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Dolls & Daylight


Lately in our little corner of the world, we’ve been catching tiny glimpses of spring. While parts of our country are still trudging through a constant flurry of snowflakes and torrents of rain, here in Tennessee we are seeing longer, brighter days as the sunshine makes an early debut. All I can say is it has been glorious!

DollsandDaylight (4)

The other day, I received my West Elm catalog in the mail. If you haven’t discovered West Elm you should head over to their website for a peak at hundreds of lovely home decorating ideas. When I opened the front page, I was met with this image of bright, cheery, sunshiney goodness.

DollsandDaylight (5)

It made my day and only affirmed what I’ve known in my heart these past few days, spring really is coming!

In the few moments of spare time I’ve had lately, I’ve been working on a trial doll project for my niece’s birthday. I recently finished my doll’s body and thought I would share the results. I have seen many doll patterns floating around the internet but they all seemed too complicated to attempt until I found this Black Apple Doll pattern on Martha Stewart’s website.

fabric doll pattern

The pattern is from Emily Martin who is well-known from her Etsy shop, The Black Apple (be sure to check out her blog too). I am also working on a few clothing items to fit the doll–a hat, scarf, dress, apron, etc. As you can see, Ms. Dolly has no face yet, I can’t seem to decide what type of face she should have but will be sure to post pictures when I do.

fabric doll pattern

I am also working on backdrops to fit into a suitcase so Ms. Dolly has a home of her own. Check out these wonderfully creative doll suitcases at Hart & Sew.

Fabric doll pattern


Men’s Shirt Refashion + Farmer’s Market


I think the best thing about Summer and Saturdays is the Farmer’s Market. I don’t know if there is a better excuse for waking up early on the weekend. This weekend, Kristin and I manned the Aunt Willie’s Wildflower station at the Kingsport market and had such a great morning.

I think she was a bit more awake than I was at this point. We’ve also started taking instagram photos of our last year together so here’s a look at that one too.

The shirt I am wearing in these pictures takes me to my next topic of discussion–clothing refashions.

Some of our friends were thinning out their closets last week. I peeked into one of the bags destined for the college “share closet” and stole this men’s dress shirt. Of course, when I tried the shirt on it was incredibly long with sleeves that extended about 8 inches past my hands plus oodles of growing room under the arms and around my middle (sorry, no before pics that are worth showing you). Here is a quick and dirty tutorial to give you an idea of how easy it is to take in a shirt.

To start, I buttoned the shirt and turned it inside out. Next, I lined up the front and back pieces, set my sewing machine needle in 2 inches from the original sew lines (or however much you need it to go in) and followed the shape of the original line down the shirt sides. Where the original line curves for shape (which is very little for men), I exaggerated the curve so it would hug in the right places (think man shape vs. woman).

For the sleeves, I followed the same guidelines as above, moving my needle in from the original sew line and continuing to sew up the arm, around the armpit and connecting it to the line I sewed down the shirt sides.

Next, I cut the sleeves at the elbow, folded a cuff and sewed it in place.

Not the fanciest sew job but to the untrained eye, it looks pretty darn good (and it only took 15 minutes). Now I have a fun dress shirt to go with my skinny jeans. So, next time you are thinking about throwing out the husbands old shirts, think again and see what fun fashions you can come up with.


Tee to Tank Tutorial


Working on a farm in the summer, in Tennessee, tends to get a little hot and a lot humid. I wish I could say I’ve become accustomed to the humidity but every time I think I’m beginning to adjust, the summer ends and we start the adjustment process all over again the following year.

Is there a point to me rambling about the heat? Why yes, now that you mention it, there is…working on a farm you learn quickly the value of wearing long pants and long-sleeved t-shirts to stay cool and keep yourself protected. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to handle the long-sleeved t-shirt. Maybe its psychological but it feels SO HOT. Instead, I opt for tank tops, lots and lots of tank tops. Of course, that means a lot of shirts end up ruined. I decided this summer, I had to come up with cheaper dispensable farm clothes.

I saw this tee to tank tutorail on Crafterhours, but the idea is from Upcycled Education. Here’s my own little documented attempt at the tank.

First, choose an over-sized t-shirt that you never wear (mine was a $3 pink craft tee from Michaels).

Next, make your cuts.
Cut #1: Lay the t-shirt flat and cut off the sleeves just inside the seam.
Cut #2: Cut a straight line across the top of the shirt just under the neck.

Cut #3: Cut the bottom seam off the tshirt plus another small strip immediately above. The strip with the seam you can throw away, the second strip needs to be cut into 2 equal strips.

If your tee is a bit too large, as mine was, turn it inside out and lay it flat. Place pins 1/2 inch inside the original side seam all the way up to the armpit on both sides. Sew along the pins. Remove excess fabric and turn right side out. Tada!

Hem the top edges of the tee, leaving a 1/2 inch loop. Once the hem is sewn, thread one of the fabric strips from the bottom of the tee through each hem loop. I poke the end of a skewer through the fabric strip and pushed it through the loop, however, the smarter method would be to place the fabric strip on the shirt edge before folding it over for the hem.

All that’s left is putting on your newly fashioned tank and tying the front and back ties together at the height that suits you best. There are lots of ways to tie the drawstring so put on your creativity cap.

That’s it–a $3 tee shirt turned tank that’s loose, comfy and won’t bum me out if it gets ruined on the farm. Tomorrow I’m planning to turn some large print tees into work shirts too, I’ll share pictures soon.

Be sure to head over to Upcycled Education and thank Jen for the great tutorial inspiration and check out the actual tutorial on Crafterhours.


Rosette Tote


A gal can never have too many bags, at least that was my rationale for making this latest tote. Totes come in all shapes and sizes, patterns and colors, and of course price tags. Since the price tags are usually uncomfortably out of my price range, I choose to make my own after scrounging around in the $2 bin at the fabric store.

My first bag-sewing attempt was a diaper bag from Make Baby Stuff.com. You can find the original tutorial here. This tutorial is extremely easy to follow, even if you are a beginner.

After my first successful diaper bag, I began to draw my own patterns in order to make different shaped purses and totes with a variety of pocket combinations. The instructions in the link can be used for pretty much any type of bag combination you can think up.

The rosettes I attached with hot glue. These are very simple to make. Cut a strip of fabric about 2 in. wide and 10 in. long. The actual size doesn’t really matter, the wider you cut the fabric the fatter your twist will be. The longer you cut the fabric, the more times you will be able to wrap it around itself.

Once the strip is cut, simply hold one end still while twisting at the other. With the fabric completely twisted, place it on a flat surface and start to wrap it around itself. Have sewing pins ready to hold the flower in place while you continue to wrap. Am I confusing you yet?

I’ll try to make a better rosette tutorial with pictures at a later date. Basically, once you have wrapped all of the twisted fabric around itself (so it looks like a rose), pin it, hot glue it onto another piece of fabric, cut around the edges and glue to your tote!

Here are the measurements I used minus the lining. The diaper bag tutorial gives more details with images if you need them.

Fabric:

4-15X21 (green, 2 for each side to reinforce)
1-10X21 (pattern)
2-5X21 strips (pattern for straps)
1-8×23 strip (green for bottom)
2-3×11 strips (purely decorative straps on the front pocket)

I didn’t have enough of the two colors of fabric to make a lining for this bag (yes, I suppose I could have used another color). Here is the order of my sewing:

1. fold over the top edge of pocket lining (the 21 in. side) and sew a 1/2 in. hem
2. align pocket with the 2-15X21 pieces of fabric (I use 2 to reinforce the walls, making them more sturdy)
3. pin the vanity strips of fabric over the pocket and sew each side down (that’s 4 lines of stitching through four pieces of fabric)
4. pin this front piece to the two remaining 15X21 pieces (right sides facing in)
5. sew up the 15 in. sides making sure to catch all pieces of fabric in the stitch
6. pin the bottom piece to the bottom edges and sew (this one’s tricky, check out the tutorial)
7. flip the tote right side out, fold over the top edges 1/2 in. and stitch
8. fold strap fabric (5X21) in half (hotdog style) with wrong side facing out, sew along the long edge, turn right side out
9. pin straps 5 in. from each side and sew in place


15 Minute Dress


So, I like clothes…a lot. Although I usually default to jeans and a fitted T-shirt, my fashion tastes did evolve while working at Nordstrom before Jack and I got engaged. Nordstrom clothes+discount=hooked.

Nowadays, being a young married couple, there isn’t much shopping taking place. Instead, I look at clothes online and dream of flowing cotton dresses, classic cardigans, and modest heels.

Every now and then, I see a dainty dress and think, “I can make that, no problem.” Unfortunately, it usually turns out to be a problem. I tend to overestimate my sewing abilities and let my impatience get the best of me, usually resulting in a less-than-satisfactory end product.

This time however, the end product was a success and it really only took me 15 minutes.

I chose this olive/purple stretchy fabric, it’s like a rayon spandex blend of some sort. First, I took two pieces of the fabric and placed right sides together. Then, I set a dress, that I love, on top of the fabric (see below) and placed pins in the fabric around the dress to copy the shape.

Next, I sewed 4 inches across the top for the shoulders, not sewing all the way to the edge. Then I measured down about 6 inches (the dress I copied had wide arm holes) and started sewing from that point down to the bottom of the fabric following the line of pins. I got the idea for the simple sewing on the shoulders and sides from this baby hankie dress which explains the setup more precisely sorry forgot to take pictures of the setup).

Finally, I turned the dress inside out and added a cute belt and some matching shoes. Tada! A dress I can actually wear (excuse the headless pictures, it was late and I have no desire to have my picture taken). I still have to hem the bottom, but I wanted to get the pictures up. Want to try your hand at sewing an outfit? Trust me this is the simplest outfit ever ever. You CAN do this. Happy sewing!


Tiered Baby Skirt


As if baby clothes weren’t cute enough, last night I attempted to spruce up my original baby skirt pattern with a few simple additions and I love how it turned out! I mean, basically everything is cuter small, but adding little ruffles…who can resist?!

This is very simple and if you are anything like me, you will feel so accomplished when it is complete.

Instructions:

Most of the piecing together follows the directions for the original baby skirt I made a few posts back. Start by hemming the bottom edge of your main fabric pieces (the front and back).

Before you sew the front and back pieces together, cut 3-5 pieces of the same fabric (how many depends on how much you want them to overlap) that are the same length across as the front of the skirt (11in) and 3in. wide.

Fabric Measurements:

2-11×16 outer fabric
2-11×16 lining
3 or 5-11×3 outer fabric

I chose not to put the lining in this skirt but feel free to include in yours.

Next, hem the 11×3 pieces of fabric lengthwise on one side only (this will be the bottom of your ruffle).

After all the hems are sewn, align and pin these scraps to the front of the skirt. Place the fabrics with right sides touching and with the bottom-hem side at the top (essentially upside down).

Pin the 3in. pieces to the skirt starting at the skirt waist. Overlap the first ruffle by 1-1.5 inches and continue with each subsequent piece.

Sew the non-hemmed edge across the front of the skirt. Start with the bottom ruffle and work your way up. After each strip is sewn, remove pins and fold fabric over the seam so the seam is hidden underneath.

Once you have flipped each piece of fabric over onto itself, iron them down. You should have a piece of fabric that looks something like this…

After all scraps are sewn to the front of the skirt, measure 1in. from each edge and sew vertically down the entire skirt, over the top of all of your scraps. Forgot to get a picture of this before piecing it all together. You can kinda see the seam lines on the picture below however.

The rest, pretty much follows the original tutorial. You’ll need to sew the front and back of the skirt with right sides facing each other, then fold over the top to make a pocket to feed the elastic through, and finally secure your elastic.

And voila! A cute tiered baby skirt to spruce up baby’s wardrobe. I used the same fabric and appliqued a circle on a plain white onesie to make the outfit complete. With this basic idea you can go crazy with creativity and ruffle all sorts of old clothes. Good luck and happy sewing!


How to Hem Jeans


You know that feeling you get when you purchase the perfect pair of jeans and all you want to do is put them on and strut your stuff? Unfortunately, the jeans are way too long and you want to wear them now! This is a common issue in our household seeing as I am obsessed with jeans, have short legs, and am extremely impatient.

I used to think jeans were so difficult to hem and I never liked them quite as much after hemming because they no longer had the original stitching.

Then I discovered an easy way to keep your old hem without cutting off tons of fabric and possibly ruining your brand new pair of jeans. The original tutorial can be found here. For someone like me who tends to have to sew things twice to get it right, this is a great technique.

Instructions:

First, put on those fabulous jeans and decide how much material you need to remove. I love this hemming method because you don’t have to spend an hour pinning and re-pinning to make each cuff match the other. Just measure the excess.

Next, cut that measurement in half. If you need to take off 2 inches, now you are going off of a 1 inch measurement.

Now, make a cuff and measure this amount (the 1 inch) from the original hem edge, not the end of the jeans. Measure and pin all the way around your new cuff.

Stitch along the edge of the original hem. The sides can get tricky. I always start on the outside seam, the one that shows the jean thread. This ensures that when you flip the pant leg right-side-out, the threads that stand out will align all the way down the leg.

Flip the material inside the leg. Iron the new hem down and presto, shorter pants, same old hem. (If having the excess on the inside bothers you, simply cut it off.)

I’ve included a picture of a wide hem as well. I find this hemming technique works best with wide hemmed jeans. It can be a bit trickier with the normal thin hems like the one above.

Estimated hem time is about 10 minutes so you can be in your jeans and feelin’ good in no time. Good luck and happy hemming!


Baby Skirt


Seeing as it is my spring break, I have decided to celebrate this week by working on all the fun little projects I have been dying to try for my new niece. Today’s project, skirts!

Unfortunately, I have no babies or dolls to get a good picture of the skirt, but trust me it’s adorable and the pictures don’t do it justice.

This skirt took me about 30 minutes to complete. All I did was cut two 11×16 pieces of one fabric (the pink) and two 11×16 pieces of cream for the lining. Start by sewing the two pink pieces together (along the 11in sides), right sides facing each other. Same with the inner lining. Then, with the two sets still inside out, slip the lining around the outside of the outside piece and line up your seams.

Next, grab both layers and fold over 1/2 in. at the top of the skirt and sew along the cut edge leaving a pocket to slip elastic through later on. The hem the two layers separately. I suggest hemming the lining at 1/2 inch and the outer layer at 1/4 in.

Last of all, cut a small slit through the top folded edge (be sure to go through both layers on the inside but not to cut all the way through the front of the skirt). Next, attach a 1/8 in. elastic strip to the end of a pencil (I used a pin) and slide it through the hole and all the way around the skirt. Once you have two ends of the elastic pull so it is snug and sew over the two pieces to secure.

Very very simple to make. I’m sure you could all figure these out on your own but hopefully, this will help get your creative juices flowing. I have 4 more fabrics that I am using to make these this week so I’m sure you’ll be seeing more pictures very soon. Happy sewing!


Baby Shoes


I had an itch to sew today and decided to give these baby shoes a try. The pattern is simple to follow and can be found here.

I had a few issues getting equal tension on each foot, but I am pretty pleased at my first attempt. Looking forward to trying some different patterns. Baby Avynlea will have the coolest shoes on the block!


Diaper Bag


I made these diaper bags for a friend and also for my sister-in-law when we heard the big news. The bags are very very simple to make and require little sewing expertise, which is perfect for me.

Diaper Bag

The pattern is available at www.makebabystuff.com. The website has a printable pattern making it easy to place right on top of your fabric and cut the right proportions. They have lots of other neat patterns as well but this is my favorite.

Diaper Bag

I loved this pattern and instructions because once you’ve completed one bag you can play around with the dimensions of your paper pattern to make pretty much any shape/type of bag you want using the same instructions (will post pictures of some of my favorites later).

Diaper Bag

I have listed the materials below so you can quickly see how little is required for this project. Full instructions and pattern can be found here.

Diaper Bag

Materials:

1.5 yards canvas or other sturdy fabric 1.5 yards lining fabric 1/2 yard patterned fabric magnetic snap, 7″ zipper & velcro interfacing (optional) pins, scissors, sewing machine, etc