I run, I craft, I write, and I make your favorite clothes.

I've never met anything I couldn't sew. Sewing makes me happy. I specialize in heirloom-quality garments and modern but timeless design. I love the challenge of creating garments specific to your needs, whether a tutu for a sensitive little ballerina, an extra tough pair of pants that is soft on the inside for that rough and tumble kid, your every day favorite clothes, or an elaborate formal gown. When it comes to sewing, I make things happen!
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I know it’s right in the middle of my quilt market prep, but I have been admiring Vintage May ever since I first noticed it, so when hosts by Kristin of Skirt As Top and Jessica of Craftiness Is Not Optional invited me to participate, I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist! (And I knew I wouldn’t want to miss it, even if it meant staying up later than is good for me in order to do it!) vintage may

I have always been fascinated by the construction of clothes, even as a child.  I want to know how things go together.  As I grew up and began making  and buying my own clothes, I became more and more interested in how clothes stay together.  We have so much machinery and technology available to us, and affordable to the home sewist these days,  that it’s easier than ever to whip up a garment in a couple hours at home.  I’m always surprised when I turn a vintage garment inside out to see the finishes inside. Their complexity to achieve finishes for which we have specific machinery nowadays, yet handmade look they have (even ready to wear) astounds me!

I have had a crazy polyester print sitting in my stash for quite a while, and honestly I never thought I would use it. Recently, though, Ella has become interested in Vintage EVERYTHING.  We went to Cleveland last weekend to see Neko Case at the Beachland Ballroom and while having Mother’s Day Brunch (gluten free biscuits with vegan mushroom gravy and a page-long cocktail list?  YES PLEASE!), we discovered a vintage shop called “This Way Out” in the basement (there was no way out, by the way) where she tried on every dress.  Because my girl is big for her age, and because she somehow still has a toddler-like belly, she can wear Adult size S clothes, though the shoulders are always too large – naturally.  John and I encouraged her to get a couple dresses anyway, and she has been wearing them constantly.

I asked her when we got home from our weekend away if she’d like a new dress from vintage fabric.  “That’s still Vintage, right?” she asked. Once I reassured her that she could still refer to her new, handmade frock a Vintage Dress, she was game! I was delighted to get the chance to make her something bike-rideable from the polyester I picked up once upon a time at a Small Craft event.  Ella and I studied the insides of the dresses we picked up in Cleveland, and chose the details I would emulate in my design.

One of the construction techniques which surprised me was the use of both facings and lining, while the facings are stitched to the lining.

Vintage Dress Inside Details - facing and lining and bound edges

I also stitched the facings to the lining, but I left off the armhole facings for two reasons:

Ella’s arms are much smaller, therefore she has smaller arm openings, and I assumed these were placed on the original dress in case the arm opening gapped so the original fabric would be visible rather than the lining fabric.

The lining fabric used on the vintage dress is very thin.  I assumed also that the facings were used to increase the durability of high-wear areas.  My lining is strong, so I omitted the armhole facings.

 

Ella's new vintage dress - stitched down facing, bound finishes, and no armhole facing

 

The side seams were finished with pinking shears: photo5

There’s not much I love more than getting out those gingher pinking shears I bought down at Whipstitch in Atlanta a few years ago.  I stitched down these seam allowances, too:

pinked side seams on new vintage dress.

 

There’s a sweet bow detail on each side.  Bows are tied, then stitched down. Bow detail.  Stitched down.

While it’s a different shape, I stitched down Ella’s squared-off bow as well.

Stitched-down bow for Ella's new vintage dress.

 

As you can see, she really loves it! Best of all, it’s bike-riding compatible!

VintageMaySeries Collage with Ella

I always prefer to use natural fibers in my sewing, especially for kids, but re-use is important to me as well, so this project was just the perfect combination of cheeseball polyester print, organic cotton muslin (lining), and the timing of this Vintage May series hosted by Kristen and Jessica!

 

 

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Classic Typography. Classic Snark.

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The Fashionable Type Button

When Stacey of Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy Crafts mentioned that she was looking for typography inspired projects, I jumped at the chance to join in. This family has a teenager who’s a poet, a 7 year old who is a self-proclaimed Grammar Police Deputy (reporting to the Grammar Police Chief who is, naturally, me), and more books than we have room to store in our home. We are a WORDS family.

Peter agreed to wear whatever I’d make him because he’s a good sport, and because I guaranteed he would get vintage mom-snarkiness to keep.

Have you ever done freezer paper stencils?  I know there are tutorials all over the web.  In fact, I vaguely know of at least three, written by friends, which completely escape me; persisting in teasing the foggy corners of my brain.  If you are my friend and you wrote a kick-ass freezer paper stencil tutorial, or even if you aren’t my friend yet, and you know of the BEST tutorial for freezer paper stencils ever, please leave a link in the comments for me. Pretty please?

Once I found the freezer paper and x-acto blades in my basement, the rest was a breeze: I printed on regular paper the phrase in the font and layout I wanted.  Then I cut the paper to a manageable size.  I placed a similarly-sized piece of freezer paper shiny side down on my cutting mat, washi-taped it in place, then placed the printed paper on top of that, also washi-taped in place.

The most challenging part of the entire project (other than the recurring panic that I would ruin a hand-sewn tshirt and have to start over) was cutting the words.

During my harrowing process, I would have appreciated these 3 tips:

1. Use a Sharp (new) blade. You will be cutting through two layers of paper.

2. Keep track of the floaty bits in the letters you may want to keep.

3. Don’t forget to place those little bits before you add paint!

stepsfreezerpaper

I inserted a cardboard buffer behind my shirt front, so I would keep the ink on one layer only of the tshirt. I then pressed the freezer paper, shiny side down, directly onto my shirt front. Using a natural sponge, I dabbed color into the stencil, using some leftover shimmery screenprinting ink from my Yudu.  Do you remember those screen-printing kit thingies from a few years ago?  I HAD to have one.  Used it precisely once.  Decided to keep it anyway, you know, to enhance my craft tool/supply archive?  Someday I know I’ll actually do some screenprinting.  In my spare time. Anyway – I’m really glad I had that silver ink.  I love how it’s kind of subtle, but kind of sparkly at the same time. I tricked my son into wearing sparkles!

WP_20140510_006 (1)

Speaking of “spare time” I somehow always make time for handstitching, as seen on the raglan shirt / sleeve seam below.  I cannot resist.  Someday he’ll stumble across this post and demand that I take it down.  For now, What the Helvetica:

helveticaShirt

 

Not only did Stacey put together a fantastic lineup, but there are giveaways and prizes!  Go check out her blog and enter to win some really fun typography-related prizes.

 

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PAINT Collection from Carrie Bloomston

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inspiration printed on fabric

For Carrie Bloomston, celebrating your inner artist is a life’s mission.  In her last collection, Collage, she blew everyone away with the uniqueness of her concept and the richness of her colors.  You can see what I made last time here.

Since then, Carrie has written a book, and continued to inspire her local community with classes. Her newest collection picks right up where she left off.  Carrie is an abstract painter, so naturally it was time for Paint as the theme.  This collection continues to highlight her collage technique, and brings it along even further. 

PAINT Collection

I asked Carrie what she’d like me to create for her this time, and she said – Oh, Karen, do your thing!  We had a really short time period in which to actually create the garment, so drafting a custom dress was out of the question this year.  I checked out Carrie’s To Make board on Pinterest.  What better way to delight Carrie than to make her something she already admires?  I knew the Simone Dress from Victory Patterns was The One as soon as I saw it.  I had never heard of Victory Patterns before, but I’m so happy I found this in her collection of desired makes, because it seems to be the perfect dress for Carrie.

Front-PaintCollectionVictory

I wanted to use as many fabrics as I could, while not visually overpowering Carrie’s tiny frame.  I was relieved that the dress came together so easily, since it does appear to be quite complex.  I made only minor construction modifications to finish the inside with a full bodice lining so I could enclose all the seams, knowing Carrie will be wearing this often.  We also wanted to show the fabric on the inside of the dress because the asymmetrical hem, while beautiful, tends to show a lot of the wrong side of fabric when worn.  I partially lined the back skirt to prevent the wrong side of the fabric from showing.  I also bound the raw edges visibly, instead of turning them to the inside for a clean finish for one last POP of color.

Back-PaintCollectionVictory

Windham Fabrics put together a beautiful lookbook here, and catalog within a very tight timeline. I shared some details along the way during the day and a half I used to make and return the dress for the photo shoot you see above.


Carrie’s fabric allows for fussy-cutting to be meaningful.


Piping detail on the dress back.


A wide bound hem for weight and beauty.

Thanks for stopping by.  Please be sure to check out the rest of the Blog Party here:

April 9 April Rhodes
April 10 Sally Keller + Julie Goldin
April 11 Shea Henderson
April 12 Ramona Burke + Jenny Kelly
April 13 Sam Hunter A Vintage Fairytale (Staci Barrett)
April 14 Rachael Gander + Erica Sage
April 15 Karen LePage + Tia Curtis
April 16 Shelly Figueroa + Fabrications2b (Bonnie Bobman)

PAINT is now selling to shops so tell your favorite local fabric store to place an order soon to get the fabric for you in July/August.

The PAINT collection celebrates creativity and expression. As a creativity enabler, Carrie intends to help you Celebrate your inner artist™! The collection includes bold, playful prints inspired by a painter’s tools. Color wheels, paint swatches, paint brushes and other collaged images create an artful pastiche of sewing possibility. Carrie loves to make something from nothing. She showcases up-cycling and recycling by creating her imagery from brown paper bags, paint swatches and colorful newsprint. PAINT tells the truly inspiring story of stepping into a creative life. Additionally, we are pleased to rerelease her wildly popular Newsprint in three color ways.

You can read more about PAINT on Carrie’s blog, leave a comment below to enter a drawing to win a charm pack of PAINT from Windham.

{ 36 comments }

i remember feeling like this…

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At the end of January, in the middle of the worst winter on record, Ella and I planned a breakfast date before going to her new school.  She was having a more than a little trouble adjusting, even though the move was her idea, and her choice.  Instead of going to Starbucks for a before-school oatmeal breakfast date with my girly as planned, I sat in the dining room, watching desperately sad tears roll down her pink cheeks as if caught in slow motion.  She was so sad.  As sad as seven years old can be (which is, incidentally, very, deeply sad).

As usual, I had just asked her to put on her coat and then I sat down to wait.  I took out my planner to jot down one more thing for today and looked up, only to notice her standing next to me.  Not putting on a coat.  Crying.

“Why do you only have me written in your book 2 times, mommy?” (choke, sob….heart breaking)

“What are you talking about?”

“You have all these things written in your book, and only two have my name by them.  And one is CROSSED OFF!!”

At which point, she begins bawling in can’t-catch-your-breath sobs. I am confounded.  This child, with whom I spend every waking (and almost every sleeping) moment, other than when she is at school, dearly wants validation in writing. As far as she was concerned I Forgot Her.

Just because we know how deeply we love our children, and even when we feel like we’re showing it, we can always take a minute to tell them, too.

It is so easy to forget how delicate children are.  She saw all the things I was writing and quickly assumed they were the most important things in my day, my week, my life.  Of course they weren’t. They were the things I was afraid I’d forget, or at least neglect prioritizing.  I told her this, but the little soul-damage had already been done.  I’m sure her little heartbreak is healed by now, but it’s made a lasting impression on me.

I never forget to prioritize my children.  I wait at home (or rush to get here) so I can be around to listen to my 16 year old tell me about his day.  I put my own projects aside so I can sit and listen with all my heart and mind when Ella practices violin. I mentioned in an interview recently that if I didn’t have children, I would just work all the time; that’s how much I love my work.  But I don’t work all the time, because these kids of mine make Meaning in my otherwise busybusybusy life.  I love them MORE. They require that I take time for nurturing, whether it’s caring for them directly, generally making time to connect, or even to take care of myself.

And how are they supposed to know that, if I don’t tell them with words?  This is the only life they have – they don’t have anything else with which they can compare their life’s experience.  They have the best mom in the world, but they can’t know that because they have never had a bad one, right?  So, I have learned my lesson in communication.  I acknowledge how important she is to me in writing.  

I put her name in my planner at least once a day.

Articulate your Love

I’d love to hear from you:

Do you tell your kids how important they are with words?  Obviously actions are more important, because that creates their baseline experience, but how do you come out and articulate their importance in your life?

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Yesterday I dropped off my kid to driver’s training, and he hesitated before exiting the car.

“Mom.  I was published today. Here’s I bought this for you.”

He handed me his school’s literary journal and trod off through the snow to school after school.  My son is different from any other person on earth, and you will know that after speaking to him for more than 45 seconds.  When he told me he was submitting a poem to the literary journal at school, I had to admit, even I was surprised.  My kid is constantly surprising me.  I never knew what to expect for him, not because he’s uncomfortably unpredictable, because he isn’t.  I couldn’t picture what life for a teenager with Asperger Syndrome would look like.  He surprises me because he embraces his other-ness and wears it like a badge of honor.  He cares about people.  Connects with people, and has genuine friendships.  He is remarkable in a way I never imagined I could hope for him.

When I say I have teenagers, I am often met with a “knowing” look of shared despair, but I love having this guy in my life.  I love learning who he is, and I can: because he’s willing to share his transformation with me, and we are both better for it.

I asked Peter if I could post the entire poem because I think it’s good (and not just because my kid wrote it), he assented.

 

Semper Manere by Peter Andrews

 

In this corrupted, decrepit home

a chaotic mess expanded forth.

Spray-painted graffiti,

a myriad of photographs,

an old cuckoo clock,

half-eaten lozenges,

a nearly empty bottle of bubbles

thrown on the ground

drenching ancient magazines.

Coffee stains where a desk once was

speckling the floor,

a champion’s trophy, once glorious,

now worthless.

A once-deified idol, now broken and bent,

but the pictures looked happy, from what I could tell.

Pictures of jolly people eating pretzels covered in butter.

It looked like they were having a swell time.

There was a picture of a farmer milking a cow

while his children churned butter on the porch.

Who were these people?

What was their story?

Pictures of a sphinx fighting a Paladin,

of and old advertisement for aluminum foil,

of a Maine coon kitten, like my little Penelope.

I felt a tinge of sadness when I finally set it down.

A picture of a jungle,

where chimpanzees looked toward the camera.

Pictures of a high-voltage power pant and a little girl in a tutu.

A decrepit history book opened to a page

with images of a Pharaoh subjugating his enemies.

In this crypt

I stared with contemplation

at this heap of so-called trash;

trash filled with memories of a better time.

To the people who lived here

it was their sanctified treasure

of which I came to rob them.

So I showed them mercy and left in peace.

Semper manere; manere in memoria.

 

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Bold. Brilliant. Beautiful. You: 2014

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There seems to be a synchronicity of bravery and inspiration this January….in fact, it’s one of the few years where I’ve felt lifted up at the beginning of a new year, despite the Flu and Polar Vortex coinciding over the holiday break here.  In fact, there’s just so much goodness floating around the blogosphere and internet in general, I know I’m not the only one feeling this.  If you read the blogs or follow on Instagram my friends Rachel, Jenelle, Jenny (and so many others I’m catching up with today) you’ll see evidence of this exquisite stirring to create something more magnificent in 2014.

BOLD BRILLIANT BEAUTIFUL

I test my patterns by sleeping in garments created from them. No, seriously, if it’s not comfortable enough to sleep in, it’s not comfortable enough for my bold brilliant beautiful new project. And yes, my sheets are the same shade of purple as my hair.

For my part, I’ll have some more new sewing patterns coming out, both with Monaluna and on my own, including a plus-sized extension to my infinity sweater and a full range of sizes on my newest favorite dress (currently in development: see above).  I have some projects being published in my favorite sewing magazine (Spring, Summer, and a special Downton Abbey issue – so far). I’m contributing to a book I believe in, and I have my very own, very personal project that has been incubating for the past few months. I’m building it with my whole heart, and I cannot wait to share it with you.  I hope it will change the way you look at your clothes, and help you learn more than your grandmother ever taught you about caring for what you already own.  I hope you’ll join me in taking care to choose what’s worth having.  There’s so much more coming, but I wanted to share my joy in participating in #boldbrilliantbeautiful .

What I’m not doing is letting myself become overwhelmed.  I’m not taking on any work “for the money,” despite moving Ella to a private school to better encourage and help her along her educational journey. I’m not going to let that pervasive negative self-talk hold any sway.  It’s the year to start again, to live my life, and to share what needs sharing.

 

About the Bold. Brilliant. Beautiful. You. project:

Throughout the year, I’m joining forces with some of my blogging friends to motivate and encourage ourselves and others to be bold and step out from behind the lens, projects, and mama status to show ourselves. That’s right, we’re doing something just for us.

And we’re inviting you to join us! Each of us has something bold, brilliant and beautiful inside—whether it’s a dream to ask for a promotion, wear those sparkly shoes in the back of our closet, or start a non-profit. The #boldbrilliantbeautiful project is a support group for all of us seeking to be real and vulnerable. No judging, no questions, just support and words of encouragement.

Be a part of the project by using #boldbrilliantbeautiful on Instagram and Twitter to find other women like you, who are looking to make 2014 their best, most authentic year yet!

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there are other places…

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I know it seems a little sparse around here, but it doesn’t mean I’m totally inactive. I thought I’d let you know that I can be found in a couple places on the web, and I’d love to connect with you.

My latest favorite place is Instagram
I’m regularly engaged on Twitter
If you make something from any of my patterns, won’t you please tag me in your contributions to Pinterest?
and as of today, you can Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I hope you’ll come find me and let me know you’re around, too.

We’ve had a lot of this:

So we’re continuing to enjoy this:

We’ve even had some of this:

and this:

The flu hit most of us, so we’re all caught up on this:

and I even made time to sew up some of these:


As for today, it’s a Winter Wonderland out there, so to really punctuate the benefit of a Snow Day I’m going to take the kids to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug again.

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One Sweater, Infinite Possibilities

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The Infinity Sweater pattern PDF is now available on it’s own.  I know you’ve been waiting patiently since the bundle sale.  I received so many kind requests, that I thought it must be time to share my pattern with you.  You can whip up a couple to give as gifts once you realize how easy it is to make and wear!

Get your hands on a copy and see how two yards of a drape-y knit fabric can become the most versatile piece in your wardrobe.

The Infinity Sweater sizes XS – XL is now available.

PDF Pattern for instant download
Buy Now | $12

Janna style-sweater

The Infinity Sweater is designed to be fashion-forward, but it still maintains a lot of classic appeal. There are about a zillion ways to wear it, but let’s cover just a few here to get you started.

1. Loose and Luxurious

Let the sweater hang loose and its long, draped front pieces will fit right in with this season’s trends.

RaeAnna made a grey version that drapes beautifully and would match virtually anything in any wardrobe:

Image courtesy of Sewing Mama Rae Anna

Jodi from Sew Fearless shortened her front panels since she used a heavier fabric, so her Infinity Sweater drapes in a different yet beautiful way:

Image courtesy of Sew Fearless

Sara from The Pretty Pickle made a light blue version that’s a bright pop of color on a dreary day:

Image courtesy The Pretty Pickle

Just grab your sweater and go to pull off this look – no extra styling required!

2. Belt It, Baby

For an equally easy look that shows off the curves of your shape, add a belt to your sweater for a fast look. Simply cross the sweater in front of your body and then fasten your favorite belt around your waist. This look is equally gorgeous with pants or a skirt, and you can change the styling just by changing the belt!

Check out Rachel of Once Upon a Sewing Machine, who styled hers with jeans and a gorgeous bright scarf:

Image courtesy of Once Upon a Sewing Machine

Janna of Lilac Pop took the cover shot wearing the original red sweater, which she rocks with a pair of high-heeled boots and tights.

3. Twist and Wrap

Since the front panels are so long, you can twist them in endless ways! Try twisting them around each other a couple  times, then pull the ends around to the back and tie like Janna did with the cream sweater.

Or twist and tie and let the ends hang long like Rachel’s version here:

Image courtesy of Once Upon a Sewing Machine

With a little practice you can style either version of this look the way you like it.

4. Over the Shoulders

For a fun look that covers your torso and shows off your shape, try crossing the wraps in the front and bringing them up over the opposite shoulders. Once there, let them hang down or tie them behind your back.

Here is Rachel’s take on that look –

Image courtesy of Once Upon a Sewing Machine

This look is as easy as throwing a scarf over your shoulder and it’s a super way to style this top to make it look like an entirely new garment!

5. Tie and Drape

The simplest way to drape this sweater is to tie the corners of the long ends together and throw the knot over your head to tuck behind your neck.  You can also twist the fabric before you put the knot behind your head for an infinity scarf/cowl look.  This is my favorite way to wear mine.

6. That’s a Wrap

One last look for today – the wrap! Simply cross one panel over your chest and wrap it tightly (or loosely, however you like it) around to your back and hold it in place. Then repeat that process with the other panel and tie the tips of the ends together or tuck into the top of your jeans, covering with the bottom edge of the sweater. Now you’ve got a wrap-style top!

Rachel’s wrap, which is a more full-coverage look:

Image courtesy of Once Upon a Sewing Machine

RaeAnna has put her twist on the wrap style, too, going up into the shoulder area for her tucks of fabric:

Image courtesy of Sewing Mama RaeAnna

PDF Pattern for instant download
Buy Now | $12

No matter how you twist it, the Infinity Sweater sure has style. And it’s available now – so what are you waiting for? Two yards of fabric and a couple hours until you could have your very own!
Janna red-style-sweater

We’d love to know – what’s your favorite way to wear this top? Have you tried a different twist on styling a sweater like this? Share with us in the comments below!

PDF Pattern for instant download
Buy Now | $12

{ 6 comments }

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids – Review

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I have been sewing from Japanese sewing pattern books for a long time (more than eight  years now), only having taken one semester in college of Japanese. I’m impressed by the sheer volume of us who love the look, the simplicity, and the styles enough to buy these gorgeous books from Japan without knowing a word of Japanese; simply because we know we can follow a good diagram.  If you were familiar enough with garment construction, you could spot familiar vs. novel techniques — then choose  any route to get to a finished item.

Once I figured out the difference between the symbols for front and back, and learned to trace patterns adding my own seam allowances, I have been pretty comfortable sewing from Japanese pattern books. That said, I’d never have managed to even get started without a LOT of help from online sources such as this and this one in french.  Nowadays, we are so lucky because Japanese sewing books are being translated into English!

When I was asked to review Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids I jumped at the chance. The publisher sent me a copy of the book, but I’ve had this book for a couple years in Japanese already.  I knew I could wholeheartedly recommend it without even reading the translated version, but I couldn’t have imagined how much more I like it now that I can read the words inside!

HHSCK

As is customary for Japanese Sewing Books,  the first pages are laid out like a catalog.  I LOVE shopping for looks this way.  In fact, Sewing for Boys was inspired by Japanese sewing books – all the looks first, then illustrated instructions later.

inside HHSCK

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids features 20 patterns for boys and girls, all included in the envelope on the inside back cover. The styles are simple kid wear, with bits of tailoring and finishing to make them special, too.

The pattern sheets themselves are printed on both sides, using nice thick paper, so we can trace again and again to make every size as our kids grow.  They are spaced nicely as well; no need for a microscope to find the correct size line! (forgive the wrinkles, I usually press my pattern sheets, but have been stuck in bed with a back spasms for days and didn’t want to postpone this review any longer – yay for the iPad camera!)

pattern sheet HHSCK

Sizes are marked clearly, grainlines, too, and there are helpful notations as well.

In the past I would have recommended Japanese sewing books for intermediate to advanced sewists only, but Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids can truly be used by anyone willing to read and follow directions.  You will learn how to fold and align fabrics, how to use directional vs. non-directional prints, how to place patterns for cutting, and even a bit about the properties of different fabrics. There are descriptions of handy tools, pictorial seam-sewing tutorials, and even a small section on threads.  I have been sewing for 37 years, and I learned something new in the Sewing Machine Tips.

all about thread

Remember the bit about adding seam allowances?  We aren’t used to that here in the U.S., but I have to tell you I prefer tracing the stitching lines and adding seam allowances myself.  Why?  I like to vary the width of each seam allowance to suit my seam finishing preference (overlocked vs. french seams, choose my preferred hem allowance, etc.) without wasting fabric by trimming away seam allowances that I find should have been smaller to begin with.  I think it allows for more precise sewing and helps me make garments more quickly.  You can also make adjustments more easily for fitting challenges (like a toddler belly on a 7-year-old for instance) or for style changes (want a fuller skirt? add width!  Then add seam allowances.)

Before you get nervous about adding seam allowances yourself, there’s no need to fret; you are guided by diagrams.

how to add seam allowances

 

Under each cutting diagram, there are notes about seam allowance, measurement and symbols specific to each style.  Measurements are given in inches (and centimeters) so you can use whichever feels most comfortable to your brain.

fabric layout

The instructions are succinct and the diagrams are clear. Each pattern begins with a simplified diagram showing the order of instruction.

Stitch order diagram

Each numbered step is then shown as a set of instructions.  It’s such a clear and elegant way to convey a complex process. I wish more sewing patterns employed diagrams in favor of lengthy descriptions. (Myself included!)

If you have never tried a Japanese sewing book before, there’s no excuse to keep you from them now. Give Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids a try and let me know how you liked it!

Check out Tuttle Publishing‘s growing selection of other crafty titles while you’re there.

 

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Winter Wonderland from Pattern Anthology

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tourgraphic

The PDF pattern market has positively exploded with offerings over the last few years, which means makers are spoiled for choice. Four designers have joined forces to put together collections of patterns to form a complete wardrobe and more. Winter Wonderland, the third collection from this group of designers, Pattern Anthology, offers eight patterns to take your child through the winter weather and holiday season up to size 8. I’ll show you a little about the dress I chose to make for my girl, and provide a simple scarf tutorial to make Winter not so terribly chilly for your little one (or yourself!)

As you may have noticed, Ella grew out of size 8 many moons ago, but I was able to very easily enlarge the pattern for The Amaryllis Dress to fit and delight her. She mostly needs width in the belly, so I simply added a couple inches overall to the sides of the bodice and skirt, and raised the armhole a bit so she could wear the dress without a blouse underneath. She chose this dragon print fabric a couple years ago, but I never got around to finding a dress twirly enough for her to want to wear. Fortunately for me, I found the Amaryllis Dress. With a gathered front skirt, and a full circle, wrap back skirt, all is well in the world of twirl:
AmaryllisDress

All this talk of Winter has me in the mood for a scarf. If you have a 7(ish) year old, you know that scarves (and gloves and hats) find a way of hiding at school, or at friends’ houses, or underneath car seats. For that reason, Ella needs a scarf that stays put, but isn’t too tight, and doesn’t require wrapping, tying, or otherwise inconvenient fastening. She also refuses to wear anything that feels constricting in any way, but hates to be cold. (Picky kid = design challenge!)

Grab a couple large scraps of knit fabric, and follow the few steps below to make a scarf they’ll want to wear, they can put on and take off themselves, and that stays in place over or under a coat:

stayinplacescarflette

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