Ninja Boy!

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He’s my little Ninja. Er…I guess not so little anymore? Medium-sized Ninja?

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The kid is always throwing punches and kicks and generally bouncing off the wall. I’m not sure where all the energy comes from but it seems to be infinite. So a NINJA Flashback Tee (with short sleeves and a shoulder mod) seemed perfect. Paired here with some blue twill Parsley Pants that were oh-so-simple to sew: just the basic pants with an elastic waistband and a “tuxedo” stripe with a scrap of fabric my friend Chris gave me at the Weekend Sewing Retreat last fall stitched down the side. There’s also a quick tuxedo stripe tutorial at this post, but it’s also one of the many options included in the Parsley Pants Pattern.

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After talking about how awesome Lillestof knits are in my favorite knits post, I figured I should put my money where my mouth was and actually sew with them to see what all the fuss was about. Um, yeah. They’re awesome. Lovely amount of stretch, very soft, wash well, don’t fade. LOVE. Definitely worth the extra dollars in my opinion, and trust me, I’m a sucker for cheap knits too so I think I know what I’m talking about. I got this ninja print at Simplifi but you can find more sources for Lillestof in that favorite knits post.

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Maybe I’m feeling nostalgic today, but it gets me a little choked up when I think about how many of you “know” this kid. Like, you’ve read for years and watched him grow up, and make his silly faces and poses and be a goofball (you need to go look at at that Hansel post if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s kinda my Opus) in more than one post, and even though it’s through the screen, you feel like you have a sense of his personality, you know? I suppose some people could get creeped out by that but the glass-is-half-full me thinks it’s pretty fun that so many of you can enjoy his great personality. On the other hand, I am acutely conscious of the fact that he’s never had a say about (or even really comprehend the concept of) having his face be so familiar to literally millions of people. I’ve started talking to him about that, because I think he’s old enough to start understanding what that means. Someday he may ask me not to put his pictures on my blog and I will say OK, but at least for now he’s having fun.

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Please don’t pin or repost pictures of Elliot. Thanks!

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Upcycled Parsley Pants

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One of the reasons I designed the Parsley Pants the way I did (as a 2-pc pant) was so that I could whip out pairs for my kids in no time flat. Seems the other patterns I had for pants often involved zip flies, recessed pockets, multi-pieced waistbands, or some sort of extra finishing at the cuffs or hems, and while I love those pant patterns too, they just aren’t FAST. You know? I wanted something like the Flashback Tee (another new striped Flashback for Clementine is shown below) something that could come together in an hour without too much hassle. And thus the Parsley Pant pattern was born.

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But…there’s something that makes them even faster: upcycling old adult pants for the fabric. Because then…NO HEMMING!!! So last week I cut apart two pairs of JCrew chinos in pastel colors that I used to wear back in the 00′s and turned them into pants for Clementine. The addition of the pouch pockets was the only thing that kept these from being a half hour project, seriously. And they are not only adorable, but she wears them. DOUBLE YAY!

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Here are a few tips for upcycling old pairs of pants into Parsleys:

  • use old pants that aren’t too worn out; the fabric needs to be in good shape. You can cut around (or cover up) stains, but make sure the fabric isn’t threadbare at the knees or anything. You want these pants to stand up in their second life as kid’s pants!
  • I usually only use old pants that still have their cuffs or hems in good shape, so that the old hems can become new hems.
  • To harvest the old pant fabric, cut up the inner leg seams (inseams) with a scissors, then up the crotch seams in front and back, then across the sides of the pants below the waistband as shown in the diagram below. Usually there’s not much salvageable fabric in the waistband, zipper area and pockets, so I just cut those away. DO NOT CUT THE SIDE SEAMS OPEN! LEAVE THE HEMS INTACT!

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  • Then lay your pant fabric flat (as flat as you can; some women’s pants have shaping at the hip on the side seam) and place your Parsley pattern over top of the fabric with the original pant hems even with the line on the pattern that says “finished hem line,” and the side seam of the original pant as close to the “tuxedo stripe line” as possible (see diagram below; the lower layer in the diagram is the old pant leg opened up and laid flat). Cut out two mirror image pant pieces, then assemble them according to the instructions.

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  • You can still add pockets, tuxedo stripes, pintucks, a flat front, or any of the other “extras” that come with the pattern. The main difference here is that you don’t have to hem them, because your hems are already finished!
  • Additionally, the old side seam makes it look like you’ve put in extra work when you haven’t. NICE.

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The big win here for me was the addition of two new quick and cheap pairs of pants to Clementine’s wardrobe (and the tee was quick too!). Love it!

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Favorite Pants

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Ever since I started sewing pants for E, he’s had a favorite pair. A pair that if it’s clean and in the drawer will most certainly be worn. Over and over and over. The first pair that I can remember was this pair of Dapper Dillingers, which now are so threadbare at the knees that Clementine never wore them (serves me right for making pants out of quilting cotton without kneepads). These Saffron Pants are definitely his current favorite. They are an early version of the Parsley Pants that I made as part of my Celebrate the BOY collection last winter. I’m particularly fond of the pintucks on these pants (quick tutorial on that can be found here and is included in the Parsley Pants pattern)

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I couldn’t resist showing you the outfit he picked here, partly because his hair is SO GLORIOUS but also because the outfit actually coordinates. He wears clothing I’ve made him pretty much every day, but usually picks odd combinations of stripes and prints (actually, now that I think about it, it would be great to blog some of the more hilarious combinations as well). This is the shirt that he wore for the first day of school this year (also made by me with one of my own patterns). I love the Kokka fabric on the shirt not only because of the cute elephant print but because it’s really soft.

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Have a fantastic weekend everyone!!

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Easy Parsley Shorts for Elliot

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Somehow I ended up making all of my kids’ shorts this summer (too lazy to buy them…haha), and it seems like we are always running out of pairs to wear because they’re in the laundry. Kids get dirty, especially in the summer. Go figure. So I finished up another pair for Elliot earlier this week with a bit of fabric I had left over from the Washi Dress I made with the same print. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but this print is probably my favorite from the Tsuru line. Quilting cotton is perfect for summer shorts, and it means I can make much more colorful and interesting items, especially for Elliot, who is now entering the size category of boys’ clothing that is entirely boring. I mean, total snoozefest. What is UP with that?!

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I trimmed off the Parsley Pants pattern as shown in my “Make Shorts from Pants” tutorial to make them into shorts (I believe I measured 6 or 7″ down the inseam) and used the most basic waistband option, which is just elastic all the way around. I also double-stitched the hems; this is something I learned from Dana, and I love how it makes them look a bit more “BOY” and profesh.

Speaking of Dana and shorts, if having a ready-to-go shorts pattern in your arsenal is more your speed than cutting off pants (I hear that!), you should definitely check out her recently released KID Shorts pattern, which is really great! It’s formatted a bit differently from the typical eBook instructions; I love that she’s doing a series of blog posts to show you how to make all kinds of different shorts with the one pattern (which is totally the way I love to sew)!

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It was difficult to get a good photo of these shorts ON the child. By the time I got my camera and brought it outside, he had already turned on the hose and sprayed himself with it. I just had to laugh…it’s so ELLIOT. I did manage to snap the shot below with my phone later in the evening when we went to the park. I think it captures something wonderful about summer evenings, when the sun is going down but it’s still warm and light outside. I love summer so much.

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See what everyone is making for summer with the Parsley Pants Sewing Pattern!

darth vader halloweendarth vader halloweenfanfare elephant pajamasfanfare elephant pajamasfanfare elephant pajamasparsley pants 003parsley pants 002Red corduroy ParsleysRed corduroy Parsleysshamrock parsley pantsshamrock pantsparsley shorts hands in pockets

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Parsley Shorts Roundup

I thought it was about time we did a roundup to show all of the great SHORTS you guys have been making with the Parsley Pants Pattern (here’s the Pants-Into-Shorts How-to).

Kids can really wear any color and print combo and look cool, but I think shorts in particular lend themselves to more wild and playful motifs than pants.  I also love the patchwork effect of colorblocking in a bunch of these photos.

Laura of Craftstorming made those green shorts (top right) as part of a ‘Mouk’ outfit for her son and blogged about it here.
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Top: Left, Right. Bottom: Left, Right.

Look at these kids workin’ it! Clearly Parsley shorts are made for serious fun.  I love Jane’s idea to make swimming shorts for her kids (middle).  Check out the ensuing water fight here (and a great photo tutorial on how to sew those stripes).

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Above: Left, Middle, Right.

Have you ever seen anyone so elated to be wearing shorts?  For a closer look at that adorable Red Riding Hood linen print (middle top), read Katy’s blog post here.

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Above: Left, Middle Top, Middle Bottom, Right.

This only scratches the surface of the Parsley Photo Pool on Flickr. Go take a look at all the cuteness, and add your own renditions of Parsley, too!

darth vader halloweendarth vader halloweenfanfare elephant pajamasfanfare elephant pajamasfanfare elephant pajamasparsley pants 003parsley pants 002Red corduroy ParsleysRed corduroy Parsleysshamrock parsley pantsshamrock pantsparsley shorts hands in pockets

And, hey! FYI Kids Clothes Week Summer 2013 edition is happening next week. Check out the blog here; and they have a new website where you can create a user account here.


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Super seams!

This post is part of a fun online event called “Shorts on the Line!” It’s a summer sewalong all about… shorts! It’s hosted by imagine gnats and  small + friendly. Fabulous guest bloggers are posting their shorts inspiration, tutorials, and pattern reviews, and those sewing along at home have a chance to win some great prizes, including fabric, patterns, and gift certificates! Welcome, Shorts on the Line readers!!!

Today I want to talk to you about something I think is pretty important when sewing for children: taking a little extra time whilst sewing to make sure your seams are nice and strong. Let me show you what I’m talking about. Take, for instance, these cute little shorts I made for Clementine last week from my Parsley Pants pattern (shortened into shorts; see the how-to post here):

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They look pretty innocent and adorable, right? What you don’t see, though, is that on the inside they have…

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SUPER SEAMS!! That’s right. Don’t be fooled by the cuteness, people. These shorts are made to last.

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When I began making clothing for my children six years ago (for BABY Elliot!), I used a pinking shears to trim the seams, figuring that would help keep them from fraying. The trouble is that kids are pretty rough on their clothes. All that crawling and rolling and running around? After washing the clothes multiple times I started to notice fraying seams, which led to holes. It felt like a waste of time to spend precious nap hours making a pair of pants for Elliot, only to go back and fix them later. It was always worst with the pants and shorts.

Now when I make my kids shorts or pants, I have three ways I like to “finish” my seams. But first, let’s review the basic steps of sewing a pair of shorts or pants with the help of this handy-dandy infographic (by the way, these steps are outlined in MUCH greater detail, along with hints, in both my Parsley Pants Pattern and in my Newborn Pant tutorial, which comes with a free pattern):

how to sew shorts

Step 1: First, you need to sew the center (“crotch”) seams, for both the front and back. This is done by placing the two pieces of the shorts together and sewing the front and back curved edges.

Step 2: Sew the legs together: open up the pant, pin the center seams together, and sew up one leg and down the other. This seam is also called the “inseam.”

Step 3: For basic pants or shorts, an elastic waistband can be made by folding and pressing the top edge 1/4″ towards the inside of the shorts, folding another 1-1.5″ down, and then stitching along the lower fold to form a casing for the elastic. Then you thread the elastic through the waistband, stitch the ends together, and close the hole. I always put a little piece of folded ribbon in the hole before I sew it shut so my kids can tell front from back when they’re getting dressed.

Step 4: Hem the bottom of the shorts by folding and pressing 1/4″ twice towards the inside of the shorts and then stitching that second fold down. You can make a wider hem by folding 1/4″ and then 1,” or replace the 1″ with whatever width you want!

OK, so now that you have the basics, let’s take a look at three ways to finish a seam to make it a SUPER SEAM! (Instructions follow photos.)

SUPER SEAM #1: Fold and stitch down

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I use this seam finish most often when sewing the center seams (step 1 in the basic steps above). First, to make the seam itself stronger, I use a “5 stitches forward, 2 stitches back” approach, meaning I stitch forward a spell, then back a couple stitches, forward a bunch, back a couple, and so on. This insures that the stitches themselves won’t pull out with wear. Then to prevent the seam allowance from fraying, fold each side under on either side of the seam, and stitch the folded edges down. A quick easy seam finish that takes almost NO extra time! Here’s what it looks like from the outside:

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SUPER SEAM #2: Flat fell

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I use this seam finish most often on inseams (step 2 in the basic steps above). After sewing the seam, trim one side of the seam allowance to half the width of the other, fold the bigger side around the trimmed side (to enclose it, if you will), press it flat and stitch it down. Takes a little extra time but has the added advantage of being super strong AND looking awesome.

SUPER SEAM #3: Serge and stitch down

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If you have a serger, you can finish seams quickly just by running them through the serger after you’ve sewn them. Once you’ve serged them, press them to one side and stitch them down. Main disadvantage: You need to own a serger. But for speed reasons, this is definitely my preferred method.

UPDATE: If you don’t own a serger, you can use a zig zag stitch over the edges for the same effect — works just as well, just doesn’t look quite the same.

Note: I don’t usually use the serger to sew the seam itself, because if I make a mistake or need to adjust something once I’ve tried it on a kid, a serged seam is a heckuva lot harder to un-sew.

Here’s what this finish looks like from the outside:

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So that’s it! I often use a combination of two or more of these finishes on one garment. I think you’ll find that using these three seam finishes, you’ll be able to make clothing for your kids that will last without much extra time invested. Put them on your kids and watch them go!

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You can see a few more pictures of the blue shorts in action on Clementine over on this post.

If you need a bit more detail or want to read about even more great seam finishes, I highly recommend these other top-notch resources:
Sew Mama Sew’s Seam Finishes Simplified
Seam Finish Tutorial Roundup from the Coletterie

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The Shorts on the Line sewalong is hosted by imagine gnats and small + friendly, sponsored by Jo-AnnPretty Prudent/Pellon®, and Hawthorne Threads. Here are the rest of the Shorts on the Line posts for you to enjoy:

6/10 Petit a Petit and Family and Shwin & Shwin

6/11 Delia Creates and Buzzmills

6/12 Cirque du Bebe and Sanae Ishida

6/13 Fake It While You Make It and elsie marley

6/14 No Big Dill and Max California and Designs by Sessa

6/17 girl inspired and Casa Crafty

6/18 Frances Suzanne and Caila Made

6/19 Made by Rae and Craftstorming

6/20 Noodlehead and emmyloubeedoo

6/21 Siestas & Sewing and Made with Moxie

6/24 imagine gnats and small + friendly

How to make shorts from a pants pattern

Today I’m going to show you how to turn the Parsley Pants into shorts! I’m using Parsley because that’s my current favorite, but of course you could do this with ANY ol’ two-piece pant pattern (including the Big Butt Baby Pants).

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Here are two pairs of Parsley Shorts that I made for my kiddos (both the pouch pockets and the flat-front waistband are included in the Parsley Pants pattern):

moon shorts

Moon shorts for Elliot (with pouch pockets and flat-front waistband)

frog shorts

Frog shorts for Clementine (with flat-front waistband)

The great thing about making shorts from a pants pattern is that it IS rather simple, but one or two little issues can pop up if you just hack them off across the middle of the leg (most common: front and back inseams not matching up), so let me just walk you through the process. It is very easy!

Step 1: Draw in the seam lines on the pattern piece along the inseams, 1/2″ away from the edge.

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You want to draw in your seam lines on both the front and back inseams of the pant leg. The inseams are the seams that go down the leg from the crotch to the cuff or hem. For Parsley the seam allowance is 1/2,” so draw them 1/2″ away from the edge (but adjust this distance for different seam allowances). Sometimes I use a clear ruler so I can easily measure 1/2″ away from the edge of the pattern piece, but sometimes I just estimate what 1/2″ looks like and draw it in freehand. Start at the crotch and work your way down the pant leg.

Step 2: Decide how long you want your shorts to be from the crotch to the bottom, and add extra for the hem (“hem allowance”).

In this case, I wanted Clementine’s shorts to be shorty-shorts, and some of her other pairs are about 2.75″ long from crotch to the hem. The hem allowance of the Parsley Pant Pattern is 2″, so:

Length of shorts (2.75″) + hem allowance (2″) = Total length of pattern below inseam (4.75″)

For boys’ shorts, I like the inseam a little longer. Elliot’s moon shorts are 6″ long below the inseam, so that would be: 6″ + 2″ = 8″ long total.

Step 3: Measure that distance (from Step 2) down the seam lines on the pattern piece.

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Start at the crotch and measure down the pant leg along the seam lines you drew in, then make a mark at that point (for me that was 4″ below the crotch). Do this for the front inseam AND the back inseam.

{Some of you may be thinking, why not just measure down the edge of the pattern piece instead of going through the trouble of drawing in the seam lines and measuring along those? In this (Parsley Pants) case, the back crotch point has its point cut off to reduce bulk (do you see how the back is less pointy than the front at the crotch point?) so some of that inseam edge is missing. If you measured along this edge, therefore, the front would come out about 1/2″ longer than the back.}

Step 4: Connect the dots.

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Using a ruler, draw a straight line across the pattern piece from the front mark to the back mark. This will be the bottom of your new (SHORTS!) pattern piece.

Step 5: Trace the new pattern piece.

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I personally do not enjoy printing out copious numbers of pattern pages and taping them together over and over. Not only is it tedious; it makes me feel like a bad human being. So I tend to just trace the size or outline I need and then fold up the original pattern page and file it away (see my post on organizing patterns over here!). The advantage of this is that you can use it again and again!

Don’t forget to label the size and add any pattern markings you need!

OK, so now you have a new shorts pattern piece! Now you can cut your fabric and sew the shorts together; instructions for this can be found in any basic pant or shorts pattern (including my Parsley Pants pattern). Plus, I’ll be back again soon with another post on basic shorts/pants construction and how to sew strong seams that will last. So stay tuned! UPDATED: Click here for the “Super Seams” post!

PS. You can get a copy of the Parsley Pants pattern right here!

Want to see what everyone else is making with the Parsley Pants pattern? Check out the Parsley Pants pool for more great Parsley pants and shorts:

darth vader halloweendarth vader halloweenfanfare elephant pajamasfanfare elephant pajamasfanfare elephant pajamasparsley pants 003parsley pants 002Red corduroy ParsleysRed corduroy Parsleysshamrock parsley pantsshamrock pantsparsley shorts hands in pockets

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Velveteen Parsley Pants

Last week it got up to 80 degrees, and we pulled out the kiddie pool one afternoon…and I started making shorts for the kids. I was a little disappointed because I had just finished these velveteen Parsley Pants for Clementine during Kids’ Clothes Week and had figured I’d get at least a couple of weeks of wear out of them before we had to put them away for fall. But (thanks, Michigan!) now it’s cold again. I had to pull all my plants inside last night, and there is a freeze warning out again tonight. So it’s appropriate that Clementine has been wearing these for the past three days straight.

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Wouldn’t you wear them every day, if you had a pair of pants this awesome? These were inspired by my friend Emily’s velveteen pair for her daughter Phoebe (first pic in this post).

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A genius stroke with the pattern matching across the back seam, if I do say so myself. Not on purpose, of course. I can only pattern-match when I’m NOT trying.

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I made a flat-front waistband and pouch pockets (both are options in the pattern) with a double gauze lining. Even though it looks like I might have used piping around the edges of the pockets, I actually just cut the linings a bit larger than the pocket and rolled them outward around the edges. The results are okay…this is really “cheater piping,” but it looks pretty good.

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Though she wore it once with the pink shirt (a puff-sleeved Flashback tee, tutorial here), here is the actual ensemble we’ve been privy to here at our house for the past three days. I’m going to make her throw these in the wash tonight. And that yellow striped shirt? I made that too (more on that, soon)!

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Nani Iro Pajamas for Clementine

This past weekend was really, really fantastic. I got to be a part of the teaching crew for Camp Stitchalot, and it was loads of fun. So many fun people and projects! Really great snacks!!! I’ll post some pics of the weekend soon, or you can look for the #campstitchalot tag on Instagram if you currently possess the app/skills.

Today, though, I am totally wiped. Naturally I stayed in bed until 10:30 and ate chocolate-covered pretzels for breakfast. Thank goodness my kids are still with my awesome mom-in-law until this evening. I was going to try to take the day off, but it’s not really working, since I got sucked into the Vortex of Obligation as soon as I opened my computer. That’s okay, though! Being on my computer gives me a chance to show you the adorbsable brushed cotton pajamas I made for Clementine. I posted a picture of them (reposting it again, below) last week as part of my “Parsley Pants is here!” post, but here they are in action on the little stinker herself!

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little letter pajamas

SMILE!

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The pants were made with Nani Iro brushed cotton from Kokka (I blogged about these fabrics last fall) and my new Parsley Pants Sewing Pattern, which comes in kids’ sizes 2-10. This is the simple elastic-waist option, which is crazy easy to make. The pajama top was made with my Charlie Tunic pattern. I cut the bottom hem of the shirt so to give it a curved shape, and put the facings on the inside instead of on the outside. The sleeve is more of a 3/4 length — I seem to prefer that for girls — so if you have the Charlie Tunic you can just shorten the sleeve, or if you have the Charlie Dress Add-on you can use that sleeve. By the way, we have a $1-off Charlie Dress + Tunic bundle in the shop now if you’re interested in having them both.

nani iro pajamas

As you can see, Miss Thing here is beginning to inherit her brother’s knack for unusual poses. She loves these pajamas, mainly because some of the pink flowers sparkle, something you cannot really see in these photos but I swear is true. I love them because they are soft and beautiful, and she will wear them without protest.

nani iro pajamas

You can see more Parsley Pants in the photo pool as well:

darth vader halloweendarth vader halloweenfanfare elephant pajamasfanfare elephant pajamasfanfare elephant pajamasparsley pants 003parsley pants 002Red corduroy ParsleysRed corduroy Parsleysshamrock parsley pantsshamrock pantsparsley shorts hands in pockets

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