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Tunic Dress July 3, 2009

Filed under: sewing — stephres @ 9:55 am
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This project started when I was watching What Not to Wear, a must-see show. I watch a lot of these how-to programs but can never seem to put into practice what I see. I used to be on quite a decorating show kick, even though I still have no clue in that department. Anyway, one of the hosts was lamenting the fact that the contributor’s wardrobe had no “day dresses.” Day dresses are apparently imperative to the modern women’s wardrobe. I thought of my wardrobe, which consists almost exclusively of t-shirts and capris, so much so that even Jacob mentioned that it was very boring. It is a little embarrassingwhen a nine year old is giving you fashion advice. So I decided to make a day dress. It would be great for subbing, comfortable and easy, I thought. I started (where else?) with a pattern from Carla Crim: the Patricia Tunic. You can find Carla’s patterns at and, at the risk of sounding redundant, they are the best. I had already spied a tunic dress another sewer had made and submitted to the I Made This portion of the website, so I had a good idea of what I wanted it to look like.

I had already made two tunics from this pattern and was pleased at how they came out. I even altered it a little already, adding elastic in the sleeve hem. This is Jennifer Paganelli’s gorgeous fabric!

So I started with this basic pattern. It has three pattern pieces, the center front, two side pieces and one back. Luckily, Carla indicates the finished length right on the piece so I measured myself to determine how much more length I needed. I ultimately added six inches to each piece. I cut off the pattern piece at the next to last cutting line, measured six inches and then taped it back. I also decided I wanted more of an a-line so I taped a piece of paper to the pattern and ran the ruler from the widest part of the pattern down to two inches from the end of the cutting line on the side. This gave me more of a flared out shape to the back and side pieces. This is what the pieces looked like when I finished:

Everything looked good so far, but I was a little gun shy about cutting into my expensive Heidi Grace fabric (even though I got it at 40% off thanks to the coupon). So I tried it in muslin first and discovered that I did not measure correctly and the back was an inch shorter than the front! Good thing I practiced first!

After I corrected my mistakes I tried again and it came out perfect! It is a little tight getting it on and off but it fits so well I wouldn’t want to go up a size. I added a band along the bottom for a little more length. Here I am meeting the author of the pattern, Carla herself and her son Louie!






Elastic Backed Shorts June 24, 2009

Filed under: sewing — stephres @ 7:02 pm
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I think what I love the most about making Megan’s clothes is that she actually gets clothes that fit. I love that I can customize the outfits for a perfect fit every time. She happens to love elastic waist pants and shorts but I was trying for a more “big-girl” look with the elastic only in the back.

Start with your favorite pants pattern. Mine is Easy Fit Pants by Carla. You can purchase her patterns at This is my absolute favorite pants pattern and it’s the only one I use for both kids. It is super quick and easy.

Anyway, start with your pattern piece and fold down three inches. You are going to add a yoke so you don’t need the extra fabric at the top for the waistband.

Cut out two pieces, as directed. Then you are going to cut out two yoke pieces. The length is 5 inches. The width of the yoke pieces will be the waist measurement plus 6 divided by 2 (for the 2 pieces). Megan’s waist is 22 inches, plus 6 is 28, divided by 2 is 14.  So I cut two yoke pieces, 14 by 5 inches. Basically you want it bigger than the waist but not as big as the pants.

After you have the pants and yoke pieces cut out, line them all up on top of each other. Make sure all the folds are matching and everything is straight. Draw a line with a marking pencil from the where the yoke starts down. I usually start at the top and then stop at the end of the yoke material and draw a diagonal line.

Cut along the line you drew, cutting through four layers of fabric.

So, now you should have four pieces of fabric cut out, two pants pieces and two yoke pieces.

Now put together the pants as directed. You can sew everything except the top so go ahead and sew the front and back, crotch seams, and bottom hem. Don’t sew the wrong side to the right side like I did and it shouldn’t take you that long!

Sew your two yoke pieces together. Because I am using Carla’s pattern, I use a 1/4 inch seam because that is what she directs for the pants. So use whatever seam allowance your pants pattern instructs so they will line up. Iron the seams out flat.

After you do that, fold over and iron wrong side together so you have two raw edges together.

You are going to sew a casing one inch from the folded edge from side seam to side seam. Do not sew it closed.

You might have to play with the elastic length a bit. I used 3/4 inch elastic, at about 8 inches. This works out to be the waist (22 inches) divided by 2.75. I like the safety pin method of threading the elastic through the casing.

 Tack the elastic down by running a stitch at each side seam.

The last step is sewing the yoke to the pants. Just line up the side seams and pin carefully.

Sew and then serge or zig zag stitch around the raw edge. I also like to stitch around the top of the front of the pants and iron and topstitch the seam up toward the yoke. And that’s it: just like a mullet it’s business in the front and party in the back!





Fun with T-shirts June 6, 2009

Filed under: sewing — stephres @ 8:16 pm
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I am not normally a recon kind of girl, but I love how easy t-shirt dresses come together. Also, I was disappointed in the lack of sports wear for little girls. It seems the stores have overpriced cheerleading outfits for toddler and then unisex shirts for kids. Megan needs a girl shirt to cheer her team! Plus this way I can customize it for her extra-long frame.

I usually start with the biggest men’s t-shirt I can find on sale:

Then I fold it in half, making sure I center the design. I usually cut off the sleeves at this point to make it easier to line up:

You can use a pattern, or cut up an existing shirt. I love using Carla’s raglan pattern for this project, available at Pin the pattern in place.

If I am making an a-line shape, I place the ruler at an angle coming away from the side and then cut with a rotary cutter. Today I am making a gathered skirt so I fold up the pattern to just below where the graphic on the t ends. Cut out and repeat for the back.

This is what I have so far:

Now I cut off the sleeves if I haven’t already:

Now I have the sleeve from the raglan pattern but I am going to shorten it up because I am going to used the hem from the existing sleeve and I like the look of the cap sleeve with these little dresses. Just make sure you mark where you lining it up so it’s even on both sides!

Here is the sleeve cut out:


Here are all four pieces ready to go:


Sew them together. I usually pin because those edges like to curl! Serge or zig zag stitch the edges. I topstitch for a neat look.


This is what it looks like all sewed together.


I have experiemented with different sleeve options and I really like elastic in the sleeves. The hem on the existing shirt makes a perfect casing for 1/4 inch elastic. I just measured Megan’s arm loosely for the length of elastic. Insert it in and tack at both sides.


Here is what I have so far:


Sew the sides, starting with the edge of the sleeves. If the bottom doesn’t perfectly line up I just trim it so it’s even. I make a rectangle out of the remaining t-shirt and run a long gathering stitch around. Then I pin the rectangle to the bodice, pick at the gathering stitches and sew into place.


Sew in the collar, this is the most stressful part for me. Just take it slow and be careful and you’ll be fine:


You make have noticed I used the existing hem whenever possible. It takes some practice to sew knit hems perfectly straight and I tend to cheat whenever possible. Another way to cheat is to do a lettuce hem. Set your machine on a narrow zig zag and pull the edge tight from front and back while sewing around the edge. I go around twice for a nice thick hem:


Here are some more examples, I hoped you enjoyed it! Megan wears these over jeans and as nightgowns too.





Adding Velcro to a Wallet/Wristlet May 18, 2009

Filed under: sewing — stephres @ 2:51 am
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Whenever anyone asks me how to do something I think it is always easier with pictures. So when Wendy asked how I put velcro on my wristlets I couldn’t resist just making one so I could have pictures to show her. Don’t know if anyone else is interested, but here it is anyway!

I love making wristlets. The girls in Jacob’s class love them and they are so easy and quick to make I don’t mind making them at all. I have also found they make excellent DS game pouches so that’s what I am making today.

You can use a pattern (I use the Sweet Pea Totes from but really you can just start with a rectangle.

Fold your rectangle in half or find the top of your wristlet if you are using two different fabrics for inside and outside (you are going to start with the inside fabric). You are going to measure down between 1/2 and 3/4 inch from the top and pin your velcro:


Unfold and sew the fuzzy side of the velcro on:

Complete the next part of the directions until you are ready to fold the bottom up. Now you can fold over the top flap and mark where the cooresponding piece of velcro will go.

Sew on the matching piece of velcro.

Finish and you’re done: ready to hold DS games!


A Quick Sweater Reconstruction March 4, 2009

Filed under: sewing — stephres @ 8:51 pm
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I can’t believe this is a year old! I attempted my first reconstruction last year and wrote a little tutorial about it. It was a little hard to find because apparently Teresa did not find it helpful enough to bookmark (insert snooty here), but I thought I would share it anyway. I cannot just envision what I want to do and start cutting and sewing to make it happen, so this worked perfectly for me because it was half pattern/half winging it. Also, if you are prone to shrinking your sweaters, it is a great way to get use out of them (providing you have a smaller person to wear them).

So I took a sweater that was too short for me and a t-shirt pattern:


I laid the pattern on top of the sweater and trimmed the sides. I left it long because Megan is cursed, er I mean blessed with a long-waist like me and extra length is always appreciated. Also, I didn’t have to worry about hemming the bottom of the sweater. This will give you a tunic sized top or a dress if your little one is very little.

I sewed the sides back together (and serged). I took the sleeves and wrapped the pattern around and trimmed. You are going to want to wrap the sleeve pattern around the sleeve as best you can and pin and then cut. You can make them longish or shortish, whichever you prefer. I left them longish for my monkey-armed kid.

And then I sewed the sleeves back on. Be careful to match the seams and don’t pull too much or it will be bunchy. I serged the seam. Voila! A little girl sweater!

When you are picking a sweater, I found the slight v-neck style gives the best result and looked like it fit the kid, as opposed to being too big and gaping around the neck. I asked a friend if it looked hand-made (my fear with recons) but she assured me it looks like I bought it from Gap (yay!). And since I made it roomy and long, it still fits her this winter!


Father/Daughter Dance February 7, 2009

Filed under: sewing — stephres @ 8:09 am
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Now that I am sewing, every special event is an occasion for a new outfit. The Father/Daughter Dance at school is no exception and Megan had fun picking out what she wanted. I had a costume pattern, but changed it a little so I could make the top from Carla’s peasant top pattern. Really, there is no reason to make a commercial pattern with bias tape when hers is much simpler and faster. It came together pretty quickly and Megan was very pleased with it. We were going to do blue gingam, but she had these black boots so I talked her into red and black. Plus, I really like her in red!

I do have to say with the amount I spent on fabric, lacing, fringe, eyelets and interfacing; it would have been cheaper to buy a costume. But it wouldn’t have been hand-made with love, right? And it definitely would not have fit properly, which I am proud to say, this outfit does.

She does not like the hat, however, so I am sure she did not wear it after the pictures were over. And she wanted make-up, so I gave her a little blush and freckles with my eyeliner pencil and of course, lipstick. I am sure they had a great time, I can’t wait until the get home to hear all about it!

Aren’t they cute?




Hippie Jeans February 4, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephres @ 7:22 pm

There are some thing you make and you step back and think, well, that was easy and fun, and you don’t think much of it. That’s how I felt when I first made regular jeans into “hippie” jeans. I think I must have seen something on ebay or etsy and thought that I could do it. I think it was more that I really, really wanted to learn how to make yo-yos and once I did that, I wanted something quick and easy to go with the little shirt I put them on. Honestly, the yo-yos were much harder than these jeans!

So I really can’t believe the comments we get when Megan wears these jeans. We get stopped all the time and told how cute they are; I guess retro is really in!

Side note: no one notices the yo-yos. I think they are something only another sewer would get. Oh well!

Start with some jeans (preferebly cheap). Cut them off just below the knee.


Do try to cut them off straight, but don’t stress out if they are a little wonky. What to do with the legs? Make skirts for your American Dolls, of course!


Now we are going to do some math: don’t freak out! It is really easy. Start with the length. I cut off 12 inches off the jeans (yes, make it easy on yourself and try for round numbers), and I need to add seam allowance and hem allowance. I am going to add 0.5 inches for each. That makes 0.5 inch seam allowance at the top and 2 tiny, 0.25 inch, folds for the hem. That gives me a length of 13 inches. Now for the width: measure the width of the jeans where you cut them off. Mine were 5.5 across (folded), which I multiplied by 2 to get a total width of each leg of 11. I am going to have 6 panels, so 11 divided by 6 is 1.83. We need to add seam allowance, 0.5 twice for each side. 1.83 plus 1 is 2.83. You can do smaller seam allowances if you want, I like the simplicity of half inch allowances. Now I am ready to draw!

Take some paper, whatever you like to make patterns out of, and draw two marks, your final width, apart. Mine was 2.83.


Now draw two lines up from those marks, the length of your panel (mine was 13 inches). Then draw a line across.  You should have a nice rectangle.


Now make two marks one inch on the outside from your starting marks on the bottom.


Now draw a line from those marks to the top corners of your rectangle, making an A-shape.


Cut it out. You’ve finished the hard part! This is a good time to take a break if someone is asking you to check her homework.


Cut out your panels. I want six for each leg, so I am going to cut out six panels (even numbers are your friend here). I like to spread them out and see how they look.



Sew the panels together, right side together, being mindful of  the seam allowance you chose (that’s why I like to keep everything to a half an inch). Serge or zig zag stitch the inside seams. I iron the seams all one way to make things easier, inside out and then right side out.  Sew the hem and any embellishments to the bottom. Ruffles are cute, but remember to add them into your figuring so your jeans don’t end up too long. With these, I am only going to add a ribbon to the bottom, which I will have to do after Megan’s riding lesson.


Hmm, it does not seem that my hem is 0.25 inches like it is supposed to be, but these jeans were a little long to begin with so I am not going to worry about it.

Now you are ready to attach to the jeans. Turn your panels inside out and line up with the cut part of your jeans, right sides together. Do NOT freak out if your math skills failed you and you have more panel than jeans, just make a tuck in the back. No one will ever notice, I promise!


Sew around and then serge or zig zag stitch around. That’s it! You can embellish as you like, I tend to think a little ric rac hides a lot of flaws!


Thanks for reading! Please let me know if you try them and what you think.