I'm just a mom that sews.
Affectionately called Lala, I sew custom dresses and do lots of pattern testing and this is the space my crafty projects are going to land. I started the blog last year with a focus on the 2018 52 week sewing challenge. I ended the year with 31- 52 sewing week challenge posts completed plus 17 -blog tours, putting me just shy of posting 52 posts for the year. This year my focus will change as I am working on learning new techniques and sewing specifically for my tall, plus sized body and my husband. I want to focus on both casual and couture looks with vintage inspiration. I may post all 52 week challenge topics or I may choose to post weekly progress on my adventures in sewing tailored clothing for me, who knows but join me on my sewing adventure and lets make it sew!
If you follow the blog, you know that I sewed the Petite Pan and Racing Shorts in knit fabric earlier this week (you can findthat post here.) After talking to Sweet Pea she decided that she wanted the shorts tighter and the top attached to shirts for a fun swimsuit cover up or outfit for riding her bike.
Since this is an add on post hacking previous patterns (linked above) I’m just going to cover the change in construction.
I started with taking 3 inches off the length of the Petite Pan, though once made I realized I could have probably left the original length to provide lots of room for Sweet Pea’s longer torso.
Part of a pattern piece being measured off 3 inches to shorten it.
After shortening it appropriately, I constructed the Petite Pan the same as the instructions then added a gathering stitch to the bottom of the hemline. Next I constructed the shorts the same as the instructions. I did an 18 month sizing as Sweet Pea specifically indicated she wanted the shorts much more fitted.
Once I sewed the top to the shorts, I added elastic to the hem allowance to create the waistline.
I think it turned out pretty cute. And it turned out just like Sweet Pea imagined it would! I would, in future makes, make a size 3 shorts just to give plenty of room for playing and growing, when using double brushed polyester. But she really loves the fit and really that’s all that is important!
I am so excited to be back on a blog tour, it feels like it has been a really long time since I participated in one! I like blog tours because they keep me on my toes and trying new things. If you follow the blog, you might have seen mention of our recent cross country move from New Hampshire to the Twin Cities region of Minnesota. One of the things we did not expect was to already experience high temperatures in the 90s by the first week in June. So for this post specifically I wanted to work on a few summer staples for my Sweet Pea. She has grown almost 3 inches in the last 2 years, so at this point many of the garments I have made her are starting to get small. Plus we have the added need for creating 2 completely different wardrobes, one specifically designed with summer weight fabrics and one for fall/winter. I New England, I would usually purchase a couple of rtw t-shirts that we would tie dye and kids live in those over sized shirts for the summer with underpants because our high summer heat only lasted about 2 weeks. Here the heat has started before our school year has ended!
For this tour I am using Winter Wear Designs patterns. I will be participating twice this week as I have a very specific vision for a final creation for some really fun striped fabric for Sweet Pea. To make this vision a reality, I wanted to first sew the Petit Pan which is a free pattern. For this top I went with bamboo lycra which has incredible stretch and breathability, just perfect for high temperature days!
Petit Pan Information:
2 different collars, that can be made with woven materials (or you can choose collarless)
Sizing runs 2-7
For the second pattern, I used the Racing Shorts. Since the final look I am hoping to achieve is a vintage style “roller” romper, I will be trying to create a knit version of these shorts. I could have used the Endless summer shorts which is already designed for knit fabrics however, Sweet Pea really liked the piping detail of the racing shorts.
Racing Shorts for Girls:
Designed for woven fabrics
Loose athletic fit
For the racing shorts, Sweet Pea actually fits in between a size 6 and 7. Because of this, normally I would make her the 7 to give her plenty of play and growing room and because there is elastic in the waistband. Since I decided to make these in knit, I did go ahead and size down to the size 5. I feel like we could have sized the width smaller (and probably will for the romper since her preference is slightly more slim fit.) But I feel like the shorts came out just adorable and with the right kind of movement that knit fabric gives her.
An additional change was opting for a double elastic waistband because Sweet Pea has some sensory issues with single 1/2 inch elastics. If you would like to hack your waistband to be like ours, here are the steps to take.
For the size 5, cut the waistband at 34 x 4.25 inches
Sew the short sides of the waistband right sides together
Open the waistband and fold in half lengthwise
Cut 2 pieces of 1/2 inch elastic
Sew 3/4 inch down from the fold of the waistband, leaving a hole open for threading the elastic through, creating a casing
Perform the same step again, using your previous stitching line as a guide, sewing 3/4inch down, creating a second casing
Thread your elastic in the top casing, sew your elastic ends together, then close your casing hole
Perform the same step on casing number 2 and now you have your new waistband to attach, continue in the same method as the instructions
I love the whole look of this outfit and know that Sweet Pea will LOVE being able to run and play not just freely but also while staying cool!
Check back with me on Friday to see of my vision matches reality!
Make sure to stick with us all week long for sewing inspiration, pattern hacks, and tutorials about how to get the most out of your summer sewing!!!
We have had a really busy few months, we moved in March then had to get the kids re-established at new schools and doctor’s offices. We had to find housing and get settled (we still need to finish unpacking but the house is finally starting to look like a home again.) And in between all that, Papa Bear and I are trying to find a good working rhythm so I can sew while he works from home- often using my sewing space to work from and leaving me going back and forth or having to schedule my actual sewing days! I must say that I am looking forward to the day when he is back in the office full time so that I can have my space to work in freely.
I have managed to finally get in some pattern testing, which admittedly is still very rare (I have cut back on my sewing to focus more on working with strike offs.) One company that I am always excited to work with is Eunoia Patterns and I was really excited to not just sew the Thalia Dress but also tested the Providence bag (which will be another post.)
Thalia is the perfect summer sundress pattern and perfect for beginners with no zipper or buttons. The single layer dress has amazing twirl, add a second layer and you get both fluff and twirl!
2 Dress Lengths
bloomer pattern included
Sizes 2T – 20
Projector file with layers and both flat & on fold pieces and an optional black background.
No Trim Pages
This is a great dress for kiddos that want something lightweight and twirly. The options are endless for the types of trims and fabric and weights one can use. I really love the spring time look of this large gingham seersucker, but I also look forward to completing one in a slightly heavier fabric to wear with a turtle neck for the winter time.
The most time consuming aspect of this dress is all the gathers, since the bodice goes together rather quickly. But with the double layer skirt there is a really lovely twirl factor. The vintage length is really adorable especially paired with the bloomers but we opted for the longer length because Papa Bear prefers the longer length for more wearing time for the tiny one.
I also opted for the bias tie on this round and after seeing everyone else creating large bows from their sashes I think I might opt for it the next time I actually add a tie.
We already have a few more of these dresses planned because they check all of the boxes that make the little one the most happy when it comes to dresses. If you’re looking for a great dress to make then this is for you!
I have started off this year in a bit of a fog, both feeling relieved that 2020 has closed and 2021 has begun and feeling slightly overwhelmed by events and some known coming changes of the year. Prior to the year closing out, I had decided that I would join the #Sew365Project on Instagram. In this challenge, you commit to getting to your machine each day, presumably to sew a small project such as a quilt block. Because of my mental health and an upcoming cross country move, I had already decided to place less pressure on myself making this challenge a bit more my own. And that as long as I am working on a project, not just at my machine that I am accomplishing the spirit of the challenge. I would post all my makes at the end of the week on IG. I decided to approach it this way because some of my upcoming projects involve applique and just cutting all the pieces then mounting can be time consuming, and while I am not at my machine, I am working in my sewing space and creating.
Additionally, since I dabble in mixed media work, I figured I would include those projects as will since I often use many hours of a day working on them and often find that I can only work on this project for a few days in a row.
I have also committed myself to really work on quilting this year. I have signed up for a quilter’s swap, started a temperature a day block (I assume I will work this project weekly or at least a few days at a time, since I tend to cut then sew.) I did figure out I need to change up my colors because this first 3 weeks has been boring with colors😂
I sewed masks this month for Sweet Pea and now need to work on sewing up mask panels for the Bear. His are a bit more work because of his sensory issues and he needs wire in the nose piece. I’ll get his figured out soon and probably posted during a monthly catch up post like this one later!
As usual I will be in the 52 Week Sewing Challenge and may or may not actually post my makes in the group (I do usually forget but the plan is always to fall along and pray I don’t fall off before May.)is usually always organize your sewing space.
1 Jan 4-10 Organize Your Sewing Space
2 Jan 11-17 Sew a WIP/UFO 3 Jan 18-24 Make a pattern you already own but have never sewn 4 Jan 25-31 Sew Something for Your Feet or Head
Week 1 usually always consists of a sewing room clean up. This year I am in the middle of a move and don’t actually have a dedicated sewing space so I will enter it during the makeup thread.
Week 2 and 3 are a bit combined for me as I have both a WIP started AND have a pattern that I own that I have never made before (Sweet Pea typically does not like jogger/sweatpant style pants.) A WIP or UFO is the favored abreviations for Work In Progress or UnFinished Object. My WIP is a choice that I had cut the pattern but not the fabric as it arrived Monday. I used a couple of patterns from the Sofilantjes brand The Semper Sweater and Domi Sweatpants. These patterns will be featured in an upcoming showcase with Sew PDF Showcase. Speaking of the Sew PDF Showcase….I have a profile listed that’s new and will be working on guest blogging over there every now and then….which is very exciting!
I participated in the last Sew PDF Showcase, featuring the I Glove You pattern from Make It Last Patterns- you can find my blog post on it here! This makes a super cute gift for someone and goes together really rapidly!
I’m working on the another Sew PDF Pattern Showcase plus the Free Bingo that closes at the end of this month which will get me my week 4 entry that I am super excited about. You can find information about the 12 Freebie bingo on the Sew PDF Pattern Showcase Blog.
Sew I think I have caught you up on all my sewing…though I also have a couple of other projects that didn’t get listed because they are gifts and I’m not sure if the person reads the blog.
Here it is the beginning of another year and I made the promise to myself I would be gentle with myself this year and not feel bad about the lag of posting as I have in the past years. I always start out ready to be all in then end up giving up to manage my mental health. This year, I’m hoping since joining the Sew PDF Pattern Showcase I will be more inspired to share here!
As we start January off right, the Featured Pattern Showcase this week is the I Glove You Mitten from Make It Last Patterns. I was pretty excited to get to sew it up for my kids since I have made both the cufflet and the cufflet with phone add on as well received gifts for swapping! My littlest has low vision and so I was intrigued hoping she can hold hands walking around our property, so this would not only be a fun sew but also very functional for us living in New England!
The children picked a cotton lycra outer with a bamboo French Terry cuff and lining. Both fabrics come from Shear Madness Fabrics. The murlocs are no longer available but there are other WOW inspired prints still available, you can find those here. The digital blocks will be available for retail soon (the round just closed last week or so.)
I really enjoyed sewing this pattern. It was a very quick sew. I love it when it takes me more time to cut out the actual fabric than to sew the pattern together. Total sewing time (including cutting, sewing, and interruptions from kids) ran roughly 40 minutes.
This pattern comes in 3 sizes:
Small- child sized or small wrists
Medium- fitting an average sized wrist
Large- for larger sized wrists
Sweet Pea is very small (her wrist size is about 4.5 inches) and the Bear is starting his teen growth spurt so he actually falls between being a small adult and more average sized wrist. I opted to go with the small sized mitten but do the medium sized wrist band for him. The fit was expected for Sweet Pea, a tad large, and for Bear, which was right on the perfect size for him so he won’t get much use out of it once he has the next growth spurt. But he has asked if there is a way for me to keep the small size for her but make his whole side the medium.
I told him that since it is a cut on fold pattern, I should be able to modify it so that he has something he can use for a longer period of time with his sister. I think this is a fun couples gift and makes the perfect Valentine or accessory sew that you never knew you needed!
Otherwise known as time of year that PDF pattern companies end up offering freebies! This year I will do my usual sewing from Winter Wear Designs because there are always soo many great freebies… further down the blog you’ll find links to past freebies I have sewn from WWD.
I get incredibly excited this time of year when practical gifts come out as freebie patterns. This year, I was soo excited to see that bowl covers were on the list for WWD! We have been trying to make the transition to using more sustainable items for our home, we are really working this year to cut out plastic bags. Try as I might, breaking my tiniest one from plastic bags has been HARD. She has become compliant and happy using containers and snack bowls but we struggled with the 1 gallon size bag the most. Her favorite daily snack is popcorn and she happily pops the corn and leaves it in a bowl for me to put in the ziploc because she won’t eat it if it “goes stale” but I HATE the plastic. So I figure this might be the prefect way to wean her off of going through a box of 1 gallon bags a month!
The standard bowl we use is roughly 9 inches in diameter and was happy to see that there were multiple sizes. I really also loved the fact that there are multiple options for construction. I went with the serged version so that it would mean I could avoid a casing. I chose some vintage fabric that I have had for quite some time because it has some of her favorite colors (and I have found over time using fabrics she likes has been key to the transition of helping her make a change!)
I love the fit on both our smaller bowl AND larger one! AND amzingly enough because I picked the serged option, I spent more time measuring my bowls to know which size to pick and cutting out the fabric than actual sewing. This would be an awesome gift for anyone that works on sustainability as you could very easily batch cut and sew and have I would say be able to sew 10-15 in 30 minutes…..Guess what my kids teachers are getting, also any last minute gifting needs as I can whip up a few and just have them on hand! Also you can pair them with the Totally Tote and Produce Bags amd have a perfect gift to encourage sustainability!
She looks really happy, so lets see how long she uses it!
I recently joined the Sew PDF Pattern Showcase as an affiliate so I now get the opportunity to sew lots of small independent pattern companies. As an affiliate I will be receiving a small commission for any sales generated through the links posted.
I’m posting this late so the sale that ran for Buttons and Bibs Versitilitee no longer is running (sick kids and spouses make you loose track of time.)
I was dying to try this pattern because I wanted to use my wine fabric I had been keeping for a bit and I wanted a new lounge shirt (that will go with quarantine loungers soon hopefully.
Sizing runs 00-38+
Front Neckline options: Boatneck, Scoop and V-neck
Back Neckline options: Boatneck and V-neck
Sleeve options: Sleeveless, Short, Elbow, 3/4, long with ruching options for 3/4 and long sleeves.
Side Rouching option
Full Bust Adjustment piece included
Thoughts on pattern fit: I enjoy the overall fit of the pattern. I love that a full bust adjustment is included so that means the only alterations I needed to do right away are for my height. I added 1 inch in the shoulder and 2 at the waist since the pattern is drafted for 5ft 5. In the future, I should do a narrow shoulder adjustment as the shoulder seam sits a bit wide on my shoulders (it is not unusual for me to need to do a narrow or round shoulder adjustment.) Though with knits I typically don’t worry about it, I am pretty happy with the width of shoulder coverage. In the end this pattern will be a keeper to make more in the future for myself.
In the previous post, I mentioned that if your machine came pre-threaded and with the needle inserted into the machine it would be a good idea to to remove the needle and thread so you can learn how your particular machine needs to work through your thread guide. In this post I’ll cover what my grandma always called her rules for sewing. Then we’ll get into how to change your needle, then how to wind a bobbin and finally how to thread your machine.
There are 2 “hard rules” I was raised with when I was learning to sew. I was genuinely shocked to find this advice is not given to people today the way it was constantly reminded over my sewing learning. I think this may be a generational thing because I follow lots of sewists and I’m not sure I have seen these points mentioned a small handful of times.
DO NOT EVER TURN YOUR HAND WHEEL IN A CLOCKWISE DIRECTION, your hand wheel should always be turned toward you (in an anti-clockwise position.)You can ruin the motor of your machine if you turn the hand wheel in the wrong direction too many times.
DO NOT PULL YOUR THREAD BACKWARD OUT OF THE MACHINE. Always cut the thread above/behind the take up lever and pull through the machine if you need to retread the machine. If you pull the thread out through the top of the machine it can cause lint to lodge into the machine and eventually cause problems later.
This is one of the best images I could find for showing you all the parts of your sewing machine. ⁹
***Make sure your machine is turned off when working on the machine such as changing needles, threading and cleaning your machine.
Let’s start with inserting the needle. Your machine most likely comes with a universal needle, which will work fine while you are getting started on projects. You may even have a few extra needles thrown in there. When you go shopping for needles, it can be very confusing the first time (I’ll cover the different types of needles and projects they should be used for in the future) but if your machine came with several needles, they are usually adequate for working with a variety of different types of fabrics.
******The general rule of thumb is to change your needle every 2-3 bobbin changes OR after every project that can quickly dull a needle (thick items; like fleeces, leathers and faux leathers, all dull needles very quickly.)*****
When changing your needle you may want to remove the presser foot so it gives you more room to work with the needle placement. I usually put the presser foot down. Most machines come with a small screwdriver, you may need to use it to help loosen the needle screw the first time you work with this area. You’ll loosen the needle screw (turning the screw toward you loosens the screw and away to tighten) then insert your needle.
When inserting the needle into the machine, you’ll put the needle’s flat side of the shank to the back of the machine. Slide it up then tighten the needle screw, replace your presser foot if you removed it, and now we are ready to move on to threading and bobbin winding.
Next, we are going to load the bobbin. I have included a video link, if you’re a visual learner, it does cover both threading the machine and winding the bobbin. I like to thread my bobbin first and would have done a video using my actual machine but I found a very clear video so I’m happy to use it instead of creating my own.
You’ll put your thread through the bobbin guide, threading through the hole in the bobbin. Place the bobbin on the bobbin pin, pull your handwheel out to the right and push your bobbin (with your empty bobbin) to the right. Holding the end of your thread up you’ll press down on the presser foot until the bobbin is full, machines stop once they are fully loaded. Clip your threads, remove bobbin and make sure to push your bobbin pin and handcrank back into the sewing position. Pop your bobbin into the bobbin casing, make sure to follow the thread path indicated on the machine.
Now we are ready to thread the machine. Most machines come with a thread guide/path on the actual machine for you to follow. You will follow that path in order to correctly thread the machine, again this video clearly shows the threading of my machine, your own machine might vary slightly.
What an exciting time for you! And with the current Stay-at-home orders currently being extended in many places, sewing could be the perfect hobby to get started with. Over the years, I have had several friends purchase machines, people ask me to teach them, and just a ton of questions about how to fix, grade or correct a pattern to get a good fit. I decided it was time for me to go ahead and give a series of lessons and that the best way to do this is via my blog and Facebook page (any live feeds will be added to my YouTube channel with closed captioning with a brief post here to let everyone interested it has gone live.)
This is a project to help out friends getting started with the wonderful world of sewing. I am accomplished in the sense that I have been sewing off and on for over 30 years but really got back into sewing as a regular hobby when my youngest was born. I grew up consistently wearing handmade items from my mother and grandmother. And year after year, I was roped into gift making and crafting throughout my school days. As a young adult, I always worked, rarely giving myself time to indulge in any kind of crafting except handmade cards for people for birthdays and gift giving. Take a look at the photo archives for some of the creations, I have been wearing handmade virtually my entire life.
Once Sweet Pea was born, we realized it would be easier for me to stay home and I set about to figure out a way to enjoy being at home with her when she was napping and between therapies and appointments (one can only nap and read so many books.) Joseph happened to have a small, very cheap and basic sewing machine and I remembered basic sewing skills from all the years off and on. I set about to remember the things I forgot and that is now 6 years ago.
So now that you know my history, let’s talk about you and your new machine. Whatever machine you have purchased it’s really important to get to know your machine, what type of stitches it performs and how to maintain the machine to get the best use and life out of your machine.
Over the years I have seen are 3 different types of people when it comes to getting a new machine:
1.) People that rip into the box and pull the machine out and start fiddling with settings
2.) People that go right for the instruction manual and read it thoroughly before or after pulling out the machine
3.) People that may or may not read the manual but leave the machine in the box for months and months sometimes afraid to get started
I am a #2 person, I get excited and slightly terrified to open and begin using the machine but feel a ton better once I read the manual several times. Which kind of person are you?
Let me start with saying that if your machine comes with a manual that is your best resource when your machine begins to act up.
Let’s assume you have already read the manual and you are ready to get started playing with your machine. Many machines come with starter thread and needles (some even come pre-threaded.) If your machine comes with this set up, I would recommend taking out the thread, bobbin and needle if you are new to sewing so you can practice threading and changing the needle. The next post will cover changing the needle, threading the machine and bobbin.
Take a look at what else comes with your machine. Many machines have a storage drawer either containing a few extra items, sometimes the extra items are bagged separately.
I have a Viking Emerald 116, it is a “basic” machine- meaning it is all manually adjusted. My machine came with a removable machine extender that includes a small storage space plus some additional tools (your machine may come with some of all of these pieces plus small screw drive, small brush for getting lint out of the machine):
What kind of tools or extras came with your machine?
Our next post I will be talking about getting to know your individual machine, how to change your needle, load your bobbin and thread your machine.