You can do it! Embellished Neckline

After getting this book for Mother’s Day this year, I wanted to try out the patterns. So I bought some stretch needles (not ballpoint; I was specifically informed by the experienced women at my sewing center that stretch is better for fleece and jersey) and some super-stretchy aqua jersey and made the basic t-shirt to get started.

It was so boring I wanted to die. Don’t get me wrong, for the beginner sewist, I’m sure making a t-shirt is a triumph. However, when you can buy one for $5 at the Gap it’s hardly worth the effort unless it’s going to look awesome. So I ruffled it up and I really like the result. And the best thing is, you could do this with any old t-shirt and some knit fabric. Here’s how for those of you who are interested:

1. Prepare the t-shirt: If you like the current neckline, leave it. Otherwise cut out the neck band. Try it on. If you want more of a scoop-neck, cut a little more off. Be careful here — remember that you can always take more off, but never add more on.

2. (Skip this if you left the neckband intact) Stay-stitch 1/2″ from the edge of your new neckline. That means use a long, straight stitch to stabilize your fabric. No folding here. This will prevent the neck from getting too stretched out when you sew on the ruffle. If you have really stretchy jersey, iron on a strip of stabilizer (fusible interfacing) along the inside of the neckline (wrong side of fabric) before you stay-stitch.

3. Cut a few strips of knit fabric 1″ wide as long as possible. This will be your ruffle strip and should not be cut on the bias. I think I cut about 2 yards and maybe used only 1.5 (?).

4. Sew the ruffle strip directly onto the shirt using a wide, long zig-zag stitch
Here are some guidelines:

  • Start at the top left shoulder, folding the first edge under
  • Line up the ruffle so it sticks out over the neckline a little, but not much.
  • Sew down the center of the strip, stuffing it under the presser foot as you go; this will create the ruffles.
  • Stay in the middle of the ruffle if possible, but slight variations will look good too, so don’t sweat this part. Just don’t go off the edge.
  • If your first strip runs out, just cover it up with the folded edge of the new strip and keep going.
  • I went all the way around, but it would be cute just to do a small part too. Like this tank at JCrew.

To create the flowers, I took a piece of fabric about 3″x6″, scalloped the edge, gathered it with a needle and thread, and sewed it on underneath the ruffle at random spots.

Happy Sewing!

This week: A study in necklines

Along with the arrival of autumn at our house this year came The Ick. And by that I mean we all got sick this weekend with whatever throat/sinus yuckyuck nature coughed up this year when everyone went back to school. Heh. Pun intended. Sometimes I just crack myself up.

As a result, not alot of sewing, but that’s actually a pretty good thing, because I’ve got a backlog of fall tops (three so far) to put up. But before I do that [yes that means you’ll just have to wait a little longer] I have to show off a couple inspirational necklines that just had to become a part of my wardrobe. Both came from a cute little boutique shop in Plymouth called Bella Mia (thanks to my birthday discount coupon yeehaw!).

There comes a time when you need to admit to yourself that making something just isn’t worth it and you should just go ahead and buy it. This was one of those times. You can also get a teensy peek at my new haircut up there. Got it totally chopped off last week (love it!).

This one is organic (brand: Trinity) and is also really really soft. I’m going to have to be careful not to wear it around my 1.5 yo if I want it to retain it’s original hue.

And this will be my next Anthropologie knock-off. Come-on people, $358? I mean, really…

:: UPDATE :: Mojavi noticed that the back is pretty complicated…it never even occurred to me to look. However, we both concur it’s still not worth the price. So I would like to just mention that I was not planning on including a swoopy drop-back if I ever do try and make it, so let’s not get too excited about that y’all…

Fall Fabric

Here’s a few new fall fabrics I picked up at JoAnn’s last week. The right two are lightweight cotton; the patchworky one on the left is a mid-weight cotton; almost a lightweight canvas. The green cotton in the back was a thrift store find. Score!

I whipped up a stroller bag with the middle print — which is just perfect for walking downtown to the bakery or thowing over my shoulder at the farmer’s market. However, little seester Kricket decided she really liked it when she was over the other day, and since it IS her birthday on Saturday, I will just have to make another one for me!

Spoonflowering Along

I’m having so much fun designing prints in Inkscape (open source design software for those of you who don’t want to fork over the big bucks for Photoshop) to print up on Spoonflower. I can’t wait to make some baby pants with this octopus print (below).

One of the issues I’m having though can be seen in the picture…color problems. The colors not only fade substantially when printed, but they shift as well (top is computer printout, bottom is actual fabric swatch). And for someone like me who really has absolutely no computer design experience, this can be a wee bit frustrating.

But aren’t those little octopi cute? I swear I made up this design before Heather Ross came out with Mendocino. Truly.

Here’s a bird swatch based on my old header. The turquoise/aqua looks hideous. The shade reminds me of really faded medical scrubs. Not a good thing.

I love seeing how other people’s designs have turned out…check out Made By Petchy! She has one free for download for those of you who have Spoonflower accounts. That tree design is pure genius. So simple and yet so well-designed.

In the Kitchen

Thanks for all the good suggestions on dealing with the lack of plastic bags…I think I’m going to go without in a few rooms, use a brown bag in a few other rooms, and look into some of the recycled options for the kitchen. I also bought a tumbler composter on Craigslist this week so we’re starting that up too.

And now for something completely different…food! I do read a few baking/foodie blogs here and there (I love Orangette) although I do admit to feeling completely inept by comparison. But every once in awhile I can redeem myself:

This is one of my fave easy desserts. I happen to be a pretty big Nigella fan and this recipe is from Forever Summer. I first made it after watching her TV show Nigella Bites. It’s called Slut Red Raspberries in Chardonnay Jelly, and at first glance the recipe (I could only find a UK version here) is a bit daunting, since it calls for a vanilla pod, 5 gelatin leaves, and superfine sugar. But I am here to tell you that not only can you substitute any white wine (1 bottle) for the chardonnay, the sugar (1 cup) can be just plain old granulated, the vanilla can be 1 tsp of vanilla extract (this also allows you to skip the steps where you let the wine and vanilla steep), and 2 packets of plain powdered gelatin works just fine. Perhaps Nigella would gasp in horror at my modifications. Perhaps not.

Anyway, the main gist is that you make Jell-O except with wine instead of hot water, you add a little vanilla, and instead of the Jell-O packet you use unflavored gelatin.

When I made it this time I let the wine boil to remove the alcohol so Elliot could share it with us. He made affirmative noises and pointed to the fridge for more.

BTW, that elephant tray was a birthday prezzie from Mr Rae. He picked it out himself. I love it!

Made: Wristlets!

These little gems just went up for sale at happygiraffe. It’s never too early to start that Christmas list, is all I’m saying!

Other randomness:

: : Naps : :
Where did my daily 3 solid hours of naptime go? Why? Why? I’m remembering though that it’s just that much more time I get to spend with my little cutie, time which will soon be just a memory…

: : Plastic Bags : :
In our quest to KILL THE PLASTIC BAG (Warning: there are far too many pictures of sea creatures with plastic bags hanging out of their mouths in that slideshow. You’ve been warned) we have found ourselves without ANY trashpail liners. This may seem like a dumb question, but what do I use to hold garbage in those little trashcans, like say, in the bathroom? And I know the answer for the kitchen trash is supposed to be brown bag it. But really? I’d like someone who also makes roast chicken on a regular basis to weigh in here.

My Old Sweater = Baby Pants

I wish I had remembered to take a “before” picture. This used to be a short-sleeved sweater from Express. I never wore it because it was too tight, but I always really loved the stripes and colors. So I flattened it on my cutting table, put my pants pattern on top (minus the butt panel; I figured this one was stretchy enough that it would fit over E’s cloth diapers just fine) and cut away.

It was a little nerve-wracking, to be quite honest. But they fit him great and definitely look cuter as baby pants than on me, so I’m happy with the result.

Rocket Rascals Pajamas

Time for a new installment from the Kiddiewear Dept:

(closeup of snap tape closures)

These kimono pjs are made with Michael Miller’s Rocket Rascal’s fabric. I bought it last fall at a teeny tiny quilt shop inside Pike Place Market in Seattle (I can’t remember the name offhand, but it has fab stuff).

I had noticed a number of kimono-inspired tops at Habitual and Oliver + S and wanted to give it a try. This one is similar to the one at Habitual, but I added separate sleeves, snap tape instead of ties, and fiddled with the dimensions, so it’s not quite the same. I originally started with the white bias tape edging didn’t like how it turned out, so I made my own gingham tape and ended up with these:

They fit great; the pants are a little long but perfect for growing into.

And here’s a sneak peak at something else I’ve been working on lately. It’s the beginning of a twin-sized fairy-tale quilt for when E outgrows the crib. Might as well start now. I’ve been tinkering around with the fabrics and I think I finally like the combination. The gingham is a little bold compared to the other prints, but I wanted something to make the reds pop. And pop it does. Maybe a little too much but I am so not into tearing seams right now, so it’ll have to do.

Fairy tale fabrics were purchased online at Superbuzzy!

It’s Rae’s new shop! It’s a giveaway!

OK, so I was thinking this would get posted earlier, but I ended up at the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing (what a neat place — Michiganders go check it out!) for the day with a dear friend and her beautiful little girl and there went the day. You know how it goes…

But Hey Look…it’s my new Etsy Shop!

(click image above to go see the store)

I finally got sucked in too. For awhile I’ve wanted a way to be able to sell the odds and ends I’ve been making that seems to just pile up in my sewing room. Those of you regular readers will recognize things I’ve made over the last few months that had nowhere to go. The logo started with this design. And how fun is it to putz around with design software (I have zero training in that department so you have no idea how long it takes me to make a logo even that simple) and make stickers? So fun! Banner ads! Avatars! Starting a shop up was way more work than I initially thought, but it’s fun! I hope you will take a look around and maybe see something you want to buy or make for yourself. Or maybe you’ll be inspired to start a shop of your own!


I’m all about bright colors, trying to be friendly to the earth, and inspiring craftiness. So I’m giving away this mod clothespin holder to celebrate my shop opening:

It’s made of Michael Miller cotton laminate so it’s water-resistant. The edges are trimmed with bias tape and there’s a snap loop for easy hanging. Measures about 12″ tall, shown with a 3″ pin for size reference. I’ll put a few extras in the shop next week just in case you don’t win and you absolutely must have one.

Do either (just one per person please) of the following to be entered to win:

Option A: Go to my etsy shop and click on “contact happygiraffe” and send me a message (ideas: send a link to your shop so I can take a look, comment on the shop, make a suggestion for what you’d like to see there, find a type-o). Please provide your first name so I can announce you as a winner properly.
Option B: Just comment on this post. Include your first name and email address on the comment form so I can reach you if you win.

Friends and family may enter…just remember, the random-name-picking baby plays no favorites (sorry, grandma).

Deadline for entry: Wednesday, September 10th, 9 pm EST. Thanks for looking!

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