Archive for the ‘sewing clothes’ Category

t shirts to pjs

shirts waiting to be pjs

My job for the day is to turn these knit shirts (and one dress) into summer pajamas for my kids. I only have a vague notion of how I’m going to do it, but it has to happen because it’s hot!

Many of you have asked where I get my knits. The answer is the Dig & Save. It’s a store somewhere between dumpster and thrift shop. I’m not making it sound very glamorous am I? I suppose it isn’t really, but it is very cheap and very awesome.  The store is full of giant bins of clothes too tattered or stained for the thrift store. You have to literally dig through them to find what you are looking for, or in most cased what you didn’t know you were looking for. Everything you do find is $1/pound (half price on Wednesdays).

I often go looking for t shirts to cut up and use for something else. All the different names of knits (and all fabric to be honest) confuse me, but if I can feel the fabric I know exactly what I’ll make with it. All the knits pictured above are soft and stretchy, but not too stretchy. There are some that are thin and will work for pj tops and some that are thicker for pj bottoms. I could’ve never gotten exactly what I wanted through the internet.

That said, there are limitations to using old t shirts: pockets, buttons, v-necks all can get in the way. When I stumble upon an XXL turtleneck I do a little dance. If you don’t have a digging-based thrift store in your area or just want straight up yardage for your project, Girl Charlee is a fantastic online resource for knits. All of their fabrics are reasonably priced and though I have gotten some printed knits that were a bit scratchy, 90% of the time they are butter soft.

polka dot fairy tale dress

polka dot fairy tale dress

I totally left you hanging! Sorry! Well, the dress is done and it turned out even better than I had hoped.

polka dot fairy tale dress

I don’t think I could say any more about this dress–I mean I’ve written 6 posts about it already!

polka dot fairy tale dress

The seventh hour (in case you are wondering) was spend hand sewing the lining to the zipper and sewing a little hook and eye in the back. Oh and sewing a veil, which was very poofy and weird, but veils are poofy and weird by nature, so I think that means I got it right?

polka dot fairy tale dress


Her first communion went well. She didn’t slip and fall in her high heel (!) shoes. And multiple people said the dress fit her personality to a tee. A fantastic compliment if I ever heard one. And she loved the dress! She may not ever wear it again, but maybe her daughter will someday.


polka dot fairy tale dress

polka dot fairy tale dress

sweater dress

We have had a very chilly spring here is Wisconsin this year. Thank goodness too, because this sweater dress has been on the to sew list since the fall! You know how it is: all the new, exciting projects always budge in line.

sweater dress

the pattern: Rae’s Flashback Skinny Tee , size 7. Obviously, I lengthened it. I also created more of an A-line shape by drawing an angled line from the armpit to the hem. Kristin explained how to transform the pattern into a summer dress for last spring’s KCW. Speaking of, did you see we kicked off a week of guest post-ers on the new kcw blog?

flashback skinny sweater dress

the fabric: an odd bit of sweater-y fabric I found in a thrift store in northern Wisconsin + a bit of a purple sweater (the one I used to make this cardigan).

sweater dress

the sewing: The main part of the dress came together super quick. The neckline tripped me up a bit. Mostly because I tried to use the neckline from the purple sweater. I had to rip it up and start again over. I also used the cuffs from the purple sweater, which I don’t like, but they aren’t awful so I skipped redoing them.

the fit: spot on! The last flashback skinny dress I made, I sized it up myself. It worked, but it wasn’t perfect. Rae has since sized the pattern up for bigger kids. The skinny tee is such a wardrobe staple, I know this pattern will get used for a long time.

sweater dress

The dress is getting worn–caught on film a few times, too! Paired with a polka dot tights, wellies, and a stocking cap one time. Another time she even matched her mama!


handmade kids clothing swap

handmade kids clothing swap

A few months ago, Robin from nested in stitches gathered together a very talented bunch of sewists for an amazing swap. She assigned everyone a blogger, then by referring to their pinterest board for inspiration, we sewed an outfit for one of their kids.

raglan shirt

I was lucky enough to have Sanae  assigned to make clothes for my middle son. She is an accomplished and proficient sewer. And she is crazy stylish to boot! You should have seen my kids when we opened the package. They have never been that excited about the clothes I make. Everything they saw was, “Awesome! So soft! Look at this! Super cool!”


I was saying all those things too, because come on! Look at these awesome clothes! All of them are spot on and so unbelievably soft. I need to hook up with her knit fabric supplier, because my knits are not nearly as buttery as hers.


The mismatched stripes and the nani iro knit print are perfect. And I love me some raglan shirts!


The hoodie , though, that is really the piece de resistance. Yes, it’s dirty, because it has been worn nonstop since it came out of the package.


It zips up and down, has secret stripy pockets, oh my goodness the greatest thing ever: the patch inside!


Sanae said that the patch was to cover up a sewing mistake. Well, hooray for mistakes! I teared up a bit when I saw it, because it’s so lovely. And why haven’t I been putting little secret messages like this on all the clothes I make for my kids? When I read it to my son he said, very matter of fact, “Actually, I am awesome!”


The pants, Sanae thought, might be a bit big and they were. But luckily I have children to spare! And they fit my daughter perfectly.


She was so happy to not be left out. The pants suit her really well and it’s a pattern I never would have considered making for her. Her brother will inherit them someday. The littlest will grow into all of them in time. We are so lucky! Thanks, Sanae!

watercolor of handmade clothes

oops, I almost forgot about the little work of art she included in her package. How beautiful! I was inspired to do the same for my swap partner, but came no where close to her artistic ability. Talented in so many ways, that Sanae!

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And here she is to talk about the inspiration behind the clothes:

This was a new and exciting challenge for me since I rarely sew for boys, and I was thrilled to be sewing for Meg of Elsie Marley, because c’mon, she’s Elsie Marley! I love Meg’s cool and fun aesthetic, so for inspiration I chose a few pins from her Pinterest board that seemed to reflect her style that also appealed to me. If you’ve been following Elsie Marley, it’s pretty clear that she’s all about the stripes. So I wanted to incorporate lots of stripes and a bit of pattern, and above all, comfort. Comfort means knits to me, and it’s probably very unoriginal but I can’t help but think of cargo pants for boys. I obviously didn’t truly copy any of the pins, but wanted to create the quirky/cool vibe.

In our household, we’ve been obsessed with the How To Train a Dragon book series, and I had this vague idea of creating an urban viking look with a dragon stencil somewhere – and how awesome would it have been to add viking horns to the side of the hoodie? Sadly, I was more ambitious than time allowed (as always). Also, my serger kept eating the knits and I kept starting over so I ended up with two raglan tees that I salvaged. I added a li’l patch to the hoodie to hide a particularly tragic serger accident, and it became my favorite part of the whole outfit. I was SO nervous about everything I made and as I suspected, the pants were too big. But all in all, it was such a fun experience!

Patterns: Oliver + S Field Trip Raglan Tee for both shirts and the Field Trip Cargo Pants. The hoodie is pattern 25 from this book

Fabric: The blue knit with the cool pattern is Nani Iro Element Collage knit from Drygoods Design, and it’s amazing stuff; the black-and-white stripe is a 100% cotton jersey from Pacific Fabrics. Those are the only two knits I’m certain of. The other knits have been in my stash forever. The geometric mustard and grey fabric is Kokka, also from Drygoods, and the jeans are stretch denim which is the same fabric I used for K’s pants here.

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handmade kids clothing swap

Those four up there are the garments I made for Gail’s little girl. Pop over to her blog, probably actually, to see them all in action! And do visit all the blogs below to see all the amazing handmade kids clothes!!

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cherie from you and mie

danielle from my sparkle

delia from delia creates

gail from probably actually

heather from well-crafted

kristin from skirt as top

meg from elsie marley

robin from nested in stitches

sanae from sanae ishida

vanessa from lbg studio

dress b from Happy Homemade Vol 2

sundress from Happy Homemade vol 2

Today I am over at You & Mie for her series on Japanese Sewing Books. The series walks you through all the steps you need to know  from Japanese pattern books. They can be a bit intimidating, but they also can be a lot of fun. My post is all about finding your pattern and tracing it. Sounds easy, but there are some tricks you need to know. Hop on over to Cherie’s lovely blog for my post, and all the guest posts this week!

sundress from Happy Homemade vol 2

In honor of Japanese Sewing Books week, I sewed up this sundress from my favorite Japanese sewing book, Happy Homemade Vol. 2. Well, to be honest, I dug up this dress that I sewed most of last spring, then hemmed it and added buttons (in honor of Japanese Sewing Books week). Why I sew 90% of something and then abandon it is beyond me.

sundress from Happy Homemade vol 2

But anyway, it’s done and (still) fits! I’m going to do a form style report on this one, because 3 days into spring break and the children have run me ragged already. My brain is not functioning at full capcity.

sundress back

the fabric: oh, the fabric is lovely. It is 100% cotton shirting I got from the good fabric store in my neighborhood. They have a lot of beautiful fabrics, but mostly in ugly prints. This tiny blue stripe was perfect, though. It’s a good weight too, just right for when (if?) summer comes. I went with polka dot buttons because it’s stripes + polka dots up in here, all the time.

the pattern: the pattern is from Happy Homemade Vol. 2. I sew from this book a lot; I talk about it a lot too.  I think it’s a great 1st Japanese sewing book. I’d love to do some sort of sew-along thing-a-bob with the patterns in the book. Anyone up for it? Maybe after KCW? Anyway, the pattern. The pattern was pretty simple, because, well the dress is pretty simple. I do remember the armholes being super fussy and weird.

the sewing: There was a little swearing, but there alway is, isn’t there? The fabric was dreamy. The striped bias tape turned out really nice, as did the bias cut bodice piece. I’d say not bad for a dress half done, abandoned, and (because it’s almost Easter, I’m just going to go for it and say…) resurrected. Ha!

sundress from Happy Homemade vol 2