boy clothes

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What started out as a blank white cotton knit baby gown eventually became a colorful sleeper with an unusual snap opening across the back. It started this summer when I decided to do some tie dye for the baby. I used my favorite colorway, seaglass, on a white baby gown from Dharma Trading.

tie dye baby gown bunting

Much later I decided that I would like to make a tie dye romper but I didn’t really have time to order a blank and it was getting rather cold to be doing tie dye. So I looked at the beautifully colored gown and thought long and hard before cutting into it. I dug out a favorite newborn sleeper with an unusual opening across the back that I remembered made it easy to change diapers—a definite factor in how often an outfit gets worn by the baby. I took a deep breath and started cutting and ripping out seams. I added some navy blue knit trim and a few snaps and eventually finished turning the gown into a romper without disturbing the existing tie dye pattern much. The matching socks and hat make for a cute outfit.

tie dye baby sleeper snaps across back tie dye romper

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I’ve managed a little sewing in the last week. I made four wool diaper covers for the baby, all side snapping wool, my favorite. I used a single layer of the thicker red boiled wool and double layer of blue merino interlock. Each of them is a bit different as I tried out some different techniques and adjusted the pattern. I found the interlock soft but difficult to work with. The army green cover was made for the girl when she was a baby and I think the fabric came from a skirt my mother had made herself. The white cover is not wool at all but PUL lined in microfleece and was made for the boy when he was a baby, before I discovered the advantages of wool. The wool covers just need to be patted down with my favorite lanolin balm from Sudz ‘n’ Dudz and they’ll be ready to go. All the cotton and hemp/cotton diapers have been pulled out of storage and sit in a bin washed and waiting.

side snap wool diaper covers

Another variation on lengthening pants for the boy. This time I cut up an old flannel shirt and gave it a bit of body and thickness with fusible fleece. The faux cuffs do not turn up. I cut off the shirt pocket and sewed it on one leg as a useful and decorative accent. He said they looked “old-fashioned” but wore them anyway. If I do this look again I think I’ll use denim or khaki backed with the flannel rather than the doubled flannel so the cuffs can actually be turned up. But hopefully he’ll get a few more months wear out of them this way. He keeps getting taller but his waist isn’t getting any bigger!

boys pants lengthened with cuffs from flannel shirt

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And because I’m obviously behind on posting what I’ve been doing so I might catch up a little faster if I just dump a bunch of pictures into one post. Not as much story but you get the idea.

This is a basket/bag (Ravelry link) knitted in the technique called mosaic knitting which I did for a KAL (knit-a-long). The boy has claimed it for his own. The technique creates a thick two color fabric without the usually gyrations required of colorwork.

mosaic knitting two color basket

I had a black tee-shirt left from the boy’s Ninja costume last year. The boy has always liked owls, but we recently watched the movie Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole which refueled the owl interest in our house. I handpainted just the eyes, top of the head, beak and a bit of shoulder to suggest an owl staring out of the darkness. I really like how this turned out.

hand-painted owl in the dark tee shirt

owl face hand-painted on black T-shirt

And another skirt for the girl, recycled out of a pair of my old corduroys. I used the fabric but I only kept the hem and side seams and carefully recycled the back pockets. There are pleats in the front and elastic in the waist. It’s in a longer length as requested. I also used some of the fabric from the pants to lengthen a favorite pair of pine green corduroy pants that still have a lot of room in the waist. No picture of that, oops! but similar to what I did to the boy’s pants here.

hand sewn brown corduroy girl skirt

back patch pocket detail on handmade corduroy girl skirt

And the reason behind all the sewing? Besides the motivation of school starting and cooler weather, I spent about a month and a half knitting a sleeveless sweater for myself that turned out . . . well, about the way I expected but I didn’t care for it at all. Sort of turned me off knitting for a bit. I’ve also been working off and on with a bench the boy and I rescued from the side of the road. One corner was in quite poor shape but the rest of it was well made with good quality hardwood so I decided it was worth some work. I’ve cut mortises and tenons, drilled holes of all sizes and mixed and shaped epoxy type filler and sanded, sanded, sanded. I’m not quite done yet but there will be a post with pictures of the transformation when it’s done, since we have about a month left to enjoy it before it gets too cold for this year.

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I’ve been working pretty hard on a rather important project for a while now. It’s more than halfway along but it will still be a few months before it’s finished. I don’t have much to show for it just yet but here’s a hint:

tie dye shirts and baby onesie

left to right: for Dad, big brother, little brother due 12/5.

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The boy is a bit picky about jeans—he prefers them soft and on the thinner side. He usually wears every other pants in his closet before jeans but this pair he didn’t seem to mind. Unfortunately he tore through the knees and they were getting short but still fit amply in the waist as is usually the case with storebought pants for him. I grabbed the leftover pieces cut off a pair of khaki pants that had already been turned into shorts. I used the already hemmed bottoms to lengthen the jeans and then used a double layer of the khakis to cut patches for the knees of the jeans. A fast fix and it turned out rather cute. The mom of one of his friends thought I had bought them that way. I’ll take that as a complement.

jeans patched and lengthened with contrast fabric

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I am so proud of the girl. She has been making a list of all her favorite people and making gifts for them. Some of her choices have been interesting but I’ve done my best to help her carry out her plans. This faux leather wallet is for one of her boy friend/heroes. Though he is nearly 6 years older, he has always been kind to her and she looks up to him like another brother.

pleather faux leather wallet with contrast stitching hand made

I was a bit dismayed when she said that she wanted to make him a wallet but after a bit of thought I pulled out this remnant of black vinyl. She sat on my lap at the sewing machine and chose one of his favorite colors, red, for the thread. We then turned the dials of my simple machine through the different stitch patterns and sewed parallel lines of red stitching against the black. I folded the rectangle wrong side out and sewed; her eyes danced as we turned it right side back out revealing the simple pouch shape. She chose a matching red resin snap to close the wallet.

hand sewn pleather vinyl snap wallet pouch

It didn’t photograph so well, and it’s a bit on the bold side, but I think he will actually like it. She seemed matter-of-factly pleased with the finished project and immediately wrapped it and wrote the label. I had to retrieve it after she went to bed and carefully unwrap it to photograph it!

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I can’t stand to waste anything, especially a favorite piece of clothing. Here are two cases where I have quickly transformed something old into something “new”.

First rescue:

two tee shirts ready for refashioning tee shirt refashion in progress

finished tee shirt refashion layered look

I took a favorite tee shirt of the boy’s and winterized it by cutting up an old long sleeve tee shirt of mine in a coordinating color. I cut the sleeves and a few inches of the hem off the long sleeve tee shirt and sewed them onto the boy’s tee shirt with contrast thread using a double needle on the regular sewing machine. The double needle creates a stretchy seam that works well with the knit fabric and contrast thread adds to the purposeful look of the additions. And in this case, I still have enough of the second tee shirt left to make something else.

Second rescue:

yoga pants embellished with hand stitched felt flowers to cover hole in knee detail of purchased felt flowers handstitched to cover darned hole

These were some cute hand-me-down pants that actually fit the girl’s long legs. Unfortunately they had a hole in the knee. She doesn’t care much for pants but since she liked these I decided it was worth a little work to make them more presentable. On an impulse, I purchased a package of pressed felt flowers. After darning the hole in the knee I hand stitched one flower over the hole. I then added some more flowers to the ankle of the other pants leg for visual balance.

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hair that is.

The boy has been in need of a haircut for several weeks. This is never an easy task. But he said he wanted his hair cut like the character Sosuké in the animated movie, Ponyo, from one of our favorite directors, Hayao Miyazaki.

Sosuke, little Japanese boy from movie Ponyo

So I hoped that we might have an easier time cutting it. Eh, not so much. But it turned out okay, may have to go back and put a few layers in the top but it’s cute, a traditional Japanese schoolboy haircut. (Or at least what I remember from when I was a kid.) With his light hair and blue eyes, very few people would guess the boy is 1/4 quarter Japanese. He’s happy with it and those friends who have seen the movie instantly recognized the haircut.

Before, during and after:
IMG_7774 IMG_7777 IMG_7782_2



Please excuse the over-abundance of photos and text but I’m pretty proud of this project and I want to show you all the details. First I have to admit that this is a long neglected Work-In-Progress. I actually cut out most of the fabric for these outfits LAST YEAR! Generally you can’t get away with that when making clothes for kids but luckily my kids have mostly grown taller and not all that wider. I did make a few changes. The dress got an extra ruffle for length and I changed the bodice shape completely. I had originally cut out a button up shirt out of the fish fabric for the boy and then decided not to sew it as it is miserable, nigh on impossible, to get him to wear a dress shirt. So instead I opted to let him wear a polo (only slightly less miserable) with shorts sewn out of the brown plaid from Michael Miller and embellished with the fish and seahorse fabrics from Heather Ross’s Mendocino collection for Free Spirit ’08.

The Dress:
little girl's summer dress Heather Ross Mendocino fish seahorses plaid

Teeny pocket bound with bias binding cut by hand:
Heather Ross Mendocino pacific fish pocket on seahorse little girl dress

Piped double ruffle:
piped double ruffle on girl's dress schoolgirl plaid

schoolgirl brown plaid Heather Ross Mendocino fish seahorse toddler girl summer dress

Ruffled cap sleeve and covered button with elastic loop placket:
ruffled cap sleeve covered button elastic loop placket little girl dress

The dress is my own pattern. It is fully lined with the bottom ruffle attached to the lining. The cap sleeves were made by folding a long marquise shape in half and gathering the cut edges into the upper armhole which is deep enough to allow wearing over a close fitting long sleeved shirt. The elastic loop that holds the placket shut was made from a color matched hair elastic—one of my favorite tricks—easy to sew and usually makes the dress “I do it” friendly. Except for the little pocket on the front the dress could easily be worn with the placket in the front. The dress could also be made reversible as the manner of construction makes the inside as neatly finished as the outside.

Now for the shorts:
boys shorts sewn with Michael Miller brown and aqua plaid Heather Ross Mendocino fish seahorse pockets

Pocket detail:
cargo pocket on boy's shorts Heather Ross Mendocino pacific

I used a commercial pattern for the brown plaid shorts and added flap topped cargo pockets made from the Mendocino prints and trimmed with the bias cut plaid. The placement looks low on the hanger but seems fine when worn with an untucked shirt.

The boy and the girl intent on a new Leapster game.
brother and sister matching Easter outfits orange brown aqua

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I’ve got so many things I want to post I’m afraid the order is going to get mixed up here but oh well. I had the idea to make the boy and his Granddad matching lounge pants/pajama bottoms last year but didn’t think of it until it was too late. This year I was prepared and found some perfect flannel at eQuilter, a scattering of comic book sound effects on a powder blue background.

Comic Kaboom flannel from Fabri-Quilt drawstring waist flannel lounge pants

I used a simple version of the boy’s regular pants pattern and a commercial pattern for the men’s size (as usual I was reminded why I don’t use commercial patterns, sizing was very strange, glad I went by instinct and not by recommended sizing). For the waist I made a casing of black hemp jersey cinched with a black twill tape and a bullet shaped cordlock. I really liked this waist finish and I think I’ll be using it again for pajama bottoms and maybe shorts. I used a little sew-in stabilizer to make a back patch pocket out of the same black hemp jersey. Granddad’s pocket was embellished with the selvedge clearly imprinted with the words, “not for use in children’s sleepwear”. My little joke for the kid in Granddad but I forgot to take a picture.

And in keeping with my usual unfortunate habit of waiting until the last minute, these were finished the night before we left to go see my husband’s parents. We decided that they needed to open these the night before Christmas. What a hilarious treat to see the looks on their faces!

matching flannel boy pajamas lounge pants


Or something like that. I have apparently lost the boy’s basic pants pattern, waaah. I looked high and low for it and finally gave up and drew up a new one, mostly based off the most recently finished pair. I was planning special Christmas pajamas but I needed to test the pattern before I cut into my nice new flannel. I decided to use this great moss green brushed twill and accent it somehow. But I didn’t have time to deal with pockets and patches and a bunch of topstitching, etc. so I decided for some reason that tuxedo stripes a.k.a. windpant stripes down the sides would be less trouble. You’re laughing at me right?

tuxedo stripe or windpant stripe on little boy's hand sewn pants

Guess what! I found a great way to apply these stripes using a variation of my flat-felled seam variation. You know that doubled over and double topstitched seam on your jeans? That one, except I have my own way of doing it on a home sewing machine. I probably owe you all a tutorial on that too.

Anyway, I applied these stripes in a similar manner which requires very little pinning and relies almost entirely on your sewing machine and iron to make the straight lines. Much better than appliqué turning those little stripes and then pinning and stitching them down perfectly.

close-up of tuxedo stripes on boy's pants

But of course what really matters is that the boy liked them immediately despite the lack of pockets. He even told me that he likes the pants I make him better than his other pants. Words to melt my heart. Of course I know it’s really about that soft brushed twill I use.

PS. These pants were made before Christmas. I have lots of stuff to post but I’ve been working hard at reorganizing the kids’ room. The boy has been very excited about this but the girl has been none too pleased. Such is life. You win some, you lose some, and perhaps eventually I’ll be caught up and everything will be put away.

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Birthday sewing

side panel boy pants side panel boy pants with trimmed pocket

After eight days the fever finally petered out. We had to reschedule the boy’s party but we did have cake and presents after turkey dinner. I didn’t get nearly as much done as I had hoped but I did manage these pants. Based on the same basic pattern as these brown pants and using the same soft brushed twill in grey and river blue. The deep pockets built into the full length side panels received the ultimate praise from the boy – “awesome”.

I also found this neat composition book with pages that are half blank and half lined. I sewed a cover for it with a pencil pocket and used a fabric marker to personalize it. Still a bit plain but already in use. Maybe I’ll suggest he doodle on the cover with fabric markers.

composition book with half blank and half lined pages

journal cover with pencil pocket

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snow on a jack-o-lantern

It was snowing this morning. Rather soggy snow, but snow all the same. It won’t stick around but it is making us thinking seriously about shaking down the rest of those leaves so we can get them raked up off the lawn. Bushes need to be wrapped, outdoor lights need to be checked, basement windows sealed . . . pumpkins disposed of.

I finished this hat for the boy a week or two ago and he’s been wearing it every day but he hasn’t let me take a picture of it on his head. Finally he relented this morning. It must have been the promise of snow.

knitted colorwork name hat

Knit without a pattern, I used the Merino/Corrie handspun/handdyed fingering weight yarn in a color I call stormy autumn blue. The name was knit into the hat using a little Corriedale that I spun, Navajo plied and dyed pumpkin color with Kool-Aid. It’s a handsome color combination and just right for the boy. I used a provisional cast-on so that I would be able to pick up the live stitches after I was done knitting the band making it self-lined under the colorwork. I got the idea from someone else’s blog of a very different looking reenactment hat which I can’t find to link to now, sorry about that. I found the letters here but stretched them taller to fit my gauge.

knitted colorwork letters

I scattered the decreases rather than have obvious lines and that worked pretty well. You can see them if you look for them but they hide in the variegated color of the yarn pretty well. I blocked the hat on my own head for about two hours and then left it to dry overnight over a bowl. This worked out really well but I wish I had one of those styrofoam wig holders to block hats on. Gets kind of hot wearing wet wool indoors!

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Boy clothes are harder than girl clothes. Boys’ styles are simpler and the basic lines need to be good looking because they won’t be covered up with a lot of ruffles or eye-catching prints. It can also be a challenge to make something that’s a little different but not too cutesy. Thankfully these new pants met with the boy’s approval despite his reluctance to be photographed.


I have tons of this great brushed twill in several neutral colors. I paired this cinnamon brown with a bit of home dec weight woven stripes in soft blues/greens/browns. I cut the striped fabric into knee patches, back patch pockets and belt loops. I used elastic in the waist and stitched a faux fly. I also used the twin needle to topstitch most of the seams. I need to make a few adjustments to the pattern but these fit well enough. The boy tested out the knee patches right away. Good thing I got them in the right place!


slashed knees in jeans

Above is the all too familiar before photo. Usually jeans that look like this get hemmed into shorts. But my friend Jan’s son and my boy share a common problem, long legs for their waist size. Both boys have been destroying the knees of their pants as well as growing out of the length, even on slim sizes, when most of the pants are still in great shape and the next size up is too big in the waist anyway. Jan brought me these jeans along with an idea—cut out the knee section and replace it with a longer piece of denim, thereby solving two problems at the same time. It was a good idea but the biggest problem I faced was keeping the number of layers of denim down to a thickness my home sewing machines could manage. I also somehow couldn’t get around the idea that the patches would look weird going all the way around the leg. So I came up with this arrangement, reusing the lower legs off a contrasting colored pair of jeans, and cutting the seams on a bit of a diagonal. I think it worked out okay. The topstitching was necessary for strength but very difficult and would be impossible on a smaller size. I’m not sure I would do it exactly like this again. For love yes, but not for money!

diagonal inserted contrasting jeans patches

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