This faux suede/sherpa coat came to us in a bag of hand-me-downs from a friend. The shoes used to belong to the boy but were now the right size for the girl. Unfortunately Miss Picky only likes girly shoes. In an effort to get her to wear something that would be safe for running around in I decided to embellish the shoes and jacket to match with some autumn colored leaves. Since I really can’t draw I looked online for some inspiration and came up with a few pictures of leaves on branches that I could use to make my own design. I used my Tsukineko fabric inks in empty markers from Dharma Trading. These are absolutely great for someone like me who is not so handy with a paint brush. Pencil didn’t work so well on the suede so I took a deep breath and my chosen colors and worked freehand. I love the way this project turned out and the girl wears this coat every chance she gets. She even wears the shoes!
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Although I’ve been doing some sort of sewing since I was a little girl, I was afraid of quilting for a long time. Probably the idea of so much fabric and so much time gave me commitment-a-phobia. A few years ago I successfully completed a somewhat unorthodox lap quilt. That gave me the confidence to try a bigger project. The boy has always had a fascination with trains, most boys do, don’t they? Anyway, I decided that I would make a train quilt for his birthday and I started months before and managed to get myself to work on it a little at a time. (I have to pat myself on the back for this sort of major planning, totally out of my normal mode.) I found this wonderful vintage collage look train print from Robert Kaufman fabrics. Because of the large scale of the print I decided to showcase it in a large panel framed with borders rather than cut it up and piece it back together. For a long time I didn’t know what to put with it so I ended up doing something totally out of character for me. I took the train fabric to the local fabric store and asked the ladies at the counter to help me pick out border and backing material. I came home with the dark red and blue. It took me one whole evening to do all the math necessary to figure out how to cut the fabric for the borders. Another evening was spent rotary cutting all the fabric to size. A third evening accomplished machine stitching the top together. Wow, I was shocked at how fast it was going together. At this point I hit a snag. Layering the quilt sandwich turned out to be pretty difficult. I finally found a great method the day before we moved. It required pinning the fabric to the carpeting and since we were moving into a house with no carpet, I had to convince my husband that it had to be done that night. He graciously helped me pin the quilt layers together amidst the boxes. After that was done, the quilt had to wait a bit for the whole moving operation. When I got back to it I began hand quilting around the motifs in the train print. This took a number of evenings but was surprisingly pleasant to do. After that I stitched all around the borders. I couldn’t figure out what to do on the widest blue border so I left it unquilted. Hopefully that’s okay, it has survived two trips through the washing machine. I made my own bias tape and finished applying that to the edge the night before the boy’s birthday. After he went to bed I snuck in and laid the quilt over him. We woke up the next morning to surprised squealing!
Here’s a plain boy’s tee shirt turned into a one of a kind piece of wearable fun with tie dye and a fabric marker. I can’t remember how I got this idea but the boy has been very much into all kinds of animals lately and maybe we were talking about lizards? Anyway, something about the chameleon’s curly tail and the tie dye spiral made me wonder if I could combine the two. I found a chameleon coloring page online that I then juxtaposed over a tie dye shirt in Photoshop to try out my idea. It looked great so I went ahead and tie dyed several tee shirts with the center of the spiral farther down than normal. If I do it again, I’ll also need to move it a little more to the right but it worked out okay anyway. I also tried several different patterns of applying the dye colors and this is the one that I was most pleased with for this particular use. After the shirt was dyed and dried I then used my lightbox to trace the design with a fabric marker. My lightbox is one of my favorite tools for crafting and graphic design. I also found a groovy font to typeset the word “chameleon” and added that to the design. Surprisingly I found several pictures of real chameleons in that bright blue combo online! But they can’t really change color to match their background, sadly that part is a myth.
Speaking of my friend Jan, she taught me how to tie dye. We get together every so often and do a batch for fun and for gifts and sometimes to revive stained kids clothes that still have life in them. We get most of our supplies including clothing blanks and dye stuff from Dharma Trading. I tried out a new colorway here: red/tangerine/blue. I like it quite a bit. The itty bitty socks were dyed to coordinate. Aren’t they cute?
There’s a bit of a story here. My good friend Jan handles the ordering and artwork for camper clothing at our summer camp, Gander Brook Christian Camp. (My husband designed and built the website BTW, pretty sweet don’t you think?) Anyway, this is supposed to be about sewing. The last few years, Jan and I have worked together on the artwork for the tee shirts and while the colors have traditionally been gender neutral we decided to try some pink. It was a big hit year before last so we did another one this past season and I designed the typography myself and we picked out three or four colorways. Unfortunately they only come in camper/staff sizes which means 7/8 years old up to adults. Jan and I both have little girls who adored these pink camp shirts and desperately wanted one. When we were packing up the left over clothing at the end of the season I had the idea to turn a ladies size medium into a little girl dress. I lucked out in finding a long sleeve tee shirt to fit underneath that matched the color of the lettering perfectly. I turned the tee shirt inside out and went to work with the serger, love that thing. The dresses turned out quite well and our little girls were pleased as punch.
Meet Junkyard Bunny. (Trying singing that to the tune of Jukebox Hero ;-) The boy brought me this little bunny and asked me to make a super hero cape for him. It had to be brown so I used a piece of grosgrain ribbon and some hair elastic. This is a good way to make superhero capes for small figures. The elastic makes it easy for little fingers to put on and for the cape to stay put. And it’s very easy to make, you don’t even have to sew. I suppose I should post a pic of the cape itself huh? Anyway, the boy then put said bunny into the junkyard truck and Junkyard Bunny was born! Expect to see more of this character, he’s captured my imagination.
I made my own pattern for this boy’s long sleeve tee shirt based on several tee shirts from my son’s closet. I used heavy olive double knit cotton out of my stash. I layered a stripe of light blue helicopter print cotton knit across the chest. I also made a small pocket for the left sleeve which is embellished with an orange snap. The boy was quite pleased, as was I.
I’ve had my serger about a year I think and I’m really getting to know how to use it. I’ve never had any luck using a regular machine for stretch fabrics. I was initially concerned about how much I would use it but I’ve found it to be essential for working with knits and a great time saver for sewing non-stretch fabrics as well.
The girl had been asking for a pink backpack for some time, just like her brother’s. His was made a few years ago from an old pair of my jeans. I threw it together without a pattern but it lasted through two years of pre-school and it’s still his go-to bag for going on a trip. I took the time to make a pattern for the girl’s bag. This was particularly important because I was using some narrow remnants of a mod pink swirly canvas. I used a coordinating plain pink canvas for the sides and shoulder straps. I pulled the zippers and hardware out of my stash. The first backpack used hardware and webbing salvaged from a damaged-beyond-repair bag. I used the shoulder padding from the old bag for both backpacks.
Spreckle (as defined by the boy and his sister)
- those marks on your skin left by the tops of your socks or your underwear
- can also refer to the wrinkles on your fingers and toes from being in the bathtub too long
- occasionally refers to polka dots
Living in Maine, moose are a common theme. I hadn’t realized it but apparently the boy has always had a moose shirt, or at least as long as he can remember. So when he outgrew the one he had been wearing he requested a new one. As I had recently made the whale shirt, he knew that I could make him a moose shirt. EEK! He highly prefers to wear tee-shirts so I pulled out a barely worn plain ringer tee and went off to the fabric store to find the right variegated brown to match. That was pretty tough. Even tougher was cutting out that fusible web backed moose and applying it to the shirt. I vaguely knew that I ought to be using some sort of stabilizer to applique on a knit fabric but I didn’t have any so I just decided to tough it out. It looks pretty good as long as you don’t get too close! The boy likes it, and that’s what matters.
The boy started kindergarten this year. We were all excited and a little scared but he made a great transition and loves his new school. The only supply requested was a bag big enough to hold a standard pocket folder and library books. His old bag wasn’t big enough so I decided to make him a messenger bag from a pair of his dad’s old jeans. I didn’t have a lot of time so I didn’t really make a pattern but just started measuring and cutting! I did line it with a lighter weight chambray but forgot to insert the stiffener that I had planned to use. Oh well, it worked out fine. The shoulder strap is adjustable and the flap conceals one large zippered compartment. On the back I sewed one of the back pockets from the jeans. The boy found this pocket useful for bringing along little toys and action figures.
This shirt started out as 9″ wide scraps of Kona Bay faux shibori pattern cotton fabric in a lovely shade of ocean blue. I thought it was perfect for a summer dress shirt for the boy but I was limited by the size of the scraps I had. I fiddled around a bit and managed to eke out the body pieces by piecing the back of the shirt and cutting the collar and pocket from contrasting black. Rather than buttons, I applied black resin snaps to complement. I appliqued a humpback whale to the pocket and drew in the details with my favorite permanent fabric pen, Identipen.
Another little dress for the girl sewn from a half yard of ladybug fabric and some red bias taped scrounged from the depths of the sewing cabinet. Rather than create an opening in the back of the neck, I used my handy snap press to put a cute snap on each shoulder. If you do much sewing of any kind you’ve probably attempted snaps before. For a long time I only used hidden sewn in snaps because I’ve never been terribly pleased with the the hammer or pliers methods for setting snaps on clothing. Making my own cloth diaper covers forced me to explore some better methods. The first that I would recommend is the Snap Setter from the Snap Source which can be used to apply metal snaps which come in all sorts of colors including the open ring style seen on the inside legs of baby clothes. You still have to use a hammer but this does a better job that any of the application methods I’ve seen for snaps found in the local sewing shops. But better still is a hand press for applying polyacetal resin snaps. They are a bit pricey but I traded for mine and have gotten a lot of use out of it. I get all my pretty snaps from the Yahoo group NotionSupply, ably run by an American living in China. She’s just started selling a new item, snap pliers, that are getting rave reviews for light use. I’m considering getting a pair of those instead of my press which does a great job but is rather a hefty doorstop considering I only use it for personal projects now.
Usually you buy the shoes to match the outfit right? Well…in this case I had picked up a pair of white mary jane style tennis shoes on sale with the idea of decorating them in some way for the girl. I had in mind to do something with red to go with several red outfits in her wardrobe. For several years I have had an image of a graphic flower in my head but didn’t know what to do with it. It came to mind and after quite a few pencil sketches, I got out the fabric dyes (Tsukineko all-purpose) and went to work on the shoes freehand. Even though I’m a graphic designer by training, I really can’t draw so this was quite an accomplishment for me.
After I finished the shoes I realized that they were not going to look right with any of the cute red outfits she already had so then I had to make a dress to match the shoes. I drafted a simple A-line shift pattern and used fusible web and a zigzag stitch to apply the variegated red and black border on the white dress. The poppy-like flowers are set off-center. While I’ve used fusible web to applique before, this was a much more complicated process and I did go a bit crazy cutting out all the right pieces! Not pictured is the very cool elastic keyhole neck in the back. My independent girl prefers to dress herself so rather than use a button or snap closure, I made a small casing at the top of both sides of the keyhole opening and inserted elastic. When worn, the elastic does not show at all. I should have a picture of that huh?