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Brobee Costume

I’m just popping in quickly to show you a REALLY exciting costume that I had the opportunity to make.

My oldest goes to preschool with a girl who has a little brother with a broken femur.  He is in a cast from his chest to his knees.  Poor little boy can’t put regular pants on and is stuck basically on his back for 5-6 weeks.  This all happened – of course – around the time of Halloween, when EVERY kid runs around from house to house collecting candy.

His mother was telling me about their experience at the hospital.  They were going to make the cast in Packer’s colors. and it turned out to look more like Brobee from Yo Gabba Gabba.

Anyone would be pretty upset with having to have a large cast on for so long; a little kid with mounds of energy should be more frustrated!  This is not the case with this little guy.  He is all smiles!  Lots of family and friends have been visiting him and helping him pass the time.

How do I come into the picture?  SEWING!  I spoke with his mom about the challenges he has with his cast and his love for his new “twin” Brobee.  I wanted to make sure he could enjoy Halloween with his brother and sister without feeling left out of the fun of dressing up.  Let’s be real, store-bought costumes aren’t well made in the first place, so it is doubtful that his mom would have been able to find a costume to accommodate his cast.

I’m not sure if there is a pattern for a Brobee costume out there.  I didn’t look.  So in case anyone wants to know how to alter a regular pattern to make a costume, I’ll tell you some tips:

  • I took a McCall’s pattern for sweatpants and a jacket.  If you can’t find a plain shirt or pants in the color of the costume, you can easily make your own.  Don’t spend too much on a pattern unless you are going to use it a ton of times.  I don’t love to use patterns, so when I do, I won’t pay more than $1-$2 for the pattern.  Lots of places have sales on patterns and all brands have similar patterns.
  • I had to make the fabric because I wanted it in fleece and they didn’t have Brobee colored striped fleece.  I took a couple of yards of both colors, cut it in strips and sewed them all together to make one large piece before cutting out my pattern.
  • If you have stripes like I did, make sure when you cut your pattern out, you are fully aware of where the seams are going to meet so that the stripes match up.  I accidentally off-centered one pattern piece and it was a little off.
  • I needed to make “tear-away” pants instead of regular sweatpants because he couldn’t close his legs.  Instead of sewing the seams on the outside of the legs (like the pattern suggested), I used velcro so it can open on the sides.  This makes it much easier to put on and take off.
  • I added a hat with a face using felt.  it really finished off the costume.  Honestly, that was my favorite part of the costume.  You can even use the hat for winter!

    close up of hat

Here are some pictures of this awesome boy and his new Halloween costume.

Brobee fan all dressed up

TWINS! Dressed up as Brobee with a Brobee stuffed toy

I enjoyed making this because I know that his mom doesn’t have to worry about searching for a costume to make sure his Halloween can be as exciting as it should be.  Also, the look on his face when he tried it on was priceless.  He is seriously one of the sweetest little boys ever.  I hope he has a good time trick-or-treating.  I’d be happy to share his candy with him! 😉

Purse Pocket Shirt Tutorial

I find a great deal of inspiration for my sewing projects from searching through clothing sites online. I’ve noticed that I can make an article of clothing myself for cheaper than you can find it online most of the time. This is the case in this tutorial for a Purse Pocket Shirt. I found a shirt with an appliqué that looked like a purse from Kettle of Fish Clothing.  I thought that was really cute but that I could make it easily and for cheaper than $74.  If you find it equally as cute, here is my shirt and how I did it.

my lady bug in her purse pocket shirt

NOTE: I will be hand-sewing some of this because, to me, it’s easier.  If someone has a tip on how to machine sew some of these things, let me know.  I’m always looking for shortcuts!

MATERIALS

  • Shirt (if you buy short sleeves, I’ve also added how to add sleeves to look like it’s a layered shirt)
  • 1/4 yard of fabric (you could use only 1/8 yard if you aren’t doing sleeves)
  • Ribbon/Rick Rack in matching color
  • Thread in matching color (I actually did it in a contrasting color, though)
  • 1 button

I included a pattern for the purse because it was much easier than explaining. If you need the purse bigger or smaller, it’d be simple to enlarge the pattern slightly. This purse is for a size 2T shirt.

MEASURING AND CUTTING

**If you are doing sleeves do this step, otherwise go to next step.  Measure the length of a sleeve for your child.  Make sure you start from the corner of the shoulder (usually if you take a long sleeved shirt that your child already has, just start from the seam of the shoulder and sleeve) and measure to the wrist.  Subtract the length of the short sleeve that you will be attaching the layered sleeve to get your finished length.  I got 6 inches.  I did not use elastic to keep the sleeve tight at the wrist because I like to pull up my kid’s sleeves when she plays with dirty things and then I don’t leave little marks on her chubby arms when I roll them down.  Therefore I only added 1/2″ for seam allowance, equaling 6.5″.  Then I took the diameter of the hole in the arm of the shirt (in my case 4 inches).  I added 1/2″ for seam allowance-4.5″.  **

Fold fabric in half, selvage to selvage. Pin and cut the two pattern pieces A & B on the fabric so that when you are done cutting you have two pieces of each part.  These will be your purse pocket.

patterns pinned on folded fabric

cut out pocket pieces

Measure your sleeves also at this time.  I measured a rectangle of 6.5″ by 4.5″.  I did this twice on the folded fabric (therefore having 4 rectangles total).

SEWING TIME

Purse Pockets

  1. Face the 2 matching pieces together and pin for both parts A & B with nice sides facing each other.

    pinned with nice sides facing in

  2. Sew, leaving 1/4″ seam allowance.  Leave one side open (smallest side to make it easier on yourself) so that you can turn it inside out.

    sewn pocket pieces with an opening

  3. I like to cut notches in the corners so that it makes a cleaner edge when it is turned around.

    cut notches in corners

  4. Turn parts inside out so now you see the nice sides.
  5. Thread a needle with the thread you used for your pocket.  You will be hand-sewing these closed.  In order to “blind stitch” this closed (where you don’t see the stitches), I start on the inside in order to hide the knot I made at the end of the thread.  I then fold the cut edges in so that it matches the look of the other seams in the piece.  I usually use my fingernails to press the folded edges.  I then use a running stitch and go from side to side, alternating, stitching just below the folded edge on each side.  Pull the thread as you go and you will either not see the stitches or BARELY see them.  That’s good!  Just don’t pull the thread too tightly or it will bunch the fabric.
  6. Finish it when you get to the end by grabbing a little part of the inside of the seam, as you are pulling the thread through, weave the needle through the loop your thread has made in order to form a knot.  I usually do this twice as a double loop to give it a little extra stability.  Cut off extra thread.
  7. Place parts A & B on your shirt close to the bottom side of the shirt (I placed in a diagonal).  Pin in place.
  8. I added a button on part B and a loop on Part A.  To see how to do a loop, look at this tutorial on sewn button loops.  Just make sure you line up where you want your pockets before putting on the button and loop (which is why I had you pin it on the shirt first), because otherwise it might not be perfectly aligned and unable to close.

    pin purse on shirt

Purse Straps

Start from the top corner of the top flap that is pinned to your shirt.  Pin the corner of the ribbon.  Then drape the ribbon across the shirt, over the shoulder, around the back, and then back to the other corner of the top flap.  This should look like the straps of a purse.  I play around with the ribbon to make sure it is lying the way I want it to and then pin it to the shirt.  I use a lot of pins so it stays where I want it.

pin ribbon on shirt to look like straps of purse

back of shirt – ribbon pinned to look like purse strap

Keep the purse pinned to the shirt still.  Now sew the strap on the shirt.  I go slowly so that the ribbon stays in place and I don’t bunch the shirt up as I sew.

Sewing Purse

I sew the top flap of the purse first.  I double check that the ribbon strap ends will be sewn into the top flap.  In order to cleanly finish the ribbon off would be to fold in the ends so that when it is sewn in place, you will not get any frayed edges.  Then I only sew the top side of the flap in order for it to open and close.  I straight stitch it with the sewing machine as close to the edge as possible (1/8″ to 1/4″ depending on how confident you feel about staying straight and on the fabric).  When you are done sewing, the ends of the ribbon should be under the flap.

straps sewn – top flap of purse pinned

keeping top flap aligned while sewing it on shirt

Now make sure that the bottom is still lined up with the top flap.  This time you will sew 3 sides, leaving the top side open so you can put your hand in like a pocket.

sewn bottom with top left open for pocket

You are done with the purse!

OPTIONAL SLEEVES

I thought this shirt might be cuter if I added sleeves.  This way it gives it a more store bought look.  I didn’t exactly do it the way that I am telling you how to, but after messing with this sleeve, I realized a more simple way.

  1. Take all four pieces and zigzag stitch all four sides on each.  I say this so you don’t have to worry about doing a rolled hem at the ends of the sleeves.
  2. Pin 2 rectangles together on the long sides with nice sides facing in.  If you have a pattern like I have, make sure the patterns are aligned.  I made sure my owls were all facing the same direction.  Now stitch along the sides with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  This will create the sleeves.

    pinned along sides

  3. Repeat with the other pieces to form 2 sleeves.
  4. Fold 3/8″ on the bottom of each sleeve and finger nail press it so you create a hem.
  5. Pin the hem in place.
  6. Sew 1/4″ hem on each sleeve.

    finished sleeves before put on shirt

  7. Pin top of sleeve to the sleeve of the tshirt.  To do this I turned both sleeve and shirt inside out.  I evenly pinned the top of the sleeve to the bottom of the tshirt sleeve starting with the seams on both, going around the sleeve.  Turn it back around to make sure it is even with the pattern.

    pinned sleeve to shirt

  8. I take a needle and thread (preferable the same color thread as your shirt) and hand sew in a straight stitch all around the sleeve.  I did my best to hide the stitch underneath the hem of the shirt.  Knot it at the end just like you did above with the blind stitch sewing above.

    sew under hem of shirt to hide stitches

  9. Repeat on the other sleeve.

    finished sleeve

All done!

finished shirt

I put it on my little lady bug and got SO many compliments!  She had fun with it, too!  I found little toys in it when I took it off of her in the evening.

As with all of my tutorials, if you are intimidated by this or don’t have as much time as you’d like to make it, I will make it for you!  Just visit my site Bobbin’ Along on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/bobbinalonggifts.

Happy sewing!

Sundress Tutorial

After making my shirred, pocket skirt my prima ballerina begged for me to make her an outfit. Of course, it was always something I was going to do, but she kept at it every day…”Mom!! Make me a dress!!!”

I thought about what would be a good dress to make and explain here, so I’m going to make a simple sundress with buttons on the back and ties to tighten at the waist. This will be an easy dress to make for relatively new sewers. It didn’t take long to make it, and it turned out super cute.

my oldest in her new dress

my oldest in her new dress

My daughter wears size 6 in girls, so I’ll be going off of that, but here is a link to measurements for all sorts of sizes. The only thing it doesn’t include is the length of the dress, and for that I just measured from her shoulder to where I wanted the dress to end-just below her knee.

MATERIALS

  •  1 1/4 yard of fabric
  •  5/8″ ribbon in coordinating color of fabric
  •  Double fold bias tape in same color as ribbon
  •  Thread
  •  2 buttons

MEASUREMENTS AND CUTS

Bodice

  1. I took a dress she currently has, and I measured the bodice height. It came out to 6″ finished. I like using current clothing to help me find what will fit my children. Add 1 inch for seam allowance, so I have 7″.
  2. I took my girl’s chest measurement (from the chart) and got 22″ and added 1 inch for seam allowance-giving me 23″.
  3. I cut out 2 rectangle pieces at 7″ x 23″.

Skirt part

  1. I took her waist measurement (26″) and multiplied by 1.5 so that I can have a gathered effect on the skirt part making 39″.
  2. I measured from her shoulder to just below the knee which was 25″. Because we are doing straps, I subtracted 2″, making the end length 23″.
  3. Since I will be using bias tape for the hem, I don’t need to add anything for the bottom hem, but I added a half inch for the top seam that meets with the bodice.
  4. The height of the skirt will be 17.5″ because I took the total finished length 23, subtracted the bodice finished length 6″, and added half an inch for seam allowance = 17.5″.
  5. Now I measure and cut one rectangle 17.5″ x 39″.
cut fabric

cut fabric

Ribbon

  1. Cut 1 length of ribbon at 44″. This will be for the waistband.
  2. Cut 4 lengths of ribbon at 10-12″.  This will be for the straps and will be tied like a bow, so if you want bigger bows, cut 12″.

“PREPPING”

Skirt

  1. Pin bias tape on the bottom hem

    pinned bias tape hem

    pinned bias tape hem

  2. Sew hem
  3. With nice sides facing in (you see bad side), pin sides together so that the skirt is closed and the bias tape hem is on the bottom. Sew side using zig zag stitch.

    side of skirt pinned with bias tape hem on bottom

    side of skirt pinned with bias tape hem on bottom

Bodice

  1. Face the nice sides of the fabric towards each other.
  2. I started in the middle of the pieces on the top.  This will be the front center of the bodice.  Since I decided to have the top of the front be 6 inches finished, I measured 3 1/4″ on either side (included 1/4″ seam allowance).
  3. I then went on both sides and measured 3 1/2″.

    bodice measurements (yellow is the fabric)

  4. With the arm holes, I took a bowl (or you could do a cup if you need smaller circles) and made a semi circle between the two measurements.  I repeated the same on the other side to get the other arm hole.

    bowl for arm holes

    bowl for arm holes

  5. Cut fabric.

    bodice pieces cut out

    bodice pieces cut out

  6. Pin fabric, leaving the bottom open (this will be attached to the skirt).
  7. Take the 4@10-12″ ribbons.  These will be the shoulder straps.  Put them inside the two pieces of fabric because once you sew them on, they will be shown with the “nice sides”.  As shown in the picture, two of the strips are in the middle for the front, and one of the strips are on either side that will end as the back straps.  Pin these so they are straight up and down and will be sewn into the seam.  I like to put the ribbon a little further from the seam so that it gives a square look to the top. You can see in the close up picture of my daughter the squared edges when you put the ribbons further from the seam.
    bodice with ribbon straps pinned

    bodice with ribbon straps pinned

    my beauty

    squared edges on top

  8. Sew seams at 1/4″.
  9. Flip inside out and you will see the straps coming out of the fabric.

COMBINING

  1. Gather skirt.  This can be done several ways.  I tend to do these by hand, using a running stitch.  This basically means take the needle and thread and go over and under the fabric in a straight line, leaving a length of thread on both ends so that you can pull it to gather it.  You can also do this with your sewing machine using a “straight stitch” and just make sure you give yourself a lot of thread to pull it.
  2. Pin the gathered skirt to the bodice.  Match the seam of the skirt with the sides of the bodice (the sides with come together with buttons later).  You can pull the thread or loosen it to make sure that it is evenly gathered while pinning it to the bodice.  Make sure you pin the skirt with the nice side on the inside so the seam is kidden when you sew.

    skirt gathered and pinned to bodice

    skirt gathered and pinned to bodice

  3. Sew in a zig zag stitch to give your skirt more reinforcement.

FINISHING TOUCHES

Waistband and Straps

  1. Fold the ribbon in half so that you can find the center.  Then pin the center on the front of the bodice in its center just about of the seam between the bodice and the skirt so that the bottom of the ribbon is slightly hiding the seam.
  2. Pin the ribbon to ONLY the front so that you will leave the ribbon loose on the sides and back to tie later.  You can do this by lying your dress flat and don’t pin the ribbon down on the back of the dress.
  3. Starting on the side, sew as close to the edge of the ribbon as possible.  Sew in a rectangle on the ribbon.  HINT: When you want to turn your fabric, turn the knob to put the needle down into the fabric.  This way when you lift the presser foot lever, you won’t lose your spot in your sewing.
  4. I then took a lighter and finished off all the ribbon edges that I cut.  To do this, you hold the ribbon in one hand and take a lighter back and forth across the edge (without letting the flame hit the ribbon so that it doesn’t melt the whole thing).  This creates seal to the edges so they don’t fray.

Buttons

Honestly, I was too intimidated to try to make a button hole with my sewing machine, so for this project I used a technique that I found on the website ysolda.com.  She gave a great tutorial, so I want to give her credit for this sewn button loop tutorial.  Then I hand sewed two buttons on the opposite side.buttons on back

THAT’S IT!  Here are a few pictures of my cutie pie wearing the dress.

my beauty

back with waist and shoulder straps tiedmy oldest in her new dress

Once I finished the sundress, my daughter immediately tried it on and danced around the room.  This is how she gets to be known as my Prima Ballerina.  Let me know what you think and if you’ve tried it yourself!

Shirred Pocket Skirt

I’m VERY excited to bring a new series of posts called “3 yards, 3 outfits” involving some awesome fabric that I found at JoAnn Fabrics.  This whole idea started when I was browsing through the store, trying to find an adult patterned fabric to make myself an outfit.  I don’t often buy myself clothes.  I overly obsess about my children’s wardrobe and all the cute things they get to wear.  Meanwhile, I still have shirts from my high school days.  I love looking on pinterest at the outfits people pin, and I know my wardrobe contains almost nothing in comparison.  I don’t have matching bracelets that go with my shoes or that cute pair of jeans with that slimming top that can go from office to party with just an added accessory or two.  I’m happy when I get out of the house with my hair brushed some days.

Anyways, I bought 3 yards of this very cute fabric, and I’m going to attempt to make 3 outfits (although, I am still a mom…so of course 2 of the outfits are for my girls).

I wanted to start this sewing series with something for me.  I promise for anyone who wants to make something for their child…it’s coming.  But today, momma wants a new skirt.  I love the clothing from Anthropologie.  They always seem to have flowy clothes that are really comfortable but at the same time beautiful.  I saw this skirt that has pockets and fell in love with the ease of it (although not a huge fan of the pattern or the prices from this place as most of their skirts are over $100.)  I’m a huge fan of pockets because I always carry my phone with me, but my littlest is in her “always wants to be held” phase, leaving me without a hand to do anything else.  It also has shirring at the waistband, which 1)makes it super comfortable and 2)I’ve always wanted to try on my sewing machine.  So this is my first uncharted territory project!  So let’s start!

me in my shirred skirt

This is what I used for this project:

– 1 1/2 yard of the fabric of your choice

-matching thread

-shirring thread

-elastic (either 3/8″ or 1/2″…I used 1/2″ because I have a ton of it)

*OPTIONAL* bias tape (double fold) in either matching or contrasting color (I personally LOVE this skirt with bias tape so I recommend it)

MEASUREMENT MATH:

To get the width of your skirt you have to do a little math, but I promise it won’t be hard:

Measure around your hip (mine was 28 inches) x 1.75 = the width of the skirt before it is shirred (I got 49 inches)

Now divide that number by two because you are going to cut out two pieces 49 / 2 = 24.5 inches

I’m going to make a skirt that’s approximately 19 inches finished, so I’m going to cut the length of the fabric to 21 inches.

Also, if I haven’t said this enough, I don’t like to buy patterns.  If it’s an easy outfit, I find it simple to eyeball a lot of it with a little extra fabric to play with if I didn’t quite get it right the first time, so here is what you do for the pockets (I’ll just label this Pattern Part A):

  • Get 2 pieces of paper and tape them together so that it’s longer not wider
  • put your hand on the paper up to almost your elbow with your thumb out (unless you are going for a much shorter skirt, in which you would measure to the middle of your arm)
  • trace around your hand  allowing a good inch or so for what will be a seam allowance – once you get to your thumb, just go across and don’t trace around your wrist (you really only need a half inch because you are using the thumb part in your side seam, but it’s okay if it’s more).

    Pattern Part A

CUTTING TIME:

  • Cut 2 rectangles 21″ (height of skirt) by 24.5″ (width of skirt)

    my awesome fabric cut in 2 pieces 22″ by 24.5″

  • 4 pocket pieces (I just folded my fabric in half and cut twice – this will give you both pocket sides)

So you have all the fabric you will need.  Now it’s time to get this skirt started!

Once I’ve cut my pockets, I take the same pocket “pattern” and do a little altering to it to give me a pattern for the holes of the pockets.  Take you hand on the corner of the pocket and trace your hand in a curved line.  You want to make sure your hand fits in your pocket, so this is why I don’t use a set pattern.  I called this Pattern Part B.  Cut out that piece of your pattern.

Cut out pocket opening pattern

Now make two cuts on one side of your rectangles (this will be the front of your skirt).

front fabric piece with pocket holes cut out

Next, cut the pocket holes out of two of the pocket pieces.  I make sure I have the pockets semi assembled (making sure the patterns are facing each other)  so I don’t cut the wrong pieces.

Pockets with Pattern Part B cut out of front for pocket hole

Cutting is done!

SEWING TIME:

  1. Pin then sew the pockets together first.  Make sure that the patterns are facing each other.  Sew along the edge like shown in the picture.  Finish with a zigzag stitch to make the pockets reinforced.
  2. Now pin and sew the pockets to the front of the dress.  I’m using bias tape, so I’m not worrying about the edge.  If you aren’t using bias tape, you need to flip the pockets and front of dress.  Here are pictures of both ways:

    pinned for bias tape

    pinned for without bias tape

  3. Then I pinned the bias tape and sewed the double fold bias tape around the pocket seams.

    finished pocket edge with bias tape

  4. Baste the pockets so that it lays flat and doesn’t come apart when you are doing next steps.
  5. I hemmed my dress on the bottom with bias tape for a little “decoration.”  I really like how this looks, and then I don’t have to deal with a rolled hem.  I did this before putting the two rectangles together.  It makes it a lot easier, believe me.
  6. Put the two rectangles together (nice sides facing in) and sew side seams with a 1/2″ seam allowance and then zigzag stitch for reinforcement.
  7. Sew top of skirt for your elastic.  Do this by creating a rolled hem (I’ve explained it in a previous tutorial for a pillowcase dress I made) large enough to fit your elastic band (mine is 1/2″ elastic so I created a 3/4″ space and then hem 1/4″ from the edge to create a 5/8″ hole for my elastic.  Make sure to leave a 1 to 2″ hole to thread the elastic through.
  8. Shirred waistband (I’m excited to try this part so I’m going to go into this more in depth)

SHIRRED WAISTBAND:

I was very interested in learning how to sew a shirred waistband (or just shirr in general).  I looked up a ton of tutorials, and it seems super easy.  So here are the steps:

  1. ELASTIC THREAD! This is the main “ingredient” in shirring.  You can find it in the notions section in a little package.

    elastic thread

  2. Wind the bobbin.  You have to do this by hand because…well, you do.  I am not sure why, but everyone said to do it.  I can assume one of two things.  Either your machine can’t do it because the thread is much thicker than normal thread or if your machine can wind it for you, it will be too stretched out and not work when you are sewing it.  So unfortunately, we do it by hand.  You want to wind it without stretching it a lot because when you are sewing, it will naturally stretch.
  3. Keep the normal thread on the top and use the elastic on the bottom (so you will only see the elastic on one side).  Make sure you sew with the the elastic on the back, though!

    elastic thread wound on bobbin in machine

    shirring fabric (note: elastic thread on underside of fabric with regular thread on top)

  4. Do not change the tension on your machine!  Step away from the tension!  It will be fine.
  5. I increased my stitch length up a bit.  I think it’d be a little easier to sew when it’s around a 3.0 or so.
  6. Shirr in a spiral for waistbands.  The nice thing about it being a skirt already is that you can keep going around and around without stopping and starting over and over again!  Start at the top, just below the elastic casing.  Use that edge as a guideline and keep each row about 1/4″ apart (I like to use the edge on my presser foot as my guide).
  7. Sew approximately 8-10 rows
  8. Finish sewing like normal (at a side seam preferably)

    nice side of shirred fabric with 8 rows 1/4″ apart

    wrong side of fabric with shirring (you can see elastic thread on this side)

Insert the elastic.  Measure elastic to what your waist measurement was from above (mine was 28).  Give yourself an extra inch for sewing them together.  So I cut my elastic to 29″.  I used a safety pin to thread my elastic through the whole in the top, above the shirred waistband, making sure that I held on to the end of the elastic so it didn’t get lost in the hole.  Once you’ve gotten through the hold and are holding both ends of the elastic, sew them together.  Now sew the hole shut.

elastic fed through hole with safety pin

DONE!  It seemed like a lot of instructions, but it didn’t take very long to make.  I have a feeling I will be making a lot of these.  If not for me, than for friends or family (or my little kiddos).  I had fun shirring as well!  I have a feeling there will be some more shirring tutorials in my future!  I hope you all found my instructions easy to understand because not only is this able to give you the freedom to pick a patterned fabric that you love, I saved about $90 making this myself!

Charitable Crafting

I love to craft to save money on things that I find online or in the stores that I know I could do just as well for less money.  I’ve crafted so many things from Halloween costumes to Christmas Stockings to Birthday Cakes and lots of things in between.  I do this because I’m not a millionaire, but I don’t want to live like a pauper.  I am even known to have my moments of “extreme couponing.”

One of the things that I always feel I could do more is giving to charity.  If I had the money, I would like to help so many causes.  I do donate used things to Goodwill throughout the year, but I’m always looking for new ways to give.

Then I found A Heart to Holdfrom ahearttohold.comA Heart to Hold is an amazing 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to “offer comfort to families who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss by creating and sharing the gift of a weighted handmade heart.”  Losing a child is something that a parent should never have to experience.  The heart is to help those families find a little peace in such a difficult time.

I know many people who have been affected by pregnancy and infant loss.  Their Hearts from Afar program not only offers people like me the opportunity to give something meaningful without taking a huge chunk out of our bank accounts, but it also helps people heal from their loss.

Abi Crouch, founder of A Heart to Hold, says, “I believe that there is healing in helping, and our Hearts from Afar program and our local workshops were created to provide the opportunity for people who have been affected by pregnancy or infant loss to be a part of another family’s healing by sewing or filling a heart for them.  One of the things that allows A Heart to Hold to fulfill our mission is the help of our Hearts from Afar sewers.  Having the hearts that they have sewn allows us to fill and ship hearts to waiting families faster.  We are so grateful for their support and love getting packages of hearts made with fun fabrics from them.”

That being said, I’d like to share my experience in the simple tutorial of making a heart to show others that crafting can be charitable!

I received the pattern for various sized hearts to create from emailing heartsfromafar@ahearttohold.com

Abi stated that they have a large request for their extra small-sized hearts, so I decided to make that.  The instructions on specific fabric choices are well explained, and I went to the fabric store and decided on a neutral pattern in fleece to meet the need of any gender child. Note: They ask for specific washing instructions of the fabric prior to sewing of unscented detergent and dry without a dryer sheet.

I downloaded the PDF pattern, printed it out on regular printer paper, cut and taped it together.

Printed extra small heart template on 2 pieces of printer paper

heart pattern cut and taped together

When the fabric came out of the dryer, I pressed it and folded it in half, selvage to selvage (not the cut side). I folded it so the “nice side” faced in (a tip to finding the “nice” side is looking at the selvage.  If there are printed words on the selvage, you can read it on the “nice” side).

fabric folded, selvage to selvage

I then pinned the pattern to my fabric and cut, giving me 2 hearts.

heart pinned to fabric and cutting started

Keeping the nice sides facing each other, I sewed the two hearts together using a 1/4″ seam allowance, making sure to leave the part of the pattern that says “open” unstitched so that they are able to fill it later.

unstitched opening in heart

They ask to not flip the pillow so the nice sides face out to make it easier for them to store and fill.

Sewn heart

Now I’m done and ready to mail!  I made a couple of hearts since I had my sewing machine all set up and could quickly make many of them.  I feel so great about using my crafting for something bigger than myself.  I hope to do many of these to give to those dealing with the loss of their children.  I think this charity is a great example of a support system to help those in need that isn’t about how much money you give but rather how much heart.

I have also decided to donate one heart for every order that I receive in the month of June from my shop Bobbin’ Along.  This way, if crafting isn’t your skill, you can still give.  I urge you all to use your own skills to help others in need.  As you can see from my experience, just a little time and effort goes a long way to make a difference in a person’s life.

To find a workshop or request patterns to help this charity, go to http://www.aHearttoHold.com or find them on Facebook.

Pillowcase Dress

My first official sewing adventure on this blog is the “pillowcase dress.” I’m going to start by putting in a few disclaimers:

  • I am moderately knowledgeable in sewing. I’m not going on Project Runway anytime soon, but I know my way around a standard sewing machine.
  • I’m going to use pretty standard sewing techniques, so this project is not going to be a “learn as I go” craft. I will in the future try my hand at some new sewing techniques, so stay tuned for those!
  • I am not using a pillowcase to make this dress. I’m sure that’d be the easy way to do this. That’s just not my style. I seem to take simple projects and turn them into custom-designed nightmares for myself and, thereby, my family. I wanted more unique colors, and I wanted one to fit my littlest, miss Lady Bug, as well as a coordinating one for her sister, the Prima Ballerina.

With those points in mind, I’ll go through the process to make a non-pillowcase “Pillowcase Dress.” If you do decide to make it out of a pillowcase, you probably would be able to skip a lot of the steps that I’ll describe. I then applaud you for being less OCD than me.

Here is a list of supplies:

  • Two coordinating fabrics of your choice (3/4 yard for the more dominated fabric and 1/4 of a yard for the smaller used fabric)
  • 30 inches of ribbon (7/8″ width) that matches
  • Thread that matches so it blends in with the fabric
  • I also bought some medium rick rack to add a little detail, but this isn’t necessary (1/2″ wide)

I always tend to buy a little extra fabric than is probably necessary. I’m not a fan of multiple trips to the fabric store because I end up spending an hour going up and down the aisles, starting new projects in my head with items falling from my overfilled arms. This is where I succumb to the phone call to tell my husband that I understand that I was supposed to be home a long time ago but got sidetracked. Target also has this effect on me.

I made this using the measurements for my 4-year-old that is 42 inches tall. I measured from her shoulder to the top of her knee to get the finished length that I wanted for the dress, which was 22″.  I measured a standard pillowcase width and got 19″.  In the future, I think I will make it less wide because it was pretty wide for my daughter.  It still looked cute, though!

I kept the fabric folded in half with the wrong sides facing each other (you can see the nice side). I then measured from the fold and cut at 19 1/2″ to get the width of the dress plus an inch seam allowance.  Then I measured and cut lengthwise to desired length minus 7″ (which will be the other fabric) plus seam allowance of 1 1/2″, equally for my dress 16 1/2″.

If you were to unfold your fabric the measurement would be 39″ by 16 1/2″.

Cut the second fabric the same way but with the measurements 19 1/2″ (width) by 8 1/2″ (length).

two fabrics cut-notice the folded edge on the left

Next, you sew both pieces together and finish with zig zag stitch.  Zig zag stitching is a cheaper means of serging seams.  Not many people have sergers, anyways.

Two fabrics with nice sides facing each other, pinned, and ready to be sewed.

This is where I added my rick rack.  I pinned it very carefully on the seam of the two fabrics in order to hide the seam, and then sewed it.

rick rack pinned to seam

Then hem the bottom.  I used a rolled hem so that it gave it a cleaner finished look.  A basic explanation of how to make a rolled hem is fold the edge of your fabric and then fold it over again so that the edge is hidden.  I then pin it to keep it from coming undone and sew it.  This hides the edge and makes it look more professionally finished.  Ironing the folds make it easier to work and also keeps it an even hem.

What my rolled hem looks like before I sew it

Now sew together the sides.  The main thing is to make sure the seams of the fabrics match.  I line up the fabric with the nice looking sides facing inside.  Then I make sure that where the two fabrics were sewn together meets up at the side about to be sewn.  I pin my fabric to make sure it stays where I want.  Sew and then zig zag stitch to keep the edges from fraying and looking messy.

Keep the fabric nice side in for the remaining of the sewing.

Instead of using a pattern for the arm holes, this is where I get a little creative.  I took a large plate and placed it on the top of the dress.  I approximated arm holes (it was about 5″ down and 2 1/2″ across).  If you use the plate, you don’t have to exactly trace, but get an approximate curve.  What’s nice about these types of dresses is that it isn’t fitted so there is a lot of play room at the top to adjust to different children’s upper body frames.  Then cut.

use plate to get curve of arm hole

Then I use the rolled hem technique to do the arm holes.  Start from a side rather than the middle.  This lets your fabric “give” a little easier into rolling rather than if you start in the middle it tends to be more difficult to roll it.

Now time for the place to put the ribbon.  Start with one side.  What I do is fold my fabric to an inch and iron the fold.  Then I fold the edge like I’m going to do a rolled hem (essentially this is a rolled hem, but you are leaving enough space to put a ribbon through it).  Make sure you leave 3/4″ in order to put the ribbon through when you are finished.  Note that I’m using a 7/8″ ribbon but only leaving myself 3/4″ inside the hem for the ribbon.  I’ll explain this in a minute.  Sew the hem, leaving yourself 3/4″ from the edge to the stitches.  Repeat with the other side.

pinned hem with 3/4″ space for ribbon

finished hem with 3/4″ space for ribbon

This completes the sewing part of the dress.  Now turn your fabric back to show your finished work (nice side out).

Last part is inserting the ribbon into the hems at the top.  Cut a 30″ piece of ribbon.  Take a safety-pin and attach it to one side of the ribbon.  This makes going through the hem SUPER easy.  Insert the safety-pin into the hem and work it through with your fingers.  After you finish through one hem, continue with the other (make sure you keep the other end from going into the hem of the outfit).  once it has gone through both hems, take the safety-pin out.  Because I used a satin ribbon, I just cut the little edge off where the pin made a hole, but that’s because I’m a little OC about perfectionism.  This technique helps when using a wider ribbon than the hole you leave for yourself.  I did this because when the dress is on, the ribbon will naturally bunch anyways, so I didn’t want to leave a larger than necessary hem.

Safety-pin attached to ribbon through the hem in the top of the dress

I take a lighter and just heat seal the edges of the ribbon to prevent fraying in the future.  There are specific heat sealers for ribbon.  I just typed in heat sealer for ribbon and got this so seems easy enough to find if you want one.  I think a lighter works fine.  Just go back and forth by the edge of the ribbon with the lighter until it slightly melts and seals the edge of the ribbon.  Don’t put the lighter right on the ribbon or it will probably catch on fire.

Now just tie a bow on the side of the neck, and you’re done!  Congrats!  This whole thing with taking pictures and writing down information for this took me an hour.  I’d think it would take me a half hour or so to do now that I know what I’m doing.  I will definitely be making more of these!  Super easy and cheap!

Finished Dress!