I’ve been planning to make myself a white peasant blouse for summer and the creation of The Little Gypsy Duo got me motivated. Since the pattern for this blouse is the exact same format as “O’s” tunic, I really couldn’t find an excuse not to draft the pattern and get moving. For some reason, sewing for myself is so much harder than whipping something up for one of the kids or the hubby.
For this project I actually used brand new material. Back in February, when our tax return came in, my sweet husband took me to Billings fabric shopping. When he told me about his plans for the trip, white cotton gauze was one of the few fabrics on my list; I specifically knew I wanted it for this project and the chances of finding it at the thrift was slim. I purchased two yard for a total of $8.39 (it was on sale for 40% off), but I wish I had gotten even a fourth yard more since the layout was a bit tight even for my liking.
I drafted the pattern, cut, and stitched the blouse one afternoon last week and then left it sitting on the sewing table to be hemmed for several days. For some reason, I just stalled out. Now that I took a few minutes and finished it, I can’t even remember why I was dragging my feet. Maybe we can just blame it on the pregnancy hormones.
One pair of old jeans + One yard vintage cotton= Inspiration
I really thought about tossing this pair of jeans in the trash. It’s really not like me, but they were in embarrassing condition. The red jersey at the cuff had small holes in the seam line, leg had a small series of bleach splashes, the waistband was so stretched out that “O” continually crawled right out of them. They sat on the kitchen island for a day or two while I mulled it over and the cooling down period did us both good. I paired them with a piece of vintage thrifted cotton and turned them into one of the cutest pairs of cutoffs I’ve ever seen. Yes, I do say so myself.
Ahh, much better. Forgive the wobbly hem, “O” wanted to claim them while they were still going through the machine.
I duplicated part of the fabric motif on the back pocket for a designer touch.
A new, smaller waistband and ruffles made for a good start. They were perfectly acceptable like that, but I just couldn’t resist another layer of cuteness. Hello, pocket detail.
Per usual, “O” wasn’t feeling very cooperative.
Showing off her new shorts was just not part of her plan.
Since it was a nice, sunny day I thought that a nice outdoor photoshoot was in order.
She thinks she’s getting away with something by “stealing” my empty spool.
I did catch her in an unsuspecting moment later in the afternoon.
Aqua cotton/polly blend: $1 for 2 yards.
This week was pretty much a bust at the local thrift shops. Between the two of them, I can usually drop at least $5 a week on fabric and upcycle materials. This week I spent the grand total of $1, maybe I just wasn’t feeling it. I must say though, I really like this piece of fabric and already have a few plans for it.
Last week, when I started “O’s” new wardrobe, her daddy made a request. He asked that I make her a little gypsy outfit. A chemise dress was already in the planning stages and with a tiny bit of tweaking and the addition of a pair of pants, it became the perfect Little Gypsy Duo.
Little Gypsy Duo: tunic and pants
Fabricated from a cotton sarong I haven’t used in several years, this outfit was easy-peasy from start to finish. I revisited my pajama pants pattern yet again, but this time I added two inches width to either leg. The pants, complete with elastic ankle cuffs and waistband, flew together in less than a half hour. The tunic took a bit longer, but not much and was drafted using the method outlined in Donald H. Mc Cunn’s How to Make Sewing Patterns. For coverage sake, the main body of the tunic is a double layer, but instead of an over and underskirt I handled the layers of fabric as one with the exception of hemming. Although the ensemble is darling as is, I intend to add a contrasting vest in the near future.
The little gypsy, enjoying her daddy’s day off.
I was sewing for 20 years before I ever got to design school and no matter how hard my instructors tried there were a few “bad habits” they couldn’t break. Being mainly a self taught seamstress, I have found that sometimes unconventional solutions are the best answers to mundane problems. If you are a sewing purist, please go ahead and skip this post to avoid potential heart palpations.
Some of My Favorite Notion Hacks
- Black Sharpie I have both a fine and an ultra fine tipped black sharpie in my sewing box. Some fabrics, particularly those that are heavily textured or extremely light weight, mark best with this medium. It’s not ethical, but nobody knows once the garment is cut.
- Wooden Clothes Pins Sometimes when sewing several layers of heavy fabric, a pin just doesn’t do the job. A couple of clothes pins at key points will make the job much easier.
- Soap Scraps The slivers of bar soap that would otherwise be thrown out are excellent for marking most cotton and cotton blend fabrics. It shows up better than chalk and you can mark right sides (pocket/trim placement, etc) with abandon because you KNOW the marking will come out with a little bit of water.
- A Pair of Athletic Socks When pressing darts, curves, and baby clothes a tailor’s ham is a life safer. Since I don’t have one, I have discovered that balling up a pair of my husbands socks does the job quite well. Making a ham in somewhere on my never ending to do list, but it never seems to find it’s way to the top.
- Stiff Bristled Paintbrush and A Flat Head Screw Driver Unless you have miniature fingers, I wouldn’t recommend messing around with the doll sized tools that came with your sewing machine. Get some tools that fit your hands and you will be more inclined to keep your machine clean and in good running order.
“O” has just finished a growth spurt. One of those that takes your nice round baby and stretches them out to a long, lean little bugger. Now the pants she’s been wearing all winter are so big in the waist, she crawls right out of them. Luckily it was time for a fresh wardrobe anyway.
Using a long sleeve cotton t-shirt that never fit me quite right and my favorite cotton/spandex cami that had seen more than it’s fair share of layers, I started with a jumper and two pairs of pants. The t-shirt had the greatest black/red London themed print that I just love and it made up into some really cute baby gear. Unfortunately, I didn’t photograph it before taking the scissors to it.
London Look Jumper and Slim Fit Pants
The jumper was made from the body of the long sleeve t-shirt and trimmed with strips of thrifted grey jersey (we will be seeing more of that fabric soon). I made the pattern using a tank onsie as a guide, it was much easier than trying to measure a wiggly baby. When I laid out my pattern, I lined it up with the bottom of the t-shirt and was able to avoid hemming. I love easy solutions! The pants are a slimmed down version of the pajama pants I drafted last month and the fabric was sourced from a black cami. The elastic in the waistband is the cami strap. Her undershirt is a purchased, black lace onsie I have been dying to get her into.
Action Shot of the London Look Slim Fit Pants
This second pair of pants was crafted using the sleeves of the t-shirt and the same altered pattern I used on the black pants. The waistband elastic is the other cami strap and, once again, I was able to lay the pattern out against the existing hem an thus cut out a step. Her black Henley was an existing part of her wardrobe and will soon find itself facing the scissors to transition into summer.
Since “O” is not a very cooperative model (it took me all day to get images this good), please excuse my photos. On my next project for her, I will find a creative photography solution that does not require “help” from my little ball of energy.
This is what I usually get when trying to photograph “O”.
Here are a few of my previous, unconventional projects. In the past I haven’t been very good about getting photos of my work, so there isn’t much to see.
A skirt for my gypsy girl. This garment was created from thrifted cotton fabric and trims.
Newborn dress and bow created using a hand-me-downs. The original garments were a long sleeve onsie and a pair of girls leggings.
Tote bag made from the leftovers of a resized thrift store table cloth and thrifted trims.
Baby booties made from upcycle scraps and lined a scrap of thrifted fabric.