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Squid & Birch is a lettering and design shop offering prints, cards, and flair for fans of all things nerdy and cheeky.

First Birthday Dress + Getting Back on the Horse

First Birthday Dress + Getting Back on the Horse

I had so much fun working on Susanna's first birthday dress.  It's been months since I sewed anything, save a few button and hem repairs, even though Christopher got me exactly what I wanted for Christmas -- a new sewing machine.

While I learned to sew as a little girl watching my mom, it wasn't until recently that I developed a real passion for it.  That passion came along with my desire to carry on the heirloom skills of previous generations, those skills that are honed at home through the love and care of one's family.  My amazing Grandma Mary and my mother and her sisters are all stewards of these kinds of skills and it wasn't until I became an adult with ideas of starting my own family that I came to appreciate them.

When I was pregnant I was inspired to take up quilting both by my Aunt Marta, a master quilter, and by an article I read in Martha Stewart Living about a young woman who hand dyes and hand quilts all of her pieces.  I started with a manageable baby quilt using squares to create a patchwork and embroidery floss to hand quilt straight lines.  Even though it's a dead-simple, quite rustic piece, I love it.  It now hangs from a giant clothespin above Susanna's crib.

Following that I decided to craft a present for my sister/bestie and her fella for their wedding.  At the time, Susanna was just a wee thing and a very sound sleeper and I was able to sew every night after she went to bed.  I used my mom's sewing machine to make a chenille throw, which requires more time than it does skill.  Thanks to my brother-in-law, Jimmy, for snapping these photos for me since the quilt now resides in Oregon.

After that life got really busy.  Stayed really busy would probably be a more accurate way to describe it.  We found a house, moved in, and started remodeling.  The holidays happened.  Chris was cast in an opera that rehearsed in the evenings.  I kept telling myself that as soon as I got the basement organized I would set up a sewing area down there and then I'd get back to it.

Guess what.  The basement still isn't organized.  Life is still really busy.  But I knew I wanted to make a first birthday dress for Susanna, just as my mom had for me. 

If my sewing machine is a saddle, having a date on the calendar as immobile as my baby's first birthday really forced me to get back on the proverbial horse.  And I'm so glad it did!  I was reminded of why I would add another item to my to do list; because the craft brings me joy.

I used the Winged fat quarter bundle from Fresh Modern Fabric, my new favorite Etsy shop.  Purchasing fabric online is a lifesaver for a mom with a baby who doesn't like the carseat.  These fabrics are 100 percent cotton and so lovely.  I saw an adorable pillowcase dress on Pinterest that led me to this excellent free tutorial.

I learned so much from making this dress.  It was my first experience making a clothing item, so it was the first time I incorporated techniques like finishing seams without a serger and top-stitching them in place.  The tutorial includes links to both.  There is even a cutting guide that allows you to make the dress in a size range from 3m to 6T.  I made this dress in the 18m size.

The great thing about a pillowcase dress is that it can grow with your child, going from a long dress to a short dress to a shirt.  It can also be worn with a shirt and/or leggings in cooler weather like we're predicted to have on Saturday, the birthday.

I definitely won't be waiting so long to sew again.  Wait until you see what I have planned for this bundle.

Do any of you enjoy sewing?  I'd love to see what you're working on.  Feel free to include links in the comments section.

Happy First Birthday, Susanna Joan

Happy First Birthday, Susanna Joan