April 22, 2014

Making a Special Occasion Dress

My sister is graduating from college in June, so I want to look nice for the occasion. I've got plenty of casual summer dresses but nothing particularly special. So for the past couple of months I have slowly been making a beautiful dress following a Craftsy couture sewing class by Susan Khalje. Before this, I'd never made a fitted bodice for a grownup and had never made anything substantial from silk.

I made two muslins, realizing I'm a near perfect size 10 after making significant alterations to my first attempt with a size 12 pattern. With the 10, there were some tweaks during fitting, but nothing major for fit purposes. I altered my pattern so I'll have the sleeves I want, more coverage in the front, a longer bodice, and a higher back and then began by cutting the silk organza. With the markings on the silk, I don't have to mark the fashion fabric. I used the organza as a pattern to cut the embroidered silk dupioni and basted them together.

Truth be told, I'm still basting. I was trying to multitask, watching a TV show, and basted to the wrong side for all four skirt sections, so I'm halfway done fixing that mistake. I basted the bodice together and fitted it to me and it is just how I want it. There's a bit of room to move, but it's fitted enough. I made a couple of tweaks to where the princess seams hit the bust line, but that was mostly a minor adjustment to the curve thankfully.

It doesn't quite look the same on the dress form as it does me, but you get the idea here:

I haven't finalized the exact height and shape I want the back, but it's close to what you see above. I also haven't snipped the armholes. The zipper will go approximately where the pins are in the picture.

The skirt is a full 1950's style tea length, semi-stiff look. Fun and flirty and won't blow up in the prairie wind. Even though the fabric pattern isn't quite perfect at the seams, I'm quite pleased given I really didn't have much extra fabric to work with. I wanted to keep wide seam allowances and that was more important to me than having a perfect match. I think it's close enough to look lovely for what I'll be wearing it for.

After I have the whole thing basted, I'll fit again and pin the sleeves to decide on length. I'm certain I need to tighten them a bit based on initial fittings. Then I get to put in the permanent seams, take out the basting stitches and add stays in a few places around the bodice.

Then there is the lining to deal with. I found a luxurious green china silk but it's going to be shifty and tricky to cut I'm sure.

I have 6 weeks left to finish. Wish me luck!

April 5, 2014

Making an Apron

I stopped updating the site for a long time because I just got too busy. I haven't had the time or resources to turn The Little Penny project into a true business, though I do still make a few things for other people on occasion.

This spring, I have two major projects going on. One is a couture dress, following Susan Kalje's techniques, and the other is a quilt for my sister as a graduation present. I should be done with the quilt by now, but life keeps getting in the way.

I needed a distraction and had the opportunity to make a one-of-a-kind apron for a friend to give as a gift to her fiancé. She was looking for something that was visually appealing but durable and practical and that would fit him well. I followed a traditional apron shape but chose to cut the top half on the bias for visual interest and lined the apron in a smooth, but washable satin. Clothes are protected but the apron won't cling, so it'll still look good while pulling a pan out of the oven.

There are plenty of pockets and long ties. I included a clip for hanging a potholder or towel (apron-clipped towels are SO handy). A unique feature is the overall style neck strap. Rather than a two-piece tie or the usual adjustable sewn-on strap, I used overall clasps so it's super easy to adjust but if you like having the apron higher up on the chest, it can come off and on with a simple clasp - no adjustments or retying needed. It looks cute too. My husband is modeling the apron below (note: the straps aren't adjusted).

I packaged the apron up, wrapping it in a stretch satin with a fabric bow and padded the box with sequened fabric rather than packing peanuts. The great thing about using fabric as gift wrap is that the recipient might find a use for it. There's enough here to cover one or two throw pillows or make a fun halloween costume.

June 28, 2013

The Little Penny iPhone & iPod Case Collection

Check out the latest offerings from The Little Penny! We're now selling iPhone and iPod cases through Redbubble.


Looking for something unique, or perhaps a design for your iPad? Just let us know and we can set up a time to discuss a custom case just for you.

June 23, 2013

The Little Penny Fabric Collection

The Little Penny now offers yardage through Spoonflower! Two designs are currently for sale, with three more pending a review from our art director (Penny). If you are interested in any design not currently available, or would like a custom design for your sewing or crafting project, just let me know!

May 18, 2013

Website Sneak Preview

I work on websites everyday, yet designing my own has been a chore. I guess it's like our deck guy was lamenting yesterday that he's done hundred's of awesome decks but his house doesn't have one.

There is progress and here's a sneak preview of what the homepage looks like:

The Little Penny homepage mockup

We're still working on the official logo and getting all the content put together, but all the pages are mocked up and ready for code!

April 5, 2013

Purple Shirts, Purple Hats, Purple Socks. Always Purple

When I ask Penny what color to use when sewing, she always insists on purple. So when my sister and I went shopping for fabric, I asked her to pick a couple of purple cottons with which to sew a shirt for Penny. She picked an adorable bright print and a soft lilac contrast.

I was able to crank this adorable shirt out during Penny's nap and it fits her quite well. Thankfully, it's also light and comfortable, perfect for spring!

Want one for your little girl? Email me with your child's size and fabric color preferences and I'll give you a quote.

Detail - Inside Sleeve

March 25, 2013

I'm Overextended? No way.

It's not that I haven't been working, sewing, or designing. It's more that I'm overextended and some things had to become lower priority than others. At TLP, we're hard at work on ideas for an Etsy shop launch this summer. I'll be working with my sister, Kailee, on fun knit toys for summer and fall, and hats and mittens for winter. Penny has been directing that everything I make be dark purple, so expect purple throughout the collection of summer dresses, bags, soft toys, and child-centered home decor.

Current personal projects include a lined dress for spring, a new top for Penny (in purple, of course), and a lightweight casual jacket in a bold red and white print.

We have some capacity for custom work. Contact me for unique baby gifts, notecards, or knitwear!