What with all the Small Human Being-focused sewing going on, I think my daughter was feeling a little left out. So I pulled out one of the unfinished (unstarted?) objects I felt most guilty about: her Lego Cityscape sundress. I sort of meant to make it for Kids Clothes Week, but baby wasn't really napping, and I fell down the crafty rabbit hole of experimenting with block printing and... well, here it is.
She loves it, if it isn't obvious. I really struggled to edit down the photos on this one!
Backstory: As some of you may recall, about a year ago, I had a little "Lego Dress Showdown" to choose which blocks-themed dress idea to make for my daughter's Lego-themed fourth birthday party.
The cityscape design with the sun (which was partly inspired by this Oliver + S tutorial on raw edge appliqué) was by far the most popular, but alas, I was so tired and nauseous from my pregnancy it never happened. And her Lego birthday party was a disaster — shortly before the other kids showed up, little Z started throwing up EVERYWHERE. It was too late to cancel the party (which was in the lobby of our building) but she was so sick she didn't even eat a single bite of the amazing allergy-free Lego cake my mom made for her (no dairy, eggs or nuts):
The other kids came and played with all the Duplos and games we had set up, and we recorded a video of them singing happy birthday to her and wishing her well. She recovered by the evening but is still sad about missing her birthday party to this day.
But I digress. Back to the dress!
Lego dress basics:
The pattern: The Oliver + S patterns free Popover Sundress pattern. I actually own a bunch of not-free-at-all Oliver + S dress patterns, but I went with this free shoulder-tie dress because it is so simple — the plain front makes a great blank canvas for embellishment. It was a fun and quick sew, and the directions are just as great and detailed as with their paid patterns. My only quibble is that there isn't much ease across the tummy; if I make it again, I'll add some width and gather or pleat the dress front to the yoke.
Sizing: I made the size 7 (probably about two sizes too big) as I'd like her to be able to wear it for a good long while.
Fabric: Bright blue and yellow broadcloth from Tru-Mart Discount Fabrics (a crowded little store over by FIT that has some great deals sometimes).
Notions & tools, etc: Steam-A-Seam Lite 2 (for the appliqué). Fabric paint (Jacquard Neopaque nontoxic paints, which I already had around because I am a craft supplies semi-hoarder), Speedball Lino Cutters, Tee Juice Classic fabric markers (for the dots), some Blick EZ Cut block printing material, a foam brayer and foam brushes.
Blockprinting references used: I already had Lotta Jansdotter's Lotta Prints: How to Print With Anything From Potatoes to Linoleum... which is very inspiring, but slightly vague on the technical info and handholding needed to get good results. Luckily my local library had a more nitty-gritty detail book available, Fabric Printing at Home by Julie Booth.
Techniques used: Mock French seams (my first time trying this), homemade bias binding (for the straps) with a Clover 1" bias tape maker.
It took a lot of experimenting to get my DIY rubber blocks to print clearly on my fabric. Deepika has a cool tutorial on the Pattern Review blog using wood blocks but I wasn't about to start wood (or lino) carving, so I used E-Z Cut Printing blocks:
After I got the impressions looking fairly good, I blockprinted the Lego towers and sun onto the yellow fabric, and the yokes. (It's all the same block, I just painted different parts of it before stamping to get some partial impressions). I heat set them (oh goodness, it takes FOREVER to heatset with an iron on so much fabric!), used fusible web to stitck them to the dress front, then stitched them down with a zig zag for extra security:
For the back I decided to make it look like the blocks were tumbling down:
I had a moment of panic when she tried it on and declared it resembled an IKEA apron (the yellow and blue?) but once I added the dark green polka dots with a Tee Juice marker, the resemblance faded.
Z wore the dress on a walk to our local branch of the Brooklyn Public Library (doesn't it look cute peeking out as a skirt?)...
The librarians loved it and invited her to the monthly Lego Club.
She had a blast building a "Flying House Pirate Ship" with some mermaids and wizards on it).
While I had the paints and block out, I decided to make a blocks onesie for the little guy as well using my Kwik Sew 2433 baby layette pattern and some random knit scraps left over from other projects. I made the 9-12 month size, so it's HUGE on my 3-month old, but he's growing fast.
Big Sis tried to give him some building tips using her old Green Toys "My First Blocks" but he was skeptical:
So she gave up and played with the blocks herself:
For the necklace, my husband drilled holes in some Legos and Z and I arranged them until we got something we liked. Hers:
And mine (shown here on the day of her ill-fated party):
Conclusion: Neither garment is perfect (but whatever, perfect is the enemy of good, etc), but I had a lot of fun and feel like I learned a lot in my block printing experiments and am now a bit obsessed with thinking about how I can decorate my own fabrics. While at the library I also picked up A Field Guide to Fabric Design: Design, Print & Sell Your Own Fabric (Traditional & Digital Techniques) by Kim Kight (formerly of True Up blog, now a fabric designer for Cotton and Steel) and it made me want to experiment more with Spoonflower again. (We'll see if that actually happens).
In the meantime, Z is loving her Lego dress, and I am thrilled that I finally finished it.
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