Archive of ‘clothing’ category

A Butterfly Staple Dress

staple dress in AMH

One of the classes I am teaching soon (here) is The Staple Dress and so, of course, I had to make myself another one to display at the shop.  This time I used an Anna Maria Horner print and lined it up so the print runs beautifully right down the front of the dress.   staple dress with hemThe important details:  I sized this XS and I am by no means an XS girl, I just ain’t.  The dress is just so blousy and oversized that an XS fits me best so keep that in mind if you make this dress.  The fabric is stunning and soft and so beautiful, it’s a linen-cotton blend and it needed 8 lines of elastic shirring at the waist to properly gather.  I think the pattern recommends 3 to 4.  I finally made it with a hi-lo hem and I love it!  I’m not one to go for big drama with my clothing but this hem is really nice and adds just a bit more interest and dimension to the dress.

I still have mixed feelings about this pattern, overall.  I like this version the best of all of the times I’ve made the dress but it still feels like I’m working pretty hard to ensure I don’t end up with a sack.  This version is wearable and the dress comes together easily, which is very nice, but I’m still not nuts about it. On the other hand, with this nice print and it’s easy going style, I think I will wear it often enough.

Can you tell I’m not crazy about pictures of myself?  It’s just that some days I don’t really wanna shower or smile is all.  Ever been there?

selfish sewing week :: the esme top

I’m sharing a little more of what I have made for selfish sewing week!

esme top

I’ve been wanting to make myself a nice top for a while.  not an easy-to-make top but a really nice one.  one that I worked on a bit.  so, when I came across the Esme Top at the Fancy Tiger Crafts pop-up shop while away at The Makerie retreat I decided to go for it.   I made my muslin, the one above, out of bits of scrumptious lightweight voile that I had around because I wanted to see how it worked in voile rather than standard cotton.  I made a smaller size and it was roomy around the waist but tight at the shoulders.  now I should know better already.  I am a woman living in fear of looking pregnant and yet, I keep trying these patterns (and store-bought clothes) that have so much volume around the waist area.  I realize that is a great style for many but for me it just brings pregnancy flashbacks and I am not one of those happy-glowy pregnant people…flashbacks get a little dark.  this muslin was giving me the flashbacks, you know what I’m saying?

To remedy the situation I kept the size the same but switched to a knit fabric hoping the back would fit right but it wouldn’t become even more voluminous at the waist.  esme top in knit  the bib portion is in a few seasons back Lotta fabric and the pink knit is from a yard sale (yippee for cheap fabric!).  I like the knit version MUCH better.  I’ve worn it a handful of times and I feel comfortable and cute in it.  at the same time, I really long for a top that won’t be boxy or full at the waist but will be cute and fun.   I’m tempted by some of the Wiksten tops because they look so cute on others but many have the same ‘loose’ fit.  anyone have a Wiksten tip for me?

as for the pattern itself,  I am sad to say that this pattern just doesn’t work for how I like to sew.  I was disappointed.  the printed pattern instructions are purposely very, very brief because it is supplemented with an on-line video.  you get a code for the video on the printed pattern. the video is 30 minutes long and it walks through making the whole shirt, which is nice in some ways.  unfortunately,  the video is pretty low-tech, something they admit outright, but the cost of the pattern is still full price.  so that is kind of a bummer.  secondly, the printed instructions are so brief that you can’t completely skip out on watching the video.  a scenario that just doesn’t jive with how I sew things.  I like to pre-read a pattern and then double and triple check as I go along for the parts that are confusing.  I didn’t want to pre-watch an entire 30 minute video and once I’m sewing I don’t want to be checking in at the computer.  so, I was disappointed with the pattern setup.  that’s not to say it wouldn’t work for others but wasn’t working for me and I wouldn’t go for a pattern this style again.  I admire Meg so much and really like her style so I hope she keeps writing full pattern instructions on future patterns.


selfish sewing pajama party

the lovely women over at imagine gnats and made with moxie have come up with a brilliant idea. a week of selfish sewing!  oh yes, we sew for our kids and for our home and for our neighbor and for our niece. well, rachael and jill decided…it’s time to sew selfishly.selfishsewing banner2

that means that all week long the internet will be exploding with indulgent sewing projects.  fantastic.

I’m sad to say I can’t exactly join in.  I’m so busy with  a re-design for the website (oh yes, this here website is going to be so pretty in just a short while!) and preparing for an upcoming craft fair…all of which means I’m not selfishly sewing at all.  but, it doesn’t mean I can’t play along!  my hope is to spend the week blogging about selfish sewing I’ve done recently.  It feels a little bit like I’m a twelve year old doing my homework while I watch my friends hopscotch out the window but I’m rolling with it.pajama party and what better place to start with than pajamas! I made these jam-jams a while back and now I live in them until around noon on most Saturdays.  well, actually the first two pair were made for my mom.  she wanted a nice lightweight pair so she picked out that lovely teal voile by Amy Butler.  it’s really heavenly to lounge around in silky voile I must say.  the pink pair is a regular quilting cotton, so a bit warmer.  the totally crazy purple pair are the ones for me.  the fabric is Anna Maria Horner’s moth fabric and I added a small trim at the bottom…some AMH voile I had in my stash.  for all of them I used the pajama pant pattern in the Heather Ross book “Weekend Sewing”.  it’s absolutely my go-to.

crazy purple pajamas

this pair for me was modified a little bit.  mostly, I just widened the hem and added the trim.  for every pair I put in a few buttonholes so I could string in twill tape.  the waist is still held up with elastic but I love the look of a drawstring on pajama pants.  makes them even more lounge-y.  I love the look on C’s face up there.  someday he will just come right out and ask me why I’m always taking weird pictures of myself.

are you selfishly sewing?  whatcha’ making?

the skirts I plan to live in. possibly forever.

for all of my fussing and putz-ing with regular cotton clothing, the honest truth is when it comes to what I actually wear on a daily basis, it’s knits.  they are just so…easy.   black knit skirt

that is why I’m so thrilled about these three new additions to my wardrobe.  three fold-over knit skirts!  the plain black skirt up there, possibly the most boring thing to grace this here little blog, has been washed and worn at least once a week this summer.  there is nothing more functional than that skirt.  boring or not, I love that skirt like an old friend.

the pattern is from Meg McElwee’s Craftsy class, of which I am a huge fan.  the sizing was a little funky but once I got that figured out, the whole thing came together pretty simply.  there is not much stitching involved in a basic skirt especially one made of forgiving knit fabric.

the regular meg

the striped skirt is my attempt to replicate a skirt I saw on rare trip to J.Crew.  it looked too easy to make myself; I couldn’t justify buying it.  thankfully, it was relatively easy to make and I had just enough striped knit on hand already.  I used the pattern in Meg’s book Sew Liberated…she is, after all, the master of sewing with knits.  the pattern was a little odd, however.  I don’t know everything there is to know about pattern drafting, but thanks to a class I took with  Cal Patch I could tell this pattern was not standard.  sure enough, the hem length at the sides of the skirt, where the seams meet, is longer than the front and back hem.  it’s not a big deal and the skirt is still wonderful for everyday wear.  it’s only a slight harumph.  it’s a little perplexing since Meg’s Craftsy class is so exacting and careful and then the book pattern is kind of wonky?  who knows why. checked knit

I was able to correct for this (and made a handful of other small tweaks) to make this third skirt.  I ended up completely drafting my own pattern.  a process that is really pretty simple, again thanks to everything I have learned from Cal and it helps that when you work with knit fabrics you don’t have to worry about seam allowances in the same way.

I guess looking at them now, in pictures, none of these skirts are all that fascinating or award-winning.  the real test, however, for me is that I wear them all the time!  they are comfortable and definitely kid-proof and, at the end of the day, that is a skirt that fits my life.  maybe I need to make four more, one for every day of the week.  like a mom uniform!

p.s. I might just be teaching how to make this skirt in an upcoming class.  its not yet posted but you might want to watch for that.  especially if you have an interest in learning some basic pattern drafting and like stretchy, comfy fabrics! (who doesn’t?)




shorts on the line!

bather shorts

there are four new pairs of shorts in this house.  they are all in knit fabric, most of it repurposed from thrift shop finds.  they all appeared little by little over the past few weeks and they are about the only things being made.  it’s not exactly the onceler factory over here.  the slow-ish pace of production is a result of two main factors–school being out for summer (recently for the public schooler and nearly three weeks ago for little J) and also the heat.  combine these two factors and apparently I become a puddle of exhaustion right around the time I have no obligations.  summer camp starts on monday, so let’s hope there is less puddling next week.

this is why I am actually thrilled with the shorts…they are all pretty basic but, seriously, I snuck in the cutting and stitching and ironing without passing out and sewing my hand or neglecting the kids too too much.  yay for me!

twin needle stich

this pair is made with knit fabric that was purchased at Jo-ann a while ago.  the pattern is from the sewing for boys book, I think they are called bathers.  I like them and C likes them, too.  I finished the shorts with a twin-stitched hem and I love it!  my reluctance/fear of sewing with knits was always about hemming.  everything would work out just fine until it came time to hem and then a wonky hem would make everything look awful.  so frustrating!  that is exactly why the twin needle stitch is my new best friend.  my machine has a specific twin need function and makes a nice, tidy stitch all on it’s own but it’s especially professional looking if I use a hemming tape of some kind.  I happen to have a bias cut hemming tape that works perfectly.  I have no idea what is called because I have had it forever, it probably has a fancy name.  anyone?

C wears these shorts all the time but they turned out a little blousy in a way that I’m not crazy about.

so, the next time I made them I eliminated some of the blousy-ness by making an inverse pleat on the pattern starting at the waist down to the hem.  this way I was able to eliminate the fabric in the body of the shorts without effecting the fit of the shorts in any other way.  this pair is made from a pair of thrift store sweatpants…the kind of men’s sweatpants with an elasticized ankle, you know, they were popular around the time I was in high school and haven’t been seen since?

side stripe boy

these are definitely the favorite pair.  he would wear these every day if he could.  they are exactly what he is looking for in shorts…stripes, comfort, elastic waist, and lightweight.  he really isn’t fussy.  they came together so easily, too! boy with shorts

look at that adorable face!

the other two pair of shorts are made of sweatshirt materials and they both have pockets.  I adapted the basic pants pattern from the book growing up sew liberated by meg mcelwee.  

this pair is made from a crazy sweatshirt and is boarder length (knees).

boarder shorts

I think they are awesome but it’s been really hot here and so the sweatshirt material isn’t really a hit with C just yet.  perhaps in the fall?

this pair is my favorite because I’m so proud I was able to reuse the waistband grommets for the tie. plus, I love the combination of light blue and olive. I didn’t put a hem on these because I don’t have it! it’s knit fabric!!

baby blue shorts

these have been worn but are also a little hot because of the sweatshirt material.  but, they fit great.  it’s so fun to make shorts like this!  especially when using knit material from the thrift store!  they are totally affordable ($3 each!) and easy to sew together–it’s basically three stitches; a waistband casing and hemming (if you want).

I have added these to the shorts on the line flickr pool.  not because they are fancy pants styling but because I made shorts and hey! there is a shorts-making thing going on.  why not? do check out the other shorts, they are incredible!



sun on the legs! it’s time for skirt season.

these white legs are going to see some sunshine.  it’s a little scary but I’m a brave woman. I started making this skirt when I joined in with the fantastic sew-a-long cal patch is hosting on her blog hodge podge farm.  cal patch skirt

the sew-a-long is so exciting because it includes drafting a skirt pattern yourself.  cal is, of course, the expert on this and offers great tips to help it happen successfully both in her book and on her blog.  I made my muslin in the standard method with darts but when it came to make the ‘real’ skirt I decided to play around a bit.  I skipped the darts and instead used the dart placement to create panels of fabric.  I created a kind of faux-piping using strips of a lovely cinnamon and raspberry voile fabric I had on hand and sewed the front together with the “piping” sandwiched in between.  last I added on these beautiful rust-colored vintage buttons I picked up recently.  it is all decorative, though the end result makes it look a bit like a sailor skirt.

skirt detail

the waistband is made using bias tape and I put in a side invisible zipper (all of this per cal’s instruction).  I will absolutely wear this skirt…perhaps not every day since I don’t usually tuck in my tops.  do I have to tuck in my shirt if I wear a skirt with detail like this?  I feel so stuffy with a tucked-in shirt on.  I enjoyed making the skirt pretty in front but my shirts cover it up.  anyone have an opinion on this?  I have literally zero knowledge of actual fashion rules so I’m open to (read: in desperate need of) assistance.

I made another skirt, too. I feel in love with this print, it’s called charleston farmhouse and it’s by felicity miller.

sew u skirt

I was preparing for teaching my a-line skirt class, which I haven’t taught for a long time. I really needed to make the whole skirt again to remember the sticking points and important tips (the pattern is from Sew U by wendy mullin).  I decided to try a few things I’ve been wanting to experiment with. so, I used the skirt waistband facing to make a top band and I altered the pattern to add a bit more flair to the skirt body.  I will definitely wear this skirt.  I really love fun prints but I shy away from wearing them regularly.  so, this skirt will encourage me to get over that. I’m still debating about adding a button or two to the upper green band at the top.  any thoughts, dear readers?  am I just going to add a cute button and then cover it up with my un-tucked shirts again?

the zipper is in the middle at the back, which might be my favorite place for a zipper.

back of summer skirt

sometimes I just find it difficult to sew in a side zipper and keep the integrity of side seams, it always puckers out a little bit.  ya’ know.  see how well that back seam lined up!? complete happy accident.  somedays things just work like that!  the hem is a blind hem stitch.  the blind hem stitch is, by the way, what I require my students to do even though it’s tricky to figure out.  everyone in my classes always hates it while they are figuring it out but the professional look can’t be beat!  really.  look at that!  it’s awesome.  plus, it’s a true blue accomplishment to get it right.

blind hem stick

when I was finishing up these skirts I chanced upon a great sewing challenge happening at crafter hours making, of all things, skirts!  how about that for timing?  so, I’m throwing both of these in the ring.  I highly encourage you to check out all the amazing skirts being made for the challenge, they are super. and, if you have made a skirt in the last two weeks join skirt week! do it! why not? you have until tomorrow! (I know. sorry. little late notice.)

as an aside: I happen to think that blind hem stitches should be challenge 1 on a sewing smackdown sometime in the future when there is finally a TV channel dedicated 100% to sewing.  have they done that yet on British Sewing Bee? probably they have.  also, can you believe I have the most olive tone to my skin of everyone in my family? yup.  turns out the Irish just don’t tan quite like Lutherans from Minnesota do.

the staple dress

I made a dress.  it’s a real one. I will wear it.  I’m pretty excited.  my enthusiasm is a teeny little bit tempered by how much bloody effort went into making it.  but I’m still very excited.  by the way, don’t be fooled by this serene expression.

there was swearing (and not the quiet, under the breath kind…the loud thank-goodness-I’m-alone kind); there was kicking things and there was the “forget this! I give up”-ing.  it’s mildly embarrassing but sewing isn’t all unicorns and rainbows sometimes.

the staple dress

the pattern is the staple dress from april rhodes and I’ve been tempted to make it since it came out a few months ago.  the pattern is beautifully done and the dress is so simple to make.  plus, it looked so beautiful in all of april’s pictures.  then the women behind go make shit issued a staple dress challenge and I piped up with “I’m in!”. ha. the challenge ended at the beginning of april.  you could say I missed that boat.

my first attempt looked like a ridiculous hospital gown.  the first thing my husband asked me when he saw it was “did you leave it open in the back?”.  harumph was my response.  so, I attempted a kind of ad-hoc resizing and sewed a version in jersey knit fabric.  I resized it quick and I sewed it together quick and resulting dress looked like something quickly resized and thrown together.  not a huge surprise.  I did not take pictures, it was too depressing.  this was around the time of the “forget it! I quit”-ing.  so, the pattern sat there untouched for a while.

but, when I came across a beautiful plum flower print I decided to buck up and try it again.  this time I took my time and made it one full size smaller to xs (I am not an xs girl, I promise.  it’s a roomy dress and is designed to have more ease than I prefer in my clothing.).  I also altered the sleeves so they are tighter…the gaping hole as a sleeve thing just isn’t for me.

staple dress with belt

plus, I added a notch to the top of the dress. it makes it more comfortable for me and a little less ho-hum.  here it is without a belt, the gathers are formed using elastic thread in the bobbin.  I love the effect of these gathers and I love how simply it comes together but I have to admit that the feeling of elastic thread against my skin is not that comfortable…it will take a bit of getting used to.

staple dress no belt

as I mentioned, the print is what convinced me to try again.  it’s from the simply color line.  have you seen this already? the whole line is pretty impressive and include ombre prints that can be used to make some stunning quilts such as this one.  plus, the fabric is soft and a bit lighter weight than everyday quilting cotton. kind of quietly amazing if you ask me.

by the way, I’ve been on a little bit of a clothes-making kick lately.  not that you would know it since I haven’t blogged about any of it….that’s my bad.   sometimes when I’m in the swing of making things I just don’t have the energy to write about it.  it’s as if my ‘creating brain’ and my ‘writing brain’ can’t coexist. that happen to anyone else?  also, we’ve been really busy.  I know everyone is busy and it’s no excuse.  but, seriously?!  in the last six 7 weeks everyone but me has had a birthday and that means I planned and executed three kick-ass birthday parties; my husband changed jobs AND got his U.S. citizenship; and we moved my studio.  I’m pooped.


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.

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