Archive of ‘clothing’ category

kids clothes week :: pajama time

pajama boy

day five of kids clothes week and pajamas have been made, folks.  I have been hoping to make pajamas for the boys for a while now.  they both needed summer jams….something lighter weight to carry us through spring and summer nights.

this striped fabric was just the ticket.  it’s a knit I got ages ago on my one and only trip to mood fabric with mary frances.  (mood is, incidentally, a crazy place…slightly dingy and crammed from floor to ceiling with every imaginable kind of fabric and incredibly artsy, hip people.  sales people pace the store asking ‘do you need a swatch?’ approximately every two minutes.  I can’t imagine how those project runway people shop quickly there! )
sideways stripe pajamas

two sets of pajamas were made.  one for each boy but I only had one ‘model’ willing to put pajamas on right after school.  my other model was reluctant and I didn’t feel great about bribery two days in a row, ya know?

big boy pajama set

the pattern for these comfy cozy jammies come from the book “growing up sew liberated” by the lovely meg mcelwee.  her book has such clear instructions and everything is so thoughtfully constructed to make it as easy as possible to have a successful experience sewing with knits.  I really appreciate that at this point…clear and easy!

I am excited about these pajamas.  the bottoms are basically just leggings and were ridiculously easy to make.  and the top is called a crossover top in the book and is so super cute.  the only problem is I used striped fabric and despite my best effort the stripes didn’t always line up.  see how the arm on the left is matched at the top of the shoulder and then loses it near the armpit? what the heck?!  never mind that the arm on the right is completely off.  guess I’ve got a bit of work to figure that one out for next time.
pajama top stripes

I was very proud when the stripes do end up matching, as in below. lined up stripe pajamas

at the end of the day, however, I am the only one in the house that will notice the mis-matched stripes.  the boys certainly won’t notice or care and they like their new pajamas even if they don’t want to model them. (phew!  it’s always a relief after hours of effort.)

I am really enjoying working with knit fabrics.  it is easier in some ways.  there is no worrying about finishing seams and the fit doesn’t have to be exact.  it’s also such comfortable fabric and the most likely to be in our closets already.  my biggest challenge with knits is preparing and lining them up.  it seems there are always wrinkles and bumps when I try to true it up.  I end up spending lots of time being sure I’ve got it lined up before I cut…of course, once I get to the sewing it goes fast.  it’s a tradeoff.  I’m hoping to take my last two kcw days and make some knit t-shirts and shorts, we will see how much actually gets done.

kids clothes week :: the handsome shirt

checks on cutie pie

ahh!! couldn’t you just squeeze that kid?! so cute!  I do love him.

I’m swinging right back into ‘regular life’  (after my dreamy time at the makerie) with lots of kids clothes week sewing.  well, not really LOTS since I’ve only made one shirt and it’s already thursday.  but, I have lots of plans for lots of sewing and that has to count for something.

with this shirt I was aiming for a guaranteed home run.  C picked the fabric himself (from out of my stash) and it is a soft, flannel-like check that I got at a yard sale.  he requested that I make it into a ‘handsome shirt’.

this is his thing. it has been for approximately a year.  he wears a button up shirt nearly every day and he calls them “handsome shirts” because while he might be a humble ‘man of the woods’ on the surface if you dig deeper it’s clear he knows he is super cute (he also has a handsome hat that sees just as much wear as the shirts).  thankfully, we have a lot of handsome shirts but they are getting small.  mostly they are small in the arms…his arms seem to be stretching out every single day.  what is up with that?

arm out on cutie pie
I was excited to take on the challenge of this shirt with it’s buttons and arm cuffs and collar with collar extender.  turns out it was more of a challenge than it even should have been.  the pattern is from the book sewn with love by fiona bell of their nibs fame.  unfortunately, there were quite a few problems both with the pattern and the instructions.  the start with, the patterns come on a cd and are printed out, which adds the time-consuming element of taping together the pattern before you even trace it.  this is annoying step, no matter what, but it is especially difficult in this case because the pattern pieces don’t come together very easily.  it’s confusing and in some places I had to draft portions myself!  which is flatly ridiculous when you’ve paid for a book and taken the time to print out and tape together a pattern.

on top of that, the pattern instructions are not very clear and there are very few pictures.  I was really hoping to learn how to make cuffs with a sleeve packet and the instructions were so confusing I just had to wing it and make it up and put in a simple placket….meaning I learned nothing.  arghh!!
seriously adorable handsome shirt man

as frustrating as the process was, I really like the end result. the arms a little long (but not for long!) and he insists on wearing them rolled up.  I will probably make more of these now that I have the pattern and cracked the code on the pattern.  if you know of a great tutorial or youtube video on making a sleeve placket PLEASE let me know!  I would love to learn how to do that properly.

handsome shirt detailthe best news of all is that after initially rejecting the shirt (I hate it! I won’t wear it!), I paid him 75 cents he tried it on and he likes it now.  phew.

now, it’s back to kids sewing and pattern code cracking for me!


the upcycling project :: mission consignment crazy

my mother was visiting recently and we stopped in at my favorite consignment store in Princeton.  my mom is a serious bargain shopper and a fun person to shop with so we scoured the place and came upon a totally crazy dress in a much-neglected back corner.  thing is the totally crazy dress was in a great fabric and that is how ‘mission consignment crazy’ was born, because of course I bought it.  it was $5…and I was determined to turn it into a top and skirt.  not to be worn together ever again in their long clothing life. consignment crazy

this is the dress itself.  I know. wow!  that is something. that much fabric and so much pattern.  pattern all the way down to the floor. floor length crazythe dress still had a tag on it, it was brand new.  my mom and I speculated for a while about what in the world it was originally designed for…pajamas maybe?  on the deck of a lounging cruise? we will never know.

I started by cutting off the shirt portion.  I cut it a little shorter than I had intended so I had to add a fabric band to the bottom.  there was a tiny bit of tricky sewing near the hip to secure what had been a wrap-around effect to the side of the top.  but, tacking that down and adding the band at the bottom was all I did and *bam* I had a kimono style top.

consign top

to make the skirt I used the fold over skirt pattern that comes with Meg McElwee’s Craftsy class sewing with knits.  for a long time I have wanted to gain some competency with knit fabrics and I am so happy I am taking Meg’s class.  she is an excellent instructor and while I still have more to learn I am feeling so much more comfortable sewing with knits.  once it is done properly and with all the right tools on hand, it is so much more forgiving than regular woven fabric.  and, let’s face it, I live in t-shirts and hoodies, so it opens up the ability to really make wearable clothes that fit!

making the skirt was made much easier because I was able to line the pattern up such that I could use the already sewn hem.  then, stitch up the side seams and create the fold over at the top…skirt complete!

consign crazy skirt

now, I generally resist saying I ‘whipped’ something up because when other people say that I always imagine some really happy lady barely sitting at a sewing machine and then ‘whipping’ something perfect off the machine with a big high-energy smile on her face.  I never feel like that lady.  I always feel the fussy, putz-y, details that slow me down.  that lady makes me imagine I must be a really slow sewist because nothing feels ‘whipped’ up…it took work!  but this skirt/top combo…well, it actually kind of felt whipped up!  there were some fussy bits but many fewer than normal.

of course there are some details: the skirt actually is a little bit tight and not as flouncy as I would like it to be.  I’ve already altered the pattern a little…adding in a bit of size and just a touch of flounce.  I might just be living in skirts like this all summer long.

the up-cycling project

I listen to podcasts while I sew and I sew a lot so, consequently, I listen to a lot of podcasts.  one of my favorites is stuff you missed in history class.  recently, they had a piece that referenced an article about the impact that donated clothing can have on indigenous textile industries in some African countries.  the gist is this: when we donate clothes to big charities they take the tons and tons of the stuff that doesn’t sell and re-sell it to African countries for cheap.  in turn, the clothes are sold in African markets and because Western influence is strong these clothes are popular, especially among young people.  the popularity of these clothes has diminished interest in owning and wearing the textiles that are indigenous to the particular country and therefore the whole textile industry is flagging for many African countries.  this made me really sad.  I always felt good when I went through my closet and brought in a donation.  hoping, all the while, I was helping someone out.  but, the last thing I want to be a part of is killing of any indigenous textile industries…especially such beautiful fabric with such attachment to culture and heritage!

long story short, I have been thinking of ways to stem the tide of crap coming in and crap going out!  obviously, buying less stuff is a good way to go.  I’m definitely working on that.  I still have a ways to go.  but, when I do buy I’m trying to be more thoughtful about it and have been hitting up a really nice consignment store nearby for almost all of the boys clothes and much of my own.

that said, I still have lots of things in my closet that I don’t wear.  so, I’m devising a personal challenge to up-cycle them into something I WILL wear.  and I want to highlight some of my progress here on the blog with an up-cycle project!  I’d love it if you joined me.

upcycle project scarves

I started simple…turning regular scarves into infinity scarves.  I find I am really drawn to scarves, in large part because I love their ability to highlight a great fabric print.  but, I only wear my infinity scarves because I’m not a fan of the way that a tied scarf kind of hangs out there and then comes untied or flies in my face.  it’s awkward.

so I devised the simplest project ever.  I simply made a french seam (great tutorial can be found here) connecting both ends of the scarves.

up cycle french seam

job done!  it took minutes…around 10 actually to make 3 scarves I will actually wear!

knit stripy scarf

ikat scarf

bird on it scarf

look at that, it’s already making me happy!  leave a comment if you join in the up-cycle project…I’d love to see it!


how to hug a teeny tiny heart

one of my oldest, dearest blogging friends, mary frances from this is marzipan, has just had a baby girl and has the great joy of bringing a bit of estrogen into her otherwise all-testosterone world (like me, she has two boys).  I’m a little jealous to be honest.  unfortunately, some of the joy has a little dark cloud shadow hovering over it because the baby was born with a heart condition and her teeny tiny, beautiful heart has already met with knives and highly skilled doctors.  as they say in my family, uff da.  it’s more than a grown-up heart can handle.

of course, mary frances and her family are taking it in stride and with great strength and grace…an amazing feat given what they must soldier through.

for my part, I had to find a way to hug that teeny, tiny hard-working heart so I made two little kimono shirts.

birdie heart hugger

the pattern is from the heather ross book weekend sewing.  this kimono style wraps twice around the front, that is the hug.   but, also, the fact that it is easy to open up in the front will hopefully be helpful during her recovery.

sleepy night heart hugger

I love this simple easy pattern and there really isn’t anything more satisfying than making clothes for little babies.  especially since I rarely get to create for girls.

side of birdie heart hugger

the fabric’s are from my stash, of course.  one is a soft, loose-weave japanese print and the other is a soft flannel.  I’m really fond of how the japanese print decorates the chest.
reaching branch heart hugger

my only gripe with this pattern is that it always seems to leave a little pucker and extra bulk at the armpit. I think it might be the technique: the sleeves are sewn in before the body side seams are sewn.  the final stitch sews together both the bottom arm seam as well as the side of the body (essentially sewing a 90 degree angle from arm down to body) and I think it might be inevitable that this technique is not as smooth as actually inserting a sleeve properly.  anyone else have this problem?  the shirt is not tight so I doubt it will bother baby girl, it’s simply a sewist investigation.

wrinkled arm heart hugger

summer sewing project :: up-cycled

oh dear. it has been a long time since I have visited this little space. sometimes I get consumed by a sewing project and need a little space from the blog but that, sadly, isn’t the case this time.  it’s just the regular spring craziness around here.  in the last six weeks everyone in the house, except me, has celebrated a birthday…throw in mother’s day; a sprained ankle; and a stomach flu and you have full-scale chaos.  there is something to be said for just getting it all out of the way, however.  I’m more than ready to come back into the fold! bring it!

with that said, I’ve got some ‘new’ clothes.  they are actually my cheaters for the summer sewing project.  I found these pieces in a lovely consignment store and each one was fantastic but needed a little adjusting.  so, I figured it counted as ‘made by me’ with just a twist of cheating.


both of these dresses and the striped tunic below needed shorter straps and the black dress needed the sides taken in as well.    I was a bit intimidated by messing with the knit fabric on the black dress but I’m amazed by how well a simple stretch needle works! I also had to serger the sides to keep it together.  shortening the straps is so easy especially when it’s straightforward to pick apart the seams.

I must have an unusually short distance across the top of my shoulders because I always want to shorten straps.  perhaps, it’s an issue related to my, ahem, chest.

[this picture makes the bodice look really tight, which it doesn’t feel like it is when I’m wearing it.  hmm. mental note to check on that.]

these two skirts are probably my favorites. the mustard one was a tunic that just looked sloppy on me no matter how I tried to dress it up.  so, I cut off the bodice (which hit at an empire waist).  then I sewed some elastic around the waist.  so easy! it had a tie that I kept just for the look, it serves no real purpose.

the grey skirt is probably the one I’ve worn the most and it was, by far, the easiest to make. in fact, I just cut it. no sewing involved at all.  it was what I call a ‘twofer’ but I have no idea if that is actually what they are called.  when the top half of a dress is one color and style and the bottom half is different so it kind of looks like a shirt and skirt but it’s a dress? yeah, a twofer. all I did was cut off the top part and it already has a piece of knit jersey to create a waistband.  um, that’s it.  I was done!

I’m feeling like a real-life molly ringwald.

well, after all of this I’m feeling nearly done with my summer clothes sewing.  I want to try one dress and a pair of capri-length pants just because I’ve never made either one and want to give it a try. but, my enthusiasm for sewing clothes is waning and I’m eager to sew some things for the home with the lovely wool I got from grandma.  we will see which way the wind blows.


summer sewing project :: linen bib shirt

oh yes, I am still chugging along with the summer sewing project (to sew my summer wardrobe).  I have actually cheated a little bit but more on that in a future post.

for now, I’m proud to present *the linen bib shirt*.  I drafted the pattern for this top myself…based mostly off an existing top in my closet.  I’d love to say that was a seamless process but it wasn’t.  there may have been even a small amount of swearing when my first pattern draft needed a good deal of tweaking.  such is as it is. but, overall I am pleased with how the top turned out. I’m especially fond of how the linen fabric accentuates the gathering in the front.

it is made from a lovely charcoal linen I got at (gasp) Joann.  I was surprised to find such a nice linen there but I guess that is a good reminder to stay open to surprises. the arm straps are thin double fold bias tape. I made the side seams french seams to both enclose the seams as well as use the side seams to give the stop a bit of weight and definition.

here is the back of the shirt, it has a bit of ‘bib’ as well. (sigh. nothing screams ‘get on top of that arm workout’ more than this shot. ugh.)

also, this top is going to join in the fun happening over at made by rae  for her spring top sewalong. it’s an inspiring group of sewists making some amazing tops…definitely worth checking out. heck, there is even one more week left…enter something!


summer sewing project :: the dresses

there has been some making and there has been some smocking. this first dress is made with the shards fabric from Cloud 9 fabrics…it’s a part of their affordable organic line.  I have been so impressed with the beautiful fabric coming out of this small fabric company and all of it is organic.

the pattern for this dress is my own using an adaptation of the dress pattern in the Cal Patch book “Design Your Own Clothes”.     I started with a muslin following her instructions.  she uses a side zipper and my muslin came out too loose and maternity-looking. so, when I made the ‘real’ dress I adapted the back of the dress by using elastic thread to add smocking.  it actually made construction easier and the fit better. yay!!


this is a close up of the smocked section.  the elastic thread (in the bobbin only) makes smocking so easy and it looks so good and professional. as excited as I am about the smocking and my clever adaptations, I’ll admit I’m not wild about this dress.  it just isn’t very exciting and the neckline came out a bit conservative.

so I moved onto a the next one! this dress is so simple to construct!  to make the pattern I mixed things I learned from Cal Patch and a pattern in the Heather Ross book Weekend Sewing.  the back and front pieces are the same pattern and then it’s just straps…that is it for cutting.  the top of the dress is smocked, again with elastic thread in the bobbin. then topstitch the top, adding in the straps and then just hem! and done!


here is a close up of the smocking.  yes, I voluntarily took a close up photo of my chest. the sewing has obviously gone to my head.

want to know one of the best things about this dress? the fabric is vintage and was in the collection I got from my grandma! isn’t that awesome! it’s got these fantastic peacocks dancing all over it. I can’t wait to wear it this summer and give it new life.

1 14 15 16 17

%d bloggers like this: