Upcycle Moto Dress


Since I didn’t have the zipper I needed to make the dress I’ve been dreaming about, my weekend project end up being a few t-shirt dresses for O.  The shirts were already in her closet and the fabric is a thrifted cotton/poly knit I’ve had for about a year now.

moto dress one_phixr

Obviously, modeling for a photo shoot or even letting me style her was not part of O’s plan for the day.  I managed to sneak in a few shots while she played with the cat, hence the blue blur in her hand.  I am hoping to get a few, styled shots of the second dress this afternoon.

moto dress snack_phixr

What O did feel like, after playing with the cat, was having a snack while I made a salad for supper.  What mama would complain about a kid who loves veggies?!


Have Sketchbook, Will Travel


gretchy1My Favorite Art Geek turns twelve next week and she is a bugger to shop for.  There are only three things on her wish list and all are quite generic:

  1. art supplies
  2. anything red
  3. anything camo

Since this kid has more art supplies than I do (and that really is saying something), I decided to take a grab at #2 on her list and hopefully hit the other two in the process.  My starting outline was just about a vague as her wish list: a red bag, large enough to carry a sketchbook and a few other necessities.  So, I grabbed the measurements from a standard sketchbook and started pattern making.  I ended up with a simple four piece pattern that wasn’t quite handbag and a bit more stylish than a tote, it was exactly what I wanted.


I’ve been the owner of a salvaged red, leather seat cover for several years now and I dug it out of the closet. The piece had always been tagged for my Art Geek, but up until now I hadn’t quite put my finger on the perfect project.  I had to spend about 30 minutes cleaning the old leather and flattening out the worst of the creases.  Then I was ready to sew.

My new machine handled the leather with ease and (not counting the times I was interrupted) the sewing was complete in another 45 minutes.  The only hiccup came when I wanted to add the handle (previously my favorite belt-army green is close to camo) and realized that I should have done that as the first step instead of the last.  I get ahead of myself some days.


For the finishing touches, O helped me apply an asymmetrical clasping system created from  a vintage necklace I’ve been piecing out for years and a spring clip I salvaged from a defunct suitcase.  The dangly charm is a string of beads from broken necklace.  (Some days, my husbands theory about me being a hoarder doesn’t sound so far off.  Who else has all of this laying around the house?)


Can We Call This “Festive”?


I started this post months ago (and forgot it in my “drafts” file), it was originally entitled “Christmas in July.  Since writing a blog post takes forever with O running around like a madwoman, I decided to keep my original post, but add this little disclaimer. 


This is what happens when my husband calls from work and says he needs an ugly Christmas sweater for the store competition the following day.  A poor unsuspecting cotton sweater that has been in his closet for years becomes my next victim.


Bill Watterson’s epic cartoon Calvin and Hobbes.

My inspiration was the hysterically, morbid snowmen created by Calvin of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes.  I was originally creating zombie snowmen when hubby came home and started tossing his ideas into the mix.  The results was a hideous, Snowman Assassin Sweater that although it got a lot of laughs was disqualified from the competition for being a bit off theme.


The entire creation was made with odds and ends from other projects and cost me absolutely nothing. Due to the previous wear of the sweater, it was off grain and I was unable to get the bottom panel completely even. Although I used a ruler to run a line dissecting a row of the knitted diamond texture, the finished results are quiet haphazard.  It didn’t show up quite so bad laying on my work surface, but I like to think it adds to the “ugly factor.”

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.



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.

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.