If you live almost anywhere in North America right now, it’s freakin cold.
Even here in Texas, we had a no-school snow day today!
Except that….it didn’t really snow…..and the clouds parted, and we saw blue skies for the first time in two weeks. Woohoo!  But hey, I’ll take a sleep-in-lazy-morning-jammies-till-noon-coloring-and-baking-and-playing-and-now-it’s-lunch-time-and-now-my-kids-are-stir-crazy-can’t-wait-for-them-to-go-back-to-school-tomorrow kind of day.  Ya know?

So.
What do you do in the winter-time, with a dress pattern that’s more of a Spring/Summer type of thing?


Fleece the twirl out of that thing!


Then throw a pair of tights underneath and you’ve got a warm, happy camper.

Oh my gosh, I love how this turned out (with a few tweaks needed on the sleeves).  It was one of those adventure projects that made me excited to cut and scheme and sew.

Whenever you guys email asking if a certain fabric will work on a certain pattern, my answer is always give it a try!  So when I found this gorgeous mustard fleece at Joann Fabrics, I thought it would be a fun experiment to use it on the First Day Dress pattern, making it warm and cozy for the winter months.


The First Day Dress is a pattern you can purchase here, or by clicking the button below:

First Day Dress Pattern – $10
Add to Cart

So let’s sew a dress with FLEECE!
Fleece fabric is fun and easy to use.
I posted a reversible + knit fabric version of the shirt this summer, using many of the same tips we’re going to use here…..because some people don’t realize that Fleece is a knit fabric and has a good deal of stretch.  You can buy fleece at most fabric stores and there’s a wide range of types, colors, stretch, etc.  This fleece is more light-weight (rather than the bulky kind you might use for a blanket) so it gives the dress a nice drape on the skirt area.

When using fleece you want to note the nap on each side of the fabric.  The nap is the fuzzy pile texture on top of the fabric.  And often it looks different on each side, as you can see in the photo above.  Now—in my opinion—I don’t think there’s a technical Wrong or Right side to fleece….because sometimes I like using the “wrong” side for my project because it’s looks good to me.  So just decide which side looks “right” to you, and remember to cut your pieces on that same Right side of the fabric each time.

When sewing with fleece, you want to use a stitch that will stretch with the fabric.  A zigzag stitch is great….but it’s also fun to experiment with the different stitches that might come on your machine.  So pull out your owner’s manual and see what it can do!  My BabyLock machine has tons of stitches and recently I’ve been using this “overcasting stitch” because it gives tons of stretch to my seams.

For this version of the dress, I made a few tweaks to the original pattern:

• I used two layers of fleece on the bodice of the dress, to make it extra warm.  But I only used a single layer of fabric on the skirt portion.


• Rather than cutting a slit in the back, I cut a circular “key hole” (I just eyeballed it and drew it on the fabric)
• I used knit ties in for the closure instead of a button (more info in this post)
• I cut the neckline down a little lower on the back (although I intended for this to be the front of the dress.  Lucy and I had differing opinions on that)

• I created “puff” sleeves by adding a couple inches to the sleeve pattern piece and cut the shape of the pattern a little different on the side (as shown in the photo below).  Then I gathered the fabric in the middle of the sleeve and bound the whole thing with bias tape.

Yep!  More homemade knit bias tape…made from the scraps from a summer project.  Yay!



With my sleeves sewn in place, I bound the bias tape around the raw edges with wonder clips and sewed them in place using a zigzag stitch (because I like how that stitch looks on the outside of the garment)

I sewed the edges of the seam down so they weren’t poking into the arm hole.

And I sewed the rest of the dress as outlined in the pattern, using that stretchy overcast stitch I showed you above.   I didn’t even hem the dress….because fleece won’t fray at the edges!  SCORE.

And……there you go!

A simple little dress for my just-turned-9-years-old Lucy girl.

Then comes the fun part….accessorizing the ensemble.
I thought a belt might be cute with the dress….and of course a sweater for the cooler months.
Sparkly shoes?
Check.

Kitty Cat tights?
Definite check.
Do these come in my size?


And the only thing I really need to tweak is the sleeve size.  I made the puff part too large, so the armhole looks big on her skinny arms.  But it’s a small thing.  Haah.

And it just leaves extra room for running and playing and twirling,


…and getting into mischief.


Oh Lucy.
She and I couldn’t decide which was the front of the dress and which was the back!
She thought the bow should go in the back.
Which does look cute.

But finally I convinced her to try it in the front as well.
And now we have two looks.

So go ahead and give your First Day Dress a twirl in fleece, corduroy, or something warm.
Have a great weekend friends!

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I am not a quilter.
Yet.
I know I will get into it one day….when kids are grown up….and I have more spare time….and…yada yada…..okay, that sounds like probably never.
BUT.
I still remember the first time I opened a Denyse Schmidt quilting book and felt this inner sigh of happiness, and realized—there are people out there making really cool quilts!  MODERN quilts!  The kind with negative space, simple colors, solid colors, and asymmetrical lines.
Even though I’d never sewn a quilt at that point, I felt like someone understood me.


(Modern X quilt by Christa Quilts)

And if modern quilting speaks to you too….did you know there’s a whole conference dedicated to Modern Quilting!  It’s called Quilt Con.  And this year I decided to check it out!
Because it’s held annually in Austin!
Can life get any better??
Yes!
It can…(keep reading)….


So.  As I seem to do with every conference I attend, I frantically whipped up a new business card a few days before the event.  And printed enough copies to be used as drink coasters in every Chilis across America.
Oy.

But my publisher had asked if I’d do a book signing of Fabrics A to Z at the conference along with other sewing authors.  Yay!  And since I love meeting people and chatting nerdy sewing stuff together, the whole day just fell into place.

So I grabbed my new cards and a roll of oilcloth.
Cause you never know when you’ll need cabana stripes.

Then I decorated with Dove chocolates.
Cause you always know you’ll need chocolate.

And then….the moment I’ve been waiting for, for years…
Guess who walked up??

Rae!
Yes friends!
Rae and I finally met in real life!!

I know that probably seems crazy.
Or maybe it doesn’t.
But Rae and I have been online friends for about 6 years now.  We’ve hosted multiple Celebrate the BOY series together.  And we’ve even talked on the phone a few times.
But we’d never chatted face to face, until this weekend!
And she was just as adorable and down-to-earth, and fun, and all that jazz, as she always been.


Oh what a joy to finally meet someone I consider a very good friend!  It’s like this weird virtual-reality B-list movie come to life.

You know, blogging has been quite the adventure.

Sometimes I can’t believe I’ve been sharing on this little space for 7 years….because it seems like I just started….like I just posted about that stinkin Shirt Dress, and watched the lightbulb turn on in my husband’s head as he started charting blog traffic and growth potential (he’s a statistician; he can’t help it).

And then other times it feels like I’ve been blogging forever.
And I wonder if I’ll still be blogging in 5 more years?

My brother once asked if I’m going to run out of ideas to blog about.
And like most of you….it’s not an ideas issue….it’s a scarcity of time problem!

There’s never enough time to really make, share, and do all the things we want to in life.  And to do them well….which is why I really hope there’s a course on furniture building and wood working in the next life.
Totally signing up for that.
(and probably quilting).

But if I had to pinpoint the single most amazing thing I’ve gained from blogging, it would have to be a network of friends and peers, and other moms who have similar interests….all around the world.


(above quilts:  Optical Illusion by Christa Quilts and Piecing by Emily Cier)

It’s so amazing!
…like all these pretty quilts.
I mean, right?  Gorgeous stuff.  You need to come to Quilt Con.
Things will just jump out at you….

Over the years I’ve met inspiring women….

Like Nathalie who wrote this amazing post about learning to quilt (and happens to have the most adorable baby girl.  Ah!  So happy I got to see you Nathalie!)

….and like the talented Melody from Cotton + Steel who’s changing the face of modern fabric.

Women who motivate me to dream big and reach the unreachable….and who also remind me to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life.

Because success is not measured by how many followers or books or business ventures or whatever we’ve attained.  What matters is how you treat the people around you….and if your kids like being with you and want to share their stories and troubles with you.  It’s about being present in the moment, and saying no to a blog post so you can go out to lunch with friends.  Life is about those blasted cake pops….and your husband feeling appreciated.

And it’s also about this moment at Quilt Con when Rae and I then met up with Deborah from Whipstitch! Oh Deborah!  I love this lady!…and I’ve known her just about as long as I’ve know Rae.  She’s such a fun, smart, clever writer and can talk about as fast as I do (which is probably why we’re compatible) And she wrote this fantastic post about blogging and why people don’t comment like they used to, and why that might be?–such an interesting read.

These ladies are like the first blogging friends I ever had.

And to sit and have lunch with them for 2 hours and exchange ideas was like a dream come
true….and social media overload, as Deborah took a pic of me, taking a pic of Rae, taking a pic of our sushi.
Typical.
And totally fun.

Phew.
You made it to the end!
That was one long rambling post, which was going to say “Here’s a cool quilt.  It’s gray and white”.

But instead I got all mushy.

So let me close by saying thanks for being you.

We’re all just yarn-ties in the grand scheme of life.
But when you put us together, it looks like the sky is raining polka dots.
And that sounds fantastic to me.

Have a great weekend!

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New video guys!
I’m soooo excited about this one.
So get ready to sttttrrrretch your sewing skills….

That’s right….we’re talking all about KNIT FABRICS!
And we’re going to sew them on a standard sewing machine.
So if you’ve ever been afraid to sew with knits, today is your day!

I’ll show you a variety of stitches to use, the right and wrong way to do it, and then we’ll sew my favorite stretchy headbands!….cause if you know me in real life, you know that there’s always a headband on my head.
Then we’ll show you some fun ways to style them.
Wow.

Just hit the play button below and enjoy!

MADE EVERYDAY with Dana is a fresh new sewing show, where we create everyday items you will love and use.
To watch other episodes:
• Click the VIDEO tab at the top or….
• Subscribe to my Youtube channel so you’re updated as soon as the episode goes live.

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By Lucy: Frida in a Can

by Dana on February 19, 2015

How come no one talks about how much more fun kids get as they get older and older??   What I mostly hear is “enjoy them while they’re little”!   And don’t get me wrong, I totally have.  I’ve burned special baby and toddler moments into my head that I never want to forget.   And every time I look at old pics, part of me wishes they were tiny again.

But man….watching them grow and learn and develop their own talents and passions??
It’s so cool!
They have these giant, exciting lives ahead of them!
And so much to learn and discover.
And they say the funniest, cutest things.
And we have conversations about history, and how the universe works, and how people create cartoons, and why blue cheese is blue.


Just this morning while getting ready for school Owen told me he needs to keep practicing his drawings because he’s going to be an animator for a big film one day.  “So I think I’ll start with Frosty the snowman….I’ll keep drawing him and get him just right.”
Oh Owen.

Isn’t parenting great?!
These are the payoffs for the rough patches we all go through.  These are the moments you could never get anywhere else in life.
So I thought I’d start documenting some of the things my kids make and do, mostly for myself so I can always remember them.  Because they just make me smile.  Maybe they’ll make you smile too.

Lucy (9 years old, 3rd grade) loves art, just like Owen.    She’s really loves reading, and she spends hours making her own books, researching topics online, and illustrating her pages.  This month she’s been bringing home “bobble head books” (as she calls them) from school, which are a cute series of biographies on different historical figures.  She’s read about Abigail Adams, Maurice Sendak, Harriet Tubman, Michelle Obama, and Frida Kahlo.


Last week her teacher gave them the cutest assignment based on the books called Biographies in a Can.  Each student was assigned a different book from the series and had to create that person’s face on an oatmeal or coffee can, write a report, and then include 3 items inside the can that represent that person.

Lucy, of course, was thrilled to get Frida Khalo the famous Mexican artist.  So we pulled out some supplies and got started on her Frida head.

First she had to brainstorm ideas and take notes from the book.
Then she drew a sketch of what she wanted the face to look like…..and seriously, could an oatmeal can have been more perfect for the project??  It was the perfect color of her skin and hair!


I helped her with the hair, and—as I’m learning with most school projects—it’s an experience for me as well, trying to balance how much input I should I give to help pull ideas out of her, and how hands-off I should be so she discovers on her own.  I try to ask her what ideas she has and see what direction she wants it to go.  Then I throw out a few suggestions or ideas and she plays off of that.

And when it comes to a hot glue gun….I tend to take charge.  So she helped me wind the yarn into very long bunches and I glued the pieces on the top of the oatmeal can (sorry no photos of the process—we worked on this late one night).  We basically made long straight strands hanging off each side of the can.  Then Lucy pulled the hairs to each side, made two braids, and I glued them around to the front of her head just like Frida always wore.  And of course Lucy wanted bright pink flowers and some leaves right in the middle.

Then she drew the face on the front, colored in the lips.
I love her face! And the eyebrows of course.
I gave her the idea about the ears….saying it was kind of like carving a pumpkin and she thought that was perfect.

Then she picked out a bright floral fabric from my stash, and we tied it around her neck.

She was done!
Friday Kahlo, in a can.

For the three items inside the can, Lucy drew a Mexican flag since Frida was very proud of her home country and often missed living there.  We printed a photo of Frida and one of her self portraits, which she is most well-known for.
And we threw in some more flowers.  Cause who can resist bright gorgeous hot pink?




We placed everything in the can and the next day each child presented their person to the class.
It was a blast to see the other cans and creations.
School is so great!
I think back on all the fantastic teachers who inspired and motivated me over the years.  And I’m thankful my kids have wonderful teachers inspiring them as well.

Good job Lucy girl.
Maybe one day some one we’ll make you in a can.

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