Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Purse

And here she is, my new Spring purse.
I completed her on Wednesday night and woke up to snow on the ground Thursday.
I carried this springy purse all day anyway just to spite Mother Nature.
This purse design is a little more boxy than the one I've been using. I printed the tutorial for this purse out ages ago and it doesn't have the source printed on it anywhere so I'm not sure how to give credit where it's due this time.
Forgive the low quality cell phone photo, but you can see the boxy bottom better here than in any of my "good" photos.

And how cute is this fabric? It's a Jennifer Paganelli print that I've been hoarding for the Bug's Easter dress. But the Bug had different ideas. Pink and purple ideas. So, this pretty little number is mine!
I did a little bit larger slit pocket on the front of this purse. It gapped open a bit more than I liked (don't want to lose my sunglasses!) so I added a last minute button. I kind of like how it "hides" in that pleat.
The inside is lined with a vintage sheet you might remember from my President's Day thrifting.
It's so soft and silky. I don't know how the light color will hold up, but we'll give it a go since it was such a perfect companion for the bold green exterior.

I tried another zipper pocket. This one went a bit more smoothly. I just may get it yet. I feel like I'm getting closer, though you'll see my stitching is a bit crooked.

And the green strip on the left is my key fob. Gotta have it or I lose my keys in the shadowy depths.
And here, just keeping it real.
This is why I need pockets. Lots of pockets.
Imagine all that stuff just floating around in the bottom of my bag.

That would not be pretty.

So there you have it. I think I'm done making purses for myself for a while. Next on to a custom pocket-filled messenger bag deluxe for a friend and an Easter "ruffle dress" for the Bug!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Custom Purse

I recently finished up an order for a custom made purse for a friend.
It's made from my favorite purse tutorial with a few adaptations.
My first adaptation was a slit pocket on the front.
(Like that piping? I made it myself!)
Next, a zipper pocket and key fob inside.
Then the standard wall o'pockets that I do on most of my bags.
I am such a fan of pockets. It was fun to get some practice creating some new ones. Especially the zipper pocket. I will definitely be doing more of those.

And in the process I decided I need a new spring purse too. I feel like I just finished my winter one but like everyone, this year I am more than ready for Spring to come and to stay! So stay tuned! I'm actually going to be trying a slightly different tutorial but hopefully applying some of the things I've learned with this bag.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Saint Patricks Day!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day to all!
The Bug painted this shirt last weekend.
She has been so patient to wait until today to wear it.

We used a freezer paper stencil to make the clovers.
She did a really good job with the project.
I think she's channeling her inner Irishman in this one.
I found that funky zig zag print knit at JoAnns on clearance. Isn't it fun?

The skirt has a pair of shorts underneath which should make it perfect for playing outside this summer.
I used the tutorial at The Long Thread and just scaled it down to a 4T/5T size.
Considering I did it while the Bug was asleep and couldn't actually try it on her I think the fit is just about perfect.

It's such a comfy skirt I know she's going to want to wear it again and again.
And, I know one little girl who won't be getting pinched today. . .


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Princess Classics

Over the weekend we had opportunity to attend Disney on Ice Princess Classics.
We broke out the Cinderella dress for the occasion.
I'm pretty sure she was the most beautiful princess there.

Seeing her face light up when she puts this dress on makes the hours fighting that slippery satin so worth it.


Friday, March 11, 2011

For the Birthday Girl

This dress was a custom order for a very discerning patron.
You see, it's for her fourth birthday and it must be just so.
A pink dress that twirls was what she ordered.
And while I should know better than to push it with a fashion forward almost four year old, I opted to throw in a little turquoise. 

She acquiesced under the condition that it not be "too much".
Fearing that she might consider the hem band "too much" turquoise, I broke up the blue with these ribbons around the hem.

It will be in the mail soon. Fingers crossed that it will prove acceptable.
If my own three, almost four, year old is any gauge, I wager the twirl-factor will decide it. 
And this full skirt?
Well, it can twirl!

Happy early birthday sweet girl! I hope it's every bit as lovely as you are.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Ruffle Sun Suit Models

Maybe so. If my urge to sew up fifty more in a multitude of colors is any indication.

I think I might just let the photos of my gorgeous models speak for themselves.
Size 9 months.
Is it weird if I say I just want to kiss those little baby toes? My goodness, heaven help us.
Size 18 to 24 months.
Those curls! Those leg dimples!
Why is it leg dimples are not so adorable on adults? It seems unfair.
And size 2T.
She's dancing to Lady Gaga. I love her.
Is it any wonder I referred to her as a firecracker?

Could these girls get any cuter?
I'm blessed with some awesome Mommy friends. Thanks ladies for letting me "borrow" your girls!

And now, please excuse me, I have the uncontrollable urge to sew a dozen of these for every baby I know.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pillowcase Dress Tutorial

Because the internet needs one more take on how to make these cute little dresses, right?

Actually, believe it or not I've had a hard time finding a tutorial that suites me so I have come up with my own hodgepodge method of sorts to share.

Sidenote: I wrote these instructions for the sewing novice. I don't mean to insult anyone's intelligence, I just want to help teach a new skill  to a few folks if I can. Experienced seamstresses, thanks for your patience!


  • Pillowcase--Any old pillowcase will do. I've found all sorts of lovely ones at the thrift store but you can use new or one from your linen closet as well. The size of the pillow case doesn't matter so just pick something pretty.
  • Double fold bias tape (aka seam binding)--get "Extra-Wide" if you've never used it before or make your own if you are a show off!
  • Straight pins
  • Scissors
  • 1/4" Elastic
  • A safety pin
  • Thread--please match it to your pillowcase and seam binding. It will hide crooked stitches better!
  • Sewing machine--this should go without saying, right? But also here I should include extra needles, bobbin, etc. Anything you need to make your machine run, k?
  • Seam ripper--I hesitate to add this to the list because I am confident in your abilities--but even the most advanced seamstress has to rip out a few stitches here and there. It's best to be prepared.
  • Iron and Ironing Board--Sewing is so much easier on crisply ironed fabric!
  • Trim--this is optional but a little bit of rick rack or ribbon can really make this simple dress into something over the top cute.

The Process:

1.  Cut your pillowcase down to size. 
Sizing will be based off of the Little Dresses for Africa website since that's where I'm sending my dresses but you can feel free to measure your little one to get a more custom fit. Just measure from shoulder to where you want the dress to fall and add about 1", give or take, for the top elastic casing.

2 = 16 inches
3 = 19 inches
4 = 22 inches
5 = 24 inches
6 = 26 inches
7 = 28 inches
8 = 30 inches
9 = 32 inches
10 = 34 inches
11 = 36 inches
You want to cut off the end that is sewn together and leave the hem (that will be the hem of your dress later--big time saver!)
So, for example, if you have a 40" pillowcase and you are making a size 8 dress you will measure up from the hem 30" and cut straight across. You would be left with 10" of scrap fabric to add to that scrappy quilt you are planning to make "someday". Or is that just me?

2. Cut your arm holes. 
Fold your pillowcase in half so that the side seams meet and the top cut edge is lined up. 
On the side with the seams (not the center fold), measure down 4" from the top corner and over 2" from the top corner. My lines are a little hard to see but look there by the 12 on the left and at 2" on top.
Cut a curved line from point to point. You can mark this first with a disappearing ink pen if that makes you more comfortable. You could even use a Sharpie if you wanted since this part will eventually be hidden under the seam binding.
Your arm hole line should look sort of like a "J" with a slanted bottom hook if that helps. But don't sweat this. This dress is super roomy and very forgiving. Close totally counts. 
If you are totally anal, go HERE for a template. Go ahead. I won't judge. 

3. Make your elastic casing.  
Make sure your iron is hot and ready to steam! 
You are going to want to iron down about 1/4"  of the fabric on the top cut edge. Do this on both the front and the back of the dress. You are ironing the material wrong side to wrong side.
(The "wrong side" for sewing newbies is the side of the fabric that is on the inside of your garment--the side that is not meant to show. The outside of the garment is, conversely, called the "right side". See, this sewing thing is EASY!)
Now you want to iron down another 1/2" or so. Again, both on the front and the back and toward the wrong side of the fabric. See how you just hid that rough little edge? Give yourself a little pat on the back.

You can pin this down if you want. It's quicker if you don't but if it makes you more comfortable go for it! Me? I'm all about living on the edge. Pins cramp my style.
Get your sewing machine ready! You want to sew a straight line close to that bottom fold, say around 1/8" for you math-lovin' types.  
Repeat for both the front and the back of the dress.
A good way to help sew a straight line is to find a place on your presser foot to line up that fold line as you sew. If that doesn't work, put a little piece of masking tape on your machine to help line things up. See how my fold lines right up with the inside of the left fork of my presser foot? Yep, that's how I keep it on the straight and narrow.
Now you should have two nice little "pockets" on the top of your dress. This is your casing that will house a bit of elastic that will gather the top of the dress nicely.
Speaking of elastic, grab yours and measure 6" from the end and make a mark with a pen. No need to cut yet. 
Attach your safety pin to the end of the elastic and feed it through the casing until the safety pin comes out the other end. The safety pin gives you something stable to grab and push through the casing, otherwise you'd be working all night to wiggle that floppy elastic through on it's own.
Take the pin off of the elastic and sew the elastic down. It would be good to backstitch over it a few times just to make sure it catches.
(Your machine should have a button or lever you can easily push to make it stitch backwards--check your manual if you don't know how)
Now that the first end is locked and loaded, pull the other end of your elastic until you see the mark you made earlier and stitch that end down as well. Now cut the elastic.
Measure another 6" down from the cut end of the elastic and repeat these steps for the opposite side of the dress.

4. Bind the arms and make your ties
Now grab your seam binding. No matter what size dress you are making , cut two 38" long strips. Fold them in half and mark the middle with a straight pin.
See how the binding is folded in half? You want to envelope the raw edge of your armhole inside the fold of the binding. So line up the center of your binding (you just marked it with a pin, remember?) with your side seam and pin it.
Continue to put the raw edges of the arm hole into the seam binding and pin all the way to the top of your dress. Go ahead and do this around the whole arm hole. To make things easier on yourself when you are sewing, make sure your fabric is right up to the inside of the fold before you pin it.
To finish the raw ends of your seam binding, open it up, fold down about 1/4" and then refold it. Pin if you need to. Obviously, you'll need to do this on all four raw ends so unless you want to wing it as you sew, pins are good.
Now, let's get ready to sew again! Start at one end of your seam binding and sew the open parts together. You want to sew a short line along the top of that fold you just made and then turn and run your seam all the way down to the dress. Sew about 1/8" away from the open edge.
When you get to the dress, continue to sew approximately 1/8" away from the edge of the seam binding all the way around your arm hole. Our goal here is to catch the front of the seam binding, the pillowcase AND the back of the seam binding all with this one run of stitches. 
If you are nervous about doing this and catching all the layers, switch over to a zig zag stitch! Super cute way to "cheat" a little! (This is obviously not the dress I was working on. I grabbed it from the bag of lovelies that we whipped up last week. Credit here goes to Brooke.)
Take it slow. This is the hardest part of the process. If you get off of your mark a little there's no shame in ripping out the part that was messed up and doing it over.

Once you've sewn the binding to the dress, keep going to the end of the tie and then across the top fold just like you did the first time.
Repeat this for the opposite side and you are, for all intents and purposes, DONE!
Woo Hoo!

5. Trim!
If you want, you can add a bit of trim at the hem. It's totally optional but I am a trim-aholic. A little trim can go far to make your dress look more professional.
But, if you are just over it at this point, don't sweat the trim stuff and move on to step number six!
For most trims, I find it easiest to just sew right along the line of hem stitches. Super easy way to keep your trim straight and even.

Trimming isn't limited to a line of ribbon or rick rack around the hem. Get creative. Add a bow, maybe some ruffles or a flower from your scrap fabric, sew on some buttons or do a fancy applique! The sky's the limit!

6. Step back and admire your handiwork. Pat yourself on the back because you are so awesome!
And if you're sending this little number off to Africa, take a moment and say a prayer of blessing over the girl who will someday wear it.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if you get stuck! I'll do my best to help out!