Tag Archives: easy sewing projects

Making my own sewing patterns

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get a sewing machine. I love it. And now, I want a serger. Seriously, I can’t stop thinking about making clothes. I remember back when I was about 10 or so, I used to draw all these ridiculous dresses and outfits I wanted to make. I should have studied fashion design.

I’ve figured out how to draw out my own patterns using clothes that currently fit my daughter. Everything I’ve made so far is pretty much limited to an 18 month size… But I figure I’ll work out 24 month size soon. πŸ˜‰

Here are the things I’ve made for Miss Penelope, all using repurposed/upcycled materials. Woohoo! I still haven’t made it to the fabric market as there’s absolutely no way I would be able to navigate the place with three kids in tow… Someday… But until then, I’m cutting up all the old t-shirts and bedsheets I can find!

Asymmetric pleated dress made from a t-shirt

2 layer dress with deep v-back made from a t-shirt and bedsheets

Bubble dress made from a t-shirt

Shift dress made from a pillowcase and an old skirt

Tunic made from a bedsheet and t-shirt scraps

I think I missed my calling…

As I’ve been getting to know my sewing machine better these last couple of months, I’ve come to the realization that I may have missed my calling as a baby clothes designer… Good thing I went to school for 10 years (post-high school) to get my PhD in Art History, huh? πŸ˜‰

Anyway, I tried my hand at another tutorial for a gorgeous dress I saw on Pinterest–that wonderful, evil, time-sucking, procrastination tool. The tutorial can be found on the Tidbits blog. I adore this dress. It’s beautiful. But reading through the tutorial, I was worried for a couple of reasons. A) I wasn’t sure if I could handle doing the sleeves, and since I’d done the edging on a tank dress before, I decided to make it a tank dress. B) She said that she used up 6 old t-shirts in the making of this dress. Because my sewing skills are still quite limited, I wasn’t sure if I was willing to risk RUINING 6 valuable t-shirts if I royally screwed this up. Despite these concerns, the ruffles on the back of this dress made me want to squeal with delight. So I had to try it. I decided to do just two colors–this way, I’d only be ruining 2 shirts.

I took a dress that I already had for Penny and made a pattern… And once I had the pieces cut out (which was way easier this time around), I got sewing. And I immediately got ahead of myself and sewed the front and back pieces of the skirt together before realizing that’s one of the last steps on the tutorial. Oh whoops… But I’d already cut up one t-shirt, and there wasn’t enough material to cut out another skirt. Plus, I’d already zigzag stitched the seam so it wasn’t like I could just rip out the straight stitches and sew the pieces back together later. I wouldn’t be able to sew the two triangular pieces onto the back of the dress… And after spending quite a bit of time staring at the pieces, trying to figure out what to do, I finally decided to just move forward. I’d figure it out later!

So I started making ruffles… Lots and lots of ruffles! Sewed the ruffles on, put the edging on the neckline and the armholes (are there more technical terms for these?), sewed the bodice onto the skirt… And I found that I love this version of the dress so much more than what I’d originally set out to make! This is much more my style than the original (thus, Penny’s style–haha!), and I just adore it.

Front of dress
Back of dress

Β It’s just the tiniest bit big on her, so it’ll be perfect once the weather warms up. Now, my only problem is is that Miss Penelope isn’t walking yet. I need her to walk on her own two feet so she can wear this dress and maximize the adorableness of it.

After I posted photos of this on my Instagram, a friend of mine emailed and asked if I could help her make a dress like this for her niece, so I scanned the pattern I made and emailed it to her. Until I can figure out how to put a PDF file up on my blog, feel free to email me and I’ll send you the pattern! It’s for an 18 month size dress. It includes a single piece for the top/bodice and the piece for the skirt (which you’ll have to cut 2 of–one for the front, one for the back). That’s it! I’ll get up a proper tutorial soon, with photos and all, but right now, I’m in the middle of working on Version 2 of a peplum jacket for Miss Penelope using an old Ikea couch cover! πŸ˜‰

Here’s Version 1, made from a pair of her daddy’s old khakis.

I love it, but it fits her quite snug right now. I’m not even sure it’ll fit her once the weather warms up a bit more and she can actually wear it out of the house… Version 2 features both pleats AND darts. It’s been a major pain in the ass… But I’ve learned a lot and I’m almost done!

One step up

The past few days, I’ve decided to venture forth and try my hand at sewing something that required more skills and a bit more time than 40 minutes when the baby’s napping. A friend had recommended the Reversible Baby Pinafore pattern/tutorial, and amazingly, all the pattern pieces fit on a single pillowcase… So I figured, what the hell. If I screw up, it’s just a pillowcase, right?

I printed out the pattern pieces (the free pattern is for 6-12 month size, and Penny’s now wearing 12 month, but I figured that she can wear it as a top rather than at dress length), cut them up, lined them up and taped them… Then, I was at a complete loss. I tried cutting with the rotary cutter, but I screwed that all up. It was too hard to just cut the fabric. I found myself cutting the paper as well. Then, I tried scissors. And maybe I need to work on my scissor skills, but it kicked my butt. So after what felt like an eternity, I finally managed to get all the pieces cut. I swear, this process took longer than the actual sewing!

Once I started sewing the pieces together, it was very easy to follow the tutorial. I made a couple of mistakes, but they’re all on one side of the pinafore, and since it’s reversible and I used one fabric for both sides, Penny can just wear it on the side that doesn’t have issues. πŸ˜‰ I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

I actually put Miss Penelope in a pair of white tights for the photos, but they were SO SMALL on her that the crotch was around her knees. :-/ Why does she keep growing so fast?!? It doesn’t help that all three of my kids are freakishly tall for their ages, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me because I’ll all of 5’1″. DH is average height, but he does have some crazy tall relatives. Maybe that’s where the kids get it from.

Anyway, once I finished that, I jumped into the next project, which only took about 1.5 hours. I worked on it for about 30 minutes while the kids were napping yesterday, then I wrapped it up after they went to bed last night. How’s that for a day’s work? Hand sewing the braided neckline onto the dress took a bit longer, but since I didn’t need the sewing machine, DH and I were able to watch an episode of Homeland (we just started Season 2).

This tutorial is from Make It & Love It, and it’s about as simple as dress-making goes. I made it out of one of DH’s favorite shirts (that I won’t let him wear anymore because it looks terrible–washed too many times, all out of shape, stains, etc.), so he especially loves the finished product.

I’ve discovered these past few weeks that there are a million things around the house that I can cut up and repurpose. The frugal me LOVES this. On the other hand, I REALLY, REALLY want to get to the big fabric market here. I want to go so badly that I’m actually considering dragging all 3 kids there–on the subway and everything. Sigh…Β 

Until then, I suppose it’s just fabric scraps for me. πŸ˜‰

Post-Birthday Craftiness

With Penelope’s first birthday party behind me, I’ve had a chance to dabble in some other crafty projects. Most of the projects have been little ones, mostly because the house isn’t entirely unpacked yet and I can’t really justify pouring myself into large projects when there are still boxes stacked up in the far corners of the house where I can continue to ignore them without feeling too guilty. πŸ˜‰

Anyway, I’ve been practicing with the sewing machine, mostly working with scrap fabrics so I don’t feel bad when something doesn’t work out. This has happened quite a bit. Haha!

When I came back from my parents’ house, my mom sent me home with a stack of fabric samples. The people who lived in her apartment before her owned a curtain business and left tons of fabric samples in the storage room. With the little squares of fabric, I made new couch cushions for our couch. I would have loved to put in zippers, but A) I don’t really know how to do that and B) the squares of fabric were BARELY enough to make the cushion covers. I’m pleased with how they turned out, and I figure that if the cushions get dirty, I have a whole stack of fabric to make new ones with!

I can now officially say that I can sew in a straight line. Woohoo!

During various naptimes, I’ve worked on some small items such as this cute little headband. The headband was made using a pair of tights that Penny’s grown out of. Cheers for upcycling fabric! The crochet flower is something that I’d made quite some time ago. It was easy enough to stick it right on.

I also put together this dapper little bow tie:

Β A couple pairs of baby leggings, which I’m obsessed with now since the weather is getting warmer and baby leggings with a onesie are such a convenient way to dress baby. Makes diaper changes and getting dressed to go out so super easy.

Β And finally, the biggest thing I’ve worked on lately is this crochet R2D2. Charlie has been asking me for a yarn R2D2 since before we moved… He’s finally stopped asking. πŸ˜‰