Sewing Along

The Happy Homemade Sew-Along hosted by Elsie Marley and You & Mie has come to a close.  We’ve all been working on our Pullover Parkas, and it’s fun to see what everyone has come up with!  Here’s my contribution . . .

Done 4

As you can see, this one is for Lulu — in size 2.  It turned out to be a little big in the neck, I think.  But that’s never a big problem with kids’ clothes.  It’ll be perfect by August, I’ll bet.

The fabric is cotton shirting I found at the local fabric store.

Done 6

The sewing went pretty well, especially with the help of Meg and Cherie in their Sew-Along posts.  I learned a ton about navigating Japanese sewing books — which is awesome since I’m becoming obsessed with sewing from this particular book.  I’m even contemplating moving on to trying something for me before too long from the other books in this series.

I don’t usually document my sewing with the camera — but since it was a sew-along, I snapped a few this go round.

Progress 1

Progress 2

Progress 3My only real trouble came in the form of neck facing once again.  Neck facings seem to be my nemesis right now.

So, I’m sewing along happily, attaching the facing and feeling proud thinking I know better how to handle it this time.

Progress 4Yes, I’m feeling good — kind of like a rock star, really.  Until . . . I realized that I had just sewn the hood into the facing.

Progress 5Awwww well.  It was nothing about 10 minutes with the seam ripper and a little re-sewing couldn’t fix.  Maybe next time I’ll get it right (?)

The next morning, Lulu wore it proudly in the back yard — none the wiser.

Done 1

Yes, her shoes are on the wrong feet.

Done 7




Still Happy, Still Homemade

After my encouraging experience with the Happy Homemade Tiered Dress for Lulu, I was ready for more!  Kiki was up next, of course.  She is now living by a very strict “Shirts & Skirts Only” rule.  (No lovely summer dresses for me this year, thank you very much!)  So, a new top it was to be.

After perusing the several top options in the book, I chose the Pin-tucked Blouse, or “h” as it’s called in the book — because honestly, pin-tucks just make me happy.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

The fabric is Briar Rose Calico in Lilac that I bought at the end of the summer last year with another project in mind, which somehow was never realized.  Kiki is really into purple right now, so this seemed like the right thing to do.  I cut it in size 4, which turned out to be nice and roomy, without being too big.

This top presented more of a challenge than the Tiered Dress, I have to admit.  There was a great deal more seam ripping and swearing involved.  But, it was all worth it!

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

First of all, you have to hunt around in the book for the first several steps of instructions (p.s. — they’re to be found over on page 39 with the Smock Dress instructions).  Also, there is not much direction given for making the pin-tucks.  But luckily, I’ve been on a major Made-by-Rae Josephine Top kick this spring, which involves quite a bit of pin-tucking (with very clear instructions — thanks, Rae!).   This recent experience definitely came in handy.

But my real trouble came with the neck facing.  The front neck binding is pretty straightforward, but I never could figure out what I was supposed to do with the darn facing around the back.  I ended up treating the facing like bias tape binding and sticking the elastic inside — although I was pretty sure that this wasn’t what the authors had in mind.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

If only I had waited a week to make this top, it all would have become clear.  Turns out that this very question is addressed in Meg’s post this week over at Elsie Marley about the same type of neck facing on the Happy Homemade Pullover Parka.  She explains it really well, and now I know that I’ll be able to get it right next time.

The only other tricky bit was inserting the elastic into the casing on the sleeves.  The way it’s done here is pretty cool and different from anything I’ve done before — but actually getting the elastic through the opening was tough.  I’m sure I wasn’t doing it right, so I’ll just have to give it another go on another top on another day.

But, these difficulties aside, I think this top turned out pretty well.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

Once again, we tested this top for wearability at the zoo.

Happy Homemade Pin-tucked Blouse 8Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

All was well.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

Hello Happy Homemade!

I’ve been contemplating diving into the world of Japanese sewing books for a while.  It made me a little nervous, after reading so much about having to add your own seam allowance and the lack of detailed instructions.  But, now that I’ve been at this sewing thing for a while, I figured I was ready for the challenge.  So I got my copy of the hilariously named (or translated, actually) Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids and started oooing and ahhhhing over all the photos of the gorgeous outfits to choose from.  (Thankfully, this particular book has been translated into English.)

And, wouldn’t you know, You & Mie and Elsie Marley are hosting a Happy Homemade Sew Along this week — so I knew it was fate!

It was Lulu’s turn for something new to wear.  Lately she has a deep and pressing need to wear dresses that are long and extremely twirly.  In fact, if she tries something on that does not meet her length and twirlability standards, her face goes all crestfallen, and she cries “oh NOOOoooooooo!”  (I’m serious.)

With this in mind, my first try was the Tiered Dress, aka dress “f” in size 2.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic KidsI think it’s fair to say that this may be one of my favorite things that I’ve made, hands down.

Happily, it was pretty easy to figure out and put together.  It’s basically three rectangles that you sew together, gathering the tops of the bottom two pieces.  There’s a drawstring at the neck that literally pulls the whole things together.  Perfect for a summer day!

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

When Lulu put it on, she started twirling immediately, without skipping a beat.  She twirled and twirled for at least 10 minutes.

20140613_124507The fabric is some cotton shirting I found at my local fabric store.  It’s pretty lightweight, but still has some body to it.  Just right, I think.  The drawstring is chambray.

The instructions in this book are a series of diagrams with very limited text.  It took some study time before I was sure I knew what was going on.  But once I felt like I had a handle on it, things went pretty well.  The only real trouble I ran into was turning and pressing the U shaped notch where it ties in the back.  The instructions imply that all you need to do it neaten the edges of the U, turn, press and stitch down.  But I couldn’t figure out how to turn it without serious puckering, so I ended up clipping the curves (through my serged edge) and then zigzagging it all down so that it wouldn’t fray.  It’s not the most beautiful looking thing, but the bow covers it up, so this’ll be our little secret.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic KidsWe decided to initiate this dress with a trip to the zoo.  Happily, it turned out to be more than suitable for carousel riding, animal viewing, picnicking and all the other requirements for a successful zoo afternoon.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids

Happy Homemade Sew Chic KidsOh, and it encourages crazy dinosaur dancing, too.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic KidsNext up — the Pintucked Blouse.  Now things are getting serious . . .


Don’t Let the Pigeon Choose Your Clothes

Once your kid starts having clear opinions about what she does and does not want to wear, sewing becomes more of a challenge — am I right??  You may have the most fabulous idea for a new project that is (in your mind) perfect for your kid, taking her tastes and interest into account.  You show her the fabric and the pattern, and she is excited about it.  You sew it and proudly present it to an anxiously anticipating child . . . only to have her say “meh”.

This is one of those times.

Badminton Top Lazy Days Skirt

A brief history . . .

Kiki is a big Mo Willems fan.  Who isn’t, really?  (For those of you not in the know, Mo Willems writes awesome and hilarious books for kids.)  She loves how the pigeon from bus driving fame tends to appear in his other books.  We’ll be reading Knuffle Bunny (another Willems classic) and she’ll see that pigeon cleverly hidden on the t-shirt of a minor character and will exclaim exuberantly “There’s our friend the PIGEON!”  Imagine my joy when I saw that Cloud 9 released a line of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus fabric, in several different coordinating prints, no less.  I planned the outfit months ago and waited for warmer weather.  Finally, the time had come . . .

Badminton Top Lazy Days Skirt

I decided on the Badminton Top and Lazy Days Skirt by Oliver & S.  I’ve been wanting to make a Badminton Top for the longest time, and this seemed like the perfect way to use the main pigeon fabric with the feather print as a complement on the flutter sleeves and drawstring detail.  The Lazy Days Skirt has long been a favorite, so it seemed like a no brainer (especially since I could use the same ribbon I used for the drawstring on the top for the ribbon hem on the skirt).

Badminton Top Lazy Days Skirt Badminton Top Lazy Days Skirt

When Kiki saw the finished product, she said, “You know Mom, I really only like bright colors.  Maybe I’ll wear this another day.”  This is her very polite, four year old way of saying — this is never going to be worn, Mom.  Ah well.  Who knew that the pigeons would be just too gray??  She was gracious enough to put it on for photos, with the promise of an extra treat.

For the top, I cut a size 3 width and a size 4 length, which is usually a good fit for the 4 year old Kiki.  This one turned out to be a little roomy — so maybe she’ll be more inclined to wear it after growing a bit.

Despite its lack of brightness, Kiki still found this outfit conducive to backyard roller coaster riding and basil tasting on this particular afternoon.


I’m happy to report, however, that the skirt has been worn several times with other tops.  So I can be happy about that.

My Super Heroes

As this is my first ever blog post, I’d like to introduce you to my two girls, Kiki & Lulu (um, not their real names) and to show you their super hero dresses.

It all started last fall, when I made a version of the Olivia Dress by Craftiness is Not Optional in Anne Kelle’s Super Kids Girls in Primary.  (If you’re looking for this fabric, Etsy is probably your best bet.)


I love the loose fitting, easy wearing style of this dress, but this size 3 version turned out to be a little big on the then three year old Kiki (who tends to need smaller size bodices than I think when I start cutting).  So, it ended up waiting in the back of the closet until the weather started warming up around here.  And now, it’s turning out to be perfect for summer!

For the bodice, I used some light blue cotton with white polka dots and yellow homemade bias tape from my local fabric store.  The buttons are little yellow flowers that somehow work with the super heroes.


(No, that is not a cigarette hanging out of my 4 year old’s mouth.  It is indeed a lollipop.)


This pattern has very clear instructions with photos, which are always helpful.  I also learned a thing or two about bias binding and how to start and finish it on a neckline — a skill I have already put to use on other projects (thanks, Jess).  I think it would also look great in the sleeveless option, so I’ll be trying that one out before too long.


If you have more than one kid, you probably know what happens when the younger ones are suddenly able to talk and express their wishes and desires in a way that can be understood by their parents.  They start to actually ask for exactly the same things that their older siblings have (at least mine does).  “MY super hero dress, MOM!” was the refrain until I could cobble something together for Lulu.

Luckily, I had just enough fabric left over to make a size 2 Izzy Dress, an awesome free pattern from Climbing the Willow.  I’d been wanting to try this one out for a while, and was excited to sew it up.  The styling of this pattern is so great — it’s a lot like the beloved Oliver & S Ice Cream Dress, but the bodice is more fitted and has a sassy curve to it, which gives is a completely different look.


I think my favorite thing about this dress is the cool button tab closure on the back.  It has three things going for it — it’s very easy to put together (way easier than loops), it’s quick to fasten on a child who is jumping around or actively trying to run away, and it’s very unique.  I’ll probably be using it on lots of other patterns that call for loops.


The red and white check button is vintage, from an antique store that had a huge inventory of very unique buttons from someone’s collection that were just waiting for me to come along.

The pattern is really for a top, but I just added six inches to the length to make it into a dress.  I used solid cotton from my stash for the bodice, which just happened to be the right shade of yellow.  Pfew.


As you can see, Lulu is pleased.