is traveling around the country and teaching classes because I get to meet all these amazingly talented women who share the same passion as I do………the love of sewing. I feel so blessed.

7. Have you learned anything from feedback from customers that you would like to share with other designers or wanna-be designers? 

I have learned that designing great patterns is wonderful, but not only do you want people to love your patterns, you want them to know about you and who you are as a designer. It’s not just the pattern that creates a loyal following, it’s the love for the designer that creates customers for life. And the feeling is mutual……..I absolutely love and adore my customers and many of them I can now call my sewing friends.

8. Best time and place to design?

Saturday morning with a cup of coffee………when my husband takes the kids out of the house. Listening to my Caro Emerald station on Pandora. That’s a very happy place for me.

9. Favorite fabric of all time? 

Seaside by October Afternoon for Riley Blake Designs. LOVE, love, love it!!

10. Favorite thing to do for fun? 

I’m a big foodie, so I love going out to eat! 


Note from Kathy: Lindsay is one of the most genuinely nice people I have come across in the online sewing world.   I hope you enjoyed my interview with her!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Blog Hop Planning

I keep seeing the big girl bloggers participate in blog hops, where they all share and sew around a theme. It looks so fun! I've been in one hop, a while back, but I decided to try planning my own.

So, voila, starting April 28, 16 bloggers, including myself, will show you a different way EACH to use the fabulous Perfect Party Dress Pattern by Tie Dye Diva.  But sure to check back at the end of the month to see all these fab dresses!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Project run and play week #3 - design your own fabric

design your own fabric project run and play

 For this week's Project Run and Play, we were tasked with designing our own fabric. I decided to take this project quite literally and design some fabric at Spoonflower! I have always wanted to do this and I have been playing around on Inkscape, drawing delphiniums (my fave flower) so that became my theme! You can read a bit about the design process on my guest post at Sew McCool. I will add a bit more details here, however, just for fun.  I spent hours making these pictures. Literally hours and hours. Probably 12 hours in all, over the course of a week. This was not a simple process.  I hand drew those delphinium flowers that you see on the bodice and colored each petal individually in Inkscape. I painstakingly added each stamen.  I used the controlZ keystroke (undo) a lot!

As you can see, each petal is a slightly different shape.  

One of the reasons I love flowers is for how perfectly unperfect they can be.  They never have completely uniform parts.   After I made these individual flowers and created the fabric for the bodice, I then moved on to the skirt fabric.  
perfect party dress

For the skirt fabric, I cut and pasted and resized the flowers to achieve the look of one delphinium stalk.  For the stalks, I also removed the dark blue outline I had put around the bodice fabrics flowers.  So, the skirt flowers have a softer look.  

The leaves were also hand drawn.

 When the fabric arrived, I was pretty sure I was going to make a Tie Dye Diva Perfect Party dress with it.   Because fabric from Spoonflower is pricey, I chose to get the least expensive option, the basic combed cotton.  The fabric resembles sheeting fabric in it's sheerness and wrinkle factor.  So, I knew I would need to line the bodice. However, I was unsure what to do with the skirt!

Until I saw this Barbie

I cannot show you a pic because I don't want to get in trouble with Mattel, but please be sure to click on the link to see Mad Men Betty Draper Barbie, my inspiration!

For, you see, this project is also going to be part of a Tie Dye Diva/ Handmade Dress Haven blog hop for how to use the Perfect Party Dress pattern in unique ways.  ( I will tell you more about that tomorrow).  So, voila, the Betty Draper-inspired Perfect Party Dress.

See! It's the same pose!  Isn't she cute, my little Eliza!

 Tomorrow, I will tell you more about the pin tucks, the tulle underskirt, and the double-gathered waistband I made for this dress.  In the meantime, here are some outtakes from our photo shoot.

 One tulle underskirt is so boring! How about adding a few more tutus and some bloomers!

This is her "what does a model look like" pose.

Big sister was the stylist for the shoot. 

Cute girls!

More posing like models.  

Monday, March 31, 2014

Project run and play week #2, season 9: Spring Break Vacation!

What do you know! It is spring break around these parts! So, what did I dream up for the PRAP Sewalong this week:  Glamping across the USA!  My dream vacation is to own or rent a trailer or RV and take several months, at least, to glamp our way around the country.  We live in an amazing country and I dream of driving down the Pacific Coast to the Redwoods, heading inland through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, crossing the desert to the Grand Canyon, and heading east to Taos, Austin, and New Orleans. From NO, we would head to the Carolina Coast to compare beaches. From there, we could spend a few days in DC seeing the Smithsonian and the sights. Then, on to Pennsylvania dutch country to see where my grandparents were born. Into upper New York state we would go to see Niagara Falls and the Adirondack mountains, and then to Montreal.  From Montreal, we would drive around the great lakes and explores some of that area before heading west again towards Washington state, where we live.  The drive from the Great Lakes to Washington will take us at least a week, if not more, so we can see all the fabulous natural and significant sights along the way. 

Glamping, to me, means camping that is a bit more glamorous than living in a tent and using a porta-potty. So, in my dream, we would have a vintage Airstream like the one my grandparents had when I was a kid!I always love that thing! It had a bed and a fold down table and it was so stylin' in it's looks. Even in the 70s, it was fab-U-lous to see. In my vision, we store cool chairs, rugs, flowers, the antenna so we can stream NPR, and everything else we need to camp in style. We would, of course, stop at lovely retro motels every few days so we could shower, swim, wash our clothes, and enjoy the amenities. 

You are thinking CRAZY!  This girl is CRAZY!! Her dream vacation is an RV trip across the USA? Yep! That is my dream trip. I looooove car trips. My parents have been taking me on long car camping trips since I was three months old. I am an excellent passenger and I love seeing the sights.  Plus, I've already been to Europe.

So, with out further adieu, here is my week #2, season #9 Spring Break Vacation sew-a-long outfit.

It started with the fabric and the idea of using my friend Amy's Brownie Goose patterns. I knew they would be perfect for summer fun.  See sidebar for link =======>

Google camping fabric and you get Moda Glamping. 


 I fell off my chair. How CUTE IS THIS!! 

So, I added Robert Kaufman Carolina Chambray, the perfect summer fabric. (learned that from Amy of BG) and a few bits of this and that and Voila!

The coat is Brownie Goose Pepper with serious modifications.  Pepper is supposed to be a dress but it can be done reversible as a coat.  I not only did it reversible, following Amy's tute, but I shortened it for summer and added a pocket and appliques. I purposely lined up the coat so it would show a bit of the Blondie tunic and I made the sleeve trim match the Blondie body so they would look CA-UTE together.  I googled "camping tent applique" and "vintage trailer applique" to get ideas and winged it (wung it?) from there.  I think they turned out super duper cute!! Since this will be a layering item, I made the size 7 and it turned out great. My E has broad shoulders so 7 fit her great.

Then, I made BG Blondie top and Darby shorts.  Since E is a size 4 wide and 7 long, this took some tinkering. I made the size 7 Blondie but I had to do some serious tailoring to get those armpits not to stick out.  My seam ripper was my BFF for this top.  The yoke also gave me fits, but that is another story. The 7 fit her great, once I got the armpits to work. (remember, she is a 4 wide) The Darby shorts are a size 4 wide but I added length to them at waist and leg. So, they turned out great! 

 Here are some details.  I have done about 2 (??) applique projects before this but I found this awesome-sauce tute from Sew Like my Mom and followed it like no tomorrow and practiced first and I think things look pretty good!   Several years ago, I bought these gigantic red buttons and hey! They look good here!  

 Here are some more photos.

Check it out at