Archive for the 'Craft/Sewing Projects' Category

“Hope” Dress for Me

I know, with all the companies and website I’ve been talking about lately, you’re wondering when I’m going to get back to the crafty stuff. I’ve been wondering that some myself. But last night, after putting together the book summary (which somehow I AM going to get up on here today), I sat back down at the sewing machines, and it felt great.

I’ve been wanting to make the the Hope Wrap Dress, a free pattern over at Burdastyle, but I haven’t been willing to shell out the money for some good-quality stretch knit. But then I found some wine-colored spandex knit for $4 a yard on the clearance aisle at JoAnn’s last week.

The dress took only four hours . . .

. . . although it would’ve taken less if I had chosen regular jersey.

I love the way it turned out, though. I like the thin ties and the 3/4 length sleeves. And I love that it cost me only $8. I think it will be perfect for this fall.

The dress pattern is only available from Burdastyle in size 34, but I think you could alter it without too much trouble. If you don’t want to worry about grading the free pattern, Butterick 5030 has a style option that is almost exactly like the “Hope” dress.

Happy sewing, everyone!


Letter Tee Tutorial (Finally!)

It’s about time! I’ve been promising to do this tutorial for awhile, and I know you’ve been waiting with baited breath, right?!? All this talk of coordinated family-members lit a fire under me, so here it is, the Letter Tee Tutorial. I know this might look intimidating, but it’s not hard. Do NOT be afraid of knits. When it comes to making a simple tee-shirt — which this is, essentially, along with some applique thrown in — knits are really very easy to work with. It does take a little practice, and a little nerve, but you can do it. I wrote this tutorial with the beginner in mind; if you don’t know how to make a ribbed collar, you will. If you don’t know how to put together a basic tee shirt, you will. And if you don’t know how to use paper-backed fusible webbing, you will. So take a breath, take your time, and enjoy.

Click here for the Letter Tee Tutorial

Independence Day!

I know I’m a little late in posting this, but since we did just get home from vacation, I hope you’ll forgive me.

Here are my babies, dressed up for church on the Fourth. I found all of the “fireworks” fabric — actually, two versions of Robert Kaufman’s “Origami,” at a garage sale along with several yards of other fabrics for $3 a week before the Fourth. I don’t know what it’s like everywhere else, but around here a lot of garage sales have fabric, and I LOVE it.

I believe I’ve previously posted that the boys’ shirts were made from Simplicity 5581, which I DON’T recommend (try Simplicity 3856 instead if you are sewing for a small child) because of problems with both the collar patterns and instructions. I feel like I’ve made enough little button-down shirts at this point to know when a pattern is just flat-out printed wrong and when instructions are far more confusing than they need to be. Anyway, moving on . . .

The girls’ skirts are just your basic skirts with elastic casings and some rickrack on the bottom to liven them up. I did make them reversible — my oldest’s has a floral JoAnn print on the other side and my youngest’s has a retro dot pattern from Michael Miller — so that they could wear them year-round rather than only on the Fourth.

So, that’s that. The fourth of July has come and gone (is it just me, or is this Summer going by FAST?) and I hope you had a good one!

Get Thee to a Hobby Lobby!

Don’t walk, RUN to your nearest Hobby Lobby and pick up some of this . . .

. . . pre-ruffled knit fabric, now 50% off (was $13.99 US, now $7.00 US). The ruffle is built into the production of the fabric so that no one had to sew it themselves, in keeping with my anti-sweatshop stance, and it’s a lovely, casual fabric with a lot of stretch. AND they have it in pink, white, and black. The first thing I thought of when I saw it was this . . .

this . . .

and of course this . . .

I really couldn’t even wait twenty-four hours to make something from it. I used the technique for making a basic pillowcase dress, adding a jersey lining (since the ruffles are almost-just-might-be-but-not-quite see-through) and changing it up a little to accomodate the knit fabric. Freshly Picked has a good tutorial for pillowcase dresses. When you’re making one with your own fabric, rather than a pillowcase, you’ll need to sew the side seams and hem it yourself. If you’re using a knit, or that fabulous ruffle fabric, simply replace the bias tape with 2-inch strips of knit cut perpendicular to the grain, selvedge to selvedge (not on the bias as with woven fabrics); this makes a sort of thin ribbing. Iron it like you would bias tape, sew one side onto the front of your dress, right sides together and with raw edges even, stretching a little tiny bit as you go. Then, fold it over, pin, and topstitch through all layers, being careful to catch both the front and the back ribbing as you go. Voila!

I grabbed enough of the ruffle fabric to make my youngest a little dress as well. How cute will they be wearing their ruffles on vacation next week? Vacation?! Yikes! I’ve got WAY more sewing to do!


PS — If you haven’t entered my Fourth of July Giveaway (a $25 gift card to Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts), what are you waiting for?! You can still enter HERE.

My Ideal Summer Outfit

I adore sewing with knits. I really do. My serger has opened up a whole new world for me, one that is soft, colorful, and so very comfy. Yesterday, I fired up Sergio and dipped into my stash to make this outfit:

It’s made from a yard of white interlock I got half price at Joann’s a long time ago, some blue jersey I found at Walmart earlier this year, and a bit of that fantastic garage-sale fabric. I figured it all up on my way to the grocery store this morning, and all told the whole thing cost about $5. I went with white for the shirt because I’ve needed a new white tee for quite a while — you know, the kind you can throw on with just about any skirt or pair of pants? Every time I buy one, it gets stained a few days later. Which, then, makes me wonder how long this one will last. Oh well. It really only took about an hour from start to finish, so I can just make another. I love its shape; it really has some nice coverage in the front . . .

. . . and a bit of drama in the back. I drew up the pattern yesterday based on another shirt I have, and I know I must have gotten it right because my new shirt behaves exactly as my old shirt does, which is to say, it slides off my shoulders and shows my bra straps. I guess that’s the price I’ll pay for pretty. 🙂

The skirt is from the Yoga Skirt Tutorial over at Sew Mama Sew. It’s unbelievably comfortable and a really simple project. I’ll definitely be making more in a bunch of different colors.

So there it is. My ideal summer outfit (save for the bra straps thing) in breathable, stretchable, movable knit. If you haven’t tried sewing with knits, there are some great tips on sewing with them here, here, and here. My favorite place to buy knits, other than garage sales of course, is Chez Ami. Their fabrics are adorable and their prices (check out the clearance section!) are better than the big stores.

And now, it’s time to wear my new clothes while I clean my house and wrangle my little ones. Ah, the glamorous life of the stay-at-home-mom. Have a great Thursday, everyone! Thanks for stopping by!

The Summer Necessity Swimsuit Tutorial!!!

Because I had such trouble finding a tutorial on how to make a child’s swimsuit, I decided to write down the steps to make the simple swimsuit I created for my daughter. You can use these same steps to make a suit for your child or even for yourself! This method uses folded-over elastic rather than ribbing, so it really is fast and easy!

So here you go . . .


First, you’ll need a pattern for your swimsuit. I made my pattern by tracing a dance leotard and adjusting it a little by holding it against my daughter.  You could also trace out a swimsuit that fits well (this is the easiest method — seriously, just lay it down and trace it out, stretching the edges so they lay flat), or even head into your favorite store and find a suit you like and “borrow” its shape. If you have absolutely nothing you can use, you can try putting your child in a tank and underwear and tracing out the shape of those items while she’s wearing them, like this:


Only trace out one half of each pattern piece; you will place it on the fold when you’re cutting out your swimsuit. Also, be sure that the length of the sides and the width of the shoulders and crotches are the same for both the front and the back pattern pieces that you make (this width also needs to be around 1.5″ or more to accommodate the elastic when it’s folded over).  You can decide for yourself whether or not to add seam allowances; swimsuit fabric has a lot of stretch, so unless your suit pattern is very, very snug, they’re not really necessary. To be certain your suit pattern will fit well, you might want to make a “muslin” out of an old t-shirt.

Okay, now that you have your pattern, let’s get started!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Swimsuit Fabric (1/2 yard for up to size 6, bigger children will need more fabric)
Swimsuit Lining Fabric (Optional — same amount as swimsuit fabric)
Swimsuit Pattern
Ballpoint Pins (pins for knit fabric)
Elastic (I used 3/8 inch “swimsuit elastic,” and it’s fabulous, but 3/8″ knit elastic will also work)
Rotary Cutter (Optional)

*** Please note; I used a 3/8″ seam allowance for my suit unless otherwise noted, but you are welcome to use one you are more comfortable with; swimsuit material has so much stretch that small changes in seam allowances do not make a big difference. You do, however, want the shoulders and crotch of your swimsuit pattern to be at least 1.5″ wide to accommodate the elastic once it’s folded over.***
***Another quick note: I used lining in my swimsuit, but you don’t have to. If you decide not to, just skip the steps that involve sewing the crotch seam in the lining and basting the lining to the wrong side of the swimsuit fabric.***
***Okay, last note, I promise — Click on any of the pictures below to see them larger.***

1. Lay each pattern out on the fold of the fabric. Swimsuit fabric has 4-way stretch, so it doesn’t matter which orientation your fold is — horizontal or vertical — unless your fabric has a directional print, then you need to make the fold parallel to the direction of the print. I did mine this way to conserve fabric. Cut out the pieces. Because swimsuit fabric is slippery, I like to use my rotary cutter rather than scissors to cut it out because the fabric shifts less.

2. If you are using a lining, lay out your pattern and cut it out as well.

3. Now make sure you have four pieces; a swimsuit front and back and a lining front and back.

4. Sew crotch of swimsuit together, right sides together. Do the same with the lining.

5. Now you have two pieces instead of four. Lay the lining over the suit, matching crotch seams and with wrong sides together.

6. Match the edges all along the suit and lining.

7. Starting at the crotch seam, baste with 1/4″ seam allowance all the way around the whole front and back of the suit and lining. To baste, you turn your stitch length up as high as you can and sew without backstitching. The swimsuit lining will stretch and shift slightly as you baste, but don’t worry; it has a lot of stretch, so feel free to shift and stretch it to match the edge of the swimsuit fabric when you need to. This is a very important step; it will make the rest of your sewing on this project much, much easier.

8. Your suit should now look like this:

9. Now measure around your child’s thigh along her panty line. I just hold the elastic up against her leg rather than using a tape measure. Cut two of these lengths.

10. Stretch each length of elastic across the leg holes against the wrong side (lining side) of the suit, matching sides and centers of elastic strip and leg hole. Pin.

11. Back stitch (sew forward and back a few times) at the beginning of the elastic and leghole. Then strrrreeeeetch the elastic as you sew it just inside the edge of the material using a zigzag stitch (that is no wider than the elastic) or a serger. Be careful to stay inside the edge of the leg hole; you don’t want to miss any of the swimsuit material as you’re stretching and sewing the elastic. Zig zag or serge all the way to the end of the leg hole, stretching and sewing as you go, and back stitch when you reach the end. Do this on both legholes.

12. Your suit’s legholes now look like this:

13. Sew your suit’s shoulders together, right sides together.

14. Measure armhole elastic against your child (place it along where you’d like the armhole to fall) and cut two of these lengths.

15. Pin elastic along armholes as with legholes, matching sides and centers. Sew as before — backstitch, stretch, and sew using a zigzag stitch.

16. Your armholes now look like this:

17. At edge of one armhole, fold elastic over once on wrong side of fabric and pin.

18. Topstitch on right side of fabric using a longer stitch (3+) or a zigzag stitch that’s no larger than the width of the elastic. Stretch the elastic as you sew, just like before. Do this on both armholes and leg holes.

19. Your suit now looks like this:

20. Cut elastic about 1/2″-1″ shorter than the neck opening and stitch it together into a circle.

21. Match centers and sides of elastic circle with centers and sides of neck hole on wrong side (lining side) of suit. I like to put the elastic’s seam at the back of the suit. Sew, as before, by backstitching and stretching as you sew using a zigzag stitch or a serger.

22. Your suit now looks like this:

23. Fold over and topstitch the neck elastic just as you did with the armhole and leghole elastic.

24. Your suit now looks like this:

25. Pin side seams together, right sides together, and stitch.

26. Once side seams are stitched, fold their seam allowances to one side along each seam and pin.

27. Tack these seam allowances down using a few stitches forward and back.

28. It’s helpful to remove the basting around the neckhole (and the armhole and legholes, although this isn’t totally necessary) to allow the material there to fully stretch. If you try to pull the suit on and the openings won’t stretch enough, this is why.


Your finished suit should look something like this:

and this:

Hurray for you! You just made a swimsuit! Now go try it out in the pool!!!

Summer Sewing Necessity: Child’s Swimsuit

My 5-year-old daughter started swimming lessons this week, and I was surprised at her first lesson by how small her swimsuit has gotten. I mean, it’s really small. The straps pull at her shoulders and the bottom doesn’t cover, well, her bottom. Because I don’t buy clothes that were not made in the U.S. (or internationally by a company whose labor practices I trust completely), I couldn’t run out and get one at the mall or Wallyworld. I searched online, but there were slim pickings. And nobody wants to buy a used child’s swimsuit; we all know they pee in those, am I right? So I was left to make one. Gulp. I’ve never made a swimsuit before, and I couldn’t find a pattern for a one-piece at Joann’s. I couldn’t really find a good tutorial online, either. So, I got some fabric, 1/2 yard of swimsuit material and 1/2 yard of lining, and, even though I was honestly scared to try, I went for it. I used a leotard that fits my daughter well for the basic shape and sort of laid the pattern over her to decide where I wanted the armholes and legholes to fall (ie, how much chest and fanny coverage I wanted). It’s really a simple design, because, like I said, I know nothing about making a swimsuit. I just sewed on and folded over elastic on the edges rather than adding ribbing, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

It has many imperfections, and I spent a good deal of time ripping out errant stitches. She loves it, though, as you can see. Silly girl.

It fits her very well. I didn’t expect it to fit so much better than any of her store-bought swimsuits ever have. I guess that’s what happens when you make something rather than buy it. 🙂

I learned two important lessons from making this swimsuit. First, knit elastic works way better than braided elastic when you’re folding it over on armholes and leg holes. WAY better. Second, you shouldn’t be afraid to try using a new fabric or a new technique. It might not turn out exactly like you wanted it to, but projects are like children; you can’t expect perfection with your first try. 😉

Like this and want to try it yourself? Click to Get the tutorial!!!

Chaos. Everyday.

Four kids. Two parents. Everyday life. Stop in often for new updates, crafts we've been working on, and a journal of life with four kids age five and under.

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