Let’s have a Spring Top Sewalong, shall we?

Oh, yeeeeaaaaaah! It’s that time again, y’all. It’s time to sew for YOU, and it’s the perfect time, because the sun is starting to reappear and with it enough daylight to see that the sad sweater you’ve been wearing every day for the past four months is not going to cut it anymore. The birds have decided that this side of the planet is actually habitable! The air smells like worms!! It’s time for a Spring Top Sewalong!!! And let’s not drag our feet here, people. Because you know that any day now there will be another KCW(C)*, and then it will be all “let’s sew for the KIDS!” again, so there’s no time like the present to sneak in that selfish sewing. CHOP CHOP, LADIES! LET ME HEAR THOSE MACHINES HUMMING.

This year’s Spring Top Sewalong will run from now until Friday, April 19. I’m going on vacation next week (can you say family train trip to San Francisco? That’s right, you heard me), though, so I probably won’t do anything top-related for at least a week yet. It will be pared down a bit from the sewalongs of yore in the sense that it will JUST be a sewalong, in the simplest sense, without the additional contest. When I think about the essence of this event, it’s this: a challenge to sew something for yourself, for a change, for heaven’s sake. I don’t think anyone will really mind if we skip all the craziness behind the scenes, the contest entry forms, the rotating panels of judges scoring each and every top, numerous spreadsheets and totals, setting up multiple rounds of reader voting…will they? And if you do mind, you’d better not say so, because you don’t want to be THAT person who is only in it for the prizes, because that would look pretty selfish, now, wouldn’t it? Do you see how deftly I just got myself out of a shit-ton of work while at the same time making it look like you’d be a jerk to complain? What a freaking genius I am.

Here how this year’s Spring Top Sewalong will work:

Sew a top (or more) for yourself!

Spring tops in this sewalong should be made by you, for you. For these purposes, a “top” is something that covers the majority of your top half, but not the majority of your bottom half. You can see where that would put leggings and negligees, can’t you? (NOT TOPS.) We can have the Unmentionables Sewalong in June. JUST KIDDING. The term “spring” indicates that it should be sewn in spring, THIS spring, to be precise, as opposed to last year. But, generous soul that I am, let’s define “spring tops” as tops completed after March 1, despite the wintry weather of this past month. There is no limit on the number of tops you may sew for yourself this year, since I don’t have to score them all, so knock yourself out. Need inspiration? You can find all of the tops from years past on my Spring Tops page.

Share it with us!

The Spring Top Sewalong 2013 Photo Pool will again function as the primary means to share your photos, either of tops in progress, finished tops, or piles of fabric you wish were a top. Please share those photos! Do try to remember that text-heavy and multi-photo images don’t play very well in feature mosaics. Be sure to include a link to your blog if you post about your top.

If you post your Spring Top Wewalong photos on Instagram or Twitter, add the #springtopsewalong hashtag to your description so we can find it. Don’t forget send them to Flickr while you’re Instagramming them, and then add them to the pool that way, as well (does everyone know how to do that?).

I REPEAT: THIS YEAR THE SPRING TOP SEWALONG POOL WILL INCLUDE PHOTOS OF TOPS-IN-PROGRESS, AS WELL AS FINISHED PHOTOS.

This year I think it would be fun to see more photos of tops in progress, more people discussing fabrics and patterns, and helping each other out if necessary. I felt like the format we had before (where you could only post one finished photo of your top) was a bit limiting that way. It meant that the pool was more of a final show and tell, instead of helping us all sew along with each other. So let’s SEW ALONG!

Top Tops
I’ll feature my favorite tops from the pool here on the blog throughout the sewalong, as part of the fun. Maybe I’ll even hand out crowns again! It’s going to be great!!

Take a button


Feel free to use a button on your blog or website to help me spread the word. The html/widget code for the button can be found at the bottom of this page (scroll allllll the way down). Adjust the width by entering the width of your choice in the width=”x” area of the code. Anything up to 200 pixels wide should look OK.

Let the sewalong begin! What are you going to sew this year?

*I have it on good authority that KCW will run this spring from April 22-29, so that’s perfect timing, right? First get yourself all prettified during STS, and then you can refocus on getting the little blighters looking spiffed up and presentable during KWC. Am immensely pleased with self at clever planning.

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Some sites that make me smile

Happy Monday, everyone!!! It’s Elliot’s birthday today! Want to see the cake I made him?

Birthday Cake for Elliot's big 6 (Guido is his favorite Cars character)

He loves Guido. We had a fun birthday party yesterday with family: lots of presents and food and attention, so it was a bit hard for him to go to school today.

I’m currently knee-deep in pant pattern production, so I don’t have much to show for myself, sewing-wise (except for piles of pant samples. Do you want to see those? Might be kind of boring…), but last night I found five minutes to read some blogs, and I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you. I think these will make you smile!

Matsutake – Katie is a DIY queen who always, ALWAYS makes me laugh. I am always amazed with the projects she comes up with; the woman just made her own faux FIREPLACE, for crying out loud. Her assistant, Ms Norwood, is her cat. I am guaranteed to laugh until I cry whenever I read her blog.

The Selfish Seamstress - Elaine only sews if it’s for herself, and her self-deprecating writing style is toootally funny. Meanwhile she’s sharing free patterns and awesome garments she’s made. The Kate Spade faux fur pullover knockoff is her latest (hilarious) freebie. Another one that gives me sideaches from laughter.

Joy the Baker – I think Joy is one of the happiest bloggers out there. She’s big-time (huge audience, currently writing her second cookbook), but her voice is so authentic and down-to-earth, you feel like you’re talking over coffee. I hardly ever have the time to make anything from cooking or food blogs, but the pictures are amazing, and it’s a really enjoyable read.

Dinner, A Love Story – This blog is dedicated to making family dinner happen, a concept that we fully embrace at our house. I asked for the cookbook for my birthday after trying out a number of the online recipes and realizing they were becoming regulars in the dinner rotation. There are tons of great recipes on the site, and Jenny is an awesome writer to boot.

You and Mie – I absolutely must mention Cherie’s blog because today is the first day of her Japanese Pattern Book series that goes on all this week. If you’ve ever wanted to sew from a Japanese pattern book, or don’t even know what that means, be sure to check it out! Also: Cherie’s little one is quite possibly the most adorable child you will ever lay eyes upon.

OK, so what are your favorite places to visit online right now? Dish, dish!!!

Some other updates…

We’re offering two new pattern bundles in the shop right now: the Charlie Dress and Tunic patterns together ($1 off), and both Flashback Tee patterns, sizes 12 mo -5 y and 6-14 y together, for 20% off! You can find them all in the pattern shop.

I’m also happy to announce that a Geranium Dress Sellers’ License is finally available for small-scale handmade sellers. Check out this page for more information. We also have a new shop registration form for all Made By Rae sellers: we’re starting a new MBR Sellers Flickr group to help showcase your work, so please fill out the form if you’d like an invite!

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Spring cleaning: attack of the patterns

A couple of weeks ago I made a guest appearance on the Pink Castle blog for their Spring Cleaning series with a post about how I organize all my patterns, especially the printouts and tracings that can really pile up in my sewing room over time.

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I also talk about tracing patterns with Swedish tracing paper, something that I highly recommend. Head over to the Pink Castle blog to read all about it!

More happy kitchen

The saga of my kitchen’s transformation from meh to yay continues with…

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WALL DECALS!!

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After hanging up the new curtains a couple of months ago, I couldn’t help but think it needed just a little bit more of something…so I wrote Melody an email suggesting that if she were, say, to create some wall decals of the happy dishes for Spoonflower and put them in the Melody Miller Spoonflower shop, I would have no choice but to buy them and hang them on my kitchen wall. She happily obliged me. I’m sure it helps that we are BFFs IRL* (Melody will be one of the teachers along with me at Camp Stitchalot this May. There are still some spots open if you want to come and join us!!). OK, I may be exaggerating a little. It’s more likely due to the fact that she is one of the sweetest human beings on the planet. But still. Aren’t they fun?

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Melody’s Ruby Star Sparkle fabric line was one of my top three at Quilt Market last fall (for my other top fabric picks and more of my juicy QM opinions, you’ll have to check out the interview I did for Love Quilting and Patchwork magazine in their spring issue…if you are lucky enough to get your hands on it. It’s getting scarce!). And now I get to look at these lovely cheerful dishes every day. YAY!!!

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I purchased the decals on one large sheet (the 30″ size — you can find them here) and, while it did take a bit of time to cut them out, it wasn’t too bad. I used an X-ACTO knife on my cutting mat, which worked very nicely. You can see a glimpse of the cutting process in this Instagram photo. I think I heard somewhere that Spoonflower plans to cut them out for you eventually, but I’m not sure when or whether that will ever happen. It might just be a baseless rumor. Once the decals were cut out they were easy to place; one thing I like about them is that they are not only reusable but easily removable, so you can stick them up and then move them around until they are exactly where you want them.

If you want some of Melody’s wall decals or wallpaper for your very own, you can find them all in her Spoonflower shop. I’m currently trying to convince Mr Rae that we need a dining room wall covered with the viewmasters. Tell me that would not be AWESOME.

*BFFs IRL = Best Friends Forever In Real Life

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The boy, a hat, and his Cthulhu

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Couldn’t resist a little CTB encore today with pictures of the new Tic Tac Toe shirt in action.

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Bonus points to you if you even know who Cthulhu is (it’s pronounced “ka-thoo-loo”). Our little Cthulhu enjoys current status as the most loved of all of Elliot’s “guys,” which is what he calls the entourage of stuffed animals (this includes Kermit) that inhabit his bed. It may seem like an odd choice for a stuffed animal, but Mr Rae and I thought it was completely hilarious when Elliot used to put a bowl in front of Cthulhu at the dinner table and tell us, with his slight little lisp, that Cthulhu was eating “the souls of his followers” (“the soulth of hith followerth”), a concept he was far too young to comprehend. I’m pretty sure his grandmother found this a bit horrifying.

kthulu in the hat

Celebrate the BOY Wrapup!

This round of Celebrate the BOY has been phenomenally fun! I’ve had a great time sharing this series of posts with you, and getting the chance to collaborate with the ever-talented and amazing Dana over at MADE is always a wonderful experience!!! I hope you’ve enjoyed following along and sewing for your own boys! You’ve posted your projects in our Celebrate the BOY flickr group, and that’s been really cool to watch; so many cool projects and ideas in that group. Feel free to keep adding your projects throughout the year. I love checking in to see what everyone is making!

Here’s a quick look at the clothes I made this year for Elliot:

celebratetheboymosaic

Seeing everything I made for this series all together in one place is v. satisfying. Just so you know, I didn’t sew and photograph all of this stuff just in the last two weeks (that would be insane!). I worked on most of these in January and early February so that I would have time to blog about them during Celebrate the BOY. I even started planning a little in December, picking out fabrics and such. It’s so fun to plot and plan with Dana and decide how and when things will run (even if I *say* I want to just post every other day but then inevitably end up posting daily. Oops! It helps that Dana is a fellow overachiever…YAY!).

Here are the links to each individual post:

Saffron pantsshow your stripes turtleneckTuxedo Stripe pantCity Pantlittle bit of color hoodieFox TeeCelebration Garlandkneepads 3 waystic tac toeLittle Bit of Color Hoodie Tutorial

And a look at all of our fun roundups (most based on my “Rules” when it comes to sewing for boys):

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color primariesmosaica88a950a51ea1043fdcbfa3d63358733b579e0b6

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autos mosaic 2pants & piping mosaic 1

And don’t forget the fun mustache roundup! You can see all of the Celebrate the BOY posts, past and present, in the archives. You can find MADE’s boy archives right here.

I’d like to give special thanks to the following sponsors: Fashionable Fabrics, Pink Chalk Fabrics, Fabricworm, Pink Castle Fabrics, The Fabric Fairy, Blank Slate Patterns and Wunderpop. Thank you for supplying prizes for our Celebrate the BOY weekend giveaways!

Thanks to all of you, my awesome readers, for your wonderful comments and encouragement. I hope you had fun sewing and following along with Celebrate the BOY 2013!

Kneepads – 3 Ways!

We’re wrapping up Celebrate the BOY this week, but I have just one more how-to post I wanted to share. Today I thought I’d talk a bit about adding kneepads to pants. You can add kneepads while you’re making pants OR after they have been worn through at the knees. All three of these kneepads have been tested by Elliot, and each one has proven to hold up over time. Kids can be rough on their clothes, and kneepads are a great way to ensure that your hard-earned sewing efforts don’t go to waste!

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The first kneepad goes across the pant leg and is made of a basic rectangle.

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In this tutorial I’m showing you how to add the kneepad to a four-piece pant (see this post for the difference between a four-piece and two-piece pant), but you can also use it for a two-piece pant pattern, as long as you finish one of the sides before attaching it to the pant leg. I’ll discuss that below.

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(1) Cut two rectangles of fabric, at least one inch wider than the width of the pant leg. The height should be twice the height that you want your kneepad PLUS 1″ for seam allowance (so if you want a 5″ kneepad, cut them (5×2)+1=11″ tall). Add fusible interfacing if your fabric is not a bottom-weight like twill, canvas, or corduroy. In the picture, the rectangles are folded in half.
(2) Fold each rectangle in half like a hot dog with right sides together so that the bottom and top edges are even. Pin and sew the two edges together with a 1/2″ seam.
(3) Turn the kneepad right-side out and press it flat. Use another pair of pants to help you find where your child’s knee will hit on the pant, making sure to fold over the waistband allowance on the pants-in-progress for more accurate placement.
(4) Mark your stitch lines across the kneepad using chalk and a ruler, roughly 1″ apart. Pin each kneepad in place to each front pant piece.
(5) Stitch along the lines to secure the kneepad to the pant leg.
(6) Trim the edges of the kneepads even with the edges of the pant pieces.
(7) Finish sewing the pant together. The outside edges of the kneepads will get sewn into the outseams (shown) and the inseams (not shown) of the pant.

If you are using a two-piece pant pattern, you have two options: you can either sew one of the side edges together in step 2 before turning it right-side out so it’s finished (the other side edge gets finished when sewing the inseam), or you can tuck the outside edge of the kneepad under a tuxedo stripe as shown here:

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(See this post for a tuxedo stripe tutorial.)

You can see this kneepad in action on Elliot’s Tuxedo Stripe Pants! Here’s another shot of him last fall wearing the linen pants made in the tutorial. They’re really soft because they’re made out of Essex Linen, a soft but sturdy fabric that’s become really popular lately, so this pair has been one of his favorites. Can you believe how long his hair was in this picture?

kneepad pants up north

Here’s a how-to for a more “classic”-shape kneepad:

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(1) Cut two front and two back pieces (I like to use a contrast color that will peek out a little behind the kneepad).
(2) If your fabric is not very heavy, you may want to add fusible interfacing to strengthen it.
(3) Pin each kneepad front to each back, right sides facing, and sew all the way around, leaving an opening for turning. Then turn it right-side out through the opening, and press it flat.
(4) Pin and sew to pant leg (preferably before you sew the pant inseam, ahem. It can be a bit difficult to sew it onto the pant leg after it’s already been sewn together).

You can see this kneepad in action on Elliot’s City Pant! If you like this look, you should also check out Dana’s Kid Pants with Kneepads for another great way to make kneepads (from t-shirt scraps).

The third type of kneepad is a patch kneepad. I’ve used Elliot’s favorite Melody Miller radio print on two different pairs of jeans to patch holes at the knees. The print comes on a Kokka linen canvas, which is nice and heavy, but you could use a scrap from another pair of pants or any canvas fabric, as long as it’s fairly heavy-duty.

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(1) The pair of jeans I started with had holes worn through the knees.
(2) Use an iron to fuse a scrap of canvas to double-sided fusible web (like HeatnBond), and cut to size.
(3) Peel the backing off.
(4) Place kneepads in desired location.
(5) Press with an iron to fuse them to the jeans.
(6) If your machine arm will fit inside the leg of the pant with room to maneuver, you can zig-zag stitch around the edges of the kneepad to hold it in place. It might be easier, though, to whipstitch over the edges by hand, using a heavier thread like Coats & Clark buttonhole thread or topstitch thread.
(7) My stitches didn’t end up looking too hot…you might want to try a thread that matches better (that didn’t stop Mr E from wearing them until the jeans got too small, though)!
(8) Repeat for the other leg.

So, there you go: three different ways to make kneepads…three different ways to make pants last longer!

Celebrate the BOY 2013

This post is part of Celebrate the BOY, a series of boy sewing posts hosted by me and Dana of MADE. Check out my Celebrate the BOY archives for more boy sewing posts.  Here’s what we’ve done so far:

DAY 1: Rae: Saffron Pants and Color Roundup / Dana: 5 Steps to the Basic Tee
DAY 2: Rae: Little Bit of Color Hoodie / Dana: Pants Roundup
DAY 3: Rae: Hoodie Tutorial / Dana: Kids Shorts/Pants with Back Pocket Tutorial
DAY 4: Rae: Show your Stripes Turtleneck / Dana: 13 DIY Fabrics
DAY 5: Rae: Stripes Roundup and Celebration Garland / Dana: Favorite Tee Shirt Buddy Toys
DAY 6: Rae: Fox Tee / Dana: Big Stick Jammies
DAY 7: Rae: Bold Prints Roundup / Dana: Beach Robe to House Robe Remix
DAY 8: Rae: City Pants / Dana: we be jammin PJ roundup
DAY 9: Rae: Mustache Roundup / Dana: Stripes, Checks, and Piping, oh my
Day 10: Rae: Piping Roundup / Dana: some like it Chewie, some like it Hoth (heee!!!)
Day 11: Dana: Muscle Tees

Piping improves everything.

I mentioned my love of piping yesterday, but I think it’s worth revisiting. I love the way piping instantly makes something more snazzy and profesh, like the little collared shirt for Elliot that I posted yesterday. I’ve used piping on little backpacks, pants, on my own clothing, and on purses. In fact, I think I will boldly say that I have NEVER seen a sewn item that piping did not improve. Which brings me to my fourth (and final, at least for this round of CTB) rule when it comes to sewing for boys:

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Piping has been popping up a lot lately in the Celebrate the Boy Flickr group. Here are some of my favorite piping pics from the pool:

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I cannot even believe how much these overalls rock. There are many more photos of these amazing overalls (above) on Mamasha’s blog here.

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Bright red piping offers great contrast for these black and white cars!

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Top Left: lange benen. Top Right: Elastische paspel. Bottom Left: postbodejacob1. Bottom Right:  Jacob in ‘t oker.

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Left:  achterkant. Middle: Kabouterhemd. Right: glazend biesje.

La Inglesita blogged about this outfit here:

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Left: Blue Coat. Right: Pants (blogged here).

This adorable coat has a dedicated blog post here.
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And while we’re loving the yellow piping, this playsuit is just about too cute for words:

Oliver+S Playsuit

piping mosaic!

Top Left and Bottom: Orange Piping. Top Right: Green Pants.

*(Thanks to Dana for letting me use her checked shorts for the “Piping improves everything” button!)

The photos in this post came from the Celebrate the BOY Flickr group. Feel free to join the group and share your photos too!

IBN JEANS boys leather shirtIBN JEANS boys leather shirtOff to elementary school with his new schoolbagOff to elementary school with his new schoolbagOff to elementary school with his new schoolbagOff to elementary school with his new schoolbag

This post is part of Celebrate the BOY, a series of boy sewing posts hosted by me and Dana of MADE. Check out my Celebrate the BOY archives for more boy sewing posts.  Here’s what we’ve done so far:

DAY 1: Rae: Saffron Pants and Color Roundup / Dana: 5 Steps to the Basic Tee
DAY 2: Rae: Little Bit of Color Hoodie / Dana: Pants Roundup
DAY 3: Rae: Hoodie Tutorial / Dana: Kids Shorts/Pants with Back Pocket Tutorial
DAY 4: Rae: Show your Stripes Turtleneck / Dana: 13 DIY Fabrics
DAY 5: Rae: Stripes Roundup and Celebration Garland / Dana: Favorite Tee Shirt Buddy Toys
DAY 6: Rae: Fox Tee / Dana: Big Stick Jammies
DAY 7: Rae: Bold Prints Roundup / Dana: Beach Robe to House Robe Remix
DAY 8: Rae: City Pants / Dana: we be jammin PJ roundup
DAY 9: Rae: Mustache Roundup / Dana: Stripes, Checks, and Piping, oh my
Day 10: Rae: Piping Roundup / Dana: some like it Chewie, some like it Hoth (heee!!!)

Celebrate the BOY 2013

Tic-tac-toe shirt + piping how-to

I love piping. It makes everything better. Truly.

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When Elliot saw this “stitched” fabric (designed by Aneela Hoey) he said, “It looks like tic-tac-toe!” so that’s what we call this shirt now. The “tic-tac-toe” shirt. Sidenote: playing tic-tac-toe with a kindergartener is hilarious. I can beat the pants off of him every time, so most of the time I just let him win, though he’s slowly figuring out the tricks. It’s just funny to imagine a time when tic-tac-toe was still novel.

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In addition to the pockets and cuffs shown above, I added piping to the collar, yoke, and front edges of the shirt to give it a fun retro look.

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Just in case you’ve never made your own piping, let me briefly show you how I make mine:

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First, cut 1.25″ strips on the bias (45 degrees diagonally) using a rotary cutter and ruler (1). Then trim the ends square, overlap them so they are perpendicular, and stitch them together as shown (2). Trim and press the ends apart (3), and repeat steps 2 and 3 until your bias tape is long enough (4). Then take piping cord — usually a white narrow cord which you can buy by the yard or pre-packaged — and place it in the center of the bias tape (5). Fold the bias tape around the cord, and hold it in place with your fingers. Machine-baste the piping shut using a long stitch-length and stitching right next to, but not into, the cord (6). You’ll have to go slowly and readjust the bias tape by hand as you sew. Once you’ve sewn the entire length of bias tape, you’re ready to add piping to all kinds of things! Just cut it to the length you need and baste it in place.

By the way, there are plenty of great piping tutorials out there, with many different ways to make it. This is definitely not the only (or the best) way to make piping, but it works great for me. You should definitely take some time to check out Anna’s awesome no-sew piping tutorial if you haven’t already (BRILLIANT!), and Dana has an entire post series on bias tape that is also worth a read if you’re new to the bias-tape scene.

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I love the finished result. No pictures of the shirt in action yet, as I just barely finished it yesterday afternoon, but he did try it on briefly yesterday, and it fits!

OK, now you really must head over to MADE to see the piping shorts and awesome outfit that Dana made for her post today: Stripes, Checks, and Piping, oh my! You will love it!

Celebrate the BOY 2013

This post is part of Celebrate the BOY, a series of boy sewing posts hosted by me and Dana of MADE. Check out my Celebrate the BOY archives for more boy sewing posts.  Here’s what we’ve done so far:

DAY 1: Rae: Saffron Pants and Color Roundup / Dana: 5 Steps to the Basic Tee
DAY 2: Rae: Little Bit of Color Hoodie / Dana: Pants Roundup
DAY 3: Rae: Hoodie Tutorial / Dana: Kids Shorts/Pants with Back Pocket Tutorial
DAY 4: Rae: Show your Stripes Turtleneck / Dana: 13 DIY Fabrics
DAY 5: Rae: Stripes Roundup and Celebration Garland / Dana: Favorite Tee Shirt Buddy Toys
DAY 6: Rae: Fox Tee / Dana: Big Stick Jammies
DAY 7: Rae: Bold Prints Roundup / Dana: Beach Robe to House Robe Remix
DAY 8: Rae: City Pants / Dana: we be jammin PJ roundup
DAY 9: Rae: Mustache Roundup / Dana: Stripes, Checks, and Piping, oh my