Wednesday, July 31, 2013

quilted blanket tutorial

Life (i.e. kids, husband, cleaning, washing, cooking etc.) has really been getting in the way of all my sewing lately.  I tried to get this blanket tutorial post done in a timely matter today, but no such luck!  So here it is finally along with the words I live by, better late than never :)

I originally made a blanket from this pattern (and I use the word pattern loosely) the day I found out my son had died in utero.  I think I needed to channel all the negative energy I had, and it all poured out into the blanket.  I seem to be at my best creatively when I am at my lowest emotionally.  I can honestly say I prefer being less creative and more happy :)

As I sewed another of these blankets today, a lot of negative feelings unexpectedly returned.  Apparently, the act of sewing this blanket kind of made me relive a lot of the things I felt three years ago.  I don't believe I will ever make another one, although I'm glad I sewed one today.  This week has been a sort of therapy session forcing me to examine feelings that I thought were long gone.  I now realize they will be with me forever, but I have made peace with that :)

So, anyway, on to the tutorial.

There really is no pattern needed for this blanket.  It is a basic quilt that is quite easy to make. I will give the measurements for the blocks I used if anyone wants to duplicate it, but that is not the point of this blanket.  Honestly, any quilting pattern could be used, or the blanket could even be made from a solid piece of fabric for both the front and back. What makes this blanket special for me is the size and the inner material (replaces the usual batting.)  The finished quilt is 24"x24" so it's the perfect size for a very tiny baby or it would work equally well as a car seat lap quilt.  The quilt I made today will be Mae's nap quilt to keep in our van.

Here are the pieces you will need if you choose to make this quilt top.  I recommend not cutting anything until you read this all the way through.

Main Fabric (usually a large scale print) - Cut eight 7"x7" squares
Coordinating prints - Cut four 3"x7" rectangles out of each of the six prints
Batting - 25"x25"
Backing - 25"x25" (larger if doing self binding method below)

Please ignore the fact that my prints almost clash, especially once the zigzag backing is added.  I try to remember that I am not quilting for myself.  This blanket is supposed to appeal to a 22-month-old, and she loves it, so that's all that counts!

When I made my son's quilt three years ago, I used a robot and planet print.  Each of the large squares featured a different part of the fabric.  I would post a picture of the original quilt, but it one of the few things in life that I keep only for myself and do not want to share with anyone.  I hope everyone understands :)

I think at this point I need to emphasize that I am not a quilting expert.  In fact, I would place myself firmly in the beginner category when it comes to quilting.  I have almost exclusively sewn clothing, so my sewing skills are fine, but my quilting skills are non-existent.  Please refer to one of the many quilting websites for more info about quilting in general.  Here's a great blog if you need a reference.

The first thing I like to do when I make a quilt top is lay out all the pieces until I like where everything is.  I spend way too much time on this step, over analyzing each and every block placement, but that's just who I am.  The uber-organized part of me comes out in full force every time I attempt to make a quilt, and that is why there are a total lack of quilts in my house!  Btw, I have no idea where that part of me is every time the house needs to be cleaned.  It seems to go into hiding :)

Once I have everything laid out the want I want, I sew the rectangles into blocks.  I use a 1/2" seam throughout this tutorial.  Then I iron all the seams flat (really, really important) and I make sure the blocks are fairly square at this point.

Then I sew the blocks together into rows.  I iron the seams flat again, and then connect all the rows.  Then I iron the seams again.  Did I mention that ironing is really important :)

This is the part of the tutorial where things get a bit vague :)  I'm not trying to be a pain, but you could really finish the blanket however you want once you are this far.  Here are links for a few options:

Turned and topstiched blanket

Tied quilt

Self Binding Quilt - You might have to make a few modifications, but it would work

A really nice machine binding tutorial  - I wish I would have done this one :)

There are a ton of other quilting and binding tutorials out there in blogland if none of these work for you.

I chose to take the totally lazy route and just use my machine to attach bias binding that I already had laying around.  I would not recommend this to anyone, but I really just needed to be finished.  I guess I can't even handle a couple of hours making a rather small quilt.  This might possibly be why I don't quilt that often :)  Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I only quilt in straight lines, probably another lack of patience issue!

I would say the only thing that is somewhat unique to my quilt is that I don't use traditional batting materials for the middle layer.  On the quilt I made for my son, I used two layers of bamboo velour, and on this quilt I used a heavy weight bamboo fleece.  My reason is simple.  Weighted blankets are proven to bring comfort to many kids with autism or sensory issues in a similar way that swaddling does for a small baby.  They also happen to bring me comfort even though I fit into neither of those categories, so I assume weighted blankets might work for other people as well.  After I lost my son, I needed to (and some days still do) feel the weight of the blanket.  I needed it to be substantial, kind of representing everything I had lost, but at the same time making me feel grounded.  It's rather hard to explain even to myself, but I know that it works, so I don't question it.  I chose to make this second blanket weighted for the simple reason that Mae does not sleep well in the car due to the movement, and I thought the blanket might help.  After all, anything that helps a baby sleep is a good thing :)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

pregnancy & infant loss support (many in michigan)

Here are a few links that grieving moms and dads in Michigan may find helpful.  I apologize in advance if any of these phone numbers are out of date.  Most local support groups are rather small and do not have any online resources.  I will be adding to this list over the coming weeks and months as I encounter other groups.  If you know of any groups not included on my list, please email me or leave a comment below.
  • Hoping - a support group for miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death (Lansing)
  • Baby Center Miscarriage, Stillbirth & Infant Loss Support Group (Online)
  • Share - Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support (Detroit Area)
  • LAMB - Infant Loss Support Group (Livingston County)
  • Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope - Facebook group with many online resources (online)
  • Mary G Schuman Miscarriage and Newborn Loss Support Group (Ann Arbor)
  • Precious Reflections Support Group 989.894.3034 (Bay City) 
  • Compassionate Care and Understanding During Loss 248.325.0424 (Walled Lake)
  • HOPE Helping Other Parents Endure 989.684.5748 (Saginaw)
  • Hoping 989.386-9624 (Clare)
  • SOUL Sharing Out Untimely Losses 616.242.0563 (Grand Rapids)
  • WINGS When I Need Grief Support 810.606.5897 (Flint)
  • Tiny Mates 800.717.3812 (St Joseph)
  • Tender Hearts 810.688.8845 (Lapeer)
  • Tiny Purpose 517.486.2140 (Blissfield)
  • Miscarriage, Ectopic, Stillbirth and Newborn Loss Support Group 517.423.5816 (Tecumseh)
  • Friends Supporting Parents 586.268.2170 (Sterling Heights)
  • Child and Infant Loss 734.242.7883 (Monroe)
  • H.U.G.S. 248.937.2320 (Commerce Township)
  • HELP Handling Emotional Loss of Pregnancy 248.858.3526 (Pontiac)
  • Looking Ahead Support Group 248.898.7595 (Royal Oak)
  • Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support Group 313.966.3452 (Detroit)
  • First Candle Crisis Hotline 800.221.7437

This is a list of books that some parents may find helpful or comforting.

At this link and this one you will find two fairly comprehensive lists of organizations and support groups (some online) that were founded to provide support for parents suffering from miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss. Many of these are national resources and are available for anyone who needs them.

The blanket tutorial I was going to provide today will be posted on the blog tomorrow instead.  Searching for local support groups took much longer (and was much more emotionally charged) than I expected.  I was rather disappointed to discover that most of the major hospitals in my area (northern Detroit suburbs, so quite heavily populated) offer no support groups for women who experience pregnancy or infant loss.  Most groups are organized by individuals who have lived through the experience and hope to help other parents through the grief. And as much as I admire and respect anyone who wants to provide counseling, I firmly believe the medical community needs to step up and provide the resources necessary to help women at a time when they feel the most isolated and alone.

Monday, July 29, 2013

bereavement gowns ... and my story

Last year, the ladies at Simple Simon & Company began a series called Skirting the Issue which provided skirts to girls in foster care.  For anyone not familiar with the series, here's a link to the 2013 Fact Sheet.  This year they expanded Skirting the Issue to include a lot more than just skirts.  Each week has a different theme ... and this week is bereavement gowns.

Before I begin telling my story, I just want to say that this is the hardest post I have ever written.  When I first saw that one week of Skirting the Issue would focus on bereavement gowns, I felt the need to share my experience.  Since then, I have opened myself up a bit to those around me and heard so many stories about infant loss that I knew this post was necessary.  There are too many women suffering through this issue, and I want to do any little bit that I can to help them feel like they are not alone. I have written and rewritten this post in my head many, many times over the last few weeks, but I simply don't know exactly what I want to say.  So I guess I will just start at the beginning.

I rather unexpectedly found out I was pregnant in June 2010.  It really wasn't the best time for our family financially, but I really did want another baby, and I was convinced it would all work out in the end.  I should add here that I am a Christian and generally very optimistic, both of which make me believe that everything will work out the way it is supposed to :)  Little did I know how much those beliefs would be tested in the next few months.

I generally have very easy pregnancies, but with this one I had a lot of trouble sleeping at night.  From the beginning of the pregnancy I had this overall feeling of dread and it would keep me up at night.  Now, given what I wrote in the last paragraph about my eternal optimism, these were very unusual feelings.  I tried to ignore them with limited success, and eventually I just resigned myself to having them.  At about 7 weeks, I started spotting and immediately thought I was losing the pregnancy.  I have no idea why I jumped to that conclusion, but, at that moment, it just seemed like the only possibility.  I was out of state with my family at the time so I just waited to see what would happen.  I continued to bleed lightly for a couple of weeks, but I knew that could be normal, so I chose to wait and see the doctor once we got home.

My first visit was at 9 weeks, and the first ultrasound at 13 weeks.  Much to my surprise, everything was perfect with both me and the baby.  My next appointment was uneventful as well, so we scheduled the date for the "big" ultrasound.  At this point I was about 21 weeks give or take a few days.  My first clue that something wasn't right should have been the baby's size.  He (we did find out the sex at the ultrasound) was measuring about 1 1/2 weeks behind.  One thing I can say with accuracy is that I have big babies.  They average about nine pounds at birth, and every single one of them measured ahead at the mid-pregnancy ultrasound.  The ultrasound tech said it was not significant enough to worry about and everything else looked great, but I could not shake the feeling of dread that was once again creeping into my thoughts.

I went in for my next appointment at 22 weeks 5 days, and the nurse could not find the heartbeat with the dopplar.  I was told not to worry, and they would get me in for an ultrasound shortly, but I swear, at this point I already knew.  I have seen a lot of ultrasounds during my pregnancies, so once the ultrasound began I knew immediately what I was seeing on the screen.  The poor tech (who looked distraught btw) was not allowed to say anything other than the doctor will see you shortly.  So for the first time, but certainly not the last, I found myself in the odd position of alleviating someone else's pain.  I told her I knew what I was was seeing and that I would like to leave the ultrasound room and move to a normal room and wait for the doctor there.

From this point on, my story is sad but (unfortunately) fairly typical.  I called my husband at work who met me in the doctor's parking lot.  I then called my mom and my husband called his parents.  We let them make the rest of the calls since I wasn't in a good place at that moment.  I have a phenomenal support system and there was no shortage of love from those around me, but almost nothing made a difference at this point.  I was just numb.  The hardest thing was telling the kids since they were old enough to understand, but we made it though that too.

I delivered my stillborn baby boy on October 23, 2010.  We chose not to have a funeral or memorial service although many people do.  We did not officially name him or get a certificate of stillbirth from the state of Michigan.  None of these things were necessary for us to remember him.  I will never forget even without any official paperwork.  However, I did name him in my heart and have chosen to keep that name to myself.  For me, grief is very private, and that part of him will always be mine alone.

The delivery itself was uneventful though I did end up with a pretty bad infection a few days later and required strong antibiotics for a couple of weeks.  Physically, the recovery was remarkably easy compared to a full term delivery, but mentally the recovery is never complete.   It's like you permanently get stuck at 99% healed.  Almost, but not quite.  Enough that you can get through almost anything and enjoy just about all of it, but then one little thing brings it all flooding back.  Over time, the pain fades and the tough moments are fewer and farther between, but they never seem to go away completely.  I have talked to moms who lost babies decades ago, and they still say the sadness is there.  It's not the same as it once was, but it still exists.

That's pretty much my story in a nutshell.  Like I said, it's sad, but fairly typical.  There are never more than a few weeks that go by before I hear another story about stillbirth or infant loss.  Most of the time, these stories are being told by friends and they come with many questions.  The most common question is what can I say or do to help my friend?  I always give people the same advice.  Don't avoid your friend.  If you don't know what to say, then tell them that.  I would rather have had a person come up to me and say "I have no idea what to say to you," than to avoid me like I was contagious with some deadly disease.  A moment of silence and a hug can go a long way :)  Also, ask them what you can do for them right now.  Don't give the typical open ended comment like "I'm there for you whenever you need me."  They need you right now, trust me!

The one thing I wish someone had said to me is that it is ok to stand up and leave a room without any warning.  That it doesn't matter if the person you're talking to is in the middle of a sentence.  If you need to leave, then go.  Grief hits in waves and sometimes, even when you see it coming, you can't avoid it.  So you just need the option to run.  I remember being in church, which is normally a calming place for me, about 2 weeks after I delivered.  Then it hit me out of nowhere.  I was mad at the world.  And I got up in the middle of the sermon and I left.  I don't think anybody thought badly of me, but it would have been nice to be warned ahead of time that something like this might happen and for someone to say "it's all right, go whenever you need to go, and don't worry, we will still be here when you get back."

There was also one thing people insisted an saying that I wish I never had to hear.  Everything happens for a reason.  Both logically and from a Christian standpoint I know this to be true, but if you can't tell me what that reason is right this moment, then this brings me absolutely no comfort.  The struggle to understand why after a stillbirth is overwhelming.  You second guess every thing you did while pregnant. Every time someone said this to me I was back to over analyzing and second guessing, neither of which was healthy for me.  I now believe I know what the reason was (my little Mae!), but not knowing at the time made it a very difficult statement to hear.  Please don't misunderstand me and think that I was ungrateful to those around me.  I always appreciated the sentiment and knew that people were trying to give me comfort through a difficult time in the only way they knew how.

Tomorrow, I will share a couple of local resources for miscarriage/stillbirth/ infant loss support for people here in Michigan.  Also, I will provide names of a few local groups that would welcome help from the community as they support families that are going through this troubling time.  And last, I will share a tutorial for a small quilt that I found great comfort in making the day before I delivered my son, but I am sure would be equally appreciated as a gift for a grieving mother.

After I posted this I discovered a link that summarizes what women feel you should or should not say and do after a loss.  I agree with pretty much everything on this list and thought friends or families of grieving moms might find it useful.

Friday, July 26, 2013

pattern review friday - japanese pattern book

I recently came across the list of the Pantone 2013 Fall Colors. Although a couple of the colors aren't exactly favorites of mine (I don't like purple in any shade), I love the look of the collection as a whole. I decided it would be fun to make a fall wardrobe for Mae heavily influenced by these colors. Now, don't get me wrong, she will have other colors too since I like lighter neutrals and a few pastels, but most outfits should at least contain one of the colors. Here's the colors for anyone who hasn't seen them yet.

Today's pattern is from this Japanese sewing book.  I love the patterns in this book.  It's fun to have basic patterns with variations for seasons, because we certainly have seasons here in Michigan. To be honest, I'm not sure what season it's supposed to be today.  The calendar says summer, but the temperatures are screaming fall (my favorite season!)

The other day, I said that Mae already has plenty of summer clothes.  That may have been the Biggest. Understatement. Ever.  I could probably not do laundry again until October and still have clean clothes for her.  I don't think I've ever sewn this much in my life!  So, to start off the fall wardrobe, I decided to sew a jacket.  I started with pattern F from the book and adapted it to be fully lined.  After all, an unlined jacket would only be useful until about the end of September, if that.  Lining it should at least make it wearable for a few extra weeks :)

I started with a corduroy that is pretty close to the Pantone color called Turbulence.  I interpret it as a stormy blue/grey tone, and in the right light, this corduroy is exactly that color.  Then I added a colorful floral print lining (more about that below) and snaps to match.  I chose snaps because I didn't have any buttons that matched I wanted Mae to be able to take the coat off more easily.  I have no idea why I want that other than I don't like reattaching buttons when they get ripped off by a over enthusiastic toddler :)  I chose the snap colors from the Pantone colors as well.  I think they are really close to Emerald, Vivacious, Linden Green and Koi.  I know the colors aren't exact, but they are close enough for me!

I made a size 90 which fits Mae beautifully, even with the added lining.  I don't need to roll up the sleeves since the length is fine unrolled, but I like how they look this way :)  Even with the lining, this was an easy jacket to sew.  And I imagine without the lining, this could be whipped up in no time at all.  As with all Japanese patterns, it took me longer to trace the pattern and add seam allowances than it did to actually sew the jacket!

This jacket really is a party on the inside!  This is one of my absolute favorite fabric prints of all time.  I originally ordered five yards of it, and it is almost gone :(  I only have just over 1/2 yard left.  I just had to use it for this jacket since it has several of the Pantone fall colors in the print, which happen to be the same colors as the snaps.  I just love happy coincidences :)  Or, perhaps a bit more accurate assessment would be I didn't have any buttons that matched, so snaps it is!

Outer fabric - Corduroy from Joann's
Lining - Summer in the City by Urban Chiks for Moda
Snaps - Kamsnaps

Monday, July 22, 2013

kcw roundup

As usual, Kids Clothes Week was a whirlwind of sewing that left destruction in it's wake.  Normally 6+1=7, but in my house 6 kids + 1 distracted mama = 1 house desperately in need of cleaning :)  Although I'm sure there are probably 7 loads of laundry that need to be done!

Overall, I'm happy with what I accomplished this week: two free patterns (knit shorts and Butterfly jumper) with tutorials, two pairs of shorts and a dress.  And all the pieces, except the navy polka dot shorts which are too small :( will be worn frequently. 

I also helped Ruthie make another skirt, although she really doesn't need much help.  I'm pretty sure she could do it entirely on her own if I could only learn to let her :)  Later this week I will be posting a tutorial for the skirt she made, but for now, here's a sneak peek:

I hope everyone else enjoyed KCW as much as I did.  I will see you all there again in the fall!

Friday, July 19, 2013

pattern review friday - MADE shorts

I have skinny kids, and sometimes I get tired of modifying pants and shorts patterns to fit their skinny little butts :)  So I have been waiting (for a few years) for a basic shorts pattern with a few options that would require no editing.  And I finally found it!  Go here to get you own Kid Shorts pattern by Dana over at Made (a great blog if you've never been there!)

Normally with shorts patterns, I make the size that Mae currently is (18-24 months) even though she wears cloth diapers.  I did need to size up to a 2Y in this pattern (to accommodate the fluffy butt that comes along with cloth diapers) since it skips from 18m straight to 2Y.  I also had to cut the elastic to 17" since she has a really skinny waist.  Seriously, the pattern calls for 18" elastic in the 12 months size, and Mae's almost two!

I chose to make the basic elastic waist shorts because I like easy on/off clothes when it comes to babies.  I also have this insane hope that maybe Mae will potty train before the age of three like all her siblings, and then she will be able to pull these up and down on her own.  Don't worry, I'm not holding my breath that it will happen any time soon :)

The pattern went together very easily.  I didn't follow the tutorials on the Made blog exactly since I have a certain order that I like to sew shorts, but I read them and they are well written and easy to understand.  I added cuffs to the shorts just to make them a little less basic.  Even simple shorts need a little something :)  I might do a tutorial some time since it is a really easy addition.

I'm going to stick a lawn mower in front of Mae next time we're out in the yard.  She just bulldozed her way right through the long grass with her little push cart!  If she got stuck, she just picked the cart right up, lifted it over the offending (stick, grass, hose, you name it, it's in our yard) object and kept on going.  And, even better, the shorts did not impede her in any way.  They are Mae tested and Mama approved :)  I could see myself making several more pairs (in sizes for the other kids as well) in the next couple of weeks.

Shorts - lightweight denim from Joann's
Shirt - Mini Boden

Thursday, July 18, 2013

butterfly jumper free tutorial (and pattern)

I probably should have mentioned that the tutorial would go up really late tonight!  Well, better late than never :)

Here's the link to the one and only pattern piece for the butterfly jumper.  And here is the picture with all the other rectangle pieces needed:

This pattern is sized to fit Mae who currently wears 18/24 months or 2T.  I still haven't gotten a picture of her in the jumper, but I will add one tomorrow.  The directions in this tutorial are quite basic.  If you need more explanation for any step, please leave a comment at the bottom of the post, or use the contact button at the top of the page to send me an email.  Also, remember to click on any of the pictures in this post if you need to see a larger image.

We took some pictures today which was a process filled with a whole lot more tears than I would have liked ... Mae's at the beginning because she didn't want to get dressed, and mine by the end because it is so HOT outside :)  Hopefully, these should give you a decent idea of the fit.


1. Place pocket pieces right sides together and sew around the edges leaving an opening on the bottom.  Clip the corners and turn pocket right side out. Press well. Optional: Stitch two lines of stitches across the top (about 1/8" and 1/2" from edge) of the pocket to add a little extra detail.

2. Pin pocket to main bodice piece, centering between edges. Stitch across bottom and two sides, being sure to backstitch at both ends so the pocket does not come loose later.

3. Pin main bodice to bodice lining right sides together. Stitch around top and side edges.

4. Clip corners and turn right side out.  Press well.  Optional: Stitch 1/8" from top and side edges of bodice (shown in picture)

5.  Pin straps right sides together. Stitch along two long edges and one short edge leaving the remaining short edge open to turn straps right side out.

6. Clip corners and turn straps right side out.  Press well. Optional: Stitch 1/8" from the edges for finished look.

7.  Add buttons and button holes.  Snaps would also work very well at this step.  I imagine Velcro would as well although I'm not generally a fan :)

8. Center the bodice and sandwich between the two front waistband pieces which are right sides together.  Pin well and stitch along pinned edge.

9.  This step is hard to describe, so please refer to the picture :) Make two marks along the back waistband pieces.  Each mark should be 4" from the center of the waistband.  Sandwich the unfinished edges of the straps between the waistband pieces and line up along the outside of the marks.  The right strap in this picture is correct, but the left is not :)  Hey, we all make mistakes right?!  Stitch along pinned edge

10. Fold waistband edges down and press well.  Although it isn't pictured, you should do this for the front waistband also.

11.  Pin front waistband to back waistband right sides together lining up seams.  Stitch together and press seams open.

12.  Stitch all the way around the top edge of the waistband about 1/8" from the edge.

13.  Pin skirt pieces right sides together and stitch.  The edge needs to be finished so it does not fray when washed.  I used my serger, but pinking shears or a zigzag/overcast stitch would work as well.

14. Turn right sides out and press seam allowances toward the back.  Fold the bottom of the skirt under 1" and then 1" again, press well and hem.

15. Gather the front of the skirt using the gathering method of your choice. I turn the tension of the sewing machine up as high as it will go and sew two lines about 1/4" and 3/4" from the edge.  This gives me approximately a 2:1 gather on my machine.

16.  Pin the waistband to the skirt, right sides together, making sure to match the side seams.  Although the picture shows the entire skirt pinned, it is only necessary to pin the back of the skirt for now.

17.  Sorry, but there is a little math in this step, but I promise it's simple :)  First, measure your child's waist.  Then cut a piece of 3/4" elastic to your child's waist measurement - 8" (see, simple math!)  Insert elastic into the back waistband attaching at the side seams.  Make sure to sew 1/2" away from the end of the elastic so it does not unravel later.  Just for reference (or if you don't have a child handy to measure), I cut the elastic for Mae's jumper to 10" because she has an 18" waist.  Although I believe Mae is a little skinny and the average waist for this size clothing is closer to 20", but please don't quote me on that :)

18.  Now pin the front waistband to the front of the skirt adjusting the gathers to make everything fit.  After the entire skirt is attached, the entire edge should be finished to avoid fraying.  I did not take a picture of this step, but I just serged around the entire top of the skirt.  If anyone needs a picture, just let me know in the comments below :)

Congratulations!  You're finished!  By the way, I'm pretty sure this tutorial actually took longer to write than it did to make the outfit :)  Also, ignore my lack of ironing.  I hate to iron so I'm not sure why I keep buying linen!

Main fabric - Cream linen from Joann's
Accent Fabric - Bella Butterfly by Michael Miller from
Buttons - from Joann's

If you are interested in a similar (and FREE) pattern in multiple sizes, I encourage you to head over to Mouse House Creations and see the cutenesss Hayley has to offer :)  And once you're there, stay and take a look around at some of her other great projects.  Just be sure to come back once you're done ;)

free pattern - butterfly jumper

The tutorial is now available HERE

I am on a quest (seriously, just like Sir Galahad ... except with a sewing machine) to make practical clothing that transitions well from one season to the next.  So I made a bathing suit with an optional snowsuit attachment.  After all, it is Michigan and you never know what the weather will be tomorrow.  Just kidding :)  Although, we do have an excessive heat warning today with the heat index over 100, and by Sunday it's supposed to drop into the upper 50s, so the next week will bring both bathing suits and (lightweight) coats.  Gotta love Michigan!  I'm even going to be so nice as to include a little graph here highlighting Michigan's lovely seasons.  I can't take credit for this (pinned from some board on Pinterest), but it is so incredibly true!

Mae has plenty of summer clothes (so do the other kids) and the cold season around here is sooooooo much longer than the warm one (see graph above), so I am getting started on my fall/winter sewing.  Although I'm hoping that the first few pieces I make will work well for the last half of summer as well.

It never fails, every single year, in about January or so, I get really tired of washing the same clothes day in and day out, so I start cranking out new clothes (mostly summer) and then I stare at this pile of clothes for about four months until it's actually warm enough to wear some of it.  This year I'm going to try to make more neutral pieces that I can mix and match, hopefully creating less boredom through the winter months. At least clothes boredom ... there's really nothing I can do about the stuck in the house while it's -10 and whiteout blizzard conditions outside kind of boring ... and at that point, clothes are really all I have left :)

Anyway ... back to sewing ... I'm sharing a pattern for the first thing I made for Mae for fall.  Actually, it's one pattern piece and a whole bunch of rectangles :)  Here's a picture:

It is approximately a size 2T and can easily be adapted to fit a little on either side of that size.  I'm going to write an additional post for the tutorial since it is rather long.  I'll be posting it later tonight.  For now, here's the one non-rectangular pattern piece :) and a picture with a cutting guide for the additional pieces (click on the image to enlarge)

If you are interested in a similar (and FREE) pattern in multiple sizes, I encourage you to head over to Mouse House Creations and see the cuteness Hayley has to offer :) And once you're there, stay and take a look around at some of her other great projects. Just be sure to come back once you're done ;)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

just a drive by post

A little sneak peek of the pattern I will be sharing tomorrow ...

And a picture of my little helper :)  She loves her (and her brother's) sunglasses right now!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

flip this pattern: oliver & s roller skate dress

Ashley and Emily, the sisters behind the blog Francis Suzanne, are hosting a year long series called Flip This Pattern.  If you haven't visited yet, you need to go check it out!

I love the Oliver & S book Little Things to Sew, but I have never actually purchased and sewn any of the Oliver & S individual patterns.  So, since the flipped pattern this month is the Rollerskate Dress, I figured this was the perfect opportunity :)

As I was designing, I tried to maintain the basic silhouette of the Rollerskate pattern, but make it undeniably my own.  I kept the cut of the bodice (especially the cap sleeves which I love,) the elastic waist and the aline shape.  I modified a few things like changing to a front opening, adding two 1" tucks around the hemline, and adding piping pretty much everywhere :) 

I started sewing about 15 years ago when my oldest was born, mostly Halloween costumes and basic quilts.  Then, about two years later, when Ruthie was born, I discovered heirloom sewing.  I fell in love with the intricate designs and details that are found in heirloom garments.  After I had my third, then forth, and so on :) I realized I didn't have much time to dedicate to the finer sewing techniques, and entirely hand sewn heirloom clothes were just not possible.  So I chose to embrace modern (i.e. everyday rather than special occasion) clothing and I try to incorporate some of the techniques I learned into each thing I make today.

For this dress, I decided to use piping wherever possible including in the tucks at the bottom of the dress.  This took a little bit of math to accomplish, but the end result is worth the brain sucking feeling that comes whenever I do math nowadays.  I swear I used to be good at it, but not so much anymore :)  I also fully lined the bodice and skirt as called for in the pattern although I used a different technique since I made the skirt and bodice separately.  I chose to use elastic on the sides of the dress only because I thought it looked better with the revised front opening.  Overall, this is one of my favorite dresses I have sewn in a long time!

Just as an fyi, if you are planning on using this pattern, I would pay careful attention to the sizing chart.  I cut a size 2T for my first attempt since Mae wears 24 months or 2T in ready-to-wear clothes.  Big mistake!  I'll be lucky if it fits her next summer!  The next time, I cut 12-18 months (with a little extra length,) and to be honest, it's still a little big.  But I really want it to fit in the fall, and I think it will be perfect then.

I think I might be raising the next generation of tree huggers!  Seriously, every time we go for a walk, Mae wants to stop and touch every tree.  It's so cute when she "jumps" to reach the leaves.  I think her feet may actually get off the ground just a little bit :)

It turns out this dress is good for more than just roller skating!  Mae had a ton of fun swinging in her new dress.  And that's a good thing because I'm not about to put her in roller skates any time soon.  She trips over her own feet several times a day as it is.  I don't think roller skates would help the matter any :)

These are the first and last pictures I took yesterday.  I lured Mae outside with the promise of playing once we were done taking pictures.  Once we made it to the back of the yard where the slide is, she took one step on the pea gravel and headed right back inside to get her shoes :)  She got her little toes up on the ledge by the front door and yelled for someone opened the door for her.  Then the shoes went on (the wrong feet btw) and the fashion show was done.  But you will be happy to know that the dress works great for sliding down the big yellow slide as well!

Gray Polka Dot - Gray polka dot from Joann's (sorry no name on the selvedge)
Lining - Rainy Days and Mondays by Riley Blake
Bow - Maroon cotton broadcloth
Buttons - from Joann's
Piping - Mini piping in white