Thursday, June 20, 2013

stella romper

I have to start out by saying, I hate rompers!  Maybe it's just the word "romper" but I don't think so :)  Even if you call them playsuits, I still don't like them.   They are a pain when a baby wears diapers, and an even bigger pain when they are potty training.  However, I LOVE how they look!

As I was wasting time catching up on Facebook the other day, I discovered that RaeAnna from Sewing Mama RaeAnna is hosting a series called romper week.

Romper Week

And I thought (not sure any thinking was actually involved), my loathing of rompers, combined with my kids all crawling over me since summer break started and my absolute need to finalize vacation plans this week made the perfect coalescence (sorry, couldn't think of a better word) of events to draft my own pattern.  Although everything I just wrote is in English, I'm sure none of it made sense to a sane, rational person :)  Luckily I am neither sane nor rational, so let the fun begin!

Just a note about the name of the romper - by the time I finished making it, I just wanted to stand outside and yell Stella at the top of my lungs.  Don't ask, it just felt appropriate at the time!  The truth is, a friend just had a baby boy and one of her daughters is named Stella, so I happened to be thinking about her when I wrote this :)

Taking pictures with Mae is getting more fun by the minute. She walks to "her spot" on the sidewalk and stands there until I take the picture.  Then she turns around so I can take a picture of the back.  Then she's done!  If I don't get a good picture in the 30 seconds allotted to me, I spend the rest of the time chasing her around the yard until she decided to stand still for just a second.  This was the first picture today.  As you can guess, I then spent some time chasing her :)

This pattern was entirely self drafted, which in hindsight, was not very smart considering I have never sewn a romper, let alone designed one.  I had a couple of hiccups along the way, but none of them are visible in the finished product, so it's all good.  And I was smart enough to make notes on the pattern so I don't make the same mistakes next time, as if there will actually be a next time!  The short portion is a basic bubble short with a flat front waist band and large (maybe a tad bit too big) side pockets which I drafted several months ago to mimic these capris from Elegance and Elephants.  Heidi has released her Bubble Pocket Shorts pattern since then which would most likely work well for the bottom half of the romper.  The blouse portion was inspired by this dress from Shwin & Shwin.   I wanted the overall appearance of a shirt tucked into shorts without the hassle of having to re-tuck every two minutes :) Ever since I saw this dress by Shabby Apple, I knew I wanted to make something with that color palette, so I dug around until I found this white polka dot material left over from a project completed several years ago.  I didn't have very much left, so that also helped determine the design of the romper.  The green is a linen blend I've also had for several years.

The fit was actually pretty good with a disposable diaper.  The cloth diapers present a bit of a challenge, but that has been my experience with just about every one-piece outfit I've owned since Mae was born.  That is actually the main reason I choose not to put her in rompers.  However, since we are going on vacation soon, and will have to use disposables (hot weather + dirty diapers + no laundry facilities = yuck!), Mae will have an opportunity to wear this :)

This is one of Mae's favorite things to do now.  She grabs a leaf, flower or branch and oohs, over and over again.  And then she moves on to the next leaf, flower or branch.  Rinse and repeat :)

Top fabric - white linen blend with black dots from Joann's
Shorts fabric - kelly green linen blend
Buttons - purchased at Joann's last year 

You get one extra picture of Mae today because I love it.  After all, who needs a better reason than that!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

pajama leggings ... for a boy

Today's post is really more of a drive by post gearing up for Thursday and next week!  My 11-year-old son made a sewing request (really more like a "mom, since you don't do anything all day, could you just whip these up for me").  He never makes requests like the girls, so I did my best to give him what he wanted.  Here's his request: really soft (knit, which I almost never work with), skinny, knee length pajamas bottoms.  Like these from Gymboree, but shorter (we actually do own a pair of these):

At this point, all I could think was that my son wants to wear leggings to bed.  Why not just go to the store and buy some leggings.  They come in black and he would never know the difference :)  But, being the mom I am, I made it difficult on myself and decided to make them ... from a self drafted pattern.  I have no idea what I was drinking that day (probably cranberry juice although I have no idea why that would generate that kind of crazy), but I was already knee deep so I decided to trudge on.

After a few hours, a nap for Mae, and some chocolate for me, I finished the first pair, which fit Gracie (who's 7) really well.  Thomas is small for his age and pretty skinny, but not that skinny, so on to attempt #2.  These fit great, Thomas loved them, so I made another pair.  If we're being honest here, I have to admit that I am really lazy when it comes to hemming knits, and I will only use existing hems.  Since I didn't have any more shirts handy, I packed the girls up, and off we went to Salvation Army.  Seems pretty extreme for avoiding having to sew a hem, but it works for me :)

By the way, it's the next day now in the story.  Contrary to what Thomas believes, I really do have things to do other than sew him pajama pants.  So, I start sewing again and finish a few more pairs ... one for Thomas (Goofy, which he refuses to wear), one for Gracie (the first pair fit so nice I had to make another one), and a pants length version for Mae.  Just so you know, an ugly shirt turns into ugly pants.  I always see these adorable creations from other bloggers with a hideous before and an absolutely gorgeous after.  That was not my experience in any way ... but more on that on Thursday.

At the end of this story, I have two pairs of shorts for Thomas that he will actually wear.  I included the Goofy pair into the picture because I think they are cute :) Once again, for honesty's sake, the trip to Salvation Army was totally useless.  If you notice, Thomas had exactly the same number of shorts he will wear both before and after that trip.  Oh well, you live and learn ... or, more often for me, you live ... and live again ... and again ...learning sometimes comes slowly for me :)

Next week, I will share the free pattern, plus some easy modification to make it fit several sizes.  The free pattern is now available HERE.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

pattern review friday: peek-a-boo patterns audrey dress

I swear one of these days I will actually get a pattern review friday post done on a Friday :)  Or maybe not!  Fridays seem to really sneak up on me, and this week was no exception with the girls and I heading off to an out-of-town baby shower last weekend ... which means cleaning the whole house on Monday since the boys left a lovely mess for me.  And then end of the school year activities consumed the rest of my week.  So better late than never (my motto for life!), here's my review of the Audrey Crossover Party Dress by Peek-a-boo Pattern Shop.

I was lucky enough to be chosen as a tester for this pattern, and Amy was wonderful to work with.  She was quick to answer questions and followed through with revising the pattern based on feedback from her testers.  Sometimes I feel like designers just have testers to say that they did, but Amy was not like that at all :)

The directions for the pattern were incredibly well written, and I would imagine very easy for a beginner to follow.  The pieces fit together very well (which is rather more difficult to come by than one would think) and were well designed.  I made a size 7 for Gracie and was pleased with the fit, although I think the style may be better suited for someone a little younger.  One of these days, I hope to get around to making one for Mae and Mae's baby doll :) since the doll pattern is also included.

I wasn't able to get the best pictures of Gracie since a storm rolled in right as I finished the dress.  And since I don't do anything until the last possible minute, I really needed to take pictures, black sky and all, and get them sent to Amy.  And then, about ten pictures in, I realized I forgot to add the ribbon to the dress, so the first few pictures look a lot like this:

I actually like the dress better without the bow for an older kid, but I prefer to make the pattern as written so I added the bow for the rest of the pictures.  Unfortunately, the sky only got darker, and the pictures did as well.  I tried to edit them the best I could, but I can definitely say these aren't the best pictures I've ever taken.  I felt pretty bad sending them to Amy, but once again, it was the last minute, and what's a girl to do, besides, you know, maybe not waiting until the last minute.  Somehow, I don't think a lifetime of procrastinating is going to suddenly reverse itself overnight. Oh, but wouldn't that be nice if it did :)  Apparently I ramble a bit too ... at least I know what to write down for my New Years resolutions when I get to them next March :)

Anyway, here's a couple of shots with the bow which I tied in the front instead of the back because I felt like it.  I really can't think of another reason why I did, unless Gracie wouldn't turn around or something.  I honestly don't remember, after all, it was at least a week or two ago!  (memory building skills ... another New Year's resolution ... although I probably won't remember)

Gracie is a beautiful girl, but she is at that age where she's just not sure how to pose for pictures.  I swear, if you look at a elementary school yearbook, 7-year-olds have some of the most awkward pictures, and Gracie is no exception.  These pictures were pretty good, but some of the others ... not so much.  And I have to confess that I must be a horrible mom because I always keep some of the really bad pictures just in case I need to embarrass my kids in front of a boy/girlfriend one day.  I'm kidding about the boy/girlfriend part (some days!), but I really do keep them for the simple reason that they make me smile :)

I don't have too many pictures that truly show off the dress, so you will just have to take my word for it that the end result is worth the time it takes to make the dress, which really isn't very long since the pattern is quite simple.  Here is my favorite picture from our little photo shoot.  I'm not even sure why I like it so much, except it's a side of Gracie that not many people ever see :)  She is generally so cheerful, but every once in a while, I really see the part of her that contemplates the things around her quite deeply and makes me love her even more!

Fabric - Alexander Henry "calyx"
Bias trim - Michael Miller apple pindot

Thursday, June 13, 2013

a closet full of geraniums

That's what I'm going to have soon ... a garden closet full of geraniums ... dresses, tunics, tops, all the varieties :)

This top barely resembles the original Geranium pattern by Rae, but it did start out that way!  I love the basic bodice shape (and the fit) so much that I use it as the base for pretty much every pattern I draft. I swear we could go the whole summer wearing nothing but geraniums. That didn't sound quite right, and although I'm sure that it is accepted (and even embraced!) in some circles, I don't think it would fly around here, but I'm sure you know what I meant :)

Every once in a while, I browse through my Pinterest board so aptly named sewing inspiration (I'm not one for stating the obvious or anything am I?) for, I'm sure you've guessed by now, inspiration ... or just for a challenge like here.  This time I found these goodies and decided to use parts of each.

The overall shape ... here and here

The little pockets ... here and here

The lapped shoulder ... here

The muted palette ... here and here

Does anyone else do this too?  Sometimes you just can't decide what to make, and the choices are really rather overwhelming, so you just start designing and end up with a whole bunch of ideas rolled into one, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.  And sometimes you just end up with a long run-on sentence :)  Or am I the only one that does that?  Fortunately, this time it worked!

Here's a couple more pictures of the back and side to show some of the cute details of Mae being adorable the top, I swear it's all about the top :)  Sometimes, I just forget with all the cuteness going on.

Just imagine this little face looking up at you and begging to go outside ... or eat a cookie ... or go for a walk ... or ... or ... or ... you get the picture.  It takes a stronger mom than me to resist.  Of course, she won't actually say anything since she still doesn't talk at all.  Although, I suppose you don't have to talk when you're this cute (and have 5 big brothers and sisters who get you everything you want) ... but that's a topic for another day :)

Top fabric - vintage white linen
Bottom fabric - Timber by Windham Fabrics
Piping - homemade from green minidot fabric from Joann's
Snaps - Kamsnaps
Leggings - Mini Boden

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

lola dress free pattern and tutorial

I blogged about this dress here back in April, and I finally got around to creating a digital pattern and writing up a tutorial :)  This dress is a size 2, but with minor modifications could be made to fit from 12 months to size 3.  Look for the red font in the tutorial for tips on how to size it up or down. Just a warning before you cut anything - these modifications are just estimates. I have not tried them personally and you may want to double check the measurements of the pattern against your child's measurements or clothing that currently fits her well.

Unlike my bib tutorial, this is intended for sewers who are familiar with gathering and attaching bias bindings.  If you have any trouble understanding a step, please leave a comment and I will try to help :)

Click HERE or at the picture at the bottom of this page to get the pattern.  If you make something from this pattern, please upload it to my flickr group!  And lots of thanks to Dana at Made who generously allowed me to post a pattern based on one she made.  Thanks Dana!

Pattern Pieces:
Front & Back (from pdf pattern)
Add 1" to the length and the width of both the front and back pattern pieces for size 3 or subtract 1/2" from width and 1" from length for 12-18 months
Skirt - 9" x 44" rectangle (my fabric was only 42" wide and it worked fine) - cut 1.5" longer for size 3 or 1" shorter for 12-18 months

Bias Binding:
Back - 7" - 8" for size 3, 6.5" for 12-18 months
Front - 9" - 10" for size 3, 8.5" for 12-18 months
Armholes - 13" (cut 2) - 13.5" for size 3 and 12" for 12-18 months

Use 3/8" seam allowance for entire pattern

1. Print two copies of the pdf.  Tape together and cut one copy along the solid line for the front bodice and the other copy along the dashed line for the back bodice.  For size 3 and 12-18 months, be sure to make the appropriate changes to the bodice pieces before cutting. Cut all skirt and bias binding using the measurements above.

2. Using your preferred gathering method (machine gathering or pulling bobbin thread), gather front bodice in between marks on pattern to fit bias binding, pin well and sew. Repeat for back bodice.  I used contrasting thread to make it easier to see in pictures, but you can use a thread that blends in to the fabric to help hide mistakes as well :)  There are also alternative ways to attach bias bindings which will work with this pattern too.  You should use whatever method you like best.

3. Trim front and back bias binding at the same angle as the armholes.  This will make it easier to attach the armhole binding in step 5.

4. Sew/serge bodice side seams right sides together.  Press seams toward the back if serged and press open if sewn.

5. Sew short ends of armhole bias bindings right sides together to form a circle.

6. Pin binding to armholes, lining up seams and sew.

7. Sew/serge center back seam on skirt.

8. Gather the top of the skirt to fit lower edge of bodice.  Sew/serge together.  Sorry the first picture is so blurry!

9. Press seam up toward bodice. Topstitch bodice about 1/8" from edge of skirt for finished look.

10. Fold under the bottom edge of the skirt 1" and then 1" again and hem in place.

I made this version slightly less fitted than my first version because I was going for a really casual look, and this is much closer to an actual size 2.  I like the changes, and I hope you do too!  These pictures give a better idea of the adjusted fit.

And this picture is going in this blog post because there is no way I couldn't put it on here :)

If you didn't download the pattern above, just click on the picture of Mae below to get your copy of the Lola dress.  And remember to upload your creations to my flickr group!

Both the grey suiting material and the navy blue star print are from Joann's.  The suiting is from this year and, although the star print is from several years ago, Joann's always carries a similar print with their July 4th collection.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

baby bib tutorial

I decided to provide a basic tutorial for those who are new to sewing since this is a very easy first project.  I realize that the information contained in this tutorial will be pretty much useless for an average sewer, but I'm hoping a new sewer will find it very helpful.  Click here (affiliate link) if you need to download the pattern.

Download and print the pdf pattern from Craftsy.  Be sure to print actual size with no scaling.  The pattern is two pages printed in the landscape format.  Overlap the two halves of the pattern at the solid line, tape them together, and cut the pattern out.  Here's what the completed pattern should look like:

Trace the pattern onto your main fabric, the back fabric, and an interlining if desired.  Be sure to mark the snap placement on your main fabric.  Tip: Use a hole punch to mark the locations of the snaps on the pattern so you can easily transfer marks to your fabric.  Cut all pattern pieces.  I chose to use a cotton quilting print for my main fabric, PUL for the waterproof back layer, and cotton flannel for the interlining since PUL is not absorbent.  If a fabric such as cotton chenille or flannel is used for the back, the extra lining is not necessary.  So now you should have two or three pattern pieces, similar to this:

The next step varies based on the number of layers used.  If tyou are only using two layers just layer them with right sides together.  If you are using three layers, put the interlining down with the back fabric right side up on top of it.  Then place the main fabric on the top, wrong side facing up.  Here's what the fabric sandwich should look like:

Once the fabric is layered, pin together to prepare for sewing.  Tip: If you are using PUL, pin very generously as this fabric is notoriously slippery while sewing.  Make sure to leave an opening about 3-4" on the center bottom of the bib, as you will later pull the bib through the opening to turn it right side out.  I usually mark my opening with both marker and pins so Idon't accidentally sew it shut.  Trust me, it has happened before :)

Start  on one side of the opening on the bottom of the bib and sew all the way around the bib with a 3/8" seam allowance.  Be sure to backstitch on both sides of the opening so you don't pull any stitches when turning the bib right side out.  Tip: As you sew around a curve, be sure to guide the fabric under the pressure foot without pulling on it.  If you are struggling to get a smooth curve, go very slowly and raise the pressure foot often while the needle is in the down position to reposition the fabric as needed.  This bib is sewn with contrasting thread so you can see the stitch line, but matching thread or plain white thread will work as well since the stitches will be on the inside of the bib on the finished product.

Once you remove the pins, clip the curves.  This helps the finished bib have a nice smooth appearance.  Many people use pinking shears to clip curves, but since I don't own any, I use the old fashioned way :)  I take my little embroidery scissors and make little cuts within the seam allowance.  Sound tedious?  It really is.  Maybe I should invest in some pinking shears!  Tip: Be sure not to cut through your stitches while clipping the curves.  One this bib, you can see that the outside curves are also trimmed to 1/8" to reduce bulk when turned.  Even though this seems so simple, it is an incredibly important step.  Don't skip it!

After you clip all the curves, turn the bib right side out through the opening in the bottom.  Tip: Use a tool to smooth the edges from the inside.  It makes it easier to topstich in the next step.  There are tools specifically made for this purpose that range from quite simple like this one to deluxe like this one, but many other things work just as well.  I know that many people use a knitting needle.  Personally, I use a pair of scissors with a rounded edge, and in a crunch, I once used the back end of a bamboo skewer from my kitchen :)  Your bib should now look like this:

At this point, you have the option of closing the opening on the bottom and attaching snaps, resulting in a perfectly functional bib.  However, if you take the time to add topstiching, you can achieve a much more professional appearing product.  This tutorial is going to show you how to finish the bib as pictured on the pattern cover, which includes topstitching.

As a beginner, it is probably easiest to pin all the way around the bib just to keep the fabric in place while topstitching around the curves.  I choose to not use pins anywhere other than the bottom opening since I do a lot of topstitching, but I did use them when I first started sewing.  Neither way is incorrect; it's just a matter of personal preference. 

With bib wrong side up pull back back fabric and interlining slightly.  Crease the front fabric along the 3/8" seam allowance.  You can use an iron or simply finger press.  Turn the bib over so it is right side up and crease the back and interlining the same as the front.  Line up the two pressed edges and place a pin in the center making sure to catch all three (or two) layers.  Continue pinning until the entire opening is pinned shut.  

Now, topstitch about 1/4" away from the edges with a longer than normal stitch length.  Go slowly when you sew over the pins and make sure that the topstitching catches all three layers, as this is what closes the opening on the bottom of the bib. Also make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of the topstitching so it does not come loose later.  I used a contrasting thread for this bib so the stitching is visible, but you can use a thread that blends in to the background color of your bib if you prefer that the stiching doesn't stand out or if you are not confident in your topstitching ability.  Tip: I find it best to start the topstitching in a not-so-obvious place, in this case, the back of the bib near the snaps.

The last step is to apply the snaps.  My favorite tool for this is these snap pliers from kamsnaps along with their size 20 plastic snaps.  I make cloth diapers (for Mae, not to sell) and I have never had a problem with a single snap, so I use them on clothes and accessories as well.  Alternatively, you can use Velcro to close the bib. Just place the velcro over the marks for the snaps and stitch in place.  And you're done!

I hope you find this tutorial helpful.  If you have any questions or need me to clarify anything, just leave a comment on this post.  I'm something of a procrastinater (hence why I am sewing four bibs for a baby shower that is in three days while also testing a pattern, writing this tutorial, having a garage sale, and planting a garden) but I promise to try my hardest to get back to you :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

free baby bib pattern

I know there are a ton of baby bib patterns out there in blogland, but I couldn't find one that was exactly the shape I wanted. So I drew up my own pattern and decided to share it on here.

To view the bib sewing tutorial, click HERE.

The following link to the pattern contains an affiliate link. Although I do not make any money directly from the Baby Bib pattern, I do appreciate people signing up for Craftsy through this link since I get a small commission for each new Caftsy account.  Affiliate programs like this allow me to keep this pattern free for everyone.  Thank you!

I haven't digitized too many patterns, but one trick I found that worked great is taking a picture of your pattern on a surface with a grid ... in my case, a cutting mat.

This makes it easier to get the correct curves and proportions on the digital pattern.  Just a tip ... make sure to take the picture without leaning to one side or the other because that will distort your gridlines.  Whenever I make a pattern this way, I always feel like I'm finishing one of those puzzles I used to do as a kid where you had to redraw the picture ... like this (borrowed image):

According to Mae, this bib is much better for painting than it is for eating :)  I have to agree with her.  After all, we need to protect the Geranium dress (blogged here) underneath!

I plan on making a few more of these because I have a baby shower to go to this weekend for my cousin's first baby.  It's a girl ... just in case you couldn't tell from the fabric choices :)

Just click on the picture below to get the pattern at Craftsy:

Saturday, June 1, 2013

pattern review friday: japanese pattern book

I always like to take a picture of dresses and stuff hanging up or laying down (just not being worn), but that did absolutely no justice to this dress a.k.a. blue sack on a hanger :)

I don't know if it's just the fabric I used, but this dress definitely needs a body to fill it out.  See how much cuter it looks with a little Mae inside it:

I am determined to make every pattern in each of the three Japaneses pattern books I own.  That way I can justify buying more books :)  The pattern for this dress can be found in the book, A sunny spot:

This dress was very easy to sew.  Really, the only challenge was not related to the pattern at all, but instead to the fabric I chose.  It is a silky print from Joann's, and that stuff is just a bear to sew with.  It slides all over the place, stretches as you sew, and then to top it off, it wrinkles like crazy in the dryer.  However, it irons like a dream, so I suppose there is an up side :)  I do plan to use this type of fabric again (after all, I bought two more prints this week!), but I think I will take a little more care when choosing a pattern.

We've been taking so many pictures lately that whenever I have the camera, Mae automatically turns around so I can get a picture of the back of her outfit! So here it is, in all it's glory, looking exactly like the front of the dress.  It figures that the one time I get a good picture of the back, I really don't need it :)

This dress is really cute with it's pockets on the sides.  Without them, it would have been very basic and perhaps a bit boring.  I really enjoy the extra details like this that are found in many of the Japanese pattern books.  The book also contains a wall/winter version of this dress that I will probably make for Mae later this year.  This is the size 90, which is the smallest size in the book, and it is still a little big, so I'm hoping it will fit better after she turns two.

I was having so much fun taking pictures of Mae today and might have gone overboard, but since I already took them, I might as well post them too ...

Since Mae doesn't talk yet, I have taken to narrating imaginary conversation in my head.  Pathetic, I know, but what's a mom to do :)

After that nasty battle with a stick (where Mae triumphed of course!) she retired to the garage for less active pursuits :)  I say less active because she doesn't actually ride the scooter.  She stands on it and makes one of us push her around.  I have no idea how a girl who doesn't talk one bit manages to rule the house ... and garage ... and yard ... and ... and ... you get the idea!

Fabric - Silky Print from Joann's
Tank top - Old Navy