Kimono outfit for Baby C

You guys are the BEST.  Thanks for all the insightful, supportive comments you left on that last post.  I think I expected to get the smile-and-nod response (you know, “That’s interesting Rae, good thoughts” sort of stuff) but I was NOT prepared for how many of you would resonate with that topic. It definitely struck a nerve. It warmed my heart that lots of you feel free to actually post less now. I think we’ve started a Lazy Bloggers Revolution or at the very least Coalition. I’m all for empowering an atmosphere of relaxation around CraftBlogLand. 

I also want to be sensitive to the fact that despite my claims to pursue a “slow blogging” lifestyle, some people will still look at my blog and feel overwhelmed. That can and will happen with any craft blog regardless of post frequency or topic.  Some of you have less support, less time, less energy and some just feel plain inadequate when they see all the collected craftiness here and elsewhere.  And I don’t know exactly how to address that except to say that I struggle with that too. It’s hard not to look at other people and compare because there will always be someone else doing it better than me.  So it’s best to just not go there. We never see the whole picture of someone’s life online, just a glimpse (and sometimes, the collected works of years of crafting in one sitting, talk about skewing perspective). You can only do as much as you can do, and never feel guilty for giving yourself a break! And this will echo what many people said on the last post, but it bears repeating: sewing (and blogging about it) is supposed to be fun. If it starts to feel like work, quit!

OK, I actually did have something I made a couple weeks ago to show you today (but no pressure, haha, try and remember it’s taken me over a week to write this post). 

Ever since I bought this cotton floral reproduction fabric I’ve had this idea in my head for a pleated kimono top for C (my baby daughter, who will be one year on friday, ACK).  I can’t say it turned out exactly the way I had envisioned in my head but it is pretty cute. 

I guess what I mean by that is the pleats are a little weird, they don’t really show up and define it like I’d hoped.  Maybe there need to be more of them. But once it’s on it seems to fit just fine.  And I really love the fabric.

The leggings were made with the tights pattern (just like these) except now I make them bigger because she’s older.  I wouldn’t recommend adapting the pattern for leggings with anything other than an old shirt/sweater though, because hemming the bottom of those little legholes would be No Fun if you were making them with knit fabric.  Just use the hem of the sweater for the leg hems and go from there.

It’s getting harder and harder to get her to sit for a picture.  So you’re going to have to put up with the little tikes car today, because that’s as good as it gets around here with the photos lately. 

C lacks the ability to a) mount/dismount or b) steer the little tikes car, so she ends up rolling across the patio until she hits the edge and can’t go any further.  Then, in typical second-born-fashion, she sits there quietly for a few minutes until she decides she’s sick of it and then starts screaming “Nah! Nah! Nah!” and signing “More” until someone comes and turns her around.  Then the process repeats.

See how her hair is turning strawberry blond? It was so dark when she was born.  I had to make sure I included the little black ruffle rosette for her hair. 

Ric Rac Baby Dress

I was too worn out from Top Week to participate in Meg’s Kid’s Clothes Week Challenge a couple weeks ago, although I had the best of intentions (and check out the fun stuff everyone made, by the way).  But I did succeed in making a couple of things for the baby.  The pattern was the result of messing around with the Itty Bitty Baby Dress Pattern, sizing it up to a 9-month size, adding a back closure, raising the waist.  I can’t say it’s all that interesting, just a basic shape, but I do always appreciate a good back closure when dressing my squirmy child.

UPDATED (2/13): This pattern is now available as the Geranium Dress Sewing pattern in sizes 0-5T; if you’d just like a newborn size you can check out my free Little Geranium pattern, and do check out the tutorial on adding trim if you like the ric rac on the bodice!

um should maybe fix that wonky ric-rac?

Some of you who have been around here awhile might recognize that floral fabric from the Itty Bitty Dress Pattern sample.  You’d think I could cut into some of the NEW designer fabric I have yards and yards of just sitting on the shelf.  But no, for new things I am such a wimp.  I don’t want to risk biffing and wasting the fabric.  You know, all half a yard of it (rolls eyes at self).  Anyway, I gotta use up my little scraps for tiny dresses before my baby girl gets too big.  Or something like that.

Since C is crawling now (at almost 10 months old) her dresses have to be short enough not to get caught under her knees.  Not something you think about much, but 6-12 month size clothes for babies should always take crawling into consideration.  She therefore needed something to go underneath, so I took an old pink knit pajama shirt and turned it into capri leggings.

I used my Baby Tights Tutorial to do this, just chopped off the bottom 2 inches of the pattern (I think? You’d think it’d kill me to write this stuff down occasionally).

I *heart* anything with ric-rac on babies and the pattern’s great.  I’ll certainly use it again, enlarging it as the baby grows.  Though this dress seems a little too boring for me to exert much energy producing it for public consumption, it seems like the sort of thing you could find somewhere else.  But overall: Success!

I couldn’t help myself (another Pierrot Dress)

You might be thinking, shouldn’t she be sewing her own tops?  You know, for that Spring Thing happening soon?  I don’t know what happened.  Somehow another one appeared.  The red-striped tights needed something to go with them?  It’s just so hard to selfish-sew when you have a cute little goober to churn stuff out for.  And itty-bitty stuff, so it only takes ONE nap, instead of FOUR.

You might also be thinking, shouldn’t she at least strap said goober into her high chair?  And you know, that’s just what responsible parents would do.  We, obviously, are not those people.

Dress Details: The fabric is plain blue chambray from who-knows-where, the sort you can get anywhere.  The ruffle was serged to make it look fuzzy.  The pattern is mine, began as a tracing of a vintage baby bunting and ended up totally different, as a dress.  Also inspired by this pattern (I actually purchased the top in a 2T from Varenia last summer, knowing I was having a girl but before she released the pattern, which is for size 1T-6).  I’d love to make this baby version available, but who knows when I’ll find the time.  This version was not cut on the bias, and I’ve definitely decided I like the bias-cut version better, even if it does use more fabric.

* * * * * 
Spring Top Week is May 1-7.  Voting will begin on May 3.  Mark your calendars.
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Sidenote/Rant Warning: I am totally hating on Blogger right now for deleting ALL MY COMMENTS FROM FOREVER when I switched over to (click on any old post to see what I’m talking about).  Also, search (in the top left corner) no longer works (I can’t even search for “Ottobre”, which is one of MY LABELS).  And yes, I tried exporting/importing the blog and yes if I switch back to the old domain ( they all show up again.  I have a computer geek for a husband, for crying out loud.

Blogger, I am breaking up with you.  It’s not me, it’s you.

I’m thinking Moveable Type or Typepad or Squarespace?  I know some of you know way more than I do about this.  Email me or comment.  Please.

UPDATED:  Huh.  Comments seem to be working now.  You know how when you threaten to break up with someone and then they make all these promises to change and your heart softens?  Hmm. That seems to be happening a LITTLE..but I’m not completely happy yet, as my search still doesn’t work.  Let’s just say I’m still on the prowl.  Call me a cheater if you want, I don’t care.

Free! Baby Tights Pattern

Well I thought I might have to throw the printer out the window trying to get this pattern to print correctly, but I didn’t.  It’s here, now, and it works.  And that’s what’s important right?  By the way, page two is just there to taunt me.  So just print page one.  Take that you stupid pattern!?!  OK, am really losing it.  Just talked to a digital file.  Just talked to a digital file.

We have spring fever here.  It’s so warm and breezy and lovely this week.  And as I type this I’m sitting in my car outside my house because both my kids fell asleep on the way home from hanging out with friends in Ann Arbor this morning, and rather than try and haul them inside and hope for more napping, I parked outside our front door and grabbed my laptop.  So here I am, in the car, typing.  UPS guy just drove up with a package for Elliot (thanks Grandma H!) and said “this your new office?”  He has no idea how right he was.

The pattern is size 3-6 months, but I added the modifications I made for a 6-12 month size too, and I’m sure you could extrapolate a 12-18 month or 2T size from that too somehow.  And you know what?  You never know ’til you try.  I’ll let you know if I do (so please don’t ask me how much to enlarge for a four year old.  I have no idea).

click on the image above to download the file, then right click to save or print]

And for those of you who just arrived, this pattern goes along with this great fantastic non-troublesome tutorial for baby tights, where you can find the instructions for constructing them.

Tutorial by Rae: Make baby tights

This tutorial will show you how to make a pair of tights by tracing another pair.  Don’t have a pair on hand to trace?  I’ve made a PDF baby tights pattern in size 3-6 months (with 6-12 months size modifications) that will be available soon (UPDATED: PATTERN HERE)! These baby tights can be sewn with either a serger OR a regular sewing machine.  Stretchy knit jersey or old t-shirts make the best materials, and you’ll also need some 3/4″ wide elastic.  I’ll talk about fabric selection, needles, and sewing techniques, so here we go…

Step 1: Get some fabric

For baby tights you’ll need very little fabric. An 18″ square of fabric will probably do it if you’re making tights for an infant, obviously more if your baby is larger.  The type of fabric needed for these tights is lightweight knit jersey with lycra/spandex.  Jersey is different from interlock as it does not look the same on both sides and tends to curl on the edges.  Interlock is the same on both sides, doesn’t curl or stretch as much, and will not work as well for this project. Some ribbed knits might work, but most ribs tend to stretch mostly in one direction. When you select your knit, make sure it is thin, it is very very stretchy, and that it stretches in both dimensions (called 4-way stretch).  This is why the addition of lycra/spandex is helpful.  One way to tell if a fabric will work is to take the fabric in your hands and try stretching it widthwise and then lengthwise.  It should feel pretty stretchy both ways, even if one is a little less than the other.  If it is significantly less stretchy in one direction, it’s probably not a good choice for these tights.

So where can you find such a fabric?  One of the easiest places to get it is from stretch t-shirts.
Most t-shirts from the major brands (JCrew, Gap, BR, Old Navy) are made with lots of stretch so recycling your old t-shirts is a great option.  Notice I’m not talking about the traditional screen-printed “beefy-Ts” which are too thick and won’t have enough stretch.  Here’s the tag from the grey t-shirt I used for the grey tights I posted yesterday so you can see the ingredients (a cotton/lycra blend):

And just in case you’re wondering, here’s what I used from left to right in the top photo:

  • aqua: bamboo/spandex blend jersey from Joann (worked great! very stretchy!)
  • red stripes: cotton jersey knit from Pacific Fabrics (wasn’t quite as stretchy as I wanted, but pretty good!)
  • grey: old Banana Republic stretch t-shirt (worked great! very stretchy!)
  • green stripes: cotton jersey knit from Pacific Fabrics (pretty good!)
  • sky blue: thick cotton knit t-shirt (this really did not work well…too thick, not very stretchy)

If you don’t have t-shirts you can recycle, look for knit jersey with cotton/lycra or bamboo/lycra blends.  Here are some places online that I found bamboo-blend jersey:
Fabric Fairy, Pacific Fabrics (they don’t have the striped cotton jersey online but you might be able to call them and order it?), Field’s Fabrics (I have some of that peach, it’s dreamy), Sewzanne’s, and Hart’s.

Of course, you don’t have to use bamboo blends, cotton/lycra blends will work fine too.

Step 2: Check/change your sewing machine needle

You need to use a needle that will work with knits.  I use Schmetz Stretch needles which work with all of my machines (Bernina, Singer, Brother).  Sew a small sample of the knit before you begin.  If there is any thread catching or wonkiness going on inside your machine, DESIST and CHANGE YOUR NEEDLE.  It’s not going to get better the longer you try.  You’re just going to get more frustrated and emit swears/big fat baby tears.  You might need a stretch needle for a different weight fabric too (like size 11 instead of 14).  If ballpoint or stretch needles aren’t working, try using a basic Universal needle.  You might be surprised at what works.  I do not use a walking foot for sewing knits because I am cheap and the walking foot for my Bernina is expensive ($150), but I understand that can also help.  By the way, I do not change the needles on my serger, just my sewing machine.

Step 3: Make your pattern

Trace around the outside of the tights 1/4″ from the edge (for seam allowance), ending at the center seam.  Make the outside edge as straight as possible even if the tights “turn”.  Yes, my real name is Rachel.  Isn’t it fun what secrets you learn when you read the whole tutorial?

and then connect the center seam line:

And add 1″ to the top of your pattern for the waistband (shown in next photo for Step 4).

If you’d like to make a pair of tights the next size up from the ones you have, add 1-2″ to the bottom of the foot and 1″ to the top to size it up.

DON’T HAVE A PAIR OF TIGHTS TO TRACE?  My tights pattern for 3-6 months is here for you to download.  It’s got modifications for 6-12 months, but that’s as much as I can help you with.   It’s finished, but I’m having some printing size problems with my new version of Adobe Reader. Argh. I’m giving up for now. Will work on it tomorrow.

Step 4: Cut out your fabric

Place the long edge of the pattern on the fold of the fabric and cut out your fabric.  You’ll get the best results if the stretchiest dimension of the fabric goes top to bottom on your tights.

Hint: The first pair of red-striped tights I made ended up being a little too small because the striped jersey didn’t stretch as much as I expected.  If you don’t have a super-stretchy jersey, add an inch or two to the top and bottom of the pattern.  You can always make them smaller, but not larger.  And remember to line up stripes if you’re using striped fabric!

Your pieces should look like this:

Step 5: Sew the center seams together

I did this on a serger, but you can also use the overlock stitch on your regular machine (I’ll show you that in just a minute).  Place right sides together and sew only the center seam using a 1/4″ seam.  DO NOT KEEP SEWING DOWN THE LEG!

Step 6: Sew Inner Leg Seam

Open tights up and line up center seams.  Starting at one toe edge, sew the inner leg seam together, again with 1/4″ seam.  On a serger it is helpful to pull the legs apart like they’re doing the splits as you cross the center seams.

Here’s what it looks like if you use the overlock stitch on a regular machine (the stitch that looks like a combination between straight and zigzag stitch). I backstitched a few times at the crotch (sorry!) to strengthen the seam there.  That’s where they’re most likely to split apart.

Not as pretty as a serger, but it’s going to be on the inside so don’t sweat it.  I’d recommend using matching thread though; when Clementine wears these they look slightly bumpy along the seams and the white thread shows a little.  Oh well, they still look great.

Step 7:  Turn tights right-side out and try them on your baby.  Make adjustments as needed.

As I mentioned in Step 4, after I tried the pair on the left on Clementine I realized this fabric wasn’t going to stretch as much as real tights, so I added two inches to both the bottom and the top, and tried it again (right).  If you use jersey blends with spandex or lycra, you shouldn’t need to do this.

Step 8: Cut and sew elastic waistband

Take a 3/4″ strip of elastic and cut it a half inch larger than your baby’s waist.  Clementine is 7 months old and her waist is about 16″ so I cut a piece 16.5″ long.  I used knitted elastic because it’s more stretchy than woven but I’m not sure it’s really that important.  Overlap the ends by 1/2″ and use a zigzag stitch to secure ends together.  This makes the elastic slightly smaller than their waist, but I find it stretches out when you sew it in the next step.

Step 9:  Pin elastic to tights

Find the center of the elastic and pin it to the inside of the front center seam, folding 1/4″ of the fabric over the elastic.  Pin the overlapped part of the elastic to the center back.  The tights are still right-side out, by the way.


Step 10: Stitch elastic to tights

This part’s a little tricky, but it’s not going to show.  With the 1/4″ of fabric directly under the needle as shown, place the back center seam under the presser foot.  Pull that pin out so it won’t get in the way of the needle.  Sew the jersey-elastic-jersey sandwich together with a zigzag stitch, stretching the whole thing as you go.  I use my left hand behind the needle to pull the elastic through and my right hand to fold the knit over the edge of the elastic and stretch it out.  It helps to stop and restretch/refold as you go.

It will look like this when you’re finished:

Step 10:  Zigzag around again.

This will hide your elastic entirely.  Fold the elastic under once more and zigzag around the whole thing again, stretching as you go.

Finished! Huzzah. Now go take a picture of that darling baby in her new tights and send it on over!

And still more blah-blah…
I’m really curious to see if this sort of thing works for bigger tights (non-baby sizes).  It would really depend on whether the material selected had the same amount of stretch as real tights.  Definitely comment if you experiment with this; I’m sure others would love to know as well!

I’d also like to refer you to Built By Wendy’s Sew U Home Stretch if you don’t have much experience with knits.  I found this book immensely helpful (and it has great patterns in it) and much of this information probably came from her in some way.

Thanks for reading this whole thing.  I realized after I started it that even though this is a really simple project, there are so many tricks for working with knits that I’ve learned over the years that I felt needed to be explained.  I hope despite it’s length that it will make sewing baby tights simple and easy for you!

Pierrot Dress for Clementine

The baby tights tutorial is finished, but just decided yesterday that I’m going to include a tights pattern with it which isn’t quite finished.  So that will be up tomorrow or Thursday, for all of you who responded so exuberantly!  I’m so excited that you’re excited!  It’s such a fast and easy project, I know you’ll love it.

During naps today I completely ignored my growing pile of emails and frantically whipped up this baby dress. UPDATE: Pierrot Tunic Pattern Available HERE

In my defense: a) it was in my head and needed to get out, b) the grey tights needed something to go with them.

The pattern came from a vintage baby pattern that I heavily modified (as in: only used the neckline and underarm lines, redrafted everything else), and the fabric is from Joann.

Now I’m going to subject you to more baby pictures (universal groan, I know).

{please don’t use pictures of Clementine without permission.  thanks!}

My only bit of sadness is that her little red Minnetonka moccasins don’t fit yet to complete the outfit.  Size 2, why do you taunt me!?!

Next post will be the baby tights tutorial/pattern, I promise.

Baby Tights Madness

I’ve been in serious baby-clothes-sewing withdrawal.  Sooooo…look what I made this weekend:

 {please don’t use pictures of Clementine without permission — thanks}

Oh and I may have gone a little crazy and made a few more.

{Striped recycled cotton jersey from Pacific Fabrics}

And guess what?  I took pictures, so a tutorial’s on the way.  Fun, fun, fun!!!