I Don’t Give a Damn!


Since I decided to channel Scarlet this week and create a top from draperies, I just had to name this pattern appropriately.  Meet the “I Don’t Give a Damn” tank.


As cute as this top it, it’s not nearly as cute as my photographers assistant was.  “O” insisted on helping her daddy take the photos this morning and the results were a bit blurry.  This was actually the only front view I was able to salvage from the shoot.


Last summer, while I was pregnant with “O”, I purchased two tanks from Wal-Mart that had an amazing fit.  They were nicely proportioned through the shoulders and chest and widened to a swingy hemline that was great both for pregnancy and then beyond.  When I bought them I intended them only for maternity wear, but found myself layering with them all winter.  I knew that was the fit I needed for this summer, so I used one of the tops to slip a pattern from.  Then of course I had to add a few extra details.


I redrafted the back of the pattern to include a simple yoke with a sheer back panel.  I also lengthened and curved the front so that despite my rather round tummy, the front and back would maintain an even hemline.  The entire front and yoke were made with a layer of thrifted lace curtain over a piece of vintage cotton that was given to me years ago.  The lower back panel is lace only.

I didn’t bother to line the pattern of the lace up in any particular manner because I love randomness, but my husband believes that was a mistake.  Looking at the sheer panel, I can see what he means.  The piece is just enough “off” to look like an accidental misalignment.  The arm holes are also a bit snug and cause the top to pull a bit during wear.  It’s not a deal breaker, but I will fix that flaw before I put the pattern away.


This month I have joined a 1 Project Per Week sew-a-long instigated by the talented seamstress over at bernie and I.  She has issued a challenge to other bloggers to try and complete one sewing project every week for the entire month of June.  This project completes my first week of the sew-a-long and I have already been rummaging through my stash for next weeks inspiration.


Let’s Go Camping!



When I found 3/4 yard of 60 wide,quilted rip-stop fabric at the thrift a few months ago, I just had to have it.  Initially I though it would become a coat for one of the littles next winter, but as camping season approached I realized it had a much higher calling.  “O” is extremely independent and demands her own space at bedtime, so creating a sleeping bag of her very own became a must.  With her first birthday coming up, I decided that this would be the perfect gift for our busy little girl.


This project is a blend of thrifted, repurposed, and new materials.  Of course, the quilted rip-stop came from the thrift, but then I added a insulated center layer made from a repurposed mattress pad and a cotton flannel lining of new material.  On the fly, this looked like a quick easy project.  It really was a pretty straight forward, but it was not a project my old machine relished.  The multiple layers of thick fabric posed a bit of a challenge on my test swatch, so I had to use a few alternative methods of construction.  Instead of sewing all the layers into a sandwich and then simply turning and top stitching as I had planned, I had to size the insulating layer down by an inch on every side and then center it on my lining fabric and stitch the two together.  I then used my sandwich and topstitch method.  Also, the density of my fabrics and lack of a zipper foot made a standard zipper application impossible.  Since I have outstanding faith in my hand stitching abilities, I simply adhered the zipper by hand.  That is the method I usually employ in dress making anyway.

“O’s” birthday is still over 3 weeks away, but having this project finished will be a relief to her daddy.  Ever since I announced that I was creating this sleeping bag, he has asked about it almost daily.  I guess he still isn’t completely familiar with the Ames family genetics that allow me to do amazing last minute work.  Just wait, I’ll go buy wrapping paper at 1 am the morning of her birthday, while her cake is in the oven.


Looking at this last photo, I know I could have done a better job presenting the project for photographing.  It is so bumpy that it almost looks as if a little person has just crawled out of it!  I really wanted to get this blogged yesterday, so it was do-or-die this morning and with the little red battery button blinking on the camera I was a little haphazard.



A Peasant Basic


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.

Easy and comfortable, just what you want during pregnancy.


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.


From Castoffs to Cutoffs


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.

Sorry Week At the Thrift


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.

My Little Gypsy


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 tunic and pants

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.

My little gypsy, enjoying her daddy's day off.

The little gypsy, enjoying her daddy’s day off.


Unconventional Notions



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.