Saturday, April 25, 2015

Kids Clothes Week - Monkey Pajamas

So this week is Kids Clothes Week over at and the theme this season is Wild Things! So when I found this fun monkey print fabric in my stash, I had to go ahead and sew it up. And my boy needed some pajamas for the warmer weather. Perfect combination. Love some monkey jammies. 

This is the Alex and Anna Summer PJs from Peekaboo Pattern Shop (affliate link*). These are quick and easy to sew up and so they are a very satisfying project. Fabric is Kaufman Laguna Jersey in Monkees and Grass.

He says they are so comfy he didn't want to take them off! They are great for sleeping.

 Or not!

I don't always sew my boy as much stuff because he doesn't seem to need as much stuff. And there just doesn't seem to be as much cute stuff out there for boys, am i right? But he gets so excited when I make him something. He actually appreciates it and that makes me feel good. I should make him more stuff...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day Upcycle - Pants to Shorts

Happy Earth Day today! In honor of our Earth today, I am going to share a nice upcycle project I just finished. I am going to show you how I turned some worn out khaki pants into shorts. My guys are hard on their clothes and always seem to get holes in the knees. We are lucky to get one season out of them with my son. But the rest of the pants are perfectly good. I love this project because not only is the Earth happy we aren't throwing out those old pants, I am also happy because this is just the time of year that my guys need some new shorts and I don't have to buy them new ones! Check it out! There is a nice trick to make them look great!

Essentially, what I did was to make a wide facing for the bottom hem of the pants. I think this gives a much nicer look than just a turned under hem for a few reasons. First, you can get that nice deep hem. This helps it look better on the outside, but also helps to give some weight to the hem and helps it hang better. Plus, we will shape that facing a little to help it fit in the hem nicely, where you will probably have some pulling or bunching if you tried to turn the hem up too much, since the pants legs are not quite straight. That contrast facing just looks cool, too. 

First, of course, you are going to want to gather your supplies. You will need those worn out pants. This project is perfect for pants with worn out knees and/or hems.You will also want some scraps of fabric to use for a facing. And of course, you will need some matching thread, cutting and measuring tools, and an iron. Now, let's get to work.

  1.  The first step will be to cut off those pants. Figure out how long you want them, either by trying them on your model or measuring another pair of shorts that fits well. Add 1/2" seam allowance and cut. 

     2.  Now we need to take some measurements so that we can make a pattern for the facing pieces. Measure across the width of your pants leg at the seam line (which is now 1/2" from cut raw edge) and measure the width 2 inches up from the bottom. Measure carefully so that you can get an accurate fit. The upper measurement will likely be slightly (about 1/4 - 1/2") larger than the bottom measurement. It may not seem like much, but that much will make a difference in how well the facing fits in there. Now, on a piece of blank paper, draw a line near the top of the paper the length of the upper measurement. Draw another line, centered at the same center line, 1.5" down from the first line, making the length of this line the same as your lower measurement. Connect your lines at the ends. You should have a sort of trapezoidal shape. Add 1/2" all around for seam allowances. Now you have your facing pattern!

    3.   Cut out four of these facing pieces. I suggest cutting them on the bias so that they will have some give. This makes it easier to work those pieces in there. 

   4.  Working with two of the facing pieces at a time, sew the short ends with right sides together and 1/2" seam allowance. (Make sure your longer bottom edges are together and shorter top edges are together.) I finished my edges with a serger, but you don't really have to since they will all be enclosed. I just think it makes them easier to work with. 

   5.   Pin the facing piece to the raw edge of the shorts, right sides together. Be sure that you are working with the right edge of your facing (probably the shorter side). Sew together with 1/2' seam allowance. Press seam allowance towards facing. Understitching at this point is a good idea.

   6.  Press the outer edge of your facing under 1/2" and then press facing towards shorts. Pin in place. Sew facing in place by topstitching near the edge of the facing.

   7.   Follow steps 4-6 for the other leg. Then, give those shorts one last press and you are done! Don't those look great! If the thread matched perfectly, you would never know these were modified. Except for that added interest in the contrast facing on the inside, which I think makes it even better.

And now we are ready for summer! Thank goodness, because its starting to warm up here and my guys needed some shorts!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Monkey Bar Skirt - FREE pattern from Hey June

Kids clothes week starts today! I am working on starting some stuff, but of course I haven't finished anything to show you yet. I am hoping to get around to some more stuff for my boy this week. But in the meantime, here is a recent skort I made for my girl. 

This is the Monkey Bar skirt from Hey June and the pattern is FREE! Check it out here*. This is a super cute skirt and perfect for little girls to play in. I love that it has the shorts underneath because little girls need to play and are not always concerned about modesty (unfortunately I didn't get a good picture of those this time. I'm working on another of these already, though, and I'll get that picture next time.) This skirt has you covered. It has a knit waistband, 2 different options for a gathered skirt (the other option is a drop waist), and the shorts underneath. It was an easy sew and I think it turned out pretty cute.

The pattern includes sizes 2-10. Since it is a free pattern, it does not include all the features of a paid pattern. I found the instructions to be just fine. But, you will find that there is not a size chart included. I made my daughter a size 2, but added a but of length, which I think was perfect. The waist fits exactly like her similar store bought ones in size 2. (Side note, I kept looking at the pieces as I cut them out thinking no way this tiny thing will fit her. Sure enough, it's perfect. LOL.)

And she thought I needed a picture of her running!

(This post contains affiliate links, which are marked with an asterisk.)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Kids Clothes Week

Next week is Kids Clothes Week at Once every season, Kids Clothes Week encourages sewer to sew for one hour every day for seven days. This can give us a good start on a wardrobe for the upcoming season. It's great to come together and see what everyone is making and encourage each other. Sometimes that little bit of extra encouragement is what we need to get moving on all those projects we have been meaning to sew for our kids. Go check it out!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sewing a Handmade Wardrobe with Indie Sew - Win a Year of Free Patterns

Along with many other handmade wardrobe enthusiasts, I am working on transitioning to a mostly handmade wardrobe. I would love to someday have a 100% handmade wardrobe someday, but for now, I think it's great that I can make much of my wardrobe and I can choose other store-bought items when I think they are worth it. I still have a lot of store bought clothes, but I am beginning to purchase less and less as I make more of my own clothing. There are, of course, lots of great benefits to sewing your own clothes, including environmental, social, and financial. But of course the best reason is that it's fun!

To help encourage your handmade wardrobe, Indie Sew is giving away a year of free sewing patterns. You can enter to win here*. Good luck!

(This is a referral link, so entering the contest through this link helps me to get an entry as well. Let's all help support each other on this handmade journey.)

Idyllwild Dress from Itch to Stitch

Guys, I want to tell you about this pattern from Itch to Stitch (affiliate link). I am kind of in love with this Idyllwild Dress. My husband and I actually went out without the kids on Saturday and I needed something to wear. This dress was perfect.

 I love a simple knit dress in the summer and I think this is going to be my go-to. I am going to make a few more of these dresses and I just might live in them all summer. I might make a couple of tee shirts from this pattern, too, while I am at it. I'm already on the lookout for fun fabric for my next dress.

Now, let me tell you about this pattern. You can buy this pattern for only $1 and all the proceeds are donated to charity. So it's a great buy. But it's also a great pattern. First, the basics: There are several options included in this pattern. Length options are provided for a top or dress, seven different sleeve options, and two neckline options - smaller neck opening or larger neck opening (basically a crew neck or scoopneck.) So there are tons of possbilities. The size ranges from XXS to XL, so it's not a huge size range, but I think the sizing was spot on.

(Edit: The pattern is no longer being offered at this promotional price, but you can still buy at  regular price and it's still a great deal for such a great pattern.)

Let me tell you - I was really impressed with the quality of the pattern. First of all, it has all the things we look for in a good pattern. It includes an accurate size chart and all the necessary finished measurements, so I was able to get a really good idea of the fit before I ever printed out the pattern and I knew that it was going to be close to the fit I wanted. It also includes accurate line drawings of the finished product, a complete materials list, and fabric requirements and a cutting layout diagram for each view. You can use layers to print only the sizes you want. Every pattern piece is well labled with pattern name, pattern piece, grainline, and appropriate markings. The pattern is well drafted, with nice shaping, appropriately placed notches, and lengthen / shorten lines for both the bodice and the skirt portion. And the pattern includes instructions for stabilizing the neck and shoulder seams which I think is a nice touch (I usually do this on all my tees, even though most patterns do not include it.) Instructions also include pressing at every stage. Instructions are a bit sparse for a beginner, but construction is pretty basic, so if you have ever made a knit shirt before, you can definitely handle this one.

I made this one out of a basic striped cotton lycra jersey from Purple Seamstress. It is so soft. I made the dress length (obviously) and used the option for the smaller neck opening and short sleeves. I only made a few adjustments to the pattern to make it fit me just right. Mostly I changed the length, since I am 5'2. I took about 3 inches out of the overall length of the pattern to make the dress knee length for me. I took most of the length out of the bottom half, but looking at these pictures, I can see some wrinkling in the back. I think I need to take a little more length out of the top half. Once I had it constructed, I ended up hemming it another 2 inches because I wanted it to hit a bit above the knee. I also hemmed the short sleeves by two whole inches because I what I wanted was somewhere between the cap sleeve and the short sleeve. So next time I make this pattern, I will make those adjustments to the pattern before I cut my fabric. Once I have my pattern adjusted perfectly, I will be able to make a few more of these dresses in no time. I can't wait to share more of them with you.

You can get your copy of this dress pattern here.

( Links in this post are affiliate links. I may earn a small commission if you purchase products through these links. All opinions expressed here are sincere and entirely my own. Thank you for supporting my blog.)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Upcycled Easter Dress

Wow. Well, it's been a while. Did you miss me? I had to have surgery a few weeks ago, so I wasn't able to do much of anything for a few weeks, including sewing. It was a bit longer recovery than I had hoped or planned for, but it's been about two and a half weeks now and I feel pretty good. (In case you were wondering, I had a parathyroidectomy. Read about it from wikipedia here.)

Luckily, I was mostly finished with my daughter's Easter dress before the surgery, so I just had to do a few things to finish it up and I was able to finish it in time.

I used the Savannah Pleated Party Dress (affliate link) from Peekaboo Pattern Shop. I loved the pleat details on the bodice of this dress. They worked pretty well in this fabric, but might be even better in a crisper fabric. The bodice is fully lined and buttons at the back. I chose not to line the skirt portion because I didn't think it needed it.
I only made a few minor changes to the dress. My daughter is a skinny mini, so I added the ties at the sides to bring it in a little. Seriously, she is 4 and needs a 4 in the length, but her chest measured at a size 6 months for this pattern! (This is totally normal for her. I think this pattern runs true to size and close to store bought. She is just that tiny!) I just couldn't cut out the dress in that size. I was afraid it wouldn't work and the proportions would be all off if I used that size bodice. So I cut the 3T bodice, but lengthened everything to a size 4. It's still quite roomy on her, but the side ties help a little and I think it works. Also, the skirt is a tiny bit less full that the pattern calls for, but I was able to use the width of fabric to make it. This way it only has one seam, and I used the selvedge edges, so I didn't have to finish any edges. The one thing I wish I had done differently is understitching the lining. It is not called for in the pattern, but I know better. It would make the lining lay nicer at the neck. I knew better but I got lazy/rushed and left it off. If you topstitched around the neck (optional in the pattern instructions), it probably would not have mattered much. And as it is, probably no one but me noticed. But for you seamstresses that are interested in using more advanced techniques, I think this is a good point to mention. (Read more about understitching from Coletterie here.)

The bodice portion of the dress was made from an old bridesmaid dress I cut apart. I love upcycling. Not only is it economical and environmentally friendly, it has some sentimental value. I wore this skirt ten years ago when I was a maid of honor in my good friend's wedding. Now, I am not the same size I was ten years ago and there was no way I was going to fit into that dress again. So why not turn it into something else?! I like the formal fabric and the color was perfect for a spring Easter dress.

The downside of this fabric, I found out, is that it is not washable. Dry clean only. Bummer. It's an acetate fabric that shows water spots. And of course, after she wore it all day, it needs to be washed. She even managed to get a big black marker spot right on the front. Great. See picture below. I am trying to decide how to handle this. Is it worth taking to the dry cleaner? Maybe one of those dry clean at home kits? If anyone has any good ideas for getting it clean, please let me know. Or maybe I will just remove the skirt portion and upcycle it again! At least it made it through Easter!