Back to School with Bella Sunshine Designs

Oh my goodness- I made it! Made it through the end of the summer. Well not really, our schools don’t start for another 3 weeks but boy has this been the longest summer by far! Here we are winding down from all the camps and most people are looking at supply lists. I always loved back to school when I was a child because it meant that I got new pencils and folders and I just love new supplies. For us in Vermont, our school system pays for everything, even down to providing breakfast, lunch and a snack for our children- so my only joy for back to school is creating something fairly epic for my kids to wear.
This year in honor of the Back to School Blog tour being hosted by Bella Sunshine Designs, I decided I was going to tackle the beautiful Gabriella’s Winter Coat because in Vermont back to school means we need to winter gear since snow can hit as early as September and as late as May!
As you have read on my blog before, Sweet Pea has a very definite style aesthetic and often for outerwear will make requests and this year is no different. She had to have a dragon coat. So off I went to modify a really beautiful pattern to make my dragon child happy!
First things first I chose beautiful silk jacquards from my stash (well ok Sweet Pea dictated which colors) because I wanted the coat to be a statement piece and make use of some of the gorgeous fabric that had been given to me. I knew that a coat out of these materials would be lush and rich while being functional for Vermont’s long frigid winters. I went with the size 3 because Sweet Pea, while measuring a 2, will want to wear this coat over her winter gear and over multiple layers.
Next I scoured several different online tutorials, plus used a combination of other patterns to figure out the dragon wings, spike and tail. I did a mash of 5 different styles to get the shape for these wings and opted for spikes that were 2 inches wide and 3 inches in height. For the tail, I used a Dino Tail Tutorial and measured how long I wanted it to hang and began trimming it down from there. I used regular interfacing for the spikes and foam interfacing for the wings. On the tail, I created a placket to attach the tail rather than the circle and straps that the tutorial uses.
Initially I thought I would directly attach the tail and wings however one of the requirements for children here at school is that clothing cannot be distracting AND since Sweet Pea is still in a car seat, additional modifications had to be made. Enter KAM Snaps ( I purchase mine from Kimmy Snabric), I made the wings and tail able to come off so that they do not impede her sitting completely flat in the car seat.

So much snap placement, checking and rechecking the modifications. I opted for 2 snaps on each wing, checking the placement between the spikes so they would be consistent. I went with 4 snaps on the tail to allow for the width of the tail I created. For the actual coat, since the back pieces are cut on the fold, I added 1/4 inch seam allowance and cut out 1 pattern piece into 2 pieces. On the skirt I also cut that pattern piece in half and added seam allowance so the shape of the coat stayed 100%.
You can see here she is in a dragon frame of mind. While I know Sweet Pea wont go very long without the wings and tail off, I love that I can keep her car seat safe but she gets the coat she loves.
The coat pattern is spectacular. It is very easy to follow (I have never made a fully lined coat before and only got hung up in one place.) Make sure to take your time with putting in that lining is all I can say! The structure of the coat has a vintage vibe with the swing shape and double breast closure. We opted for snaps there instead of beautiful vintage buttons because this coat is all about Sweet Pea and she struggles with button closures. I feel like while the snaps are small, they still look great and work well for accomodating kiddos that need to have snaps instead of buttons. The standing collar is going to work perfectly with a winter hat that will snap under the chin (I am off to find the perfect pattern to make for this coat – if you have a suggestion for one, pop it in the comments for me and I’ll definitely credit you if you find me the perfect winter hat.)
The results are gorgeous and this was the perfect back to school make for her!

PS There is a current Back to School Special (girls patterns are $6, ladies are $7, and bundles are reduced to $12) running until Sunday. Run and get your Gabriella’s Winter Coat while you can. And while you are there check out those Sansa Flare Pants if you need a quick pair of pants with excellent fit while your at it!
If you are joining us for the last day of the tour and missed out on the other posts, catch up on them below.

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Week 29: Sew Something Stretchy AND WWD Poolside Blog Tour!

Here we are in the dog days of summer.

That period of time here in Vermont where we spend lots of time at the bowling alley or the pool to cool off since most homes here don’t have AC. It is hot and sticky and the kids are starting to get bored and actually looking forward to school even though there is still a whole month left of the summer break (who’s brilliant idea was it to give my kids soo many weeks off during the summer?)

This week’s challenge fits in perfectly for Sew Something Stretchy because the littlest one needed a swimsuit for the pool, the tween needed some lightweight shorts to wear around the pool. Enter the Poolside Blog tour that allows me to meet all these goals! 

Previously in my  Week 22 Sew a Swimsuit post, I talked about creating a Doc McStuffins swimsuit for the Sweet Pea. If you click back you can read about how I made the adjustments. For the pattern I used the Princess Powersuit from Winter Wear Designs which has the cutest options for ruffles and skirted bottom.

What I really love about Suzanne’s patterns is that they are super easy to follow. I have made several swim suits for Sweet Pea and this pattern is one of the easiest I have ever made! Look how cute that bodice shaped up to be. This pattern has the option with and without ruffles, and with or without the skirt. The trickiest part for me was the binding around the neck, but don’t be scared. The instructions are clear and thorough to help with it. Sizing is 1-14 so I get to make Sweet Pea this suit a bunch in the coming years!


After a quick fit check it was time to hit the pool.


She loves it and gets comments about how cute it is every time we are at the pool.

Now it was on to my most difficult customer. My tween is attitude all the time. He’s a big boy so he often is too big for kids clothing because of his width but is way too short for mens stuff. And at almost 11, he appears to constantly outgrow stuff. So we opted for making the Aviator Pants into a beachcomber length shorts. This is a great pattern because it is gender neutral, so this pattern will get double duty in our house since it can be used for both the Bear and Pea. Sizing goes from 1-14, and the pattern itself is easy to follow and make adjustments. Baby Bear is at the top of the size range so while it makes me sad he loves them so much but with the style I think it will be very easy to adjust it to get a couple more years out of it for him.

He asked for fun food fabric and for his shorts to have them included but there was just a bit of fabric leftover after he demanded a tank top. Originally I thought I would use the triangle blocking that is included but he didn’t like it and asked for them to be stripes. Based on our muslin he felt they were a tad wider than he wanted for the beachcomber length so we narrowed them just a tad because it was his desire.close up side

My tween is picky about the waistband construction, if you have kiddos with sensory issues sometimes the typical waistband construction can be an issue because there is a bulkiness with sewing first then folding over. I’m going to share how I do my waistband construction since my tween said he thought I should share it.

It’s quite simple, you start with the waistband folded in half lengthwise. In most regular, construction you would sew here along the short side; with this method you will fold the band in half width wise (like my 2nd photos). Serge or sew along the raw edge, you now have the continuous circle of the waistband sewed in half but with only a one seam instead of a folded over bulk seam. Flip one side of your band over and continue with your normal method of attachment.

After making the requisite changes, he finally declared they were the perfect fit and now wants them for post pool and to sleep in. Now if he could just get rid of that attitude….


Look at that attitude, lol. Toddlers and Tweens- as the temperature rises so does the attitude. Thanks for joining me on this tour, see you next time!

Pull up a lounge chair and a cold drink, and don’t miss a single stop on the Poolside Blog Tour:

Jackie Burney for Winter Wear Designs
Meriel of Elli and Nels
Diane of Sewing With D
Livia of Liviality
Patricia of Sew Far North


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Week 24: Sew Something for a Girl

Sew something for a girl, lord, I sew for a little girl ALL THE TIME! Challenge accepted. For this week, I am announcing a pattern test a new release from Sew Bratty Patterns. This diaper cover releases today and makes very cute bummies for kiddos for the summer but also work well for bigger kiddos to cover up under dresses. there are 2 different styles one that is more like a harem short (view A) and a shorter almost bloomer style (view B). These are such a super fast sew, I whipped them up start to finish in less than 20 minutes with a serger.

They have become a summer staple for us because of the fit and comfort. The pattern releases at $5.00 but is on sale from today through Friday for $3.00.

Here are some images of the View A that I made during testing.

And some of View B.

You know a pattern is a successful one when your child asks for “lots more momma”

Week 23: Sew Something with a Collar

This week is sew something with a collar, today I come to you with a tutorial on how to add a Peter Pan style collar to a knit shirt—so challenge accepted! For this shirt, I used the Sweet Pickles Tee from Pickle Toes Patterns. ******This pattern will be retiring at the end of the month and is currently $2.00.

I went with fabric from Central Tx Fabrics that I had beautiful scraps of for the collar and a lovely cushy red cotton lycra.


For this tutorial you will need a few supplies: marker, tracing paper, color pencil. So lets get started….

I began with tracing the collar line of the shirt front. I already decided based on how petite Sweet Pea was I wanted the collar to be no bigger than 2 inches. I measured the 2 inches and marked the placement around the neckline so that I could work on the shape of my collar.

Next, I decided I wanted the collar to attach at the shoulder so I sloped the collar a bit so that it would get smaller as you get to the shoulder. (I believe my next one may include a full collar). I also wanted a it of an angle for the collar shape, but you can play with the shape of the collar drawing it in with a color pencil until its the shape you want.

At this time, we need to add the seam allowance. I drew lines out from the edge of the top part of the collar piece. I decided I wanted 1/4 inch seam allowance so I measured around the pattern piece so that the seam allowance would be even. Cut your brand new pattern piece out and figure out what fabric you want for the collar piece. You will cut 2 pairs mirror image (4 pieces total). From here you will sew your collar pieces right side together and clip along the curve in the seam allowance.

Turn right side out and iron. I opted to topstitch because my material was a bit floppy (you could also interface your collar pieces however I wanted it to be soft and cuddly for this top because its what the little one wanted).

Next I basted the collar on and sewed one side of the shoulder together then opted for a binding finish and sewing the other shoulder after attaching my binding.

You could attach both shoulders and proceed with the pattern instruction from attaching the shoulders.

I feel like this turned out pretty cute, the problem is Sweet Pea wouldn’t let me get pretty modeled photos.


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Week 21: Sew Something with Neutral Colors

This week I have accepted the challenge for neutral colors. The question is what do you classify neutral colors as? I really love black and white or navy and white as a base for neutrals, I feel like stripes in general can be pulled off so many ways and for me that’s what makes it neutral.

This week I tried a brand new pattern company, Made It PatternsThe Groove Dress is a swingy flowy thing with several options. I really enjoyed sewing this pattern up and found the instructions clear and concise. This is a super great pattern that sews up quickly and looks great. I am definitely going to get the girls version for Sweet Pea once we get settled from our big move!

Week 20: Sew Something Yellow

Sooo I am not a huge fan of yellow. In this round I definitely will stretch myself to accommodate and change the challenge to say Sew Something WITH Yellow IN IT- see what I did there. I tend to use simple color palate with color choices my children like which tend to revolve around purple, green, pink and blue so throwing yellow in there really makes me work hard to figure out what to do.

I turned to a lovely pattern designer/blogger to give me some inspiration, Sew Chibi. If you have never seen her bright and beautiful designs then you should definitely check out her blog, Kataryna has an amazing eye for super bright and fun colors plus she is also a pattern designer. Her patterns reflect the fun style of kawaii that can be bright and bold or can be simplified with more subdued color palates and blocking.

For this challenge, I went with the Natsu shorties. As we go through spring, finding a good gender neutral shorts pattern can be quite complicated for both my tiny toot but also for the tween who straddles the high end of most children’s sizing, making him wide enough, yet isn’t tall enough for men’s patterns to work yet (at least not without a ton of modifications to make it work). I am happy to report that the Sew Chibi patterns have a larger size range, accommodating 2y-16 sizing.


Much like Kataryna’s personal eye for color and style, her instructions are bright and fun yet easy to follow. I love trying new techniques and while I have done cuffed shorts in wovens, this was a first for me with knit. She also inspired me to really push the envelope for me and use brighter colors and patterns.

I love the relaxed fit of these20180406_065708.jpg

Pay no mind to the cranky tween face and he wont be happy I posted him here on the blog in fit pics (but he was having a bad tween month and super cranky with me about taking photos).

But these photos display the fit perfectly. Perhaps some day he will let me take some nice photos of these shorts when he wears them, however I’ll take the fact that these are his favorite lounge shorts and he has asked for more pairs!

On to the fact that these shorts are gender neutral. The fit is just as great for my girly as it is for my big boy. And these shorts are perfect for the summer to pull on over a bathing suit or as you can see with the tiny one dressing up with heels-lol.

Week 22: Sew a Bathing Suit

Here we are one week past the halfway point and it’s time to start thinking about bathing suits since we will spend half the day several days a week enjoying our local public pool!

This post is part 1 of  2 parts that ends during the Poolside Blog Tour hosted by   Winter Wear Designs20180618_050949[1]

So Sweet Pea asked for a Doc McStuffins inspired suit and I knew the Princess Power Suit would make the cutest suit for her and would meet the additional requirement of a tutu on it. This post will focus on how I made the striped bodice insert for the Princess Power Suit to create the striped shirt effect of a Doc McStuffins suit.

Gather your supplies (for this part I am using the white and purple):


There are a couple of different ways to do this next part. I am going to walk you through how I did it (there may be a better method) and I wish I took more photos so you can really see exactly what I did step by step, but I don’t think its all that confusing. If you have a question feel free to ask. I cut 2 pieces of fabric then cut each into 2 inch strips. Then sewed the 2  inch pieces together alternating the colors when sewing so you have a striped panel. From there you can continue the pattern construction from there.


If you really want to see Sweet Pea’s suit, come back next week for the second half of this swimsuit!


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Week 19: Sew a Shirt

This week’s challenge fit handily into sewing another strike off from Kimmy Snabric also part of the Supernatural round. This time I am working with a panel also titled Family business but is on an amazing cushy bamboo lycra. 20180607_0852171.jpg

I was off to figure out what I wanted to make with it. I went with a designer I am very familiar and have had great success with her patterns, Winter Wear Designs Trendy Tank It’s a lovely body skimming top that is flowy and perfect for the Vermont summer (even though its black) because we don’t have an AC up here y’all.

I struggle with finding things for me to sew and love but I absolutely love this tank! I love the coverage on the shoulders and the v-neck as well as the high low hemline option. I did realize I need to work on getting my V better, I am sure its a practice thing but that little pucker isn’t going to bother me enough to make it worth picking the neckband apart-lol.20180607_085223[1]

Since I made this top it ends up making it into my weekly rotation, so I am assuming I probably need to make waaaaayyyyy more.

Week 18: Sew a Purse or Wallet

I love big bags! And this week’s challenge was perfect for using this amazing Supernatural Strike off I got from Kimmy Snabric. Isn’t it beautiful? It’s title is called Family business and ran on bamboo and cotton lycra as well as a luscious stretch woven, which is what I made this bag with.

I went into the challenge knowing that I wanted to sew a Blue Calla Patterns Hosta bag and even had a different fabric all cut out and partially sewn when this fabric came to me.

Why this bag? Because I had been looking for a big enough bag to carry my camera and a variety of small child gear for when we go on some of our adventures. We often had to carry a bag for the camera and a bag for the tiniest human in our house stuffed with a baby carrier, a few toys, diapers, you get the picture. I felt like this bag could be big enough to house the camera insert and fit the other needs perfectly. (I will be blogging about the camera insert later).

So off I went to cut out a whole new bag. I find the instructions for the pattern clearly written and it was quite fun constructing the bag itself. I will say that my Viking handled the layers like a champ, but since I was using faux leather, I would recommend using your Teflon foot if you have one (or placing tape on the underside of the foot you are using if you don’t) to help with preventing sticking that can happen with it.


I hated making the strap and I think for my next one I will modify the bag to have a ring toward the bottom center and do a tie strap so I can use it as a backpack too because the size is absolutely perfect!


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