Sewing for Kids ?! The Building Block Dress

sewing for kids | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | the building block dress tour

How calm the child looks! Wistful, even! A lazy day, a tree swing, a new dress. And a cocktail for the photographer.

sewing for kids | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | the building block dress tour

Wait, child. I don't think I like that look on your face...

sewing for kids | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | the building block dress tour


sewing for kids | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | the building block dress tour


sewing for kids | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | the building block dress tour

Thank god for oscillation.

sewing for kids | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | the building block dress tour

And for inanimate subjects.

sewing for kids | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | the building block dress tour

This little beauty (yes, I am talking about the rambunctious child and not the docile doll) is my friend Olivia, and we spent a good chunk of a September weekend running around her yard. 

sewing for kids | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | the building block dress tour

She was pretty happy to be dressed up just like her "Marcydoll", which was presented to her a few years back. Marcydoll is done up in a Betsey Johnson jersey print, and years later, I still had enough for a matching dress. (Honestly, I think I bought about 10 yards when I came across a bolt in my beloved Janky store. I also have a Marcy sized two piece ensemble out of it.) Although the pattern doesn't recommend jersey, for this energetic kid, the combo is a winner.

sewing for kids | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | the building block dress tour

BUT WHAT IS THE PATTERN AND WHY ARE YOU MAKING CLOTHING FOR CHILDREN, you ask? (I imagine you're asking it in all caps. It's more fun that way.) Well! This is my version of the dress from Oliver & S's newest book, The Building Block Dress: A Sewing Pattern Alteration Guide, and I'm the last stop on the tour (eta: there are more stops next week!). Olivia is graciously modeling her variation, which includes the customizations of Cap Sleeve, Peter Pan Collar, Flared Gathered A Line Skirt, and Keyhole Opening. (The more experienced among you will realize the err of my ways in thinking I could get flat detail shots of the dress after giving it to her. Once on, Olivia was having none of taking the dress off again, which I took as a seal of approval.) 

The book includes a block dress pattern (size 6M to 12) which is super cute right out of the gate. But it also includes detailed instructions for customizing the pattern to make ridiculous amounts of versions. I imagine if you've got a permanent kiddo, and want to sew as she grows, this book is gold. Having no kiddos myself, and knowing my past experience with sewing for the younger set, I suppose you're still puzzled as to why I'm talking about this book. I confess, I was confused when Liesl reached out to me, too! There are several reasons I wanted to climb on board, and several reasons why I love this book.

One: I'm becoming ever more aware that the young ladies in my life are getting to the age where they actively choose what goes on their bods--and 99% of the time they're choosing technicolor. (The other 1% is for screaming through the house naked after a bath. True story.) HAPPY TO HELP. Happier to do so with one customizable pattern that can easily change and grow with them!

Two: I was intrigued by Liesl's suggestion that this book would be useful to my own garment sewing as well. She was right. What's great about making these child sized dresses is that you can practice pattern customization on one small block--and the size of the pieces makes the manipulations super quick and manageable. Liesl's instructions also make these customizations foolproof. Before I knew it, I was addicted, and made 3 dresses of different options, hollering inappropriately to Rob all the way: CAN YOU BELIEVE HOW CUTE THESE FRIGGING THINGS ARE. Slashing & hacking up the kid sized block pattern is great fun, and great practice. You suddenly view all those adult sized patterns with a customizable eye. I’ve used the instructions on sleeve manipulation for myself already. 

Three: Woman gave away a kidney. THAT'S RIGHT. Strange reasoning? Well, I thought, there are people out there who willingly give away organs. Mebbe I can find the time to try and MAKE A DRESS FOR MY NIECE. (And I did-- two in Ankara, which you'll see soon.) 

Basically, what I'm saying here is that Organ Donation is akin to Sewing For Children.

My logic there *might* be flawed.

As part of the tour, I was gifted a copy of The Building Block Dress Book (not an affiliate link) and honestly, I enjoyed the hell out of it. I cackled at every little fluttered sleeve and ridiculously cute collar that came out of my machine, and I love all my little customized patterns! I'll be making more, so long as these young ladies continue on this most righteous path to an Oz closet. 


tunic tricks & giveaway treat!

Well hey y'all! How *you*? We've been watching Friday Night Lights for the second time through, and I just want y'all to know, I appreciatcha. I really do. Aaaa'ight? Before getting to the nitty gritty, I thought I might answer a few questions that came up about my tunic. Scroll on down if you just wanna know who won... 

tunic tricks & giveaway treat! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

First up! Those earrings! WHERE DID I FIND COORDINATING EARRINGS? I'd like to tell you I made them out of the tunic fabric, but no. However, I did kind of make them. I covered a pair of hoops (from "In The Heights," actually! They were my first pair of Vanessa hoops, before we moved on to a size I could put my fist through.)  I simply took some circular knit trim, slid it on, cut it, stitched it closed, et voila. Kind of like yarn bombing on a miniature scale.

tunic tricks & giveaway treat! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

That quick trick never would have flown with the tunic fabric. Like I said before, it unraveled the second it was cut. Some of you applauded my taming of the beautiful beast (thankya!), and I wanted to share a slightly more involved trick for this one. I found this crazyface pink weft interfacing at Steinlauf & Stoller (in NY's garment district) and bought 3 yards Just. Because: PINK WEFT INTERFACING. For this project, I cut yards & yards of 1" wide strips on the bias, and carefully fused them to all the cut edges before sewing the whole shebang together. Had no idea if it would work, like most of my ideas. It took forever. But the fray stopped there.

tunic tricks & giveaway treat! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

The body of the fabric was weighty enough on its own, but I did interface the bias cut placket as well. From the looks of this shot, it would seem I didn't go all the way, but what you're seeing is the right side SA of the placket attached to the trim, which has been trimmed. Har dee har har. As you can tell, the interfacing stopped any threat of loose yarn!

tunic tricks & giveaway treat! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Thirdly, why yes.. that is lace used as seam tape. As I recall, I was getting bored of hug snug, and wanted something fancier to peek out of those side slits. My sis Mokosha sent me this purple cotton lace a few years back, and I thought this project was deserving of a strip of the hoarded yardage. I cut away one long edge, following the motif. The cut edges were handsewn to the woven fabric, which hid the stitches wonderfully. The woven fabric hails from the ever popular Kashi at Metro Textiles, but as it's over a year old, I'm pretty sure it's all gone...

Lastly: Yes, I'm pretty sure MJ is 13 feet tall. I fact checked it.

Now on to the winner! I counted comments (omitting my own & others replies, duplicate entires, and anyone who opted out), took that number on over to my man Rob, and tried to use him as a random number generator by asking him to pick a number between 1 and 162. It did not work, as it was immediately clear to me he was merely choosing the number of his favorite Steelers defensive back. SO! Computer chooses... number 27. Congrats to MJB! 

If you didn't win a copy and you want your own (and I highly recommended that you get one!) you can find it here on amazon (affiliate link) or over at C&T Publishing (non-affiliate). It's already in its second printing!!!

Well y'all, I'll be back on Friday wth another little something unexpected-- I mean, nothing as unexpected as Tammy's surprise at the end of Season 1, but still. Out of character, for sure. See y'all then aaaa'ight by'now!


A Gallery Tunic, + Giveaway!

A Gallery Tunic, + Giveaway! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell


A Gallery Tunic, + Giveaway! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

I took these shots exactly one year ago, and I sure thought I was going to take updated ones (with my glorious, new, BARELY USED birthday camera) for this post. But, although I've gained more hair, I've lost two inches everywhere else (which I am completely stumped by). This tunic needs some alterations! Do you know how much I don't want to handle this gorgeous woven fabric again? I mean, yes, the fabric is delicious. Like, threaded through with ribbony-neon-satiny delicious. But those threads also want to come loose if you breathe the wrong way. So rather than mess around with this again, I might just wait and see if those mysterious inches come back. Enter dressform!

A Gallery Tunic, + Giveaway! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Ah, and my dressfrom doesn't pull wackadoo poses that alter the line of the stripes. Thanks Wolfie.

BUT WHAT IS THE PATTERN, you ask? This is my version of The Tunic from the latest entry on your sewing bookshelf: The Tunic Bible, by Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr. (Don't they sound like they should be a duo of sleeper spies in a Bond movie? Their weapons are their Ginghers.)

A Gallery Tunic, + Giveaway! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

I met Sarah through the Mood Sewing Network, and have had the pleasure of hanging with both she and her squeezable husband several times. Lovely. People. She even let me break her camera when we first met, on her birthday, no less! When asked if I would like to contribute to a secret project, there was no question.

The reveal: a tunic tome! Admittedly, tunics are not the norm in these parts, but then again, nothing's normal in these parts. I jumped in. I never knew tunics could have so many OPTIONS. Choosing and making the placket was huge fun-- 

A Gallery Tunic, + Giveaway! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

I added a trim made out of, I don't know, hay? I sees a rogue straw that needs clippin'!

The book shows you how to customize these to the hilt. My choose-your-own-adventure was: outside facing wide split placket, angled collar, side splits, short sleeves, side zipper, back darts, dress length. PHEW. My only addition was to add front darts (which, after I took the initial photos, I felt was a little unnecessary).

My heart's desire was maxi length, with a thigh high side split, but I didn't have enough fabric. I always think I have more fabric than I do. Funny story: I was trying to explain the height of Michael Jackson's concert stunt double to Rob last night. I was an unwilling audience member, and I was sneak attacked by his doppleganger afterwards. As I hollered at my cousin about how it was totally bogus that the last number was lip synched, the Man In The Mirror was suddenly floating by my side, looking exactly like Michael Jackson. You know, he just gets so tired, he exerts a lot of energy, he breathed in a weird lilting voice. I blinked at the alien creature. And you know this because...?     Oh. I'm his stunt double, for the magic trick when he disappears onstage. It's fun he intoned, approximately eight feet above my head. 

You understand Height and Distance the same way you understand Children's Ages, was Rob's response. Michael Jackson was short.

All this is to say, I always think I have more fabric than I do.

A Gallery Tunic, + Giveaway! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

SO! Back to the book! Would you like a copy? If you just can't wait, you can grab one on Ye Olde Amazon (affiliate link), or, if ya feel lucky, leave a comment on this post and you'll have a shot at winning a free copy courtesy of C&T publishing. The lucky winner will be announced October 11! I believe there's a winner for every step of the book tour this October, so follow along here...

ETA! Giveaway will close on Tuesday October 11 at 9AM EST, at which point I'll close the comments. Though it's hosted by C&T publishing, I'll use a random number generator to choose the winner (and possibly employ some detective work to track you down. If you haven't got a web presence linked to your profile, be sure to check back here, or attach info to your profile. Good luck!)

3: C&T, Pattern Review
4: Cloning Couture, Generation Q Magazine 
5: oonaballoona ,Featherstitch Avenue
6: Allie J, Thanks I Made Them
7: Sew Busy Lizzy, Jennuine Design
8: Inside The Hem, Girls in the Garden
9: Sew Manju, My Love Affair with Sewing
10: Evolution of aSewing Goddess, Creating in the Gap
11: House of Pinheiro, The Tunic Bible