Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Sew Back to School!

I hardly find time to blog anymore, but I wanted to do the Sew Back to School tour with Lulu & Celeste and Sprouting JubeJube, especially when I saw the list of designers sponsoring patterns! While I used a couple that I owned already from Gracious Threads, I also am really grateful to Phat Quarters, Sofilantjes, Filles à Maman, and Jalie for donating patterns to me for this post! Sofilantjes and Filles à Maman were not new to me, but the other two I hadn't tried yet, and I am pleased to say I have two more companies to add to my list of "loves".

I originally planned to sew for both daughters, but when it came time for pictures I found that not only did my experimental garment (more on that in a minute) fit my younger girl better, but she's also a much more willing model. Miss 6 just wasn't feeling it. ;)

My first "outfit" kind of ended up all over the place, but trust me when I say it's right up this girl's alley. She is fun, snappy, and silly all rolled up in a ball, and loves every piece I made. The mock turtle top and pretty vest are Gracious Threads' patterns that I owned previously, and hadn't had the chance to make. When I was looking for a simpler top that would stand on its own but not outshine the beautiful Glacier Vest, the Chestnut Tee seemed the obvious choice. Mock turtlenecks are my favorite on little kids! The Chestnut has quite a few different options; I went with short sleeves because I wasn't sure how cool it would be yet, and a simple cut.  The vest is intended for fun, fancy fabrics like faux fur (how about that alliteration!), and this stashed sweater knit (I don't even remember where it came from!) and pretty beads just pop. I lined it with some rayon spandex from Pretty Posh Prints, using thin strips of the same for the ties. Threading the beads with a darning needle was a challenge, but it got done and I'm so pleased with the result.

The Poppy Peplum Pants were kind of an impulse request but I'm so glad I did. They're really so much fun, and speak to Miss 4's personality perfectly. They have a "loose legging" fit, so perfect for school, and the peplum is a great way to add some flair to not-so-ordinary pants! That amazing houndstooth pattern cotton spandex is Girl Charlee's Bolt line, and the peplum is lined with more of the luscious rayon spandex (PPP). I rarely buy purple fabrics, and I was delighted to find a few on my shelves that I could throw together! It's Sam's current favorite color, so she's more than pleased.

The second outfit is the one intended for my oldest, but here's where it got tricky. I mashed a couple of patterns that I hadn't made before, and - I didn't muslin. I know, I know. I did put a lot of thought into it, and it does fit Sam (besides being too long, but that's okay/an easy fix). Nonetheless, I'm SO happy with how it turned out. I love the idea, and I know I can (and will!) do it again, knowing what I know now. 

Recognize anything? The top is a sneaky use of the Camellia from Phat Quarters, with a simple facing added, collar removed, and button placket shortened just a bit. (I will lengthen the bodice just a touch next time I do this!) There are metal snaps in lieu of buttons. The bottom half is Jalie's Vanessa Fluid Pants pretty much in their entirety; I really didn't do much different with that pattern. The waistband is sewn as written except I used two pieces instead of a folded piece, and attached the top raw edge to the Camellia bodice! The placket makes getting this jumpsuit on and off very easy. I am so in love with drawstrings (here I used a piece of ribbon I've had for years) and the grommets make it look polished. The elastic is great for ease of fit, and my flowy rayon dot crepe (LA Finch) is the perfect fabric! So soft and dreamy, and way easier to sew up than I was expecting. I need to work with finer apparel wovens more.

The jumpsuit needs a topper, and the Aura Bolero is just right. I love (lovelovelove) princess seams; they are so attractive and take a garment "up" just a bit. A simple button/loop closure at the neckline, and this lined cardigan is a surprisingly quick but polished finish to an outfit. I was going for playful but sophisticated, and Sam's hair (a DIY, not by me either) gives it an "edge" - yeah, we'll go with that. (LOL. Kids are fun, right?? Also note that her hair was NOT "edgy" for the other outfit - I guess we "planned" that pretty well, taking the pictures at different times!

) Fabric is also LA Finch, a geo hacci knit that I could buy bolts of and never have enough. (I may or may not have snapped up 2 yards after lamenting that I really shouldn't, just to make myself a sweater once I finished this one.)

While rompers aren't the most practical things for school in general, we're now homeschooling and since Sam is in a short day preschool, I think it works! The sweater is perfect for our cooler evenings, should we be out and about, and the vest adds a layer for chilly but sunny mornings when you just can't bring yourself to put on a coat! I had so much fun with these outfits - keep following our tour to see the other "back to school" looks!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Friday, September 29, 2017

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sew Americana

I'm so happy I jumped on the Sew Americana tour this year! I've just loved all the inspiration and beautiful pieces I've seen this year, and I'm excited to share my sewing once again, as well! Not to mention my adorable kids. ;) Usually my girls are the subject of my blogging, so now it's the boys' turn! They are best buddies (most of the time) and I love seeing them together in matching outfits, while they'll let me dress them that way! E just loves his "BAYpee" brother.

Summer clothes are so much fun to sew - easy, casual, light! Since my boys are so small, I love pieces that can double as PJs - they love staying comfy. I love having matching sets of tops and bottoms, because it makes getting them dressed (for bedtime, or for playtime!) so much easier.

I love this poly blend fabric from Girl Charlee. I got a 1/4 yd piece in a bundle pack to begin with, and after squeezing a tank top out of it for Baby L, I had to get more so I could finish the outfits. I usually prefer cotton for kids' clothes, but this is light and soft, and I love the denim look! It has plenty of stretch, and I used it for the neck and armscye bindings on the tanks (and let me take this opportunity to mention how much I love my coverstitch, it made the whole process of binding everything so painless.)

I've kind of been in love with tank tops on my baby, and I've discovered that the On Your Mark tee from the Race Day collection by Kelly J Designs makes a wonderful tank top. The front has some great color blocking, but if you use the back piece (with the front neckline traced on one) twice, it makes the perfect fitting solid casual tank. Pair them up with some Harem Shorts by Little Kiwi's Closet, and you have a great casual outfit or pajamas in under an hour! I think I made both sets in 2 hours, print to final hem, and that was with the usual kid-terruptions.

The quilt they're sitting on is my version of the Shiplap Quilt by Rachel Rossi Designs. The Independence Day themed fabrics (from Walmart) provide a perfect backdrop for these summer outfits, and the anchor applique in the pattern continues the nautical/summer/Americana theme. And how about that (accidental) prop? E hardly goes anywhere, in or out of the house, without his beloved scooter - he flies down the sidewalk half the day, and when it's time to come in he drags it inside and zooms up and down the kitchen! This boy was made for summer.

Be still, my heart. As much as I miss the toothless grins, those first few teeth are so precious - and make for the best photos!

Don't miss a stop on this tour. It's so packed with red, white, and blue goodness!

Our Amazing "Sew Americana" Tour Lineup:

Monday, June 26: Wild & Wanderful | Handmade Boy | The Wholesome Mama | Marvelous Auntie M | Sew and Tell Project

Tuesday, June 27: EYMM | Middle River Studio | SewSophieLynn | Phat Quarters | Call Ajaire

Wednesday, June 28: Simple Life Pattern Company | Sewing By Ti | Auschick Sews | Nu Me Nu You | Swimming in a Sea of Estrogen

Thursday, June 29: Adventures with Bubba and Bug | Musings of a Seamstress | Elli and Nels | Spindle and Seams | Stylin' Stacy

Friday, June 30: Very Blissful | Stitching and Making | Wild & Wanderful | On Wednesdays We Sew | Fairytale B&T

We would like to give a special thanks to our generous sponsors!

Love Notions | EYMM Modern Designs | Rebecca Page | Patterns for Pirates | Simple Life Pattern Company | Thread & Grain | Designs by Call Ajaire | Simply By Ti | Made for Mermaids | Petite Stichery & Co.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Petite Stitchery & Co - Poppy Pleated Skirt

It feels like I've been away forever! With kids in school and clingy baby, my sewing time is curtailed and blogging time even more so! But I still make time for those projects I just can't walk away from - and sewing the Poppy Pleated Skirt was one of those! Petite Stitchery & Co has some adorable collections - Poppy is from Spring '17 - and all it took was a couple of tester photos before I knew what I wanted to sew. Browsing around Joann Fabrics got me this gorgeous floral print, and it was even on sale! I got a size 7 (short, plain hem) out of 1 yard.

Initially I thought of pairing Poppy up with a more fitted, tailored-looking blouse. (I have one cut out, but they take longer to, one of these days!) But since the sewalong is going on this week with Sapphire (from the first collection, a great layering top!), a more casual look popped into my head. And - ta-da! - I just happened to have a half yard of striped jersey knit in my stash (I think it came from Hobby Lobby, but don't hold me to that).

I lined the top with a thinner white cotton/Lycra - using the "burrito method" to keep all the seams enclosed, and I hand stitched the bottom so the top is actually completely reversible. No hem stitching to be seen!

...recognize the top? No? Well - it's from the Lily pattern! A very camouflaged Lily. ;) I used the bodice, lengthened just a bit, and drew in a hi-low curve for a simple crop top! I scooped the armscye just a bit more since I wasn't putting in sleeves.

Poppy has an elastic option as well as a zipper - I went with the invisible zipper, since this was only my second time installing one and I need to get better at that! It didn't come out perfect, but darn close - I'm pretty proud of that zipper. Here's an in-process photo, with my basting stitches from the pleats still in - I hand stitched the inside of the waistband as well, so the outside would look neater.

With the zipper option, I suggest sizing up if your child is between (waist) sizes. My older daughter and younger daughter (today's model) wear the same clothing size most of the time, but Miss 6 measures just a half inch or so bigger at the waist. The skirt fits her just so and I can tell it won't make it through the summer on her, so when I make her skirt I'll use the next size - or elastic! On Miss 4 here, it fits beautifully pulled up for a high-waisted look, and since she still has a "toddler belly" it fits lower on the waist as well - really emphasizes the crop top there!

She is so cute. All the posing, by the way, is her. I direct a hand placement here or there, but she is a natural - and she cracks me up! Little diva in her sister's shoes - she was SO happy to model for me, and she loves the twirl that the box pleats give Poppy! 

I love pleating over gathering for the polished look, and I think it's a lot easier to get neat pleats! The pattern has clear instructions if you're like me and forget how to start them. ;) Sizes 2-12 means you can use Poppy for a long time, and three lengths gives you even more versatility! This is the "short" length, which will fall just above or at the knee. There's also "midi" (SO cool looking with a slouchy top) and "maxi", plus a banded option if you want more pop than a plain hem! (There's a Baby Poppy, too, if you need smaller than a 2T, or a bundle if you want all the sizes!)

If you want more gorgeous pictures and inspiration, make sure you join Petite Stitchery's Facebook group and follow their page! You can catch the last few days of the Poppy/Sapphire sewalong, too!

*I received Poppy free, so that I could sew it up and write this post expressing my opinions on the pattern. And we really do like it this much! ;) 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Happy Birthday Barbie!

I'll be honest. Until a couple of years ago, I'd never sewed for Barbie. I didn't start sewing as a child, and when my sister and I played Barbies we just used the outfits they came with. Sewing didn't become a real interest until after I was married!

Then I sewed one Barbie dress (a pattern test, actually). It was a lot of fun - I love sewing small things, but my girls were just too young to play with dolls much, and I was having too much dressing them to worry about their dolls.

But lately my almost-4-year-old has been really getting into Barbie. After Christmas clearance at Walmart got us several new ones, and we found a Barbie house on a garage sale site. She's really getting interested in her own clothes, and I figure the next step is an interest in Barbie's clothes, too!

I tried to think of a "theme" to go on this post for Barbie's birthday, and when I looked over Sam's collection, I realized that she has at least one in each of the new "size ranges" - petite, tall, curvy. Interestingly enough I couldn't find any of her "standard" dolls. The dolls have different heights and - well - widths, but their torsos are roughly the same length. (The "tall" Barbie has a slight difference there from the "petite" one, but most of the height difference is in their legs.) That made me start thinking of things they could share, despite being different sizes, and I got inspired thinking about The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Although in that story it's a magical pair of jeans that fit each size girl perfectly, I knew for Barbie I'd need something simpler. I went back to basics, hand stitching (hey, I'd never done it!) a halter top and mini skirt! I used Simplicity 4702 B and C for the base, changing up little things to make it easier to fit my vision of a "sisterhood" outfit.

The skirt has shaping in the hips, which was awesome for Curvy Barbie! (My daughters have named them, but I can't remember what they are.) It seemed to just fit Petite Barbie perfectly, though it was a bit longer on her than on the other two, and though rather short on Tall Barbie it still looked awesome! I used a scrap of jegging fabric from Walmart - it's perfect.

The halter top was a little trickier. I knew I had to have something that would "fit" them all, but with such different body types...

as it happens, halter tops are easier to fit if you're willing to tie the neck strap yourself. I braided strands of embroidery floss for mine, and tied it in a bow on each doll. The top corners of the top on Petite make me think of Priyanka Chopra's Oscars dress, albeit with more coverage! Haha!

I added small darts to the top to be more accommodating for Curvy, but out of the three I think Tall wore it best! A Riley Blake quilting cotton served as the fabric for the top.

Each Barbie has a "model" shot and a goofy "birthday queen" one. There was no real reason for the hand stitching, other than I've seen so many people talk about getting their start hand sewing Barbie clothes - I'm having that experience, just 15-20 years later!
Let's be clear, I have far better results and more fun with a sewing machine - but this really made me appreciate all of you who learned to sew by hand, and I won't rule out hand sewing Barbie's clothes again! There's something sweet about it, a nostalgia that I feel even though I don't share it.

So did it work? Well - I will say that knit fabrics have a better shot of being "Traveling Pants" worthy. Of course we know that "one size fits all" clothing rarely does just that! Definitely something I want to experiment more with.

Happy Birthday, Barbie! You're a style icon, and you have your own sisterhood that lives on in the girls and women who love you!

Want to see more? Check out these ladies and their love of Barbie and her friends!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Pattern Overview: Ficus and Fern Cardigans from Sew Like My Mom

Hi! I recently tested a couple of patterns from Sew Like My Mom, and I wanted to share them with you (plus a cute little surprise!)

Melissa is one of my favorite designers (style, but personality too - so nice to buy from someone who is so helpful and sweet!) and I knew her Fern Cardigan would be perfect for my girls. The first one I made in testing used this hacci sweater knit from Girl Charlee; soft, not overly stretchy, and the perfect amount of drape. It is a lighter fabric, so the peplum isn't weighing down the top. We found the long sleeves to be a little tight, and Melissa ended up widening them. I cut these down to elbow length, and they're perfect.

The second round I used a stretchier (and a bit heavier) interlock knit from - well, from the thrift store! I don't know the fiber content as a result, but I really wish I knew where it had originally come from, because I LOVE IT! The floral print is just beautiful (I'm a sucker for florals, I really am); the colors are so bright and pretty, and it's thick, stretchy, and soft. If anyone knows where it came from, please tell me so I can buy ALL OF IT. 

I made a size 6 again; my girls are two years apart, but wear basically the same size (Sam, here, is just a bit shorter and has slightly narrower shoulders than Nat, but their chest measurements and waists are the same).

As it so happens, the size 6 is generally the right size for printing at 50% to make doll clothes for 18" dolls! It doesn't always work perfectly - here, the sleeves were a bit long, and usually it is the length that is an issue and requires a little tweaking. The peplum and bodice came out perfectly this time, and I am in love with this sweet little dolly version. I used the ties for the doll, but cut the piece in half and sewed them directly into the side seams for a simpler style for little hands (no danger, either, and no risk of losing it somewhere else!)

Finally - Melissa released Ficus! I was able to test this Mama version as well, and I love having this in my wardrobe. I'm not a small person ;) and have always avoided peplums, since I've never thought they were particularly flattering to my body type. Upon testing the subtle curve on Ficus, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually really like the look, and the length keeps it from being a poofy mess around my waist and hips. The sleeves were narrowed this time (Exhibit A, the crazy chevron print, has the initial wider sleeves). I made elbow sleeves for myself; my favorite length.

That colorful print is - I believe - a poly rayon blend. Incredibly stretchy, fantastic drape, and though it's thin it was surprisingly easy to put through my serger. My sewing machine didn't like it quite as much. Where's it from, you ask? Oh...the bargain lots at Walmart! $1.50/yd - can't beat it for a muslin! And you know? I really like it. I've worn it several times now, and I just love the feel of it. It's so soft, and though the colors are crazier than what I usually wear, it looks great with a black tee underneath. (And don't mind those pictures!! My husband thinks our garage and sundry items make a great background!)

My second cardigan was my final, and I used a beautiful cotton blend jersey from Girl Charlee (you can find it here). Not nearly as much stretch and drape as the poly blend before it, but the new structure it provides to the pattern is lovely. Still colorful, but in a different way, and I can wear any number of my rainbow of tank tops from Target underneath! Perfect.

I'm thinking of making myself a third right now, if I can squeeze one out of the rest of that floral interlock...(psst. You can find Fern and Ficus bundled here.)

If you'd like to order a custom doll cardigan, please find me on Instagram @elliandnels, or on facebook (; or contact me via email: Thank you!

Friday, February 3, 2017

First Stocking!

Hey guys!

As you may know (or maybe you didn't! - don't worry, there'll be others!) I recently had a giveaway, and I have one sweet little Valentine's Day dress left from that (with a matching headband!) I was secretly glad it didn't go anywhere, because - shh - it's my favorite! But...I'm offering it up now for sale, because I had a few minutes here and there this past week to get a couple more outfits together to accompany it!

These are one-of-a-kind (I won't make another outfit just like it, though I may use the patterns/fabric in other ways!) Making the same thing in the same fabrics over and over is kind of boring, and I love coming up with different pattern and fabric combos to create new looks for your favorite doll friend!


Girl's Night Out! A stunning black and gold combination. A scallop-trimmed crop top is perfectly paired with a high-waist skirt, and in case it gets chilly (it is February, after all!) there's a silky soft knit cardigan to accompany the look, with just a hint of gold thread running through it.

Beach Perfect! Hi-low skirts are so fashionable, and this one made in a soft textured chiffon from Girl Charlee is no exception. The underskirt is cotton, adding a ladylike opaque layer, but the chiffon falls lower and can brush against her legs in the ocean breeze. Perfect for spring break! Back skirt is maxi length, front skirt falls barely to the knees. Along with it is a Velcro-back tank top, with a gently swooping boatneck silhouette from the straps. Art Gallery cottons were used for the top, and they are soft and crisp! Spring is calling! **The skirt pictured at the bottom of this post is closer to the actual color - a soft peach, rather than pale pink. It coordinates perfectly with the flowers on this print.**

And of course, Be My Valentine - featuring a beautiful Moda print and a delicate pindot coordinate. Comes with matching bow attached to fold-over elastic for easy wear. 

Make sure you're following me on Facebook and Instagram for purchasing details!!