Mixed Pattern Tank Top

Mixed Pattern Tank Top

This was another little experiment playing around with pattern mashups. I traced a favorite T-shirt to make a pattern, then played around with the shoulder width (the original shirt had sleeves) until it felt right. I finished the arm and neck holes with a banded treatment. I especially like the floral edging with the stripey part.

I’m pretty happy with the results, though there are plenty of imperfections. I’d like to try another using a walking foot on my machine. I think I can get a smoother finish that way.

Unfortunately the color didn’t come out so great on these photos, so I don’t think they quite do it justice, but what can I say? There are only so many hours in a day a girl can spend on modeling, am I right?

My nine-year-old wants to steal this shirt, so that makes me feel pretty successful. The fabrics are once again from Girl Charlee, and I love their softness and fun prints, but I’d also love to see more fabrics that are over 90% natural fibers and am willing to pay. It gets too hot so quickly around here to be wearing fabrics with a fair amount of poly. My two cents.

Okay, back to work. I have to prepare a presentation I’m doing with some fifth graders next week about writing an early reader.

Hope you have a great weekend. I finally have plans to see The Grand Budapest Hotel. Yippeee!

If you want to see more of my sewing adventures/ experiments, click here.

Colorblock Tank Top

Girl’s Waffle Knit Tunic

Thermal Knit Tunic

My girl loves knits. She’s nine now, but ever since I can remember, comfort has been her style priority. More often than not, this means knit fabrics. I really hesitate to buy her anything that’s made of wovens.

Occasionally, though, I have trouble finding as much variety as we want. (okay, there’s Mini Boden, which I love, but I’m not in love with their prices). This tunic was an experiment that started out as a dress in my mind. Until I ran out of fabric. Actually, I think if the pattern sizing was anywhere near the mark it probably would’ve made a dress, no problem.

I thought I’d try making a raglan T-shirt into a dress by lengthening the bottom, since raglan sleeves can be easier to deal with than the standard set-in kind. I used See & Sew B4322, which is really a pajama pattern, but that was the closest thing to what I wanted that I could find in the fabric store.

The directions are nice and straightforward, but like I said, the pattern sizing is off by a mile. I know my daughter is slim, but she’s not far off normal store-bought sizing. We ended up with, like, six inches of ease on the sides and a Flashdance neck.

But anyway, I made it work. I hacked off the sides, took in the shoulders, and gathered the neck (this was pre-finishing). I added a wide waistband what I had leftover, and I’m actually pretty happy with how it turned out. It’s long enough that she can wear it with leggings, which was the goal in the first place.

I realize I could’ve done a better job with the bow pattern (I’m pretty unexperienced with patterned fabric) but Little Miss doesn’t seem to care, so I don’t, either. Next time, I think I’ll just trace clothes she already has, rather than use that pattern (though the directions are still helpful).

The fabric came from Girl Charlee. I’ve been enjoying sewing with their fabrics. They are good quality and very reasonably priced, cute selection. If you’re a beginner with knits, I’d recommend going with medium weights. They are easier to work with. I do love these bows!

For more of my sewing adventure, click here. Hope you have a great weekend!

Oxford Shirtdress

Lisette Traveler Dress

Here’s one of my best sewing creations yet, from this Lisette pattern (the Traveler dress). Yet another pink-ish dress!

Lisette Traveler Pattern

It took me a long time, but I did it! The buttonholes were the scariest part, but turns out my sewing machine salesman was right: if you practice twelve times (on the appropriate fabric) you can make them beautifully.

I made no alterations to the pattern other than to leave off the bottom pockets and to use two different sizes for the top and bottom (aha! That’s why I have trouble fitting in store-bought dresses).

Didn’t my kids do a good job with the photos?

Lisette Shirt Dress

Pattern: Simplicity 2246 by Liesl Gibson

Fabric: pinklish oxford cloth from an open-air market in Germany

Earrings: Ron Cravens

Belt: Target

Boots: Bruno Premi (no, you can’t have them!)

For more posts on sewing, click here.

Child’s Linen Pants

My little guy (4), who has seen me make lots of things for his older sister, asked if I’d make him some pants. I was touched, but I hesitated.

“Pants are kind of hard,” I said. I mostly make really simple skirts for my daughter.

“But you could do them like this,” he said, pointing to the elastic waist of the pair he had on. How he knows anything about garment construction is beyond me, but he had a point. Why not? I started them during Kid’s Clothing Week Challenge (when I made the hats and nightdress also).

I think he even picked out the fabric, the same linen I made this dress from. I used this pattern, which is super simple and has very good instructions. I lengthened it a little (it’s a size 3 I think) and added a little width. I made a very wide hem so I can take them out again when he grows.

I’m really happy with how the pants turned out. They look so comfortable I almost wish I had a matching pair for me. They would also be really easy to make as shorts.

I just finished re-reading What Happened in Hamelin. It’s out of print now, but I’d read it as a kid and had to find it again since we are now living close to Hamelin. It’s a realistic retelling of what might have actually happened with the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Pretty dark and a bit scary, which I think is why I liked it in the first place. I was surprised at the images that had stuck in my mind for so many years—don’t want to spoil anything for you by hints, sorry. It’s definitely worth a read if you can get your hands on it. I donated my copy to the international school here.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Girl’s Linen Skirt with Ruffle Edge

I bought this blue linen a long time ago with a dress for me in mind. I changed my mind a couple of times about what pattern to use, and in the meantime, my daughter found the fabric and declared her love for it. You see where this is going.

I cut out my dress pattern and used the leftover to make a skirt for her. It’s just a gathered rectangle again, like this one, with a little ruffle added. This kind of skirt is so easy to make, and I love not having to use a pattern. Really, she likes them as well as a dress, which I find much more of a chore.

Unfortunately I’ve found some mistakes in the way I cut out my dress, so I’m in a bind and trying to finagle my way out of it. Meanwhile Little Miss has really been enjoying her skirt. Love the styling here, don’t you? That’s all her own doing.

But next time I’ll make my outfit first, then see what fabric I have left over. Almost finished assembling this sweater. It’s looking really good, if I do say so myself.

We were in Austria last week, so beautiful, where I finally got up the nerve to get off the bunny slope after lots of coaxing. Woohooo!!

Currently reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. So completely fascinating! It’s the most interesting story I’ve read in a long time—the true account of the woman behind the cells that started a medical revolution. Definitely check it out.

The Great Pattern-Drafting Experiment

This project looks simple, but it has taken me many months to complete. Okay, I have to admit, over a year, but I wasn’t working on it that whole time. I haven’t sewn much for myself  in the last few years, mostly for my kids and our home. Part of that has been not wanting to spend so much time on something that might not fit me in the end. So when I heard about Cal Patch‘s book, Design-It-Yourself Clothes, I fantasized about making something to fit me perfectly.

Fiber July 1 – 5, 2011: Design (and MAKE!) Your Own Clothes with Cal Patch

I really like this book. The instructions are clear and written with a sense of humor. The projects are just the right speed for me——beyond beginner but simple enough not to be intimidating. But my favorite thing is that the book leaves lots of room for experimentation. So I like to flip through often and just dream about what I might create. For me, dreaming is more than half the fun.

That said, my first project doesn’t involve a lot of experimentation, besides the pattern drafting itself. It’s the first project in the book, with very little deviation besides the added waistband.

I crossed off a lot of firsts with this skirt. Besides my first self-drafted pattern, I also made my first muslin (trial run of the pattern in a cheap fabric), sewed my first invisible zipper, and used my first French seam. I now realize flat-felled seams would be better here, but oh well.

I’m not completely crazy about the skirt. There are a lot of flaws you can’t necessarily see here, and although the fabric is lovely and soft, I’m not sure what to wear it with. Just having made it feels like a big accomplishment, though.

Since I had plenty of fabric left over, I offered to make a skirt for my daughter, too (just a simple gathered rectangle). If you know me well, you know I’m really not a matchy-matchy type. Our bridesmaids didn’t even match. But my Little Miss loves matching, so she was totally hip to it, especially when I offered to add a floral strip at the bottom.

I love her styling choices here. She’s a bold little fashionista. I feel a mother-daughter matching day coming on. Oh, the things we do for our kids!

Go-To Dress


I started this dress for my daughter way back in September, during kids clothes week challenge hosted over at elsiemarley, one of my favorite blogs. The idea of the challenge is that for one week you’re supposed to spend an hour a day doing some kind of work on your sewing projects for kids. I did work on the dress every day for a week, but I didn’t get so far, and since then have been pecking away at it for a few minutes at a time. Finally my daughter said, “Why don’t you just give it to me for Christmas?” Ummm….okay. She’s six.

This was my first time sewing anything much with knits. The free pattern is from the blog The Train to Crazy, which has lots of other great stuff as well. It’s a really cute pattern—–the trickiest part is getting the waist elastic done properly, which requires zigzag topstitching, gathering, and elastic placement, all at the same spot. Mine is definitely not perfect in that area, but you know, it’s knit, it’s a playdress, and who cares. I’m sure you can find other mistakes if you’re looking, but please, don’t look that closely. I don’t think my daughter will. Sorry I can’t show a picture of her in it since she hasn’t seen the finished product yet.

I got the fabric from the local stoffemarkt (fabric market) in Hannover, which comes through a few times a year. It was a good deal, and I have the mirror image of the dress already cut out and ready to go, if I can get motivated. I didn’t end up being in love with the color combo. I think I might like the mirror image more.

I read up on knits before starting: good tutorials here and here. It boils down to using the right stitch (according to your machine), a special knit needle, and a fabric stabilizer. I couldn’t find any fabric stabilizer in Hannover, so I used a lot of regular old starch, which worked fine. It definitely made a difference in the ease of sewing. I have a very basic Necchi sewing machine, which has a few stitch options which are great for knits. Love that machine. If you live in Charlotte, NC, you can buy one at Himebaugh’s. They are so nice there.

Garden Skirt

Yay! My sewing machine is finally hooked up and working again after the move. I was beginning to miss it badly. My daughter picked out this fabric for a skirt for her birthday, which was awhile back, and now finally it’s finished. It’s a bit bigger than I intended. I wanted it to be a little big so she could keep wearing it a year or more, but this is a little more than that. Oh well. She loves it, and it was very simple to make. I just did a gathered rectangle with an elastic waist. I cheated on the hem and just did a regular seam, but I actually did finish the raw edges on the inside (I hope my mother and mother-in-law will be impressed with this attention to detail).