Thursday, November 06, 2014

Uptown Girl Coat Pattern Review

Uptown raincoat 1

Lately I have been making nearly all of Esther's clothes (except a few things, like jeans) - it's actually become a bit of a problem that I can't get myself to stop making her clothes and work on any of my other sewing projects! In any case, I thought it would be fun to sew her a raincoat. I bought the uptown girl coat pattern from Make it Perfect and sewed up the coat using aqua PUL (waterproof fabric often used in cloth diaper covers), lined in quilting cotton (one of the newly re-released far far away prints from Heather Ross), and using a vintage button from my stash.  This was my first coat-sewing experience and I think it turned out pretty cute!

Uptown raincoat 2

The pattern was well written and the construction of the jacket was well-thought out - I liked how they had you turn it through a sleeve (although it might not work well if you used a more stiff and bulky outer fabric).  I read some other reviews online and made a size 1 for width and a size 2 for length, since Esther is on the long and lean side and I didn't want it to be too bulky, plus the fit is loose anyways.  My one gripe with the pattern is that the hood is really not deep enough and as a result it doesn't stay up on her head well - not great when we are out playing in the rain.

Uptown raincoat 3

I wasn't sure how the PUL would work with this pattern, especially with the gathers, but it worked pretty well, and the finished coat is soft and comfortable.  As cute as the lining is, in retrospect I wish that I had lined it with a lightweight fleece instead, since the cotton at the cuffs gets wet and dirty really easily.  Esther loves the coat though, and whenever she sees it she wants to put it on and then go outside and play!

Uptown fleece 1

I wanted to give this pattern another try with a deeper hood, and Esther was needing a lightweight fleece jacket (for the occasional non-rainy day that we get), so I bought this cute polka dot fleece fabric from  I love how this coat turned out and she has already gotten a lot of use out of it!

Uptown fleece inside

I decided to make the jacket unlined but to line the hood with a lightweight green jersey (from an upcycled t-shirt).  To convert the pattern to be unlined I added extra width at the jacket fronts to fold over and create a placket, and extra length at the bottom and the sleeves to make hems.  To make the hood deeper I added something like 2.5" to the outer hood edge and 1/2" to the lining hood edge, so that the overall hood would be 1.5" deeper, with the fleece wrapping around to the inside.  I also sewed the edge of the hood into a casing and put in an elastic to make sure the hood would stay up well.  Finally, I finished the neck edge of the jacket with a strip of off-white jersey.  I left the rest of the inside seams unfinished, since they aren't visible and the fleece doesn't fray.

I also altered the sleeve pattern to make the sleeves a bit less full and take out the gathers at the top of the sleeves, just as my personal preference.  For the closure I used three large green buttons from my button stash instead of the one button the pattern calls for and I think it looks really cute!

Uptown fleece 2

The hood fits great with the extra depth and really stays up, I like the effect of adding the elastic.  The gathers in the pattern are really cute in the fleece and it was quick to sew up since I had already made it once and I skipped the lining this time.

After making these two coats I decided to try another coat pattern and make Esther another rain coat with laminated cotton so I'll be back to share that soon!  In the meantime, wish me luck peeling myself away from sewing yet more toddler clothes to actually work on other projects - like maybe some clothes for me for once?  Not to mention that it is now NOVEMBER and I should really get cracking on some holiday sewing!

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Halloween Monkey Costume


This year was Esther's first time trick or treating so I was really excited to sew her costume.  We decided she should be a monkey since the "ee ee" monkey noise is one of the animal noises she likes to make, but it is also very appropriate since she is a big climber and explorer, always keeping us on our toes.


I traced some pajamas to draft a pattern and then added a hood, ears and a tail.  I probably could have added a bit more ease, it was a little snug but the fleece had enough stretch that it worked out.  I put pipecleaners in the tail so it could be bent into shape.  I possibly should have put the tummy patch a bit higher (and made the ears a bit smaller) but all in all I am really happy with how it turned out!

I came up with a pretty easy way to make the ears so I took some photos as I was working to show you how:


I layered two pieces of brown felt with one piece of beige felt on top, and sewed an ear shape with one side open, then trimmed it close to the seam.  Then I turned it inside out so that the beige felt was sandwiched between the two pieces of brown felt, and sewed around about 3/8" from the seam to create the ear lobe.


Then I trimmed out the inner part of the brown fleece on one side of each ear, close to the seam.


To attach the ears to the hood, after deciding where to place them, I first sewed them down face down (facing forward).


Then I flipped the ears back and sewed a seam just barely catching the front edge of the ear, which made them stick out nicely.


Happy halloween from my monkey to you!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Dr. Seuss Outfit

I am very excited to be participating in the Fat Quarter Shop Dream Big with Dr. Seuss blogger challenge, using their Dr. Seuss ABC's Fat Quarter bundleDr. Seuss's ABC's is a favorite book in our house, so I was very excited about these fabrics, and I kept having phrases from the book pop in my head as I was working with them (it's catchy!).  Fat Quarter Shop put together a video tutorial showing how to make a cute baby quilt with the bundle; I went in a different direction and made a cute toddler outfit.

seuss outfit

Esther has nearly outgrown her last set of quick change pants, so I made her some 24 month sized ones to last through the winter. The main fabric for these pants is a lightweight green corduroy that I had on hand, and I used the ABC patchwork print for the bum panel and a patch on the shirt.  Rather than making the pants reversible, they are mostly lined in upcycled flannel (from a sheet) with the yellow polka dot print just on the bottom inside to make a cute cuff.

back of pants

The alphabet bum is so cute and colorful!  In making the pants, I made the same basic modifications as my last pairs - I narrowed the outside leg seams (making the waist/legs wider) but them added more curve to the inseam to make the legs a bit narrower again.  That way they aren't too much of a squeeze to get on over her diaper bum but have a bit less of a boxy look.

seuss pants front

Not that I shy away from unisex clothes, but I thought with the boy-ish style and colors of the pants, it would be good to have a shirt that was more clearly a girls style.  I upcycled a orange shirt to make a long sleeved top with a gathered neckline (my own pattern), with yellow fold-over elastic for the neckband giving a nice contrast color.  I wanted the shirt to tie in with the pants so I put a patch on from the same patchwork ABC fabric.

umbrella yak patch

Originally I cut a patch out of the big alphabet panel to use on this shirt (with the E elephant for Esther) but it was a bigger patch and it was too stiff to work well with the gathers in the neckline.  So I picked it out and made this smaller, lower patch and am saving the E for another shirt!  I am planning to save the rest of the panel to use for applique patches for other kids items in the future - I foresee lots of cute initial T-shirt gifts.

I also made a second pair of pants which turned out even more boy-ish so I think I am going to save them for a future baby gift.

bear pants

I used the bear fabric for the bum panel on these and the green dot for the contrast cuff lining.  The main fabric for these is upcycled from a chambray shirt of Lawson's, and I actually used the reverse side which was a bit lighter.  I lined these pants in upcycled flannel as well, so both pairs of pants should be nice and warm for the winter.

flannel lining

I usually think of sewing kids clothes with fabric yardage so this was a fun challenge to realize how much I could do with a few fat quarters!

Disclosure: Fat Quarter Shop provided me with the fat quarter bundle of fabric for this challenge, but all opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Improv I-spy Baby Quilt

Well, I just looked up and realized that after a summer full of lots of fun with a very active and mobile toddler Esther, and plenty of time crafting, I didn't manage to blog at all. Oops! Other bloggers, does that happen to you where you want to spend every spare minute squeezing in the actual crafts and so you don't make time to blog about it?

Improv I-spy 1

Now that it is really starting to feel like fall I am planning to get back in a regular habit of blogging. So I wanted to share this improv i-spy quilt that I recently finished for a friend's baby (after it sat on my design wall most of the summer - hopefully they still get some good use out of it even though he's probably crawling around more than laying on blankets now!)  I started out cutting different size i-spy squares and framing them with different widths of solid colors, making great use of jellyroll fabrics.  I originally had thought about making them into wonky stars but I decided to keep it simpler and have the i-spy squares scattered on an improv pieced background.  I used my design wall to lay it out and pulled together a bunch of different grey fabrics for the background.  It turned out a bit darker than I anticipated but I think it's a fun modern take on an i-spy quilt!

improv i-spy 3

I did a quick free motion meander quilting on it, and made an effort to avoid falling into my normal trap of tiny quilting - I couldn't believe how fast it went with big meanders, it probably only took an hour to quilt!  It was good to get some more FMQ practice, I think I should be brave and try a non-meander design pretty soon.

improv i-spy 2

I backed it with a perfect-sized australian animals fabric that I had in my stash and bound in a solid teal.  I accidentally trimmed too close to the orange block when I was squaring up the quilt - originally it was intended to be floating in the middle like the rest of the blocks - but I actually like how it turned out that that one block is against the binding.

I have been doing tons of sewing clothes for Esther (more on that soon), so I'm having a hard time focusing on my quilting projects... I always think I'll get back to them after I just sew her one more shirt, haha.  But I have another baby quilt half pieced and a bunch of similar i-spy squares started for another i-spy variation for us to keep, so I should really get back to it soon!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

More Quick Change Baby Pants

strawberry pants

Esther got a ton of use out of the first batch of quick change baby pants that I made her, I couldn't resist making her a slew more when she outgrew them.  (Pattern from Anna Maria Horner's Handmade Beginnings book (affiliate link)).  Most of these I kept the print selection simpler and just used two prints, with one for the main pants and the other for the butt panel, then the opposite for the other side.   That way the butt panel and the cuff match for both sides.  I love love love this Heather Ross Briar Rose Strawberry print and it looks so cute on these pants. I can't resist dressing her in these whenever they are clean!

bunny pants

I also love how these bunny pants turned out, I had been saving this Aneela Hoey fabric (from her Posy line) for a special project and decided these pants would be it! These I actually lined with a lavender fabric because I figured the bunnies would be too cute to ever be reversed. The only downside to these pants is that they get dirty really easily so they aren't great for digging in the mud at the park, but they are cute enough to make up for it.

elephant pants

I actually made these elephant pants before Esther was born, when we knew we were having a girl but I still really wanted to make her gender neutral clothes. (The elephant fabric is from Cloud 9's Ed Emberley fabric line). Which obviously is not as high a priority for me now, haha. Not that I don't dress her in plenty of gender neutral things, I just have loosened up and realized that part of the fun of having a little girl is dressing her in adorable strawberry and bunny outfits. I had nearly finished the pants but I went back and took them apart and resewed them with narrower side seams to make them wider in the waist/butt, since the first pair I had made originally were so tight. I love the elephants on these pants and while the other side (with elephants as the main pants print) is super cute she more often wears them on this side since they don't get dirty quite so easily.

leafy pants

Finally, I made her a pair of simpler green leafy pants. She actually was wearing these on St. Patrick's day very fittingly, and totally accidentally - I was at a kids event where all the other children were purposefully dressed in green and I hadn't been thinking about it at all. One time when wearing lots of green paid off! I also modified the pattern a bit more for this pair of pants (and the others, except the elephant pants that I had sewn earlier) - since I was letting out the side seam to make more room in the bum, I also narrowed the leg by adding more of a curve to the inseam, making the legs narrower at the bottom. This changes the shape of the pants a bit but I think it looks better than the extra-wide leg that resulted from the other adjustment I made and it also looks a bit more feminine. I did have to be careful to make the bottom of the leg still straight so that they cuff well.

I have to say, it took some willpower not to make more of these pants - these were all 12 month size and I am trying to hold off on making more until the fall when I see what size she is in then... I'm figuring that as she gets taller this summer she may be able to wear this current set as capri pants for a while too.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mod Mosaic Baby Quilt

mod mosaic baby quilt

I realized that I never shared this baby quilt which I made over a year ago - before she was born for a baby who is now walking!  I used Elizabeth Hartman's Mod Mosaic design although I think I pieced it somewhat differently than in her original floor pillow tutorial - I pieced small sections together randomly and then laid it out rather than laying out all the pieces first.

mod mosaic quilt detail

I mostly used the green/yellow/orange/pink colorway of Thomas Knauer's Savanna Bop fabric line, with coordinating fabrics from my stash, since the parents had shared a similar color scheme fabric with giraffes that they were using for curtains.  I quilted it with looping free motion meander design.  I didn't want to put a border on the quilt but I also wanted to echo the white strips in the quilt, so I used a flanged binding to have a border of white next to the green binding.

mod mosaic binding

It seems like our friends are having another baby boom this spring so I am hoping to make a number more baby gifts for all these new cuties soon!

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Guest Post on Sew Mama Sew

I am super excited to be sharing a tutorial for an Offset Raglan Top for Kids over on Sew Mama Sew. Hop on over and check it out (and see the photos of my adorable model wearing it)!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Winter 2014 Kids Clothes Week

leggings skirt

Last week was the winter 2014 Kids Clothes Week challenge, and I was able to nearly meet the challenge to sew kids clothes for an hour each day all week... I missed one day because Esther was teething and was having trouble sleeping and I've been having problems with waking her up by sewing if she is sleeping too lightly, so I didn't want to push it by trying to sew.  Really hoping she outgrows this problem soon or I may have to rethink having my sewing area upstairs near her bedroom.  In any case, I was happy that I got to sew so much and I made some cute (and useful) new clothes for Esther!  I had had the idea to make a skirt attached to leggings after seeing a pair of leggings with a shorter ruffle attached on a friend's baby.

leggings skirt 2

I made both the leggings and the skirt from upcycled knit shirts, reusing the original hems.  It turned out really cute although for the next iteration I will probably make the skirt a bit shorter!  Having the skirt attached to the leggings makes it a bit less likely to get in the way when she's crawling and also just makes it easier dressing and undressing her (which it feels like I do a thousand times a day with diaper changes etc).

knit pants

I also made several pairs of upcycled pants/leggings - these two were made from heavy interlock turtlenecks which turn out to make the perfect weight for cold weather baby pants.  I didn't get a picture of another pair of leggings I made out of a cute pink fabric with tiny white hearts on it - unfortunately the fabric stretched out quite a bit when she wore them so that's a bummer, but she'll still probably get some good use out of them for the next few weeks around valentine's day.  You can see the green pants are super comfy:

green pants

I also made a couple upcycled knit cardigans similar to the ones I made for the last KCW (here and here) but in a big larger size.  As you may be able to tell from the photos in this post, getting Esther to stay still long enough to get a good photo of her wearing the clothes I make continues to be a challenge, she is really always on the go (or trying to grab the camera), not to mention that she doesn't love having her clothes changed - so I didn't get shots of all the clothes on her.  You can still get a pretty good idea of this shirt, though, I think - I improvised the v-neck and am really happy with how the binding I put on around the neck/placket turned out.

green v-neck cardigan

My favorite project from this KCW is definitely this aqua cardigan, which should fit her for quite a while - the sleeves are rolled up about 2-3" here.

aqua cardigan

I love how the white binding on the button placket gives this a sophisticated look and the white buttons echo the polka dots.  She has gotten a ton of use out of the cardigans I made her for the last KCW so I may just keep making them in successively larger sizes as she grows!

aqua cardigan 2

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Lone Star Mini Quilt and mini-tutorial

lone star mini

I am nearly caught up with my blogging backlog, and I wanted to share this project from over a year ago (!) - a lone star mini quilt which I made for my friend Natalie of Greenleaf Goods.  Natalie was so nice and sent me some lovely placemats made with Lotta Jansdotter's Bella fabric when we moved into our new house, so when she moved to Boston I knew I wanted to sew something up for her, too.  I had seen some lone star quilts in her pinterest boards and I thought a mini quilt would be just the thing to brighten up her space!

lone star mini detail

I pulled some fabrics in a palette that I thought Natalie would like and machine pieced the star (more on that below) and it came together pretty quickly!  I added a few lines of echo quilting around the star and some hand quilted lines inside the star.  When I bound it I added twill tape to two corners for hanging.

lone star mini back

Here's a quick mini-tutorial on how I did the machine piecing (I know that I looked at several tutorials online when I was figuring this out but it was so long ago now that I'm afraid I don't remember where to link to them).  This isn't a full tutorial with all the measurements and everything you'd need to exactly recreate this mini-quilt but it should be enough to show you how to do this technique.

If you look at the star, it is made up of 8 sections, each of which has 3 columns (or rows, if you prefer) of 3 diamonds.  Each of those three columns has a different set/order of fabrics.  Cut strips of fabric long enough that you'll be able to cut 8 units out of each strip (one for each section of the star), and piece them together in your groups of three, staggering the ends if you wish (to save fabric).  Cut into diamond shapes at a 45 degree angle making sure to account for the seam allowance in determining the width to cut.  ** I don't have notes on what width/length strips I used or how wide I cut the diamonds but I can go back and try to recreate this info if folks are interested **

lone star mini assembly 4

Once you have your strips cut, lay them out as they will be sewn together, like this:

lone star mini assembly 2

Make sure they are not laid out like this!

lone star mini assembly 1

Then you will piece them in the order you have laid them out.  (The next set of photos are in different fabrics because I was testing the technique before I made the real quilt).  In order to match your points, first take a pencil and use a ruler to mark the 1/4" line at each of the seams.

lone star mini piecing 2

Then lay your two strips that you are piecing right sides together and put a pin through the two seams at the point where you have marked.  Check that your pin is going through exactly at the seam on both sides, then secure your pins and sew the seam with a 1/4" seam allowance (going through the marked points).

lone star mini piecing

Press open and sew the second seam for each section in the same way.

Then I added triangles of background fabric to each section, pieced them together and squared it up.  Here is a view of the finished piecing - I love how neat all the seams look pressed open.

lone star mini piecing
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