Posted in Uncategorized on August 30th, 2009 by misha – 1 Comment

IMG_0872Thanks for visiting my page! I am a dressmaker, amateur photographer, and lover of all things DIY. I currently test children’s and sometimes women’s patterns for PDF pattern designers. Most of my free time is spent crafting and creating. Visit The Crafty Contessa on facebook for the most recent photos and information on my latest projects.

Paige’s Fresh Start

Posted in Uncategorized on January 17th, 2017 by misha – Be the first to comment

_DSC0352Problem: Love all the pretty sleeveless dresses from Violette Field Threads but it’s freezing outside? Finally, there is a solution for those who are too timid to pattern mash. The Basic Sleeves pack includes five different sleeves to make summery dresses more weather appropriate and even turn those longer sleeve dresses cooler. Long sleeves, three quarter sleeves, straight hem cap sleeves, curved hem cap sleeves, and flutter sleeves are all included in this add on pack.

_DSC0362I was asked to test Paige and I am so glad I did. Even though it’s the middle of January, I chose more bright and summery prints to show off all the details of this pattern. Paige has a pieced bodice with either a flounce or flutters sewn into the bodice and a faux belt at the waist. The skirt is a gathered circle skirt with hem facing. The back bodice is secured with either a 12″ or 14″ zipper (depending on which size you choose).

_DSC0357I followed the pattern until I got to the part where you sew the main and lining bodices together. After you sew the necklines together, skip over sewing the armsyces. Sew in the sleeves flat felled and then sew from bottom of the bodice sides up to the sleeves. I hemmed my sleeves at a total of 1/2.”

_DSC0368 So beautiful. I am so glad I committed to making this dress. I think it will work through all of the seasons, especially here in Alabama. So far, our winter has been very mild and she has been able to wear this dress a couple times since I made it last week. Happy sewing!

Who Needs a Hatchimal when you have Stuffies

Posted in Uncategorized on January 16th, 2017 by misha – Be the first to comment

IMG_4456The Hatchimal craze is almost as bad as when Frozen first released and every little girl HAD to have Elsa and Anna. And dress like her. And sing all of the songs. And… I am off on a tangent. My apologies.. I just don’t understand the desire to want an egg that takes thirty minutes to hatch and then there is a 99% chance it will not be the specific Hatchimal your child’s little heart has been longing and praying for. I am so glad my kids have no idea what these creatures are. They are not exposed to regular television viewing, and by default are not exposed to commercials. They also have no idea who Beyonce or Rhianna are either, but that is a whole different post.

IMG_4396So… Stuffies!! My daughter does not like dolls. At all. I have been desperate to see her interact with her “babies” and want to dress them and take them around everywhere, but now that she is at the all grown up age of “6″ I realize that it’s never going to happen. She has three American Girl dolls that have been handed down to her and the only thing she wants to do with them is stuff them head down in a basket at the top of her shelf. She says that the eyes are too creepy. Never mind that I help convert VFT’s girls patterns to doll patterns. Oy. When Violette Field Threads came up with the idea of these Stuffies, I was very nervous. I wanted her to want the Stuffie. To play with her. To dress her. I want to see that sweet, nurturing side of my daughter. So I hesitantly agreed to test the first one, Fiona Fox. Fiona comes with a triangle bib, patchwork skirt, and knit headband. I had enough time to also sew up a tulle skirted dress to coordinate with my daughter’s Christmas dress and I shrunk down the girl’s Molly jacket and made some adorable little felt ballet shoes, that happen to fit all of the stuffies, except the owl (the owl has webbed feet).

IMG_4553I should have been a lot more worried about her wanting ALL of them. Because that is exactly what happened. After she saw Fiona, and took her everywhere with her, she started asking for more. So, then I made Dainty Deer. “More, Mommy!” Then I made Olive Owl, and Blushing Bunny. Ok, good. That’s all of them. Wait, what?! They are releasing another one? A cat?! I knew I was in trouble. In addition to the dozens of dresses, shoes, skirts and headbands, she now has a cat. But this time, I shrunk the pattern down to 50% and made a 9″ Stuffie, half of the typical size. So, basically, I made a doll for her doll. (You know, the one that is face down in the basket because it gives her the creeps??).

In addition to being a dressmaker, I have also started getting into photography. My daughter is so easy to work with. This little open field is just next to our neighborhood playground. Always my “go to” for a quick photo shoot. The dress my daughter is wearing is one of my own design. The bodice is the Clara, straightened, with Pearl flutter sleeves, and the skirts are free handed. Underskirt, 6 yards of tulle, sequined tulle overskirt, and over 100″ of self made bias binding. I love love love the bias binding at the skirt hem. I didn’t immediately love it; I hung it from the chandelier in her room and would walk in every 20 minutes to see how I felt about it. After a couple days, I decided to keep it. And I am so glad that I did. The tulle for Fiona Fox’s dress is leftover from my ladies Estelle formal tulle skirt, and the bodice from her bodice scraps. A couple buttons, rosette trimming, and a pair of ballet shoes really make the outfit sweeter. My daughter is wearing her brand new cranberry Joyfolie’s and wool winter coat to match. Her brown knee highs are foxes, but the dress skirts obscure the face. So, there you have it. An obsession with Stuffies. You can purchase the Stuffie patterns here.

VFT Fall Boho Collection: Luna, Odette, and Julianna

Posted in Uncategorized on September 26th, 2016 by misha – Be the first to comment

In August, Violette Field Threads released a collection of patterns for their “Fall Preppy Line:” Mackenzie (skirt), Belle (long or short sleeved blouse, Josie (dress jumper), and Pepper (collared dress). In September they have come back to team up with Bari J. and released their “Fall Boho Line:” Giselle (kimono top), Odette (ruffled dress or top), Julianna (knit dress or top), and Luna (dolman style top or dress). I was able to test three of the patterns and will review them for you.

img_2333First up is the beautiful Luna. Luna comes in top length or “vintage dress” length (above the knee). Available in sizes two through girls ten, Luna will be a fall style staple. Dress it up or down, add lots of trim in the form of pom poms, lace, ric rac, or piping. Luna’s bodice is an easy pull over style dolman with a tied back closure. No buttons, zips, or snaps! Large, fun pockets top this look like a cherry on top of a cool, delicious milkshake.

odette-fullNext in the line up is the breathtaking Odette. Full, flowing ruffles make this elegant top or dress really stand out. Add a sash or side ties or leave it plain, it is sure to be a stunner! The Odette dress or top is fully lined for full comfort and encloses all those pesky seams. The bodice leaves plenty of room for an appliqué, embroidery, or initials. The back opening is an easy peasy keyhole that can be tied off using bias binding, ribbon, or fabric. Available in sizes two through girls ten.

img_2369 How sweet is Juilanna?! With the temperatures finally seeming to drop, Julianna is perfect for a fun, layered look with knee high socks or leg warmers, skirt or shorts, and a jacket. For those colder days and nights, Julianna can be worn with pants or you may choose to sew Julianna as a knit dress with full circle skirt and tights and boots. Available in sizes two through girls ten, both the top and dress bodice are fully lined for comfort. We chose to sew Julianna as a top and love the very slight boatneck style neck opening. Instructions are for a long sleeve or gathered three quarter sleeve, but it can easily be adjusted to suite your needs.

Peppy for Pepper

Posted in Uncategorized on September 9th, 2016 by misha – Be the first to comment

_dsc0644Oh Pepper!! How we love thee! How better to “bridge” into fall than with a stunning wardrobe staple. A simple yet classic beauty, Pepper is the answer to all your fall sewing needs.

_dsc0654Pepper is showcased through her classic Peter Pan collar and vintage dress length. I embroidered my daughter’s collar with elegant florals and her initials to make her Pepper more personal. The bodice is finished off with two matching blue buttons. For the skirt, I trimmed off one half inch at the hem and made bias binding in yellow, to elegantly contrast the blue of the skirt.

_dsc0653Pepper’s sleeves may be made at either three quarter length of full length to customize comfortability according to the seasons. It can also easily be modified to fit as sleeveless or short sleeve with a little extra work on your part. And how about those pockets! Who doesn’t love pockets?! I always add pockets when it is an option. These I made in yellow to contrast the blue polka dots.

_dsc0656Pepper is fastened in the back with a row of buttons. I totally cheated and used kam snaps instead. Hee hee. I find myself more and more forgoing the traditional set of circular fasteners and sewing machine for the quick set in and snap of the kams. Pepper is available for purchase here in sizes two through ten and also through their shop on etsy. I may find myself making half a dozen before winter is out, will you?

Slip turned nightgown

Posted in Uncategorized on May 4th, 2016 by misha – Be the first to comment

Nightgown I have recently been going through both of my kid’s closets and have purged a plethora of clothing that no longer fits. I have had to pass on all of Bug’s pajamas!! None of them fit, including her very favorite nightgowns. One night while she was distracted, I surprised her by making a nightgown. We both loved the end result and I especially love how fast it was to make. Since then, I have made many more and made adjustments to make it better.

_DSC0133I am going to teach you how to turn the Violette Field Threads Rosemary Pinafore slip into an easy-breezy A- line nightgown. The first thing you will need to do is buy the pattern. Follow the sizing chart to choose your child’s size. You will also need a package of store bought double fold bias binding, or you can make your own.

IMG_3177Cut out and put together your pattern pieces. We will need to make a small adjustment to the pattern pieces to make it “bed ready.” The first nightgown I made, I did not add any extra room at the bottom and the side seams split from the hem to about 3″ up each side. With all of the tossing and turning that Bug does in her sleep, I added a little room at the bottom and it works better. So, tape some extra paper to the side of the pattern that is NOT on the fold. Bug is almost six and wears a 5/6, I measured out at the bottom arrow (at the hem) 2.5″ (giving a total of 5″ more room) and took a ruler, starting at the hem where I made the new marking and tapered it to the top of the side seam right under the armsyce. Cut out two, one front and one back.

IMG_3178 Now that you have cut out your front and back, transfer the markings on the top of the neckline from the pattern. You will now use a basting stitch and cinch some of the fabric in. Follow the instructions in the tutorial. I chose to make the back piece a little wider, to give it a definitive front and back. You definitely don’t have to.

IMG_3179Cut out a piece of bias binding slightly larger than the width of the basted neckline and attach it to the neckline by pinning then sewing. Do the same for the other side.

IMG_3180For this next step, do not follow the pattern. We are going to sew things a little out of order. Now, you want to put the nightgown front and back right sides together and sew up the side seams using a 3/8″ seam allowance. Be careful to not sew the armsyce closed. Zig zag stitch, serge, or use an overcasting stitch to finish the raw edges.

_DSC0130Now we are going to attach the rest of the bias binding to the armsyce. For Bug, I cut off two 30″ piece strips. It does not allow for room to tie a bow, but to make a double knot. You may choose to cut your strips longer. You can always shorten later.

IMG_3182Take one of your bias binding strips and find the middle. Make a crease. Attach the strip where creased to the bottom of the armsyce at the seam and pin in place. Pin the strip to the armsyce from the middle where creased to the top edge of the front and back. Starting at the very top edge (where not attached to the nightgown), backstitch and sew the bias binding strip closed. Start from the top edge, around the arm opening, to the top edge on the other side. You can fold the top raw edges in first and sew, but I chose to make a little knot instead. My machine kept eating the strip despite using a stabilizer. Plus, the knot makes it look more vintage-y. Repeat for the other arm opening.

_DSC0131Now all you have to do is hem the nightgown. Fold the bottom raw edge up 1/3″ and iron, fold again another 1/3″ and iron again. Topstitch the hem closed. And that’s it! It will take you well under an hour to print off, cut out, and sew a nightgown. I have even made one while Bug was in the bath! 25 minutes!

Madison

Posted in Uncategorized on April 28th, 2016 by misha – Be the first to comment

Madison front pocketWelcome Madison to the Violette Field Threads family! This newest pattern designed by Alexis Wright has sunshine written all over it. It has such sweet details that make it a one of a kind summer hit.

Madison close up pocketMadison has some pretty sweet detailing, like a pleated front bodice, pockets, a faux button placket, small cap sleeves, and a “V”shaped collar.

Madison double pocketYou may choose to sew buttons down the front and we chose 12 bright and bold contrasting blue buttons to really stand out. We chose to use “less busy” fabrics so the pleats and faux button placket would really stand out. It gives it a sweet, vintage look.

Madison backThe back bodice features a keyhole cut out design and closes with trim, fabric ties, or ribbon. The roominess of the bodice allows for easy on and off and you don’t have to worry about zippers or button closures. The front and back skirts are gathered and the length stops at the knee.

Madison peoniesSweet Madison is now available and on sale here. Pick up your copy and sew one up! I’d love to hear from you and see your version. Happy sewing!

Mila & Grace

Posted in Uncategorized on April 5th, 2016 by misha – Be the first to comment

_DSC0012 (1)Three more patterns releasing this week from Violette Field Threads and I had the chance to test two of them. Up first is Mila, a sweet bubble shorts romper (or an 8 paneled dress) with button front straps, poofy bubble shorts that are fully lined, and 3 rows of elastic and shirring for the back bodice.

_DSC0043 The back bodice features a wide strap with cute little ruffles on each side. It’s perfect to mix and match whichever fabrics to really make your Mila pop.

_DSC0038 The criss crossed straps attach in the back and button at the top and very bottom of the bodice front with 4 buttons and buttonholes. If you choose to use a thin woven cotton, like I did, make sure to use interfacing to help hold its shape.

_DSC0075The Mila romper and dress are available in sizes 2 through 10 and come with clear instructions, detailed photos, and amazing customer service from the VFT girls.

_DSC0064And I know everyone wants to know, the Mila stays well in place and doesn’t shift, even while stomping :)

_DSC0338Here comes Grace! A perfect summer staple. Grace is a fast sew and comes with many different options, scalloped or zig zag bodice, vintage length skirt or maxi length, and fabric or ribbon ties.

_DSC0272Grace is such a precious sew and a real updated spin on the pillowcase dress. Elegant and easy for the summer and beach weather.

_DSC0285Our Grace is maxi length, skimming the top of the foot, with a sweet scalloped bodice. We actually used bias tape for the ties. I folded the edges together and zig zag stitched it closed, then knotted the ends after threading the ties through the bodice.

_DSC0343Such a beautiful dress and still fun to run in!

Sunday Girl Design’s Odette

Posted in Uncategorized on March 25th, 2016 by misha – 1 Comment

I had the pleasure to test again for Georgianna of Sunday Girl Designs. A little more than a year ago, I tested the Lily Rose dress pattern, which was a hands down favorite of ours, until she outgrew it. Georgianna’s patterns are very well written without being wordy, and all seams in her patterns are trimmed in bias, finished nicely, or well hidden.

_DSC0247The Odette pattern was originally released as a blouse and capri pants or shorts set. It is being re-released to include some great add ons like a contrasting center pleat for both blouse and dress length. If you already own Odette, you can purchase the add on here.

_DSC0233The Odette pattern includes a lot of fun options like blouse or dress length, collar, front bow, bias lined petal sleeves, and also comes equipped with shorts and capris.

_DSC0218The back of the Odette blouse and dress is closed with a button and loop and trimmed out in a placket. But don’t worry! This placket is super easy and seam ripper free. The arm (for the sleeveless version) and neck openings are finished off with either store bought or handmade bias trim and makes for such an elegant look.

_DSC0249This goosy girl choose to have her dress made with no collar, no sleeves, and dress length with a contrasting pleat. We just love how it turned out. You can really have free reign and choose a bold color to pop out, like we did.

_DSC0247The Odette is now available in the shop for $7! It is a great summer staple and can be worn year round with all the fun options!

Bostons on Parade

Posted in Uncategorized on March 2nd, 2016 by misha – Be the first to comment

_DSC0160When I saw this Boston terrier flannel at Jo Ann on clearance, I knew immediately what I would do with it. I have had The Cottage Mama’s Georgia Vintage dress in my arsenal of patterns for years but have never sewn it up before. The pattern includes 4 different views and lots of options, ranging in sizes from 6 months through 10 years. We chose “view A” and opted to use just one skirt, since it’s a flannel and heavier than a standard quilting cotton.

_DSC0182What I love best about the dress is the full collar and those sweet flutter sleeves. The dress could also easily be made sleeveless. The back ties are slightly wider than the sash and make for a big, full bow when tied. I just love dresses with sashes and ties. So sweet.

_DSC0165We had so much fun with this little photo shoot and it was all too perfect to use our own Boston terrier, Piper. Needless to say, it was very hard to get photos of those two, they were twirling and running around everywhere!

_DSC0174Bug was too excited and also needed a lesson on how to properly hold a dog. Poor Piper! She was a good sport and got lots of love and attention during and after the shoot.

_DSC0187This shot was just sheer luck with perfect timing! The look on Bug’s face is priceless. Everyone needs to own a Boston, they have the cutest little personalities and are loyal to their “children.” Piper sleeps all day when the kids are gone, but as soon as they are home from school, she livens up and jumps and plays with them until bedtime. True puppy love.

The Magrath

Posted in Uncategorized on March 2nd, 2016 by misha – Be the first to comment

IMG_2768I tested for a new-to-me designer and was so pleasantly pleased. Abby from Sew Much Ado was a true treasure to work for, she was very involved, friendly, and open to suggestions. This pattern completely blew me away. Her attention to every little detail is unprecedented. Included in her pattern and tutorial are measurements for both imperial and metric systems. Who else does that?!

IMG_2770My favorite part about The Magrath is the sweetheart bodice. There are instructions on how to omit that part, but why would you want to?! It’s so precious and lends the idea of princess cosplay like Rapunzel or Ariel. The Magrath has 3 sleeve lengths, short, 3/4, or long. We chose to sew up the long sleeve version since these pictures were taken in early February. And Bug has almost no long sleeve in her closet…

IMG_2772The back detailing of the bodice is quite accomplished. You may omit the detailing and make a plain bodice back or make the bodice back pieced like I did. It was a perfect opportunity to sneak in some different coordinating fabric. Abby’s instructions on zipper instillation are GENIUS I tell you! It makes this dress easily a beginner friendly pattern.

IMG_2769Finally, the Magrath may be made tunic or dress length. It was a no brainer for us. No little girl can have too many dresses, believe me, I stopped counting. I used some very special Hawthorne Threads fabric, Fawn in tulip, that was gifted to me by my favorite VFT girls. With so many options, you can create many different looks with one pattern. (Pattern sizes are 12-18 months through 12 years.)