Corduroy and Knit Top

Here’s my first project for KCWC… A top for my girl.

 It’s like, 80 degrees here in central VA, so I know she’ll get some use out of it for a couple of more weeks before having to wear long sleeves underneath it.

I used an old Urban Outfitters dress of mine to make the yoke and the ruffled capped sleeves… and used the buttons from that dress on the front and the back.  I then used an dark teal blue jersey for the rest. Lace hem tape to add a little somethin’ to the front, and then instead of bothering to hem the bottom, I just sewed it to the raw edge!

It’s such a gorgeous day today.  Off to the park…


Kids Clothes Week Challenge fall 2011

Tomorrow begins the start of Kids Clothes Week Challenge a.k.a KCWC over at one of my fave sewing/crafting blogs, Elsie Marley.  Basically, Meg is challenging sewists out there to sew for one hour a day for 7 days to create clothes for their kids.  Then you post your creations to the flickr group- and you can take a look at what everyone else has been up to and get some inspiration.  Meg hosts it twice a year, and I’m excited to hold myself to it this time around!  It’s a good way to get your butt in gear and finish up some projects that have been bunched up on the floor, or ideas that have been looming around your head.  My preschooler needs shirts, so I’ve been getting some fabric cut and ready to go so all I have to do this week is put it all together.  I’m really trying to re-purpose clothing that we have already, so I’ll let you know how that works out for me- one idea I have is turning one of my husband’s sweaters into a little cardigan for Ellery… I hope I can figure it out.  Anyway, if you have kids and you sew, think about taking part in KCWC this week!

One another note, I have made a few dresses for E using one pattern and playing around with it.  Actually, the shirt I have in the works for KCWC is also a version of it… Here’s the first one I did.  I used jersey knit (and cotton for the yoke) and to my surprise it wasn’t hard to sew at all.  All I did was use a stretch needle…

She loves it (but really, what’s not to love… it’s a striking shade of magenta!).

For the second one, I used a soft blue cotton.  I changed the neckline too…

The third one might be my favorite- I love the apple print and the red knit.

I made simple long sleeves and added a little notch in the neckline….

I’ll post my KCWC progress over the next week.  Hope to see some of you there too!

Catch ya on the flipside…


UPcycled: old dress to new dress

There’s a great little  thrift shop here in Charlottesville that’s located in the back of a baptist church- When you walk in, you are handed a plastic grocery bag.  It’s only $2 to fill the bag, which pretty much feels like you’re stealing.  I actually felt guilty stuffing my bag and then handing over a couple of bucks to the nice old church lady (who was so sweet- she kept bringing me little kid’s clothes to see if I liked them).  I wouldn’t say this place had the greatest selection of clothing, but I was really looking for things to repurpose anyway- I found a bunch of old vintage dresses that had some interesting prints (but not such interesting style).  This one in particular caught my eye:

Ain’t she purty???  I liked the stripes a lot, the fabric is nice and thin, and it moves easily.

It was really had to part with those sleeves…. but I decided to hack it up and just use the skirt. 

Basically, I cut off the skirt and attached it to a black T-shirt that I had.  I tried on the shirt, pulled the skirt up to where I thought the waist should be (I opted for a high-waisted dress here).  I marked where I thought the two should come together, then cut the bottom half of the shirt off.  I then did two rows of gathered stitches on the top edge of the skirt.  I stuffed the shirt into the skirt and lined up the raw edges (you end up sewing the right sides together).  I used my serger to keep the seam nice and neat inside.  Then, I pulled the shirt back out to reveal my new and improved dress.  No hemming required.

I had to make a little belt out of the top part of the old dress, because the seam where the shirt and skirt meet looked a little bumpy.  I put a couple of buttons (taken from the shoulder of the old dress) off to the side and sewed a couple of buttonholes.  Caroline suggested that maybe I add a couple more buttons to the other side so it looks symmetrical- what do you think?  I kind of like it off center, but maybe it would look better?  Do the buttons to the side look intentional or does it look like I need to adjust my belt? 

I’m very happy with my thrifty find, and my new dress.  It’s comfortable and it was pretty much free.  And I’m all about free these days!  Amen!


Momma’s got a brand new bag…

Ever since last week’s creation, I’ve been on a bag kick.  Now that I get the gist of basic bag making, I wanted to try something different.  A few pleats, several buttons, lots of topstitching, a pocket, and a heap of scraps later, this was born:

I liked the adjustable strap idea from the Awesome Bag, but I didn’t want to get button-crazy with this one…. SO, I sewed one side of the strap to the bag, and made three buttonholes on the other side of the strap.  I recycled some sweet buttons from a sweater (which sadly, I only got a few wears out of before it started unravelling into oblivion! …I’m so annoyed with you, J.Crew!).

The flower fabric is Anna Maria Horner’s square dance voile.  It makes a perfect pocket.

The green print is Amy Butler, and the solid blue is cotton twill.  Instead of interfacing to give the bag some structure and heft, I used some old fleece I had lying around- the bag has a nice weight to it without feeling stiff.  The main lining is made of  muslin.  I’m kicking myself that I didn’t put a pocket on the inside too to hold all my small junk like lip gloss, keys, loose change, and loose crumbs… oh well, next time.  For now though, I love that this bag is pretty, bright, and soft.  I especially love that it looks so nice with my new (and more importantly cheap) yellow Target shoes.


UPcycled: smocked pillowcase dress

I made Grant a new pillowcase this week, and his old one became an easy, breezy dress for Ellery.  I followed the general guidelines for a smocked dress in Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross , but I found this video  to be extremely helpful (if you click on the picture, the author demonstrates her technique on Martha).  I kept the original hem of the pillowcase, and added some scalloped stitches in orange, pea green, and yellow.  It was my first time trying out my machine’s decorative stitches and I am kicking myself that it’s taken me this long… I think they look super cute.

Once that was done, I cut off about 5 inches at the top edge of the pillowcase, drew 7 straight lines 1/2″ apart with my special blue marker (the ink disappears with a little water) to be a guide for the stitching .  I hand-wound elastic thread in my bobbin, thread some yellow thread in the needle and began the shirring process. 

This was WAY easier than I thought.  The fabric gathered up slightly, as you’ll see below:

The cool part is once you are done sewing, you spray water all over the smocking, and then press it with a hot iron which magically shrinks it all even more.  For the straps, I made casings out of an old shirt of mine and inserted some 1/4″ elastic. 

I ended up zig-zaging the top edge of the dress since I didn’t leave quite enough fabric to fold over and hem.  So, yeah it’ll probably fray a bit over time, but for a next-to-free dress, you won’t hear me complain!


It fits!


Yesterday was the perfect day for this dress.  It was almost 70 degrees and sunny. Ellery was happy to go outside for a photo shoot.

I have no idea where that pose came from, but I like it!  Work it, girl!

Okay, so maybe she looks a little bit like she should be gathering eggs.

Or….. milking a cow, perhaps?

She did do some garden-prep for us.

She wore this the entire day, had fun pulling it on and taking it off multiple times, and even called it her “party dress”.

…I wouldn’t go that far, Ell.  But, I will take that as a compliment!

– Erin

Cape Expectations

Jet’s superhero phase is in full swing now and he made it very clear to us before Christmas that he wanted needed a cape, make that two capes- a Batman cape AND a Superman cape.   This was very exciting for me: a boy project! 

I focused on Batman for Christmas and hoped to find some guidance and inspiration searching others’ blogs.  I didn’t find much out there that matched the vision in my head, so I decided to go with my vision: shiny, sleek material, navy and black, and scalloped (or inverted scallop?) at the hem, and a distinguished collar.   With a lot of luck it worked.  TA DA!    

This isn’t going to be much of a tutorial, but I did shoot some progress photos.  Please feel free to email me with questions. First, I cut my main fabric pieces. I folded each in half for symmetry, but otherwise just kinda went for it.

Next came the Batman logo applique. Somewhere in this process, I realized that I did not have any solid yellow fabric to use!  So, I snuck into my sleeping children’s bedroom and went dresser diving.   Found a mostly plain  tee-shirt that was the perfect yellow- go me!

I used steam-a-seam2 to fuse my applique pieces before securing with a zig-zag stitch.

With the applique finished, and the body of the cape sewn and turned, I had to attack the collar.  I did not have a plan for this.  It took two tries, and did I mention luck?  I was so pleased with the results, the buttons helped to dignify the look.  I do feel that Batman is the most dignified of superheros, don’t you?

Since I was on a roll, I used some scraps to applique a onesie for baby cousin Grant. Yay!

I was so excited to give this special gift to Jet that I could not wait for Christmas, and decided to present it on the Eve.  His reaction was perfection, bashful at first, but so proud when he put it on.  He was thrilled, and it is now a regular part of his wardrobe. 

Not long after I gifted Jet with his first cape, he casually mentioned, “But Mom, I wanted a Superman cape too”.   I reminded him that his birthday was right around the corner, be patient.  Last week, I threw it down again- and even had to destroy another yellow tee-shirt of Jet’s! 

Here’s a little trick (probably not legal) I’ve been using to sketch my applique designs:

And that Steam-A-Seam2 comes in handy again:

I was kind of lazy with this one, no lining, no buttons.  But my fabric choice was much more difficult to work with.  It has great flow, but was not as much fun to make.

The important thing was that the birthday boy LOVED it!

I’m off to bed faster than a speeding bullet.

– Caroline

Out with the old, in with the old?

We always seem to return from our visits to California with one more suitcase than we left with.  I finally got smart and packed a big duffel bag within one of our suitcases this last time, so that I wouldn’t have to steal yet another from my in-laws on our way outta town.  Coming home with so much stuff  makes me want to purge our closets immediately.  So, while I unpacked, I filled a donation bag with articles of clothing that I was looking forward to never seeing again…and then Erin came over.  She pulled each item out of  the bag and insisted that nearly each one could be turned into something adorable for the kids. 

And that is how in one evening this:

became this…

And this:

became this…

And this shirt that never seemed to go with anything:

became this…

 (Good luck trying to find something to match your new skirt Ellery!)

For the skirts I basically just cut off the top half of the shirt and used the bottom half keeping original hemlines.  Fold over the rough edge twice, sew around, and insert elastic! 

The blue dress with straps was a total cut and paste job.  The back of the original blouse became the front, the smocking was already there, and so were the detachable straps (although I moved the securing buttons closer together).  It works because the print is so busy that you can’t see the wacky seam I created in the back.  Have a look:

I had so much fun turning clothing that I was SO over into darling wears for the girls, that I am now finding myself poking around my husband’s clothes with a discerning glare.  Once you realize that unwanted clothing can become FREE FABRIC (or buttons, or embellishments) you too will find yourself rummaging through your closets or thrift stores with a whole new purpose!

– Caroline