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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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I think those are the right descriptive words. I’m proud of myself for making quick work of the math it took to make this pattern. I may need to make a few adjustments but it worked out pretty well. And I used up some chambray remnants to achieve the look of denim without the weight. The girl had requested a jeans skirt, but one that she could play in. Since she’s quite the monkey, that meant it had to have lots of room to move in.

rounded yoke, flared circle skirt for girl

Here’s a detail of the waist which I made adjustable by putting elastic in the back and sets of snaps in the front. When she grows past the smallest snap I can cover the one that will show with a brass cap which I think will look fine. It would have been better with buttons but this machine does not make the best buttonholes and I was more interested in getting the skirt finished.

adjustable waist skirt using snaps

I take neither credit nor issue with her choice of accompanying garments and accessories. . .

flared chambray denim jeans skirt

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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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Because it’s that bad. I’m working on a pair of jeans for the boy who desperately needs pants that have no gaping holes in the knees and don’t show off his ankles. I was hoping to make it to shorts weather without buying or making new pants but this is Maine and it’s still decidedly long pants weather.

Anyhow, it is not going well. I used the pants pattern I’ve been using but I wasn’t quite sure if it had seam allowance built in or not because of course I didn’t write that info down when I drew the pattern. Tsk, tsk. So I added just a bit of seam allowance. The pants seem huge. I knew the legs were a bit wide since I’ve used the pattern mostly for pajama pants; I should have taken that into account and skipped the extra seam allowance. I’m trying a new idea for a deconstructed look that leaves some edges open to fraying. Already I can tell that I did not think that through. Grain edges do not fray nicely in twill weave, duh. I cut front pockets and the faux fly without a pattern. The fly looks fine but I wish I’d cut the pockets differently. They will work, but I should have chosen a different style to fit with the rest of the look.

It’s tough to mess with jeans styling, there is such an established American style that you have to really think the whole thing through to get something that is different in a good way. I know that the pants will be wearable, by someone, if not the boy. So I just need to take a deep breath and keep sewing, throw the things in the wash to fray and hope for the best. But I’d really rather be spinning.

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A skirt for me. Wow, it’s been a while. This skirt has a lot of features that I wouldn’t normally wear or sew for myself. First I used a conversation print – Alexander Henry‘s Starlings. I rarely wear prints at all. I also used red! as a secondary accent to highlight the red in the print and contrast with the main fabric of the skirt which is denim. I also appliqued one of the birds to the back waist, I don’t know why but hopefully it looks cute in a good way. I can’t think when was the last time I used piping and I’m sure it wasn’t on a garment for myself. I was originally going to use bias tape as the edging but went with the piping after seeing Rae’s use of piping on a child’s backpack. It really made the lines of the design stand out.

birdskirtfront birdskirtback

Other details: I’ve never cared for waistbands so that’s not new. But I don’t think I’ve ever done one like this. I cut some of the print fabric on the bias and used it to bind the top of the skirt which also helped reduce bulk since the body of the skirt is made from a hefty 12 oz. denim. The pattern is my own, rough modification of an existing six gore skirt pattern I drafted ages ago. Red topstitching. I love invisible zippers! And a resin snap for the closure. I also fused the lightweight print to white cotton to give it some bulk so it would stand up to the denim and a crisper hand to hold the pleat even when walking. That worked out very well.


I apologize for the grainy pictures, these were all taken at night and Frances (my dressmaker’s dummy) was a bit tipsy as well. And unfortunately the skirt turned out a tad big despite stopping for a fitting midway. Oh well. Maybe it will shrink in the wash. (I pre-washed the fabrics of course.)

I need to thank FW and the gals on designer-stashers for turning me on to new fabrics and for hosting a skirt sew-along which is probably the only reason I got this done! And finally, the skirt on the reluctant model, wearing some eye-brow raising 70s looking clogs scored from DH’s office. (Amazing things turn up when you are cleaning out an advertising agency. :) )
birdskirtside birdskirtfrontview

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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.

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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.

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