2013: Favorites and Flops

Happy New Year! Well, December 30th, but it’s really close. This whole week is dedicated to rebooting into the new year. New calenders, new to – do lists, new habits and routines. New recipes to try and new patterns waiting to be sewn (Black Friday was not a good choice! I think I added at least 12 new patterns? Give or take.)

Before I go too far into the new, I want to take just a minute to flip back through 2013’s sewing accomplishments. It was by far my most productive year yet! And this is only my personal sewing projects – I don’t photograph/blog customer projects for privacy reasons (although you’ll find one customer project in the collage because I’m CRAZY about how it turned out!). So total count for the year? Nearly 40 different sewing projects. In addition to the 28 photos below, there’s at least half a dozen others that went out to customers or gifts I didn’t photograph.

collage 1 copycollage 2 copyFrom left to right: let’s play school; chocolate covered cherry tutu; stripes and spots; just like daddy; toddler ruffle tote; birthday tulips; stripes sundress; yellow rose “Anna”; kissed by a rose; bubble pocket skater girl; linen top; purple polka dot tutu; stretch poplin shorts; the Tuesday dress; pitty flowers; Sweet Little Starburst; plaid pajamas; butterfly princess; little things to keep her warm; khaki skirt refashion; layered look hoodie; Thanksgiving dress; fleece playground dress; Grace’s baby quilt; Christmas dress 2013; felt cookies; felt tea bags; Heartlake Friends lego play mat


My favorite pattern for 2013 is by far the Birthday Party Dress by Lily Bird Studio. It’s super simple. I’ve made it 3 times so far (once in Dec 2012 – going on it’s 2nd year!). It’s not uncommon for all three of them to be in the wash at the same time. There will be MANY more of these in my life! I’ve even made a pattern for Grace’s favorite doll, so she can match 2 of the 3 dresses. I’m a little sad that she’s about to outgrow the blue snowflake version. It’s really short now.

bpd copyAnother favorite is the “Let’s Play School” dress I made for week 1 of Project Run and Play. It’s a casual interpretation of a party dress tutorial. This one is also almost always in the wash. It’s holding up beautifully and will fit for a very long time. Grace is going through this thing where she will only wear dresses and the more they spin, the better. The 88″ of skirt in this one makes it a clear winner.

And for me? My pink and gray roses dress comes out all the time. It’s very easy to wear with flats or heels or even boots and a cardigan. I really love it. (The fact that the waist is loose with a sash helps some days, too…)


No one likes to talk about their failures do they? And I don’t have many this year, but one stands out as an epic flop: the stripes and spots dress I made for Project Run and Play back in January. She wore it for the photo shoot… and that’s it. It’s too short to be a dress, too long for a tunic, gapes funny in the back… It’s one of those projects where my grand ideas got away from  practical life. Cute  though. Maybe it’s time to try it again as a top, if I can ever find a pair of leggings that coordinates with the somewhat odd colors. I mean, it coordinates with nothing! It’s somewhat ironic looking back that in almost every photo, Grace is flopping. She knew it from the first!

Bring on 2014!

I’m really excited to the new year. I already have some ambitious projects planned, like finishing the Little Things to Sew sew-along hosted by Bartacks and Singletrack out of Australia (see my progress here). I’m also hoping to get some more customer projects. I’ve got one underway right now. And of course, my growing girl is now a size 3t on the top and 6 in length, so I’ll be making her a bunch of regular every day clothes as well. And who knows what else.

The one thing I’ve learned more than anything from 2013 is that the plan often changes, and quickly. So I’m hoping to start 2014 with an open heart and my eyes on Christ – since He alone actually knows the plan!

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.  Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that. James 4:13-15

So, my dear friends, if the Lord wills it, Happy New Year!


Plaid Princess

What says Christmas when it comes to dresses?

Simple, classic silhouette…

full back

Little details that make it special…


A touch of sparkle, a touch of lace…


Tiny buttons all in a row, carefully matched plaid, fountains of golden curls…


And an abundance of skirt, best for dancing in the aisles during service (and maybe enough to squeeze a second year out of it, if I’m lucky!)…


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Pattern Details:

  • Pattern: Amanda dress by Lily Bird Studio, modified for a lined straight skirt (2 widths gathered onto the bodice unmodified), size 4
  • Fabric: Red/Green poly cotton plaid with gold metallic stripes (from fabric.com); white cotton lace 1/4″ wide
  • Hair Flower: purchased

Much to be thankful for

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. A time to pause and be with family and just be grateful for the abundance God has blessed us with.

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.  For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. Psalm 95:2-3

Things like enough food to eat…

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The opportunity to share…

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Family time…

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Play and Laughter…

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spinAnd even working hard…

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So from us to you, Happy Thanksgiving! May this holiday season be peaceful and blessed 🙂

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Dress details:

  • Pattern: Birthday Party Dress from Lily Bird Studio; doll’s dress essentially free-handed.
  • Fabric: Seasonal quilter’s cotton; solid brown quilter’s cotton
  • Embroidery: By me – I will post details tomorrow.

Sweet Little Star Burst (PR&P Candy Challenge)


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I have to be honest, when I first saw the challenge list for this season of Project Run & Play, I wasn’t thrilled. Design an outfit inspired by candy? I almost sat this one out. In my mind, the only candy worth eating is chocolate. Good chocolate. Preferably with flakes of crunchy sea salt and maybe some almonds stirred in. With a cup of dark coffee or… Sorry for the rabbit trail! Point being, candy doesn’t inspire me when it comes to clothing. I spent weeks wrestling with ideas – too literal, too costume, too “never going to wear it again.” Plus, I wanted to use only supplies I already had in my house.

Then I decided to actually *sort* my fabric stash and see what I had on hand. It’s now in clear bins organized logically – apparel yardage, cotton yardage, clothes to upcycle, large scraps, small scraps, knits… and as I was sorting, I came across this gem of Ann Kelle diamond print fabric I bought on a whim to round out an order for free shipping back in the spring. It’s in the Summer Remix line. Once I saw it there was only one thing I could think of – STARBURSTS! Those chewy fruity squares of color have never been my favorite for eating, but you’ve got to admit, they’ve got some pretty cool style.

Image from wikihow

Do you remember being a kid and making chains from starburst wrappers? Or gum wrappers? Or sometimes even strips of notebook paper so you didn’t fall asleep in class? (ahem…) Then came the phenomenon of the candy wrapper purses, wallets, bracelets. Which led into the strange (Capri Sun pouch bags, anyone?). But I have fond memories of those little scraps of colorful waxy paper woven together for no other reason than because they were there. And that, my friends, added to the lovely fabric, led to this week’s candy creation.

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A loose cut blouse and clean khaki pants doesn’t sound like much, but I love all the details tucked in these pieces. Starting with they’re layer-able, mix-and-match-able, and even grow-with-her-able. The pants have 4 pockets and and the top floats out when she spins, so Grace is thrilled. The top is actually based on a historically accurate chemise pattern my friend Amy is offering free at her blog, Thistle and Lilly. It’s pretty quiet over there, but that’s only because Amy is working on something really big and really cool – starting her line of historical children’s patterns, primarily for the reenacting community. But I absolutely adore the clean, classic lines! I think they translate really well to modern children’s wear. I only modified it slightly by adding rick rack trim.

back neck copy

The white rick rack takes the place of the candy wrapper chains, since adding more color to this already colorful print would be overwhelming. I used it at the neckline and armholes on the top, then to edge the pockets on the khaki pants:pockets together copySpeaking of these pants, I’m in love. The pattern is the Ben and Mia pants from Lily Bird Studio. I bought the pattern last winter but was never inspired to make it. Why? Grace wore cloth diapers, which are huge, and I didn’t want to put effort in to fixing the pattern to accommodate. She wore dresses and stretch pants. BUT! We’ve been potty trained for 3 weeks now – it’s time to introduce some real pants into this girl’s wardrobe. The pattern is as close to perfect as I would ask for. It’s got some special details, too, like the directions for ready-to-wear style top stitching. I think that adds such a nice touch and I wouldn’t have thought of it myself.  These slacks just look so PROFESSIONAL! A huge part of that is the pattern. The other part is they started their life as a pair of my husband’s slacks. After an incident with his bike chain they retired to the upcycle pile. These were nice slacks – super soft from 5+ years of washing and wearing, but still very sturdy with lots of life left. Can you see the permanent crease? I was able to cut super carefully to line that up where it belongs on Grace’s pants! Victory!

handband copyAnd of course, the crowning joy – a candy wrapper chain headband. I couldn’t claim to be inspired by them without making one! I used the tropical flavor Starburst pack – same colors as the original but brighter, which better matches my fabric. I used a tapestry needle to thread a ribbon through each end; the ribbons are tied in a bow at her neck. Simple and sweet.

front neck copy

The neckline is a little loose since I sewed after bedtime – this chemise pattern really needs fitted before sewing the neckline. This is neckline #2 – #1 was way, way too tight. A simple cami from her drawer keeps her covered. I can see the top over jeggings and a long sleeved tee as the weather cools off. All in all I met my goals and am extremely pleased: meets the challenge, wearable pieces, and I didn’t buy any fabric! (Full disclosure – I did by a pack of rick rack and the starbursts, though. Grand total, under $5)

A big thanks to my husband who gave me a crash course in Photoshop this afternoon. I feel all fancy, what with watermarks and color balanced pictures and all! And even a collage of out takes! We took these photos at the Farm & Home store, since we needed to buy chicken feed anyway and they’ve got these cute rustic bulk candy bins by the door. And horse feed, which apparently makes a good jungle gym:

outtakes copySo whoever buys crunched up horse feed, sorry? For everyone else, stay sweet!

Birthday Tulip Dress

What does a mama give her special two year old for her birthday? A dress of course! And one for Baby, too!

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I got brave – I finally conquered knit fabric! I’ve been putting it off for years, for no good reason. I think I’m afraid of it stretching funny and looking bad. But I’d purchased this Michael Miller print on impulse a few months ago and it was begging to be sewn up.

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The perfect pattern for it was the Birthday Party Dress from Lily Bird Studio. I’ve made the dress up twice now, and used elements from it (bodice and sleeves) on a couple other creations since purchasing it a few months ago. The simple pieces lend themselves well to the bold graphic print. I only changed 2 very minor things from the pattern – if you know me, and how I sew, this is absolutely shocking. First was to use 2 pink kam snaps on the back instead of buttons, since the buttonhole on my machine is acting funny and I don’t feel like trying to figure it out. The other was to reduce the fullness of the skirt and bottom ruffle to better work with the knit fabric.

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The bow is fold-over elastic not folded over (lol), stitched into a loop. 1″ wide strips of scrap fabric make the double loop bow. Couldn’t be easier!

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I drafted Baby’s dress using her original jammies and estimating the rest of the shapes. It turned out good enough. It’s completely open on the back and held with velcro – more toddler friendly than snaps.

My only disappointment was it ended up cold at Grace’s birthday party, so her birthday party dress had to be covered up! It was still cute and fantastic, though – she fit the flowers theme perfectly 🙂

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My beautiful 2 year old

My beautiful 2 year old