My First Flashback

I bought this shirt a while back at a thrift store, thinking that it looked big enough to fit me.  I just loved that retro squirrel print!  Trying it on at home, I soon realized that this shirt came straight from the tween department.  It wouldn’t even stretch over my rib cage!  That’s alright, I knew I could turn it into something cute for Avery.

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Rae’s Flashback Skinny Tee was the perfect opportunity to use this fun print and to get some practice sewing with knits.  The thrifted shirt only provided enough fabric for the front and back of the tee.  So, I had to scavenge for sleeve fabric.  I found a  purple rayon knit shirt that I’d never worn balled up in my closet.  (I couldn’t take it back to the store because my parents’ puppy chewed up the tags, thank you Lenny. 😉 )   It was the perfect color for my sleeves, albeit, a difficult one for a novice- so thin and drapey.

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Pretty sweet right?  With all new sewing projects, you learn a lot.  Rae’s pattern is perfection, and she gives so many wonderful hints and options.  My excitement got the better of me, and I made a couple of errors.

#1. I did not pre-wash that rayon shirt!  My cuffed sleeves shrunk to a 3/4 length!  I cut them off, and may decide to turn it into a short sleever later.  For now, its cool with a raw hem.

#2.  I did not measure my child.  She is 3 1/2 , and is always 50th percentile at the doc, so I just went with the standard 3T sizing.  I should have taken into account that she “has a pot”(Pulp Fiction anyone?) and used Rae’s instructions for adding length.  Oh well, I took out the bottom hem, and left that raw too.

Now we’re in business.

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I added the stripe across the front to cover up a seam that existed in the original shirt.  The back of the original shirt became the front of this tee.  I’m kinda glad it was there because I wouldn’t have thought to add such a cute detail!

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Avery loves it!  And so do I!  I cannot wait to make another Flashback Tee!  It is just so satisfying to be able to create something as mundane as a tee-shirt.  What kid would object to such comfort?  Not mine!

Happy Monday!

~Caroline

vintage floral crowns

Hey y’all!

Just popping in to share with you what’s been consuming my evening sewing sessions lately….I’m not sure what inspired these crowns, but once the idea came to me there was no stopping the production!

vintage floral pillowcases + wool felt = soft, sweet, and subtle crowns perfect for Spring.

(side note- no matter how much you wash a vintage sheet, it still smells OLD.  or, seasoned as i like to say….)

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The above fabric is from the same pillowcase that this dress was made from.

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These are going to be for a certain special girl’s 5th birthday party coming up in April.  I am making one for each of her little guests.  Hence the production line!  We’ll be having a little girl’s luncheon in our backyard garden and I’m excited to plan for it- I’m usually not big on birthday hoopla for little kiddos (a ton of work/stress/money- plus all three of my babies have birthdays within a month of each other!) but, now that Ellery is old enough to help me with ideas and planning, it’s actually something I’m looking forward to!  Except that every day she tells me EXACTLY what she’d like her cake to look like… different every day of course!

I like that these crowns (which they can wear for the party AND take home…) don’t cost a lot, but are made with a lot of love.

More to come!

-Erin

Toddler Tour Pants + tutorial

I’m probably dating myself with this post, but I’m sure some of you remember this hippie craze back in the late 90’s… patchwork pants!!

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The idea for these came to me in a flash when one of my best friend’s from highschool, Jay and his wife, Maegen had a baby this Fall.  I wanted to make their little guy a gift but didn’t feel inspired to make my usual set of baby bibs…so these were born.  I thought it would be so fun to modernize these pants… by using some lighter fabrics (there was a lot of corduroy back in ’98!), in softer colors. I think they are perfectly appropriate for a hip little baby!

Maybe you knew a guy like Jay- A really nice/cool/funny guy, who liked Phish, the Dead, etc… went to school in Vermont, now has a super cool job working at Ben & Jerry’s- Bonaroo Buzz? Yeah, he pretty much invented it.  I know…I’m jealous too.  Jay still gets to jam out at shows from time to time too.

He used to wear pants like these back in the day, just… earthier.  😉

So really, Jay (if you are reading this), you are the inspiration for these.  And your sweet little Chet will be recieving a boy version very soon!

Here’s my 9 month old Corinne hanging out in her new duds… munching on some raisins….

oh, and she walks now.  no big deal. !!!!

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“divided sky the wind blows high…..”

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“Take me where the whispering breezes
Can lift me up and spin me around”

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So.

Shall we make some pants?

First, you’ll want to make your patchwork panels.  Cut your scraps to 4″ wide, and anywhere between 2″ and 4″ long.  Sew them together to end up with 2 panels that are 4″ wide and as long as your pants pattern. Make sure you iron all the seams down.  Set those panels aside when you’re done.  These pants are a great way to showcase some of your favorite fabrics, and of course a great way to use up scraps.

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Next, using your favorite pants pattern, cut your 2 front and 2 back pieces.  I cut my pants from this thrifted linen skirt- i LOVE this fabric, and the weight of it… I’ve been dying to cut into it and it’s just perfect for these.  (there’s a matching cropped jacket too that is waiting to be hacked up!)

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 I’m using the Quick-Change Trousers from Anna Maria Horner’s book, Handmade Beginnings (though i altered the pattern by not using the back panel piece, and just extending the back piece to make them regular pants.)  Dana has a few pants tutorials- i like this one where she shows you how to draft your own pattern from a pair of well-fitting pants you already own.

You’ll want to cut 1″ off the side edge of your back pieces…

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…and 1″ off the side of your front pieces.

(these will end up being more wide-leg than your original pattern… adding about 2 inches of “room” to each pant leg of your finished pants).

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With right sides together, sew your back pieces (i always label the front and back pieces with tape since it can be hard to tell them apart!) together at the center seam.

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Do the same for your front pieces….

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Clip the curve…

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Next, with right sides together, sew your patchwork panels to your back piece.

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Should look something like this… oh, and press those center seams flat!

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Okay, your back piece should now look like this!

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Now, you can skip the next few steps and move right onto sewing your pants together, but I decided to line these for my baby since there are so many seams.  Lining pants is actually super easy and keeps everything nice and soft on the inside.

I’m using this vintage pillowcase since it’s really soft and thin.

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Using your new front and back pieces, lay them (folded) onto your (folded) lining fabric- easy to just use a pillowcase!

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Trace the pattern with a marker.

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Cut it out.

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Sew the front pieces and back pieces the same way you did with your other pieces.  Clip curves at center, and press the seams open.

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Your pieces should look like this right about now:

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Time to sew up your pants!  With right sides together, pin your front piece to your back piece.

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sew the sides first (i’m using a 5/8″ seam allowance).

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Trim your edges

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Next, sew the inside seam of your pants, starting at one leg… and ending at the other.

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Voila!  Pants!  Almost….

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Press your seams open

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Now, put your lining pants together in the same way, sew the sides first… then the center….

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Press your seams (on a low setting if you’re using a pillowcase with polyester like i am… i almost melted my center seam. whoops!)

Okay, so turn your outer pants right side out, and keep your lining pants inside out.  Fit your lining pants into the outer pants.

There will be no exposed seams inide the pants… cozy.  🙂

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Pin the top raw edges of your pants, and run that edge through a serger if you have it.  If not, you can zig zag stitch.

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Nice and neat!

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Now, fold your top edge over about 3/4″.  Using 2 pins, leave a 2″ space in the back of the pants to thread elastic.

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Topstitch all the way along the folded edge (i’m using an edgestich foot- love it!) as close to the edge as possible.  Then, Stitch along the serged edge to form the casing… just remember not to stitch where you have your 2 pins!

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Measure your kiddo’s waist, add about an inch and cut.  Coco’s measurement is 17″…

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Slip a safety pin through one end, and thread the elastic (mine is 1/2″) on through your casing….

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Once you get all the way around, bring the two ends together about an inch, and zig zag stitch to hold them together.

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Pin a piece of folded ribbon into the opening at the back, and stitch then stitch it closed.

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Now to hem!  Fold your outer pants to the inside and press (I folded up 1 1/2″). (**you may need to trim up your bottom raw edges first before you fold them under to hem, sometimes they can get a little wonky after sewing the pants together….)

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Then, fold your lining up the same amount and press.

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It should look like this:

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Sew around each leg hole… i sewed about 5/8″ from the edge.

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And you’re done!  Your kid is ready to go out on tour!

And play bongos!

With people she doesn’t know!

Or go bouncing around the room! (…or, the parking lot if she’s not so lucky).

(…Just don’t buy a veggie burrito from the kid in the brown Volvo- there’s like one bean, and the rest is just rice and you’ll be jipped out of $3…)

Yeah, I’ve been to a handful of these shows in my 33 years.  (but not as many as my sis though! Caroline- STOP asking me to make you an adult version of these, okay?  Just go put some Jerry on Pandora and make yourself some falafel if you really need to relive those days.  That goes for you too Joanne T!! hahaha…)

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I’m kidding… just put them on your little babe, and enjoy the sunset….

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“inspiration, move me brightly…”

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Anyone going out on Crib Tour 2013?

Coco is!

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“Waiting for the time when I can finally say
That this has all been wonderful, but now I’m on my way”

-Erin

UPcycled: knit tees to girl’s dresses

My sewing-fun as of late has been upcycling some barely worn clothes of ours into E’s new favorite dresses!

I attached a never-worn silky jersey shirt of mine (Old Navy, clearance rack, $6) to a basic long-sleeved black tee of hers.

Took all of 12 minutes to do this… seriously… you should make a few…

She wore it several times before I got around to adding the embellishment (to hide a little un-intended pleat in the top).  I cut circles of the purple fabric and stacked them up- about 5 layers from large to small, then hand-stitched them in the center to the front.

Awww… my poor sick girl.  She’s been under the weather all week, we’re waiting for a test to come back to see if she’s got mono…

Not sure who she’s kissing at preschool!!  hee hee.

Here’s another one, the bottom is an old dress of mine, the long-sleeve shirt came as-is- it has a cute corduroy print, some lace, and a couple lttle bows.

Just attached it to my old dress and voila!  This one took me about 11 minutes… At the rate i’m going, I should be able to crank one out while the car warms up in the morning!  ha!

No really though, here’s the quick rundown:

1. Cut your shirt and skirt to desired length- (I leave about 3″ of shirt below the armpit), the skirts I’ve been keeping pretty long since that’s how she likes them.

2. Gather your skirt by sewing a couple of long straight stitches across 1/2″ from the raw edge.  Gather it up evenly and turn it inside out.

3. Insert your shirt piece inside the skirt piece, lining up the raw edges. and side seams (right sides will be touching).  Adjust the skirt and the gathers to fit the shirt piece.  Pin in place.

4. Sew (i used a straight stitch) together using a 5/8″ seam (i also then zigzaged over that for no reason.. er.. just good measure I guess?). Turn your dress right side out.

** For a better idea of this easy technique (and photos), you could go to my Vintage Pillowcase Tank Dress tutorial to get the gist.  Same idea, (only I did not use elastic thread here).

Since Ellery boycotted the last dresses I made her because “they’re bumpy” a.k.a. made from woven cotton, I’m sticking to these strechy ones for a while.  They’re comfy, easy to make, almost free, and she’s wearing them all the time.

I plan on raiding my husbands drawers next.  I know there are some goods just waiting to be hacked up!

-Erin

p.s. We are still waiting to meet Caroline’s baby… she’s 6 days late and starting to get a little crank-xious (yep. new word for ya!).

Send her your good vibes!

….And For some more UPcycled inspiration, see these:

Vintage Thift Store Frock into Dress

Dad’s Sweater into Girl’s Cardigan

Cashmere Sweater into Ear Warmer

Vintage Sheet into Spring Top

Rest a-shirred…

…I figured it out!  Shirring (pronounced sure-ing), or smocking, is a skill that I have been wanting to learn for quite some time now.  Erin has made some cute shirred dresses for the girls, and has expressed how fun and simple the technique is.  The idea is that you fill your bobbin with elastic thread while keeping regular thread up top, sew rows and rows, and watch it pucker!  I chose The Mendocino Sundress pattern, by Heather Ross, as my first shirred project.  As our blogger guru Rae often suggests, I made a muslin version first, before subjecting my special lawn cotton to this unfamiliar pattern.  I thought this pretty old sarong would be so-right for practicing (I know, so many puns, so little time).  The edges already with a rolled hem!

Pretty, yes, but also a pain in the you-know-what to work with!  It was like sewing with gauze!  Things didn’t go well in the beginning.  I think I had cut the pattern too small, and as soon as I got going I knew I would not be able to stretch this thing over my bust.  So, I chopped off the top, and that became a skirt for Avery!

Starting over,  I hopped online to watch some shirring tutorials.  After gathering some handy tips and visuals, I got back to my dress, er… tunic.  A couple of days, and a whole lot of elastic thread later, I was done!

Cute, right?  I want to live in this easy, breezy top!  It is so comfy and pregnant friendly!  Here’s a close-up of the shirring.

There are tons of flaws, but who can tell?  Shirring is evidently very forgiving.  Which is why I’m in LOVE!

In keeping with my tan lines, I opted for halter straps.  I can always change that later.  Thanks to my mom, who happened by as I was finishing, I got a proper shoot with a real photographer!

If only there were a tropical vacation in my future!   I am now fully confident in cutting up my nice fabric for the smocked sundress I have planned.  Be back with that in a few days!  Thanks for coming by.

~Caroline

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

 

Shirt to skirt

I may have mentioned before that my adorable mother-in-law, Arlene, is a bit of a shop-aholic.  Like everyone, she loves a great bargain, and like most grandmothers, she loves to spoil her grandchildren.  Every few months a package arrives that is packed with kids clothing.  Awesome, I know!  We can typically expect lots of graphic tee-shirts for Jet, and for Avery its girly-girl to the max!  I think it is fair to say that Arlene’s taste is sparkalicious.  In fact, she crafts in sparkles every day (I plan on featuring her work with Swarovski crystals in an upcoming post, look out.).   We love that her hairstyle is different every time we visit, often shades of purple!  You get it, she rocks.  Here she is with my hubby.

Anyhoo, following her annual trip to Taiwan, we never know what we’ll find in the package that arrives.  We get a kick out of the ruffles and bows on everything, and the odd little phrases that appear on many of the garments like, “happy lifes come around…” or “can you see the little ones?”

Sometimes there are outta-the-ballpark hits like an Angry Birds jacket for Jet, or this little get-up:

And then there are the misses:

I actually really like these pants, they are lined with microfleece on the inside.  Avery is clearly not a fan.

There was a gender ambiguous tee-shirt in the box this time, I think meant for Jet, judging by the size.  But he wanted nothing to do with it.  It was just begging to be turned into a hip little mini skirt for a sweet baby girl I know of.  I think the fabric must be interlock jersey (I am learning from Rea’s Kniterview series) because it is very sturdy with a nice stretch to it.  Below is the already severed shirt, I forgot to take a “before” photo.

The simple pockets are made from the one missing sleeve, using the hem as the pocket top.  She can “keep her weed in there” (I’m sorry I had to.  It’s funny because this is for a baby.) .  I included a tag for a more signature look.

I was imagining this skirt would fit a 6 month old, but I suppose I was a little off, seeing how easily Avery slipped into it.  Maybe more like 12-18 month size.

I picked a white onesie out of my stash, and made a little embellishment out of the leftover jersey.

I think this outfit will be worth waiting a year for, don’t you?

And now, since he doesn’t get much bloggy-love, a photo of the Jet-man with his buddy Sam.  Next project is for you kiddo!

~Caroline

Super Soft Ear Warmer

When Erin recently linked me to a blog post by Delia Creates, I immediately bookmarked it with mulitple stars.  I knew I would get back to it when I had the chance.  When Mary Wade (my first-ever-Mom-friend) had a birthday, the lightbulb when off (on?), and I whipped up a little something for her.

Pei’s old, semi-girly, cashmere sweater was begging to be upcycled into something seriously girly! I followed Delia’s tutorial as I got started, and then I went off on my own a bit.  The underside is a fun fleece from Joann’s, purchased 2 years ago I think (wasn’t there last time I checked).

 Though I attempted other options, the flower wound up being my own whimsical success.  Working with a long length of the cashmere (20 inches by 4 inches or so), I folded the piece in half and began to hand gather and twist until it looked cool. Then, I just stitched it until it stayed put, and later attached it to the headband.

Another mini-victory was that I happened to have a button on hand that matched perfectly!  Choosing to go with a button closure gave me some good ol’ button-holeing practice on the machine too.  A valuable skill indeed! 

And without further ado…Mary!

Work it girl!  That little guy there is “Baby Bobby”, Mary’s third baby, who is also decked in Hungie Gungie gear (a bib from Erin, and a bjorn cozy from me).

Forget it boys, she’s married (and the mother of 3, so…). 

A look from behind:

 Ah, I love it!  I have a feeling I will be stuck on making these for a while.  You don’t mind do you?

~Caroline

UPcycled: dad’s sweater into girl’s cardigan (kcwc day 2)

This was a project that I didn’t really know where would end up. I wanted to upgrade one of Dean’s old sweaters into something for Ellery…

I used one of her T-shirts as a pattern and cut the sweater to about the same dimensions… I used the existing sleeves, but took them in a lot and kept the bottom cuff so i didn’t have to worry about hemming… I used the bottom of his sweater (the ribbed part) for the neckline.  Then, I kind of just winged it- cut some strips and left the raw edges and attached them to the edges of the cardigan so I didn’t have to do any sort of hemming….

I intended for the placket on the sweater to be off-center, but you can’t tell very well in that picture.  The felt circle flower is removable- I had it lying around and it was the perfect thing to cover up the akward area where the two sides of the front of the cardigan meet.

This cardigan took about an hour and a lot of swearing.

And the kid that it was meant for didn’t want to try it on.

So….

yeah.

I’ll bribe her with some chocolate chips tomorrow and try again.

Check ya!

-Erin