Saturday, January 26, 2013


Pattern: Ottobre 6/2010 Pikkumies #16
Fabric: Jersey knit in three colors plus white flannel for inner lining
Fabric Price:  probably around a dollar
Notions: elastic
Size: 92cm
Child's Age: 2

My two-year-old is potty training so I tried my hand at some toddler undies. I couldn't wait for the coverstitch machine to arrive. Plus, I really never sew knits, so I need to establish a baseline for the misery it is to sew without one, so I can better appreciate it when I receive it.     These are not the ones from the latest Ottobre issue 1/2013 but rather from Ottobre 6/2010. I thought these would be more his speed. I plan to make the new ones for my five-year-old. I've also seen some from an older issue of Ottobre which I think are even cuter, but I don't have that issue.

I used what I had on hand, some jersey knit from JoAnn I bought a long time ago with the intention of making pajama pants, I think. I didn't have ribbing for the waistband so I just used some more jersey knit I had on hand. I did double layer the front and back panels and the crotch gusset with white flannel on the inside in case of accidents. I didn't want them too thin, and it's winter anyway.

They were pretty easy to make.  I only got confused for a minute when sewing the back seam of the crotch gusset so that the seam is hidden.  You have to maneuver the edge of the crotch gusset around pretty tightly to get it to do this but it worked just fine.  I sewed it mostly with my serger.  I used my regular machine to sew that one part of the crotch gusset, for the decorative top-stitching on the front and back panels, and for the double-needle top-stitch around the waist and leg hems.

They came out a bit loser than I would have liked but it's not too big of a deal, they are, after all underwear.  They'll probably shrink in the wash.  However, the waistband was looked incredibly small so I cut it to the largest size and it was still a bit snug. That's probably because I didn't use ribbing. It also has elastic inside the waistband. 

Overall, pretty cute undies even though I wasn't really loving that character fabric from JoAnn.  I can't believe how expensive little boy briefs can be (Gymboree), so I'm pretty stoked to be able to make them for both the boys now.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fun stuff

I've been more excited about sewing lately, than actually sewing. For better or worse, this culminated today in the online purchase of a used coverstitch machine. Until, a couple of months ago, I don't think I had even heard of a coverstitch machine. And until recently, I didn't even realize my humble Kenmore serger couldn't do this stitch, so naturally, a necessity emerged for the, now trendy, coverstitch machine. I got the Brother 2340CV, which I think is the least expensive in this category.

I was also pretty stoked with the latest issue of Ottobre magazine (1/2013). There's a few things I'd really like to make. I'm easily won over by the fabric patterns and colors.

I have been meaning to make a trench coat for Monkey Pants for several years now after she outgrew her size 3T on from the GAP at the age of six.  It was adorable.  It even pushed me to buy my first issue of Burda, for a kid's trench coat that I still haven't made.  This one is not in a style I would ordinarily be drawn to (a little frilly for Monkey Pants), but the whole ensemble is irresistible.  I have to make it.

These boys' undies are supercute! And I have to make them with this fabric which is, of course, available from Ottobre's Etsy store for a small fortune. Who to make them for? The five year old, or the recently potty trained two-year old.  I can probably only afford one pair. Especially after the coverstitch machine purchase. These will be the most expensive underwear ever.


I also couldn't resist this chef's outfit, which will be so cute for my little guy that loves to make me food in the play kitchen and bring me my orders. Of course, I don't think he's ever seen a chef's outfit before, but who cares, right?

I already made the apron in two colorful quilting cottons for a birthday gift. I missed the chance to take a quick photo as I'm the queen of last minute projects.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Holiday-ish dress

Pattern: Burda 9/2012 #152 Cap Sleeve Dress
Fabric: Denyse Schmidt Chicopee Simply Plaid Lime
Cost: ~ $17.00
Size: 122 cm
Age: 8

[Cardigan: Target (little girls size 5); Shoes: Target; Hairpin and Tights: Target]

Ok, so I had bought Monkey Pants a holiday dress at Costco for under $20 bucks.  I didn't love the style, but it was nice enough.  However, I didn't really want a dress that she's only going to wear once and then outgrow by the time she can wear it again.  In my trips to a local quilt fabric shop, I kept eye-ing this green plaid quilting cotton but I just couldn't picture what to make with it.  That is until I got the 9/2012 issue of Burda magazine.  I paired the Cap Sleeve Dress and this fabric together in my mind for a bit of a vintage-y feel. My thought was that it would be cute enough as a holiday dress, but casual enough to wear any time.

Here it is paired up with a sparkly, hot pink cardigan from Target.  I'm still clinging to the little girls section as I find the styles so much nicer than the older girls. Monkey Pants was so little and skinny that until recently she could still fit into the largest size, a size 5 in the little girls, but not anymore. However! I did find that this little cardi fit just fine and even if the sleeves get too short, it can be a three-quarter-sleeve cardi. Yes! I didn't do so well with these light grey, sparkly tights though. The crotch was riding pretty low.  But that was Santa. Not me.

Sometimes people get a little fed up with me when I'm taking their picture.
I was concerned the bodice would be too lose on her as the dress in the Burda photo shoot looks like it's not really fitted and Monkey Pants has such a tiny waist.  But I was relieved to see that it turned out just right.  It's such a simple dress, but the overall look of the cap sleeves, pleated skirt and fabric turned out the style I was going for.

The dress is not lined as it is meant to be made from a thicker fabric.  Since I intended it as an every day wear type of dress, I thought I could get away with just the facings around the collar and under the arm holes, but I realized the quilting cotton would not have enough form on it's own so I lined it. Geez! Why am I lining everything now.  It's not like I really now what I'm doing. It was fairly easy to sew, aside from my inexperience with lining and tulle underskirts.

I had noted that an inexpensive dress from holidays past had a simple lining with a bit of black tulle at the bottom that barely showed past the skirt. I decided to add that thereby making things harder for myself by having to do a lot of arithmetic to figure out how much to shorten the lining by, accounting for the hemming and overlap of the tulle on the lining. But unbelievably, it turned out.  I even got to use my gathering foot on the tulle which can be a blessing or a curse. I think this gives the skirt just enough body without turning it into a party dress.

And voila! That's how I got Monkey Pants into a dress!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Godet Skirt

Pattern: Burda 12/2012 #123 Sash Skirt or #122 Godet Skirt
Fabric: Stretch velvet (JoAnn 60% off)
Notions: Invisible zipper
Cost:  ~ $8.00 (inc. zipper)
Size: 40cm shortened

I don't think I've made a single thing for myself since starting my Burda magazine subscription. Partly because my kids have been needing clothes more than I have, and partly because I've found some of the Burda styles not to my tastes or not flattering for me. There have been a few things that I've really liked, but I don't really need them. However, I had the opportunity to go to a holiday party and this skirt immediately popped in my head from my mental Burda database. I could have worn something way more casual, but hey, I just needed an excuse to make the skirt.

After hours of JoAnn shopping for pirate costume fabric, I had a pretty good fabric inventory of JoAnn in my head too. So I matched up the pattern with this stretchy, velvet-y fabric.

The skirt has no waist band but a waist facing instead, and an invisible zipper at the center back. I lined it, otherwise, I new it would be hiking up my legs wearing hose. I struggled with what size to make, as I've not made much for myself lately. My waist measurement would require a size US10 or US12, while my hips are more of a US6 I think. I wanted it to be pretty fitted. At first I was going for the size 36cm, thinking it should work as the fabric is stretchy anyway, but as I kept testing it to myself, I was afraid the lining wouldn't make it across my waist so I went up a size to be on the safe side. It fit OK, but you can see it kind of wrinkles diagonally from the waist to the hips as the waist is fitted but the hips are not.

I also had to shorten it by about three inches. Yes, that's a lot. I decided to shorten it from the bottom up. If you think there's something peculiar going on in the back, it's because there is some gathering there (this is on purpose) and the skirt flairs out at the bottom.

Overall, I was fairly pleased with it (if not so much with my holiday figure), especially for the cost. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Jenkka Skirt

Pattern: Ottobre 6/2012 Jenkka Pleated Tweed Skirt #32
Fabric: Cotton plaid (< yard, JoAnn Fabrics 50% off)
Fabric Price: ~$4.00
Notions: invisible zipper, 1 small button
Size: 128cm
Child's Age: 8

[Coat: Janie & Jack clearance; Shirts: Old Navy; Hat: Janie & Jack clearance; Tights: Target; Shoes: Mini Boden on their 3rd year. Yes, I like to get my money's worth.]
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I thought this would make a cute skirt for winter and I new it would look great with her orange coat. My only concern was with the fit.  Her waist is quite tiny but her hip measurements is more in line with the Ottobre chart. I considered trying to make it smaller but didn't want to risk messing it up so I just went with the smallest size on the pattern, 128cm and figured this 100% fabric would shrink again.  She tends to push anything that is fitted high at the waist down anyway. It turned out great.  (I only say things like this when I generally don't expect them to, not just because I'm overly anxious to congratulate myself). 

It was fairly easy to make for a pretty cute result and super cheap. It's not wool but I figured it would do for one season.  I even bought extra fabric to make myself a pencil skirt to go with my bright green elf sweater.

I didn't take the time to do a little photo shoot of the skirt so here are some photos from a home school, online school, field trip to a quaint art museum in a small town nearby.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Pirate Costumes

Pattern: McCalls 4952 Kids 3-8
Sizes: Pants 3 and 4; Boy shirt  4; Vest; 5 (was too long); Skirt 8
Total fabric cost: ~ $75.00 (all from JoAnn on sale, except for bandannas)
Shoes: Walmart mud boots $15.00
[Pattern includes girl's and boy's costumes. Striped shirt was not made. Girl's shirt made from Ottobre pattern.]

Pattern: Ottobre 6/2012 Top #31 modified
Size: 122cm (even though it states the smallest size is 128cm; the pattern has a 122cm size)

So here are the pirate costumes the kids got in the treasure chest for Christmas.  I'm not a fan of plastic, store bought toys, not for any real important reasons other than I can't stand kicking them around the floor, collecting them from under the furniture, trying to find all their like-parts and returning them to their home, they drive me crazy.  And, I feel the kids don't get that much play out of them for the price.  One thing they never seem to tire of playing is make-believe.  They love costumes.  Naturally, they'd want to play pirates with the chest so the costumes had to come along with it.

I have long sequence of photos of them opening up the chest and discovering all the goods inside, but I'll spare you to just a couple.

"What else is in there?"
It was funny how they very quickly appropriated the money bags.
So there you have it.  Other presents, nowhere to be seen.  At least this time, the costumes got equal play with the boxes which they turned into a pirate ship
I used this pattern because I had bought it a couple of years ago at one of the dollar sales. I've seen some nicer ones, at least for boys, but this one has the advantage of having a girl's and boy's costume. It might be a little confusing looking at the picture on the front of the pattern envelope as to what is included.  The hat is not included, nor are the shoes, nor the eye patch.  It is also a little deceiving as to what the pants actually look like.  In the picture, they are tucked in to boots making them appear like nickers, at least to me.  They're not.  They're just plain straight leg pants with an elastic waist.  I modified them by cutting them shorter.  I arbitrarily picked the shorten/lengthen line to do this and then I zig-zagged 1/4" elastic to the ends to gather them up.

The shirt came out quiet well.  The vest I made too big for my little 5yo. (I was trying to save time on tracing the pattern).  The sash is enormous, but decadence is fun.

Certain people where very serious about their poses.
The little guy gets more of a deck hand outfit as I just didn't have the time/energy left to make another shirt and vest for him. (The fabric cost included enough fabric those two pieces).  Plus, I thought it would be cute for him to look a bit different.  I intended to make him a striped shirt but there was nothing at JoAnn or in my stash, so I recycled one of Monkey Pants' old shirts by taking it in at the sides and back and shortening the sleeves a bit. (I wanted her to stop wearing it anyway, it was too small and a bit dingy).

He's not smiling, not because he's not having fun, just because they decided pirates don't smile in pictures.
Monkey Pants' costume was the first one I made.  I thought it might be the easiest to start with.  But, her shirt was the last.  The fabric I bought for the skirt is rather thick and stiff.  It has a lot of body and I should have accounted for that because I didn't need to cut as much width as the pattern called for.  It is extra, super duper full.  I decided I wanted her to have a girlier shirt so I modified the top from Ottobre 6/2012 by lengthening the sleeves and adding a bit of width to the top, center bodice.  I then decided I was going to figure out how to utilize the rouging technique for the top having never done it before, and this of course, being Christmas Eve. Well, I followed the directions a bit skeptically.  I knew this worked for other people, but wasn't sure it would work for me.  And ta-da!  It worked.  Maybe a little bit too much.  In my mind, I was going for a slight, off-the-shoulder look. I also added a couple of lines of elastic to the sleeves.  They could have had more puff, but considering the circumstance, I was just pleased that the shirt fit. AND, that she didn't feel cheated because she got a skirt instead of pants. I was secretly loving the skirt.

And last but not least, I rummaged through my stash to find some fitting quilting fabric prints for the bandannas.  I especially love this one with the flies.  I almost want to wear it just for the hell of it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Treasure chest

Trunk revamped as a treasure chest for kids Christmas present.

***** BEFORE *****

I didn't get a chance to take a decent picture of the original trunk before I tasked my husband with stripping off the old fabric and trim.  He did take this one with his phone here in the deep recesses of our basement, it's hiding place.

Here is the stripped down version in my sewing studio, a.k.a. Santa's Workshop.

The inside was never lined before. And yes.  My dad used wall paneling to make this back in the day.

I lined the outside with faux crocodile print leather (vinyl) from JoAnn. My husband finally owns every air gun known to man therefore I felt quite justified in demanding that he produce one that could put out the perfect size staple for this project.  We used 18 gauge staples, 1/2" long by 1/4" wide.  I know, because I had to go buy more at Home Depot on Christmas Eve. Yes that's how I like to spend my Christmas Eve.  Not relaxing by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa.  Why?!  Why would I want to do that?

This part was pretty easy once I got over all my phobias of misfiring air gun accidents. The only setback was that sometimes the staple had too much force and would cut through the vinyl fabric completely.  Also, my arm was very sore the next day.

I also attached the trim to cover the join between the vinyl and the paper on the inside edge with the staples.  I tried to hide them a bit by stapling under the crossing threads.

I ordered two large, inexpensive, paper wall maps from Amazon to line the inside.  We did cover the back and front inside with a thin panel so that I wouldn't have to go around all the wood with the paper.  I mixed one part school glue (those free, back-to-school deals came in handy) with one part water for the home-made decoupage paste.  I used two bottles of school glue which happened to be exactly the right amount to adhere the paper and brush one coat over the top.  This was my first time trying this technique, and I have to admit, it really is super easy and addictive.  My mind kept vacillating between being highly impressed with my work to thinking about what I could cover with paper next! Last, I sprayed the paper with a semi-gloss lacquer many times which, for reasons unknown to me, did not appear to make a huge impact.

***** AFTER *****

We cut new 2" wide trim strips and spray painted it with a faux metal finish. The hardware was also spray painted with a hammered metal finish. My husband also made a small tray that sits on the little ledges on the inside. I had him drill a couple of holes in the back of the lid for air, just in case they decide to get in there and also installed a safety hinge on the side which had to be rigged up with this piece of 2x4 because of the style of the lid. I'll try to cover that up with decoupage later. And last, but not least we added wheels so that we could move it around without any back aches.  Not too pretty but well worth it.

The inside tray with pirate goodies.

I was thrilled with the results and so were the kids.