Saturday, December 14, 2013

Nativity Set for Toddlers

I had so much fun this week making this Nativity toy for Elena. I am so practical sometimes and get so happy about making useful things that are both fun and educational and that fulfill a blog assignment for myself. I think this still qualifies for Katy of No Big Dill's Sew All 26 Challenge.

Last year my mom gave me a pattern for a barn bag with farm animals. It is Butterick 4026 but I can't find it on their website now. Not even in the out of print section so I apologize for that. I modified the decorations on the bag to look more like a stable and I changed the horse into a funny looking camel. The animals for this pattern have a lot of little pieces, but they turned out so darn cute I am not complaining at all.

Can that sheep be any cuter?

The two little girls I babysit really loved it too. Then it dawned on me that the sherpa part is cut from their old Bundle Me car seat cover that had a broken zipper. So I will surprise them this week with one for each of them to take home.

The original pattern didn't make any people but I had planned on making  basic stuffed Jesus, Mary and Joseph characters. After the animals came out so cute, I felt like my simple vision needed an upgrade. You can't have the animals outshining the main characters afterall.

So I dressed up our mom, dad and baby from our doll house. The robes are no-sew. I cut rectangles long enough to cover front and back and cut a slit for the head to go through. Tied it up with a ribbon and it looked pretty good. The head coverings took a little more thought. I made rectangles and folded them in half right sides in and sewed an arc across one narrow end to form a hoody. They looked good but didn't stay on at all so I stretched a piece of elastic and sewed it onto the hoody at about the neck area. It snugs it in enough to keep it on a little. Not a chance of staying on when being played with, but it looks good when they're just standing there. They pose so much better than Elena does. Jesus got some felt swaddling clothes that can slip on and off.

This kind of project is one of my favorites. I like when there is a pattern to start with but then I get to be creative and figure things out. It also cost nothing. Everything single thing I used came from something I got for nothing. My mom is largely to thank. She has a knack for finding great things on the curb, at garage sales, the thrift store, etc.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Toddler Infinity Scarf


I checked a Love of Crochet magazine out of the library, and set out to try some new things. First up, was the Winter Skies Cowl. I made this scarf for Elena, mostly because that's how much of this leftover yarn I only had. A happy accident. I only had enough to do the first 5 rounds, but it wraps around her skinny neck 3 times and looks great with her fleece jacket which was all she needed on a nice 50+  degree day in December. I love it. She looks quite stylish for a slightly ill 2 year old out for a hike at the duck pond and nature center.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Messenger Bag


I am still sewing my way through the alphabet with Katy of No Big Dill. When my high school sophomore daughter said she needed a new bag for school and she wanted it to have a long, wide strap and a flap like her old one, I said, "Sounds like a messenger bag." How convenient, huh? Just in time for "M" week. After all, I am incredibly practical, so I love it when things happen like this. Actually, it happened two weeks ago, but close enough.

She chose the fabrics herself at Joann's. The outer fabric is a very heavy woven with some sort of  felt-like backing - an upholstery fabric I presume. The lining is quilting cotton. She is a wonderful artist and has a great eye for color and pattern. I could, and should, post some of her artwork some day. Really talented. We also used a stiff interfacing for the flap and body of the bag to help it keep it's shape.

The pattern is a free one we found at mmmcrafts. It went together very easily. We worked as a team so we had it done in just about 2 hours. She can sew, but is pretty slow and we were trying to get it done while Elena napped so she was happy to press things and trim seams, etc while I sewed.

The back has one large pocket and the inside has a large one split into two. It has worked out really well for her for school. She doesn't need a large bag. She just wanted something to carry her planner, phone, a personal book, pens, calculator, and some personal items.

She has received many compliments and so now I'm thinking that we have a good gift idea for a couple of her friends for Christmas. And maybe if we leave enough time, she can do some of the sewing herself.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

L is for Lace Refashion

I am sewing along with Katy of No Big Dill and her Sew All 26 Series. The thing I like about this is that it helps me narrow down the choices. When given all the possibilities, I can get overwhelmed and not know how to decide. But when given a parameter, like it has to start with L, then I can make up my mind much easier. "L" was an easy one.

L is for Lace Refashion


My wonderful parents have been married for 51 years. My mom gave me her wedding dress a couple of years ago in hopes that I would make use of it. It wasn't doing anyone any good sitting in a box in the closet. I gingerly cut one row of lace off the bottom and put it away for a while. This week I really went at it, and removed all of the lace and the 5 rosettes.

I was so happy to make some very special t-shirts for my girls, but they were not happy to pose for me. Ugh. Really took the wind out of my sails. They like the shirts very well, just not the camera.

So Elena got a cream colored tee with a button placket in the back and a pleated peplum. It is made from a nice soft interlock and is very comfy. She's wearing it here with skinny jeans and boots, but I also see it with ruched leggings I already made from the same fabric for another outfit in September. An all-off white look for the holidays. I also sewed one of the rosettes to a clip and she would not wear it or even hold it. Geez. So not fun.

She would not take any pictures today.


Olivia is 15. A wonderful young lady in so many ways, but not in front of a camera. Her shirt is made from an olive green sweater knit from Joann's. Ridiculously soft. I basted the pieces together, she put it on, and then we had fun experimenting with how to add the lace to hers and how to cut the neckline. That part was fun. There was laughter and silliness. Some of the options were downright Puritan and others were quite Army chic. A thin band turned out to be the only option. She really likes it and will actually wear it, I think. I hope. At least to Nana's house once, please, and with a smile.

And since those pictures stink, I had to resort to these:

And even those aren't good. Oh well. I really tried, Mom. I hope you like what I've done with your dress so far.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

K is for Knickers

     I'm Sewing All 26 with Katy of No Big Dill again this week. K is for knickers.
     Hey Mr. Knickerbocker, boppity bop. I like the way that you boppity bop. I can't get Barney out of my head this week. Sewing knickers made me think of that song and then I was working with a lot of purple to make matters worse, but I LOVE this outfit!


There was no better place than a castle to take pictures of such a regal outfit.

     Elena is very into Shrek lately and talks all the time about the castle and the dragon and the princess in the highest room of the tallest tower. So I told her there was a castle near where we live and she was of course very excited. She was just sure that there would be a dragon there. She's only 2 and a few months so I didn't ruin that for her yet. I told her the dragon was sleeping and we'd better be quiet and not wake her. It's a girl dragon you know.

     The knickers are a combination of a McCall's pattern for below the knee capri's with a zip fly and buttoning bands at the bottom. I don't trust the sizing on those kinds of patterns so I made a really quick muslin and was glad I did. Elena is tall (90th percentile) but they still came almost to her ankles. I took the features I liked (baggier fit, vertically split front piece and front yoke) and melded them with the famously good Kid Pants from Danamadeit to get the flat front elastic back look. I changed the bands to not button just because I'm a little lazy and mostly very busy all the time. I love them baggie because they fit her cloth diaper really well.

     The fabric was a thrifted skirt and the piping is from a thrifted blouse. Practically free. I always forget to take before pictures. It was very librarian chic.


     The jacket is the Zermatt Bow Swing Coat from see kate sew patterns. It was part of the Fall 2013 Sew Fab Bundle and I don't know if it's still available. So cute. So fast. So easy. What
 a pleasure. From printing to finish was 1-1/2 hours with interruptions to write a note to my son's teacher, make breakfast for Elena, and start some laundry. Can't thank Kate enough for making it so easy and adorable. The awesome blackberry colored anti-pill fleece is from Joann's.


     The hat is something I crocheted last winter. I had no pattern and I have a bad memory so I can't really remember how I did it. I think I just kept increasing and increasing rather extremely and then had to do a lot of reducing at some point. I love the king's crown effect. Reminds me of the old Imperial Margarine commercials when I was a kid. Dating myself again I'm sure.




     Elena says it's pretty cold out here so let's come back for a picnic in the spring. I agree.

Side note: I am so frustrated with Blogger. It will not let me resize the photos after the first 2. I hear it's a bug. Anyone have any info or know a solution? I want to see these pics bigger. waaaaaa.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Training Pants Free Pattern

     I had some time to figure out how to scan my pattern pieces and make it accessible for you all. Remember, this is a 2T and you'll have to adjust if you need bigger or smaller. Make sure to print with no scaling. There are 3 pages total. Let me know how it goes or upload photos to my Flickr group.

Workpraysew Training Pants Free PDF Pattern in size 2T

Edit on 4/25/14:  Please refer to this post for the tutorial.

training pants by

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Totally Cute Training Pants

training pants by

     The time has come. Elena is 2 years and 4 months -a good time to potty train. We have a relatively slow month before things get crazy around here again. Those teens sure keep us hopping with their sports and hobbies. So now, while we have a chance to hang at home more than usual, is our chance.

     I'm getting some resistance from her so I'm trying to keep it light and positive. The Smarties are purchased except I keep eating them and having to buy more. heehee.  I made her some totally cute training pants. The Dora and princess underpants are ready. We have multiple potties on every level of the house. And the big thing - I put her back in cloth diapers. It took only half a day before she brought me a disposable diaper and said, "Different diaper. Too gross." Sorry kiddo, your mama is hardcore.

     We practiced EC (elimination communication) from the time she was about 3 months until she hit a year and started walking. Then she totally lost interest and just wouldn't do it anymore. It became a power struggle so I let it go. But I experimented back then with making different training pants. I searched the internet and tried a couple different patterns. I tried different fabrics - old tees, micro fleece for the banding, using PUL off of leaky cloth diapers I bought off of Craig's List. Those first 5 pairs taught me a few things and now I'd like to share it with you.

     Good stretchy cotton t-shirts containing some lycra or spandex work great. The absorbent soaker can be made from either old prefold diapers or layers of flannel - old receiving blankets can be repurposed or use the scraps from making pajama pants. It just depends on how thick/absorbent you want them to be. You can add PUL to make them waterproof if you want or not.

     My pattern is a modification of a couple I found online. I drew it out and added the measurements so you can make one for yourself. This fits my 2T daughter nicely. It has room to grow. The leg bands are slightly big on my skinny mini with these dimensions so I used larger seam allownances to take an inch or so out. The waist fits comfy and lose enough for her to be able to do herself.

      I wish I could give you a printable pattern, but it's not hard to draw out on your own. Knit is so forgiving that as long as you make this approximate shape, it'll be good. I'd suggest making one complete pair before you start making them assembly line style. That way you can make any adjustments needed.

Here's how I do it:

1. Make the soaker pad. I cut 3 layers of flannel and stack them and pin them together. Overlock the edges all the way around. Or use a serger if you're blessed with one. I used this super soft monkey print in hopes that she will be inspired to not, uh, get the monkeys wet or dirty.

2. Cut the PUL. I trace each soaker just to make sure it matches.

3. Pin the soaker to your panty piece, wrong sides together. Flip it over and lay the PUL right side up over the right side of the panty and pin. Remove the pins from the other side because you'll be sewing from the top.

4. Using a wide zigzag stitch, attach all 3 layers by sewing around the edges. Use your fingertips to feel that everything is lined up. Afterward, check that you caught all the edges on both sides and go back and add more if necessary.

5. Fold the whole thing in half right sides together to sew the side seams. I use a straight stitch here.
Turn right side out. It's starting to look like a panty.

6. Now for the leg bands. Sew the short sides together, right sides together. Finger press the seam open and fold it down on itself wrong sides together to form the band. Pin the band to the right side of the leg opening. Match the seam to the side seam and stretch to fit the rest in. Sew all the way around with a zigzag stitch so it'll give.

7. The waist band works the same way and requires no elastic. Sew the short sides right sides together. Finger press the seam open and then fold it down on itself wrong sides together. Mark the band and the waist of the panty in quarters and pin the waistband to the right side of the panty. I put the seam in the center back. Sew with a zigzag stitch.

8. Go back and trim down the seams of the leg bands to reduce the amount wicking.

    The "waterproof-ness" is not 100% because the PUL layer doesn't cover the entire panty. You could make them that way, but I don't find it necessary. My goal is to reduce the amount of wetness to my furniture and also to her clothes. This way works well for me. Babyville recommends throwing the sewn products in a hot dryer for 20 minutes to shrink the holes made by the needle.

     You could also put that PUL layer between the soaker and the panty piece if you prefer. They make such cute fabrics that I wanted mine to show and then you get the bonus of having the tee do some absorbing as well.

     Elena was not in the mood for a photo shoot so this is the best I could manage for photos wearing them. It's not good at all.