Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another one of those "Weelee Dresses" (i.e., formerly known as NOT-a-Pillowcase Dresses)

Number 13...

These cute critters are for little Miss V.  Right after she received it, her mommie sent me three photos.  I think she took three trying to get one without her hands in her pockets, but no, she had her little hands crammed in those pockets every time!  I am SO glad I made her this style.  (They all have pockets, but not all are like these, which take more time.)


Now on to a set in gorgeous Asian print...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Change of Name for the Sun Dresses

Someone who received one of my Not-a-Pillowcase dresses (see previous post below) is an adorable 2-1/2 year old.  She named her dress the "Weelee Dress" and I like it!

Henceforth they shall be called "Weelee Dresses".

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

NOT-a-Pillowcase Dresses (now known as "Weelee Dresses")

You may remember the ladybugs for my wadybug post:

I needed to make some simple gifts for what turned out to be a BUNCH of little girls, so I went to my "stash" and started picking out fabrics.  I had purchased an awful lot of pink varieties in the hopes of matching things to her quilt princesses.  Most of them did not work, so it was fertile ground for the picking.

This is just PART of the ones I made - detailed photos to follow.  

For A in Tennessee, and her little sister O

I used a variety of pocket details, so will only include a photo of one of each type.  Double stitches on left, then the fancy pocket I designed previously.

For cousin B, in NY and her little sister cousin T

Of course I could not leave out their cousin (my granddaughter), just in case they took a photo while they are all together this week.

For S and her little sister M

Their pockets have emphasized stitching

For S and her little sister N

After the photo of the group was made, I also made these for E and her little sister R.

Counting the "ladybugs", I have now made 12 of these and I am not finished.  I was holding this post until they were all complete, but I keep coming up with more people who need one, so I'll post this and do some more in a separate post.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mending her pants

I don't usually post mending on here, but to amuse myself I thought I'd share this one with you.

One knees of her pants had a 4+ inch slit, frayed, etc.  In fact it was so frayed that I could not simply "join" the two sides together--when I had trimmed it there was quite a hole.  The other knee was also extremely thin, so I figured it would go at any minute.  

Actually the entire pair of pants she inherited from her brother is really quite worn out, but we all love the pants and she wanted them repaired.  They probably won't work for her next year (except as the zip-off shorts).  

On the back of each knee I used iron-on patches, then I applied the decorative stuff her mommie bought to the front side.  It was mandatory to cover the ENTIRE slit on the one knee, and fortunately the patch had the square, plus quite a length of the little trees.  It lent itself very nicely to the repair.

The worn thin knee

The knee with the big slit

Final fix

(I should possibly not mention that my CRAZY daughter spent over $8 on the patch kit!)

Fixing Butterflies

Last summer I made a really sweet "butterfly dress" for my granddaughter.  

The pattern is poorly designed and it looked like it was hitched up under her arms.  It is supposed to be a bit above the waist, but it looked really silly and never ceased bugging me.

Finally this year (after she grew SO many inches) I just couldn't stand it anymore, so I bit the bullet and came up with a fix.

Original, per the pattern

The back was already taller than the front, of course, so I finally came up with the idea of making "extensions" to the front of the dress.  It turned out really well and looks cute.  The arm holes are now rather low, but on a little girl it really doesn't matter--it will be cooler!

Bodice detail - puffed inserts

Revised dress

Nana, at least, is MUCH happier now.

All that Sparkles is Not Gold

As I explained in a previous post, my granddaughter spied this fabric as we worked together on jamies for her little bunny.

I could not tell you what this fabric was intended for.  I personally bought it to make a "swing jacket" for a Christmas party, but never got around to it.  It will be much more loved as a fabulous dress for a pretty princess (although I think it looks a bit more like a queen's dress).

With nearly a full circle skirt in not-so-lightweight fabric, I did not want to hang anything else from the top, so instead of a full slip with crinoline, I sewed a lining and crinoline strip 8-inches wide at 10 inches from the bottom of the hem of the skirt.  I wasn't sure how this would work out.  It worked pretty well, but tended to create a bit of puckering at that point much of the way around.  I had intended to put a row of the braid over it anyway, so that worked out well.

Unlike her princess dress for her birthday (, I did not have too much crinoline in this one.  In fact, it would be better if it fluffed out a tad more, so I added a strip of really strong stiffener to the bottom of the hem of the lining behind the crinoline.

You can see where I attached the lining and the crinoline (which I had gathered onto the lining).  You can also see the stiffener.  The stiffener does help hold the skirt out a bit more, but it insists on rolling or curling up a lot and I think it must have been intended to be inserted into a "sleeve" of fabric partway up a garment, NOT at the hem where it can roll and curl up.  (another lesson learned)


back view

And the front

I have the wrist band gold sequin elastic stuff, but am still trying to find the sheer mesh for the little wrist scarves princesses LOVE.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pillow Cover – Instructions

Pillow Cover – Instructions

1.       Materials requirements
  • Purchase pillow (or stuff, if you choose)
  • Fabric to fit your pillow
  •  Feet for your machine: 
o   Serger – cording foot if your cording is not too large.  Serging will make the nicest finished edge inside.
o   If you do not have a serger, or if the cording is too large for your serger foot, use the zipper foot on your sewing machine. 

Note:  If the cording is too big for the serger, you can serge the raw edges after the pillow cover is assembled.  If you do not have a serger, you can use a zig-zag or use another good “holding” stitch down the raw edge after you have the pillow cover assembled.  If you do this extra step, you should not have to worry about repairing the seam of your pillow.

2.            Cover basics

·         Measure your pillow.  Depending on the thickness of the pillow cover fabric, you may need to add a little bit to the side for your cover, but the finished cover is ideally a smidgeon smaller than the pillow itself, so it fills it out nicely.
·         Cut a solid front for the cover. 
·         For the back, cut two pieces about 4-inches wider than half of the front cover.
·         Press a fold in place so that the two back pieces overlap at least 2-inches.
·         Serge along the both raw edges that will form the “flap”.   (Photo taken later to show where you serge the raw edge of the flaps.)


·         Place the two back pieces together over the front; adjust the fold.  Mark where Velcro should go to close the cover when it is on the pillow. 
·         Sew the Velcro strips in place.

3.            Make cording (or used purchased cording)

·         To make cording, cut bias strips about 1-1/2-inches wide (or larger for fatter cording). 
·         To join bias strips, place one strip at a 90-degree angle to the other strip, right sides together.  Stitch diagonally across the strips.  I find it works best to begin the stitching a tad to the right of the actual meeting place of the strips, beginning one stitch above the edge of the bottom strip for a perfect “join”.

image.png   image.png

·         Use cording foot on serger (or zipper foot on sewing machine) to sew as closely as possible to the cording.

4.            Appling the Cording

·         To begin applying the cording to the pillow cover front, pull a little cording out of the cording casing at the beginning of the strip.
·         Beginning in the middle of one side, let the empty cording casing hang over the edge.  Begin serging down that side, applying the strip to the front cover.
·         Serge to where you can see where your corner will turn.  Clip the cording there and turn cording at a right angle towards where you will sew the next side.  Continue serging in a straight line off the edge.  Trim threads.
·         Place the cording down the next side.  Serge, clipping at the next corner.  Serge in a straight line.
·         Repeat for each side until you come to the last side. ·         On the last side, a couple of inches before you get to the place you began, stop. 
·         Cut a “tail” about 2-inches longer than needed to “meet” the cording; pull the cording casing back and clip out the cording. 
·         Flatten the casing (your cordings should just about meet in the middle) and serge it down, angling the empty “tail” away from the pillow cover. 
·         Serge in a straight line over the place where the beginning and ending of the cording meet.

5.            Applying the cover back

·         With the Velcro strip “closed”, lay the pillow cover back on the front (right sides together).
·         Serge down each side in a straight line, serging off the corners, trip threads, and repeat until complete.

(And if you are not in class, you could consider making things a tad straighter! :-)


6.            Turn the pillow cover inside out.

back view (I did not actually put velcro on this "sample" pillow cover.)

front view - hermit crabs...

7.            Put pillow inside the cover.

[I no longer hate making pillow covers!]

And just in case you think that all I ever do is sew....

For the fun of it, I thought I'd include some photos of some of my recent craziness...

Our neighbors are out of the country for three weeks--right in the middle of when ALL the plums are coming in, so they asked us to please pick up the plums.  This good pioneer lady can't stand to see wonderful fresh food going to waste.

At first I tried Plum Küchen. Slightly before it was finished cooking (in this VERY messy pan...apparently I drizzled a LOT of it all over as I put the plum slices in the pan.)

I used WheyLow in the first Plum Küchen, but there were lots more plums the next night, so I made another one. In that one I used WheyLow and I also used whole wheat flour -- less guilt.

There were leftovers, so I just messed around and put them into a pan. Next thing I knew, I had 2-1/2 pints of plum preserves  (I know the label says jam, but I didn't want to put a long word on the label--it's really preserves.)

Plum syrup (made from boiling the seeds with their bits of plum flesh attached, then squeezing in cheesecloth).  The one on the left is made with WheyLow Gold; the one on the right is WheyLow granular. 


 (For those of you who have never heard of WheyLow, it is a safe, natural sweetener made from whey, sugar, fruit, etc.--NOT a chemical such as Splenda, etc.  (For more info, : )  When I use WheyLow I can feel safe and enjoy a bit of sweet stuff without having to feel guilty or in fear for my life.

Then there were LOTS more plums, so I made 8-1/2 pints of plum preserves and two jars of plum syrup from the seeds (above photo, on the right).

The next time I visited the tree, someone had PICKED A BUNCH OF THE PLUMS!  At first I was irate, but I realized it was probably the actual owners of the house, so that's ok!  It was July 4, so I was relieved not to have to make more jam after such a wonderful weekend.  Instead I put 4 quarts of plums into the freezer, sliced for whatever.  If they don't work well for Plum Küchen after having been frozen, I'll just cook them up into more preserves this winter. The only thing I did was sprinkle a light layer of powdered WheyLow about every 2-1/2 inches as I filled the jar. There is probably a total of 2 tablespoons of powdered WheyLow in each jar.

I did say it was the 4th of July, didn't I? How about a Flag Trifle? (There are raspberries down under where you can't see them.)

Those plums kind of got my ball rolling, and today after my class ended at 4:30, I bought four boxes of nice organic strawberries and made no-cook, no-pectin, freezer strawberry preserves with Whey Low and lemon juice.  There were 14 6-oz servings. I had run out of jars, so I put it all into snack-size plastic bags.

After a very long search for my old recipe and online, I ended up making up my own syrup, cooling it quickly by putting the pan in a bowl of ice cubes and water, slicing the strawberries, pouring the syrup over them, and freezing. [This was NOT what I wanted at all, so I unfroze them the next day and made proper "freezer preserves" with pectin.]

I also stopped by a heritage orchard and bought 10 pounds of small, wonderful apricots. I wanted to experiment with the freezer preserves and no-cooking, so I put one jar into the freezer overnight. I don't think it will be a truly great test if it's only a few days, but before the apricots are all gone, I'll check and see if I should do some more that way. I will probably do the rest of this batch as cooked preserves.

[I don't imagine the apricots will have worked much better than the strawberries, so the next time I did a couple of jars properly with pectin.]

On the next day, I had to go to FOUR stores before I could find pectin and jars. And look what I found--thanks OSH!
I was SO happy to buy something that was not made in China! I took them home to clean...

In the same trip I went back to the orchard for 10 more pounds of apricots, and got 4 more boxes of strawberries, 4 pounds of plums (when the neighbor's tree seemed to have pretty much stopped producing), and 4 pounds of peaches. I decided to get it over with and turn my whole kitchen upside down and make it incredibly sticky and muck up the cooktop all at one time!

I purchased 3 dozen pint jars and 1 dozen half-pint jars. (I left all my jars with a friend in Tennessee--I KNEW I would want some again one day.) I restrained myself in the purchasing, and THEN I RAN OUT OF JARS! As you will see below, after I had used all of those jars, and all of the marinade, etc., type jars I had kept for various reasons, I ended up putting some of the syrup into a quart jar, and a bunch of the other stuff into refrigerator containers!



Ah so.... back to the sewing machine--my daughter's jeans need hemming.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

To Quote Precious Ramotswe, "I'm a traditionally sized person"

I hope that will change, but for now I am definitely "traditionally sized" (in Botswana anyway).   

You will have noticed that it is impossible to find a two piece bathing suit for almost any size person that is in the least bit modest.  I wear a one-piece bathing suit when I swim, but sometimes when I'm in my own back yard and want some sun, I would really like to have a two-piece.  One never knows when the neighbor kid will climb his tree and gaze over the fence (it has happened, and I was in the hot tub, sans suit!), or the meter readers will come...

I had a bathing suit from the days when I was not traditionally sized at all, and I really liked it, so I decided to copy it.  Here it is.  I loved the sewn-in bra and the little-boy shorts.  (I found they were difficult to copy!)


Inside of the top -- store-bought suit.

And the inside of my new one

I had some lingerie fabric I had hauled around for 39 years after making myself comfortable maternity panties...  I used some of it for the lining of the kids suits, and also for this one. 

I had some bra cups from probably 30 years ago that I had never used.  I had to cut the elastic away from the bottom and remove the stretch insert which held the two of them together.  You can see it might be a bit tricky to insert them, but I followed what they had done exactly.  (Thank God for sergers!)

Detail where the cup is sewn into the lining at the top

And across the bottom of the insert

I cut my outside and inside tops exactly the same, but somehow after I was finished there was a bunch of excess fabric on the outside that just bunched up.  Now I know why lots of bathing suit tops have gathers in the center front.  It was an easy solution, so I hand stitched a row of gathers (they do not show up in the picture below).  If I hadn't been so tired (and lazy), when I finished, I would have made a proper tied bow--it would have looked much better.  As it was, I just used a bit of the leftover strap that was already sewn together and made a little bow.  It's fine for the purpose...

I found this lycra fabric, which is intended for bathing suits, but it is not as thick, and is much more stretchy than the fabric I used for the kids' suits.  (It feels more like dance costume fabric to me.)  It's fine, but I honestly do not know how well it would hold up in normal bathing suit-type useage.  The red trim and straps are made from the same polyester fabric that I decorated my granddaughter's bathing suit top with.   For hers, please see:


I really should have taken a picture showing the insides of the bottoms because I was in new territory again as I copied the store bought front.  I sewed the lining and the outside fabric center seams for both back and front ALL AT ONE TIME!   It makes a very smooth seam.  (The store bought pair was only lined in the front, but I decided to do back and front the same way.  This fabric needs the lining everywhere.)

I really TRIED to make the same little-boy shorts with slight elastic at the leg.  I kept taking them up and up, but this is the best I was able to achieve for my "traditional shape"!  You can see they are a bit more gathered around the bottom than the original ones were.  They do, at least, cover the things I wanted to cover.  If I ever make something like this again, I will make the legs at least 1-inch longer.


Ta-dah!   one "sun suit"

(Just don't expect to see me model it on a runway anytime soon!  :-)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Her brother went to Day Camp for a week, and she is too young to go this year, so we had "Nana-Camp" part of the time.

Her biggest request for weeks had been that we make her tiny bunny some "jammies".  (Her brother has a small stuffed animal with such jamies, so she wanted the same.  The jammies on his go all the way around, but we made ours easier to remove and re-apply, because that is the whole point of having clothes it seems--to take them off and put them on!)


I just cut a piece of fabric from their knit jammie fabric, then we made four buttonholes for the bunny's feet.


As we worked, she spied some fabric in one of my boxes (that was a first; I had been able to hide things in those almost clear boxes for a year and no one paid any attention).  She wanted to make her dolly a Princess Dress because, "It's sparkly, Nana."

So we did.  

Back view (from my original modular pattern; then we added the strip around the bottom because she wanted it to be longer than we had made it)


All done!


She really likes the gold braid, too!

Of course, she would like a Princess Dress for herself from the sparkly fabric, so I got to work when she went home each day.  Making the big one is much too long a process to maintain the constant interest of a 5-year old.

See the separate post for her own Princess Dress.

Another pair of pants for me

Colorful and fun!


Speedos for Him

I finally grabbed his "speedos" so I could copy them.  (They are not Speedo brand.)  For the rest of their bathing suits from this fabric, please see:

For his, no bow on the front; only loops on the inside of the front (easier for them to see as they are putting them on). 


Actually, I put the loops on the back, so when he first put them on, they were the wrong way around and really, really pinched his bum!  I fixed that.

Back view




Their mother says they have a LOT of bathing suits, so no more until next year.  He will probably need bigger ones next year, but his sister will be able to wear these in a couple of years.