Monday, June 29, 2015

mae's bluebird top

As most of you know, Kids Clothes Week took place last week.  Although I didn't quite sew an hour each day, I did take some time on Friday and Saturday to draft and sew this little top, which Mae calls her bluebird shirt :)

There are couple of little tweaks I want to make to the pattern before I sew another version, but I actually love it as it is right now!  In fact, I'm actually looking forward to sewing the pattern again.  And the last time I wanted to repeatedly sew a pattern that I drafted was the Izzy Top, so it's been a while!

The Bluebird Park fabric line by Moda (used here as well) is one of my all time favorites!  The prints go really well with simple feminine pattern designs.  I still have one more print with little yellow bunnies which I think I might use for the next version of this top. 

Here's a little closer picture of the back, since it's kind of hard to see in the full length picture.  The only problem that I can see is that I'm going to have to use a lot more sunscreen when Mae goes outside since she normally wears tops that cover a bit more ;)

I'm really happy with the inside of the top!  I used french seams on the sides and the bodice seam is fully enclosed, so it looks almost as nice on the inside as it does on the outside :)

Top - Bluebird Park by Moda
Lining - white poplin
Shorts - Blog post here

Thursday, June 25, 2015

fabric fashion trend - pandas

A few years ago it seemed like every other fabric had some type of fox print.  And I remember there being an elephant trend at some point as well.  But lately it seems like all I see are pandas.  I'm not sure if it's due to the recent influence of Japanese prints, or if pandas really are just that popular and I was unaware of it until now :)  Which is entirely possible since I pay no attention whatsoever to trends ... honestly, I'm pretty oblivious, and I just tend to sew (and buy) what I like at the moment!

I started with the raglan t-shirt pattern (No.9 Brave Fireman) from Ottobre 3/2013 in the 92 width and 104 length.  I scooped the neck slightly and created a cap sleeve pattern.  I'm sure there is a pattern that is much closer to what I wanted in one of my other Ottobre magazines, but this happened to be the magazine I was using at the moment and the changes took me less time than looking through the other issues ;)

I love this tee!  I already have another one cut out from a sprinkles print knit that Mae is so excited about :)  So is Gracie, so I might have to make her a sprinkles shirt too!

The inside of this one looks fine except for the change in bobbin thread half way through topstitching the neck binding.  I had the pink thread in the bobbin from finishing the hem and ran out half way though the neck binding, but I was too lazy to wind a new bobbin with pink so I finished with a navy blue bobbin that I had laying around.  Talk about lazy ;)

Panda print - Jumping June Textiles on Facebook
Black houndstooth - Funkaliscious Fabrics on Etsy
Skirt - blog post here from October 2013

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

bias hem tank (almost but not quite long enough) dress

I realize that Mae's summer clothes are pretty much all knit tanks and cropped pants, but that's all she really wears, so I figured I might as well make things that are worn frequently rather than a beautiful dress that never leaves the closet!  This latest tank is drafted with my basic bodice pattern as a base and includes an a-line shape and a high low curved hem. 

The length is a bit awkward, shorter than a dress, but longer (at least in the back) than most tunics.  If I make it again, I can't decide if I would rather make it shorter like a true tunic, or if it would look better as a knee length dress. For now, there is a pair of red knee length cropped pants (same pattern as the pink pair in this post) hanging around the house somewhere that Mae can wear with the dress/tunic.  I'm sure I'll find them eventually, but I think they are hiding in the sewing room, so it might take a bit of looking ;)

I just love this fabric combo!  I used the feather fabric once before (way back in this post) and although I don't like how thin it is or the lack of stretch, the print more than makes up for both of those things.  Every once in a while the way a fabric looks is more important than the quality - the colors in this print really appeal to me so I chose to ignore the negatives.  On the other hand, the red & cream stripe on the back is high quality and I love it :)

And here's the inside.  Pretty much the whole top is finished with bias binding with the exception of the inner side seam.

Feather print - Girl Charlee
Red stripe - Funkalicious Fabrics on Etsy

Monday, June 22, 2015

a cute pair of kid friendly "jeans" for mae

As much as I love skinny pants on Mae, I really don't like the fact that she gets frustrated when she can't manage to get them on and off by herself.  So I decided to make a Mae friendly (i.e. 3 year old friendly) pair of "jeans" for her.  They are not exactly a loose fit, but not tight either ... they are the Goldilocks of jeans :)  Plus they have pockets and they are blue, so they are 100% Mae approved!

This pattern is self drafted and includes a separate waistband with a slight paper bag waist, pockets, and an elastic hem.  For the next pair, I think I'll make a version that hits just below her knee with a knit waistband and cuffs.  I'd also like to try them in a rayon challis or some other fabric with a softer drape.  I don't usually look forward to using the same pattern repeatedly, but it's quite satisfying to make pants that Mae will actually wear!

I realize that to people in many areas of the country (or world!) jeans are not part of a summer wardrobe, but we do have cool days occasionally and quite frequently have cool nights.  Plus the mosquitoes are unbearable and a lightweight long layer is often necessary when we are going to be out in the evening.  And, although I know not everyone agrees with me, I would rather have my kids covered in a layer of fabric than bug spray!

Here's the inside, once again with non matching serger thread :)  It takes a really special outfit to get me to change to another color!

Lightweight denim - Joann's
Star top - Mini Boden

Thursday, June 18, 2015

see ya later alligator!

This top is quite a departure for me since I tend to choose subdued colors and prints.  And nothing about neon alligators says subdued!  Plus, I'm not really a fan of ruffles, which technically I guess these aren't, but the overall look to me still screams ruffles.  However, Mae is three, and sometimes she just likes different things than me and she is the one who wears the clothes :)  Besides, she loves happy animals of all kinds.  Today when we went to the farm she was so excited because the baby cows were sooooooo happy!!!!!!  I'd love to know how she knows that, but I'm kind of afraid to ask ;)

I chose to use Ottobre Designs 3/2015 pattern No. 15 in size 92 width with 98 length.  The pattern is described as a dress, but I would more accurately call it a tunic.  Although, I just rechecked Mae's measurements, and I should have been sewing the 104 length instead.  Oh well, I didn't realize she had grown quite that much!  The only changes I made to the pattern were to omit both the sleeves and the band across the back since it doesn't slide off of Mae's shoulders anyway.

I love the gator fabric!  The stretch and recovery is perfect, and it sews up beautifully.  The houndstooth, on the other hand, I did not like at all.  The recovery was poor and the white background showed through the black part of the print way too much!  I generally love the prints I get from Funkaliscious Fabrics, so I'm not sure exactly what the problem was with this one.  Regardless, I won't stop buying from the store; I'll just stick with the more expensive stuff since the quality seems to be significantly better.

This next picture is the usual face and posture I get when I tell her that I want a picture.  I especially love how she plasters her hands up against her sides as hard as she can!  And even better, if I tell her to turn around, she sticks her little butt out at me ;)

And, of course, here's the inside.  Aside from being too lazy to change the bobbin thread to white when sewing the skirt tiers, I think it looks pretty good.  Especially since I rarely use clear elastic so the fact that the gathering is remotely even is something of a miracle ;)

Gator print - The Fabric Geeks Facebook Group
Houndstooth - Funkalicious fabrics on Etsy (this exact print is no longer available)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

canadian pattern designer blog tour - e&m patterns No. 6

Just a little housekeeping before I get to the sewing :) Be sure to scroll all the way down to the end of this post for a fabulous giveaway from E+M Patterns!  And then head over to Lulu & Celeste for an even bigger giveaway with over $400 in prizes!!!  Also, use can use coupon code CANADATOUR from June 15th to the 20th for 25% off any E+M Patterns purchase from either the Etsy shop or the website.  And now on to the sewing!

Disclaimer - I did receive this pattern is exchange for participating in the blog tour.  I do not consider this to be an official review of the pattern because I don't think people (including me!) can actually give an unbiased review of something that they received for free.  Although, in my biased opinion (sewing humor!) it is a great pattern :)  Nerd moment - there are several studies done on exactly this topic and it turns out that people are much more critical of things that they pay more money for.  That's why you are perfectly willing to buy that incredibly ugly skirt at Old Navy that's on mega sale for $2.99 (90% off woo hoo!!!!!) when you never would have considered it for even a second at the full price of $29.99.  Your sense of worth flies right out the window in the face of a great deal, and I'm assuming the same thing happens when given a free pattern, since there are probably less than five negative reviews in the sewing blog world when the pattern was free.  In fact, I challenge you to even find two :)

I say this often on the blog, but it bears repeating - I rarely use a pattern more than once, at least not without making significant modifications.  But every once in a while, I come across a pattern that is a great basic, and I can't help but sew up a couple versions.  Enter the E+M Patterns Girl's Dress and Shirt No.6 :)  It's a great basic (although it has several variations including a top and two dresses) that is a quick sew and fits beautifully.  Plus, the design is simple enough that I was able to use a few busy prints that might get lost in a fussier pattern.

This is the first version I made with a gathered front, the keyhole back, and the arm and neck bindings called for in the pattern.  I sewed the size two with the size four length.  One of the things that I absolutely loved about this pattern is that it includes ease measurements.  So I was able to use that info along with Mae's measurements to figure out that I wanted to size down to a two even though her measurements said I should sew a size three, all because I wanted less ease than the pattern provides.  That's so much better than sewing a version just to determine the fit!  The pants in this picture are a modified version of a Japanese sewing pattern I had used in the past to make leggings.

I mentioned recently that Mae's favorite color is blue.  And I'm never going to be able to forget that since she tells me at least three times a day :)  So when I got this puffin fabric in the mail, Mae immediately told me to make her something.  The poor girl had to wait a while since I was in the middle of several other projects, but I did get to it fairly quickly, and now she just loves her blue birdy tee!

For the puffin tee I stuck with the same size from the first top since I love the fit, but I opted to omit the keyhole back so I could use flat bindings on both the arms and the neck.  This is essentially the perfect basic tee - simple but with little details like the gathered front and a subtle high-low hem.  I can see this getting worn quite frequently this summer!

I wasn't exactly thrilled with the Japanese pattern I used to make the first pair of cuffed crop pants, so I decided to try out the free E+M Girl's Leggings Pattern No.8 for this pair.  The pattern is capri length so I just shorted them a bit and added cuffs.  I used the size four which is a little big because I didn't want them to be super skin tight.  I would say they fit true to size since other size fours are slightly big on Mae as well.  The only real change I made was to add a fold over yoga waistband to the top.  I didn't modify the crotch length since I thought it looked pretty short, but it turns out I should have at least taken a little off of the front to accommodate the yoga waistband.  I'll just chalk that up to a lesson learned for the next pair ;)

The third version of this top is the aline dress included in the pattern, although Mae's dress is actually a nightgown.  And to say that she likes this would be a vast understatement!  I have never seen her so excited about anything I've made for her.  When I first showed it to her she was jumping up and down and telling me how much she loves the flowers, and how it's so soft, and that, even though it's not blue, she loves it because yellow is my favorite color.  Talk about melting my heart!  I don't think any of my kids have ever loved something so much just because they thought the color made me happy.  I have to confess that she did end up with an extra popsicle that night ;) 

Toucan print - 95/5 cotton/spandex jersey from The Fabric Geeks Facebook group
Pink knit - Joann's
Puffins print - 95/5 cotton/spandex jersey from Jumping June Textiles Facebook group
Solid black & black/grey stripes - upcycled
Yellow floral print - 95/5 cotton/spandex jersey from The Fabric Geeks Facebook group
Hot pink binding - 1x1 cotton elastine rib knit from OttobreDesign on Etsy

June 1 – 3

June 4 – 6

June 8 – 10

June 11 – 13

June 15 – 17

June 17 – 19

June 18 – 20

June 22 – 24

June 24 – 26

June 25 – 27

June 29 – 30
Lulu & Celeste: new makes and a round up post

July 1st

Monday, June 15, 2015

mae's parachute top - and why I sew :)

I have to be honest - I often find sewing to be really, really boring!  So many people have asked why I don't open an Etsy shop and sell the stuff I make.  I usually just tell them that I only sew for my family because I want sewing to remain a hobby that I enjoy rather than a chore.  But honestly, I know myself better than that (and try not to lie to myself!) and am 100% sure that I could never follow through with maintaining a shop.  After all, I can't even manage to blog consistently, and it takes significantly less time than production sewing!  I greatly admire women (and men!) who can sew the same item over and over again and create a successful business, and I like to give them my patronage whenever possible.

I would love to have some gushy reason why I sew such as clothing my kids with my love (just typing that makes me ill, I'm the least sentimental and gushy person in existence) but the truth is it's entirely selfish!  I use sewing to release tension and to escape everything for just a little while.  And honestly, my joy is not the sewing, but the design and the drafting.  Sewing is merely a means to an end.  I'm that kid who truly loved school because it gave me the opportunity to learn something new that I might not have taken the time to learn on my own.  I love drafting patterns for the challenge of seeing a blank sheet of paper (and yes, I draft everything on paper) turn in to a two dimensional pattern and then to a three dimension object - and not just any object, but a useful and often beautiful thing that can be used every day.  But I also love learning from the failures because they present a new challenge to overcome.  And in case you haven't guessed by now, I'm a total nerd in real life :)

I've been sewing a lot of essentials lately (because, you know, life happens and kids grow) but I miss the challenges, so I tossed a little self drafted top into the mix for Mae's summer wardrobe.  It's not perfect, and it's not even exactly what I imagined, but I truly enjoyed making it!  My oldest son calls it her parachute top because when she jumps up and down it billows out exactly like a parachute.  Note for next time - a little less width in the back :)

My favorite thing about this top is that it pulls over Mae's head with no closures of any kind.  As far as Mae's concerned the faster she can get dressed, the sooner she can get moving and cause mayhem where ever she goes ;)

The coral fabric is a stretch denim, and I think if I make the top again, I would like to try making it with a flowing fabric such as rayon challis.  I suspect that it wouldn't even look like it was the same pattern.  But first I have to make a few tweaks to the pattern - which sounds like way more fun to me than sewing a second top!

Here's a look at the inside.  All of the seams except the side seams (which can be finished with a french seam) are enclosed for a very nice finish.

Coral - Stretch denim from (no longer available)
White - Embroidered cotton from Joann's

Thursday, June 11, 2015

everyday basics - cuffed denim shorts

As much as I love sewing a beautiful dress, I feel the most accomplished when I sew an every day basic that I know Mae will wear frequently.  I love that she can swing on the swings, ride her bike and run around outside like a crazy girl in something that I made!  And one of my favorite basics is a paired of cuffed denim shorts.  I made this pair that I loved two years ago (and she still wore them last year!) so I decided to use the same pattern Kid Shorts by MADE and just make them bigger (size 4) for this year.  But I didn't want exactly the same shorts, so I made a few changes to the pattern.  First, I chose to make a separate waistband instead of just folding over the top edge since Mae doesn't need a full elastic waist to pull up over cloth diapers any more.  Second, I added pockets, which Mae insists are necessary in everything she wears :)  And finally, I finished them with a bunch of topstitching and wide cuffs just because I can!  The shorts are a bit big (both wide and long) but I wanted them to fit for two years again, because denim shorts are not very exciting to make, so I'd rather make them every other year ;)

For some reason I never took a picture of the back of the shorts, but they are quite plain since I opted to not add any additional pockets.  I did put an elastic waist in the back because they wouldn't have stayed up otherwise :)

I love how these shorts look on the inside!  The waist and the cuffs have no raw edges showing, and the serging on the pockets and the seams turned out fairly neat compared to some of my seams ;)

Stretch Denim

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

japanese sewing pattern - a sundress for mae

For the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing most of the clothes I made for Mae for this summer.  She's just starting to wear them since it really hasn't been warm enough until now.  Just like usual in Michigan, we haven't needed any summer clothes yet since we've mostly had highs in the 60s & 70s with lows in the 40s at night, but today, out of nowhere, it was 88 and humid!

This little sundress is from the Japanese Pattern Book A Sunny Spot.  I used the size 100 shortened slightly since I wanted the dress to hit above Mae's knees, and the dress in the book is a bit longer.  I also chose to pleat the skirt rather than gather it, and to finish the sides with french seams.  The bodice is pretty wide, but it lays nicely so I don't mind that it looks a little big.  I think I might make another version without any openings because it's plenty big to get on and off over Mae's head, and I would love to be able to enclose all the seams!

My favorite part of this dress is that it can be worn with the opening in either the front or the back.  I'm not sure which way I like it better, but Mae definitely likes the snaps in the front, which is obvious from her facial expressions in the picture :) 

I'm not sure I like the fact that Mae is three and is developing a strong opinion about her clothes.  This particular dress was made before the "my favorite color is blue" phase, so I'm not sure it will even get worn too much ;)  So you should probably be prepared for the color blue to show up (at least in some form!) in lots of Mae's outfits in the next few weeks!

Once again, a quick picture of the inside :)  The bodice looks a bit funny from my ironing (not one of my better skills!) and I don't like that you can see the seams along the arms and the neck.  I totally forgot to trim them before flipping the bodice around, and by then it was too late!

Yellow floral -Bluebird Park by Moda
Lining - white baby pique
Snaps - Kamsnaps

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

baby basics tutorial - pants with yoga waistband

Here's the third and final tutorial for sewing the baby basics 0-3 months pants.  This version has a yoga waistband and cuffs and is my personal favorite!  All three versions are included with the pattern and can mixed and matched to your heart's content :)  The first two tutorials can be found here and here.

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

Helpful info before you start:
  • 3/8" seam allowance is included in pattern
  • Any seams that require stretch should be serged or sewn with a stretch stitch (lightning bolt or zigzag stitch)
  • Suggested fabric - any knit with at least 30% 2-way or 4-way stretch

Preparing the Pattern:

Print the pattern in Adobe Acrobat with "No scaling" or "Print Actual Size" selected. Check the square on the first page to make sure that it measures 2". Tape together the four pages matching the marks on the pattern.

Cutting the Fabric:

Cut two mirror images of the pants pattern making sure to note the direction of the stretch.  Cut along the lines indicated for the yoga waistband and cuffs.  Mark the center on both the waist and the hem.  The waistband is 15" x 4" and the cuffs are 6" x 4".  The pieces should be cut with the stretch along the longer dimension.  If you use a fabric with more than 75% stretch for the waistband, cut the piece 13" x 5".  If you prefer a foldover yoga waistband, then cut it 8" tall.


1. Fold the cuffs in half along the long side, wrong sides together.  Serge/sew the cuffs to the legs stretching the cuffs as you sew.

2.  Serge/sew the inseams.  Tack down the seams along the bottom edge of the cuffs.

3. Place one leg in the other, right sides together.  Serge/sew the crotch seam.

4.  Sew the short ends of the waistband right sides together.  Press the seam open and fold the waistband in half wrong sides together to form a circular waistband. Make a mark at the center and the halfway points between the seam and the center (dividing the waistband into quarters)

5. Serge/sew the waistband to the top of the pants matching the fronts and sides and stretching the waistband as you sew.  Turn the waistband up and press the seam to remove any waviness.  Congratulations, you're done!

Navy Floral - Fabric Geeks Facebook Group
Waistband and cuffs - Joann's

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

gracious threads baby shower guest post

Today I'm guest posting as part of the Gracious Threads Baby Shower series with the second method for finishing the baby basics pants with FOE!  Before you go, here's a little sneak peek:

Knit - Upcycled tee from Target


Monday, June 1, 2015

FREE 0-3 months baby pants pattern

It seems like I always have a baby shower to attend!  I guess that's what happens when you come from a large family :)  My favorite handmade baby gift is still a bib made from this pattern, but sometimes I like to give a little something else too.  So today I'm sharing one of my baby basics patterns - the baby pants in 0-3 months.  This is the simplest version with an encased elastic waist and hemmed legs.  Come back tomorrow and Wednesday for two more versions made from the same basic pattern!

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

Helpful info before you start:
  • 3/8" seam allowance is included in pattern
  • Any seams that require stretch should be serged or sewn with a stretch stitch (lightning bolt or zigzag stitch)
  • Suggested fabric - any knit with at least 30% 2-way or 4-way stretch

Preparing the Pattern:

Print the pattern in Adobe Acrobat with "No scaling" or "Print Actual Size" selected. Check the square on the first page to make sure that it measures 2". Tape together the four pages matching the marks on the pattern.

Cutting the Fabric:

Cut two mirror images of the pants pattern making sure to note the direction of the stretch.  Mark the center on both the waist and the hem.  Cut 15" of 1/2" elastic for the waistband.


1. Fold up 1/2" along leg hem and sew with a twin needle or a stretch stitch

2. Place inseam right sides together and serge/sew.  Tack the seam down along the hem.  Repeat for the other leg.

3. Place one leg in the other right sides together and serge/sew crotch seam.

4. Fold waist down 1/4" and then 3/4" and sew close to the folded edge with a stretch stitch leaving a 1-2" opening for inserting elastic.

5. Insert the elastic through the casing.  Sew the ends of the elastic together and then sew the casing closed being sure not to catch the elastic as you sew.

Floral knit - Fabric Geeks on Facebook