more tour pants + Echino bib

I wanted to show you guys the boy version of the Toddler Tour pants that I made.

These pants are going to a friend’s new(ish) baby, Chet in Vermont.  I hope he digs them as much as I do!

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I used a stretch tan corduroy for the main fabric and a bunch of random scraps to create the panels.  I made these in a 9-12 month size, so he should be sporting these next Fall!  Ahh… Autumn in Vermont.  Could there be a better place to leaf peep?  I think not.

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These are lined with a random cotton print from my stash.  For the tag, I used a little piece of ribbon that has vegetable plants on it.  I have no idea what vegetable that is down there.

…Looks more like an herb to me…

<wink wink>

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I was happy to finally use up the Echino fabric that I’ve been sitting on for two years wondering what to do with.  Kind of perfect for a little boy.  And, it totally goes with my theme here… tour pants… bus bib… tour bus… get it?

So, I cut a basic bib shape (it’s backed with flannel), and finished the raw edges with bias tape that I made from the littlest bit of the Echino that I had left after cutting it up for this bib.  And instead of my usual snap closure, I switched it up and used a cute brown button and elastic loop.

You know, keepin’ it fresh around here folks!

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And there you have it.  A sweet little homemade gift for a baby boy.

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If you use my Tour pants tutorial, please let me know- I’d love to see some other versions.  They are so fun to put together and personalize for whomever they are for!

Go make some.

PEACE.

-Erin

Sweet Clarice Stocking + tutorial

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This stocking has been a long time coming… it’s been floating around in my head ever since last year’s Abominable Snowman was created.

I know I’m not alone in my love for Clarice…. she is pretty, pure, so kind, and has one of the lovliest voices in show biz.  It’s no question that my favorite scene in the Rudolph movie is when Rudolph and Clarice meet… and then when he flies and says “she said i’m cuuuuuuute!”  and then his fake nose falls off.  It’s classic.  I wanted to pay homage to my favorite leading doe, by making this felt stocking for one of my girls (I think Ellery is calling dibs on this one.  Corinne will have to settle for Hermie next year!  Or the misfit doll maybe?).

Do you love Clarice too?  Or do you know someone who would appreciate their very own Clarice Christmas stocking?

Here’s a step-by-step tutorial for ya…..

First, go here to download and print this little Clarice pattern I drew up.

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You’ll need wool or wool blend felt.  I love the felt I’ve gotten from Ohma in the past- I used it here for Clarice and for the snowy ground… The main part of the stocking is felt from my local fabric shop, Les Fabriques- it’s not quite as high in quality as the Ohma stuff, but it’s perfectly fine for this project, and it came in a large piece.

  I used Oatmeal-colored felt for Clarice and an off-white felt for the snow.  Bright white for the main part of the stocking- but any backround color would be nice here…. I just wanted to keep it mostly white.  I also used some little bits of white velour for the white parts on her chest and belly and ears, and some white fur for the fluff on her tail.  I used a teensy bit of black felt for her nose, but you can also use a little black craft paint ( which is what i used for the hoofs).

Okay, here we go.  Cut your pattern pieces out and trace them onto your felt with a disappearing marker, or just get crazy and use a sharpie like me- just make sure to cut away black away.

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**note: when you are cutting the legs that are in the background, extend the piece at the top by about 1/4″  since you’ll need to tuck those pieces under the body and then glue them.)**

I started putting Clarice’s head together first- I shaped the eye by going back and forth between many photos of her on the iPad. Glue (using basic craft or fabric glue) the white of her eye down to the head piece, and then glue the back part on top of that.  Using a few strands of black thread, hand-stitch around her eye…and then stitch a few long eyelashes at the top corner.  Her lashes are her best feature, don’t you think?

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Okay, next glue the little white part of her mouth to her head, and then using a tiny piece of black felt, glue on a little nose for her (or paint one on).

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I had used her head as a gauge of how big the rest of her body should be… and then made up the rest of my pattern.  I think she’s fairly proportionate.

Okay, next you need to cut the front piece of your stocking.  You can trace a stocking you already have, or draw one up freehand.  Finished, mine is about 15″ tall, 6″ wide at the center (where Clarice’s body will be), and 10″ wide at the foot.  I cut mine slightly larger at first so I had some room to modify the design later on if I wanted to.

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Next you need to make a blanket of snow for Clarice to stand on.  I cut long wavy shapes and just placed them all across the foot of the stocking.  Just use a bit of glue to keep them in place, then topstitch them along the waves.  (You’ll cut the excess off later.)

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I used gold thread, but you can barely see it.  Oh well…We’ll add some bling later.

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Once the snow was on there, I used my disappearing ink marker to re-draw the bottom shape of the stocking.  Now you can start to glue the deer in place wherever you’d like her to be.  Play around with how you want things placed, how you want the head tilted, etc…

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Using some small pieces of white flannel, felt or velour, glue a bit to her neck, and her belly, and both ears.  Just use these pictures as a general guide for that.

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Then, use a small amount of white fur if you have it to make a little fluff at the end of her tail.  You could probably even use a little bit of a cotton ball if you didn’t have fur.

Check out what my kiddos did to my embroidery floss while I was engrossed in my project!!  ARGH!

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Okay, next… use some skinny red ribbon (with white polkda dots if you can find it- i lucked out and found some at Michael’s in the clearance Xmas section) to make a small bow.  Glue it right in between the ears.  Then use a Q-tip and brush on a little blush below her eye…

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Purty….  :)

Next, you can sew in some snowflakes using a few strands of thread- I used metallic gold… yep, you heard me.  Gold snow.  Er…stars?

You can also use embroidery floss.  Make a cross going one way, then a smaller one going the other way.  Make as many or as few as you want.

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Next up, pin your stocking to your back piece of felt.

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Sew your stocking together, staying close to the edge of your design.  Stitch along the marking on the foot you made, and then cut away the excess….

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Lookin’ good!

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Make a little loop to hang your stocking by sewing 2 rectangular pieces of felt together- finished, you want it about 9″ by 1/2″-3/4″.  Just sew up each side and trim the excess away…

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Bring the ends together and hand stitch them to the back piece of your stocking, at the top right corner.

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You can fancy up your stocking any way you’d like.  Pom pom trim would be super cute…. But I found that icy blue fringe trim at my local shop and knew right away it was meant for Clarice.  I thought it had a little old school charm…

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Hand-sew your trim (beginning at the back somewhere) all around the top edge of your stocking.

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AAAAANNNDDDD… you’re DONE!

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And enjoy having “There’s always tomorrow…. ” stuck in you head for about 3 days after….

Happy Holidays!

-Erin

Superhero onesie tutorial

In my recent experience, I have found that capes make a perfect gift for girls and boys, whatever the age.   You are never too old for superhero fantasy play!  At least that’s what my husband would have me believe.  He even made up his own hero called “The Nap-Master”, whose powers become stronger when he gets a few minutes of sleep.  Nice, right?

Anyway, this project allows for the youngest in the family to become a caped crusader in his own right.   And just in time for Halloween!  As I whipped up this bad-boy (2 hours before it was due to be gifted!), I tried to take enough photos to pull it into a little tutorial for ya.  Hopefully, there not too many gaps in the process!

First, gather your materials-  a plain onesie (or tee-shirt), a 12 x 15 rectangle of cape fabric, and scraps for your applique design. and thread to match!

Fold, press, and pin 3 of the cape’s edges.  Or, save time on this simple project by serging your edges and leaving them that way.

Finish your 3 sides with a 1/8″ edge stitch.

Next, machine gather the unfinished edge by sewing a straight stitch (do not back-stitch at the start or finish) set to the highest stitch length.

The fabric will gather when you pull on the top threads at each end.  Gather until the length of your gathered edge measures the length of the back collar of your onesie.

At this point, I was running late and decided to quickly secure my gathered edge by folding it over and running a zigzag stitch along the edge.  Then, I pinned the cape from shoulder seam to shoulder seam.

Secure the cape to the onesie with a zigzag stitch.

I snuck in a little ribbon tag for a signature look.

Now, on to the applique.  I always use Steam-a-Seam 2, a double-sided fusible interfacing, to attach my designs.  Iron paper to the wrong side of your fabric.  Draw your design on the paper, but be careful if you are drawing a letter- you will need to draw it backwards, or draw it on the right side of the fabric!  I had my husband draw me a superhero-y lightening bolt.  My own version just did not look cool.

Cut out your design, remove paper, and iron to your onesie.

Finish the applique by using a small, tight zigzag stitch around the edge of your design.  Practice your zigzagging on scrap fabric to get it just right.  I thought this gold contrasting thread would really make it pop!   And, that’s it!  Super baby to the rescue!

*Disclaimer*

I am not responsible for atempted flying off furniture by caped babies or toddlers!  However, if instead your child transforms into a fearless “Nap-Master”, I will gladly accept credit!  Good luck with that one.

~ Caroline

The Rookie Seamstress (a guest post and tutorial)

I never thought I’d see the day. Our sister Erika, dubbed “the uncrafty one”, learned to sew! And get this, after only two hours at the sewing machine, she is here to offer you a tutorial! Seriously guys, this is how big sisters roll.  They also declare things like, “Watch me dominate the sewing machine,” and “Sweet! What What!”, as they go.

Erika and her adorable one year old, Sean, are visiting from Chicago for a few weeks, staying at our parent’s house. Since a terrible storm last week has left us (the Chang 4) without power, we’ve been squatting at casa de parentals too. 6 days and counting, people!

Anyway, I came back here with the kids after a pool day, and found Erika in our mom’s sewing studio, completed project in hand, looking oh-so satisfied…

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 My jaw dropped. What just happened?
I will let E take it from here.
-Caroline

I admit that crafting isn’t my thing. It takes too long, gets boring, requires lots of clean-up, and I just don’t have a head full of creative ideas. However, I always admire the things my sisters and mother make and think, “Well I can do that too.”

Here is my first sewing project: Bibs!

Choose your fabrics. For this bib I chose a red gingham and a Dick and Jane print. I also used a piece of flannel fabric in the middle to give the bib some additional structure. However, the flannel is optional. I made some bibs without it and they turned out just as well.

The first step is to iron your fabric. Apparently this is the key to sewing, according to both my mom and mother-in-law. Did they have the same Home Ec. teacher??

Next, trace your pattern onto your fabric. (Who knew they make fabric markers that disappear when you iron it?! Love it!! I’m a gadget girl and I’ll buy anything that makes life easier and more convenient so this marker was right up my alley.) Make sure you trace on the wrong side of the fabric and make sure the flannel fabric is on the bottom, not sandwiched in the middle. I made the mistake of putting it in the middle and after I finished sewing and went to turn it right side out, I realized my error. This led me to my next “first”….the seam ripper. My sister and mother assured me they make mistakes all the time and have to take out stitches. Yeah right.

Start by tracing your favorite bib onto some card stock or heavy paper.

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Place your fabrics on top of each other and pin together.  They should be inside out.   Trace around your bib pattern on one of the outside fabrics.

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Don’t cut out the shape yet. Sew it first, then cut it out. Trust me. It’s much easier!

Sew along the line you traced on the fabric. Remember to leave an opening (2-3 inches) so you can turn your fabric right side out later.

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Once it is sewn, cut out the shape staying about 1/4 inch from the thread.

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Turn the bib right side out. Then use a tool like a chopstick to push out all the edges from inside the bib.

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Iron your bib making sure to iron a nice seam at the opening.

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Sew the opening shut.

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Optional step- I went back and added a top stitch after I was done. I did it because I made a mistake sewing up the opening. Apparently, this is an “advanced” sewing technique

;-) Actually, it made the bib look more finished and I really liked it. It was easy with the aid of a quilting 1/4 edge foot in place.

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Add a snap.

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Hardest part- trying to fix my many mistakes: retreading the bobbin, switching feet, threading the needle, trying not to sew too fast, remembering all the steps.

All in all, not too tough and I’ll admit, pretty fun.  I plan on making more of these bibs to give as gifts to friends.  But this one, is for my little guy, Sean!

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Thanks for having me!

Erika

Vintage Spring Top

Well, I had to get in on the Vintage May action too, especially when I came upon this sheet set at Goodwill last month. 

The woman in front of me was fairly certain that her parents used to own a set!  Sweet.  My thinking was to use it for muslins, as I wanted to delve into some more advanced sewing.  But, then again, it would be great if I actually could wear my “practice” Spring Ruffle Top (minus the ruffles).  What do you think?

I like it!  You can find this tutorial by Rae, which appeared as a guest post a couple of years ago, on Sew Mama Sew, or in Rae’s tutorial section.  Looked easy enough, and I was really excited about maternity alterations that were suggested by another contributor (help, can’t find a link to the woman who made a few of these, one with a tie on the bottom hem?).  Anyhoo, yes, I said it, maternity.  16 weeks ya’ll! And now for the baby bump reveal…

Due date is very close to my birthday in early November, but I’m targeting Halloween, cause I just love it.  I don’t think I will have any trouble fitting into this as I expand, it is pretty roomie.  The new skill I attempted was adding piping to the bust seam and straps!  Check it out… and allow me to enjoy my temporarily voluptuous (ha!) bosom.

I thought the addition of the lime green piping added to the retro-vintage vibe.

I hemmed the back piece a good bit shorter than the front.  You kinda have to try it on and figure it out for yourself a bit.  I really wished I’d included the arm divots, but it wasn’t making sense to me in the tutorial pics.  I needed my mom to help me, but she was out-of-town!

Attempting a pigeon-toed pose.

I can just hear my childhood ballet teachers scolding me now.  Seriously though, what’s with all the pigeon-toed poses out there?

Anyway, I’m pretty psyched to be sewing for myself for a change.  I have a few more ideas up my sleeve, and some pretty fabric to cut up, so stay tuned.

Just for fun, I whipped up a couple of “Garden Skirts” for Ellery and Avery out of the big sheet.

Nice fourth position Ell!

I might have to make a grown up Garden Skirt.  I actually have yet to sew with elastic thread, gonna try it.

Cheese!

~Caroline

Vintage Pillowcase Tank Dress

Do you hear that?  That’s the sound of my sewing machine being revved up for the first time in 7 weeks! 

Ahhh… so nice. 

I really needed to get back to the sewing world- I didn’t know I’d miss it so much!  Anyway, I took Corinne on her first thrift store trip the other day and we scored some good stuff, including a few vintage pillowcases for $.50 each.  With all the Vintage May goodness going on at Skirt As Top and Craftiness Is Not Optional, I was inspired to bring one back to modern day life.

A quick and simple dress involving nothing more than a plain tank top and a pillowcase. 

Hello, Cheap and Easy!

Wanna make one?  Then read on….

Okay.  Raid your Grandma’s linen closet, or hit up your local Goodwill for a pillowcase.  (Random fact: according to the tag, this one was made close by in Danville, Virginia.  Sweet!  How’s that for going local?)

 Grab a basic tank.  This one is from Walmart and was probably $2…

Next, get an existing dress that fits your little girl well.  Use it as a guide for measuring the length to which you’ll cut your tank, and the length of your skirt piece. 

 Add an inch to the tank and to the skirt piece to allow for a seam allowance. 

**For my average-sized 4 year old, I cut my tank about 3″ below the bottom of the armhole. 

**I cut the pillowcase skirt piece 17″ long**

 

Most pillowcases have one side seam.  This seam will then become the middle of the back of your dress. 

Next, mark the center of the front of the skirt piece.  Make some some pleats 5-6″ across the front. I kind of winged it (wung it?)- mine are about 1/2″ wide.  It helps to iron them down a bit. 

Pin those pleats, and then sew vertically about 1″ down the fold of each pleat to keep it in place.  Also sew across the raw edge of the pleated area using a 1/2″ seam allowance. 

Next, you want to sew a gathering stitch (use your longest stich length and don’t backstitch at either end!) from one edge of your pleated area to the other edge of your pleated area using a 1/2″ seam allowance.  **don’t sew along the pleats!

Measure the width of your child’s chest.  Gather your skirt piece to equal that measurement PLUS a good 2″.  Ellery’s measurement is 21″, so I gathered my skirt piece to be about 23″ wide. **pull on the long threads that are at the ends of your gathering stitch to create the gathers- i try to keep most of  the gathers in the back of the skirt piece since the front piece is pleated.  This will make sure that your dress has some nice flow room in the front and the back of the dress.  Make sense?

Okay. Next, turn your skirt piece inside out.  Then, insert your tank top (neckline first) into the skirt piece.  The back seam of your skirt should line up with the back tag of the tank top (right sides together).  Meet the raw edges together and pin in place. This can seem confusing the first time you do it, but think about it for a minute and you’ll get it!

(p.s. once you learn this technique, it is easy to turn any shirt into a dress!! Even for yourself!)

If you hold it up, it should look like this. 

(Thanks to sis Caroline for helping! Oh, and for taking my kid strawberry picking so I could actually get time to do all this!! You da best.)

Okay, next you’re going to sew the tank to the skirt.  You’ll need to handwind elastic thread onto a bobbin (this video can help you if you’ve never done this).  Sew completely around the skirt using a 5/8″ seam.  Sew one more line of stitches very close to the previous one- just for good measure.  Using the elastic thread technique will ensure that the dress can be pulled on and off easily and have some give, but also fit your child snug around the chest.

*You can then serge, zigzag stitch, or use pinking shears to finish your seam- my serger is tucked away at the moment, so i haven’t gotten around to it yet*

When you’re done, pull your tank top back up and it looks like this:

Now turn your dress right side out to admire your handiwork.  And my sisters well-tanned arm.  No fair.

Give it to your girl!

I love how simple this dress looks, and I like the front being pleated instead of gathered…but I thought it needed a little more detail. 
So I sewed a piece of ivory lace to the neckline of the tank (sorry no photo of that, but you can figure it out- use a zigzag stitch.)

Here is the real finished dress… and my sweet girl being the BEST child model ever!  No bribes needed!

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(…really mom…get me out of this scratchy, snake-infested  field already…)

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Thanks for visiting!

-Erin

 

Birthday Flags Tutorial

“Baby Sean” turns one in a couple weeks.  And, when our sister Erika said she was going to buy birthday flags on Etsy for $35, I volunteered to whip her up a set at cost. I’m all for supporting Etsy and everything (check out our mom’s new shop!), but when it comes to something this simple, ya might as well make your own. Image

This tutorial is for the beginner seam-sters out there.  Just a few years ago, this was one of my first sewing projects.  It’s a great skill builder, and allows for you to make use of bit pieces of favorite fabric.  Also, if your kids are like mine, they will feel super special each year when their birthday (or week) is recognized with a sweet family tradition.

1. Select your fabrics.  Go crazy!

2. Fold your fabric pieces in half, right sides together, and press.Image

3. Draw and cut an isosceles triangle (2 sides equal length, middle school math anyone?) out of cardboard.  Or, if you have a random, giant, see-through, plastic triangle like mine, by all means use it.  Where did I get this thing?  It just turned up one day and I use it all the time.  Quilters probably have buckets of these. Image

4. Trace your triangle onto your folded fabric, however it fits nicely.  I decided to cut two triangles out of each piece, for an extra set of bunting (now I have a ready-made gift stashed away for future giving).

5. Tip from Mom: Do not cut your triangle out yet. SEW FIRST!  Luckily my mom stopped by while I was starting this project.  This tip was crucial.  I didn’t have to worry about my pointy flag tip getting sucked under like a toga party on an escalator!  Sew along the two equal sides, reinforcing stitches at the tip. Don’t bother sewing across the top of your triangle, as that is where you will turn your fabric. Image

6. Cut out your triangles, about 1/4 of an inch around the stitching. Cut closer to stitching as you near the point. Image

7. Turn your triangles right side out.  Use a knitting needle or chopstick to get at your point.  Children may enjoy helping with this task!

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8. I forgot to tell you, buy some coordinating double-fold bias tape.  Or make your own, you do not need to cut your fabric on the bias.

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9.  Press your flags, trim the tops so that they are nice and straight and matched up.

10. Order your triangles how you like. Lay them out to see how they will fit along the bias tape. I used 12 flags per 3 yard bias tape.

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11. Open up your bias tape and shove the open end of your triangle to the top of the main fold.  You are welcome to use pins, but I think it is best to just go one flag at a time, holding it in there a bit as you run it through the machine, about 1/8″ from the bottom edge of the tape.

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12. Tidy up your project as necessary.  I added some jute rope to my ends for tying up.  Ribbon would be lovely too.  Voila you are done.  Enjoy inside…

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or out!

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~ Caroline