My good friend Taylor is having a baby in a hot minute, and she asked me a while back if I’d be interested in making her new little girl a coming home outfit. Taylor and her family are some of my favorite people, and you know I love babies, so of course I was happy to. Plus, T-bone (as I like to call her) loves handmades and has always been so sweet about our makes on this blog. She was even like, “oh, and tell me what I owe you.”
UM… NO FRIEND. JUST NO.
She gave me instructions to make whatever I wanted (sweet!), and I texted her pictures of cozy organic knit fabrics. She picked one instantly, and I got to work like 3 months later and 3 days before the baby’s due date.
Because SUMMER WITH 3 KIDS, that’s why.
I knew right away I’d be making Rachel’s newborn gown pattern. It’s perfect in every way, and was not a long project at all. I love the envelope neckline, and the way the binding looks so professional. Oh and the pattern is free, so if that doesn’t rope you in, maybe getting pregnant will? 😉
As soon as the gown was finished, I knew it needed a matching cap, so I scoured the internets for a quick tutorial and pattern. There are several, but my printer didn’t like any of them so I drew up my own little pattern.
Super easy, just serged two pieces together, turned them right side out, and folded up and stitched a little cuff. I was originally going to tie the top of the cap into a knot, but it was virtually impossible, so I kept it more like a pixie shape.
And, I think it’s super cute like that.
Coco’s baby doll was a decent model. She’s a little dead in the eyes though.
I can’t wait to see meet baby Harris. If she’s anything like her adorable older sister and brother, she will capture hearts instantly.
About a year ago, I was sewing up lots of knit tanks and tees for my kids and wasn’t pleased with the neckband process and outcomes.
Generally, there are two ways that a pattern will instruct you to go about the neckband. The first, is to cut your long neckband piece into an exact measurement suggested in the pattern. You sew together the short ends to create a circle, then fold the piece in half, and then pin it all the way around the raw edge of the neck opening. Then as you sew, you hope that it will look evenly stretched all the way around. But if you’re like me, you get towards the end and have to stretch the neckband like hell because somewhere along the way, you didn’t line up quite right. This method, if you’re good at it, looks great when it’s finished. But, for me it always includes lots of bottom-lip biting, cursing, and seam ripping. I just can’t get down with it.
So much depends on what type of knit you are using. And since there are so many types of knits out there, this method can be tricky and is not really a one-size fits all… You really have to take in consideration how stretchy your neckband fabric is.
Here is photographic evidence of the only time I succeeded almost perfectly at the above method. I was so happy that day.
The second popular way, is to attach the front and back of the shirt at only ONE of the shoulder seams. Then, you cut your long neckband piece, fold it over, and begin sewing starting from the edge of one of the (unsewn) shoulders, all the way around to the other end of the other (unsewn) shoulder. Then, you simply put your shirt right sides together, and sew that shoulder seam together. This is easy, but the finish is not usually nice looking. It’s a cheater method, that comes out looking like you cheated. I’m not too good for it- I do it a lot, but I usually regret it once all is said and done. So I’m saying buh-bye to this method too.
Here are a couple of examples that the second method ends up looking like:
So anyway, I played around one day by marrying these two methods, and came up with this method. There is no math and no measuring involved here, ladies. You’re welcome. This way is perfect for those of us who enjoy a little spontaneity and freedom in our sewing, but also want our garments to look legit and professional. Now, I’m SURE I didn’t invent this (in fact, if you’ve ever sewn binding to a quilt, you may have done it very similarly to this), but I haven’t found a tutorial out there, so if you know of a good tutorial or video reference out there for this, please link it up in the comments for all to see!
We’ll call this the Wing-it Method, k? And like most methods, this gets easier with every neckband… it’s my fave. Also, please excuse the terribly lit iPhone pics… I decided to snap photos of this last minute one day, but I hope can get the gist of this.
You’ve sewn the front and back of your shirt together already, at both shoulder seams. Now, you will cut your neckband length a couple of inches longer than suggested in your pattern, giving yourself some wiggle room to work with it.
You will sew/serge it on starting at one point on the back of your shirt (some like their neckband seam to be in the center, some prefer it closer to the shoulder. do whatever you like), leaving a decent sized “tail” of fabric. Sew your neckband to the raw edge like normal, stretching the neckband piece nicely as you go (this takes some practice, getting it stretched evenly). When you get a couple of inches away from where you started, STOP. Leave a tail there too.
Here’s what it looks like on the inside:
Next, you’re going to use your best judgement, about how much of the neckband tails you’ll need to cut off. We will be sewing the two open raw ends together and then folding the neckband back over and sewing it to the shirt. So, you’ll just need to take a minute and decide what will work (hey, I said this is going to be spontaneous).
This method is all about FEELING! You need to do what’s right for your shirt, and since stretch can vary from knit to knit, you need to remember that.
So, go ahead and trim the tail, but keep in mind that we will be sewing them together with a 1/2″ seam. So just take that all into account.
Okay, next you will open those two tails up and put them right sides together.
Sew those puppies with a 1/2″ seam. Or whatever inch seam you want. It’s your shirt.
Good. Now below, you will see that I’ve got it almost finished. Just need to sew that gap closed.
Just sew it as you normally would to close it up.
Looks clean and even, just like the first method we talked about. But, you didn’t have to get angry at your shirt, yell at your kids for no reason, or even pull out the seam ripper.
I did a couple of things here to jazz my tee up. I added a few small pleats to the center front, and one larger pleat at the center back. I sewed them 1/2 way down the shirt, and I like that it gives it a little more flow.
(update: I forgot to mention this originally but had a couple of comments about it… I did add about 2″ to the front center so I could make the pleats. Also, I cut the back piece on the fold (instead of 2 pieces as the original pattern has), and basically “made up” for the button placket being gone, by putting in one large pleat.)
Also, instead of a facing like the original Beatrix has, I used bias tape to finish the inside of the neckline. I really prefer the feeling of that to facings. They just annoy me.
Oh, and of course if you read this blog, you’ll know that (say it with me now…) I added some length because i’m tall. 🙂
I love Leah’s desgins. Her color combinations are interesting , and her prints are not obnoxious or in-your-face… yet there is still a lot to look at. I feel like her prints are great for grown-ups and kids alike. Her designs have an overall cool vibe and I need more of them in my life!
Want some cheese??
If you don’t own the Beatrix pattern, i recommend it. Rae has so many variations that she’s made and I love them all. So much inspiration there.
I usually love rainy days at home, but this week Coco has been sick with crazy fevers, thus hanging on me like a baby orangutan 24/7. Like, if I move my face .07 cm away from hers while we’re sleeping together, she will sit straight up, right out her deep sweaty slumber and whine/cry/moan until I press my cheek back to hers.
The perks are high for a sewing person when you’re stuck at home. When Coco isn’t noticing, I’ve been sneaking back to my machine and get several things made or patterns cut out.
Sometimes, I’ll sit on a pattern for a long time (in this case, a year) looking at other people’s versions on a regular basis- like I’m just not ready to “go there” for some reason. Not that this pattern is challenging at all- in fact, it’s a great beginner pattern. But, There was something about this dress that I didn’t love, and after spending lots of time looking around, I finally realized what it was.
The front and back necklines both just seemed to high for me. I’m definitely not a flashy dresser, but a lot of the ones I saw just seemed… too covered up around the neck?
Once I came across Kelli’s beautiful version, where she opened the back up more, I knew that’s what it needed. I could’ve gone with a bit of a deeper neckline for the back actually, and I’d probably like it even more. But, I am really happy with how this turned out for the most part. I scooped out about 3/4″ from the front neckline, and probably about 1 1/2 inches away from the back.
(I swear the pigeon-toed pose is accidental up there, but I know sister Caroline is loving it… right, Caro?)
Elbow length sleeves are my favorite, but I don’t own any garments that have them! Need to fix that, stat. They’re comfy, and I think they make everybody’s arms look good no matter what.
I used a drapey rayon blend knit, and added several inches of length- maybe 4? I also sewed clear elastic into the waistband when I was attaching the skirt to the bodice. It seems to have been a smart move so far. It just feels nice and stable.
I’m happy with this pattern- I would probably make some minor tweaks the second time around, but I would definitely recommend this.
So far I have worn my Out and About dress out and about to several places. One being jury duty. Which I’ll be serving (every other wednesday) for a YEAR!!!
April showers bring bad hair days for curly girls like me! When the rain finally paused and I found myself with a moment to take pics of my new Hemlock Tee, the frizz mop was just not behaving. It was pretty much bee-hiving. Ha! Good one, Caroline!
So, today’s styling is brought to you by rain and baseball. Which works since we are at the baseball field about 3 days a week for my big boy, Jet. He’s a Yankee this year. (Sorry Bops and Gramma, we don’t get to choose!)
This sweater knit comes from Girl Charlee. I found it in the bargain lots section, which sells slightly imperfect yardage for super cheap. I bought 3 yards of it and didn’t find a single flaw! I must have bought most of it, because it is now only offered in that half-yard section.
After all these years, I just now figured out how to use my camera remote. Stoked!
Also, pretty stoked about my stripe matching skills!
About the Hemlock pattern, I really like it! It’s free from Grainline Studio and kind of a one-size-fits-all guideline pattern. I chose a length I liked, and kept the other dimensions as-is. I did add my own band at the bottom, just to bring the width in a little bit and to polish it all up.
The dog is my shadow. All day long.
You won’t be seeing the second Hemlock I made, a short sleeve version with a stretchy tissue knit. I ruined it with my new iron- a $10 yard sale score Rowenta. I’m so bummed! I cut the pattern to be more narrow, and I added a half inch to the neckline. It came out great, so I’ll be trying it again soon. I guess should’ve paid attention to the heat settings which never really mattered with my old piece of junk iron. The fabric melted as soon as the iron touched it. #dammit #madeinGermany
I love to make dresses for my girls. It’s my sewing comfort zone. But, I really haven’t sewn many (besides a few basic knit ones) in the last several months. So, I was excited to participate Olga Becker’s (Coffee + Thread) Eleena dress tour, and hoped it would get me right back into the dress-sewing swing of things!
Spoiler alert: it did!
The Eleena dress is a vintage-inspired dress with sleeve options as well as an optional collar, with sizes ranging from 2-12. You must take a look at all the variations here on Olga’s blog, because they are all so unique! I was so so tempted to go the long sleeve + collar route because I just love the look, but I knew this simpler version would get more wear in our house.
I made Ellery a size 7, with an 8 in length. The fit is perfect, but I probably should’ve just gone with a straight 8 to give her some more growing room.
For the main fabric of my dress, I used a subtle print by Cotton + Steel (sprinkle in peaches) If you look closely, you can see the tiny white dots. I love the inverted pleat down the front, and chose a very pale pink solid for that panel for an understated contrast, and Ellery was actually pretty interested in it- she kept asking me how I did that. 😉
I’ve always been a fan of flutter sleeves, and I’m so happy with the way these ones turned out. Perfect amount of flutter, which i accented with some tiny ivory pom-pom trim.
This is the first invisible zipper that I have ever sewn! And it looks alright! Please ignore the wrinkles- but do not ignore those little back shoulder darts up there! i love smart fit details like that. I found Olga’s overall instructions to be really great and thorough- you can certainly tell she’s experienced. I checked out a youtube video for a visual for the zip because I tend to do better that way.
Thanks again, internet.
I added a little ribbon rosebud at the center of the neckline, and I think it’s pretty sweet and dainty.
Easter dress. BOOM.
The Eleena dress pattern is on sale for $7 until March 7th. I hope you’ll check it out! Olga is giving away 2 of her sewing patterns and a yard of Sarah Jane fabric, and you can enter that HERE.
And, you can also check out all of the other gals and their Eleena dresses in the links below!
Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve blogged, that I don’t even recognize this place. Props WordPress.
It’s not that I haven’t been sewing, every now and then I need a fix, its just that I haven’t really sewn anything very interesting or new. And photographing and blogging takes effort. And also, we have a puppy. Nuff’ said, right? I’ll stop whining…
I loved Ellery’s stripy cocoon dress so much, that I had to make one for Avery-girl! I think its such a cool modern pattern, by Groovybaby…and mama. The styling, by the way, was all Avery!
I sewed this dress during a gigantic snowstorm that dumped almost 2 feet and kept the kids out of school for 4 days in a row. It also proved to be a real set back for puppy potty training :/. But, with 60 degree days following, we had a fast melt and some super dangerous sledding.
I love how the cupid ears mirror her fang teeth. Oh, Happy Valentine’s day by the way!
This fabric came from Girl Charlee quite a while ago. It’s a medium weight knit that worked well for this project. Derrrr! Just got the call that school is cancelled tomorrow! Snow and ice storm this time.
Love this girl. She’s growing up so fast.
Who wants to see some puppy pics? Avery was in model mode on this particular day, and wanted to do a shoot with Bodhi. This is a simple skater dress is made from some heavy red knit that I picked up in Philly’s fabric district. (When Wes was up there for radiation treatments we would explore the city on the weekends. I’m so glad to have some fond memories of that time. The update on Wes is that he is doing excellent and still in remission! Woot!)
Isn’t he cute? We are really enjoying this new furry addition to the family!
Again, styled by Avery. Can’t beat the classic combo of black, white, and red! I think my current sewing inspiration is coming from all those Facebook ads for Primary.com. For parents who can’t be bothered with prints. Actually I really like the concept of this shop. Its just that I look at it all, and I’m like, “Well, I can just make that.”