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Sewing Dresses for Children

Artistic Artifacts staffer Nancy McCarthy continues her sewing posts for us. She previously shared her experience with sewing the Urban Princess dress by Olive Ann Designs; here are additional sweet dress patterns from the same company. — Judy

Guest post by Nancy McCarthy

Geo Dress/Tunic & Leggings

Two dress versions of the Geo Dress, Tunic & Leggings pattern by Olive Ann DesignsI’ve sewn three different Olive Ann Designs little girls’ patterns at this point, each one twice, and the Geo Dress, Tunic & Leggings is the easiest, most straightforward one so far. It would be great for anyone looking for a quick make and especially for someone less confident about their garment making skills. And it’s super cute with lots of design possibilities!

The pattern comes in sizes 2- 8 and the photos show my just-turned-four year old granddaughter wearing a size four. The gold and coral shop sample is also a size four. The pattern can be sewn as either a dress or a tunic and includes a pattern for leggings, and as all the girls’ Olive Ann patterns do, it also includes a version to dress an 18 inch doll.

Reverse views, Geo dress by Olive Ann DesignsThe fabric choices for this dress are endless — it could be super fancy with lace panels or a school dress, as I imagined for my two examples. I chose whimsical prints kids will love and geometrics that I thought coordinated well (our Modern Cottons fabrics section has lots of amazing choices). I didn’t choose fabric from just one line, and in fact one of the fabrics I chose was a sale fabric. I used one of the Marcia Derse Palette Solidsfor the trim on the gold version, which includes four different fabrics. The green one has three fabrics including the trim and the Tula Pink Linework, Tent Stripe was perfect for that one. It reminded me that black and white prints are a sewist’s secret weapon. (I didn’t make the leggings from this pattern, but the instructions looked easy.)

Geo Dress, Tunic & Leggings pattern with the dress and flange fabrics chosen by Nancy McCarthy

Sewing notes: This pattern has 1/2 inch seam allowances! The front panels have bias edges and should be carefully cut on grain. In particular, the lower right panel will take more fabric than might first appear. I seem to choose directional prints without realizing it, so it’s a good thing the pattern layout is set up so that if you’re not focused on that, as I am often not, you won’t go wrong.

Completed dresses sewn from the Geo Dress, Tunic & Leggings pattern The pattern calls for baby piping between the blocks of color. I decided to make flat flanges instead – MUCH easier to handle! I cut 1-1/4 inch STRAIGHT grain strips because the seams of the color blocks are bias seams. I folded the strips in half with a hard press and sandwiched the edges of the strip at the cut edges and between the wrong sides of the garment pieces. The flanges show 1/8 inch on the outside of the garment when the seam is completed, similar to the width of baby piping. I serged the finished seams and pressed them in the direction the flange wanted to lay.

Follow the pattern instructions to stitch the shoulder seams, install the facings and pull the front and back right side out through the facings, and THEN sew the side seams — this is a brilliant way to get a great finish and the pattern instructions are spot on. If this is your first time to use this method, it may seem a bit tricky, but trust me, it works!

You’ll need to make a loop of some sort to fasten the top back with a small button. The pattern calls for a tiny bias fabric loop, and quite frankly, I hate making those! So I tried an old-fashioned crochet thread loop, but it didn’t seem robust enough. Then I remembered how the loop on a dress-up costume of my granddaughter’s was done — a narrow elastic loop. But currently I’m not home in my own sewing space with access to my stash, and I didn’t have the option to run to the store. Here’s the hack I used: the ear elastic from my used surgical mask! It’s plenty stretchy, flat and narrow, and EASY to pin in place and sew through — it worked like a charm! Give it a try and see what you think and give this little dress a try for some summer fun!

Gigi Dress

Gigi dress by Olive Ann Designs sewn by Artistic Artifacts staffer Nancy McCarthy for her granddaughter

The GiGi Dress and Dolldress by Olive Ann Designs has what every girl wants — POCKETS! A super cute summer dress for any girl in sizes 2-8 (you see here a size 4 on a just-turned-four-year old). This dress has two surprises — first, the great pockets in both side seams and second, a breezy pleated open back tied with a sash, so it’s not too bare.

Fabric options listed on the pattern include double gauze and lawn. This version is in Kokka Blue Birds Double Gauze, found in the Fabrics for Garments section at Artistic Artifacts (more about sewing with this fabric later). Artistic Artifacts also has some charming lawn fabrics with prints very reminiscent of Liberty designs, and of course any of the quilting cottons would be appropriate. It would be great in a kid print and stunning in a wild Kaffe Fassett floral!

Gigi dress by Olive Ann Designs sewn by Artistic Artifacts staffer Nancy McCarthy for her granddaughter

Sewing notes: Intermediate sewers should not find this pattern too challenging. I am one of those sewers who likes to preserve my pattern so I can make it again and again as my four granddaughters grow. So I fold back the larger size cutting lines or cut out the size I want by running my scissors under the paper pattern. Yes, I always cut garments with scissors — that’s the way I learned! On this pattern I got confused when I couldn’t find the pattern markings for the back panel pleats. I eventually realized that the size adjustment for the back panel changed at BOTH the top and bottom of the panel, and I had just folded away, or would have cut away, the pleat markings.

The bodice has a full facing that goes down below the amscye* and in back extends to the depth of the back pleat facing. You attach the facing by sewing up the back, around the front neck, and back all the way to the bottom of the pleat facing. This is a bit acrobatic but it can be done! If it doesn’t make sense to you, just sew it as far around as you can and press in the the rest of the facing seam allowance at the pleat facing and slip stitch it in place.

* (Editors note: as per Wikipedia, “in sewing, the armscye is the armhole, the fabric edge to which the sleeve is sewn… the length of the armscye is the total length of this edge; the width is the distance across the hole at the widest point.”)

The GiGi Dress and Dolldress by Olive Ann Designs for children sizes 2 thru 8, and double gauze fabric, Kokka Blue Birds

The instructions have you sew the side seams and then insert the short sleeves, the classic way to tackle this part of garment construction, and this was my biggest challenge because the armhole openings are quite small. I also wanted to serge those seams… argh! The second time I made this garment (using quilting cotton) I sewed the sleeves in flat and then sewed the side seams — much easier! I think if I made this a third time, I would make it sleeveless.

I chose double gauze for my fabric for a couple of reasons — first because Artistic Artifacts has some really nice pastels and second because I had never sewn with double gauze before. If it is a new fabric to you, consider washing it more aggressively than you think the final garment will be treated — it shrinks!

You may notice that it is actually two thin cotton gauze fabrics with a very fine binder thread that moves between the layers to hold them together so you might see the two separate layers of fabric at the cut edges of your pieces. The fabric is sort of ‘sponge-y’ and really different from quilting cotton.

I used my favorite BERNINA 34D foot with the dual feed engaged. I like the 34D because it is clear, so I can see everything. As in other Olive Ann patterns, the seam allowance is 1/2 inch. I topstitched the neckline and the sashes at 1/4 inch. Using the 34D allows me to choose between using the throat plate markings to determine my seam allowance or moving the needle right or left and sewing with the edge of my fabric at the edge of the foot. Setting the needle at 4 clicks to the right gives me a nice robust 1/4 inch, or at 5 a scant 1/4 inch, for example. Setting my needle to the left a couple of clicks can give me the 1/2 inch seam. (A walking foot is also an option for these double gauze fabrics.)

I hope this post encourages you to surprise the special little girls in your life with one or both of these up-to-the-minute spring and summer looks!

Using Stripology Rulers

One of my favorite Creative Minds has authored this guest post — Chris has converted me into a Stripology fan too!

The Best Thing Since Rotary Cutters!

Guest post by Christine Vinh, StitchesnQuilts

Not being a notions junkie, I’ve limited my purchase of new sewing and quilting tools to pretty much the basics. That is, until I picked up one of the Creative Grids Stripology Rulers designed by Gundrun Erla of GE Designs to make a shop sample last year. The ruler slides easily over the fabric until pressure is applied. Then, the exclusive gripper holds the fabric in place while cutting through the slits in the marked increments, eliminating slipping and miss-cuts!

Emma quilt pattern designed by Gundrun Erla of GE Designs, cut using the Creative Grids Stripology rulers

Combining the precision butting using the rulers with the well written patterns by Gundrun means I can no longer claim that I cannot cut or sew a straight line. Above is my Emma quilt — I would have never considered the Emma quilt pattern if I had not already had success following the very clear instructions with great visuals on ruler placement for the cutting instructions! I didn’t realize I had forgotten to turn alternating blocks, but like how they mimic the hummingbird’s spread wings — fabric by Valori Wells. I used some Victoria Findley Wolfe fabric in this quilt too.

Use the Stripology rulers to cut yardage into popular precut charm square sizes

Stripology rulers are available in several sizes and configurations. You can cut full-width fabric and fat quarters into the most popular pre-cuts on the market, 1½ and 2½ inch strips; 5 and 10 inch charm squares. There’s no math required — simply follow the easy-to-read markings: squares for 2 inch cuts, and stars for 1 in. cuts! Above, the Stripology Squared Ruler cutting 10 inch squares of batik.

Use the Stripology rulers to precisely cut your fabric for piecing.

The Clarissa quilt pattern by GE Designs

Above, Stripology XL Quilt Ruler lined up to cut strips from Art Excursion, New Life fabric designed by Denise Burkitt (now sold out, see other fabric designed by Denise).

Shown here, the Clarissa quilt pattern, sewn with Wild Acres by Victoria Findley Wolfe fabric and a bit of Uppercase Volume 3 (fabrics now sold out). I used the Stripology Squared ruler, which includes markings to square up half-square triangles, quarter-square triangles, and blocks up to 12 inch. While Clarissa calls for assorted 10 inch square precuts (plus an accent fabric), one of the things I love about the Stripology Squared ruler is how easy and fast it is to cut precise charm squares out of any fabric you fancy!

The Lil’ Stella table runner pattern by GE Designs using a Jennifer Sampou Sky ombre paired with Atlantia by Studio RK;

Above, I pieced this Lil’ Stella table runner pattern using a Jennifer Sampou Sky ombre paired with Atlantia by Studio RK (sold out) ; the fabric to the right will be the backing.

Using Stripology ruler to cut fabric for the Lil’ Stella table runner pattern by GE Designs

Left, the Stripology Squared Mini Creative Grids Quilt Ruler cutting 5 inch squares of Atlantis for the Lil’ Stella pattern. Right, the ruler turned for cutting angles required by the pattern.

Precision piecing using a BERNINA with #97 Patchwork foot and the Sew Steady Grid Glider

Using my BERNINA with #97 Patchwork foot and the Sew Steady Grid Glider, combined with the accurate blocks cut by the Stripology rulers, makes precision piecing easy!

Below, I paired Kaffe Fassett fabrics with a Designer Essentials: Solids Fat Quarter Pack by Tula Pink. Trinity’s triangular blocks are easily made from precut fabrics — 10 in. squares, 2-1/2 strips, or fat quarters — using the Stripology XL ruler.

Trinity Stripology Mixer Pattern by GE Designs sewn by Chris Vinh and machine quilted by Alexandra Lush Benson

This shop sample quilt was made using the Trinity Stripology Mixer Pattern by GE Designs, and beautifully machine quilted by Alexandra Lush Benson — detail below.

Detail of free motion machine quilting by Alexandra Lush Benson

Below, Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula made her niece Layla an Emma quilt for a Christmas 2019. Always known for her freeform blocks, now Judy also raves over the Stripology rulers!

Emma quilt by Judy Gula, a gift for her niece Layla

Below, Layla’s sister Celia also received a quilt from Aunt Judy — wonderful improv!

Improv quilt by Judy Gula, a gift for her niece Celia

A Special Anniversary…

Mixed media art assemblage created by Judy Gula to celebrate her parents 50th wedding anniversary
Judy Gula sharing her mixed media art and quilts at the March 2019 Judy's Altered Minds meeting

We are holding an anniversary for my parents tonight, November 23, 2019. Chet and Pat Vincentz have been married for 60 years! As pictured above, one of the treasured items decorating the room is the mixed media assemblage I created as a gift for their 50th Anniversary.

In March of this year I presented a collection of my mixed media and art quilts to JAMs (Judy’s Altered Minds) and enjoyed sharing the story of this piece, and others I have created, with the group.

Detail, 50th Anniversary mixed media art by Judy Gula

Describing and sharing photographs of this special artwork was one of my earliest blog posts and 10 years later, I want to share it again with you as I celebrate another of my parents’ milestone anniversaries!

50th Wedding Anniversary
Orginally published January 23, 2010

My parents 50th Wedding Anniversary was in late November. I am very close with my parents, both geographically and emotionally. Many of you have met my Mom while vending at shows, but might not know that I worked with my father for over 20 years.

Detail, 50th Anniversary mixed media art by Judy Gula

I have great love, respect and admiration that they successfully stayed married, started and grew a business while raising three kids.

And I think they still love each other!

So they deserved a special anniversary gift. I had a vision a couple of years before their anniversary and began gathering stuff, some with emotional meaning and others that worked with my vision.

We have only four photos of my parent’s reception from an old pocket camera. Copies of these photos are collaged to the back of the clock case, and one is stepped out. Some of the meaning behind the embellishments:

  • My Mom’s birthday is June = the pearls.
  • We vacationed at the beach each and every year in August =the shells.
  • My father raced Porsches professionally for many years = the monopoly race cars.
  • My parents now spend the month of February in Florida = pink sea shells.

Later we added the drawer to hold anniversary cards, photos and documents.



Mixed media art assemblage created by Judy Gula to celebrate her parents 50th wedding anniversary

Museum Visits Always Inspire!

Cleveland Museum of Art, first floor diagram

One of my favorite family traditions is that whenever we have the opportunity, and especially when we travel, we visit a museum. Over the Thanksgiving holiday we visited family who live in Cleveland, Ohio, so for this trip we went to the “newly” renovated Cleveland Museum of Art.

The renovations over the years (see the level one diagram here from their visitor guide) created a ‘square’ with its original building forming one side. The wings and galleries all house different art forms and eras. The museum has a wonderful gift shop and Café. As you can see from this layout, the Atrium is very large. Even though it was a holiday weekend I did not feel squished!

Texture inspiration from the Cleveland Museum of Art

I love to take photographs of patterns, colors and textures, and then try to translate that inspiration to fiber. (I haven’t moved past the first step of taking the photos from this trip so far!) With this blog post I’m sharing with you some of my favorites… my challenge to you is to translate them to your art medium. If you do, please share! With the images above and below, I can visualize using Baked Textures Embossing Powder by Seth Apter to create an inspiration piece.

Texture inspiration from the Cleveland Museum of Art
Texture inspiration from the Cleveland Museum of Art

There was also a special exhibit with many products from the William Morris: Designing an Earthly Paradise exhibit open at the time.

William Morris design from the Cleveland Museum of Art
William Morris design from the Cleveland Museum of Art
William Morris design from the Cleveland Museum of Art
William Morris design from the Cleveland Museum of Art
William Morris design from the Cleveland Museum of Art
William Morris design from the Cleveland Museum of Art

I was surprised to find beautiful lace items included in the museum, found in the original building:

Handmade lace designs from the Cleveland Museum of Art
Handmade lace designs from the Cleveland Museum of Art
Handmade lace collar/bib from the Cleveland Museum of Art

I’m including a photo of the sign that introduces the lace exhibit — beautifully expressed information! Artistic Artifacts hosts the “Doily Madisons” on the first Saturday of the month, the Washington, DC study group of the Chesapeake Region Lace Guild — it’s amazing to watch them tatting.

Exhibit sign describing lace from the Cleveland Museum of Art

Using ATCs on Greeting Cards

Greeting cards by Judy Gula using woven fabric strips and Artist Trading Cards
Inspirational ATC about gratefulness

It’s the time of year greeting cards, and my most recent blog post reviewed Block Printed Holiday Cards (plus, see a new photo below). And I’ve previously written about weaving paper strips to use as the base of embellished cards … as a former weaver, it’s a technique I return to time and time again. After completing and trimming several quilting projects, I had a pile of thin fabric strips… and of course, rather than toss them, I was inspired to use them.

Yes, back to the weaving, and back to making cards… one of my favorite art pastimes! This variation found me using some of my many collected Artist Trading Cards, (ATCs) as the focal point of my cards (examples pictured above). We have an ongoing trade at every Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs) meeting at Artistic Artifacts, and I’ve collected many over the years through the mail, art groups, etc. While working through my collection to refresh my ATC display carousel, I was inspired to put some these beautiful bits by talented fiber and mixed media artists back out into the world via handmade greeting cards!

Joy greeting card by Judy Gula using woven fabric strips and Artist Trading Cards

Sometimes I plan a color theme from my strips, as in the example above, which includes several of our own Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik fabrics.

Inspire greeting card by Judy Gula using woven fabric strips and Artist Trading Cards

The above ATC paired beautifully with strips from the Carrie Blomston “Wonder” fabric line, available in our Modern Cottons section.

Materials to craft greeting cards using woven fabric strips and Artist Trading Cards

Above, looks like I’ve got the makings of some holiday cards ready!

Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) collected by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

ATCs are wonderful little bits of art to trade and amass. Whether stitched from fabric and trims or crafted from paper and paint, it’s amazing to see how people use the 2.5 inch x 3.5 inch space to express themselves.

Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) collected by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

P.S. I promised you a new photo of block printed cards… allow me to brag on my talented niece Celia Middleton. While manning our make & take table at our Annual Open House and teaching visitors to block print, she embellished her print examples with the most wonderful sketching and made some gift tags too (below).

Block printed cards with sketching created by Celia Middleton

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