Elizabeth Pants Tutorial

My niece is turning one! I couldn’t let the occasion go by without using the opportunity to make her some clothes to begin her toddling phase in. (Let’s just face it, if I’m your Aunt, you’re going to get homemade clothes. It is just life.) So, for outfit number one, I chose to make a reversible Smocket (find the free printable pattern here) and a pair of girly, tiered pants.

Free sewing tutorial for tiered girl's pants.

I loved making these pants. So cute. So girly. So comfy cozy. I cannot wait to give them to her!

So, here is what you’ll need for the pants:

Half a yard each of 2 fabrics. (Or 1 yard of a single fabric. You could also use some of your larger fabric scraps if you’ve got any of those lying around! Those would be fun!)

Elastic. (This is my go-to kid elastic.)

Your sewing stuff.

First, I made my pattern. (I just drew it right on the back of my fabric. I’m fancy like that.) This is a size 18 months. If you need a larger size, add the inches as needed. (Don’t forget to add to the width and the length!)

Pattern Instructions

Okay, got it? Hehe. I’m just joking. This is my little sketch book drawing of what I made.

Piece 1: Cut 2 on fold: Fabric A: 6″ waist, 9″ crotch, 11″ outseam, 9″ leg width. (I used my Variform Curve ruler for the crotch. You can always eyeball it or grab another pair of pants and copy that pair.)

Piece 1A:Cut 2 on fold: Fabric B: 3″ tall by 9″ wide. (This is NOT a ruffle. It is just straight. You can omit this piece to make the pants shorter. Or you can add 1.5″ onto the length of pieces 2 and 3. Or you     can add a third “crazy” fabric into the mix with this piece. It is up to you. You’re the designer. For my pants, I have it.)

Piece 2: Cut 2 on fold: Fabric A: 5″ tall by 12″ wide.

Piece 3: Cut 2 on fold: Fabric B: 5″ tall by 12″ wide.

Pieces

This is what you should have right now. (My pieces are still together. There are two of each piece, I swear!) (And they are still folded!)

With right sides together, sew piece 1A onto piece 1.


EP gathering stitch

Now, on piece 2, you’re going to want to do a basting stitch (straight stitch, close-ish to the edge, as long as your stitch length will go) and gather the top of the piece. (The basting stitch should run down the LONG side of the fabric on whichever side you deem to be “top”.)

EP Pinned On

Once you’re all gathered up, pin piece 2 onto piece 1A with right sides together. You want the corners to match. Gather as much as needed to get the piece the same width. I gathered mine more in the middle and less on the ends. Why? The ends will be the inner leg. I wanted the ruffles to be more on the outside, with the inside of the legs being less ruffles. It’s a comfort thing.

After pinning, sew right sides together! (Sew with the gathered piece on top. Otherwise your straight piece will end up getting wonky.)

Do the same for piece 3. Baste. Gather. Pin with right sides together to piece 2. Sew.

Repeat for the other leg.

Finish the seams if you’re going to finish them. I serged mine because I have a nice serger and have to use it! If you don’t have a serger, don’t be jealous. Just finish your edges as you wish. (Clip them with pinking shears. Trim and zigzag. Do nothing. Whatever you want to do.)

EP Pant leg

Now, each pant leg should look like this. Fancy, huh? Take each pant leg and sew the inseam. (Put right sides together, matching up the outer edges.) Finish the inseam. (Serge. Pink. Zigzag.)

Now, you should have two pant legs. Do they look like pant legs? (You should answer yes. If you answered no, I think it is time to evaluate what went wrong before pressing on. Fear not. It happens to the best of us.)

EP Leg in Leg

Flip one leg right side out and put it inside the other leg. Match the inseams. Pin around the crotch area. Sew. Finish the seam. (Serge. Pink. Zigzag.)

EP WaistbandWe’re moving on! Press about an inch of the waistband down. (Wrong side to wrong side.) If you didn’t serge the edge, you’ll want to flip about 1/4th of an inch under before you sew. Hide that unfinished edge! Sew around the waistband! Make sure you leave a little hole to feed the elastic through.

EP ElasticI put a brooch pin on the end of the elastic I am NOT feeding through. It keeps the end from accidentally following the leader and ending up inside the casing. I use a safety pin to feed the elastic through the casing.

EP Elastic InPut the elastic into the casing. Feed it through. Don’t let the end follow! It needs to stay out.

EP Elastic OutNow you have both elastic ends out. Yay!

EP Elastic SewedCross the edges over each other and sew. Use a zigzag or elastic stitch on your machine. A straight stitch will break when the elastic is pulled. (An elastic stitch looks like a wonky zigzag. See above.)

Trim the edges of the elastic.

Pull on the waist and pop the elastic inside the casing.

Sew up the hole!

EP HemHem the bottom edge of the pants. (I serge mine, then flip them inside and zigzag them. I like the look of a zigzagged hem. It makes it different from things you can buy at the store. You see the zigzag and you know, those are special!)

EP All Done!And you are done! Adorable little pants to toddler about in!

As always, this tutorial is yours to use as you wish. Make them to give, keep, or sell. Just do not sell the pattern. And when someone asks where you got the pattern, share the free!

Pocket Style Advent Calendar

So, I looked for an Advent Calendar online for weeks. I tried to convince myself just to buy a poster with little flip panels. I tried. But I couldn’t find one I liked. So, I looked at fabric ones and they were far too expensive for me. In looking at them, I thought, “I can just make it myself.” So I did. And I got it on the first try! (You know how something as simple as rectangles on a flat surface somehow becomes this ridiculously difficult project that takes you 20 tries to get right? *cough* crayon wallet *cough*)

Advent Calendar
Advent Calendar

So, here is what you need:

1/2 yard of burlap or other backing material. (Let me tell you, or remind you if you already know, burlap is awful stuff to work with. If you or your kids have allergies, you may want to consider making a burlap free home. The stuff is that bad. Plus, trying to cut it straight and sew it straight is a special kind of torture. If you’d rather use something more friendly on your nose and sanity, grab some duck, upholstery, linen, anything heavier in weight. If you want to go the trendy route or you happen to have a ton of burlap sitting in your craft room, like me, then go ahead and use the burlap, but brace yourself for the fight.)

If you want the different fabric colors, like I have, grab 1/8 yard of 5 different fabrics. You can grab 5 fat quarters, but you’ll have lots of leftovers. (The fat quarter choice is awesome if you want to make multiple as gifts! You can get at least 3 calendars worth of pockets from 5 fat quarters.) If you want all one fabric, grab 1/2 yard of quilting cotton of your choice.

You’ll need a 1/2″ wooden dowel that is 18″ long.

You’ll also need something to hang it with. Ribbon, ric rac, yarn, raffia, whatever you want to use. (I had this wide gold ric rac left over from making cowbell bibs, so I decided to use it. Gold ric rac only has so many uses in the world.)

Advent Calendar SuppliesGather your supplies and get to cutting. Remember that burlap will fray like a devil, so if you’re using it, you may want to give yourself a little extra room for error. Cut your backing 16″ x 34″. With your quilting cotton, you will need 5 strips 5″ x 22″.

burlap edgesYou’ll first want to finish the edges of your backing fabric. (Sides first, then bottom, then top- because I said so.) I zig-zagged my burlap because I felt it would hold the loose weave the best.

top of burlap

 

On the top, you’ll want to make a little channel for the dowel to go through. I made mine about an inch.

AC5Now, put the blasted burlap aside (I know, you’re excited) and focus on the pockets for a few minutes. First, we’re going to hem the sides, then the top. Fold the side and press.

AC6Flip the frayed edge under toward the fold and press. You’ll do this for both sides, and then sew.

AC7Sew the side hem. (If you need to make it a little wider, you can. You’ve got a little wiggle room here. Don’t go crazy making 1″ hems, but if 1/4″ hems are making you want to scream, you can be a little more liberal with the size. I like the challenge of the small seam.)

You’ll do the same with the top edge of the pocket. Fold, press. Fold raw edge under, press. Sew. For the top edge, I did need to pin the hem on the far right side (the side sewn last) to keep everything together while sewing. Pin as needed.

AC8One you get all your pockets sewn sides and top, you may notice that they aren’t all equal. (I did not measure out the 22″, I simply went with the width of the fat quarter, which can vary.) It isn’t a big deal. You’ll never notice. It is fine, I promise. Put your OCD away and press on. It’s cool. Part of the charm of the project. (Did that line help you? It always helps me to say my oddities are charming, rather than just off.)

AC9Now, you’re going to put it all together! First, mark off the lines on the burlap or backing fabric of where the bottom of each pocket will go. I used a marker and it took forever to mark the burlap. Use chalk. I was too stubborn to get up and go get my chalk, but I should have sucked it up and done it anyway. From the bottom of your burlap, measure 6″ and put a line, 6″ above that- another line, 6″ above that-another line, 6″ above that- another line. See how that worked? You should have 4 lines marked on the burlap and the bottom is the final line

Pin the fabric like I have it in the picture above. Right side to backing, unhemmed side up. Pin the sides first. Then gather, tuck, pin, whatever all the way across. These pleats or gathers will add depth to your pockets to hold the little treats. Here is what I did: Ever 3″, I pinned and made sure there was a bit of extra fabric between the pins, then I folded those into pleats. If you aren’t cool with winging it like that, you’ll want a pleat or small gather at 1.5″ and then 3″ from that pleat, then 3″ from that pleat, then 1.5″ from the opposite side, then 3″ from that. See why I just opted to wing it?

Once you’re pinned, sew it down. I sewed closer to the edge first, the sewed another line a little further in. This is the inside of the pocket. Perfection is not necessary.

AC10Once you’ve got the bottom of the pocket attached, pull the pocket up and sew the sides of the pocket to the side of the backing fabric.

AC11See, now you have one weirdly billowy, wouldn’t hold a thing, pocket. (And that stamp on my burlap is because this burlap was used as a tablecloth for The Professor’s first birthday party.)

AC12From the edge, measure 3″. Now sew that line. If it isn’t exact, it really is okay. You just want 5 little pockets across. They’ll be about 3″ each. If you’re picky, measure. If you’re like me, you’ll measure, hold a finger on that spot (as opposed to actually marking it), and sew about on that line.

AC13You’ll mark 3″ from the opposite side and sew there. Then 3″ from each of those lines (one of each side) and you’ll have 5 pockets. This remind me of those brain teasers they’d give you in grade school. “If you want to make 5 pockets, and the outer edges are already sewn, how many lines will you have to sew?” (The answer is 4, if you’re not so great at that sort of thing.)

Do this for all the pockets. Now, take a deep breath. You’re almost done!

AC14Slide the dowel through the top channel you made. Tie your ribbon, ric rac, yarn, raffia, whatever to each side. Now, you can hang it! (I added a little red ribbon to the corner for extra pretty.)

AC15

 

(This is an awful picture, so if you Pin this, don’t use this picture, I beg you.) Now, stuff each pocket with little treats. You can put little cards in them with Bible verses on them or different Advent activities to do. I just stuffed mine with candy. 4 pieces of candy per pocket, one for each kid. You could also number your pockets if you wanted to. I opted not to number them, but you can number yours if you want. I think these would make adorable gifts.

As always, do what you want with this tutorial. Make them for yourself, give them as gifts, sell them- whatever. Just share the free and point other crafters back this way for the tutorial. Free crafting for all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Half Yard Baby Shower Gift

You’ve been invited to a baby shower and you decide you’re going to sew an entire layette or possibly an entire crib bedding set for the new squishy. The you realize, dude, I’ve got four kids of my own and the shower is in a week and I’ve got no time for such ambitious gifts. You need something practical. Something handmade, useful, but quick to make. I give you the half yard baby shower gift! It’ll take you an hour to whip up and you’ll still be the talk of the party.

Or maybe you’re new to sewing and want to sew something but you know you’re skills aren’t up to a smocked christening gown. So do you just buy some old something from the store? No. You sew the half yard baby shower gift! It is perfect for beginners!

The half yard baby shower gift includes 2 burpies, 3 wipies, and 2 drool bibs. What is a burpie? A cuter name for a burp cloth. Great for protecting shoulders, putting under little prone to leak heads while changing diapers or sleeping, good for big baby messes. What is a wipie? A smaller version of a burp cloth. Can be used as a cloth wet wipe, washcloth, face wipe, booger cleaner, drool wiper, etc. Great for smaller baby messes. What is a bib? Seriously? Do you have a baby? Have you seen a baby?

You’ll need a half yard of fabric. (You can use regular quilting cotton or flannel.) If it is going to annoy you having a directional print not quite lined up perfectly, don’t use a directional print. This project leaves no room for fussy cutting.

You’ll also need one cheap (new) bath towel. You can buy the cheapies at Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or Target. (Target’s are the thickest of those three, FTR. So, if you’re a newbie, it might make it more difficult to sew.) I promise one bath towel will be enough. You’ll see that I have 2 different colors of terry in these pictures. Once I got started, I realized I’d already made a couple burp cloths out of the other half of my blue towel. So, I had to grab the half of a brown towel I had from another project.

All laid out, this is essentially what your half yard is going to turn into.

First, iron your fabric. If the ends aren’t straight, straighten them. Also, some places tend to cut a bit bigger than you request. If your fabric shop did this, go ahead and trim your fabric to 18″.

Now, measure and cut 3 burpies. You’ll use the 18″ as the length and cut 10″ wide.

Take one of those burpies and divide it into 3. Mark it along the length at 6″ and 12″. These are your wipies.

Cut the towel to match. I cut the decorative stipe off. If your towel seems small, leave one of the stripes one, just in case you need to use it. I have used the stripe on burpies and bibs. It works fine, I just prefer not to have it. Also, the width of your towel is likely the length of one burpie plus the width of one wipie. To cut the terry, I lay the cut cotton on top and use it as a template. Terry is difficult to mark and it stretches in odd ways when you pin and pull it.

You should have about 14″ of fabric left. Fold this in half and lay a bib template on top. Cutting out two bibs.

I had to turn mine a bit because this Michael Miller fabric wasn’t quite as wide as my Joann’s stuff I used in my first few of these. It fit fine, as you can see, I just have slightly slanted cowpokes. Cut 2 bibs from the towel.

About this bib template. We’re making small newborn type drool bibs. You may have a template you can use. I use on from Sweet Booties. If you don’t have a bib template, here is how you make one. (And save it so you only have to make it once! I keep all my patterns, including those I make, it hanging file folders in milk crates.)

As you can see, my bib template is roughly the size of a regular 8.5″ x 11″ piece of printer paper.

Fold your paper in half and draw a bib shape on half of it (on the fold, so it opens whole). It may take you a couple tries, which is fine, it is just paper. A couple things to keep in mind: Keep the bottom relatively perpendicular to the fold, if you are coming at the fold at an angle, it’ll be pointed or heart shaped when you open it. You’ll loose some of your pattern in sewing space, so keep in mind your finished bib will be smaller than your template. (This mean necklines will be more open, too.)

Cut out your bib shape.

Open your bib template up and see how you like it. If you don’t like it, fix it now. It is much easier to scrap your pattern than try to make it work in fabric. If the paper doesn’t look right, the bib certainly won’t. Do you see how my straps don’t quite touch each other? You want that. When it is snapped, it pulls down and makes a two dimensional piece of fabric into a three dimensional piece of clothing.

As you can see, these two bibs would look much different from one another, but they’d both be fine. The point is to make a little bib this size. How you make the bib is up to you.

Now that you’ve got it all cut out, you’ve got about this much scrap fabric. See, I told you no room for fussy cutting.

Now that you’ve got all your pieces all cut out and ready to go it is time to sew! If you’re an old pro at sewing, sew, turn, and topstitch all of it, add closures of choice to the bibs. You’re done. If you are a beginning sewer, I’m going to go through all the steps for you.

First, with the wrong side of the fabric down on the terry, sew around the edge of the burpie leaving a hole.

See the hole? That is where we’ll turn it right side out. You want to reverse stitch at the beginning and the end. You do not want your seam unraveling as you turn. Also, if you make the hole small, life will be difficult (though not impossible) in 5 minutes. If you make a very large hole, your life might get difficult in 10 minutes when you’re having to line it up and sew it shut.

When you get to the corners:

You stop about where the line going the other direction will start. Eyeball it.

Pick up your foot, but leave the needle down. If your machine doesn’t stop in needle down position automatically, make sure to put the needle down before you lift the foot.

Turn your fabric. (My needle is down, my foot is up.)

Put your foot down. Now continue to sew. See how easy that was? *Confession: There once was a time in my early days of sewing when I would have sewn completely off the edge on one side, cut my threads, sewn the entire edge of the other side, cut my threads, sewn the entire opposite side the the edge, cut my threads, and finished by sewing the entire other side and cut my threads. Such a waste of time. And thread.*

Now that you’ve sewn all the way around and turned the corners like a pro, you’ll need to clip the corners of your fabric. This makes it so you actually have a corner when you flip it. Don’t clip your corners and the fabric will bunch in the corner, making it a round more than a corner. (And it’ll be a devil and a half to sew through.) Just don’t clip your seam!

Now, your burpie looks like this. And you are pretty proud of yourself for making it so nice and pretty. Good job. Now turn it right side out. Through that hole you left.

Ah! I made a fabric blob! Keep turning. It’ll work out. Run your hand along the inside, pushing the seams outward. Push those corners out.

Now press it. Make sure that hole is lining up nicely. Press it well. This is important. Don’t like ironing? Then you should probably avoid sewing because you cannot neglect to press things properly when you sew. (BTW, I burned my arm trying to iron left handed so I could photograph with my right hand. I think I may need a left handed camera.)

Let me stop and talk about stitches before we move forward. See my #00 and my #01? The 00 aligns the needle at the far left of my foot. The 01 aligns my needle in the center of my foot. If you have this option, use it. I use the 00 to sew the inside, then the 01 to topstitch. This way, I know my topstitching is catching the right fabric. If you use the same, be very careful that the hole closes!

Also, I use a longer stitch length to topstitch. It just looks better to me. I sew with a 2.5 stitch length usually. I topstitch with a 4.0 stitch length.

Starting just before the hole, topstitch. You want to be kinda close to the edge but not on the edge. *Confession: This freaked me out when I first started sewing. Topstitching was freaking nerve wracking! I would often sew it too far from the edge, leaving the unfinished edge of my hole hanging out. I often did a double topstitch because I got it wrong the first time. I’d topstitch it too far in, then topstitch again alongside it where it should have been. I claimed I mean to do it. I didn’t. But it always worked out.*

Turn your corners the same way you did for the other side. Leave the needle down, pick up the foot, turn, put down the foot, and keep sewing. Now aren’t you glad you perfected that on the side no one could see? In the corners, if your terry is particular thick or you didn’t clip quite right or if the stars just aren’t aligning for you today, you may have to push the fabric through a bit if it seems stuckish. Don’t freak about it, just push it a bit and it’ll go through and no one will notice your stitches are a bit smaller in length at the particular point because the fabric just wasn’t moving through properly.

Now, you’ve sewn all the way around and you’re coming back to your original starting point! (Which you don’t have to backstitch on, BTW, because we’re sewing over it just a bit.) Oh! Line it up! Quick! Don’t pull too drastically, just guide it so the threads line up! If you’re slightly off, no worries. I doubt anyone will notice. You’ll be a pro by the end of this gift!

See, it lined up! Yay! *deep breath* Sew over the line an inch or so. No need to backstitch at the end.

You did it! Bravo! Now, do the other burpie the exact same way. And those three wipies.

Now those bibs! Okay, now you’ve practiced sewing, turning, and topstitching 5 times. The bibs will be ever so slightly more difficult because they are curved and curves take some patience and practice. Just go slow. Take deep breaths. You can do it. Leave the hole on the straightest part of the bib. I chose the side. Once you get it sewn, you need to clip the curves (shown in the above picture). Clipping the curves on a bib feels like you’re making fringe our of the entire bib. Try not to clip your seams. (If you do, don’t panic. Just keep rolling. It’ll work out.) Turning this will be much more difficult. You can do it. The straps will turn. Just work ’em. Now that you’re turned, press it. Now topstitch being extra careful. Don’t think you’ll be able to manage? You can zigzag the topstitch to make the ever so small mistakes much less noticeable.

Add closure to your bib. I use snaps because I have a snap press. (Not rubbing it in. I do have a snap press.) Don’t use buttons. That is just dangerous. If you don’t have a snap press or snap pliers, use velcro. I had velcro, but it is better than choking a friend’s baby with a button. Don’t use ties. Ties are for bibs from the 80’s. No one has time to tie a bib on a squirming baby. It’ll never get used if you add ties.

Now you’re done! Tie it up in ribbons and present it proudly! If you’ve got more time and a contrasting fabric (or more of the same fabric) you can make 2 or 3 or 4 of these sets. These are items every parent needs plenty of.

As usual, do what you like with this tutorial. Make these to keep, give, sell, whatever. Just give a shout out back to me and don’t take credit for the work (this tutorial) of others! Free crafting for all!

 

Double Ruffle Pants Tutorial

You know my daughter loves ruffles, right? You didn’t know that? Well, she does. When I said I was making her ruffled pants, she thought I was putting ruffles on her jeans to make them more wearable. She was only slightly disappointed to discover I was starting from scratch and making new ruffle pants. Her jeans can wait.

You need one yard of fabric. The pants I made are a size 6. I had a little leftover. If I were making an 8 or above, I’d opt for buying a bit more fabric. But for the little girls (Shh! Don’t tell them I called them “little”!) a yard is plenty.

The first step is to grab a pair of pants that currently fit your girl. No need to reinvent the wheel. Just trace the pants onto the double fold of your fabric, getting it as close to the top as you can. When tracing your pants, add a little room. You’ll want a little extra for seam allowances and woven cotton just doesn’t move like denim or cotton knit. Make sure you trace it a couple inches higher on top. I swear I somehow always make Imo low rise pants purely on accident.

So, you cut two legs out (cutting on the double fold should have given you 2 legs for your pants). Now, cut 4 strips that are 4″ long and the entire width of the fabric. You can make these single ruffled if you’d like. Imo loves double (or triple) ruffles. You could add a bit of fancy to this and make the ruffles in contrasting fabric.

Sew your pants together. I know, I know. That seems like I’m skipping a bunch of stuff. Go here if you need help on that.

Go ahead and finish the interior edges. (Double fold, french seam, serge, pink, whatever it is you do.)

Go ahead and serge or pink the bottom of each leg and the top of the pants.

Fold over the top of the pants and make a little channel to run the elastic and ribbon through. You’ll probably want the ribbon drawstring. The double ruffles make these a bit heavier than the usual cotton pants. Go ahead and finish the top with elastic and drawstring. You can save it for later if you want. It doesn’t matter much when you do it.

 

Moving on to the ruffles. You’ll do this with each ruffle. Match the short sides of a ruffle strip together. (right sides together) Sew the short sides together. (You’ll have one big loop for each ruffle.)

Finish the top and bottom of the ruffle. For the top (on the right side of the above photo) I just serged it. For the bottom, I serged, flipped, and sewed.

Repeat for each ruffle. This takes the most time on this project.

Now, pin the ruffle to the bottom of the pants right sides together. You want the ruffle to ruffle, so just messy pleat and pin all the way around.

Sew all the way around. Repeat on the other leg. You now have one ruffle on each leg. You can stop here if you want the single ruffle pants.

In this picture (above) you can see the line I sew above the ruffle. What I do after I attach the ruffle is flip the seam inside up and then sew it around the top of the ruffle. It keeps the ruffle from flipping up.

Now, to attach the next ruffles. I don’t have a picture of this step. You’re just going to pin the next ruffle the same way you did the first, but pin it slightly above the first ruffle. If you want it to look like two very distinct ruffles, you’ll need to pin it about 2″ – 3″ above the first ruffle. I like mine stacked so the look super ruffly, but not necessarily like rows of ruffles. Pin the ruffle right sides together, sew it. Flip the ruffle down (covering the seam) and sew around the top edge of the ruffle so it stays down and doesn’t flip up on you.

That’s it! You’ve got your girl some double ruffle pants!

 

 

Bow Tie Bib – A Tutorial

Ransom Jo is turning one on Monday. His birthday party is an old man theme. (Because of his nickname, The Professor.) The kids have all had a special bib on their first birthday. I decided I wanted Ransom to have a bow tie bib. So, I sat down to figure it out. Turns out, it is really, really easy. So, here is how you can make one. (You can also make a necktie version. With all the other party stuff going on, I didn’t have time to get the necktie version done. But it is the same bib, just make a necktie shape instead of a bow tie shape.)

Here is what you’ll need:

– Fabric for the front and back of the bib. (I like to use flannel, terry, or chenille on the backs of bibs for absorbency reasons.) You’ll only need about half a fat quarter of each.

– Fabric for the bowtie. You’ll need about half to a third of a fat quarter.

– Sewing machine, scissors, thread, pins, paper, pencil, and iron. You’re usual sewing stuff.

Now, you’ll want to draft your pattern. That sounds more difficult than it really is. You can trace a bib you’ve already got or use a bib pattern that you’ve already got. Or you can wing it. I chose to wing it.

I made the top and bottom of the bib pattern about 4″ (so it’d be 8″ wide unfolded). The height is about 10″. I used my veriform curve to round the outer edge of the bib. I like the shape. It is a bit unusual without being too odd.

For the bow tie pattern, I took one of The Pastor’s bow ties and laid it on a piece of paper. You basically want to make a very short bow tie. So, I traced the outline of the end of the bow tie. If your husband doesn’t wear bow ties, you don’t know what you’re missing! Just kidding. If he doesn’t wear a bowtie, you can wing it. The hour glass shape isn’t difficult and it doesn’t have to be precise. You’ll see in a minute.

Fold your fabric in half and press. Pin the bib pattern to the fabric on the fold. Cut it out.

When you unfold it, it should look bib-like. You will need to make sure to cut the upper portion that will fasten behind the neck.

Do the same for your backing fabric. Mine is black flannel.

Now, we’re going to make a loop for the front of the bib to attach the bow tie. Take a 2″ x 4″ or more piece of fabric. Fold it in half. Press it.

Sew along the edge. Turn it.

Press the little strip so the seam is in the middle of one side. This will be the back side of the loop. (Also ignore my chipped fingernail polish. I haven’t had a chance to fix it since we went to the beach last week.)

About 2″ down in the center of the bib, sew the loop onto the front of the bib with the seam facing up. (See the picture.) Flip the strip up and press it with the iron.

Sew the loop to the top center of the front of the bib. (See above.) See how you flipped the sewn part to the inside of the loop?

Trim the excess off the loop. Even it with the top of the bib.

Pin the front of your bib to the back of the bib, right sides together. (See how you can’t see the loop?)

Sew along the edge.

Leave a hole to turn it!

Clip the corners. (Don’t want them to be “rounds”!)

Clip your curves. (It’ll help the bib lay flat once you turn and press it.)

Turn it right side out and press with the iron. Make sure you push those corners out nicely.

Topstitch. Make sure you’re close enough to the edge to close the hole!

Now you’re going to add your closure. You can do velcro, snaps, buttons, whatever. (Buttons are pretty difficult to button on an older baby.) I did snaps since I own a snap press.

Here is my snap closed.

Moving on to our bow tie. Take your pattern, lay it out on the folded fabric. Cut out 2 on the fold. (If you wanted the bow tie to be a bit more substantial, you can always add more layers of fabric or some interfacing. I found that 2 layers is thick enough for the bow to stand up and not so thick that it is difficult to tie.)

Now, I put the wrong sides together and just topstitched my bow tie. I wanted it to have a bit of a scrappy look. If you want a scrappy look, do the same. The edges will fray a bit and give it that crazed professor look to it. If you want it to be more polished, put the wrong sides together, turn, and top stitch.

Now, just slip the bow tie under the loop and tie it like a regular bow tie. Confession: I had The Pastor tie mine, since he’s the bow tie guy in our house. Don’t know how to tie a bow tie? (The Pastor learned from Dr. Tate at the birth of Ransom if you remember correctly.) Watch this video on You Tube.

And you’re done! Tip: tie the tie before you put it on the baby. You can make multiple bow ties for the same bib. You can also make a short neck tie and tie it on this bib, as well. Very versatile. It’d make an adorable baby gift! (Or first birthday party bib!)

Tea Party Birthday Party

Imogene turned 5 last week. I cannot believe how quickly time has passed. On one hand, yes, it seems like she was just born. But on the other hand, it does seem like she’s been with us forever, not just 5 short years. Anyway, for her party, she wanted a tea party. I declared that the party had to be outdoors and I would be “keeping it simple.” I somehow managed to stick to the simplicity despite her constant nagging about how fancy the party should be. I think I pulled off simple and fancy. (Though, it is my version of fancy, which is very shabby chic.) She was thrilled and I didn’t go into labor with all the work, so I’m calling it a job well done!

Remember me raving about the cookbook Sweet Chic? Well, these vanilla cookies covered in colored sugar came from that cookbook. They look amazing. So pretty. (The trick to get the sugar to stay on in such quantities is to use an egg white wash on the cut cookies before baking and sprinkle the sugar on before you bake. The egg white glues the sugar onto the cookie.) They tasted amazing. I didn’t have a single cookie left over.

I got 3 pots of Mexican Heather to put on the tables. (Which will now be planted in the yard.) I just put some pink tulle around the pots to make them look fancier.

I searched high and low for cups for the party. Imogene insisted we use fancy cups and not just plastic Dixie cups. It finally occurred to me the week of the party what to do! I went to TJ Maxx and looked in their clearance section for cups. I found several boxes of random glasses for $4 and $5 a box. So, I bought 26 random glasses (some wine glasses, a few highballs) for $20. I figured if the kids broke them, they weren’t my crystal glasses or anything, so I really wouldn’t care. Turns out, not a single glass got broken. (Had I used my crystal, at least half of them would have been broken. But since I planned for the breaking, none got broken.) Kids love drinking out of wine glasses. I’m not really sure why, but even the boys thought it was great.

Also from the book Sweet Chic came these yummy little cupcakes. These are vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream icing. I colored the icing the yummy yellow color. I’m really not very good at cake decorating. Actually, truth be told, I am very bad at it. So, I make cupcakes. Imogene picked the pearl sprinkles and the icing color. They were also very, very yummy. Seriously, this vanilla buttercream icing is some of the most tasty icing I’ve ever had in my life. I know they aren’t beautiful, but they were super yummy. And since it was so hot, the icing was getting a bit melty sitting out. So, it is probably a good thing I didn’t try to make them beautiful.

It was a tea party, but not a hot tea party. (It is summer in Georgia, after all.) We had a sweet tea bar instead. We had blackberries, peaches, lemons, limes, and mint to mix into your sweet tea to make in fancy. It was a hit! Everyone, kids and adults, seemed to enjoy mixing their fancy sweet tea and experimenting with flavors. (Blackberry mint was a big hit. My personal favorite was lime and mint. Yum.)

The birthday girl getting ready to blow out her candles. I realized when putting up pictures, that I completely failed to get a good shot of her in her dress. Ugh. Fail on my part, since the dress was so very cute.

Here is the closest to a full shot of the dress. It is a pillowcase dress with one bigger ruffle around the bottom and 3 rows of ruffles on the top front. I didn’t use a pattern, I was just winging it. Imogene picked out her fabric (she loves picking out her own fabric) and then asked that I make a dress with “fruffles on the bottom and lots of fruffles on the top.” She was thrilled with the outcome. It did look a little busy once she put on several necklaces with the ruffles at the top.

I put pillowcases on the backs of the folding chairs, then tied pink tulle (she picked that out, too) around the chairs. I made the pillowcases with fabric from my stash. I’ve been trying to get my stash down to a normal size and use a lot of it up. This party turned into the perfect opportunity to thin my stash!

To make the pillowcases: Cut the fabric length to between 32″ and 36″. (Finished length should be between 31″ and 34″.) You’ll use the whole width of the fabric. Just fold the fabric in half, selvage to selvage, with the wrong side of the fabric together and sew the top and side. Finish the seams the way you like. (I serge mine.) Hem the bottom open end. And you’re done. Once you figure out how to make a solid one, you can experiment with piecing different fabrics together for different looks. Add piping, ribbon, bias tape, ruffles, etc. as you see fit. They really are quick and fun. (Plus, you could make them as gifts. Kids LOVE having their own special pillowcase. With all the fun novelty fabric out there, you could make a special pillowcase for every kid in your life.)

I also made the tablecloths with stash fabric. My tables were 8 foot long folding tables (borrowed from the church). I cut random pieces of fabric in random lengths. (I kept a pad of paper next to the ironing board and wrote down the lengths as I cut them.) When I got to around 9 ft. (108″) I quit cutting. I pieced all those together, lining up one side of the selvages. I sewed the cut sides together. When I had all of them sewn together, I used a yard stick to even out the selvage side that was uneven. (Some fabrics are 44″ wide, some are 45″, and some are closer to 42″. I just picked the shortest side and cut all the others to match it.) I then had a 9 ft. long (maybe a couple inches more) and about 40″ (plus an inch or two) wide piece of fabric. I knew that would cover the table, but wouldn’t give much “hang” over the sides. So, I grabbed another piece of fabric and 3 pieces 10″ long. I sewed those strips together selvage to selvage. Then, I sewed that long strip down the side (just pick one of the 9ft. sides) of the larger piece. You’ll have some leftover when you get to the end. Just grab a rule and cut it off, making sure the corner is squared. I serged all the seams on the back of the tablecloth. I then serged around all the edges. That is it. If you don’t have a serger, you’ll have to finish you edges some other way. (I’d recommend a double fold hem, even though it’d take some time.) You could tuck under your serged edges and finish them, but I just left them. I used blue and green serging thread, so the edges looked pretty neat just serged.

I also made homemade popsicles. Of course, I have no pictures of them. They were Southern Sweet Tea Popsicles from the book Pops! I bought a popsicle mold (well, 2) that I could use wooden popsicle sticks in. I made the popsicles and put them into little Wilton bags. (I think they were large sucker bags or something.) Then, everyone had a little bag with a popsicle inside. They were a big hit. Very yummy. They were super strong, super sweet tea base with peaches and mint added to them. The frozen peach slices in the popsicles were heavenly. Seriously. I’m not sure I can ever go back to buying boxes of popsicles now that I know I can make my own gourmet popsicles for half the cost that taste 10x better! Kids and adults LOVED the popsicles.

As far as activities went, I didn’t plan any. I’m not big on planning out birthday party activities. It just isn’t my thing. It stresses me out to keep things on track and I stress the kids out trying to keep them on task. We put our kid size play tables in the driveway and set a box of sidewalk chalk on them, several containers of bubbles, and a few jump ropes on them. We also had a few of the kids outdoor riding toys out (not planned, I just forgot to put them in the garage). That was plenty to keep the kids all entertained and happy for 2 hours. The adults sat sipping sweet tea and eating cupcakes and cookies while the kids ran around the yard, drew pictures in the driveway, and blew millions of bubbles. Aidan also showed everyone how he rides his inchworm down our front sidewalk. (It really isn’t something for the faint of heart. That boy is going to be into extreme sports, I just know it.) Of course, none of the other kids were really brave enough to try it. (Or their parents were really into letting them try such a feat.) But he had fun showing them how fast the inchworm could go. (And if you have a reckless boy of your own, I will say that an inchworm down a hill is much better than most of the other riding toys we own. The inchworm can only move forward, so there is no accidental rolling backward down the hill on their way up the hill. It also only goes straight. No steering wheel. That greatly reduces the turn overs on the way down. You may want to look into buying your little daredevil one.)

All in all, I think the party was a success. And it was pretty easy to pull off. (I did have to make a schedule for the food making, since I didn’t want to get stuck having to do it all the day of the party. A week before, I made the first batch of popsicles. The Monday before, I made the second batch of popsicles. The Wednesday before, I made the cookies. The day before, which was Thursday, I made the cupcakes and the icing, but didn’t put them together. The day of, I iced the cupcakes. The Pastor made the tea and the ice. Then, an hour before the party, we set up everything.)

“New” Chair

My darling boys decided to destroy an awesome gold armchair we inherited from The Pastor’s grandparents. Seriously, I think I may be the only person who loved the gold crushed velvet chair, but it was totally awesome. The Pastor was pretty sad about the boys ripping open the cushion and popping off buttons. He was much more sentimentally attached to the chair.

Imagine his delight when I said, “I think I can fix this!” He, of course, wasn’t quite aware of my plan to fix it, but he was happy that I was doing something to salvage the beloved chair. Off I went to the fabric store and bought some super awesome fabric. No, they didn’t have crushed god velvet. Darn. I settled on a pretty bird print. I thought it would match my living room much more than it does, but it is awesome enough that I may redecorate around it.

I stripped all the old gold fabric off. (This is the part where The Pastor asked me if I knew what I was doing or had I simply gone mad. I replied that I was not crazy, and sort of kind of knew what I was doing.) The most tedious part was getting 40 year old staples out of the wood. Then, I reupholstered the chair in the new, beautiful fabric. I was planning to somehow attach the seat cushion to the chair to prevent my boys from ripping it off and using it as a trampoline, but I just couldn’t figure it out. I ended up making a new cover for it and it remains separate. I didn’t make a new skirt, because I felt the skirtless look updated the chair a bit, bringing it a more modern look. I also adding the brown stuff (I have no clue what that stuff is called. I bought it by the yard next to the window trims, tassels, and things.) to cover my staple lines.

I love it! It is not quite as comfy (I mean, crushed gold velvet is pretty awesome stuff to sit on) but it sure looks better!