Monday, November 21, 2011

Personal Challenge - Once Upon a Thread

In order to challenge myself as a budding seamstress, I have decided to try reader challenges found on different blogs. Most of these challenges are tackled by experienced blogstresses (blogger/seamstress?) and they invite readers to follow along.

I have been following sewing and craft blogs for a little over a year now and one of my favorites is No Big Dill. Katy is not only an absolutely a fantastic sewer, but she's a great cook and an inspriational mother. I truly feel she is one of those souls that is simply kind. She must have a heart of gold, because not only does she provide inspiration to those of us in Blogland, but she is the mother to six (yes, six) beautiful children! She shares her lessons of parenthood with as much wisdom and grace as I hope to gain as I raise my own girls.

My favorite challenge was last year's Once Upon a Thread series, which was projects inspired by children's books. I LOVE reading and I have a very soft spot for classic children's books - as in stories that I enjoyed that are still timeless enough for my children to enjoy as well. I figured this would be a great first challenge for myself and quickly came up with an idea (I mean, many popped into my head, so it was hard to narrow down!) I chose The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf with drawings by Robert Lawson.

The simple ink drawings in this book are so lovely and the story itself is so sweet, with the timid bull simply enjoying the flowers! It inspired the Disney animated classic, which is a treat in itself and pays homage to the beautiful art.

What captures me immediately with this book is the bright red cover with white flowers. It seemed a perfect fit to have a dress that replicated these colors and the motif. I had trouble finding exactly what I wanted in the stores and I was pressed for time and couldn't order online, so I settled for a Joann's cotton with a close design. I also wanted to showcase the flowers Ferdinand loves so much without going overboard with cheesiness, so I opted for the bright yellow accent material with a white flower print.

Now, part of this challenge was for me to do this WITHOUT a pattern. Well, I had some pretty grand ideas, but not enough time and quite honestly not enough material to pull if off. I originally wanted a flamenco style type dress with ruffles and flounce, but alas, time was an issue. I put together a basic halter bodice with a circle skirt attached. I LOVE circle skirts! They provide so much twirl factor with such little effort! The circle skirt provided much of the fullness I desired. To provide the pop in color, I challenged myself to make a pleated sash, which I think turned out quite nice! I added ruffle sleeves and on the back, oh so cute daisy buttons, because Ferdinand just liked to sit quietly and smell the flowers!

Well, as the story goes, tranquil Ferdinand ends up in the bullfighting arena, with the Picadores.....

 But all Ferdinand wanted to do was sit down quietly and smell all the flowers in the lovely ladies' hair!

**Side note - my Picadore and lovely lady's costume is simply a recycled dance recital costume, but hey, it works!!**

 I really enjoyed doing this project and quite surprised myself that I "whipped" it out in a couple of nights and managed to put it together without a formal pattern. Now, some things I've learned from this or wish I could have done better: 1) Not rush my sleeves. The seams looked pretty crummy. I've done better. 2) Remember to plan out what I want to do ahead of time so I have enough yardage to do something, like, say, add a ruffle. 3) Pay attention to my lining on the inside. It looked pretty crummy, too. 4)Sew my sash in a different way so that the seams matched up on the sides (I swear I measured!) I think overall, it's not a bad job and I'll just get better with more practice. Of course, I decided to do this at the very last minute before Thanksgiving and in the middle of other projects, so I give myself some credit for that. But, in general, I think I had a pleased little "Ferdinand"!


  1. Very cute, Brandi- both the finished product & the story behind it. The story of Ferdinand was always such a good one. Your girls are very lucky to have such a talented mom!

  2. Super cute...and just remember you don't see the seams unless you are right up on them. (well that is what I tell myself when I am sewing). I love the book as insperation. Great idea!!!

  3. First of all, you did a GREAT job on the dress! I LOVE how the girls "acted" out the story. This brought a huge smile to my morning!

  4. Found you through Pinterest....Ferdinand the Bull was one of my favorite books growing up! I really should by a copy!!!

    ~Lauri M

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the book, too!