Kid’s Clothes Week: Belated Finish

Two of my KCW projects were thiiiis close to completion last week, so I was able to quickly finish them up after we returned from camping on Sunday.

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First up, a stripey knit tee made from a maxi dress purchased from Goodwill. I had the hardest time figuring out if those stripes were black or navy–it looked different every time I looked at it! I finally saw it in better light yesterday and determined that it’s a dark navy. I started with Flashback Skinny Tee pattern, in size 3T this time. The last couple flashback tees I made in size 2T are just a smidge tight on her shoulders and belly. The 3T is a little big but I like room for growing. I added sleeves based on the Geranium dress flutter sleeves, but I’m not very happy with how they look–the lightweight knit is too floppy. I wish I would have used a more gathered sleeve, but I’m probably going to be too lazy to change it. I had the entire thing finished except for the neckline before we went on our trip. I decided to use an invisible binding for the neck, and I wanted to use stretch elastic (I’ve tried it in a couple things lately that I haven’t shared yet) but it was not cooperating. It just kept completely frizzing up and getting snagged in my machine. It would stitch nice and smoothly for 5-10 seconds and then it would start coming out of the threading parts of the machine really fuzzy and fraying, and then the stitches would bind up in the shirt. Does that sound like a tension issue? So instead, I first I zig-zag stitched it it to the shirt and then used a long straight stitch to sew down the binding on the inside of the shirt. The neckhole is big enough that I don’t think there will be a problem with having to stretch the shirt enough that it breaks the straight stitches.

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Originally I was going to make this into a dress by attaching a gathered skirt (of the same material) to the top, but after I tried the top part on C, it seemed like that would be too busy. So I left as is, and didn’t even bother to hem it, and I think that will do. The skirt part is cut out with the original hem intact so all I have to do is make a waistband and she’ll have a super easy stretchy skirt for next summer.

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Second, some new pj’s for the cooler nights we’re having here. (Poor kid was not happy with getting her picture taken this afternoon!) This outfit was also made from Goodwill finds. For the top, I started with a men’s XXL Polo brand t-shirt, made from what feels like very high-quality jersey. I again used the Flashback Skinny tee pattern in 3T. I placed the front, back, and sleeve patterns at the bottom of the shirt so I could make use of the factory hems. I think I did shorten the sleeves by around a inch, but they are still a little long, especially since the wrist is loose from having a regular hem instead of ribbed cuffs. For the neckline, I dumbly thought I could just cut off and re-use the original neck binding. As I’m sure you would guess, it ended up too small (narrow) but I stuck with it and I don’t think it looks too terrible.

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I used the Everyday Leggins/Sleeping Johns pattern from the book Growing Up Sew Liberated for the pj pants. And again in size 3T because my child is a large monster. Again using another Goodwill-thrifted tee. I had to shorten the length to fit the amount of fabric I had but they ended up being just about the right length for C. I didn’t even notice that the front of the shirt had wider stripes than the back until I had already cut out my two leg pieces, but I thought that resulted in a fun detail. For the ankles I sewed on little cuffs that I was just able to eke out of the remaining fabric.

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I had both the pieces completely finished last week but I wanted to add something fun to the shirt. I had a few different ideas, involving either applique or freezer paper stenciling, that I couldn’t decide among. I finally settled on using freezer paper to paint on a humpback whale, because why not?

And that concludes Kid’s Clothes Week. Thanks for checking us out :-)  I have a two other things I wasn’t able to finish that I can hopefully wrap up soon, and then I’m really itching to get back to some sewing for myself!

Kid’s Clothes Week: Oliver + S Art Smock

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My first* finish for summer KCW: An Oliver + S art smock from Little Things to Sew. Obviously I took the literal route with the “Kid Art” theme on this one. Actually I had been eying various versions of the art smock seen sprinkled through blogland. This theme finally gave me the push I needed to purchase the book and get to work. Happily, we’re easing into art projects now that C doesn’t try to eat EVERYTHING (she stills eats crayons if I get them out, but this morning only tasted a marker once!) and hopefully this project will get lots of use.

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I was also recently introduced to Ed Emberley fabric by Cloud9 and really wanted an excuse to buy some. Of course I love it; it strikes the same chord in my animal-loving heart as Charley Harper art. I especially loved the animals from the Happy Drawing collection and it finally occurred to me that it would make an awesome smock. I paired the Lions and Tigers for the main part with Scribbles for the arms and pockets. Totally reminds me of when I was a kid and was constantly sketching little animals and making various types of loopy or boxy scribbles in the margins of my notebook pages.

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This was my first “real” Oliver + S pattern—although I just sewed a popover sundress, it was so easy that I don’t think it gave me a real sense of what the patterns are like. I’ve read comments on the art smock, about how it’s so nicely finished with the French seams on the inside, and to be honest I thought, “So what? I use French seams on lots of things.” But it isn’t just that the seams are cleanly finished, it’s more the order the instructions tell you to do things in to make it work perfectly, the extra tips that help reduce bulkiness at seams, etc. Lots of little things that take extra time but add up to a really nicely finished product. In summary, I seem to be jumping on the Oliver + S bandwagon :-)

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The Ed Emberley fabric is really nice, thick, cotton that I think will work well for an art smock. Hopefully I can let gooo a little and actually let it get messy! Does anybody else have that problem with their handmade clothing? Afraid to let it get ruined? The first time C wore her Charley Harper dress, her Daddy gave her a banana to eat without a bib and the front got stained. I washed it a few times and got it to mostly come out, and then the next time she wore it she fell face-first into a mud puddle in the yard and now it’s completely stained. Breaks my heart!

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*I’m being optimistic by calling this my first finish. Realistically, it will probably be my only finish of KCW due to busy work week + helping husband build backyard fence + heading out to the woods for camping in a couple days. I do have three other outfits in various stages of (in)completion so we’ll see if any magic happens around here.

4th of July Popover

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Last summer, on the afternoon of July 3rd I decided I wanted to make something for C to wear the next day to celebrate the 4th of July. I started to do something really simple like a basic skirt but it escalated just a bit into a dress that I worked on late into the night and part of the next day. I traced a vintage tunic to create the pattern and came up with a sundress using leftover navy voile for the skirt + hand-me-down white eyelet for the bodice. My plan was to use red buttons at the shoulders, until it came time to search through my button jar, where I of course found no red buttons! By this time it was maybe an hour or two before our friends were coming over to hang out for the 4th. So, alas, the red was missing from the ensemble. But it was cute and I was pretty proud of myself! (And then she puked on it about 1 minute after I put it on her. Oh, and she only got to wear it twice before she outgrew it. So it goes with infants.)

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Anyway…fast forward to this year. Around a week and a half before the 4th, I decided to continue the tradition and make another 4th of July outfit for her. Problem was, we were leaving a couple days later to drive to Missouri to visit my parents. We would be spending the morning of the 4th with them and then heading to see friends in Illinois. Therefore, I needed something easy and I needed to decide soon. I thought of the free Oliver + S Popover Sundress pattern, which I had been wanting to try out. I also remembered this huge piece of seersucker I got a couple years ago in a box of old fabric from my mom (come to think of it, I think the white eyelet from last year came from the same box). Right before we left I got the pattern and fabric pieces cut out, and then I took it with us and sewed it up at my mom’s.

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The downside of this approach was that I didn’t have any extra fabric to use if I messed up (which was dumb, because I could have remembered to bring the extra fabric). The upside was that I got to use my mom’s sewing machine, which is nicer than mine :-)  Instead of clunk clunk clunk it was all just a gentle, quiet whir.

The pattern is super easy and should have all gone just fine. I had intentionally cut out the front main piece with extra width so I could gather it a bit in the front. I did that for some extra interest and also to ensure plenty of room for that big belly! The back main piece was supposed to be cut to the normal size, but when I started to attach it to the yoke I realized it was a little big as well. I think the seersucker poufed up a bit on the fold when I was cutting it out, creating some extra width in there. I simply created a tiny box pleat to fit it to the yoke correctly. Hey, I guess that gave a little extra room for that big cloth diaper booty! Finally, I shortened the dress into more of a top or tunic length. I thought about adding a strip of blue at the bottom to have the red, white, and blue all in one piece of clothing, but I liked it as it was. C wore it with the Paris skirt I made here. Cutie pie!

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My mom has found a bunch of old toys for C to play with when we visit. Here, everybody was laughing about how C didn’t know what the toy rotary phone was, so I had to teach her how to hold it up to her ear when somebody said Hello!

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Next up: Kid’s Clothes Week! Are you guys joining in next week? We are planning to be away for a few days next week for a camping trip so I’ve tried to get a head start with cutting out my patterns and fabric. Husband’s response was, “You’re doing that kid sewing thing again? Didn’t you just do that like three weeks ago?” No dear, it was a whole SEASON ago! I have to say, I’ve been kind of stumped by the kid art theme. I mean, I have lots of ideas, but I do think it would be more fun if my kid could help create some of the art. (Instead of just eating the crayons like she does now.) And when I let myself get carried away with ideas I tend to come up with fun things but not so much useful, needed items. I’m trying to keep my ideas realistic and sew up mostly things she actually needs, while still incorporating a bit of the theme.


I have been sewing lately, I promise! I have several things in the works and a couple other things I need to get photos of to share. But I was itching to get back in this space so here’s a teensy little project that I did a couple months ago.

A kitty mug rug, ha!

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I followed the cat block tutorial found here on Oh, Fransson! except I made my blocks a little smaller. Oh, my poor wonky piecing and embroidering, sigh. Someday I will improve upon these skills; for now I will embrace the uniqueness. This mug rug is now living far away in Michigan with a friend who is a hard-core kitty lover. She fostered cats that were waiting to be adopted while she was in grad school and moving around/traveling too much to permanently adopt one. Finally she settled down and adopted two little black kitten brothers. However, she wasn’t feeling content with her job, the cost of living, etc., and she made the big, bold decision to accept a new job and move half-way across the country with her boys. It has been hard and lonely for her but I try to remind her that she’s never alone with her fur-babies.

I attached binding to the front using a zig-zag stitch for the first time. I really like the result, and so much faster than hand-stitching the binding to the back (although I do enjoy that method too!).

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I’ve been busy working on a quilt top and scheming up ideas for Kid’s Clothes Week! What have you been up to?



Happy Homemade Pullover Parka

I was so excited a few weeks ago to see Meg and Cherie announce a sewalong for a pattern from the book Happy Homemade: Sew Chic Kids. I got the book as a Christmas gift and I love love love the simple, sophisticated style of the patterns, but I felt intimidated when I flipped through the (very minimal) instructions. The sewalong was this past week—did you participate?—and for the pullover parka, an especially cute top that works for boys and girls. I am on a self-imposed fabric diet until I finish up a bunch of projects in the queue, but I didn’t have anything that was calling out to be the pullover parka! A day or two later I was walking through JoAnn when I saw a roll of this linen blend in the remnant bin. The price was right and it looked fun, so I gave in and snatched it up. It’s hard to photograph—it looks black-gray, but it actually has a beautiful plum tint (blackberry according to the tag) that I really like. I washed and dried it right away and was so excited that I cut out the patterns and the fabric pieces the next day. I should have waited until the sewalong started, though, because there were a couple tidbits from Meg that would have helped me out :-)

Blackberry Pullover Parka
The patterns in the book start at size 2 which I think is supposed to correlate to ~age 3. I decided to simply forego adding the seam allowances and shorten the sleeves by an inch or so, and that worked well for my big 15-month old. Although I love this fabric, it’s slippery and wrinkly and frays a lot. My walking foot was helpful, and to finish the seams I folded the seam edges under and stitched them down on either side of the seam. Lots of extra sewing, but it was worth it.** When it came to the hood, I didn’t think that method would work so instead I did a french seam. Of course that made the already small hood (would have known that if I had waited to cut out my pieces!) even smaller. I wasn’t worried about it not fitting as C doesn’t like hoods right now anyway, but I was worried about it looking stupid-small. So instead of hemming the front of the hood I made a little binding for it, with the stripes going in the opposite direction, a little detail that I ended up really liking. I also made a little kangaroo pocket after I saw lots of other really cute versions with them, and ran the stripes horizontally for that as well.

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I used cotton tape for the tie at the bottom. I actually just bought a 25-yard reel of the tape so now I’ll have to find lots of projects to use it in! I did encounter problems with sewing the buttonholes to string the tape through…for some reason, EVERY SINGLE TIME I go to do automatic buttonholes, it works perfectly on my scrap fabric and as soon as I stick in the real fabric I manage to screw it up. Grr. In the end, these buttonholes were sewed with the automatic buttonhole stitch up one side and then manually down the other, ha ha! The only other issue I had was with attaching the elastic at the neck, which sounds like it was a pain for some others as well. I did use a slightly longer piece of elastic than the pattern called for, but it didn’t occur to me that since my hood was a little smaller the sides of it probably didn’t come as close together as they should have on the front, so I should have used an even longer piece of elastic. I really had to stretch the elastic to get it to fit, and I think I overstretched it because it never really snapped back into place :-(

Anyway, I totally love the end result and I’ve made C wear it two days in a row! I hope Meg and Cherie host more sewalongs from the book so I can get up the courage to try more of the patterns! And I can’t resist this last picture–this girl just slays me.

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**I don’t think I’ve mentioned here, but my mother-in-law recently gave me an old serger that she hasn’t used in years. I haven’t slowed down enough to try to figure it out, but I really need to get on it! It would have been so helpful with this project. I’m just worried that I won’t get it working right and I won’t be able to tell if I’m not doing something properly, or if it just needs a tune-up. Hmm.


Jumbo Market Tote

I tend toward minimalism in the diaper bag arena. I typically carry a small messenger bag with only the very basics in it. I’ve traveled by air (solo) with Clementine a few times now, and the first couple times I absolutely tempted fate by only carrying on that small bag + our trusty Ergo carrier. We were set to fly again a few weeks ago and a few days before the trip I started worrying about the situation. First, my now-toddler is C.R.A.Z.Y and I wanted more room for snacks/entertainment/maybe a strait jacket or tranquilizers. Second, I wanted to not tempt fate so blatantly this time, and have room to carry a few extra diapers and such.

So I decided to sew a bag–my first bag! I searched the webs for patterns for purchase but couldn’t find quite what I was looking for. Everything looked too small or maybe a bit too complex given how little time I had to work on it. I finally settled on the Market Tote, a free tutorial over at Bijou Lovely.

221 edit 1As soon as I got a chance I ran over to my local quilt and yarn shop, which doesn’t carry a very wide selection of modern fabric but has a few fun things to be found. This green Parson Gray quilting cotton caught my eye, and I also picked up navy Kona cotton to contrast with it. At home I remembered that I had a giant piece of some tan, heavy home dec fabric that I thought looked better with it, plus would add more structure. I ended up using the navy Kona as the lining instead. I also used stabilizer on the Parson Gray. The whole thing ended up being super thick in spots and a giant pain in the rear. I wasn’t sure if my sewing machine would survive, but happily both of us made it through.

I followed the tutorial almost completely, except that I made the bag two or three inches larger in both height and width. I also added pockets on the inside. On one long side I added a simple panel separated into three pockets for phone, wallet, etc.

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On the other long side I made an expanding pouch to hold diapers and wipes.

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Finally, on the two short sides I added pouches for my water bottle and for Clementine’s sippy. I sewed a strip of elastic to the top to help hold them in.

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I finished the bag around midnight the night before we left, so the photos of the completed bag were taken post-trip, in all its wrinkled and stained glory.

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I’m rather blurry in this photo, but it helps show the size of the bag. It just barely fit under the seat on the plane, but I definitely had room for everything we needed. And I was so glad for those extra diapers, since we ended up getting stuck in one airport for nine hours! That I almost did not survive.

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Foxy Flashback

A couple weeks ago I sewed up another flashback skinny tee, as a birthday gift for another of Clementine’s little buddies, L. I had a really tough time picking out the right knit fabric for him, but finally settled on this fox fabric from Girl Charlee. It turned out to not be very stretchy and was rather tight when I tried it on Clementine, but L is a little smaller than her so fingers crossed it works ok.

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I’m starting to feel much more confident with my ribbed knit binding.

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I thought about leaving the bottom unhemmed–in fact I left it sitting out unfinished for a week or so trying to decide if it worked or not. The fabric curled up nicely, but for some reason it didn’t feel right for a boy’s shirt, so I ended up hemming it. I was worried about doing a straight stitch hem with the not-too-stretchy fabric so I used a slight zig-zag. Hopefully I’ll pull on my big girl panties soon and try out the old serger that my mother-in-law recently handed down to me!

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After looking through the photos I took of this shirt, it occurred to me that it would have looked really cute (and maybe less like pj’s?) if I had added a little pocket on the chest–darn! It has already been put in the mail for the birthday boy (almost a month late, shame on me). Oh well, next time.