DIY Summer Shift Dress

Having trouble looking cute while staying cool this summer?  Check out this DIY sheath dress with a nursing friendly option!

Hey, hey!

I’ve been holding on to this gem of a dress for a few weeks now, anxiously waiting until I had a chance to share it with you!  It may not look fancy or super duper exciting, but now that our Phoenix temps are regularly topping 110 degrees, I can confidently say that I reach for this dress probably 3 times a week (don’t worry, I wear lots of deoderant :).

It keeps me cool, it’s easy to wear, it’s cute and did I mention keeps me cool??  Read on for the pattern details (including my pet peeves about it) and a quick overview of how I made this little number nursing friendly.  Check it out!

Ok, so first things first: I used pattern McCall’s M7562.  When I saw @alexiasotelo’s version on Instagram in this same fabric I thought – “Hey! I have that fabric in my stash and I bet I could make that dress nursing friendly!” So off I went.  (I found the fabric at my local Joann Fabrics)

In the interest of full disclosure, let me just say that this pattern took quite a bit of adjusting to make it work.  First I added about 3-4″ to the length because I wanted it to come just below my knees.  Then when I did my first fit test, the thing just swallowed me.  My measurements were right in line with the size 12 but in my experience, the Big 4 patterns always run big.  Now to be fair, I usually size down in storebought patterns for this very reason, but I thought this time I could get away with it since the dress is so loose fitting anyway.  NOPE.  It looked like a gunny sack.

In fact, after looking at these pictures, I still didn’t love the fit so I took it in even more and raised the hem about an inch.  So the sum total of my alterations included taking off about 4-6 inches on each side, lowering the hem about 2″, as well as taking the armhole up a bit since it was huge and showed my bra.  So if I make it again, I’d probably size down 2-3 sizes.

Now on to the button placket…guys, I’d never tried a hidden placket before and I loved making it!  I kind of just scrutinized a RTW dress and top I have with one of these plackets and figured it out.  It looks so seamless and neat and really wasn’t hard at all.  In fact, if you’re nervous about buttonholes at all (aren’t we all??) then this technique is great because it hides any goofs you may make!

There are lots of tutorials out there for making a hidden placket in a jacket or shirt that opens all the way, but I couldn’t find one for a partial placket (i.e. one where the dress doesn’t unbutton all the way to the bottom hem).  So I’m making a video for ya!  You’re gonna love how easy this technique is.  Stay tuned!

More full disclosure: I ran out of time to finish the buttons and buttonholes before taking pictures so it’s just pinned shut here.  HA!

Lastly, if you want to save yourself the headache of retrofitting this pattern, instead you could use my instructions for this nightgown tutorial to make a dress instead! It’s basically the same shape; you’ll just need to make it a little more narrow if you want to slim down the silhouette a bit.  But ain’t nothing wrong with making a street-friendly muumuu either!

If you do decide to use the McCall’s pattern to replicate this, the only modification you need to make for the placket is to leave off the little V-shaped neck opening; in other words, don’t cut into the neckline as instructed in the pattern, only do so once you’re ready to make the placket.

That’s it!  Let me know if you have any questions about this one. I can’t recommend this style enough for the perfect mom-friendly summer outfit!  Check out the widget below for links to my shoes (I wear them more often than this dress!) and similar bag & earrings.

Patriotic Dress and Blanket-Tote

This easy sewing project yields the perfect patriotic blanket for all your summer picnics. Bonus: it folds into itself to use as a tote!

patriotic_dress_sewing

patriotic_dress_knit_diy

You guys might remember this patriotic sewing idea from last year when I guest posted on the Sugarbee Crafts blog. This dress and blanket are still some of my favorite patriotic projects so here’s some inspiration for you this summer! (Side note…do you believe how little Marilyn is here?? #allthefeels)

The dress is simply an Alcoy Dress made out of patriotic fabrics (red stripes from Girl Charlee several years ago, anchor fabric from a repurposed skirt)…read on for instructions on how to make the blanket/tote bag!

What you’ll need:

  • Large square of home decor fabric (mine was a 56″ square that I bought at Ikea; or about 2 2/3 yards of 56″ wide fabric)
  • 6 1/4 yards of coordinating bias tape
  • just over 2/3 yard of coordinating fabric for pocket and strap
  1.  Begin by sewing the bias tape around your square of fabric.  You can also choose to make your blanket two layers thick (a front and a back side) but mine was thick enough that I chose not to.
    picnic_blanket_carrying_tote
    You just sandwich the raw edge right inside the bias tape and stitch close to the folded edge.  If you look closely, you’ll notice that bias tape has one side that is slightly shorter than the other.  Be sure to put this shorter edge on top of the fabric so that your stitching catches the longer edge underneath.
  2. When you get to a corner, stitch all the way to the end of the fabric, then flatten our your bias tape corner as shown below.  picnic_blanket_carrying_tote_tutorial
    picnic_blanket_carrying_bag
    Fold the rest of the bias tape around the adjacent side of the fabric, creating a mitered corner like in the picture above.  Resume stitching right at that folded corner (you can use pins or binder clips to hold it in place).  Repeat with all four corners until you’re back where you started.
  3. Stop stitching just a few inches from the beginning.picnic_blanket_carrying_bag_DIYpicnic_blanket_bagUnfold the raw end of the bias tape and fold down horizontally about 1/2″.  Fold your previous folds back in place, overlap the beginning of the bias tape and sew to your blanket.picnic_blanket_bag_DIY
  4. Once your bias tape is in place, you’ll begin your pocket!  Cut two pieces of coordinating fabric into 14″ squares (you might need to adjust the size of your pocket if you make a bigger blanket than 56″).  Lay the pieces right sides together, and sew around 3 sides.  Clip the corners of your seam allowances and turn pocket right sides out.picnic_blanket_tote
    (A portion of my 4th side is sewn shut in the above picture but just ignore that goof! 🙂  Press all your seams and corners well, and fold in the open raw edges of that 4th side about 1/4″ to the inside.
  5. Create your straps by cutting a strip of your pocket fabric 40″ long x 5″ wide.  Fold it in half lengthwise and press.  Stitch down the entire long side opening, creating a tube of fabric.picnic_blanket_bag_tutorial
    Turn your tube right side out and press well.
  6. Insert your straps into the open edge of the pocket and topstitch this open edge closed.
    picnic_blanket_sewing
  7. Now topstitch your pocket to a corner of your blanket, along 3 sides, right along the bias tape trim.  Be sure the edge of the pocket with the straps is on one of the sides facing into the blanket, not along the bias tape (and leave this edge unsewn to the blanket!).  When you’re done, it should look like this:
    picnic_blanket_sewing_tutorial
    Voila!  All done!  Now just fold up your blanket like this:
    picnic_blanket
    picnic_blanket_tote_DIyFold it in half, then in half again lengthwise.  Then fold it into quarters, ending with the edge where the pocket is.  Turn the pocket inside out so that it surrounds the blanket and the strap hangs free.  Bonus: you can stash your wallet, phone, water bottles & any other essentials inside the bag when it’s all folded up!picnic_blanket_fold_into_tote
    picnic_blanket_DIY
    patriotic_dress_pattern
    Fun, huh?  Now I want to make all my blankets into blanket-totes!

DIY Ruffle Sleeve Top

This super simple ruffle sleeve top is sure to be a new favorite and is totally on trend!  Check out the full tutorial…

I haven’t done too much sewing for myself in the last year or so; pregnancy and birth makes for an ever changing body that’s tricky to fit!

But I’m SO glad I started again and gave this top a try because it is currently my very favorite shirt out of my whole closet. It skims over my belly bulge without being too boxy, it’s got a cute sleeve detail and anything black and white striped is just classic.  I was inspired by a similar top from J. Crew a few months ago and I can’t imagine I’d love the original any more than this one!

It’s super duper easy to recreate, I just encourage you to find the best quality knit fabric you can find.  A sturdy knit (like a cotton/spandex blend) will make all the difference in drape and durability.  I’ve also included a link to an illustration with cutting instructions and all the measurements I used; my shirt fits like a size medium/large.

Ready? Let’s get making!

Supplies:

1-1.5 yards high quality stretch knit
Coordinating thread
Get the illustration with all my measurements here

1. Grab a T-shirt with a great fit to use as a template.  Fold your fabric in half (with the stretch running perpendicular to the fold) and your ready-to-wear (RTW) tee in half lengthwise (from neckline to hem). Lay your RTW tee on your fabric, with folds aligned, and cut out your front bodice by following the lines of your tee.  Be sure to leave a seam allowance  along the shoulder, armhole and side seams (I usually eyeball about 1/2″) and a hem allowance along the bottom (about 1″).

2. Do the same thing for your back bodice and sleeves.  Be sure that the stretch of your fabric is running around the circumference of your sleeve (from underarm seam to fold).  Cut out 2 sleeve ruffles measuring 35″ x 5″ (the direction of stretch doesn’t matter on the ruffles). Be sure to save a long scrap for your neckband!

3.  With right sides together (RST), sew your front to back along shoulder seams and side seams.  Finishing the seam (with a zig zag or serger) is optional with knit fabrics.

4. Sew your first sleeve into a tube by folding it in half lengthwise, RST, and stitching along the straight edge. Repeat with the second sleeve.

5. Create your ruffles by first sewing the strips into tubes: fold them in half widthwise RST and stitch along the short ends.  Next, gather them along one opening: I like to sew a basting stitch about 1/4″ away from the raw edge, then another basting stitch about 1/4″ from the first line of stitching.  Pull the bobbin thread taut from each line of stitching while pulling the fabric into gathers.

6. With sleeve RIGHT side out and ruffle WRONG side out, slip the bottom of the ruffle over the bottom edge of the sleeve.  Match up gathered edge of ruffle to bottom edge of sleeve and pin, adjusting gathers to fit.  Stitch in place; remove any basting stitch that shows on the right side, if necessary.

7. With bodice WRONG side out and sleeve RIGHT side out, insert bottom of sleeve into bodice armhole until top of sleeve and bodice armhole are flush; pin raw edges together, matching seams and stretching to fit, if necessary.

8. For the neckline: measure around the opening of your neckline and subtract 2″ (give or take 1-2″ depending on the stretchiness of your fabric. This is kind of a trial and error thing!). Cut out a neckband measuring this number x 2″. For example, if your neckline measures 21″, then your neckband would need to be 19″ x 2″.  Stitch neckband into a tube by sewing together along short sides, RST. Fold tube in half lengthwise (wrong sides together) and press.

9. Pin neckband to neckline RST by matching raw edges, with neckband seam in center of bodice back, and by inserting pins evenly in 4 places: at shoulder seams and at center front and center back. BASTE neckband to bodice, stretching to fit.  At this point, try on your shirt to determine if the neckband is the proper length.  It should lie flat without any puckering or flopping over.  If so, you’re ready to stitch it on securely, if not, take the band off and either cut it slightly shorter or cut a new longer one!

10.  Once you’ve stitched neckband in place, finish the seam with a zig zag stitch or serger.  Press seam allowance towards bodice, then topstitch close to seam on bodice side using a double needle.  It’s very important that you NOT stretch the fabric while topstitching so that the neckline doesn’t end up wavy and stretched out.

11.  Hem sleeves and bottom of shirt by topstitching with a double needle.

And you’re done!  Try it on and admire your handiwork…doesn’t it look amazing??

Photos by Let Me See You Sparkle

DIY Finger Print Table Runner

This easy, kid-friendly DIY for mom (or any special woman in your family’s life) is part of the #HallmarkForMom shop compensated by  #CollectiveBias and its advertiser.  All opinions are my own.  

May is a big month here at our house: my birthday, Mother’s Day this Sunday the 14th and today is our 13th anniversary!  We also have several other birthdays and occasions so I’m often planning gifts weeks ahead of time to lessen the chaos factor.

I’m loving this fun table runner that the kids and I came up with for my mom this Mother’s Day.  It would also be a great birthday gift for any mom or Grandma.  I find myself cursing my kids’ dirty little fingerprints that I find all over my house but this project takes those cute little fingerprints and turns them into something adorable!  This was a fun, short little afternoon project for the kids and me and they all loved it.

We also picked up some Hallmark Signature cards at Walmart to go along with our gifts because my mom always told me that reading the card was the best part of getting a gift.  As a kid, I never really believed that (how can a card be better than a PRESENT??) but now I feel exactly the same way. There’s nothing I love more than reading a sweet note from one of my kids.  It makes cleaning all those sticky fingerprints more than worth it!  I also really relish the chance to sit down once a year to put my feelings for my own mom into writing.

Walmart has an awesome selection of Hallmark cards (they’re offering an entire line of new Mother’s Day cards), from hilarious birthday cards for kids (we also grabbed one for a birthday party we were headed to) to seasonal cards and more.  Is anyone else guilty of just sitting in the card aisle and reading funny cards for a half hour?? Grab coupons and find tons of creative gift giving ideas for mom here!

You guys ready for the DIY?  It’s SO easy!

Supplies:
4-5 colors of fabric paint
2-4 yards of woven fabric (depending on the size of the table)
5-7 yards of decorative trim or bias tape

  1.  First determine the desired length and width of your table runner.  I made mine 20″ wide and 120″ long (10 feet).  Also decide where you want your decorative flowers to be.  I had to piece my table runner together from 2 pieces of fabric, so I covered the seams with some leftover bias tape and decided to have the kids make the flowers in between these two strips of bias tape.
  2. Squirt a little fabric paint on a paper plate and show the kids how to make the flowers.  Simpy press a finger pad into the paint, tap off any excess and then press your fingerprint on the fabric.  One fingerprint makes the center of the flower, and 5-6 surrounding prints make the petals!  Easy peasy.  The kids really got a kick out of making rainbow colored flowers and even mixing some paint colors.  Just watch the littlest ones to make sure they don’t wipe their fingers on the fabric to clean off excess paint (thanks, Vivian).
  3. Once the flowers are all done, let the fabric dry completely and then you’ll need to set the paint with an iron. Just lay a scrap piece of fabric or an old towel over the paint and press with a hot iron for 5-10 seconds.  Voila!  Paint is set and your table runner is now washable.
  4. Add your decorative trim or bias tape to the edges.  I used double fold bias tape here (just sandwich the raw edge of the table runner with the bias tape and stitch close to the folded edge of the tape) but I also love the idea of using ric rac, pom-poms or tassels!  Just be sure to finish the raw edge of your fabric first if you won’t be enclosing it inside bias tape.  A zig-zag stitch works fine for this.Now package it up in a cute gift bag and grab a Hallmark card from Walmart to tell your sweet mom how much you appreciate her putting up with your crap over the years. And don’t forget to add a little chocolate.
    Chocolate always wins!

 

Easter Pinafore Pattern Hack

Another simple yet adorable Infinite A-line pattern hack – just in time for Easter!

I was really hesitant to commit to sewing everyone Easter dresses this year. After all, I have a newborn and five girls to sew for.  Some people might call that crazy.

But crazy has always held a certain appeal for me.

When designing this dress, I was really inspired by all the gingham popping up everywhere lately; it just screams spring to me! I also really wanted to make another pinafore style like this one I did last year.

This is another Infinite A-line pattern hack, although I decided to keep the back bodice piece on this one instead of just using straps.

To create this style, I followed the Infinite A-line dress instructions for View D and just discarded the side bodice pieces instead of sewing them to the center & ruffles.

Then I loosely followed these instructions to create a waistband and facing.  After you’ve cut them out, you’ll sew the short ends of each piece together, to create 2 loops.  Place 4 pins in the band and facing, all equidistance apart (one pin will be in the seam you just sewed).  Pin the band and facing to the front and back of bodice (as shown in the other tutorial), matching 2 of the pins in band/facing with the centers of the bodices.  Be sure the seam you just sewed is on the side of the dress so it won’t be as visible.  Then sew the bands to the bodices and continue following the other tutorial to attach the skirt.

It’s really a very simple and straightforward dress… the only problem I had was accidentally serging a big HOLE in the center of the waistband after thisone was almost complete! It was also after midnight at the time and I admit, I cried a little bit.

But all’s well that ends well! And now I just have six days to sew four more dresses. I can do it right??

Pray for me.

Get your own copy of the pattern HERE and let me know what you’re making for Easter this year!

(You can find the tutorial for this woven Easter basket HERE – the bottom zips off so that it stores flat!
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Chubby Thighs and handmade shorts

An easy refresh for any kid’s summer wardrobe: shorts!

It’s been quite a while since I sewed something super simple for my kids; I’m always full of ideas for new pattern hacks and designs so it’s refreshing to go back to the basics!

Our sweet Mimi is a total chunk of a baby and after pulling out summer clothes recently, I realized that she can’t fit into a single pair of shorts her sisters wore before her!  I decided to pull out the Kid Shorts pattern from Made Everyday to whip her up a couple pairs.

GUYS, she’s not even 2 years old yet (her birthday’s in a few weeks) but I ended up making her a size FOUR!  Her little thighs and belly are hilariously chubby.  In fact, her waist measurement is a whopping 1/2″ smaller than Kira’s, who is almost 6…haha!

I love all three of these pairs; I made the shorter racer shorts with bias trim for two of them because they are THE easiest ever!  Seriously, after cutting out fabric, I think they each took me about 20 minutes to sew.  A great way to amp up a kid’s wardrobe in just one afternoon.

I think the cute animal print pair are my favorite…which do you like best??

DIY Nursing-Friendly Nightgown

The first few weeks after having a baby are my favorite; it’s the only time you’re allowed to just sit around in pjs all day long, resting, eating whatever you want and snuggling a precious new baby.  Life doesn’t get any better!

Today I’ve got a tutorial for the perfect postpartum nightgown: long, stretchy, lots of coverage and nursing-accessible!  Of course you can make one even if you don’t have a new baby, and if you leave off the placket, it’s a super quick project!

(Be sure to subscribe to my new weekly newsletter to get all the latest tutorials in your inbox!)

Supplies:

2 yards very stretchy knit fabric
4 matching buttons (if attaching optional placket)
10″ x 10″ piece of lightweight fusible interfacing
coodinating thread

1. Find the stretch of your fabric and fold in half with the stretch running horizontally (perpendicular to the fold).  Cut out front and back of nightgown according to diagram (the diagram show just the front bodice being cut out on the fold, but you’ll need to cut out a back as well!).  Cut out sleeves and placket also, ensuring that the stretch runs across the width of the sleeves.

2. Lay your front and back pieces on top of each other, right sides together.  Sew along the shoulders and side seams, using a stretch stitch or serger, Press seams well.

3. Sew underarm seams of sleeves by folding sleeve in half lengthwise, RST, and stitching along the long raw edge, using a stretch stitch.  Press well and repeat with second sleeve.

4. Turn bodice inside out and sleeve right side out.  Insert your sleeve into the sleeve opening of bodice (insert narrower opening in first!), matching up raw edges and underarm seam with bodice side seam.  Stitch sleeve to bodice using a stretch stitch; press well.

5.  Fold under raw edges of sleeves and bodice hem and topstitch using a double needle; press well.  You can also choose to leave your sleeves and hem raw since knit doesn’t fray!

6.  Create neck facing: Measure the circumference of your neckline and subtract 1-2″ (you want your facing to be shorter than your neckline so that it pulls the neckline taut when sewn together.  How much shorter depends on the stretch of the fabric…here I cut mine 2″ shorter that the neckline because my fabric was super stretchy; if your fabric is less stretchy, try making it just 1″ shorter.  It’s kind of a trial and error thing!)  Cut out a neck facing measuring 1″ x the length you just calculated (neckline minus 1-2″).  Sew short ends of facing, right sides together, to create a loop.

7.  Pin facing to neckline, right sides together, stretching facing to distribute evenly around neckline.  Stitch facing to neckline using a 1/4″ seam allowance and a stretch stitch, again stretching facing to fit.  Press facing & seam allowance away from bodice, and then press raw edge of facing under 1/4″.  Fold facing to inside of garment, pressing again.  Topstitch facing to bodice, close to folded edge, using a stretch stitch.

This video is a great resource for sewing a knit facing, in case you haven’t done this technique before!

8.  OPTIONAL button placket: Cut a rectangle out of the center front of your your nightgown measuring 10″ x 1″.  Here I’m gonna save you the chore of reading a really wordy explanation that doesn’t make any sense and instead have you watch this video! It’s a great, simple explanation for inserting a placket.  (Note: I used a very lightweight interfacing because I was using a very thin knit fabric…you don’t want to go too much heavier than your fabric!)

And voila!  A perfectly cozy, comfy nightgown perfect for lounging with or without a new baby!

My (Super Small) Sewing Space

Is a lack of space cramping your creative style?  You can still make awesome stuff without a dedicated sewing room!

In my dream home, I have my very own office/studio, and it’s AMAZING…you ready for it??  It’s about 150 square feet, painted a cool gray with gorgeous white trim and vaulted ceilings.  There are built in bookshelves everywhere, huge windows overlooking my gorgeous green yard and like 4 huge wide tables for cutting out fabric and patterns and collecting miscellaneous crafty crap.

*Sigh* But back here on planet earth, I live in a 2300 sq ft house with 8 children.  Finding space for my creative hobbies isn’t always the biggest priority so I’ve had to figure out the best way to make do for the past few years.  Having a dedicated space to do what you love is important; even if it’s just a tiny corner of a dining room table.  So here’s a peek into my creative corner!

My sewing space currently resides in a shadowy corner of my family room in the basement.  This room also functions as a homeschool room, play room and media room…so it is FULL.  One of these days I’ll organize and decorate the whole thing so I can show it all to you.  We’ve got 2 full bookcases, 2 long Ikea tables, 6 chairs, a gigantic sectional, a school supply/toy closet and fabric closet.  It’s a hot mess but it allows me to be close to the little kids while I sew which ensures that I get a lot more creating done than if it was all in a separate room!

When designing this space, I knew I wanted an L-shaped configuration for my sewing machines and ironing board so that I can stay seated and make a sewing project from start to finish (I’m very lazy).  One of these days I think I’ll get a comfy swivel desk chair so that it’s even easier to move around!  I’ve got my regular sewing machine on the left (it’s also an embroidery machine) and my serger on the right.  Behind the machines I installed two metal rods to hang little white storage buckets.  These hold everything from seam rippers to scissors to markers and tape measures.  They’re really roomy and are strong enough to hold several pairs of heavy scissors!  The little clear box to the right of my serger holds all my bias tape and a few odds and ends.

I use the drawers on the right to hold just about everything else I could ever need while sewing: the top drawer holds pins, tape, chalk, etc.  The others store ribbon, elastic, zippers, buckles, snaps…you name it!  The big wide drawers on the left hold my button collection as well as all my really large paper patterns.  My favorite way to keep these patterns together is to take a large piece of cardstock, fold it in half and staple two of the open sides together.  These fit perfectly into the drawers and keep me from having to fold big patterns more than a couple times to store.

Behind my machines, I chose to hang pretty stuff and magazine cut outs of inspiring clothing designs.  While I love the idea of a pegboard to hang all my tools like many sewists use, we’re so tight on space that our “television” is actually a projector screen that pulls down and partially covers this part of the wall.  So the stuff I hang on it has to be fairly flat so that it doesn’t damage the screen.  It’s worked out pretty well!

In the back corner I have my stash of sewing books and smaller paper patterns inside 3-ring binders.  I also keep my big clear rulers here (out of the reach of naughty children who have broken about 3 of them already) and my big cutting mats get stored behind my machines against the wall.  My favorite part of my machine table is the power strip!  I used Command strips to adhere it to the table and plug everything into this strip.  That way, when I want to work, I just have to flip one switch to bring everything to life.  And then when I walk away I switch it off so I never forget to turn off the light or a machine or my iron (totally did that for years before this setup).

You can see a bit more crap stashed under the back corner of the table: I’ve got a bag full of cross-stitching supplies under there, padding for my dress form and more (and more and more) patterns.

Under my thread supply, I keep this pretty metal basket full of fabrics in my “queue”.  Anything that really inspires me or that I’ve bought for a specific purpose goes here so that it doesn’t get lost to die a sad and lonely death in my fabric closet (under the basement stairs).  I love seeing the pretty patterns and dreaming of how I’ll put them to use.  Way above the thread rack, I screwed in two hooks (these big ones are from the hardware store and are designed to hold bikes on a garage wall) to store all my rolls of paper: carbon tracing paper, swedish tracing paper, medical paper, rolls of interfacing, fusible web, etc.

Finally along that left part of the corner, I have my mini ironing board and iron, as well as more pretty storage on the wall.  I love, LOVE this circle shelf because it’s super cute and gives me a place to keep contraband up high.  My kids are pretty good about not getting into my sewing stuff (on penalty of death) but if the littles are being stinkers one day, I’ll stash my pins & needles up here as well as candy (or other sewing treats that are not for children) in that little bowl on the top shelf…what they don’t know won’t hurt them!

And that’s about it!  It’s not the fanciest or the most well organized but it works pretty great for me at this stage of life.  I often use the kids’ school tables for cutting out patterns…or just the floor.  I tend to make a big mess when I sew at night because I can, but it’s nice to have a place to put everything back in order when it’s time to clean up.

Let me know if you have any questions…and I’d love to know if you also have a teeny tiny sewing or crafting space.  Let’s hear any other tips out there for being creative without a full room at your disposal!

SOURCES

Table top, skinny drawer unit, wide drawer unit, chair, pendant light, white storage buckets & rods, and white magnet boards – Ikea || Sewing/Embroidery machine – Bernina Artista 180 (bought used on eBay)|| Serger – Brother 1034D || Thread rack, iron  – Amazon || Circular shelving unit, clock, gold cup, similar decorative bowl, metal basket & plastic (bias tape) basket, ironing board, gold baskets & mounting rail behind ironing board – Target || Instax camera – Amazon || abstract art on circle shelf – Candy Kirby Designs ||other handmade art – Pen and Paint || snowy barn art – painted by yours truly

DIY Girl’s Leotard

Make your little girl her own unique leotard, and save a ton of money while you’re at it, with this free pattern & tutorial!


I’m so excited about today’s DIY because it’s so cute, fun and functional!  My girls LOVE leotards, whether they’re jumping on the trampoline, doing gymnastics & dance classes or just dressing up.  The only problem is, if you want anything other than plain black, they’re ridiculously expensive!

After making swimsuits for the girls last year, I decided it couldn’t be all that hard to make my own leotards.  And turns out, it isn’t!  Really!  The best part is that you can give your little girl as much coverage as you’d like.
Read on for the full tutorial and free pattern!

NOTE: the pattern fits about a size 6, but scaling it up or down is not too difficult.  It’s designed for a little girl with a crotch-shoulder measurement of about 36″ (loop a measuring tape from one shoulder, down your model’s front, between her legs and up the back to the same shoulder).  You’ll just need to add or subtract inches from the center of the leotard in order to go up or down a few sizes.

If going up or down more than 2 sizes, you’ll also need to add/subtract a bit of length in the shoulder straps.  Performance fabric is super stretchy though, so it’s very forgiving!  You might try laying a swimsuit that fits your little girl on top of the pattern and seeing where you need to make adjustments.

You’ll need:

*Printed copy of the free pattern (download here – make sure your printer’s set to “do not scale” or “print at 100%” before printing! Overlap short edge of each page with the next without trimming & tape together)
*1/2 – 1 yard of performance lycra or spandex blend (i.e. swimsuit fabric) My favorite source for cute prints is The Fabric Fairy!
*1.5 – 2 yards clear elastic (like this kind)
*coordinating thread

STEP 1: Cut out the paper pattern and decide whether you want to do any color blocking or stripes.  For Kira’s leotard here, I  decided I wanted two diagonal stripes (black and pink) running across the front.  I drew the stripes where I wanted them on the pattern, then cut out a center panel of the pattern piece.

I cut out the top and bottom of the leotard front out of the floral fabric, and then used the center strips I cut out from the pattern to cut black and pink strips.  NOTE: you’ll always need to add a seam allowance (I used 1 cm) where you’ll be sewing these pieces together.  For example, I added an extra 1 cm to the top and bottom of both the pink and black stripes before cutting and sewing them to each other and then to the top and bottom floral pieces.

Also cut 1 leotard back and 1 gusset out of matching or coordinating fabric.

STEP 2: Sew front and back pieces, right sides together, along the shoulders and side seams, leaving the crotch unsewn for now.

STEP 3:  Sew gusset to inside front of leotard (wrong sides together), matching up one short end of gusset with raw edge of leotard front.  Sew along this short edge and both sides of gusset (leaving the other short end loose).  Then match up the leotard back and front crotch and sew, right sides together.

STEP 4: Here comes the only tricky part! Measure your model around her shoulders and upper thigh, where you want the edge of the leotard to sit.  Keep the measuring tape taut, but not too tight.  Then cut a piece of elastic about 2 cm SHORTER than this measurement, for all 4 openings (2 arms and 2 legs).  Do the same for the neckline, for a total of 5 pieces of elastic. Be sure to not mix them up!

STEP 5: Stitch the elastic to the edge of each opening using a zig zag stitch, stretching slightly as you go so that the elastic fits the opening.  I overlap it a teensy bit where the elastic edges meet.  (This is a good time to try leotard on your model and adjust opening if necessary!)
Then fold the raw edge under to hide the elastic and topstitch close to the fold, again using a zig zag stitch.  Repeat for all openings.

**If you have trouble getting any of the openings to fit correctly, you can also try basting the elastic in place and then trying it on your little one.  After you do it a couple times you’ll get the hang of it!

Voila!  Aren’t you so proud of your mad skills??  Now go whip up 3 more and make all the little girls in your life squeal with joy! (and save yourselve oodles of dough.)

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DIY Reversible Shopper Tote

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Hey all!  I’ve got a quick, fun bag tutorial for you today.  These are seriously so easy and super addicting to make!  While I’m usually all about making clothes for me and the rugrats, bags place a close second on my list of addicting projects.  If I let myself, I could sew up more bags than a girl could ever use in a lifetime!

My aunt emailed me a while ago with pictures of a bag just like this that she bought on vacation.  She said she used it all the time and was really hoping to recreate some at home for gifts.  I was happy to help her figure it out and came up with this cute shopper tote!  They’re perfect for the library, grocery store, soccer practice, ballet class – you name it!  Plus the reversible factor just makes it that much more fun.  In fact, I think I’ll whip some up for Halloween treat bags!

I’ve already made 5 of them…the 3 not pictured were sewn up in an annoying My Little Pony fabric that my girls INSISTED I buy…I’m such a sucker! I’ve included a downloadable pattern for the adult size I’m holding here and the kid size Kira has.  My girls really loved the smaller size and I like to pack mine full of as much crap as possible.

FYI: The tutorial has LOTS of pictures…not because it’s hard but just because it’s easier that way!   Ready??  Click Read More below!

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