girl clothes

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Leopard kitty

Several weeks ago I gave the kids a deadline for deciding what they wanted to dress up as for Halloween. The girl had her mind firmly set on dressing up as a leopard. I bought the leopard print fabric at the local fabric store. It’s synthetic but fairly soft and heavy so I thought it would be warm, especially if I lined it which I did, using hemp/cotton fleece for comfort. I made pants from her regular pants pattern, slightly flared. The pattern for the hooded top was cobbled together using her long sleeve shirt pattern and a comparison of the hoods of two jackets. The tail snaps on to the bottom of the jacket. Placing the pattern pieces on the fabric was rather tricky as there were darker and lighter bands running with the grain and I had to deal with matching those up and deciding how they would go together. I used most of 1.5 yards without much waste. A cool clear separating zipper makes the top into a jacket that she can wear this fall and in the spring. The hood turned out rather large despite the fact that I cut the pattern pieces down from my original tracings before cutting the fabric. Oh well, now I know.
For some reason this is the only picture I have of the girl from the pumpkin party we went to at the home of a classmate of the boy’s. Hopefully we’ll get some better pictures at Halloween. I may do a few more things, maybe some mittens with paw pads?

child's leopard costume

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I dyed a cotton velour dress to replace the girl’s favorite pajamas that have just gotten too small. The old pajamas were scrunch dyed in shades of lavender with the same dragonfly in purple.

lavender scrunch dyed pajamas with purple dragonfly

I added the sage green to the shades of lavender and then stamped the dragonfly in a bottle green color. She had this same pettably soft velour dress from Dharma Trading in a yellow-orange colorway that wore incredibly well. I hope this dress will last her a good long while, maybe as a tunic with leggings when she gets taller. I wish they made this dress in my size.

lavender/purple/green tie dye cotton velour dress with dragonfly stamp

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I think I had to go out at least once every day last week, no picnic for a hermit like me. But I made it through the “princess” a.k.a. Royal Banquet on the Greene birthday party yesterday. It was a little chilly but sunny. The girl and her brother and six little friends enjoyed croquet and crafting bejeweled felt crowns as well as munchies, chocolate cake and pink lemonade. The girl has been planning this party for months. She’s quite opinionated but I figure she’s only 4 once so I would try to accommodate. I think everyone had a good time. Even the boys. The stage was set with a borrowed canopy, an old jewel toned backdrop of a court jester, and a fabric draped throne.

Here she is, the princess holding court, in the dress I made from two colors of stretch pink velveteen I bought months ago from I ended up making my own pattern but the fabric turned out to be quite easy to sew once I finally started.

"princess" dress for a four year old, my own pattern

Her brother, wearing the felt crown he decorated for himself and choosing his croquet mallet with care. He takes this game very seriously.

boy wearing felt crown with stick on jewels

The cake. Three tiers of fluffy German chocolate cake baked in borrowed heart shaped pans. Too late I realized that I had never made any other frosting than chocolate! I am not much of a baker. So I just picked a recipe out of the Betty Crocker cookbook which I had to retrieve from a box in the basement despite the fact it’s been a year since we moved in. Pink frosting did not behave as I was used to! But it tasted fine.

three layer heart shaped pink icing chocolate cake with strawberries and blueberries

Face painting by my friend Jan. This was quite popular with the boys and the girls.

face painting at birthday party

Our sweet little neighbor.

toddler in ruffly skirt holding a pink crown

Opening presents. In the background is the banner I designed for a fund-raising party with a royal theme quite a few years ago. Thankfully I did not have to sew these 5′ x 8′ monsters myself. All I did was cut and iron on the gold lamé appliques which was quite a job in and of itself. There were actually several of them made and I kept them afterwards knowing that eventually another occasion for their use would present itself. Voila, a princess birthday party.

princess birthday party with jester banner in background

I’m pleased that by borrowing a few things, reusing things we already had and making the refreshments myself, I was able to create the royal party my daughter wanted without spending much actual cash. However, I may have to hire a maid to help me clean up the mess I made!

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I offered to barter my tie dye for knitting needles on a Ravelry forum and a kind knitter responded with an offer of her extra needles in a great selection of different sizes (all small sizes) and materials. Clockwise from top: two sets of long metal dpns, faux tortoise shell casein (milk protein), bamboo, nearly clear nylon circulars and birch in the middle. This will be great for trying out the feel of different needles with different yarns!

assortment of narrow gauge double pointed knitting needles dpns

And in return I sent several tie dye outfits for her granddaughter. One long sleeve onesie stamped with little flowers, a sleeveless romper with hand colored butterflies and a skirted onesie with a watermelon green stripe. I sewed the gathered skirt on before I dyed the onesie. I think it turned out pretty cute and it wasn’t hard to do thanks to the serger.

pink tie dye baby outfits with socks embellished with rubber stamps

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So I’ve got to buy some new batteries before I can take any pictures but I’ll let you know what I’ve been up to anyway.

  • WIP: A little knitting with some of my own handspun!
  • My first Etsy listing: two sister skirts for a friend’s daughters, this is going to turn into three, one for the mom as well.
  • A skirt for me out of a really soft rayon jacquard woven scarf, from Nepal I think. I never wore it as a scarf so I decided it needed a new home or a new incarnation. Definitely more wearable as a skirt.
  • A trial pair of knit shorts for me to test a new Mom skort pattern I am working on. Needs a little more tweaking but will work for pajamas.
  • More Sculpey projects than you want to know about or I want to remember.
  • A little amigurumi nutkin combining crochet and knitting made from my own hand-spindled yarn. Appropriate since “ami” in Japanese can actually refer to either skill even though the compound word, amigurumi, has generally come to mean cute animals or objects made with single crochet in the round.

In other news, the girl is finally interested in learning to spell her name. I dropped the garden snips point down into my foot, earning myself a tetanus shot and a round of antibiotics. Next time I’ll wear different shoes.

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    I’ve been in a bit of a funk about sewing lately. Not sure why. I have a list of projects and no motivation to do them. Part of it is undoubtedly due to my new passion for spinning and knitting and the unseasonably cool weather. So I finally kicked myself into doing something last night just to get back into it.

    floral and brown skirt for little girl

    I made this little skirt for the girl out of remnants. I wish I could remember who the designer is of the flower print. There was only a bit of the floral and even less of the almost solid brown I used for the coordinate so I had to get pretty creative with the cutting. It worked out well I think. I added a little dimensional flower cut out of the very last scraps. I stitched the shape on the machine, slit the back open, turned and stuffed it with a bit of cotton batting and then stitched the hole closed, layered the flower center on and stitched through to the waistband. I don’t normally do much ornamentation but this seemed appropriate and was actually really easy to do.

    puffy dimensional flower trim for little girl skirt

    And it doesn’t really show in the pictures but the floral tier is slightly wider than the waist tier so I had to gather the floral panel and pin it to the bottom of the waist tier. Not one of my favorite sewing tasks. But I think it was worth it as the skirt has a nice twirl factor without being too bulky at the waist. The girl even let me take her picture wearing it. I’ll count that as a success. And yes, now I feel like sewing again.

    hand sewn little girl skirt

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    first handknitted spiral socks

    Actually they’ve been done for a while but this is the best picture I’ve been able to get since the girl appropriated them. She wears them constantly but has been rather coy about allowing me to take a picture. And they look positively silly without feet in them. The pattern is free from from Vintage Purls. I did make a number of modifications (see my project notes on Ravelry if you are really interested in making this sock for children) for size and just because I can’t follow directions to the letter even if I’m doing something for the first time. It’s a disease I’m sure.

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    Here’s the girl. She dressed herself in an old dress I refashioned for her out of one of my old tee shirts. Then she donned a play silk cape with my help. Nothing out of the ordinary there. But then she took the cut-off sock tops I made her when she asked for “arm sleeves” and put them on her legs. That got the camera out. Isn’t she hilarious?


    ruffled skirtAnother skirt for the girl . . . again made from those 9″ wide remnants. This is a beautiful butterfly print several years old from Mary Hopkins by Kona Bay.

    I used the ruffle foot on the serger to gather and attach the ruffle at the same time! Now I know there are plenty of people who think this is old hat but for those of just getting into using our sergers, this is really cool. This makes it so easy to do ruffles. No pinning, hardly any fussing. Just have to remember to hem the ruffle before applying and write down the tension settings. I’m going to start pinning those up on my idea board. I’ll take a picture of that soon, when there’s a little more on it!

    Also, I figured out that a wooden clamp style pants hanger works great for holding up the kids’ elastic waist skirts and pants to take pictures. Now I just need to work on my photography skills.

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    It’s far worse than I thought. It took me all of three minutes to fill an index card with all the projects that I want to do in the immediate future! 22 in all. This does not include projects that are on the back burner, ack.

    On a good note, 14 of them are things I’ve never done or are largely new ideas. A few of them are tutorials I want to do and at least half of them are for the girl. Oops.

    I don’t feel too bad though because I’ve been making a lot of things for the boy lately. He needed them. Today I finished a pair of navy twill pants, start to finish. Yay me! Hopefully they are long enough. He seems to be growing an inch every month lately.

    Boy’s pants are a pain. And I didn’t even put a zipper in. Elastic waist with fake fly. Two patch pockets and twin needle topstitching. Why do boy’s pants take more time than girl’s pants? Because the fabric is so plain you have to give it some detail in the design of the pattern or pockets, seams, etc. I did try out a new way to do the patch pockets which I liked and will do a better job with next time. Maybe that will become a tutorial as well. I don’t think I’ve seen this method anywhere.

    boy's navy twill pants

    boy's navy twill pants

    boy's navy twill pants pocket detail

    boy's navy twill pants pocket detail

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    Cute cow shirts

    orange tee shirt with hand drawn cartoon cow appliquethe girl in red shirt with cow appliqueThe boy got this very nice orange long sleeve tee shirt for Christmas. He did not want to wear it because it didn’t have an animal on it. So I asked him what animal he wanted on it and we went google image searching for cows. It turned out that he wanted a cute cartoon style cow. So after looking at several, I ended up drawing this cutesy (not my choice) cow for his approval. He also requested that I make one for the sister. I hunted up one of his old tee shirts to use for her. I used my lightbox to transfer the cow design to fusible web backed white cotton knit. I then colored the images with the boy’s help using my Tsukineko fabric inks. The boy’s cow has orange nose and inner ears and girl’s cow has pink nose and ears.

    I attached them to the tee shirts with a straight stitch and then finished the edge with a simple zigzag stitch. Simple, ha ha! For whatever reason, the stabilizer method I had used previously to sew on a knit applique did not work well at all. So that would be why there are no close-ups of the cow! And that would also be why it took more than a week to finish these. But they look cute on, especially with braided pigtails. :)

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    The girl has been mad about giraffes lately so I had to get this unusual Alexander Henry giraffe print when I saw it at the local fabric shop. There’s nothing cute about it, until you put it on the girl! I used the same A-line shift pattern but changed the shoulder seam to accommodate ribbons instead and added pockets to the side seams. I also made it a little bigger, maybe a little too much but then again she should be able to wear it in the summer without a shirt under. I had intended to use wide grosgrain ribbon for the shoulder ties but what I couldn’t find a good color match so I ended up making the ties from the lining fabric. For some reason I cut them on the bias. I really cannot tell you why. Now they are easy to tie and drape beatifully but they also do not hold a knot well no matter how hard I pull. So . . . I may have to sew the bows shut. The mock-neck shirt I made up on the serger from a rayon ponté knit bought for another project that never got used. I’m getting better at this serger thing! I also made matching wide bottom pants. The girl was not inclined to wear the pants the day I took the picture but she has since. It’s scary how mod she looks in the brown top and pants and her brown suede boots. I think she wore this dress about four times the first week.

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    I sewed a few little skirts as Christmas presents for my niece and the girl was a bit sad to see them go so of course I had to make something for her too. Since I have so much fabric, I have been trying hard to use what I have and not buy anything new. So this skirt was made from nine inch wide remnants. I actually watched the DVD that came with my serger to figure out how to make the doubled ruffle. Pretty nifty. I used some hempcel for the ivory trim and lining. For the waist I used some buttonhole elastic to make the waist adjustable. It was pretty simple to sew it in a continuous loop with the excess coming out the back seam in the lining. If the skirt gets too short I can always add a longer ruffle to the lining to add length. I liked how this came out and plan to make a few more, with variations of course. No pattern, it’s just two tubes of fabric about 1.5x the waist, sew the ruffle on the bottom of the outer fabric. Sew the two tubes together right sides together round the top. Turn and topstitch the edge and then again down about an inch or however wide your elastic is. Don’t forget to leave the side or back seam open where you want to insert the elastic.

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    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.

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    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?

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