Monster-Themed Birthday Party

Like most moms, sometimes I get a little carried away when it comes to my kids. I planned to be a sane mom and not overdo the first birthday of my first and only child, but my first and only child just turned one and that’s kind of a big deal.IMG_1708

I started with a monster theme. I used this tutorial I found on pinterest for the monsters. Most of the prints were from my stash. I got started on the sewing at our American Sewing Guild retreat in September. That was my last sewing hoorah before I really buckled down for a month of hard-core studying for my PE (professional engineering) exam that I took at the end of October.

The only real changes I made to the tutorial were to stabilize the zipper opening with a 1″ strip of interfacing and to use steam a seam to position the zippers before I topstitched around them.

I got about halfway through making the monsters at the 2 day retreat and mostly set them aside for the next month while I tried to spend every spare minute I could stand studying for my test.

In total I made 12 monsters. One for each cousin at the party and one to keep for the birthday boy. I got them done the morning of the party with my mother in law on last minute stuffing duty.

The zipper mouths added quite a bit of time to the overall project, but the kids were so totally thrilled with them that it was well worth the effort.

For decor I used paper products, including plastic table cloths, from Dollar Tree. I also purchased a cute monster themed cricut cartridge to make a cute banner and centerpieces. I spent a few nights after the little one was in bed during the week between the test and the party to put together the cricut monster banner, etc.

I also made a t-shirt for the little guy to wear using my favorite Oliver + S Field Trip Raglan pattern with grey and white Laguna Knit from


He’ll wear this cute t all winter which made this the most practical project for the party.

All in all the party was a success. We kept the food simple. I just did a veggie tray and some fresh popcorn since it wasn’t during meal time. My sister in law helped with the cupcakes and we got some sugar cookies…only because the Hot Italian loves sugar cookies and he offered to pick them up from his favorite bakery.

The kids LOVED the stuffed monsters which made the time I spent on them totally worth it.

Now I’m back to doing a little sewing for myself, which I’ll have to update you on soon.


A little sewing for my little boy

When I was pregnant I bought a copy of Kwik Sew’s “Sewing for Baby” on ebay for about $10.00.

kwik sew sewing for baby IMG_1405I remember my mom using Kwik Sew patterns to sew for us when I was a kid, so picking this up was a little nostalgic.

Some of the patterns are a little dated, but they are so basic that they can easily be adjusted for a more modern look.

Little D has been a string bean since he was a couple months ago. Since he’s so tall and thin it was hard to find pants to fit him. I thought he was going to start chunking up and I bought a few summer outfits from Carters in 6 and 9 month sizes. Unfortunately he’s barely starting to fill out the 6 month bottoms and it’s already halfway through July.

When I realized that all his shorts were going to be too small at the first of the summer I decided that making a few pair of shorts should be easy enough. I traced off the smallest size (0-3 mo, 24″ height, 13 lbs – at the time my guy was 14 lbs and 27″) and whipped up a pair with a piece of grey chambray I had in my scrap basket. They were really, really short. So I added an inch to the length and made a few pairs.

These got us through the first part of the summer. Then my mom came to visit in June and we decided to spend the day sewing. We made a few more shorts in the same size but just increased the length of the elastic in the waist since he’d gained a couple pounds. Again, all the fabric came from my stash. Once the pattern is traced off it takes about 20 minutes to make them and 3/8 yard of fabric.

IMG_1361We also made this adorable striped rugby shirt with a grey chambray collar to match the shorts. I believe the mustard knit was a 1/2 yard cut from Girl Charlee. I used the rugby pattern pieces and added the snap overlay for a onesie style shirt, adding 1/2 inch to the body length. Instead of putting ribbing on the sleeves, I just lengthened them and hemmed with a blindhem stitch. Since the knit isn’t really that stretchy this isn’t going to last through the end of the summer, but it is a size small and Little D is probably getting close to 16 lbs now.

IMG_1344I spent a few hours on the third of July making these cute overalls for Little D to wear on the 4th.

IMG_1368The bib part of the overalls has an overlay line that you just line up on the shorts pattern. There is a casing for elastic that goes around the back of the body. I made the elastic a little longer than recommended and it still seemed a lot more snug than I preferred, so I just moved the spot where the elastic is attached further toward the back. This also keeps them from looking too early 90s. As a child of the 90s I’m not ready to dress my child in that era.

Do you enjoy sewing for boys? I don’t find nearly as many boy outfits posted as I do little girl outfits. I admit that I hope to someday sew some cute little dresses, but I’m having fun sewing for Little D. In most cases it’s too time consuming and expensive to sew just to save money, but I think in the case of his little shorts this was a win-win. The polo and overalls, on the other hand, were purely for creativity’s sake.


A sewing marathon and lessons learned

Blogging and sewing are a perfect match. I finally got around to taking some photos this morning before it got so darn hot and I learned a lot from looking at these photos.

This Simplicity 1314 dress in navy ponte is just too big. I think the pattern was drafted for a non-stretch woven, so I should have gone down a size. I made it in a size 12 on top and 14 in the hips and ended up taking the extra ease out of the hips. I think it would be more flattering if it was a little more form-fitting. I might be able to rescue it by taking in the side seams 1/4″.


I made the black and white dotted Sewaholic Alma in a size 8 a few weeks ago. I ended up reducing the seam allowance to 3/8″ on the size seams and where the sleeve was set into the armscye. It still fit a little tight across the upper back, but overall it’s very wearable. I traced of a size 10 and made it again in a striped cotton shirting with a little stretch. I needed a zipper in the polka dot version, but not in the striped version which is probably partly due to the stretch and partly due to the larger size.

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I’m much happier with how the size 8 fits, but maybe a 10 in a non-stretch would work better too. I’ll have to fiddle around with that one a little to get it to a TNT. In any case, I think a small sway back adjustment would get rid of the fabric pooling in my lower back.

I was ogling this cute cherry print from Gertie’s new line at Joann’s several times before I bought it. I thought it would make a great loose summer top. I used Simplicity 2147 and cropped it to a tunic length.

IMG_1462I used McCall’s 6654 for the coral ponte knit pencil skirt. The only modification I made was to peg the hem 1/2″. I’m so delighted with how many things this coral coordinates with in my wardrobe. I thought the skirt could be taken in 1/2″ on the side seam, but I like how it’s hanging in these photos.

The True Bias Hudson pants were a little challenge for me in the crotch area. I’m still figuring out my crotch fitting issues. I ended up scooping out 1 inch from the center front and tapering to nothing behind the inseam. The navy pair probably needs another 1/4″ taken from the center front, but they’re loungewear and it’s good enough for me. I’ve been wearing them 3-4 times a week when I get home from work. I feel like these are a little more fitted on me than the pattern photos, but that might have to do with the crotch alteration that I made.

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This is the second time I’ve made the Megan Nielsen Briar top. The first time I made it pretty soon after my baby and I was about 15 lbs heavier. I wore that shirt at least once a week. I picked up this great navy and charcoal knit at Paron’s in the NY garment district and I think it’s about the best knit I’ve ever bought. It is the perfect weight, has a great drape and it just so yummy to wear. I made this version in a size Medium and it fits great. I get compliments on this top all the time. The high-low hem falls just right with this knit. Too bad the photo doesn’t really tell the story on this one.
IMG_1560Somehow I missed McCall’s 7100 when it came out. I’ve seen so many cute bomber jackets blogged recently but I didn’t want to spend the money on a more expensive pattern that I might only make once. I snatched the McCall’s version at a Joann’s pattern sale.

The bomber jacket is June’s “statement” piece. It turned out so cute in this floral stretch twill and I love the white ribbing too. It’s way too hot to wear this right now, but I might get some use out it in an air conditioned office.



An Update on Stash-busting and Some Home Dec Sewing

Pattern Review’s fabric stash contest came at the perfect time. So far I have completed 13 items in June:

3 tops for me (Megan Nielsen Briar, Sewaholic Alma, and Simplicity 2147)

1 jacket for me (McCall’s 7100)

1 shirt for my husband (McCall’s 6613)

2 shirts for my son (Burda 9436 and Kwik Sew – Sewing for Baby)

2 shorts for my son (Kwik Sew-Sewing for Baby

1 skirt for me (McCalls 6654)

2 pants for me (True Bias Hudson)

1 set of pillow covers (3 total)

That makes for 15 1/2 yards which is pretty impressive.

stashbusting challenge 201506

Let’s talk about the pillows…mostly because they have been taking up the most space in my sewing room for the past year.

This was before I rearranged my sewing space to make room for my new gravity feed iron. I bought the 24″ pillow forms when I finally found the perfect fabric for my bedroom.

sewing room

I rearranged my  cutting table and bookcase so that my ironing board was against a blank wall…ultimately making space for the iron of awesomeness.

sewing room 2

I finally got tired of moving the pillow forms from pile to pile as I looked through my lovely stash for inspiration for my next project. I spent an hour or so whipping up the pillow covers. They are made with a 22″ invisible zipper in one seam. Not too complicated. They really finish off the bedroom. I’m pretty pleased with them. I don’t do much home dec sewing, but it sure is rewarding.



Sewing Piping: Inspiration

While we’re talking about piping, how else can this fun little accent be used?

Inspiration from ready to wear:

Anthropologie always gets it don’t they?  I love looking at their site for unique and artistic sewing inspiration. How cute is this flat piping with a printed fabric?

And how about this cute floral sheath from Nordstrom?

I love how the piping on this jacket from Nordstrom creates a clean finish to the simple design of the jacket.

I want everything to have black and white striped piping since I saw Erin’s two dresses in Stylo Magazine.

Pink Debbie Dress-STYLO

There are many sewing patterns that suggest the use of piping, but really any pattern that has a great seam to showcase is a good place for piping.

I’ve made this Simplicity skirt a few times and I think it would be absolutely fabulous to use the Anthropologie piping and color blocked inspiration on the front panel.

Simplicity 1541


Sewing Piping: Techniques

Have you ever tried to sew with piping? Did you follow any techniques from online resources or sewing literature? I was winging it when I made my Butterick forties style shirtdress. It turned out just fine, but I would have had more success if I had done some research first.

My most recent issue of Threads magazine had a great little article on this topic. The basic gist of it is that you don’t want your layers of stitching to be right on top of each other. You end up with three rows of stitching in all – the row that makes the piping, the row to baste the piping to the seam, then the row that makes the seam. Each of these rows of stitching should be 1/16″ apart. You also want to leave enough room on the closest row that the cording can move inside the its fabric cover.
piping collar
Heather Lou from Closet Case files also has a great little tutorial on piping for her Carolyn Pajamas. I didn’t think through the piping around the sleeve band and it didn’t turn out so well. But it’s not in a really visible spot, so I just left it.piping sleeve
Piping can also be sewn flat without any cording. This is the technique that I used for Little D’s blessing outfit. I turned the hem toward the outside of the sleeve and placed the piping into the fold of the hem and stitched it down. This technique will work on any type of fabric (linen in this case) that is the same on either side. It wouldn’t work on the fabric that I used for the dress because the wrong side it different from the right side.

A forties style shirt dress: Butterick 5846

butterick 5846 2
This is an old make I just decided to photograph this morning and blog. I think I made it about 2 years ago. I had the pattern in my stash and googled it before I decided to make it up. I was inspired by the piping in this version. Cute huh?
The fabric is some mystery blend I got when I was on a business trip in Vancouver, BC. It was not expensive and it’s not really a great piece of fabric. I got the dress out after being stored away during my pregnancy and post-baby phase and it was a pain to iron. I did have the forethought to snap these photos before church this morning so it wasn’t nearly so wrinkly.
butterick 5846 side viewbutterick 5846 back view

I used a packaged piping from my local JoAnn. That stuff isn’t really that great to work with. I would definitely make my own piping next time.

I made a few adjustments for a forward shoulder on the yoke pieces. I was really happy with the fit of this in the shoulders. I also let out the waist tucks about 1/8″ on each and widened the skirt to accomodate. I’m about a size 12 in the bust and shoulders, 14 in the waist and 16 in the hips for most commercial patterns.

Has blogging photos of yourself ever made you reflect on your styling or fitting choices? Looking at these photos I would do two things differently – take in the waist a smidge and add a belt. I did put some extra thought into my shoes and happened upon these neglected sandals. Even though the shoes are more of a mint color and the piping and buttons are turquoise I think it works.


It’s March, How are your Resolutions?

Remember when I quietly announced that I was going to challenge myself to reduce my fabric stash? Well, I almost gave up on this resolution because I got behind on my tracking. But I’ve addressed that and I’m here to report on my progress.

First off, I did a little spring cleaning and got rid of about 20 yards of fabric. So that should put me ahead for the year, but let’s just assume that didn’t happen. How has my sewing/buying ratio stacked up so far?

I am ahead for the year, but only because I was so productive in January. What’s been going on since then? Well, I went back to work at the end of January so my life is a lot busier than it was before. And naptime has become studying time because I’m preparing to take the PE exam in mid April. I generally like to sew in big chunks of time rather than 30 minutes here and there. I’m probably going to have to change that for this season of my life because my little one needs me more than every 4 or 5 hours.


Special Boy, Special Day, Special Outfit

In the LDS (aka Mormon) tradition babies are named and blessed in our Sunday meeting. I was so excited to make our Little D something special to wear for his special day.

I started with McCall’s 6221 View E (Simplicity 2447 is very similar). Little D was on the border between newborn and size Small and I made the Small, lengthening the legs to a size Medium because he is tall.

I used a Robert Kaufman linen from my stash for the main fabric. I also had this Robert Kaufman Radiance (Silk/Cotton Blend) in my stash which I used for the vest overlay and a small flat piping accent on the sleeves.

The flat piping in the sleeve was not a feature of the pattern, but I thought it was a cute accent. I simply folded the hem under toward the outside of the sleeve and inserted the piping at the fold and topstitched. I did this in the flat before sewing the underarm seam.
Tiny sleeves are really hard to set, so to make it a little easier I trimmed the seam allowance for the sleeve seam to 3/8″ before setting. This made it much easier, though still a little tricky.
The vest is interfaced with Pellon Shapeflex to give it a little extra body. The collar and leg bands are interfaced with some weft interfacing I purchased last year at the Sewing and Stitchery Expo in Puyallup.
I used some cotton shirting for the undercollar, the lining, and the bias binding on the snap crotch. I had some size 15 Dritz snaps in my stash and used my SnapSetter to set them. Even though the SnapSetter is for size 16 snaps it worked well. I do feel that the snaps from Snap Source are better than the Dritz I hate to pay for shipping and I had the Dritz on hand. If this were something that would get a lot of wear, I would definitely buy snaps from Snap Source.

We had a lunch at our place afterward and I was so busy that I didn’t get any good photos of the little guy in his outfit, but we did get a family photo with my side of the family. Unfortunately the Costanzo cousins were all sick, so they were not with us that day.

Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned.


Senna Tote

I loved this senna tote pattern when I first discovered it and bought it sometime last year when they had a 50% off special at Willow & Co.

I don’t make bags very often. I can’t even remember the last time I made a bag. But I loved this bag design so much I bought the pattern.
I was most concerned about how to put the zipper in the curve but it went together very nicely. This is a thick bag, which is why it has such a nice structure to it. It has canvas interlining in addition to the quilt cotton being interfaced with fusible interfacing. My Bernina 350 did great even on the bulkiest seams.
I used a quilt cotton from my stash and a piece of gold leather from The bag is lined with black Kona Cotton (also in the stash), which I also used for the straps. At this point shown above when I was basting all the layers together I got out my walking foot to keep the layers from shifting. It helped a bunch. Although I’m not much of a quilter I am surprised at how useful I find my walking foot to be. It was also great for sewing on the leather because it doesn’t stick to the leather surface.
I was able to make this bag in a day, between nursing Little D. Then I put it on my dresser in my room to show off to The Hot Italian.
“What are you going to use it for?” he asked.
“I have no idea,” I replied.
Silly hubby…since when does sewing need to be practical?
I actually took it to a sewing class today. It was perfect for my little stash of supplies. It would also make a great diaper bag if I didn’t already have one.
It’s a great size. I only wish the straps were just a little longer. It’s pretty snug under my arm when I put it over my shoulder.
I guess I’ll have to make another one to determine the ideal strap length.