KCW: hide and seek tunic

Hold up.

Before reading this post, you need to open another tab and play this song because I had it playing in my head on repeat for three days while making this top.  By the end of those three days I was singing this one… which will just make you f-ing crazy.

Still, I gotta take inspiration where I get it, and the dress on the cover of this pattern had me thinking about kaftans and boho Krishna-types, and then reminded me of an old top of mine, which reminded me how much I love to upcycle stuff, and you get it….

so here we are.

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This lovely pattern is the Hide and Seek dress + tunic.  One of three newly released ones from Oliver + S.

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If Oliver + S were to design a pattern just for me (HA.), this would be it.  I love the shape, the looseness of it all, the gathers just at the center front and back panels, the size of the yoke… I really dig it.

This round of Kids Clothes Week has the optional theme, Mini Me.  So, I had fun trying to recreate my old top into something cute for Coco.  The yoke is cut from my former shirt- it’s really neat, with a ton of stitching up and down in black, red, blue, yellow, and mint.  But the white fabric was so thin and gauze-like, and showing some wear.  So I used some lightweight white cotton from the ‘ole stash.

Here’s my former top worn by me a year ago:

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(I’m not posing coyly… I’m holding a phone.  Important business call (NOT.) before delicious meal. Thanks for the pic Amanda!)

I finished this tunic yesterday afternoon (no jesse spano this week- I’m sticking to the minimum KCW requirements of sewing one hour a day) and we snuck outside in the evening to capture some photos of Corinne in the late sun.

Oh, how I’ve missed you, magic hour!

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I neglected to see that on the sleeve pattern piece there is a cutting line for the tunic version, which is a few inches shorter than what you see here.  I made the top and then was scratching my head, remembering that the tunic option has short sleeves.  I do kind of like the 3/4 length though, but I may end up cutting and re-hemming.  We’ll see.  Decisions, decisions.

The jade buttons were ripped off (literally) of this skirt that I never wore out of the house.  One of those things I could not stand to look at after a while.  What a waste of many hours!

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The bloomers (what you can see of them anyway) are self-drafted and one of several pairs I made a couple of months ago and am still playing around with the fit.

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 These ones are made from cotton couture in Mist or as my husband would say, Lime Pudding.  I say pistachio.

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Coco’s all, “what does the fox say, mama?!”

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Hare Krishna y’all.

-Erin

 

Buy the doll, Make the clothes.

Ellery asked for an American Girl doll this past Christmas, and I was happy to make that happen.  My kid doesn’t like to play with Barbies, but I had a feeling a big doll like this was right up her alley.  She really enjoys changing her doll Saige’s outfits and doing her hair.  She gets her ready for bed at night and sleeps right next to her.  It’s sweet.

I remember as a kid a lot of my friends had these beautiful dolls with amazing hair and eyes that opened and closed. I specifically remember sleeping over my friend Gillian’s house when I was 9. We got into sleeping bags on her bedroom floor. She snuggled up with beautiful brown-haired, Samantha, and gave me some ratty old stuffed animal to sleep with. Not cool.  Anyway, I don’t think I ever begged my mother for one of those dolls but I think I deep down always wanted one. I suppose I caught wind of them a little too late in my youth.

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O + S popover sundress: sewn by me

Here are my thoughts on AG dolls:  They are quite pricey (though there are free shipping codes everywhere- that’ll save you $15 in the end).  However, they are really well-made dolls. They have adorable faces with bright eyes that open and close, and perfect hair. They are not gussied up in tacky tween clothing that you see on dolls in toy stores everywhere now. They arrive in tasteful outfits with cute shoes and a book (Ellery and I currently are on chapter 4 of Saige’s book). They are sturdy, their bodies are stuffed nice and tight, and their legs and arms move around 360 degrees. Your child will likely have this doll forever. And even if the face gets ruined with a permanent marker, or it gets an unexpected haircut by a little sibling, a nice new head can be purchased and put on for something like $28.  I totally justified my purchase of Ellery’s doll by the fact that I sew and would be (or my mom would be as it turns out) whipping up an entire wardrobe with my fabric scraps instead of buying any or many doll clothes or accessories.

If you are considering purchasing a doll and you happen to sew, my advice is to buy the doll, and make the clothes.

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reversible wrap skirt: sewn by my Mom

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leggings made from adult sock: sewn by my mom

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more leggings made from adult sock: sewn by my mom

Ellery loved Saige immediately, but my little girl Corinne became OBSESSED. As soon as Ellery would go to school in the morning, Coco would run back to her room, search for the doll (Ellery often hides her so her little bro and sis can’t leave their greasy prints on her perfect face, or smear peanut butter into her loose side-braid). She’d find her under a pile laundry or pillows, and just clutch her for the next hour as she roamed through the house.  At bedtime every night, when Ellery would change Saige into her pj’s, Corinne would sit on her own bed, looking over at Ellery’s doll, and just sob the biggest tears. “I want Saige! I want big doll!” . Really, it’s pitiful, but so adorable.  I’d leave their room and my husband would be like, “BUY THE KID A DOLL ALREADY.” And while it might seem totally ridiculous, we did.  Coco had a birthday this past weekend and we surprised her with her own.

Oh, that smile she had when she saw that silky-haired beauty.

(Note: there is a set of AG “bitty twins“- two 15″ dolls that are geared towards toddlers- it was an option that I ultimately decided against for two reasons: I don’t like their expressions as much, and I was not going to start making separate clothes for a different sized doll.  I’m not suggesting you get any 2 year old an AG doll.  But, hey…she’s my 3rd kid, and I can do whatever the heck I want!)

Here is Corinne’s new pal:

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Winter Pyjamas: sewn by my mom (these ones are my fave.  so cute.)

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O + S tea party sundress: sewn by me

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O + S popover sundress: sewn by me

My mom sews all kinds of things. Kid’s clothes, quilts, head wraps, totes, pouches, and now, 18” doll clothes. When Ellery got Saige, my mom started making the cutest things. Most of the clothes you see here were made by her.  Thanks Momma! She is so good at pumping stuff out. So good, that she recently decided to open a little etsy shop!

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Little Abbee Doll pj’s: sewn by my mom

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Winter Pyjamas: sewn by my mom

There are a ton of patterns and tutorials out there for doll clothes.  It’s fun, but I’ll admit that I needed a break from all that 1/4″ bias tape!  My real-life friend and fellow sewing blogger Allie of Crozette, made the cutest Sunday brunch jacket for her daughter’s doll.  And Sanae has a great post full of amazing clothes that her mother made her daughter.

I would love to know if any of you out there have made doll clothes, and which patterns you like.  I need quick sews at this point, and I’d love to find a little moccasin pattern too.

Hope Spring has found you!

-Erin

p.s. doll photoshoots are totally creepy after a while.

geranium in washi + gold

First, I just want to thank you guys for your kind and thoughtful comments on our last post.  Caroline and I both felt the love!  You guys are the best.  Wes has responded really well to chemo so far, and it was a pleasure to get to see him this morning in his own house, being silly and adorable.   A few weeks ago, I threw all sewing stuff to the wind.  I couldn’t really do anything but think about my sweet nephew and how I could help my sis.  But, sewing is therapeutic, and it felt nice to pick up some fabric and make something out of it.  So, while I had some time on my hands yesterday (thank god for children who still nap!), I decided to finish up this little outfit that I’ve had cut out for some time.

This fabric has certainly seen its heyday- Rae made it iconic with her original Washi dress… But I’ve been sitting on a yard of it for almost 2 years.  So, while you sewing blog readers are probably sick of seeing it, well…. sorry!  But, I think it’s the perfect kid fabric with it’s vibrant colors.

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Nothing is easier than using a pattern you know well.  The Geranium is tried and true.  This version is the tunic length, with ruffle sleeves.  I usually use gold thread to finish the zigzag edge because I’m all for a little understated bling.

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The bubble bloomers are self-drafted.  I’ve been working on perfecting the fit, and I’m almost there.  I think they are a nice staple to have in a toddler wardrobe.  And when you make them out of cotton couture,  well… they are almost luxurious.  Rich in color, soft and they almost have a sheen to them.

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This set is not for my darling dear Coco.  Instead, I enlisted her modeling help (in exchange for 2 Cadbury mini eggs… ’tis the season!), and then packed these up to be shipped to a little friend up north today.

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Yesterday it was in the 70′s here.  I hope you are experiencing some signs of Spring wherever you are!

-Erin

Prayers for Wes

Three years ago, our family’s world seemed to fall apart when my Mother was diagnosed with Fallopian Tube cancer.  Our easy, breezy, happy lives suddenly felt heavy and sad.  It’s terrifying when something like that happens to someone you love, and you immediately start thinking the worst.  But time went by and treatment started and somehow it all just sort of became our ‘new normal’- we learned to adapt, while my mother began her battle.   And three years later, after two intensive surgeries, and two cycles of chemo, my mom is doing well.  We hope that after she completes an upcoming cycle of radiation, that we can say “BUH-BYE” to her cancer for good.

And while it never feels right hearing that your mom, or someone close to you has cancer, you learn that cancer does not discriminate.  It can happen to anyone.

But, perhaps there is nothing more unsettling or unnatural than hearing a child has cancer.

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 Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago, my sister (and co-creator of this little blog) Caroline, got the news that her youngest child, 15-month old Wes, has been diagnosed with high-risk Neuroblastoma stage IV.   News that made all of our hearts just SINK.  To say we’re all devastated, shocked, and sad is an understatement.  Screeching halt?  I think I heard it ringing in my ears for days.

To imagine how my sister and brother-in-law felt upon hearing this diagnosis just kills me.  Life literally changed in an instant for them.

And for little Wes.

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:::Gee and Wes practice animal sounds:::

Wes has a big fight ahead of him, and we prepared to see him through it.  As the doctor explained, his cancer is highly aggressive and they will treat it aggressively.  Chemo has already begun.  Bone marrow transplant, surgery, radiation, and other procedures are on the horizon.  He is GREAT hands here in Charlottesville at University of Virginia Childrens Hospital with a fabulous pediatric oncologist, and she has given us faith that Wes can get better.  Caroline and Pei have been taking turns spending days and nights with him, and they are learning lots of new fancy medical jargon.

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Caroline and her husband have been remarkably strong… I am just in awe of them.  She is the one showing us how to get through this- with grace and love and a positive attitude.  I have always admired Caroline’s mothering.  She is a sweet mama with a ton of patience.  She is celebrating the good days, when Wes is eating well, being happy, and smiling. He loves to make animal sounds, drink the hospital dry of the complimentary apple juice, watch videos on the iPad, and scribble on paper.  A couple of nights ago, he even broke the 7th floor curfew and partied until past 10:00!

He is such a sweet boy.

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Wes has lots of adoring cousins to FaceTime with, and so many friends and family members to visit him while he’s in the hospital.  Surely Caroline and Pei will see a gazillion meals pass through their door, home-cooked by helpful, loving friends.  Older siblings Avery and Jet have lots of playdates and school activities to keep them busy, and of course they have me, their “Shao” (Chinese for little Aunt) at their beck and call, their other Auntie (our older sis, Erika, who lives in Chicago) to send them kooky videos of her doing old high school cheers, and two sets of doting grandparents to love them up!  One amusing thing we discovered, is that Wes and my Mom will be sharing the same Radiologist at UVA.  How’s that for Funny-not-Funny?  Hey, if it keeps our family on his mind more than usual, then it can only be a good thing, right?

We are Wes’s warriors, and we stand along side the Chang family as they begin this journey.

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I am asking you loyal readers, on behalf of my sister, to please keep Wes and his family in your thoughts and prayers.  If there is a community out there that can do that I know it’s the supportive, inspiring sewing blog one that Caroline and I have come to know and love over the last 3 (wait-almost 4!) years.

Lots of love,

Erin

Minions Run Wild

Before I get started, a round of applause for my amazing sister, Erin, for summoning her inner Jessie Spano and pumping out several kid friendly garments during KCW!  Bravo!  Who knew that sewing with knits would be like crack to her?

My crack is those peanut butter filled pretzel nuggets.  Can I get an intervention please?

My KCW week was consumed by this- Minion costumes for Jet’s 7th birthday party!

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Jet was dead set on a Despicable Me themed birthday party, a theme that is not widely found in your neighborhood stores (though, I bet it will be by next year).  The idea to costume all of the children came from the fact that I really hate coordinating party games.   I was all over Pinterest, trying to get ideas, but I just did not feel like decorating  soda bottles for minion bowling, or pining the scarf on Gru…

So naturally, sew costumes for all, and let them handle the fun!

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Before you declare me out-of-my-gourd, understand that this is not kind of sewing I am proud of.  This was balls to the wall sewing with reckless abandon!   Most of it was done on the serger with super forgiving fleece- no hemming, no button holes, no elastic, nobody cares!

It was totally fun!

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I used the Parsley Pants pattern to draft the bottom portion, and basically attached a rectangular bib.  The long straps took the longest to sew because I used two pieces of fabric and sewed them on the regular machine.  The yellow T-shirts were 4 for $9 at Jo-Ann, and that is where I bought the fleece too (using coupons of course).  The “G” was cut from denim and roughly appliqued.

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My plan worked.  All the boys were so jazzed about the costumes, that all I had to do was supervise the ensuing madness!  That cloud paper was also from Jo-ann’s, and worked well for a photo wall.  Ready for some pics?

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Pei and I attempted to dress as Gru and Lucy.  Yes, I did sew him that scarf.  Avery bailed on her Agnes outfit because I couldn’t get her ponytail to “stick straight in the air”.  #fouryearoldproblems

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A nearly 70 degree day in winter worked to our advantage.  After photos, I just pointed them all toward the door and they ran and played their little hearts out!  We even moved the eating table and pinata out there!

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You better believe we heard lots of “be-do, be-do, be-do”!

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By the way, the pinata and glasses were found on Amazon.

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Birthday boy!

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Little sister!

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Little brother!

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Make-your-own sundaes!

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This was a last-minute paper banner that I let Avery and Jet work on before the party started.  We didn’t finish it in time to hang it.  Oh well.

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The party was a major hit!  I really enjoyed seeing how adorable these little boys were in those costumes.  And before you ask me what I am going to do to top this next year, here  is your answer- Nothing.  We will not be doing the party with all the friends thing every year for every kid.  Keeping it mellow for the next couple years.

I hope that this will be one of those historical birthdays for Jet.     

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He is one incredibly worthy 7 year old.  I Love you buddy!

~Caroline

KCW: The End

Like I said the other day, I’m feeling super-charged this week.  Kind of like Jessie Spano on the Saved by the Bell when she was on speed for 72 hours straight… (“I’m so excited, I’m so excited, I’m… so…. scared!”)

Only, I’m not high on speed.

I’m high on knits.

(and if you know the episode I’m talking about, let’s be best friends.)

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So, I’m back with a couple of outfits for the kid who needs them the most.  Ellery is growing out of pretty much everything.

Above is yet another Flashback tee.  Yup, still addicted.  I modified it to be A-line, and also cut it about 3-4 inches longer.

Then.

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The Geranium hijacked the Flashback.

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I used the ruffle sleeve pattern piece from my beloved Geranium pattern (zigzag’d the edges with gold thread) and basted it to the curve at the top of the sleeve, and then continued on as usual.  The fabric is Cotton Couture in Cinnamon and it’s really a neat neutral, but still interesting, color.  I like the contrast of it with the eggplant jersey (from Joann) and the greige (grey-beige y’all)sleeves- repurposed from a top of my own.

The leggings are made with the same brushed knit I showed you the other day.  They are so cozy. I’ve been calling them her Polar Vortex leggings.  Oh, and in true Ellery style, she slept in them last night- which is always a good sign, right?

I used the Oliver + S Playtime Leggings digital pattern, and I’m in love!

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Now.  Do yourself a favor: buy this pattern.

(It’s now being offered as an individual pattern, so you gotta check it out!)

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I cut a size 6 for Ellery, and I would say they are a pretty perfect fit, though I’m not sure it’s the perfect legging fabric.  It didn’t seem to bounce back quite as well as I’d like, but still totally wearable (and sleep-able!).  And hey, if these end up as pajama bottoms…it’s okay because I’ll probably be spooning her whenever she wears them.

Moving on to outfit number 2.

Remember the other day how I said I’d be taking care of Ellery’s high-water leggings with the worn-out knees?

I think these are a pretty great solution.  What do you think?

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Things really started clicking as this pair came together.  Great stretchy fabric, not to thin. And concise, straightforward directions that Oliver + S fans have always raved about.  Sewing is fun.  Sewing leggings is the most fun.

Oh, and can I mention how FAST they are to sew?  I started this pair at 2:15 one day (I distinctly remember looking at the clock) and by 2:35 when I walked down the driveway to get Ellery off the bus, all I had left to do was pull the elastic through the casing and sew it shut.  Boom.  Leggings.

With heart knee patches!

Here’s a quick look at my patch placement in case you’re interested:

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(My heart patch is about 3″ wide at the widest part, and about 3 1/2″ long.  The point is about 7 3/4″ up from the bottom edge, and about 1 1/2″ to the left of that edge on the right.  I fiddled around with an old pair of my daughters leggings to get an idea of where they should go, but maybe this could be helpful if you’re making a size 6 as well. note: I cut my pattern a tad longer – maybe 3/8″, though I think it’s plenty long as it is.)

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The knee patches are 2 layers of red cotton knit just stuck on there and top-stitched.  We have thrown out several pairs of fairly new pairs of store-bought leggings (I’m talking to you, Old Navy) because of holes in the knees.  Just thin fabric I guess.  Or maybe she plays too hard.

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For the tee, “I took a little help from the store”, (as Rachael Ray would say with her pre-shredded carrots) and bought one from Target.  I then thought of a fun V-day saying, then I googled it to see if I was clever enough to have invented it (no, I’m not), and freezer paper stenctiled away with some gold, red, and black fabric paint.

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I printed the I’M WITH on my computer and traced it, but tried my best to free-hand the Cupid and arrow.

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Oh, hey! Cupid’s awake!

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I think the only way for me to participate in KCW (and what I did this time around) is to plan ahead, cut out fabric, set aside patterns in the days before, so all I have to do is sew.  It’s just too much of a disorganized mess if I go between cutting to sewing to cleaning up… etc.

I hope you all had fun sewing along for KCW, and if you didn’t, well… there’s always the Springtime!

-Erin

**Oliver + S kindly supplied me with the Playtime Leggings pattern.  Several patterns are not being offered as single PDFs.  You can check them out in their shop!**

kcw day five: flashback dress

 There are plenty of times (like weeks at a time) that I don’t feel inspired to make anything, or my kids don’t need anything, or I just have no creative juices.  But I’m feeling super-charged this week and I think it’s because I’m conquering my fears about sewing with knits.  And it’s mostly because I have too- since it’s all my kids want to wear.

Caroline commented on my flashback tee for Coco the other day, “Congratulations, you are now a Flashback addict.”

Yup.  I am.

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I made this late at night, and could’ve been way more precise about sewing it all, but I wasn’t.  Basically, I cut the shirt off a couple of inches under the arm pit and added a nice big gathered rectangle (I stitched that to the bodice by using zigzag stitch and then I serged it). There is some definite wonkiness (at the gathered seam, and the hem), but Ell loves it!

(a-hem.  This photo shoot was a DOOZY.)

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This rib knit was pretty stretchy and even though I cut a size 5 for my kid, it really started to stretch out by the time she got home from school when I snapped these pictures.  The gray baby rib is from Joann and it’s awesome- great stretch recovery (like all my new lingo?).  It’s great for necklines and cuffs.

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The coral floral (hehe) fabric is from fabric.com, but I can’t seem to find it there anymore.  I got it for $3.49/yard and I am willing to take my chances on cheap knit from an online store.  I am not one of those “have to see it/feel it in the store” type of people.  There is excitement in a little risky fabric shopping!  I did make sure it was mostly cotton, with a little lycra, and I think that’s a good little rule to go buy when buying for basic shirts/dresses.

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Girl is growing like a weed.  Those high-waters and worn-out knees are being taken care of tomorrow, fyi.

Stayed tuned.

-Erin