Monday, February 28, 2011

Countdown to the Sew-along!

Man!  Today was a crazy day at work, and as the day grew older, my head started pounding more and more.  You may think this was due to my job (quite the contrary, I actually really love my job!), but it also came with a small tickle in my throat.  The pollen has arrived in south Georgia. 

It is a really gorgeous time of year.  I don't think the Bradford Pear trees had bloomed when I drove in to work, but this afternoon, when I was on my way to pick up Jenna, they had!  It was amazing. . .bradford pears are my favorite tree in terms of beauty.  I just really love the way they turn white when they bloom. 

I digress though.  I hope you are all getting ready for the start of the sew-along this weekend.  It will be fun, and you'll have a super-cute dress to show for all of your hard work!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dress Swap Dress. . .cherries and polka dots!

I'm participating in the Spring Dress Swap at Sewingmamas.  Swaps are really a lot of fun.  For this one, I'm making 2 size 5 dresses, and after they are sent to the swap sorter, I should received 2 dresses in return in the sizes I specified that we need.

It is a very good way to get some variety in the girls' wardrobes, and it is just plain fun to see what we will get. 

I'm happy with the way this dress turned out.  Both of my girls have walked by and asked if it is for them, so I'm taking that as a good sign.  Here it is, little girl approved!

The pattern is Kwik Sew 3542, which is designed for wovens, but as you can see, works just as well in knits.  The cherries are jersey, and the polka dots are interlock.  (I wouldn't recommend, however, trying this in a less stable rib knit.)

What are you sewing this weekend?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

No Sewing Today

I cut out a dress for the Spring Dress Swap this morning, but I didn't sew today since I had much better things to do. 

I hope you are enjoying your weekend too!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Get ready for the Shirt-dress Sew-along!

Alright-aroonie!  I was going to show you an older project tonight, but my laptop monitor died over the weekend, and I had to buy a new computer.  Unfortunately, I haven't worked out yet how I'm going to retrieve all of my pictures and files from my old one, so everything I show for awhile will have to be something new. 

Since I have nothing new to show right now, I thought I'd get to planning the sew-along dates, so you can get ready if you want to sew with me.  I will make a dress for Allie out of the same green gingham that I made Jenna's dress from. 

If you'd rather, you could certainly make a shirt like the pattern. . .the construction will be the same.

Either way, I hope you will join me in my virtual sewing room.  We can sew and chat and talk through problems with our garments, and learn from each other along the way.  I've decided to do start the sew-along on Saturday, March 5th.  March is going to be a busy month for me, so I'll be breaking it down into VERY manageable steps.  Won't you join me?

Here's your supply list (I'm going to assume that you already have a sewing machine, and basic sewing supplies, but if you don't, here's you chance to justify buying one--LOL!):
  • Pattern--We will be using Ottobre Design Magazine 1/2010.  (You can order this straight from Ottobre or from several online retailers.)
  • Fabric--You need a woven fabric that drapes well--no home dec fabric.  If you are making the dress version, you will need roughly 1 1/2 to 2 times what the pattern calls for. 
  • Buttons--I used 11 buttons (I think) on the size 104 dress I made.  (Ottobre patterns use European sizing conventions and are based on height in centimeters.)
  • Tracing paper or pattern ease--you will have to trace your pattern.
I think you probably have everything else you will need, so get your supplies together--this is going to be fun!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sew-a-long Preview

Today, I have a preview for you of the sew-a-long I'll be doing in March.  I hope you will join me!

It was a windy day today.  The dress hangs much better than it looks here. 

And a slightly blurry action shot.

And she's done!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

From the Vault

Have you ever gone to your child's closet and realized you had a bunch of tops and quite a few bottoms, but not very many outfits?  Many people try to alleviate that problem by putting together a SWAP (Sewing With A Plan).  By planning outfits out of coordinating fabrics, and making pieces that will mix and match, you end up with many different outfits.  Last spring, I decided to try my hand at a mini-swap for Allie. 

The stripes, dots and brocade are all very thin jersey from Hobby Lobby.  The jersey there is very cute, but it is really difficult to work with and the stripes are typically printed off-grain, which creates more problems than it is worth.  But, I couldn't resist this brown and pink. 

Here are 4 of the pieces.

And here's the fifth.  This is the Insa from Sewing Clothes Kids Love.  The pattern calls for woven fabrics, but it sews up very cute in a knit as well.  

This shirt is very cute.  It is from an Ottobre magazine and is described as a slim fit tee, which is very accurate.  The embroidery is one of my first attempts at digitizing for my embroidery machine. 

And one shot of Allie modelling.  Look at her hair!  There's a vent on the floor to her left, and the air was blowing it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

All about thread. . .

Over at , you can find a series of informative posts for anyone who is just starting out sewing or for anyone else who might want additional information on sewing.  I was a guest there yesterday and my topic was thread.

If you've ever stood in front of the thread counter at your local fabric store and felt overwhelmed by the choices, this post is for you.  You should definitely check it out.  Armed with the right knowledge, all that will be left to decide is which color to buy!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Camera Strap

The girls and I ate lunch today with my parents and sister and then went shoe shopping since Allie had been eyeing the Payless post card we got in the mail.  That was a frustrating experience, but that is a story for another time.  When we got home, I decided to make a camera strap loosely following Stacy's tutorial here: .  

(Just now, when I went back to grab the link, I realized that my photo here is set up almost identically to hers, which wasn't intentional, but I know I must have remembered it on some level, so my apologies to Stacy.  At any rate, she's a much better photographer than I am, so the two don't really compare!)

I used a small scrap of an Alexander Henry woven left over from a peasant blouse I made Allie when she could wear a 4T, and the back is brown velour.  I had some of the typical problems you may encounter when sewing together a woven and a knit, particularly in a long, straight line, but I think it turned out okay, and really snazzes up the plain black strap.

My favorite part of the tutorial is the shirred lens cap pocket.  Having had my camera all of 2 days, I've been frustrated with finding a place to put my lens cap when going outside to take pictures. . .you know, the two times that I've done it.  LOL!  I've been leaving it inside, but I'm not sure that's the best option.  Plus, that won't work when I take the camera with me away from home. 

The lens cap is wider than the strap, so the shirring is necessary to allow it to fit; plus, it adds some security to the pocket to keep the cap from falling out. 

So, there you have it.  On a weekend when I'm preoccupied with my new camera, I manage to make my sewing about that too! 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What I've been up to this weekend

My birthday was last week, and I got a new toy:  a Canon Rebel XS DSLR camera.  I have done some sewing this weekend, but I haven't finished anything because I've been learning how to use it.  It does have an automatic mode, but I've been trying to learn to shoot in manual mode because I hear it really can change the quality of your photos. 

I'm still learning, but I think some of these turned out pretty good! 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sewing without a Pattern

Sometimes, you need to make something, and there isn't a pattern for it, or you don't have time to hunt one down and buy it.  This year, Allie needed a desk bag for first grade that would hang on the back of the desk rather than on the side.  Since it is basically an elongated rectangle folded and sewn together in certain places, I cut the fabric and went to work. 

Please ignore the piles of fabric in the background!  And one for a friend of hers.

I have a new project planned for tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Occasionally, I will look to some of my favorite children's clothing collections for inspiration for new sewing projects.  Kelly's Kids is one of those collections, and I really liked this dress when I saw it, so I decided to try to make one like it:

I started with the same Otto t-shirt pattern that I used for the other playdress, narrowing the shoulder and cutting the opening in the back.  The ruffle was made from a doubled piece of fabric and attached to the neckline with the binding.  I love everything about it. 
My version is longer than the original, and it is a little loose on her, but I expect that she will wear it a lot this summer, and maybe even next.  It almost looks like a nightgown to me though.  I guess it is my fabric choice, but this was another one of the knits that needed to be sewn up before it became too babyish, so here it is. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

From the Vault--A Trio of Jackets

I have quite a few Dear My Kids Easywear patterns, and I seem to gravitate toward the jacket patterns.  They sew up easy and the end result is gorgeous.  The construction methods are also quite interesting, and in most cases result in completely reversible jackets.    You should check out Karen's patterns here: .  You may even see a picture or two of my girls on her pattern listings!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Look what I found!

And I'm pretty sure it isn't Joann's gingham.  This is the perfect example of why I need to sew some of what I have because I had forgotten all about this gingham when I was making the "happy daisy" shirt, and I really like the gingham version. 

I'm not sure which one, but one of these will be made into a dress based off of the same Ottobre pattern I made the shirt from.  Like this, kind of.  Please ignore my less-than-stellar drawing skills, and the fact that she doesn't have any hands--LOL!  I decided a handless drawing would be better than a drawing with clubs for hands and fingers.

I'm considering hosting a sew-a-long in March for the dress/shirt.  I think it will be fun to show a very detailed step-by-step as I make the dress, and I'm hoping that some of you will sew along with me.  Don't be intimidated by the pattern!  If you do it one step at a time, it isn't any harder than any of its steps, and none of them are that hard. . . I promise!

So, if you think you may want to have a virtual sewing play-date with me, you will need to get your hands on an Ottobre Design magazine (Issue 1/2010).  You can order it directly from the Ottobre website , or from the Wooly Thread, or from Sewzanne's

You will also need some fabric.  It can be gingham, or really anything else that floats your boat! 

I'll post some more details closer to time, but I know it will be fun!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy Daisies

I have wanted to make this little blouse since I first saw it on the cover of Ottobre 1/2010 in a gorgeous brown gingham, but all of the gingham readily available to me is the super thin version that Joann's carries, and that would probably have been more than frustrating to work with. 

Today, I pulled this piece of fabric out of my stash. . .it has been there a couple of years.  It was basically a souvenir from my only trip to the Original Sewing and Quilting Expo in Atlanta, and I kept waiting for the perfect project to come up.  This month's challenge is to sew a new pattern, so I paired it with the Otto pattern and off I went.  

Some of the details are hidden in the print. . . including the gathering stitches that I still need to remove.

This kind of collar finish is new to me, and I really like the results.  I opted for white snaps instead of buttons. 

Allie says she likes it, but she hasn't agreed to try it on for me yet.  Such is life with an almost 7-year-old fashionista!  I think it will look great with a white skirt or capris.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Play Dress Tutorial

You can make one of these for your own little girl using any t-shirt pattern.  There are so many patterns to choose from.  I'm using a pattern from Ottobre 5/06, but you could use a Kwik Sew t-shirt or any other pattern that you own.

First, you will need to alter your pattern to add the empire seam.  Most t-shirt front and back pattern pieces are designed to be cut on the fold.  You will want to draw a line on your pattern tracing perpendicular to the edge of the pattern that goes on the fold.  Simply measure down from the armpit the same amount on both the front and back pattern piece and draw the line.  ( I didn't cut along the line because I may want to use this tracing to make the original shirt, but you can cut along the line if you want.)

Now, cut out your fabric using your altered pattern pieces.  I folded the excess out of the way when cutting the front and back yoke pieces.  For the skirt, you will cut 2 rectangles.  For this dress, I wanted a very full skirt, so I cut the front and back skirt pieces twice the width of the front and back yoke pieces.  The length of the pieces will depend on how long you want your dress to end up.  I cut it longer than I needed and trimmed off the excess before hemming.

I do a couple of things that I think are important before assembling this type of dress.  Most t-shirt patterns will tell you to reinforce your shoulder seams to prevent them from being stretched out with wear.  You can buy a special product called fusible stay tape for this purpose, or you can use clear elastic or even a strip of any woven fabric you have on hand.  I don't buy the stay tape, but I do prefer something fusible, so I use interfacing.  (I save interfacing scraps for this purpose.)

Non-woven interfacing will stretch in one direction, but not in the other.  For the shoulder seams, I cut a narrow strip of the interfacing in the non-stretchy direction and fuse it in place.

I like to provide some extra stability to the yoke seam (where the skirt is attached) as well.  I do want this seam to maintain a little bit of stretch, but I don't want it to stretch out too much, so I cut a strip of the interfacing, this time in the direction it does stretch, and fuse it in place along the bottom of the front and back yokes.

Now, you will assemble the top of your dress, following your pattern directions.  I sewed one shoulder and then applied the binding to the neckline and sleeves before sewing the other shoulder seam.  Then, inserted my sleeves and sewed up the side seams and sleeve seams.   Press as you go.  (I highly recommend using a pillow or pressing ham to shape your neckline and sleeves as you go.)

Now, you will prepare your skirt to attach to the top of your dress.  Sew the side seams of the skirt, and then sew two rows of basting stitches along the top edge of the skirt.  Pull the bobbin threads to gather the top edge of the skirt and pin it right sides together to the prepared top of the dress.  You need to adjust the gathers, so the skirt fits well and so that the gathers are as even as possible.

Stitch the skirt to the dress top, using a stitch that will stretch. (I used my serger to construct this dress, but you could do it on a regular sewing machine.)  You can topstitch this seam if you wish.

Hem your dress, and voila, a quick and comfy playdress that will be perfect for summer!