Archive of ‘sewn’ category

kcwc : day 3 + 4 and the making of man to boy shorts

it’s already friday of the kids clothes week challenge and, we have shorts for the smallest family ham! to make these I cut up a pair of papa’s stained pants (bleach. because sometimes you find yourself handling bleach in the basement as soon as you walk in the door from work. enough said) and a old work shirt…which is why they are now known as the *man to boy shorts*.  I was really happy with the way that the pre-worn aspect of the pants made for a nice weathered look on the shorts, a great bonus to using used clothing.

for the pattern, I shortened the ‘basic pocket pants’ pattern in the same book, growing up sew liberated that I used last time for the t-shirts.  again, I’m loving this book.  she made making side pockets so easy to understand and they turned out great.  I wasn’t very good at estimating the length of shorts versus pants, however, and had to shorten these quite a bit after the legs had been sewn but that is easier than trying to lengthen!  I also added a cheeky little side pocket because I think it’s always cute when kids shorts have a million pockets…they are so pointless but valuable at the same time.


look at that irresistible bottom and tummy! I can hardly stand it.  of course, he has his hands down his pants.  when C, our oldest, saw the photo he said “uh-oh. no hands in our pants!” because, you know, that is something you have to spell out around here.

up next are shorts for C.  I spent my hour yesterday pulling apart the seams on an old pair of blue shorts for just that purpose.  even snuck in a little seam ripping while sitting in the car as the littlest man napped.  that is what you call making it work, folks.

kids clothes week challenge : days 1 + 2

kids clothes week at elsie marley is in full swing! on days 1 and 2 I pulled together these tops for the boys IN KNIT FABRIC. I’m pretty proud.  they didn’t turn out perfect but so much better than my other attempts to sew knits.

and the best part is that they both like the tops.  I can’t ever predict when they will like something or not but it’s always so nice when they appreciate it too! in general, they don’t really care what they wear.  but, C loves his shirt because ‘it makes him look like part of the ant hill mob’…a character from an old hanna barbara cartoon we let them watch.  score! the little guy, reluctant model J, likes his shirt because his brother liked it. so, a double win for the crafty mama!

both shirts are made from old t-shirts and I cut the fabric such that I could avoid hemming the bottom hem, which is always the part that I mess up.  by putting a band on the armholes it also meant I didn’t have to hem that.  less hemming=better sewing when it comes to knits for me.  for my pattern, I altered the pattern for a crossover tee in the book growing up sew liberated. this is my first time following this book and I really like it so far…clear instructions, easy to trace patterns, thoughtful patterns and meg has a nice writing style. plus, she spends some serious time discussing working the knit fabrics, which is what I need right now.  the part I didn’t like about these tees is they are a little big and the neckband is pretty big making it look more like a nehru collar. I changed that when I made the second one but little J is going to have to live with it on his. I’m looking forward to the rest of the week because next up are shorts for these two monkeys.  (real quick: it is impossible to get these two to model for me.  harder than sewing stuff for them! I bribed them once with chocolate to get their measurements…how much bribing will I have to do this week?)


consider my arm twisted

seriously. I can’t stand the pressure.  I was resisting joining in on elsie marley’s kids clothes week challenge…feeling like I had enough going on with my summer sewing project but I’m a weak, weak person and apparently a sucker for a good sewing challenge since I’m already involved in this and this and just want to keep going!

but, honestly, elsie marley has been knocking it out of the park with her great guest posts.  I think this post from meg @ sew liberated was what tipped me over the edge.  what about you? tempted? it’s great fun, it really is…one hour of sewing everyday with a goal to make clothes for your kids.  for me, the trick is to widen the definition of sewing to include things like ‘reading a pattern’ and ‘cutting fabric’ or even ‘shopping for a zipper’.  the point is to just get in one hour every day toward the goal of making your kids some clothes.

I can do that, right? I have participated twice before and even got a shot of my littlest man on the elsie marley page…he is the really adorable one in a little coat (really, truly, he is so freakin’ adorable!)

so, here is my plan this time around:  I’m going to sew an outfit each for both of my little men…one pair of shorts and one shirt. I’m restricted myself fabric-wise to only using old clothes I’ve set aside to reuse.  and lastly,  (this is the big one) I’m going to make the shirts out of knit fabric.  that’s right, I WILL CONQUER MY FEAR OF SEWING WITH KNITS!  it is happening, you heard it here first. I’m done shying away from them or making tentative (and often disastrous) steps toward working with them. I’ve even started a pinterest board that I hope to keep loading it up with good information about how to sew well using knit fabrics.  And this very official looking pdf from the University of Kentucky…hopefully by diving into even academic literature I can make this happen. just kidding about that.  I always over-intellectualize things that I should really just jump into head-first.  it’s a hard habit to break.

so, what do you say?! join in!  be crazy sewing mama with me for a week! need some ideas? check out the new patterns from oliver and s and the spring and summer patterns at made by rae! oliver and s even has some great free patterns. 

edited to add: check out this treasure trove of great (and free) tutorials by dana at made.

wow. there are a lot of links in this post. phew. I think I’m on a bit of overdrive.



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.

summer sewing project :: the halter top


I finished the halter top, another item off my list for my summer sewing project (a make-not-buy summer wardrobe).  this pattern is really straightforward, clear, and easy.  the top easily came together.  I used anna maria hornet’s voile, which is beautiful and soft and  lightweight.  it drapes well and feels scrumptious….but it also makes the top look a bit like a nighty.  harumph.  you had better believe that I will still be wearing this to cover up at the beach (I made it myself, after all) but I don’t know if I would actually wear anywhere else.  we will see.  here is a shot of the voile used for the halter tie…it’s so pretty.

I did make a muslin for this (in ikea, child-themed cotton) and I must admit I like the stiffness of standard cotton. I do not like the hint of a grouchy face in this photo? sheesh! but the shirt looks good with a little more body, no?  I might have to make this again in a stiffer fabric.

I was really hoping to lengthen the top to make it an easy, breezy summer dress but I might have to keep hunting for the right summer dress.  the elastic in the back kind of pulls a bit make it unsuitable for anything much longer.  I’m considering something like this one.

in other news, I’ve joined a handmade wardrobe group run by the super stylish grainline studio.  so, if you are feeling a handmade clothing bug, click on the button below and you can scan all the amazing creations pulled together on flickr!

BWS tips button

two very special quilts for two very special girls

for a while, I’ve been wanting to begin making specialty quilts out of the super-special baby clothes that otherwise stay stowed away somewhere…too special to get rid off but without any real plan for what to do with them.  this last month,  I was blessed with an amazing opportunity to do just that for dear friends.  they came over with three sacks of clothing….one filled with the precious clothing worn by their oldest daughter from her baby/toddler days; one bag of the same worn by their youngest daughter; and one worn by both.  these were the items they couldn’t part with.  the ones that it was impossible to put into the ‘give away’ or ‘donate’ pile.  the clothes that instantly conjure up a sharp memory, smell, or moment from those fleeting baby days.  and, rather than sit in a bag in her closet, she brought them to me so I could turn them into two quilts.  one for each girl.

I love these two girls. I mean I LOVE THEM.  I’ve known them since their days in the womb and I remember some of these clothes myself.  making these quilts was emotional for mom and dad but also for me.  it was not lost on me that I was trusted with something really precious.  as I sat sewing away, the quilts in my lap,  slowly transforming them into something so much more than just fabric scraps I could get a bit, ahem, emotional.

to make them, I started by cutting squares (and in some cases rectangles) out of the clothing and then using interfacing to stabilize anything that needed it, like the jersey knits.  there were also some special requests like incorporating socks in some way, sewing on some special buttons and adding in a tassle from the top of a hooded jacket.

 it took a long time to decide on layout and design, which happens to be the part I enjoy the most.  for the older sister’s quilt I clustered some of the rectangular squares in the middle and discovered that the wording taken from her special clothes provided a sort of definition: ‘big sister’; ‘inspired’; ‘sweet, smart, and sassy’; and a characteristic apple from one of her sweatshirts.  all together, the quilt started to look like her.  I took a little moment for some happy tears when I realized this (told you…emotional).  the other quilt came together in a similarly weepy manner.

after that, it was just piecing it all together and quilting it (stitching in the ditch). and, there you have it…time capsules in quilt form:


complete with tiny socks, beach wrap snippet, a scrap of a special dress from a first birthday, an important sweater, teeny-tiny jean pockets even bits from tights.


the funny thing is, while these quilts capture pieces from the fleeting baby days, I saw more of the future when I watched the girls react to seeing them for the first time.  as they giggled, pretended to fall asleep, and jumped up to point at things they recognized in the quilt, they suddenly looked so big.   and the days of onesies and swaddling blankets seemed so far behind.  and, SO MANY amazing and incredible moments seem just up ahead.

are you interesting in having one of these made for your little but getting big people?  if you are, get in touch and check out the specialty quilts page for information.


the scrambled quilt

last week I was working on a pattern to accompany my beginner baby quilt class (for sale soon on etsy, I promise!) and after making the model quilt, I had some remaining scraps leftover.  I  love the challenge of scraps. they just beg me to play, ignore the rules and make something unexpected. so, I succumbed to temptation and set aside some time to wrangle the fabric into a ‘playmate’ sized quilt that I’m calling the scrambled quilt.   I named it that because I think it looks a little scrambled but I love it.

 I did lots of piecing together and cutting apart and the design came together as I went…there was very little forethought I just went with what felt right. I’ve always like a good amount of crisp white in a quilt so I threw some of that in at the ends. it was great fun and nice to get out of the routine of following directions and over thinking and just enjoy a bit of the creative process.  I used the backyard baby fabric from patty sloniger, all of which is adorable.

my littlest one thought it was pretty great, too and had to get in on the action.  don’t tell me you aren’t tempted to tickle that exposed tummy or grab those little toes!


yum! it’s this kind of free-form process that reminds me of the joy of making things. no pattern to glance at every ten seconds (I have a terrible memory) and no agenda.  just me, my eyes, the cotton, and my machine.

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