Thursday, October 23, 2014

gracie the vampire - part 3: the jacket

In case you missed it ... 
gracie the vampire - part 1: the dress
gracie the vampire - part 2: the slip

And now for part 3 - and I promise it's not boring like part 2 :)

Now that Gracie has a dress and a slip, she needs the next layer, which is the jacket.  Normally, this layer could also be made as part of the dress, but as I explained in part 2, Gracie needs to be able to wear the dress by itself for a couple of Halloween events where a jacket would quite simply be impractical.  Although, I'm not sure there is ever a circumstance where I can call this particular jacket "practical" :)

I drafted the pattern for this jacket based on the bodice for the dress in part 1.  I added a v-front and removed the vampire-ish collar, and I added about 1/2" to both the front and back around the armholes so the jacket would fit comfortably over the dress.  Then I drew up an elbow-length, gathered, high cap sleeve pattern and attached a half circle "skirt" for the bottom portion of the sleeve.  The skirt part of the jacket came entirely from my imagination, and I'm not sure how it even worked out correctly.  I guess fifteen years of sewing with lots of pattern modifications along the way really does come in handy ;)

The sleeves were actually kind of fun to make, although they took way more fabric than I would have thought!  I really should have taken a picture before I sewed them into the jacket, because they looked big enough for an adult's coat :)  But in the end, it was exactly the look I was going for ... you know ... the way over the top, my mom is totally crazy to have spent that much time on a Halloween costume look!

I wanted the skirt to have a lot of volume, but I didn't have a ton of fabric.  I originally bought three yards of the red satin and told myself I wasn't allowed to use any more than that :)  So I decided to cut the lining to the shape I wanted for the final look and use a combination of gathering and pleating to create a modified bubble skirt for the outer layer.  I knew that the satin with the flocked layer on top would have enough body to add the fullness I wanted without a ton of extra fabric.  Okay, if I'm being honest here, I didn't really "know" that it would have enough volume, but I hoped that it would, because I wasn't about to go back to Joann's to buy more fabric in additional to the 15 yards I already bought for this project!

For the final touches I added a velvet & satin trim along the v-front and around the neckline, and I used a frog closure right along the waistline.  I'm not sure that it really needs the closure, but I like the way it looks, so it's there to stay :)  And I already had to attach it a couple different times since I managed to put it on both upside down and sideways before I finally got it right.  There is probably a lesson to be found somewhere about not sewing after midnight, but since I'm pretty sure I'll be up again that late tonight, I don't think I've learned it yet!

Everything is from Joann's
Jacket - Red costume satin
Overlay - Black flocked rose print
Lining - Red sateen
Velvet & satin ribbon trim
Dritz frog closure - I would not recommend this closure as it fell apart after a single use

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

gracie the vampire - part 2: the slip

In case you missed it ... gracie the vampire - part 1: the dress

and what comes next ... gracie the vampire - part 3: the jacket

And now for part 2!  Just a little disclaimer - I realize this is quite possibly the most boring thing I've sewn on this blog, but it is how I spent my hour (or perhaps a bit more!) for Kids Clothes Week yesterday so I'm sharing anyway :)

I would have loved to incorporate the fullness right into Gracie's vampire dress rather than making a separate slip.  But unfortunately, Gracie has a couple of Halloween parties that would make a bulky dress quite unmanageable, so I decided to sew a slip that can be easily removed.  Honestly, I would have skipped it altogether, but Gracie wanted a fuller dress, and how could I possibly say no to that adorable face :)  Just so you know, there really isn't anything special about this slip, so if you continue reading this post hoping for something more interesting or earth shattering, don't bother!  And if you do keep reading, remember that I warned you :)

I didn't need a pattern for this slip since it's just rectangles sewn together and gathered with cased elastic.  I didn't think it was necessary to make anything more complicated than that for a costume!  The netting fabric I used has just the right amount of stiffness (with two layers) to provide fullness without too much weight, but unfortunately, it's incredibly pokey on the ends.  If you accidentally brush up against a cut end, it feels like someone is jabbing you with a bunch of tiny thorns.  Really not the sensation I was going for!  So, to save myself from having the whiniest vampire on the block, I lined the waistband and the inside of the skirt with the same black satin that I used for the dress :) 

Everything is from Joann's
Outer - Black Netting
Lining/Waistband - Black costume satin

And, if you got this far all I have to say is I told you it was boring!  Maybe next time you will listen ;)

Monday, October 20, 2014

gracie the vampire - part 1: the dress

Edited to add links for the rest of the costume:
gracie the vampire - part 2: the slip
gracie the vampire - part 3: the jacket

I'm sure most of you already know, but this week is Kids Clothes Week.  Usually I like to sew along, but the last couple of times I haven't exactly dedicated an hour a day.  I guess I kind of figure that since I sew for my kids all year long (often for hours at a time!) I've probably made my quota for Kids Sewing Week for the next few years or so :)  Anyway, the theme for this season is Storybook, but I am leaning towards a slightly different theme - I call it "Gracie needs her Halloween costume by Saturday, so I'd better get sewing."  It's real catchy sounding, isn't it ;)

This year Gracie wants to be a vampire, but not just any vampire, more specifically a "I found it in a catalog and I'm sure my mom has $200 to spend on a costume that will only be worn twice" kind of vampire :)  So, like any other mom that sews, when my kids give me that sad puppy dog face, I hear the words "sure, I can make that" and immediately wonder who said it, until I realize it was me!  And unless I want to be "the worst mom in the whole entire world and even the moon" I'm going to have to sew that costume :) The problem is, once I commit to sewing a costume, I go nuts, both literally and figuratively speaking.  I go totally overboard with planning, buying and sewing until it consumes all of my time and sleep deprivation sets in.  Not to mention, my house (due to sheer neglect) ends up looking like a bomb went off.  I just figure if any adults give my house the side-eye while trick-or-treating with their kids, I can very creatively explain how we decorated our house as a disaster zone this year :)

Now before you say that the costume doesn't look very complicated, take a look at the title of this part and make note of the part 1.  Because this costume comes complete with parts 2, 3, 4 and 5 as well!  And yes, this costume is absolutely going to consume the entire week on the blog, so if you don't want to see a vampire costume one piece at a time, I'll see you next week :)

The bodice of this dress is self drafted.  It took two muslins to get the right shape, and if it was anything other than a Halloween costume, I probably would have done a third.  But even I'm not nuts enough to do three muslins for a Halloween costume.  My limit is definitely two ;)  I had never drafted a stand up collar that was integrated into the bodice rather than being a separate pattern piece, so that was an interesting challenge.  In fact, the final shape of the bodice pattern almost seems counter intuitive, but it really does fit perfectly and I'm thrilled with how it turned out!  I promise I will have pictures of Gracie wearing the costume in part 5 ... stay tuned!

I thought the drafting would be the complicated part, but it turns out the construction was worse.  I hate working with costume satin in the first place since it frays badly and shifts all over the place while sewing (even with a walking foot!)  But add in a slightly stretchy tulle overlay and it becomes a nightmare.  I couldn't even guess how many times I had to change the settings on both my sewing machine and serger to accommodate the satin on it's own, the tulle on it's own, or the two fabrics together, all of which required different settings.  Then attaching the lining required a forth setting.  If I was smart I would have written down the settings each time I changed them so I would have them for the next time, but obviously I'm not that smart!  It goes without saying that my seam ripper and I saw each other more often than usual while constructing this dress :)

Everything is from Joann's
Dress - Black costume satin
Overlay - Black tulle with glitter dots
Lining - Red sateen
Black invisible zipper

Thursday, October 16, 2014

sew it all series link up - let's see what you made!

I would love to see what everyone has been sewing lately!  If you would like to share (and agree to let me post the pictures on my blog at a later date if I do a roundup) please add your link below.  I will add all the projects to my Pinterest board as well.  Remember, anything goes as long as you sewed it!  And it doesn't have to be limited to kid's clothes ... I would love to see adult clothes or non-clothing items as well :)  Feel free to link up as many projects as you would like!

sew it all series - my progress report

Since it's been over a month since I started the Sew It All series, I decided it was time to look back at what I've sewn for Mae so far and lay out a general sewing plan for the coming month.  Last week my kids brought home their first progress reports from school and it was great to see a snapshot of the year, highlighting not only their strengths, but also the areas where they might need to work a bit harder.  That's what I'm hoping this post will be for me, a progress report of sorts, or whatever it's called when you evaluate your own performance.  Obviously I haven't worked in an office environment in a loooooooooong time, or I would remember what those things are called :)

Before I get to that, I wanted to let you all know that I'm going to add a monthly link up to the blog so I can see what you have been sewing.  Then I'll feature a few of the projects at the beginning of next month.  If you choose to add a link, I'm going to assume that you are ok with me sharing your creation on the blog.  Or, if you prefer to share in a less public matter, I always love getting pictures through email!  You can find my email on the "About Me" page.  But for those of you that do wish to share on the blog, I will add the link up later today.

Second, I'm going to post all of Mae's clothing that I've sewn as part of the Sew It All series in one place.  I don't know about you, but I like seeing all of my projects in one place and not having to click through multiple posts.  Plus it gives me a picture of what might still be missing from Mae's wardrobe.  I realize it's still quite a bit at this point, but I have lots more to share in the next few months :)  If you would like to read more about any of these projects, including patterns and materials used, just click on the picture.

Seeing these pictures in one place has been great!  Here are a few things that stand out to me:
  1. Every single top is made from a knit.  Although I love knits, I do like other fabrics as well :)
  2. There are a lot of blue pants.  I know I've finished two non-blue pairs that I haven't blogged about yet, so maybe that will help.
  3. Mae needs more looser fitting pants such as sweatpants because she really needs to start learning how to get herself dressed.
  4. Mae needs more dresses ... enough said!
  5. I need to get working on a fall coat before it's too cold to wear it.  I think I might sew a winter dress coat as well.
  6. There's no pink to be found.  Although I'm not a huge pink fan, Mae does like it, so I should try to incorporate it a little.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

pattern review - nessie top by craftiness is not optional

I realized that even though I've already made the Nessie Top by Craftiness is Not Optional and featured it on the blog here, I've never actually written a review!  And since I sewed another version for the Sew It All series, I thought this would be perfect time :)

Honestly there's not too much to say about this pattern beyond how much I love it!  It fits perfectly, it's easy to sew, it has a cute subtle high-low hem and there are lots of options included in the pattern.  The first time I made it, I chose the color block version, but this time I actually opted to make the basic version since I was planning on working with two different jersey knits.  I figured there was enough going on with my fabric choices that the top probably shouldn't have too many extra details aside from the coral pocket.

I cut out the size two width with the size three length.  I like how fitted it is, but I'm afraid Mae might outgrow it through the shoulders before winter is over.  I probably should have gone with the size three, but it works out this way because now I have an excuse to make another one :)  I think I might have to try the peter pan collar the next time since I haven't done that yet.  In fact, I foresee Mae having a cute stripe top with a sequin collar in the not so distant future!

I love this color combination!  Coral and aqua are two of my favorite colors for kid's clothing because they quite simply feel happy and summery.  And I think anything that reminds me of summer is a very, very good thing during our long cold winters :)

Aqua Stripe - Cotton/Lycra jersey from Funkaliscious Fabrics
Coral Dot - Cotton jersey from
Pocket - Stretch denim from

Monday, October 13, 2014

CraftingCon - my little minion

I'm over at Mae & K today as part of the CraftingCon series!  The theme for this month is villains, which I was really excited about when I signed up.  But then I realized that I don't really like villains, especially when I'm going to be dressing up my cute 3 year old :)  So I started searching for villains that people actually like and root for, and what better place to start than with my kids' movies.  It just so happened that my girls were re-watching Despicable Me for about the bajillionth time when I realized there's no cuter villain than an evil minion.  Sure, they're evil, but they are still so cute, which was really all I cared about.  Plus there's the added benefit that almost every three year old acts like an evil minion at some point in time, so the costume kind of suits Mae :)

I talked about the patterns I used on my post over at Mae & K, so you can head over there if you want to learn more.  Really this post is no more than a bunch of pictures that I feel like sharing since the wig took forever and a day to make and I want to share it as much as possible :)  So scroll down if you want to see more of my little minion!

Overalls - Black stretch denim from Joann's
Shirt - Performance knit from Joann's
Snaps - Kamsnaps
Wig - Acrylic yarn from Joann's
Goggles - Welding goggles from painted with Rustoleum metallic silver spray paint
Boots - H&M
Gloves - Belong to big brother :)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

tutorial - adding faux cuffs to any pants pattern

On Thursday I shared a pair of pants I made for Mae from the Hosh Pants pattern by LouBee Clothing.  I love this pattern exactly as written, but I thought I would try something a little differently this time.

I like this method of adding faux cuffs because it can be done entirely (less the optional topstitching) with a serger.  And there are times where I just don't fell like switching back and forth between the two machines!  Lazy, I know, but it's the truth :)

This is a really quick tutorial (and I'm sure it's obvious to most people!) but I thought I would share anyway.  I like how quick it is compared to cutting an additional piece for the hem.  Again, lazy, but I can't seem to help it!

Sewing Instructions:

1. Subtract the hem allowance called for in your pattern and then add 4" to the pattern piece before cutting anything. (Not pictured)  If you want a cuff wider than 1 3/4" you need to add the desired cuff measurement x 2 + 1/2".  For example, if you would like a 2 1/2" cuff, you need to add 2 1/2" x 2 + 1/2" or 5 1/2".  Just don't forget to make the initial fold in the next step the same as the amount you added to the pattern.

2. Place the pant leg right side up on the table.  If your pattern has an outseam, sew that first.  Fold the bottom up 4" and then fold the raw edge back down 2" to meet the first fold.  If it helps, you can think of folding it like you fold a paper fan.  If you still can't imagine it, hopefully the arrow in this picture will clear things up :)

3. Unfold the pant leg, place the right sides together, and sew the inseam.

3. Turn plants right sides out.  Refold the hem and serge/sew along the bottom edge with a 1/4" seam.

4. Turn the hem down and press.  Topstitch if desired.  And you're done!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

sew it all series - hosh pants

I seem to be on a pants theme this week :)  Today, it's the Hosh Pants by LouBee Clothing.  I blogged about this pattern twice in the past (here and here) and it remains one of my favorites, so here it is again!

This time I started with the size 3 and made just a couple of changes - I widened the pant legs by about 2" and added a cuff to the bottom.  The cuff can be turned up as well since it is finished on the inside, although Mae's pants are too short to turn up the hem thanks to relying on my memory instead of a measuring tape while sewing :)  This was the first time I made a cuff using this method, and I really like the finish.  I will write up a quick tutorial and share it on the blog tomorrow.

Navy poly/cotton blend textured suiting from Joann's

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

pattern review - compagnieM. charles pants

CompagnieM. released a new pattern this week!  I'm a big fan of CompagnieM. patterns, previously blogged about here, here and here, because they always fit perfectly thanks to Marte's thorough pattern testing :)  Her newest pattern is the Charles Pants, available in sizes 12 months - 10, which actually includes instructions for pants, shorts and dungarees/overalls.

I started with the size 18 months pattern based on Mae's waist measurement and added 2" to the length, since she actually falls between the size two and size three for height.  The fabric is upcycled from an old pair of jeans.  I opted to keep the original hem, but the rest of the pattern pieces were creatively cut from the available fabric.  I actually had to cut the front flap facing from another fabric since there wasn't a big enough piece of fabric left from the jeans.  Trust me, I arranged the pattern pieces several times before I finally gave up and just used something else :)

The only additional I made to the pattern was to add back pockets.  The pants are cute without them as well, but I wanted Mae's jeans to look a little more like, well, jeans that you would buy from the store.  Which means that I also wanted to add some topstitching, but I don't have any light grey topstitching thread, so I used an old trick that someone taught me.  Use two spools of thread just like you would if you were going to use a twin needle, but thread both threads through the same needle.  You need to be careful to get the right tension to make sure both threads catch the bobbin on each stitch, but the end result is worth it!

Upcycled Denim
Snaps - Kamsnaps

Friday, October 3, 2014

free pattern - triangle top

Today I'm sharing the FREE size 2/3 pattern for the Triangle Top!  I know it's not a very complicated pattern, and most people can probably figure it out on their own, but for those of you who would prefer not to (like me most of the time!) I thought I would go ahead and share.  You know, rather than being selfish for no good reason :)

The following link to the pattern is an affiliate link. Although I do not make any money directly from the Triangle Top 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 these patterns free for everyone.  Thank you!

Download the pattern here:

The sewing instructions for this pattern are actually quite simple.  I chose not to write a full tutorial with pictures because there are already an abundance of excellent sewing tutorials available.  I did include links (after the sewing instructions) for a couple of the steps for those who just beginning their sewing adventure.  And, as always, if their is a step that requires more clarification, please email me.  My email address can be found on the "About Me" tab at the top of this page.

A couple of notes before you get started:
  • Seam allowances are 3/8" for the entire pattern
  • The front, back and arm bands require a knit with at least 25% stretch, but the neck binding has a better finish with a knit with at least 50% stretch
  • Although I haven't tried it yet, I believe the back piece can actually be made from a woven rather than a knit
  • The neck binding and arm bands widths can be adjusted if you prefer a slightly different look
  • You should print two copies of the pattern if you wish to have separate front and back pieces
  • Use a stretch or ball point needle
  • Sew with a stretch stitch or serger to avoid popping the seams later
  • The hem looks best when finished with a double needle or an overlocker
  • I find it helpful to use lightweight interfacing along the shoulder seams on the back pieces to give the top a bit of stability and prevent stitches from stretching through the rest of the construction
  • I prefer to press each seam after sewing, either pressed to the back if serged, or pressed open if sewn with stretch stitch - many people don't believe in pressing knits, but it works for me - never move the iron while pressing to avoid stretching the seam, press and then lift to reposition the iron
  • For a more professional finish, tack down the side seams for about 1/2 - 3/4" along the hem
  • I did not include a pattern for the pocket, but it is just a basic square with the edges folded under

Preparation for Sewing:
  1. Print pattern pieces and assemble matching markings on pattern
  2. Cut all pieces from fabric - 1 front on fold, 1 back on fold, 1 neck binding, 2 arm bands (be sure to pay attention to the direction of the stretch noted on the pattern pieces)
  3. Attach interfacing to back shoulder pieces (optional)

Basic Sewing Instructions:
  1. Attach pocket or other embellishment/applique to front (optional)
  2. Hem front and back pieces with 1/2" hem
  3. Sew front and back pieces right sides together along one shoulder seam
  4. Fold neck binding in half wrong sides together (along the long sides) and press
  5. Attach binding to neckline right sides together stretching the binding to fit (do not stretch the neckline)
  6. Sew the remaining shoulder seam right sides together
  7. Topstitch along neckline with double needle or stretch stitch (optional)
  8. Sew both side seams with right sides together
  9. Sew short end of armband right sides together to form a circle
  10. Fold armband in half wrong sides together and press
  11. Sew armband to armhole wrong sides together and press seam away from armband
  12. Topstitch along armband with double needle or stretch stitch (optional)
  13. Repeat with second armband

Helpful Tutorials:

Hemming Knits

Attaching Neck Bindings - Video

Attaching Neck Bindings 2

Attaching Sleeve Cuffs

General Sewing with Knits Tips

General Sewing with Knits Tips 2

General Sewing with Knits Tips 3 - I learned a couple of things from this link :)