Category Archives: Sewing

Monday Outfit: E & E Ponderosa + (Slightly Modified) Hemlock


Good morning! Any time Heidi of Elegance & Elephants asks me if I’d like to try out her patterns, it’s an automatic yes. Her designs are comfortable and stylish and the kind of garments that K actually wants to wear.


“OH MY GOSH I LOVE IT,” is what K said when I presented her the Ponderosa dress. I’m a fan of the chartreuse double-knit combined with the muted bold stripes, and K is a fangirl too.


The only part I didn’t follow exactly was the neckband attachment. I used my regular method of folding the band in half initially and sewing to the neck opening, then simply overlocking the raw edges.


Do you like the pink shades? They are actually Nancy Drew stealth spyglasses — ordered via Scholastic Books — and it comes with an earpiece to enable eavesdropping. You have to stand right next to the people conversing to hear anything which renders the stealth part moot, but it’s been a major hit around here.


The pattern is fantastic. Super easy to construct and the size 8 is spot-on for K. As you can see, I played with the stripes a bit, and the skirt is cross-grain so it might stretch out. That’s okay though — too long is always better than too short. This one is going to get a lot of love.


Heidi generously provided me all three of her new patterns (Ponderosa Dress, Hemlock Top, Magnolia Skirt) and I had every intention to sew up all of them. Sadly, I could only manage the dress and top, but but two out of three ain’t bad.


Some of you may recognize the tee fabric from my Skippy Dress. I had just barely enough left for the Hemlock top, and K was over the moon since she’s been coveting my dress fabric for some time. “Why do you always use the prettiest fabric for your own clothes, Mommy?” is a common phrase around here.


I started sewing the top late at night, and I misread the instructions. This led to me basting the flutters with a zig zag stitch instead of a long basting stitch so I couldn’t gather the flutters. I abhor ripping out zig zag stitches from knits — thus, I decided to make them unfluttery flutters instead. A bit Star Trek, perhaps? The knits are all from here. Such a great little shop and the owner is so, so sweet.


To me, it actually looks very hipster and I’m loving it. No idea what she’s doing up there.


Again, K is smitten (for a while she refused to wear a lot of what I was making, so these recent approvals are heartwarming). Huzzah!

Good news: Heidi’s patterns are on sale ($1 off) with the coupon code TOUR until October 24th! Check out the shop here!

P.S. I’ll be posting on Thursday instead of Wednesday this week.

P.P.S. I finally took the plunge and gave K the book. Guess what she said? “I already know this, Mama.”  All that hemming and hawing for nuthin’…I guess she was just confused about the DNA part.

Franklin Dress + Tunic


Happy Friday! There’s a new player in the indie pattern circuit, and I was excited to be invited to try out Brooklyn Pattern’s brand new offering: The Franklin Dress. Erin, the creator, has such a fascinating background (circus, ballet and opera costume designer!) and because I worked in theater for a while, I feel a kinship with her.


The Franklin dress has a vintage-inspired feel with a pleated yoke and puffy sleeves, and it actually reminds me of the many Japanese patterns I’ve pumped out to date. So obviously, I love the style. And when you pair a pretty pattern with an equally pretty polka dotted cotton, well…I’d call it a winner.


We had a prop situation in that K kept wanting to try different ones, so I apologize that there are so many photos (and blurry ones!) in advance. She insisted that I include them all, and I am nothing if not an obliging parent. We started with a glass tchotchke shaped like a Hershey’s kiss.


franklin-dress11Then we tried a gold clutch to match the vintage gold buttons on her yoke.


And we can’t forget the Scholastic book order form.

But this was her favorite:

franklin-dress6 franklin-dress7 franklin-dress9

I love those metal letters. The Robert Kaufman dotty chambray is from here, and it’s the softest, loveliest cotton. I cut a size 8 for K, and it’s a little long, but I don’t mind. I read through the instructions which were pretty clear (but maybe some steps were missing?). However, I find that I like to do things my own way these days, and I didn’t set in the sleeves but used my usual cheater method; I also basted the yoke and facing together to keep things tidy as I sewed. All in all, the whole dress came together easily. One other thing you may or may not have noticed…my pleats are facing outward instead of inward and this was purely my personal preference. Sometimes I get nitpicky about stuff like that.


And hey, why stop at just sewing the dress? I felt like a dose of color was in order, and wanted to see how quickly I’d be able to sew this if I eliminated the pleats as well as the pockets (which are part of the black dress, but I couldn’t get good shots of her showing them off), shortened the sleeves and made it into a tunic. Can you guess? 1 hour and 44 minutes. I was a speedster because I only had an hour and forty-five minutes before I had to go pick up K. Got it done in the nick of time.


I’m not sure how long the black dress took. I did a rare thing and worked on it little by little over a four-day period — I never do this, because I’m impatient and want to get it all done in one fell swoop. It was actually super stress-free and very enjoyable. It was fun to speed sew this tunic too, though.


I’m liking the Franklin pattern! Oh, the cute apple fabric was K’s find. Perfect for fall!


K made that necklace out of buttons she filched from my stash. She got sort of psychobabbly with her interpretation of what each button meant: “The green turtle is for envy, the purple is for magical emotions, the pink elephant is for happiness…”

Anyway. Erin is offering a giveaway! Here’s the Rafflecopter snazziness, and it sounds as though you might need to “like” her facebook page? That world is a mystery to me. If you’d like to enter the giveaway, here it is:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ve inundated you with enough words and images for today so I’ll bid you adieu and am wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Sewing for Me: Wool Zip-Up Vest


Good morning! Since I’ll be sharing a K-sized outfit on Friday this week, I thought I would change up the routine and post this wool vest I made a few days ago.


I haven’t sewn much with wool, and this fabric is actually a polyester blend full of slubbiness and stretch. I’m not sure if that made it easier or not, but oh, the shedding…don’t get me started on the shedding. There is a thin layer of dark grey dust all over my sewing area at the moment, and it’s looking rather post-apocalyptic.

I have this Eddie Bauer wool feather-down vest that I wear all the time that I bought years and years ago. It’s starting to look pretty worn out, though, and I thought this pattern from Basic Black sewing book would create a decent substitute:


Hmmm, I didn’t look at the modeled photo as I was sewing the vest but the styling must have embedded itself in my brain since I used a very  similar fabric and I even took photos wearing a braid. I usually try to stay away from direct copying, so this surprised me. At any rate, I ended up changing a few things from the original pattern and as usual, I didn’t execute flawlessly. Take a gander.


Do you see it? The pockets are totally lopsided. They were actually even when I first attached them, but then as I tried to get the separating zipper inserted, one side started stretching out and the right front bodice piece ended up way longer. Next time, I will make sure to add interfacing or stay tape before attaching the zipper. Another note on the zipper: I think the instructions were incorrect? When I followed them to the letter, my zipper was facing the wrong way so I had to figure out a different method. It’s very likely to be user error, but I’ll be making this vest again so I’ll provide the correct way if the instructions are wrong.

I am debating whether or not to re-do the pockets, but you know what’s funny? Because I naturally stand with my right shoulder hiked up, the pockets actually look quite even when I’m wearing it. I guess I should consider attaching all my pockets askew…Anyhow, here are some of the changes I made. Instead of folding over the armhole inward to finish them, I cut out two 2″ bias bindings for the arm openings. Much, much cleaner in my opinion:


My fabric was pretty bulky so instead of double-folding the hem, I serged it (lazy, lazy — look at that white serger thread) and folded up only once. I also added a couple of extra inches to the hem for my extra long torso:


I wish the zipper tape showed more because it’s this cool black and white stripe, like this one, except mine separates.

wool-vest3 wool-vest2

The design is great, though I should have used something other than the same fabric for the collar facing…I don’t like wool directly on my skin as a general rule, and though this one isn’t too bad, it’s still a bit scratchy.


Imperfect, but totally functional. I’ll take it!

Monday Outfit: Necessity Sewing


Good morning! For over two years, I’ve been sewing K an outfit nearly every week. An important lesson from last year was that I failed to make her enough clothes that are appropriate for cooler weather. All my lovely linen creations and flimsy dresses sat unloved as temperatures dipped and poor K suffered through the rainy season (which, as you know in the Pacific Northwest, lasts forever) with nary a waterproof jacket.

I decided to rectify the situation this year and got some water-resistant nylon fabric for that specific purpose. Turning to my go-to book, I selected the “No Collar Coat” and added a hood from this coat’s pattern.

It became clear why I’ve avoided making a raincoat: the fabric is a nightmare. You can’t really iron it all that well, you can’t pin it, and when you make a mistake, the stitches permanently puncture the material, as you can see in the hood here:


Not only that, I slipped while cutting open a button hole, and momentarily thought I’d sliced through the whole coat — I nearly sobbed because this darn thing took so much work. Luckily, the damage was minimal and I was able to suture it decently enough and the button hides most of the ugliness.

I learned a few things from this coat:

- For nylon or nylon-esque material, use a microtex needle. Otherwise, the underside pokes through, which looks terrible when it’s white like mine. I switched needles after attaching the first pocket, and the difference was remarkable.
- Ironing is possible with a press cloth, but keep the iron at a pretty low setting if you don’t want the material to melt (I used my poly blend setting). Finger pressing is also helpful.
- For hand-sewn buttons, an extra sharp needle is highly recommended. It felt like I was trying to sew through cardboard with my less-than-sharp needle.

necessity-sewing2 necessity-sewing6This was a challenging project, but if you don’t look too closely, it’s quite professional-looking. In fact, M was so impressed, he asked me to make him a rain jacket too. He never asks me to make him anything and I so wanted to accommodate. I really did. However, I had to put my foot down and say no, because man, this was not a fun project.


I love the way the hood looks with the coat, and I used a french seam to prevent unsightliness when the hood is down. The metal buttons look vintage, and are from my mom, and I can’t get enough of metal buttons. They work perfectly for the shoulder and sleeve tabs, I think, giving it a sort of militaristic feel.

necessity-sewing14 necessity-sewing11

I’m happy to report that the long-sleeved tees and denim loose pants were a breeze. These are also from the same book, and the pants are actually supposed to have suspenders but K ixnayed them, saying they looked weird. Oh, and I added 8cm to the hem so she wouldn’t outgrow them too quickly.

necessity-sewing12 necessity-sewing13

She’s besotted with both tees, though she complained that the pants are too baggy. I keep promising to make her skinny jeans, and am still looking for a good pattern. Not just for K, but for me as well…the search continues.

I’m a little fuzzy on where all the fabric came from. I’m pretty sure the nylon and floral knit are from here, and the denim is from here. The black-and-white stripes…probably from here.

Smooth sailing, it wasn’t, but I was able to mutter my motto frequently: it’s not a mistake; it’s a design element. At any rate, bring on the rain. We’re ready!





Monday Outfit: The Classic Combo


Good morning! I walked three miles yesterday for K’s school fundraising event and now I’m hobbling all over the place. Very out of shape. My fitness level is neither here nor there, and today, I have a semi-homerun of an outfit. Clearly, I’m not a baseball fan. Would that actually be a three-baser? A foul? Who cares, right?

I’m back on track with my goal of sewing through this lovely book. This weekend I tackled the “boat neck cut sew” (cut sew is how the Japanese refer to knits) and a pair of pleated pants. Yes, pleated pants. This might be too much of a generalization, but I think someone of K’s size and svelteness is the only type of person who can get away with this style.


This top was only half successful. I was an obedient rule-follower at first and ironed on some knit stay tape (I cut this up into 3/8″ strips). But only on the front piece around the neckline and arm/sleeve curves. I have no real explanation for why I didn’t do the back, but it proved to be a good lesson because the front neckline looks great, but the back is completely stretched out and fugly.

classic-combo7Well, I guess this isn’t such a helpful reference. Don’t you love the pose, though?


I used this super thin knit jersey that turned out to be quite see through, which is why K is wearing a tank underneath and rocking the 80s Flashdance look. The stripes may appear to be black and white, but the colors are actually more in the natural/charcoal family. This is very much a K ensemble.

classic-combo11 classic-combo12

The pants had all sorts of interesting details and was extremely fun to construct. There were plenty of unexpected elements like the funky pant piece with the pocket already attached and a new-to-me method of attaching the yoke. The front and back pockets make these pants look high-end and those little button loops are très cool. However, I forgot to sew on buttons! Ah well, that’ll be fixed some time in the next year I hope. I apologize that I didn’t put too much effort to get the color correction consistent with these pants. For some reason, the color shifted depending on which angle I shot the pants. The photos of K modeling the pants are closest to the actual color — Essex yarn-dyed linen of course.


classic-combo8As you can see, a lot of dancing happened and we all know that means only one thing: she loves this outfit.


And you know, though I didn’t execute as well as I’d hoped, I love it too. Stripes and denim — it’s a classic combo, and you just can’t go wrong with classic combos.





Sewing for Me: Skippy in Abstract Indigo


It feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve posted something I’ve sewn for myself. And if it weren’t for Toni’s new pattern I received, I may have skipped this week too. Let’s get some details out of the way first, shall we?

The fabric: indigo abstract print knit from here

The pattern: Make It Perfect Skippy

The size: Medium

The modifications: Added 4 inches to skirt length


Since I’d already sewn two mini versions, this came together snappy snappy. I’m partial to 3/4 length sleeves, which is what I cut out, but to me it looks more like half-sleeves, no?


I fell hard for this abstract design and I’ve been saving this knit for some time, not sure which pattern to pair it with. I can’t remember the exact knit content – it feels like it has some spandex and has excellent recovery. Since I wanted the kangaroo pocket to be fairly subtle, I surmised that this cool abstract print would keep it from standing out too much. Goal accomplished.


It’s an easy dress to sew, and I like that the shape is casual without feeling like I’m trying too hard to be hip. My only issue is that I had expected the bodice to be a bit looser, so I’m pretty self-conscious in this dress. Although I didn’t resort to spanx this time, I am wearing tights underneath which helps serve the same purpose though that section where the waistband cuts into the surplus back flesh wasn’t ideal. But since I can’t see it while wearing the dress and wouldn’t have even known about it were it not for photos, I’m going to ignore it.


M tells me that I seem like I’m pretending to be a Sears catalog model every time I show up online (I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I get the sense he’s implying that I look cheesy), but hey, at least I don’t look like I’m about to puke, which I’m pretty certain is how I felt when I first started posting these types of photos. I’ve come a long way, baby. Whether that’s a good thing or not has yet to be seen, but I do know that the Skippy pattern is definitely a good thing. Both M and K gave a thumb’s up for the dress and I know that I’ll be wearing this one throughout the fall season!


Monday Outfit: Big Joey Dresses


Good morning! A while ago, Toni of Make It Perfect Patterns checked in to see if I would be interested in trying out her new patterns. Since I wear the Coastal Breeze dress all the time, I knew that I wouldn’t be disappointed and because I’ve never tried any of her children’s patterns, I was keen to give the Joey dress a go. I’m so happy I did.


I love it. Well, okay, I love the grey and stripey version. I’ll go into the leopard print in a bit.


I think this may be one of my favorite things I’ve made this year. I cut the size 8 and the fit is perfect, and for the first time ever, I was able to get the stripes to line up everywhere. This knit print has a little lycra or spandex in it, so it was super easy to sew, and I knew that the sporty vibe would go well with the pattern. Love love love love.


K concurs, and she couldn’t wait to wear the dress.  I always know when I’ve hit it out of the park for her, because she busts out with dance moves. I didn’t want to inundate with you too many photos, but there was a lot of dancing.

big-joey6 big-joey7

If I was forced to nitpick, I would say that the skirt is a smidgen short, and I would add a few inches next time. I’ve made so many knit dresses at this point, beyond glancing at the kangaroo pocket section, I didn’t look at the instructions very closely (sorry, Toni). I think I may have attached the sleeve cuffs a little differently since the 3/4 sleeves in Toni’s version looks a little longer. I folded it in half lengthwise and sewed it with raw edges matching to the sleeve end. I actually love the length I ended up with.


Now, with this leopard print I decided to go big or go home, and went with the full-on cowl, long-sleeved version. I was convinced that K would adore it knowing her obsession with animal print.


This is a rather realistic jersey print and actually looks like fur. It was too late by the time I realized that this imparted a costume-y impression and…I don’t know, it seems sort of like a uniform for a jungle-themed restaurant in Disneyland. Or worse, it seems too adult for her and not in a good way.


She’s not a fan. Don’t get me wrong, she’s all over the animal print, but she doesn’t like cowls, and it seems to be a deal breaker for her. Not much dancing in this dress.


Should have stuck with the shorter sleeves and regular neckline. I’m contemplating altering it to look like the other version, but I bet she’ll be wearing this dress a lot more when the weather turns cooler. The overpowering print notwithstanding, this is an extremely comfortable dress. Let’s look at the beloved stripey dress again, shall we? Sigh. I just love it so:




Oh well, one solid score, and a possible miss. Can’t win ‘em all….

Thank you Toni for gifting me the patterns! If I can dig myself out from under the enormous mess in my house at the moment, I just may have the grown-up Skippy version to share this week!














Not My Monday Outfit Post


Good morning! Today, I am completely and utterly cheating. I earmarked a pattern from the book I’ve been studiously sewing from, blocked out some time, and then things just went haywire. I could lay on the thick excuses, but I will spare you.

So what is this? This, my friends, is K’s all-time, deeper-than-ice-cream-love, favorite dress. Yes, my mom made it. But can you guess when she made it?


When K was five. It’s true, she’s been wearing this dress for three years. It’s gone through some battles, this dress. The skirt, as you can imagine, used to graze the floor and has torn multiple times, the stitching is barely hanging on around the neckline, the LP print flannel (flannel!!) has definitely seen better days. But there’s no sign of the love waning, and K will pull out this dress at least once a week.


On the one hand, it fills me with great joy that she’s so beholden to the quintessentially Ba-chan garment. On the other hand, I am starting to get angsty about all the clothes I’ve made for her that languish unworn in her closet and dresser.


I have some thoughts. And will share soon. For today, this is all I got. P.S. M contributed to the art direction by instructing her to sniff her armpits. Elevating the level of classiness, that’s what we do around here.

Monday Outfit: A Groovy Kind of Dress


Good morning! This here is K’s first day of school dress. Doesn’t it look like something the always hip Trine of Groovy Baby and Mama would make? I think K might be Trine’s misplaced daughter because this is her style all the way.

K chose the knit fabric that’s a cat-fest of a print  - you can see the familiar markings of leopard, cheetah, tiger, jaguar…you name it. The dress pattern is from the book I’m diligently working through, and though it defies logic for a knit dress, it includes facings and a keyhole opening in the back:


It’s a nifty if somewhat superfluous design element, and though I’m glad I went ahead and kept it for this dress, I will omit it in future versions. The instructions indicated that the facings should be folded over and sewed down to hide the raw edge, but I just left it serged, as you can see somewhat blurrily above. With my continued inability to follow instructions exactly, I misunderstood the understitching for topstitching and ended up doing both.


M has a flair for descriptives, and when he saw the dress, he said, “She looks like one of those old ladies hanging out at the slot machines in Vegas”. Huh. Not the look were were going for, but I can see where he’s coming from. Personally, I think she looks extremely grown-up and chic in the dress.


She LOVES it. Except…she wasn’t entirely comfortable in it, and it was because the elastic felt too high up and she kept tugging it down. So minutes before school started, I ripped out the elastic (ugh, and created a small hole that I had to patch), and added four rows of shirring instead:

groovy-dress7“It’s perfect!” she trilled, happy that she would be able to still wear her dress to school. As much as she preened in the dress, her favorite part of the outfit was the black cardi that I self-drafted in rapid-fire motion the night before:


I didn’t even bother changing the white serger thread and only added one diamond-esque button (K is all about sparkly buttons these days). I feel like I’m training for Project Runway with all these speedy, under-the-gun projects.

I’ve been trying really hard to create clothes that I know K will absolutely love and want to wear, even when they’re not my natural preference. I obviously have standards (no honey, I’m not making you a bikini top to wear to school), but it’s been a rewarding collaboration for both of us. Her joyous reactions have been totally worth it, and I guess I’ll just have to focus on neutral, solid-colored and linen-based clothing for myself.





Monday Outfit: Galaxy Maxi


Good morning! My schedule got a little hijacked this weekend, when we ended up having an unplanned weekend getaway. One minute we’re headed out for a day trip to Bainbridge Island to visit K’s favorite aquatic center and the next thing I know, we’re buying toothpaste and toothbrushes at a Rite Aid so we can spend the night at a nearby inn. “It’s an adventure!!” my husband, the king of unplanned getaways, yee-hawed.

It was non-stop excitement and included a fire alarm going off just as K and I got into our swimsuits at the aquatic center (M hadn’t quite gotten undressed). We were ushered outdoors amid drippy wet confusion; the pool was packed and it was a sight to behold the shivering, virtually naked throng of people huddled right outside the entrance waiting for the fire department. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many goosebumps at once. Eventually, we were allowed into the pool though we never found out why the alarm went off since there was no sign of fire — I’m guessing bored teenager. Regardless, K gleefully swung from the rope swing and jumped off of the diving board repeatedly.

It was still too early for dinner when we were done swimming and on a whim, we started jokingly looking for lodging. Everything in the area was booked for Labor Day weekend, so I was ready to call off the search but then a highly sketchy motel suddenly appeared with a “vacancy” sign, which both M and K declared excellent. The motel room actually looked like a scene from The Shining, but I was willing to go with the flow. More than anything, I was peeved that I had to break my ready-to-wear fast because I had to draw the line at sleeping in my dirty clothes or in my underwear or still damp bathing suit. Armed with a $3.99 dung-colored t-shirt and $9.99 tropical-themed “capri” knit pants from Rite Aid (K also got a t-shirt, but in navy), we settled in for the night. In the midst of my slumber, right outside of our door, I vaguely heard conversations involving the words “big problem” and “police”.


Fortunately, as a native Los Angeleno (though Seattle’s softened me up quite a bit), I was unfazed and quickly drifted back to sleep. We all snoozed like babies despite the ongoing drama outside and nothing untoward happened to us. It turned out to be a really, really fun weekend. But I didn’t sew the dress I had cut out for K so I’m sharing a different dress today.

I’ve named this the “Galaxy Maxi” and it was a hasty cobbling of knit fabric for K’s birthday, which was a month ago. Impossible. I will never understand how time disappears. If you recall, this was her requested design for her birthday dress:


Mmmmm, didn’t really nail it:


That’s okay though, since K thinks it’s pretty awesome. The knit has spandex and lycra and is certainly meant for the Ice Capades, so of course, she loves it. It’s sci-fi meets loungewear.


I self-drafted an easy drop-waist, tank maxi dress, and I can officially say that knits no longer scare me.  I snapped these photos seconds before we were heading out the door to pick up her best friend so they could have a special birthday outing together. Which meant K was pretty impatient to get going, and the most she would do was spin around once for me:

galaxy-maxi5I tried to reshoot the dress, but naturally, it’s lost in the laundry black hole. Ah well, I’m happy that I got the dress done in time and though I didn’t meet the design specifications, it just goes to show you that if you use cool fabric (from here, by the way, and it was very affordable too!), it’s all good.

Post Navigation