I’m on a new kick. Maybe it’s because the start of a new semester has granted me this thing called “free time”. But, seriously, I literally cannot stop thinking about sewing. Sometimes I walk into my sewing room just to stare at the projects I have on my list. I think about photos and backdrops and blog content constantly. And there are some epic projects coming friends. I think I caught whatever sewing bug Whitney has, because I literally want to sew all. of. the. time.

And look what she’s showing us today! Only the cutest Oliver + S Messy Kid Bibs you’ve ever laid your eyes on. Feast my friends, feast.

Oliver + S bibThe facts, straight up:

Pattern:  Oliver + S Messy Kid Bib from Little Things to Sew
Size:  one size
Fabric:  various ones from my stash (fat quarters work great)
Notions:  colored snaps
Difficulty:  2 scissors out of 4 (advanced beginner)
Make it again?:  not the way it’s done in the book

Her words:

“I made this pattern exactly once the way it’s written.  It felt like the most labor intensive bib on the face of the planet.  Between laminating the cotton and sewing on the bias tape the proper way, it took eons longer than any bib should ever take.  It also takes a ridiculous amount of bias tape.  Then I put one of my hard earned bibs in the washing machine and failed to realize hot water would render it completely unusable. 

Oliver + S bib melted

Lesson learned.  Back to the drawing board.

 My new version of this bib is quilting cotton backed with washcloth material.  I omit the little pocket at the bottom for the tidy eaters out there.  I don’t laminate because I would want to be able to wash these with a normal load of towels.  I sew the two layers right sides together and leave an opening along the bottom to turn them inside out.  I’m now using snaps for closures because I bought an assortment of bright colors and it’s fun to find ones that coordinate with the fabric, but the pattern calls for velcro.

One final tip:  If you see yourself making a lot of bibs (and why wouldn’t you?), transfer your pattern to something durable.  Some people use poster board.  I like to iron my traced pattern onto really stiff interfacing (the stuff that doesn’t crease nicely at all and feels like cardboard) and then cut it out.  Here’s what my bib pattern looks like after cutting out two dozen bibs: 

Oliver + S bib template

Have fun!”

Oliver + S bib cherries

 

 

Whitney is prolific, if you can’t tell. She’s got an arsenal of Sistershare posts just waiting for my procrastinating self to post. She’s creating…all…of…the…time. She has the studio, fabric stash, and passion to be a sewing blogger, but she’s sweet enough to let me share her creations here. I love my family. Check out the latest pattern review! The most darling Pleated Penny.

the pleated penny

The facts, straight up:
Pattern:  The Pleated Penny by Shwin and Shwin
Size:  3T shirt
Fabric:  something I bought at JoAnn
Notions:  basic white snaps
Difficulty:  Listed as Advanced Beginner…  I’d say it’s easier than that
Make it again?:  Yes, but only because I’ve already paid for the pattern.  If you haven’t, don’t bother.

The Pleated Penny

Her words:

“This shirt/dress is perfectly cute and makes for a decent evening project, but it lacks markings for the pleats, so you’ll spend a frustrating 20 minutes measuring and attempting to get everything to line up.

The one thing this pattern did inspire me to do was to learn to make my own bias tape.  I used this tutorial, ordered my bias tape makers in two sizes from Amazon, and got to work.  I’m not saying I’ll never use a package of readymade bias tape again, but I certainly prefer the look of handmade better.  Try it out.  It’s a great skill to learn.”

She’s done it, folks. Whitney has written a full tutorial on the most adorable matryoshka finger puppets you have ever laid eyes on. Enjoy!Finger Puppet Tutorial

The facts, straight up:
Pattern:  Full tutorial below
Fabric:   “Bright” from Little Kulka by Suzy Ultman for Robert Kaufman Fabrics, Kona solid
Notions:  Fiberfill
Difficulty:  easy
Make it again?:  Oh heck yeah

Her words:

“I found an adorable fabric and have been making everything under the sun from it.  I really wanted a set of finger puppets and searched the internet for some sort of tutorial to make them.  I came up short.  There were plenty of great ideas for felt puppets, but nothing that called for fabric ones with a little dimension to them.  Let me share my process.  Hopefully you’ll find it helpful!

Start by picking an appropriate fabric.

Finger Puppet Tutorial

This is from the Little Kulka line and I LOVE it.  I multiple-purchases-12-yards-total-plus-extra-coordinates LOVE it. 

Basically what you’re looking for in a fabric is an image with a definite border that stands somewhere in the neighborhood of two to three inches tall.  You could use animals, people, fictional characters… you name it.  While you’re at the fabric store, buy a coordinate for the back.

Start by cutting out the image with some extra space on the sides.  You’ll probably want at least a ¼ inch overhang, but if you have more room, by all means, use it.  Do not feel like you have to cut around the image exactly.  A rectangle or a square is perfectly fine.

Once you have that piece cut, use your coordinate fabric to cut out a second set of pieces that are exactly the same size.  For your third set, fold a large piece of your coordinate in half, iron, and cut a final set of pieces the same (folded) size as the first two.  The fold will ultimately go along the bottom of the puppet, so in my photos, the fold is along the short end of the rectangle. 

You should end up with a pile that looks like this:

Finger Puppet Tutorial

What you’re ultimately aiming for is a small stuffed puppet with the image on the front, some fiberfill in the middle, a single thickness of the coordinate to contain it, and the folded thickness to go around your finger.  Your finger will end up between the folded thickness and the single thickness.  Hanging in there?

Stack your fabrics like so:

Finger Puppet Tutorial

Start with your image face up.  Then layer your folded coordinate on top of the image, but slightly above the bottom of the finished puppet.  The fold goes towards the bottom of the puppet.  Finally, layer your unfolded coordinate on the very top, lining it up with the original image on the bottom.  The final photo shows your finished sandwich of fabrics.

Now pin your little stacks of fabric together, image side up, and get to sewing.

Finger Puppet Tutorial

Start at the bottom edge of your fabric and sew around the image, leaving the bottom of the doll open.  Backstitch at the beginning and end.  I sewed slightly outside the image, leaving a thin whitespace around the doll.  Experiment and see what works best in your situation.  Once you’ve sewn around three sides, cut the excess fabric away.  Snip small cuts in corner areas.  In this case, there is a small snip between the doll head and body on each side.  Be careful not to cut through your stitches.  You just want to facilitate turning the puppet right side out.

I did not draw any lines to follow on my puppets.  I was able to see the image well enough through the fabric to be able to follow it with my presser foot.  If your fabric isn’t as transparent, you may want to trim that layer with a uniform edge to help with the sewing.

Turn your puppets.

Finger Puppet Tutorial

I like to use a knitting needle to run around all the edges.  I also like to iron the puppets at this point.

Edgestitch (sew closely to the edge) your puppets.

Finger Puppet Tutorial

This step is optional, but it reinforces the seam and means that when you close the bottom of your puppet, all the edges will match.  Make sure you’re still only stitching three sides.  You want to leave that bottom open for the next step.

Fill your puppets and sew them shut.

Finger Puppet Tutorial

I used a small handful of fiberfill in each puppet.  The knitting needle helps get the fiberfill into tight spaces.  Turn the bottom of your puppet in, pin and sew it up.  Make sure your seam allowance is scant enough to avoid sewing the back folded piece into the puppet.  You need a spot for your finger.

All done!  Sit back and admire your handiwork.

Finger Puppet Tutorial

Finger puppet tutorial

Finger Puppet Tutorial
Did I ever tell you about the time my mom bought the Sew Liberated Schoolhouse Tunic Pattern? And how my sisters, my mom and I each made a version (or two) for ourselves? We love tunics. We’re a tunic family. Whitney? She’s no different. And this little Sadie Tunic…that bicycle fabric…those little spoke buttons? To. die. for.
The Sadie Tunic in Bicycle Fabric
The facts, straight up:
Size:  2-3
Fabric: Lucy’s Crab Shack by Moda in green and solid coordinate
Notions:  Fabric button cover maker (mine’s a Dritz one)
Difficulty:  Easy
Make it again?:  Um.. possibly with the little pockets, maybe…

The Sadie Tunic with Covered Buttons
Her words:

“I’m clearly a sucker for a tunic.  This one nearly did me in though.  I figured I would have a quick little project on my hands since I was omitting the buttons on one side and the pockets entirely.  Nope. 

First, I sewed on both facings not realizing the button placket should have been sandwiched between one.  Then I realized I should have serged the facing edges so they didn’t fray.  Then I attempted to fix that problem by pinking the edges and managed to cut through the front of the tunic…  By the time I got it all put together, attempted to mask the slice in the fabric, and started working on the buttonholes, I thought I was going to throw in the towel.
 
The buttons took forever because I wanted those little wheels centered just so.  Never mind actually making the buttonholes – that was an exercise in patience because my automatic buttonhole maker sometimes doesn’t like to make the second long leg of the buttonhole as long as the first.  Grrr.
 
Do you ever have one of those days?  It was no fault of the pattern, which was easy to follow if you read the directions.  I was just not on top of my game this time.  I do think that serves as the motivation to sew it one more time – just to prove I can get it right.”

She’s still doing it, folks. My sister Whitney is still churning out awesome stuff on, like, a twice-weekly basis. She hasn’t hit a sewing wall yet. Her sewing machine hasn’t been sitting neglected for weeks at a time. This woman has found her thing. She can whip out these crayon wallets faster than you can say, “That is the cutest thing I have ever seen.”

No joke.

My heart breaks weekly from these Sistershare posts. I mean really, how cute are little crayons in fabric pockets?

crayon wallet

Also, I’d like to know why I didn’t get the contrasting fabric matching gene.

Crayon Wallet

The facts, straight up:

Pattern:  Crayon Wallet from Vintage Market
Size:  one size
Fabric:  Stax matryoshka fat quarter pack from Walmart
Notions:  basic grosgrain ribbon from JoAnn
Difficulty:  Easy
Make it again?:  I think I’ve made about 17 of these by now.

Crayon Wallet

Her words:

“First, if you are willing to shop at Walmart and haven’t checked out their sewing section, you should.  There are some gems in that handful of aisles:  consistently cheap interfacing, D rings in packs of four, and occasionally a decent fabric.  If you find these fat quarter matryoshka packs, pick them up.  I know a few sewists that would pay you over retail for them.  That said, the quality of the fabric is subpar.  It definitely is not quilting quality.

I searched the web thinking someone would have to offer a free crayon pattern/tutorial and nothing I found fit the bill.  I wanted a bifold where the crayons would lay sideways so they’d be less likely to slip out.  I didn’t think that was a terribly tall order, but there wasn’t anything free out there and I didn’t exactly feel like reinventing the wheel.  So I bought a pattern off Etsy.

These go together quickly and I highly recommend cutting enough to do several wallets at once.  They make great small gifts (maybe for a newly crowned big sibling?) and everyone loves brand new crayons.  I bought my crayons on sale for 50 cents per pack at Target during their back-to-school sale.  I found the unlined notepads at Staples.  Not including your time, you should be able to make each wallet for under $3 apiece.

The pattern doesn’t offer any variations on closures, but use your imagination.  I’ve done these with a large button and elastic closure and also with just a simple elastic band that stretches across the long side of the wallet.  It would also be easy to sew in a small fabric tab and use velcro or a snap to secure.”

Hold on to your hats, folks. Today’s Sistershare (in combo with my sister’s sewing skills) is about to blow your mind.

Source

Has anyone heard of Oliver + S, only one of the most awesome pattern companies around? Of course you have. The company published a stellar book, called Little Things to Sew chock full of children’s patterns. The end result from their messenger bag pattern? A grown woman coveting a child’s accessory. It’s totally normal.

I want one. You can have one!

The facts, straight up:
Pattern: Oliver+S Messenger Bag from Little Things to Sew
Size: child (the book includes an adult size as well)
Fabric: Ikea Tidny canvas, purple Jo-Ann bottomweight cotton/poly blend
Notions: two strap adjusters (look for these in the purse aisle, not the notions aisle), bias tape maker
Difficulty:  3 out of 4 scissors (Intermediate)
Model:  The ever lovely Ms. Madeleine (thanks M!)
Make it again?:  I cut out two, so I’m guessing another is in my future.

Her words:

“If you haven’t perused the offerings in Little Things to Sew, do yourself a favor and head on down to Barnes and Noble just to flip through this book.  There are twenty different projects, great instructions, and gorgeous photographs to look at.  Pair that with your favorite Starbucks seasonal beverage, and I say you’ve got yourself a Saturday morning outing.

Oliver+S patterns are expensive, but this book is a great way to pick up a bunch at a relatively low cost.  If your Jo-Ann store carries it, I suggest using a 50% off coupon to bring the cost down to less than a buck a pattern.  While you’re at Jo-Ann, head over to the purse notion aisle and get your strap adjusters.  They didn’t have the simple metal loops, so I bought a two pack of their strap adjusters and pried off the little slider bar from the middle of one.

The first thing you’ll notice about the patterns in this book is the need to trace each one.  I spent the evening cross-legged on the floor with my big acrylic ruler, a roll of tracing paper and the third season of Glee on streaming Netflix.  It didn’t take more than an episode to trace the Messenger Bag, Explorer Vest,  Reversible Bucket Hat and Messy Kid Bib (to be featured in the near future). 

The bag itself is easy to construct and surprisingly simple to line compared to say, a child’s backpack. I made the bias tape (best tute here) and strap from the lining fabric and I’m really pleased with the contrast between the graphic canvas and the solid purple accents.  Only thing I’d change?  I’m thinking if you added another two inches to the length of the large panel, it might be visually more appealing. 

Love the bag, but don’t want to make it yourself?  Here’s your opportunity to own it. My little messenger bag is featured in an auction to benefit a sweet kiddo looking for her family.  Your tax deductible bid goes to offset the costs of her future adoption.  Didn’t realize overseas Down syndrome adoption even existed?  Take a look here.

Little kid fabric is the best. Munchkins get to wear prints of elephants and puppies and it’s totally cool.

Adults? We get to wear stripes. Maybe the occasional ikat, but that’s it. It’s my life’s mission to design a line of playful fabric for adults. It won’t be weird. I promise.

Polly Peasant Dress Neck Detail

This week my sister Whitney is sewing up the most adorable little dresses you’ve ever seen, by putting all those random fat quarters to use.

Polly Peasant Dress in puppy print

So much painful adorableness going on here. I swear, everything miniature is better than full size.

Polly Peasant Dresses
The facts, straight up:

Pattern:  Polly Peasant Dress & Blouse by Etsy seller Sew Much Ado
Size: 3T
Fabric: Two fat quarters per shirt plus white Kona cotton (three fat quarters would suffice if you want the entire shirt from the same fabric), all of mine is from Jo-Ann (surprise, surprise)
Notions:  3/8″ elastic, safety pin
Difficulty: beginner
Make it again?: This isn’t even my first attempt at this pattern, so I’d say it’s likely I’ll do it again.

Her words:
“Do you ever look at those little fat quarter packs of fabric in the quilting section and think that the print is fantastic, but there’s not nearly enough to make something decent?  I’m not kidding when I say I’ve purchased these turquoise elephants no less than three times when they were on sale for 99 cents apiece.

Well, here’s something to do with them!  You’ll need at least two matching fat quarters.  Grab a third for the sleeves unless you have a coordinate at home.  I used plain white cotton.  The pattern is a breeze.  Every step is accompanied by a photo and she talks you through project with or without the use of a serger. 

These are just as simple as the pants from last week.  I’d imagine this would be a great time to let your little one pick out her favorite fabric.  (Because, you know, your children spend hours upon hours in the fabric store with their mom… just like we did as kids.)  With four bucks and an hour to sew, you can complete this project easily.  Have fun!”

My life changed today. My sister informed me of buttonhole elastic. Please tell me you’ve never heard of this. Make me feel just a teensy bit better about my naiveté. And please excuse me while I have a total why-didn’t-I-think-of-that moment.

What is it you ask? Well, it’s elastic with buttonholes. Duh.

Still don’t get it? It wasn’t so intuitive for me either. By sewing a button into the back of the pants where the elastic peeks out, you can adjust the fit of the waist by buttoning the elastic at different lengths. This stuff is perfect for growing kiddos or for adults who have simply indulged in a large meal. This year I’m totally wearing flannel pants with buttonhole elastic to Thanksgiving dinner. It’s not a far departure from the usual holiday attire, so I’m sure it won’t be an issue.

Whitney is ready to clad the growing children of the world with adjustable waist flannel pajama pants. Five pairs? This woman is on a roll.

The facts, straight up:
Pattern: dana-MADE-it’s Kid Pants 
Size: 2T-3T
Fabric: an assortment of Jo-Ann flannel
Notions: buttonhole elastic, plus one random button per pair
Difficulty: beginner
Make it again?: I’m a little tapped out after all these, but never say never.

Her words:

“Did you stock up on flannel during the big Jo-Ann sale?  It ended up being $2 and change per yard and I went a little nuts.  There are only so many basic baby blankets with satin binding you can make before you need a break (amen sister).

 Enter kid pants.

 Kid pants are about the easiest thing on the planet to whip up, as evidenced by the FIVE PAIRS I cranked out in one sitting.  Assembly-line sewing is the way to go here, folks.

 Dana’s blog is fantastic and this pattern happens to be free.  If the size doesn’t suit you, you’ll find a link to drafting your own pattern based on an existing pair of pants.  The pattern goes together lickity split.  Once you get the hang of it, you’ll probably crank out a pair in 30 minutes if you’re doing multiples.

I opted to do buttonhole elastic on these and if you use the link above, you’ll see that the stuff is really pretty inexpensive.  Hopefully buttonhole elastic makes them more wearable, although let’s be honest… flannel is really only appropriate about six months out of the year.  I suppose a kid’s waist doesn’t grow too terribly much in a season?

Here’s a good buttonhole elastic tutorial if you need one. I used a single button instead of two, but the effect is nearly the same.  And no worries about picking out perfect buttons – I raided my stash of those ones that come in the little envelopes attached to new clothing.  Look at me… repurposing just like my little sis!”

I am so proud. Tear.

It has come to my attention that my sister, Whitney, should be writing this blog for me. These Sistershare posts are kicking my post’s butt, in a good way. In fact, I love that she’s letting me share them, because otherwise there’d be a whole lotta nothing on this blog for the next two weeks. And this Sistershare is just in time for Halloween!

The Charlie Tunic, from Made by Rae is totally cute, and such a versatile pattern to showcase contrasting holiday fabrics. Whitney went Halloween with this one, and can I just say? those little orange triangular buttons are perfect. Also, they strangely have me craving candy corn.
The facts, straight up:
Pattern:  Made by Rae Charlie Tunic
Size:  3T
Fabric:  Orange Jo-Ann broadcloth (too thin in retrospect), Jo-Ann holiday print
Notions:  Orange Jo-Ann buttons, black elastic cord
Difficulty:  Advanced beginner
Make it again?:  Already have.  Wait until you see the follow-up!

Her words, not mine:

“So this was my very first attempt at the Charlie Tunic, and I’m not going to lie, it was a bit of a stretch for me.  The epattern is great and the instructions are thorough, but it’s a tricky little bugger with a lot of steps.  Give yourself an entire afternoon on this one, ladies.

 Problems arose because I tend to do this thing when I’m sewing where I get frustrated by not understanding a specific step, think the pattern would come together easier if I did it a different way and then just start to wing it.  Hence the reason the sleeve facings are not the same as Rae’s and the addition of the big band along the bottom versus side vents.  In the end, it created a perfectly cute little shirt, but I can definitely tell it’s my first attempt at this pattern.

 Basically, if you’re a new sewist (sewer, whatever), I would advise using some cheap fabric for your first Charlie Tunic.  The half-price holiday fabric at Jo-Ann was clearly calling my name.  Once you’ve whipped  struggled through one, you’ll be on a roll.  The one piece of advice I have to impart:  if ironing the seam allowance (a scant ¼”) on the neck facing (step 7) is giving you fits, sew the seam allowance on the flat fabric first and follow that line to turn the fabric under and then iron.  This is especially useful on the curves.

Stay tuned for my elephant themed Charlie.  You won’t be disappointed.”

I’m pretty proud of the wonderful family I’ve been blessed with. You know this. Everyone I come into contact with knows this. I’m basically shouting it from the rooftops (I can’t help that I’m a loud talker). Because they’re awesome…all of them.

We’re goofy. And I promise I wear shirts other than this red plaid. –>

You also know that the three sisters LOVE to sew. But we love to sew very different things, and sewing for each of us has been an evolution.

My middle sister, Lindsey, is amazing at whipping up handbags, clothing, and and anything home decor. She’s also a killer pattern maker. In fact, in 2010, Lindsey and I teamed up and sold the handbag pattern she created via Etsy and fabric stores. Thirty-two people loved that pattern.

My oldest sister, Whitney (above), can throw pots like no one’s business; I have the bowl collection to prove it. But she didn’t catch the sewing bug until Sew Weekend in July. Now, she’s churning out the most amazing children’s clothing I’ve ever seen. And, “she has such a straight stitch”, according to my mom. Her creations can’t sit around unblogged about; that would just be wrong. So we decided to showcase some of her awesome miniature pieces, and provide a pattern review for each piece! It shall go by the moniker “Sistershare”. A name is required. For everything.

First up?
The Lucy Tunic

Source

I doubt this little girl’s tunic could be more precious. Not possible. The fact that it’s reversible? My heart just melted. Also? I’m not having kids unless someone can guarantee me they’ll look like that.

Whitney used an Alexander Henry floral complemented by a yellow geometric print. And wooden buttons. Why don’t we put wooden buttons on everything? That’s your homework.

The facts, straight up:

Pattern:  Shwin and Shwin, Lucy tunic
Size:  3T
Fabric:  Alexander Henry floral, unknown Jo-Ann yellow print
Difficulty:  Easy; change out snaps for buttons for an even simpler construction
Make it again?:  Sure!  Need to find a tiny person to put it on first.

Her words, not mine:

“This was my first attempt at one of Shwin and Shwin’s epatterns. I printed and assembled the pattern and then cut out the 3T. This is a great method for small children’s patterns and I love that I have a digital backup for future use. 

I already had the floral, so I sewed that side first, omitting the pockets. As I don’t have kids, I’m not sure how necessary pockets are, but they seemed gratuitous. I had to make a second trip to the fabric store for the lining and settled for the inside pattern. One pattern note: Step 7 says to leave a small opening to turn the tunic inside out. You don’t need to; just use one of the arm holes. Secondly, the instructions don’t discuss pressing the tunic, but do it often during sewing. It makes for a nicer finished product. 

Mom helped me with the buttonholes. And by helped, I mean did them for me…The buttons were also from her stash. I have the hardest time picking buttons. Mom to the rescue.”

 

Can you tell we’re sisters? Lot’s more Sistershare coming your way! Next time, I’ll type in all caps to illustrate the decibel level we use when talking to each other. Get a drink or two in all of us and you’ll need earplugs, legitimately.