Category Archives: Sewing

We have a new site!

First off,

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Second, we have launched a new site!!!! Dedicated specifically to our sewing adventures. Yaaaaayyyy! I will certainly keep this page alive and active, as I still get daily visitors. I will continue to post my deep and wonderful ponderings here. If you want to keep up with our handmade life, please visit us over here. (pic below takes you there also)

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Knock it Off – peplum top and cropped sweatpants

What a pleasure it is to work with the lovely Heidi of Elegance & Elephants in the return of her Knock-Off Series. Well, let’s get right to it. We are here to create and share fun clothing for younger ones inspired by designer fashion that is either available today or has a vintage feel and is no longer available. I like to think of this series as giving a nod to other designers while showing how looks can be recreated at home.

Whenever I am inspired by a photo, I tuck it away in folder. This happens to be the case for the look I created for my daughter.

Peplum top and cropped sweatpants by designer Rachel Roy
Peplum top and cropped sweatpants by designer Rachel Roy

I like that this design was not difficult to create pint-sized and translates well for a wide range of ages. This particular look features a color-block short sleeved peplum shirt paired with cropped drawstring sweatpants.

 

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How fun is this little outfit?  For fabric, I went with a sweater knit fabric in two colors similar to the inspiration pic, but decided to swap the dominant color.  I thought the lighter fabric would best suit my little one.  It cost me about $12 to create both pieces.  Curly Cutie loves purses and bags, so I couldn’t help but make a crayon tote out of linen and faux leather using a modified version of this pattern.

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If you have a basic t-shirt pattern on hand, or can draft one (from an existing shirt or by other means) you can create this top. For help drafting your own t-shirt pattern, Melly has talent that cannot be denied and will walk you through every step. You’ll need to take your basic t-shirt pattern and modify it slightly.  Bellow is a pic of the modified pattern pieces for my daughter’s size (5).

DSC08408bA FEW THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO BE MINDFUL OF:
(If anyone is curious, I have included my daughter’s modified shirt measurements where necessary – size 5)

– your original shirt pattern (front and back) will need to be shortened to account for height of peplum. (shortened to 9″ from base of front neckline, she has a longer than average torso I believe. peplum = (waist*2)x 3-3/4″)
– you’ll need to add seam allowances for both front pieces (either while creating modified pattern or while cutting fabric). (To create my color-block line for front, I measured in 1-1/4” from top of armhole and 3-3/8″ in from right side of pattern at waist and placed a mark. Connected dots and added 3/8″ seam allowance)
– you’ll need a short sleeve pattern and a neckband. (for neckband I cut a long strip of fabric that was 1-1/2″ wide and attached with 1/4″ seam allowance. I used a flat construction method, so I didn’t have a set length for strip)

If you, like me, are a continual recipient of the generosity of the online sewing community, then you may know that Heidi of Elegance & Elephants has made a retro sweatpants PDF pattern available for free download. This pattern can be used to create the cropped sweatpants.

DSC08404b E&E PATTERN MODIFICATION w/construction changes FOR CROPPED PANTS:

– I added 2” to waist of pattern to accommodate 1” elastic waistband. I did not want to attach waistband separately, so I simply incorporated it into the pattern. I made sure to follow the gentle slanted line for the pants BACK.
– I serged elastic to waist, folded down and used a stretch stitch to complete waistband.
– Instead of adding button holes for a draw string, I opted for a faux tie at center front of waist band.  Completely non-functional, but cute to boot!
– Pant sides were sewn first to add stripe before being fully constructed. For the love of all things good, I could not sew the stripe to the pant without funky things happening, so hand-sewing has never failed me yet. I attached the stripes by hand. Such a small sacrifice for a great return.
– I cut a size 5/6 with the length of a size 3 and it worked out great hitting CC right below the knee.
– I used 9” of 1/4” elastic for casings at pant bottom.

For Fun:

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The series is wrapping up, but it’s still not too late to enter your Knock Off into the Flickr pool for a chance at some pretty nice prizes.   Did you happen to catch the other creations in the series?

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Thanks again for having me Heidi!

Zebra in a grassy field

Another season of Project Run & Play has commenced.  It is something about sewing along with this competition that gets the creative juices flowing.  I was happy to jump on board for week 1.  The theme is “Put me in the zoo”, and we were to create a design inspired by a favorite animal.  Curly Cutie chose the zebra and after a quick search I found inspiration.

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I took to my stash as this would be another refashioned garment.

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The items used were either 100% linen or a linen blend, and I thought the colors captured the essence of the inspiration pic.  This dress has a nice fit and drape.  I think I can add linen to the list of my new faves.

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I thought it would be neat to go with  stripes for this theme.  The black and white stripes give me the zebra feel.  The blue stripe represents the sky, and the bottom stripe is a light oatmeal color similar to the grassy field.  It’s so light it almost gets lost, but adds a nice touch in my opinion.

Pattern is self-drafted (modified Simplicity 3859), and 4″ or 5″ strips were pieced together to make fabric big enough to cut dress pieces.

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dress front pieced fabric

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For the back we went with a simple exposed metal zip, and I’m pleased with the results.  Easy on and off.

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Girl's striped dress refashion

 

 

 

 

 

My roots: Africa and America

I was super excited when the invite came from Heidi to participate in Roots: Sewing your heritage.  I just love it when art is meaningful.  Have you seen the other creations?  Just beautiful.

I am African-American.  Of African descent, yet born and raised in America.  Honestly, I still have questions about my roots, and almost allowed my lack of knowledge to keep me from participating.  One thing I am learning is that conditions don’t have to be perfect before I can put my “yes” on the table.  For now, I can celebrate what I do know: Those before me were born with purpose, and I am grateful for their strength and sacrifice.

*steps down from soap box*

I wanted to create an ensemble that reflects my appreciation for color found in African fashion and fit my 6 year old’s mature and hilarious personality.

When I think of modern African fashion, I think of bold and bright colors.  I think of energetic movement and strength.  The use of saturated solids, dazzling prints, geometric shapes and sophisticated silhouettes give a regal feel to garments and are breathtaking.  Muted palettes are also favored in African fashion.  There were several routes I could have taken when designing an outfit.  Color was my inspiration for Curly Cutie’s creation (say that 10 times – lol).  Feast your eyes on these beauties (pics will take you to source).

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african vlisco2 African Vibrations

africa bk cross African Vibrations

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See what I mean?  This was no easy task for a person with a go-to palette of black and white.  I appreciated the challenge though.  I feel a little more free now, like I could just about put anything together and say, “BAM, there it is!”

Here is my little one.

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We thought it would be fun to add a baby wearing element to this ensemble.  I have a friend from Ghana that taught me how to tie a wrap so I could carry baby #2 when he was just a little something.  This wrap is just a yard of fabric.

African inspired girls' clothing

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Pattern used for shirt is the Aspen Ruffle Dress by See Kate Sew.  As for modifications, I shortened it to make it shirt length.  I extended the height of the collar by an inch to make it more pronounced.  Decreased collar and elastic length.  I extended the sleeves to accommodate CC’s long arms.  Circle skirt is self-drafted with a contrasting waistband and back zipper.  I used a random pocket pattern to add pockets in side seams.  A pair of textured white tights and faux oxford shoes complete the look.  I know some of you are basking in warm sun, but it’s cold here.

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Now, about this hair and these accessories.  I was totally in the moment with this hair.

I had the idea to pull CC’s hair up with a banana clip.  I remember these from my younger days. So fun.  The front part of her hair is simply left loose with a couple of hair pins to cinch some areas.

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*back up on soap box and clearing throat*

Can I just say that I love natural hair?  I’m talking just the way it grows from our scalp.  There was a time when I didn’t feel this way and would incessantly straighten my hair by chemical force (lol) because I thought it was ugly and hard to manage.  My eyes have been opened and I know these things are not true.

I do not believe there is anything wrong with chemically treated hair.  I just did not appreciate the beliefs that fueled my commitment to the practice.  It’s nice to have options: straight, curly, wavy, coily, etc.  The opportunity to teach my daughter to appreciate everything about the way God made her is truly priceless.

*steps down*

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The fabric flower and covered button earrings are both handmade.  I wanted to find another place to incorporate the bold yellow fabric from her skirt waistband, and I thought a pair of earrings would be the perfect place to do that.

As for the shoes, they started out plain white.  I know people paint shoes all the time, but I wasn’t necessarily trying to do that.  I whipped out a blue Sharpie and white fabric paint marker and went to town coloring.  I was going for an oxford look.  Something simple that could be worn with other things. I removed the shoestrings so they could be worn free.  There is a piece of elastic inside that keeps the tongue from shifting.

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There are still a couple of days left, if you are feeling adventurous, to add a culturally inspired outfit to the link up.  The prizes look amazing.

Thanks for visiting!  Any questions or comments?  Drop them below.

Top 10 posts of 2013

I thought I would share the posts that received the most views in 2013.  Now that I look back, they all have to do with sewing.  Specifically children’s items.  Interesting.  If you’re into this kind of stuff, hopefully you will enjoy going back down memory lane with me.  The pics will take you to the post if you want to read more about the item (except for update pics).

TEN – Denim Quilt

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Update:  So, I never made the quilt.  My husband put in a request for a pillow cover for his huge euro, and I thought this denim would fit the bill.  I stayed with the ombre idea and came up with a pillow cover that he is well pleased with.  Each side has a different design.

Before

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NINE – Fleece pants & t-shirt refashion

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Update:  We I liked these ruffle bottom fleece pants so much, I made another pair for this winter.  I made a long sleeve top with an XL cowl neck and incorporated an old sweater of mine for accent.

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EIGHT – My chocolate drop

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SEVEN – T-shirt refashion (high-lo peplum)

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SIX – Fab collab

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FIVE – Patchwork stripes

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FOUR – Sophisticated romper

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THREE – T-shirt refashion (handsewn edition)

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TWO – A gift for Curly Cutie

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THE MOST VIEWED POST OF 2013 – Men’s shirt refashion

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I’m officially excited for the new year.  Oh what fun this year has in store.

There is a time to dream and there’s a time to walk it out.  I’ve spent this year dreaming.  So  you know what time it is.  Lol!  Who’s with me?

Roots Sewing Series

Heidi over at Elegance and Elephants is the mastermind behind the upcoming sewing series Roots.  She wanted to combine her love for different cultures and sewing clothes for her children, thus the series was born.  She also reached out to other sewing bloggers to join in on the fun.  Every weekday from January 13-31, a new culturally inspired design will be featured.  Ladies representing twelve countries and five continents will be sharing.  How fun is that?

I was excited when the invitation came to participate, so you know I jumped right on board.  I am even more excited to experience the creative cultural designs from these other women.  If you decide to keep up with this series you will not be disappointed.  In the spirit of sharing, Heidi has opened up the series for others to sew along as well.  And I hear that the prizes will be pretty nice.  If you do happen to make a culturally inspired design for a little one, please don’t forget to add it to the flickr group.

My design will be featured on Jan. 29, 2014.

Is anybody else excited for the new year?

Dapper Plaid Trapper

We are in the 3rd week of Project Run and Play.

This week’s theme is “mad for plaid”.  I decided to sew for baby boy this week.  CC gets most of my sewing energy it seems.  For these four weeks I wanted to sew things the kids can wear in the upcoming cold weather.

I decided to make baby boy a winter hat and coat.  The pattern I used for the coat is the Jude Jacket from Shwin and Shwin.  CC has an outgrown fleece hat I used to make a hat pattern.

I had some plaid fabric on hand I knew I wanted to use for the hat.  I was going for a trapper style hat.  Something to keep him nice and warm and handsome.  I did not meet my goal this week to only use from my stash as I needed wanted the soft sherpa-like fabric.  I guess that’s what it’s called.  It turned out exactly how I wanted it to!

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And yes, these pics are taken in the kids’ bathroom.  All I can say is, “It’s real out here!”.  I needed a place to keep him contained.  Lol.

Initially I was torn about using the fabric for the coat.  I wondered if it would give the coat a  feminine feel because of the light fabric combined with the sherpa.  So, I did what I could to make it more manly by adding a few elements (dark buttons, sleeve patch, plaid pocket flap).

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DSC00889Pockets are nice, roomy and can hold baby boy’s favorite toys…….cars!

trap4The ears can be flipped up too!  I just used a string and clasp thingy from a purse we had around the house.  See, nothing is safe.  The sleeve patches are from an old winter coat of mine that is too through.  And the buttons are from one of dad’s old coats.

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DSC00910Baby boy likes the coat.  I think it’s so funny when kids want to put or leave certain clothes on even if they are in total opposition to the current weather.  Hilarious.

Let’s see if we can make it happen for the last week which is a signature look.

It doesn’t matter what you make, just create!

Strawberry Twist

This is week 2 of 4 over at Project Run & Play.

We were to create a design inspired by one of my all time faves……..CANDY!!!!  It didn’t take me long to figure out strawberry twists would be my inspiration.  You already know my favorite without me even having to say the name.  This is about the closest I can get to this stuff since I have stopped eating it.

candy twistsI took to my stash to see if I had any fabric I could work with and found a nice little fleece airline travel blanket. Perfect.

Inspiration can hit at some of the weirdest times for me.  I was sure we would miss this week.  I had one thing in mind, then realized I couldn’t get enough fabric from the blanket to go with that idea.  I told CC I didn’t think we would make it.  She said, “Nooooooo, we can make it.”  Inspiration hit immediately.  And here we are.

So, I made CC a drop waist bubble skirt accented with fabric twists.  My husband saw me in the process and said, “Let me guess, you’re going to put a bow on that.”  He knows me all too well.

Side note:  I just realized that I’ve done some type of “drop” style these first two weeks.   Stay tuned to see what’s dropping next week.  Just kidding.  Lol.

No pattern was used.  Just simple rectangles using CC’s measurements.  The twists were cut from 1″ fabric strips.  Another winner for CC.  Her only qualm…..”the twists don’t dangle”.  It’s like that sometimes.

 

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That’s a wrap!

From moo-moo to matron

So, my friend was getting married and I needed a dress.

I would be the only one standing with her and she wasn’t picky about what my dress should look like.  She did make a request that it be strapless and floor length.

I decided to make my dress.  Now, at this point I had only made myself about a few items like a maxi dress, maxi skirt, circle skirt…..you know, the easy stuff.  I had no clue what to do for something more elegant, and the last thing I needed to do was mess up a dress.  My friend was definitely on standby.  She encouraged me to give it a go, and if it didn’t work out, well, we would have been shopping for a dress once I got into town.

It was an outdoor wedding that ended up being inside due to rain.  The color scheme was turquoise and gray with orange accents.  She also wanted her day to have a beach feel to it.  Lots of shells, stones and colored sand were part of the decor.

I thought about making an all turquoise dress until I remembered my Mother-in-law love giving me a moo-moo a while ago.  I realized that the colors were the same as the scheme for the wedding.

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It was a bit bold, so I didn’t know how my friend would feel.  I sent a picture over to her and she loved it.

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I was like, “ok, here we go.”  I didn’t have much room for error.  There was no way I could get another moo-moo, so I decided the fabric would be used best as some type of long skirt.   For the bodice I used Simplicity #1606.

simplicity 1606I didn’t have enough fabric for a long semi-circle skirt, so I made it an A-line.   Of course, I made a muslin.  I mean, this thing had boning and everything.  I didn’t know the first thing about it.  Sometimes you just have to jump in and not look back.  I was able to use most of the moo-moo by cutting it right under the neckline.  I used some of the remaining fabric to decorate the guest book.

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Things got a bit difficult in trying to cut the skirt pieces.  It was different from the skirt in the pattern so I kinda had to do my own thing, which would have been ok had I not cut the material a hair to short.  I needed also to account for the back zipper to be put in.  Either way, it wasn’t bad enough to throw the project out, but I did need a solution.  So, here’s the dress with bodice and skirt attached.

pics45 014There was a slight slant of the back zipper to the left side of the dress, and I couldn’t figure out how to remedy that.  I would not be wearing it with that slant, trying to make sure the dress was twisted just right all night.  No sir, no ma’am.  My solution, add a removable peplum belt.

pics45 003As the young(er) people would say, “That peplum is everything!”  Lol.  It was such a welcome addition to the dress.  I was comfortable, felt beautiful, and no one knew that up under it my zipper was on tilt.  Lol.

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pics45 011This dress form does not do it service.  It looked really nice steamed and on me.  But hey, this is what I could make happen for the sake of the blog.  And for about $11 (moo-moo = free, bodice fabric = $6, boning = $3, thread = $1.50) and a little bit of my time I’ll take this dress any day.

I thought I could make it with the whole sleeveless thing, but alas I could not.  The night before the wedding I made myself a bolero.  I didn’t have my machine, so it was a hand-stitching type of situation.  I couldn’t believe myself, but I was desperate.  No pic of that, but if I get one I’ll update the post.

I’m starting to see things in a whole new light.  We’re told that we have to do things a certain way……..walk a certain way, talk a certain way, spend our money a certain way.  Who makes up this stuff?  Before I started cooking from scratch (which I don’t do ALL of the time by the way….matter of fact I’m in a cooking rut even now, lol), I could only buy food prepared in some way by others (boxed or fast).  Before I learned how to sew, I could only buy clothing items made by others.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those two things.  I just want to emphasize that my options were limited, and I knew no other way.  It didn’t even dawn on me that I could make my own spaghetti sauce instead of buying it in jars.  My thoughts on our capabilities are changing, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to just go along with what’s normal, because someone says it’s normal.  My normal looks quite different than it did a few years ago.  I’m ok with that.  I’m ok with this journey, and looking forward to dropping even more of the stinking thinking I’ve been accustomed to.

Didn’t plan on the post being this long.  But, hey, if you’ve made it this far you might as well go ahead and tell me something that you do now that, at one point, you thought was impossible.  Or one area where your eyes have been opened, and you no longer see things the way you used to.

Popover Tunic

It’s that time again.  The ladies over at Project Run & Play are up to their goodness again! Season 7 has begun, and we have 4 opportunities to sew along with the weekly themes.  I am so excited to be participating a second time, and we’ll see if I can keep up.  As I did last season I will not be purchasing anything, but will sew from my stash only.

The first week’s theme is a pattern remix.  Pattern on the table, oliver + s Popover Sundress (free download too).  And what do ya know?  I’ve used this pattern once before,

cc and dollso I was excited to see if I could put a different spin on it.  My excitement began to wane as I could not find inspiration for a new design.  The lines are so clean and simple.  I finally did find inspiration.  I saw a shirt that had what is called a “dropped shoulder” and I was smitten.  I had never seen this technique before and instantly had a desire to recreate it on a smaller scale.  I cannot find the picture that sparked the flame, but for the sake of providing a visual here is one I found with a quick search.

old-navy-longsleeve-tops-womens-dropshoulder-jersey-topsI knew I wanted to do some color-blocking and took to my stash to see what I could find.

cb shirtsNext, I needed to revamp the pattern.  I thought this pattern would translate well with knit fabric, so these t-shirts and knit yardage were just right. I wanted to keep the same A-line shape of the original pattern yet shorten it to be the length of a tunic.  For Curly Cutie, I cut a size 4 with the length of a size 2.  I extended the pattern up and over to create a curved neckline and the dropped shoulder.  I wasn’t sure if my lines would translate to an acceptable finished garment, but surprisingly they did.

o+s remixI wanted to stick with a contrasting yoke area, and I went ahead a drew the lines for the other two color blocks.  I cut the pattern on all lines and made sure to be careful to add seam allowance when I cut from the actual fabric.

I ended up cutting the neckline wider than the pattern was drawn to accommodate a cowl neck.  I wanted to add bias binding somewhere on the top and decided to make the cowl neck a drawstring around the very top.

Presenting the Drop-shoulder Popover tunic with a drawstring cowl neck that looks like a faux hood.  Lol!  I just laughed at myself.

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The cool thing about the drop-shoulder is the fact that you don’t have to set in a sleeve, because there is no shoulder curve to accommodate.  So, the remainder of the sleeve is a simple rectangle.

I had a fun time making this top, and feel like I learned so much.  Curly Cutie had me laughing so hard.  She was so excited to have the shirt on, she didn’t even change her pj bottoms (handmade also) to take pictures.  She told me to trust her that it would work out.  When I sat down to write this post she said the following…..

CC:  Mom, just tell them that you like it and I like it and you hope they like it and you’re done.  And there’s your post.

me:  LOL!  It doesn’t really matter if anybody else likes it though, right?  It’s for you and you’re pleased. 

CC:  That’s right mom.  So just say you like it, I like it and you don’t care if they like it or not.

me:  Agggghhhhh!  We can’t say that!  Lol!

CC:  Lol.  Oh, ok.  Well you can just go ahead and write what you want then.

Of course the conversation went on, but I was too through! It’s nice when people like the stuff we make, but it shouldn’t necessarily be our motivation for creating. We don’t all find beauty in the same things and that’s ok.

Hope you’re having a great day.  It doesn’t matter what you’re creating, just create!