Archive | May, 2013

A little (too little) top

31 May

I am procrastinating my way through a Very Big Project (VBP), which will eventually make its way to these pages. For now, though, I’ll share what I’ve been doing in between the VBP, to help me feel like I’m accomplishing things. (Do you do this, too? Work on little things that you know you can complete, even if it means adding them to your to-do list?)

Enter: 2nd Japanese pattern attempted and conquered! (From this book.)


This cute little shirt was a satisfying sew. Like, really, really satisfying because all of the little seams are covered by the trim pieces (hard to see in the pics, but made with a contrasting pink/white polka dot fabric). I love me a finished garment, that’s for sure. I also enjoy following a pattern with pictures – it’s a nice little challenge, at least when it works out!


This  wasn’t, however, a total win. I’m considering it a muslin, and good thing, because I should have cut out the larger size. Turns out Size 90 maybe translates more to a 2T size, and it’s a little on the small side for the small fry. I didn’t think I’d even get that neck over my kid’s head, so that was a nice surprise. It at least allowed for photos on a real live model as opposed to a hanger.

Here’s the proof that this is likely the last time this shirt will be worn:

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This does make me excited about the pink and white seersucker I used; I thrifted it years ago and was tired of looking at it every time I went through my stash. I think I might actually use it to make something that will fit the kid now!


Pattern: Blouse from this book!

Size: 90 (too small)

Fabric: pink/white seersucker with pink/white polka dot trim, both thrifted long ago

Notes: Love the finished seams. I sewed the sides up using French seams to ensure no raw edges anywhere!


An old pattern and getting over a sewing block!

22 May

This is admittedly not my favorite outfit. However, it came together pretty quickly using things I had on hand, so that feels good. 

ImageThe top is the Sailboat Top by Oliver + S, using the thrifted fabric that I used to make the full skirt from my last post. I used this pattern only once before to make the pants in the 18 month size, which incidentally, still fit my 3 year old. Anyway, back to the shirt: I went ahead and sewed up the 3T size, and while the fit of the shirt is otherwise great, the sleeves are too long. Instead of rehemming, I’m just going save this shirt for a longer armed version of my kid (that should take a few months).Image

I also made a mistake with the placement of the buttonholes. They seemed a bit close to the seam after I sewed them, so I was going to account for that with a smaller seam allowance when I attached my sleeves; I forgot but just went with it since they still work.Image

I do like this pattern, especially the top stitching that is used to tack down the facings. 

The shorts, though simple, are very exciting for me as they represent moving into a new realm as far as sewing goes! I made them using a Japanese pattern from this book! Yay me! Image

I’ve been inspired by bloggers like Sanae and Cherie to delve into Japanese patterns since the styles are adorable and unique. I did look for pattern books during our late winter trip to Japan, but didn’t have luck (maybe I was distracted by a short time frame and 4 stories of fabric….). I purchased this book in late March at Kinokuniya Bookstore

The shorts came together very easily, and even taught me a new waistband technique using an opening in the casing’s seam through which to feed my elastic. The size 90 fits my kid perfectly. I did wish I had a serger with this project, however, because the fabric I used frays a lot! Not sure what they are going to do in the wash, even though I finished the raw edges with pinking shears and/or a zigzag stitch. 

ImageThe fabric from the shorts was cut from an old pair of trousers that my husband bought at Celio in Paris back in 2006. It took him a long time to admit they were looking shabby, but he is quite tickled that they can live on with our little squirt.


Next up….hard to say, but I’m looking forward to sewing my way through more Japanese patterns!


A Little Summer Skirt

20 May

I thrifted this pink and brown woven fabric years ago but have struggled to find inspiration for it. The other night, I was itching to complete an easy and brainless project, so I decided it should be a skirt for the little.IMG_0065

The fabric is about 48″ wide, and I cut approximately 15 inches of length times 2 to make a very full skirt. If you do the math,  accounting for the French seam allowance (I love to use that type of seam for this project as it keeps things so nice and finished, and eliminates any need to trim threads after the garment is washed), that’s 95 inches of twirl for a 3 footer. Not bad.IMG_0050

These pictures were taken after a morning of playing at school and an afternoon nap followed by a bike ride and gardening, so I think it’s going to hold up just fine.


I have another project for the kid in the works using this fabric. I’m tempted to make myself a long full skirt as well for the summer, and though I do have enough of this fabric to make myself a match, I’m going to show some restraint!

Twinsies. Uh Oh. What am I becoming?

10 May

I am still committed to becoming more proficient with knits. I read a pep talk from Rachael this week that reminded me that being good at something typically takes a lot of practice. When I think back to my sewing experience, I cringe a bit about some of the things I’ve made, but in the last couple of years, I’ve really upped my game….at least with wovens. I’m trying to remind myself of this and stay committed to working on knits, even if some of my creations don’t live up to my standards, because I do think it will be rewarding in many ways. And with that….

IMG_0009When Kristin released her free Scoop Top pattern, I thought I should give it a go. I don’t actually have a lot of great knits in my stash, but I did have a remnant of the coral fabric from the Sunki leggings I made a couple of weeks ago. I only had enough of that to cut out one side of the shirt, so I decided to pair it with a tissue knit in black and white stripes, thinking I’d recreate a trend akin to something from Madewell. (Note: in searching for an example of this perceived trend, I found nothing of the sort, so I either can’t remember where I’ve seen this, it was a trend a few seasons back, or it never was a trend. I’d believe any of these scenarios!)

As I was putting together the top, I was super excited about how it was looking. I love the fabrics together, the striped neckline turned out pretty well, and I had no problems with the pocket. The hem is a different story. I used my walking foot and a double needle (though mine is universal and not ball point). I first tried to use The Sewing Rabbit‘s trick that Kristin references, using tissue paper to stabalize the fabric, but that didn’t work for me. I waited a day so I could run out to the store to get stay tape, and that might have been a little helpful, but I still had problems with my bobbin thread – resulting in the image below (wrong side of fabric). (After consulting with my mom, who has the same machine, perhaps this would be solved by doing a thorough cleaning, oiling and lubricating of my machine. That’s next on my list).IMG_9985

The striped fabric was especially challenging, I think because it’s so thin. I finally made it around the bottom hem and both arms, and I’m pleased with the end result. I definitely have much to learn, but I do think this shirt is very wearable.

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As I was making my shirt, my daughter asked if it was for her, and was pretty disappointed to hear that it was for me. Six months ago, my kid never acted like she cared if I made her anything, and she certainly didn’t make it easy to take pictures of her in any handmade clothes, so I was easily swayed by her charm. I made the mistake of suggesting that I had enough fabric to make her one, and she didn’t let me forget it.

So, I used the sleeveless Skater Dress as a template for drafting a simple toddler sized tank. I had the confidence to do this after my experience with the Sweet Tartan dress. Yay! I didn’t actually have a big enough piece of my coral knit to do the front in that fabric alone, so I switched up the look and did the striped fabric on the top and the coral fabric on the bottom. This also would have prevented me from having to hem that lightweight fabric, but it turned out I miscalculated the wonderful toddler belly my kid still has, and it was just a little short for my liking. I added a ribbing in solid black to the bottom to give her another inch and a half of coverage.

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I can’t imagine we’ll ever wear these together except for this sweet selfie demanded by the kid.


Who am I kidding?

She has me wrapped around her finger.

Sweet Tartan in purple and pink

6 May

I instantly loved the style of Kristin from Skirt as Top when I saw her Sweet Tartan dress during the first week of PR&P more than a year ago. When she came up with a tutorial (remixed from CINO’s Junebug dress) I put it on my mental list of projects. When I pulled it up again last week, I decided that the size 2/3 she shared might not fit my 3 year old, so I drafted my own pattern as suggested in her post!


I used the lovely Geranium pattern to draft the bodice pieces, and followed Kristin’s directions for the skirt. I have to say, this was easier than I expected, and I now see the possibilities of playing around with patterns myself. Fun!


That’s not to say that this dress went together smoothly. I probably shouldn’t have chosen a week when my husband was out of town to work on this. I was exhausted after putting our daughter to sleep in the evenings, but not tired enough to collapse. In my foggy state, I made a few mistakes:

1. I made 2 identical front bodice pieces instead of a right and a left, so ended up making a third.

2. I cut out one of the back bodice pieces in the solid fabric instead of the plaid. This worked out fine, but I would have preferred for the entire back bodice to have been plaid.

3. I struggled through the gathering of both skirt layers. This is not uncommon for me. At some point as I stitch the gathering rows, my thread usually breaks. Maybe I set my tension too high? I don’t know, but with both layers, I finally got one of the two rows sewn, and eventually gave up and made do. This results in uneven gathering and a little bit of cursing, but it works okay. Some day, I want to master this.

4. I messed up twice when stitching on the underskirt. Initially, I sewed the skirt on with the seam of the underskirt coming down on the same side as the short piece of the flounce. I didn’t like seeing that seam, so I ripped it out and made sure to put it under the long side of the overskirt. I had that right the second time I sewed, but ended up sewing on the underskirt wrong side out. The solid fabric doesn’t have a noticeable front and back, but it did mean that the wrong side of my seam was on the outside of the dress! I had sewn a French seam, but still! I couldn’t bear the thought of ripping out this seam a 2nd time, so I just went with it.

5. For some reason, I decided to fold the hem up toward the outside of the skirt (instead of under), thinking it would better hide the French seam, but just ended up looking like the skirt was put on inside out (naturally), so I undid this seam and sewed it properly.


Needless to say, I was pretty happy when this dress still ended up wearable. Sigh.

I used a woven plaid that I had thrifted long ago, paired with a raspberry quilting cotton that I bought to coordinate. The ribbon and buttons were purchased after the dress was sewn, and even though I intended them to be a better match with the solid fabric, I think they work well (or at least well enough). My little gal is not complaining.


Pattern: Sweet Tartan from Skirt as Top tutorial

Size: 4t bodice from the Geranium Dress

Fabric: thrifted woven plaid, solid quilting cotton from Pacific Fabrics, buttons and ribbon from Stitches

New Skills: Drafting a pattern from an existing pattern

A Bear Hat for Little Bare

3 May

I was gifted Little Things to Sew from a couple of girlfriends last fall and immediately knew I would make this sweet hat for my gal. This was a pattern that I traced early in 2013, cut out in February and sewed in late March. Not the greatest timing, but it has been worn a couple of times, and hopefully will be in the rotation again in the fall.


I used a thrifted purple denim in the hopes that her favorite color would encourage her to keep it on her head, and lined it in a white fleece that my husband found and rescued for me 10+ years ago.


I  bought a lovely gingham ribbon for the tie. I don’t have a lot of ribbon stashed away, and besides, it was a perfect match and reminded me of Japan where we had just traveled as a family of three.


I love this sweet hood!


Pattern: Cosy Winter Hood from Little Things to Sew

Size: Medium

Fabric: Thrifted denim and rescued fleece