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Making pajamas for others is a win for everyone.  They’re easy enough for beginners, fun crazy fabrics are often on sale this time of year, and if for some reason your sewing goes awry, you won’t have to worry about your mistakes going out of the house!  While nearly every pattern company has a good pajama or two in their collection, here is a collection of pajama patterns that are good for everyone in your life from babies up through grandparents!

If you missed my post about how to make handmade gifts for the holidays without going crazy, I’m offering a Holiday Sewing Project Planner when you sign up for my newsletter.  It’ll help you organize your sewing projects in one spot so that your gift sewing will be smooth and stress free!

Pajamas for your bestie/sister/Mom

Carolyn Pajamas

Closet Case Patterns’ Carolyn Pajamas are popular for a reason.  They’ve got classic pajama styling with Closet Case’s excellent fit.  The added piping makes these a fun sew for an advancing sewist and a nice sharp detail.  I can’t imagine your best friend or your sister or Mom being sad to receive a pair of these!

I made these in a percale with contrast gingham, and they’re one of my favorite sets!

Pajama patterns for men

Pattern companies have come a long way in offering good patterns for men.  Every time an indie pops up with some new offer for men, it’s a cause for celebration!  Here’s some great options for men’s pajama patterns.

Jalie Nico Raglan 

Image from Jalie Patterns

Jalie’s Nico raglan tee is a nice option for pajamas.  With casual styling and a size range from boys’ 2T-men’s 60 (50″ chest), there’s very few this pattern won’t work for.  Plus you can use it for pajamas, every day t-shirts, or even rash guards.   

Okay, so that’s a good top option.  What about a good pajama bottom for men?

Peek-a-boo patterns Hit the Hay Pajama Pants

Image from Peek-a-boo Pattern Shop

Peek-a-boo patterns Hit the Hay Pajama pants is good for hip size 33-51″, so these would be great for teenagers in your house or the men in your life.  With unisex styling, this is a great pattern for women as well!

Ottobre 7-2018-5/6

Ottobre is one of my favorite resources for great basics with nice added details.  Long a great pattern company for children and women, last year Ottobre launched their family issue.  In it you’ll find great classics for men with the fantastic added details that Ottobre is so good at.  The current issue features a nice set of classic men’s pajamas.  And because it’s the family issue, there’s women’s pjs too!

Image from Ottobre 7-2018 issue

Check out the piping on the pocket.  Love!!! 

Pajama patterns for kids

If you’re like me, making pjs for your kids is fun all over the place.  We regularly cut up old t-shirts and mix them with modern fabrics for something really fun.  These Bat-jams were one of my favorite this year!

pajama patterns

Patterns for Pirates Sugar Spice pjs

Image from Patterns for Pirates

If you don’t love Pattern for Pirates Sugar Spice pjs, you might be heartless!  This adorable styling on these knit long john style pajamas is too stinking cute.  How nice is it to have size 3 months-14?!  

Blank Slate Patterns Pocket Pjs

Pocket PJs pdf sewing pattern by Blank Slate Patterns
Image from Blank Slate Patterns

Blank Slate Patterns’ Pocket Pjs are a nice option for woven fabrics.  I love how you can mix and match fabrics for a nice contrast look!  The placket top is a nice variation on the classic button down as well.  Sizes are from 18 months-size 8.

Goodnight Sweetheart Pajamas from Sewing for Boys

Image result for sewing for boys shelley figueroa
Image from Elsie Marley

This is kind of a different choice being from a book.  Shelley Figueroa’s Sewing for Boys is a favorite in my house.  Being a boy mom x3, I really appreciate when I find sources for interesting boys’ patterns.

The Goodnight Sweetheart Pajamas are another cool variation on classic button downs.  There’s no collar in this pattern (easy!!), and the stitched down  facings make for a really clean look that also won’t poke at kids’ sensitive skin on the inside.  I’ve made these a couple times for my boys.  I know Katie of Kadiddlehopper has loved this pattern to pieces.

Vintage style pajama patterns

Simplicity 8659 Men’s “Cabana set” 

Simplicity Pattern 8659 Men's Vintage Cabana Set
image from Simplicity 

If you’re looking to have a beachy kind of Christmas, this pattern reproduction from the 1950s might be a good choice.  THAT is a collar!

Nina Lee Piccadilly Pyjamas

Here’s another good vintage option.  Nina Lee’s Piccadilly Pyjamas.  The stand up collar is a fun variation, and I love the vintage flair of the tulip-shaped pockets.  I know The Twilight Stitcher made up a really cute pair of these fun jams!

Wearing History Lounging at the Lido 1930s pajamas

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Image from Wearing History

I love this pattern from Wearing History.  There’s so much elegance in the pajama set, and it would make an extraordinary gift for your friend or sister or Mom!  Or shoot, sew it for yourself because it’s okay to sew presents for you too!

So those are some of my favorite pajama patterns.  Hopefully you found one or more that you’ll remember the next time you’re looking for pajama patterns to sew for your loved ones!  I want to know:

What are your favorite pajama patterns to sew for others?

For sewists, we can feel the pressure to want to make handmade gifts for the people in our life.  We want to show off our mad sewing skills AND give something heartfelt to our loved ones.  Who doesn’t want to watch your child or your husband rip into a package and treasure it all the more because it was made just for them?  But sometimes the pressure of making all the things can get too much, especially this time of year when the calendar is already filled with so much activity.  Sewing should be fun, not stressful!  So let’s tackle how to make handmade gifts for the holidays without going crazy.

How to make handmade gifts for the holidays without going crazy

First, we’ll dive into helping you define your why when it comes to creating handmade gifts.  Next, I’ll share some strategies that will help you identify projects that make great handmade gifts.  Last, I’ll show you how to organize all your goods for a successful gift sewing experience.

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Why do you want to make handmade gifts?

Before we start talking about what projects that make awesome handmade gifts, let’s define your why.  Why do you want to make handmade gifts in the first place?

Do you feel like you have to sew all the things?  Do you feel like buying something seems impersonal vs. making something?  Does it feel like because you have this skill of sewing, you’re a bad sewist if you don’t make at least 1 thing for all the people on your list?  Friend, you might be setting yourself up for stress if you believe these things.  But…

Do you love sewing for others?  Want to be able to show your love for your family and friends through your sewing?  Is there lots of fabric in your stash ready + an easy project that you can sew up quickly for gifts?  Good!  Those are all great reasons to make handmade gifts.  Which ones to choose???

Choose an easy, fast, repeatable project

What projects are good choices for handmade gifts?  Things that don’t take a lot of resources and are easily repeatable can make wonderful handmade gifts.  If you can cut out 10 and make it in a couple hours, you’ll be well on your way to being able to love your family and friends without a lot of headache.

Here’s a whole list of easy video tutorials I put together last year for quick and easy projects for handmade gifts.

Small projects like bags, scarves, mittens, or hats take very little fabric and can all be made in just a few minutes.  If you’re looking for a slightly bigger project, pajamas are a wonderful option.  Sewists of all levels can easily tackle pajama bottoms for anyone.  Pajamas get an extra vote because virtually every pattern company under the sun has an easy pajama pattern.

Use the same pattern

Once you’ve found some projects that you might be interested in, do yourself a solid and use the same pattern for your gift sewing adventures.  It might seem boring to do so, but once you’ve made up a project in multiple fabrics, each one will look totally unique.  And shoot, if you want to use the same fabric, that could be cool too.  Everybody loves a good matchy matchy pic of your family!

Patterns that come in multiple sizes are perfect for this kind of thing.  A pattern that’ll work for every single person on your list is pure gold.  It’ll save you time of searching through your stash or looking online for that perfect pattern for every member of your family.  Don’t forget the power of the one-size fits all pattern too!

handmade gifts
Some of my favorite pj patterns–they have been loved through nearly every size!

So you’ve identified your project, you’ve found the perfect pattern that’s going to serve all your needs.  Next, how do you prepare for the best, non-stressful sewing session?

Clean your sewing space

Ok, cleaning your sewing space isn’t fun to do, but a clean work area will really help clear your mind for a round of stress-free sewing.  You’re going to have a hard time making all of your handmade gifts in a cluttered room.  If cleaning the whole room is going to be too much, just clear out a small area that can be totally uncluttered and dedicated only to your project.  You’ll be amazed at how much a little organization can help!

Check out my sewing room tour.  You’ll walk away with some great thoughts on organization. 

Identify and prep your fabric

Determine which fabric you’re going to use.  Will you be using the same fabric?  Did you buy enough to cover all your needs?  I know certain fabrics like flannel come in obnoxiously and seemingly ever-shrinking narrow widths, so I have to constantly remind myself to buy extra!  What if you’re using stash fabric?  Will this be a scrap-happy project?

Whatever fabric you choose, wash and dry all of it.  If you’re using scraps from another project that you’ve saved, set them all out in a work area and double check to make sure your pattern pieces will fit.

Do you need any special notions like zippers, interfacing, bias tape, or buttons?  Gather all those things out and set them in a pile with each fabric.

Sew with love

Mommy made dress + squishy face =the best

Finally, don’t forget to sew with love.  Remember who you’ll be making things for, and the affection you want to share with those people.  With these things in mind, your work will become a joy and not just one more thing on your list!

So we’ve looked at defining why you want to make handmade gifts, what projects make awesome handmade gifts, and how you can begin to set yourself up for a stress-free gift sewing session.  Stay tuned next week when I’ll be sharing some awesome pajama patterns that are perfect for handmade gifts!

Until then, you can sign up for my newsletter and get a free Holiday Sewing Project Planner.  It’ll help you organize your thoughts and get you going in no time!  Just click on the image below to join my newsletter, and you’ll have happy mail from me in no time!

Sew Over It Penny dress

The light was filmy, and the woods around me positively technicolor.  Elaborate spider webs lay untouched and moss grew wild.  I half expected a gnome to jump out and yell, gotcha.  It was not the place that I first imagined my Sew Over It Penny dress in this rather tropical Lady McElroy fabric to take a walk, but a couple weeks back, as my husband and I explored The Haunted Wood at the Green Gables house on Prince Edward Island, that’s exactly what happened.

“Oh, Marilla, I wouldn’t go through the Haunted Wood after dark now for anything. I’d be sure that white things would reach out from behind the trees and grab me.” Chapter XX, Anne of Green Gables

Sew Over It Penny Dress in the Wilds of Canada

Sew Over It Penny dress

Okay, so it wasn’t that dramatic.  But still, it’s not everyday my handmade garments get to have such a moody backdrop.  Usually, the most common place my handmade garments find them is in the driver’s seat of my minivan with my crew to soccer practice in probably possibly in the form of my latest pair of crazy jams.

It’s pretty easy to see how these woods inspired L.M. Montgomery’s imagination as she wrote Anne of Green Gables.  It was too cool to get to take pictures in such a place–the inspiration itself for one of my favorite books of all time.  Dude–this dress?!  I wouldn’t wear puffed sleeves, but THIS dress!!!!!

“Anne took the dress and looked at it in reverent silence. Oh, how pretty it was–a lovely soft brown gloria with all the gloss of silk; a skirt with dainty frills and shirrings; a waist elaborately pintucked in the most fashionable way, with a little ruffle of filmy lace at the neck. But the sleeves–they were the crowning glory! Long elbow cuffs, and above them two beautiful puffs divided by rows of shirring and bows of brown-silk ribbon.” Chapter XXV, Anne of Green Gables

But let’s get into my dress itself.

Lady McElroy lawn

Sew Over It Penny dress

I was totally taken by this Lady McElroy lawn.  Last year I had seen Lauren Guthrie make it up into a project and instantly loved the peachy pinks. I may or may not have stalked this fabric for a while on about every website possible, trying to justify the price + the crazy expensive shipping from the UK.

As it turned out, Fancy Tiger stocks it which saved me a buttload in shipping plus the chance to see it in person.  This is really lovely fabric.  It’s crisp and has good structure, making for a proper popped collar, yet it has a hand that’s nearly as lovely as a silk cotton blend.  While it wasn’t cheap at $22/yd, this dress only took up 1 1/3 yds with my modification on the skirt.

Sew Over It Penny dress

Narrow that skirt, thread up a drawstring, that’s how we hack it

Just like on my shibori dress, I narrowed the skirt for this version of the Sew Over It Penny dress.  I think half circle skirts look great on other people, but they always feel like far too much fabric for my frame and height.  This slightly A-line skirt I added from my self-drafted pencil skirt is just the right amount of sweep at the hem for me on this one.

Sew Over It Penny dress

Because I’m like the Princess and the Pea with elastic, I added the drawstring.  To do so, I added 2 tiny buttonholes on either side of the center front at the bottom of the bodice.  The drawstring is threaded through the casing then.  A full elastic waist is perhaps the most uncomfortable thing to me, plus I love how a drawstring is a built-in belt and that I have the option of tightening or loosening it.  With a sewn-in elastic waist you don’t have that option, plus you’re probably adding a belt to add some waist definition.

Sew Over It Penny dress pattern review

Sew Over It Penny dress

In terms of the actual sewing of the dress, this is pretty easy sew.  There’s no darts or zippers, though there is a collar.  I think this would be appropriate for any beginning sewist who’s ready to tackle putting in a collar.  There’s no collar stand which requires more precise stitching, and the facing makes for a really clean inside.  Shoot, you could make it collarless and make it even easier.

The dress has a great silhouette to it, and I think there’s very few body types it wouldn’t work for.  Maybe consider narrowing the skirt if you’re petite like me.  Otherwise, this has a great classic look and super easy to style with a jacket, cardigan, tights, whatever!!

A better shoulder yoke

Sew Over It Penny dress

For all the loveliness of this pattern, I have a serious beef with the shoulder yoke.  For some reason, the directions would have you leave all of the seam allowances just serged/zigzagged off on the inside.

Sew Over It Penny dress
How would you sew it: Per the pattern directions (left) or with a clean finish burrito style (right)?

A clean-finish yoke like what you’d see on the inside of a RTW men’s shirt is SOOOOOOO much nicer and really doesn’t require a whole lot more in terms of the construction.  Sometimes rough inside finishes get the job done quickly, and that’s totally okay.  In this instance, why you would choose to skip a clean finish is a mystery.

Sew Over It Penny dress

But that’s one of those things.  Sometimes you follow the directions to the T and you move on.  On the other hand, when you’ve done something a certain way, you have an opinion about it.  If you like the way to construct something better than what’s in the pattern directions, make it the way you like.  The pattern police won’t come and get you!

That’s my thoughts for the Sew Over It Penny dress and my walk in the woods, but I’m curious:

Are you a follow-the-instructions type, or do you go your own way when you sew?

shibori dye

You know what’s awesome about dyeing fabric?  It’s so absurdly low-tech, and yet the possibilities you have to create interesting effects are infinite.  Shibori dye has been on my DIY bucket for a while now, so when LA Finch Fabrics approached me to review their PFD Organic cotton shirting, oh, and dye it, I had to jump on that train post haste.  I give you my shibori dye Sew Over It Penny dress!

**This fabric was provided to me by LA Finch Fabrics.  The dyeing process I did with my own two hands, and all opinions are my own.**

Shibori Dye Sew Over It Penny Dress

What is PFD fabric?

PFD fabric is “prepared for dye”.  It’s a totally blank canvas for all your diy love.  Because this is organic fabric, it’s an excellent candidate for natural dyes like indigo or turmeric.  Working with indigo remains one of the few dye techniques I’ve not tried!  With the popularity of mustard colors in fashion this Fall, dyeing this fabric with turmeric could be a really cool project.  Hey it would go with this bag!

This fabric is a 100% cotton shirting.  I would say it’s about the weight as a good quality 100% cotton shirting you’d see in a ready-to-wear men’s shirt.  This fabric was made for a beautifully structured collar!  Shirtdresses like the Sew Over It Penny dress or a nice button down shirt pattern like the Grainline Archer are both great choices for this fabric.

If you’d like to experiment with this lovely fabric, LA Finch is offering it for $5/yd right now!

Organics Basics Shirting PFD Woven

Here’s what I did with it.

Grainline Archer



Shibori is the traditional Japanese art of dyeing fabric.  It’s a resist technique not unlike tie-dyeing.  Resist dyeing means that you add something to the fabric that prevents the dye from making a nice even color throughout.  In the case of shibori, the fabric may be folded, twisted, pleated, wound with string, stitched, clamped in any number of configurations before the dye is applied.  The variants are infinite and there is definitely art and a lifetime’s worth of study to truly understand how to make what with shibori.  If you’re looking for a good intro, I found this book to be a good primer with some practical projects.

After several experiments, I settled on the Arashi form of shibori which involves dyeing with a pole.


Arashi shibori

Anytime I get to go to Home Depot to start a sewing project, I’m pretty excited.  I used to hate home improvement stores as a kid, but now, I kind of love it.  It makes my home nicer, they have GIANT carts that make my kids happy, and the happy color chips of the paint section could occupy me for hours.  On this particular visit, I picked up a large chunk of PVC.  I almost walked out with a 15 foot pole, but I did see a smaller 3′ chunk that was much easier to manage.  You do want to have the biggest diameter pole you can get which will make sense in a minute.  This one has a diameter of 3″.


The basics is that you wrap the dry fabric around the pole.  You can do this on an angle or not.  When you run out of pole, you scrunch the fabric down until it can scrunch no more.  What you’ve done is created tons of micro pleats in the fabric.  If you try to do this with too much fabric, it’s going to be really unwieldy to scrunch.  You know the thing about you can’t fold a piece of paper more than 7X unless you’re Hulk?  The same thing applies here.  For this midweight fabric, I found sections of 1.5 yards just about perfect to work with.  Also, the large diameter pole makes it easier to compact down the fabric without it becoming loose and too hard to handle.

Rubberband crazy

After you scrunch everything, secure the fabric to the pole with as many rubberbands as you’d like.  The tighter they are, the more the fabric folds and the rubberbands themselves will prevent the dye from being uniform.  You can add some clips if you like for more resist texture.

Next you wet the fabric.  Then you dye the fabric.  I used two different colors–one pink, and a darker purple.  The purple is actually a darker version of the pink.  You can apply the dye uniformly or in stripes or at random.  This is definitely something that warrants experimentation, and no 2 pieces of shibori are going to look the same.

I’ll also throw out there that I was using the dye I had on hand: Rit DyeMore in a couple different colors as well as regular Rit Dye.  Some day, I will break down and buy some fiber reactive dyes.  My understanding is that you’ll get more intense colors with them.

Fish skin

shibori dye

After letting the dye soak into the fabric for a few hours, you can unwrap it all.  Pull off the rubberbands and unroll the fabric.  As it’s wet, it’s going to be rather difficult to deal with.  You will get to see all those cool pleats you made!  My sons have dubbed this pattern “fish skin”!  That definitely felt appropriate for the dramatic backdrop of the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada which my husband and I got to visit for a belated anniversary trip.

After this, rinse the fabric with cool water until it’s clear.  If you like, you can toss it in a cool water cycle in your washing machine.  After that, you’re good to go.

Sew Over It Penny dress

With my fresh shibori dye fish skin fabric, I was ready to sew it up into a Penny dress.  For my version, I swapped out the giant circle skirt for a straight skirt which is definitely more my style.

I also finished the armholes with bias tape I cut from a striped cotton shirting.  The shoulder yoke is lined burrito-style.  For some reason in this pattern, the directions would have you finish the shoulder yoke seam allowances and have them just hanging out along the shoulder edge on the inside.  The burrito method is definitely a cleaner finish.  The yoke on the Penny is much smaller, so it’s a little harder than a traditional button down shirt, but the principles are the same.

I also skipped the waist elastic in favor of a drawstring.  To finish up everything, I added some coordinating pearl snaps.

So that’s the tale of my shibori dyeing exploits.  I reckon this is a deep rabbit hole, and I’m really looking forward to trying this out again.  Thanks to LA Finch Fabrics for giving me the fabric!

Have you tried shibori dyeing?




sew over it lulu dress

There’s been so much feet dragging with my Make 9 this year, and the Sew Over It Lulu dress has been partly to blame.  I saw the lack of darts and waist shaping and thought there was no chance it’d work on my pear shaped self.  Guess what?  I was totally wrong.

Sew Over It Lulu dress

The specs

sew over it lulu dress

An awesome pattern for beginners

There’s no zippers or buttons or darts to sew in this pattern!  What?  What a rare bird among woven dress patterns!  I have a friend who’s terrified of buttonholes and zippers of all kinds, so this pattern would be perfect for her.

And because there’s none of these things, this dress sews up pretty quickly.  The only thing that might be intimidating for a beginner is the facing for the keyhole.  But the instructions are good on this point.

Can you hack it?

sew over it lulu dress

As far as pattern hacking goes, there’s a couple of good options.  You could use a contrasting color on the sleeves for a little colorblocking.  You could even take off the sleeves entirely, bind the sleeve holes with bias and make a tie neck as a neck binding for a summer halter.

For me, I used this striped cotton shirting from Cali Fabrics.  The stripes are actually 60 degrees to the straight grain, so while it looks like I put the stripes on the bias, they’re actually on the straight grain.  Sneaky… To get the alternating stripes, I didn’t cut the front and back on the fold.  Instead, I cut 2 fronts and added a seam at CF and CB so I could alternate the pattern.  It took some time to cut this right so that the stripe matching could work.  I even managed to mess up the right side on one of my sleeves and had to take it apart and re-sew it.  Still, it wasn’t too bad since this is a pretty simple pattern.

Styling for a better fit

Because there aren’t any darts and this has a pretty loose waist, I think Lulu could benefit from some extra styling.  I myself am a pear shape (A shape!), and without any waist definition, I do not feel particularly polished.  You might find yourself in the same position if you have more of an hourglass (you lovely X shapes!) silhouette.  So what do you do dear?

#1 Grab a belt or a scarf

sew over it lulu dress

Cinching loose waists is not a cure all, but in this case, it really does help.  I tried a pashmina and a simple fabric belt and liked both.


#2 Try an asymmetric cowl sweater

sew over it lulu dress

This is a style you might not be able to find, but an asymmetric cowl sweater is easily crocheted.  I bought mine from a woman in Sew Much Talent, but check out this tutorial if you crochet or this quick sweater refashion from See Kate Sew.  The asymmetry adds a little more waist definition to the Lulu, and it’s a good addition for layering for the coming cooler months.

Mine is open on the sides, so I’m holding it together with a kilt pin!

#3 Jackets make everything better

sew over it lulu dress

Name one outfit a jacket doesn’t make better.  I paired my very tough looking Rose Tyler jacket for a purple explosion.  Any other jacket or even a cardigan would work well too.  For me, my shoulders get lost in the raglan sleeves, so the jacket helps me remember where they are.  Plus, it’s cool.  Wear a jacket.  Look cool.  The end.

My life as a Sew Over It newbie

sew over it lulu dress


I know Sew Over It has been popular for a good long while now, and I finally get it.  Cute styles, easy sewing, and at the end of the day you feel pretty great.  While this won’t be my go-to pattern, it was good to try something outside of my style comfort zone and explore how to make it work for my body type.

sew over it lulu dress

Have you tried the Sew Over It Lulu or another Sew Over It pattern?  How did it go?


handprinted fabric

Creating my own textiles is something I have always loved doing.  You can always find interesting prints when you go fabric shopping, but there’s something truly joyful about being able to make that print with your own two hands.  And then if you can extended that into sewing with your own handprinted fabrics it’s a double win.  Make fabric that you love, and then make it into something that you want to wear.  Recently, I did just that with some plain linen, and by the end of this, I hope I will have convinced you to print all the things.

Creating handprinted fabrics

handprinted fabric

Obviously the first step in sewing with your own handprinted fabric is to print up some yardage.  If printing a couple of yards of fabric sounds daunting, you can always print directly onto a finished project.  I’ve done this before, and it works like a charm.  You can experiment with fabrics of all types, though you’ll get the best results with plain woven fabrics in natural fibers.  Linen and cotton are ideal.

In this video, I walk you through carving your own block, what supplies you need, setting up your workspace, and printing your own yardage with a simple pattern repeat.

5 ideas for using your handprinted fabrics

This is the fun part.  You’ve used your muscle to print up some yardage, now what?  The sky is the limit, but here are some ideas for things to create with your yardage:

Pick a pattern with simple lines

handprinted fabric

There’s times when a design in the star, but with handprinted fabrics, the fabric is the queen.  Choose a pattern that isn’t broken up by a lot of tucks and gathers or otherwise complicated design lines.  Sometimes less is more.

Add a little drama

handprinted fabric

I couldn’t resist adding a little interest to this sundress with the asymmetrical skirt.  The bodice is from my fringed linen sundress, and I made a little cutout at CF and changed up the straps.  But for the drama, I added a little drape on the right side of the dress.  It’s cut-on so I didn’t have to match the pattern or waste any yardage.

handprinted fabric

Piece the leftovers

handprinted fabric

There’s a basic Ottobre dress I’ve been making all summer for my daughter.  There wasn’t enough to make the dress plain, so I cut it a couple inches below the waist and added a ruffle to finish off the length.  The ruffle itself had to be pieced, but the seams are hidden within the folds for the most part.  I love how limited yardage makes you think about how to fully use a piece of fabric!

Embroidered patches

Use the opportunity to practice your hand embroidery with any scraps.  I made these in the car on our family road trip this summer.  The embroidery can really add a new dimension to your print.handprinted fabric

Make a bag

handprinted fabric

Little zippered bags can be a great way to use up last little wonky pieces of your fabric.  Zigzag them together, fuse them with some interfacing, and make sew up an easy lined bag.

Love what you make, make what you love

handprinted fabric

I hope I’ve got your brain working thinking about all the things you can do with your handmade fabric.

At the end of the day, making handprinted fabrics is a labor of love.  Your sweat and hardwork is in it a little more than all the times you buy the newest fabric–not that that’s bad, but the making experience is just different.  To me it’s really exciting watching a blank canvas become something you want to wear all the time.

This dress has been carrying me through the summer.  My husband and I had fun taking these pictures at Myrtle Beach (I NEED the turquoise wall in my backyard!!!!!), and the linen has been a luxury to wear in the swampy heat.

So what about you?  Have you created your own fabric?  Did sewing it up feel different for you than when you buy fabric off the bolt?

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 Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas

Carolyn pajamas

I’ve been slowly getting back to our routine after a travel heavy July and August, but today I get to share the Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas I made this past week for Fabric Mart.  This percale was such a nice fabric to work with, plus this was a great project for getting back in the swing of things.  Not only that, there was a gingham shirt that really wanted to become piping.

carolyn pajamas

You can check out the full post at the Fabric Mart blog.



Embroidery is such a nice thing to add to any sewing project to add a little bit extra personality beyond whatever it is that you’ve made.  I’ve been doing a lot of it recently!  After a rather involved violin I added to a t-shirt, I wanted to make something simpler.  So I created this Angle Roses Embroidery Template, and I’d like to offer it to you today as a free download when you sign up for my newsletter.  I’ve recently switched email clients.  Before now I wasn’t able to send you happy mail or a download like this in it! The result was I never used my newsletter.  So if you’ve signed up in the past, this is the moment when I vow to do better to actually send you newsletters periodically that are full of good ideas to help you sew something creative today!  The Angle Roses Embroidery Template for instance has a goal in mind of teaching you some basics of how to embroider on a regular sewing machine.

Can I actually embroidery on a regular sewing machine?

You bet you can!  You don’t even need a fancy foot to do so.  Embroidery on a regular sewing machine can be as simple as tracing a design onto a stabilizer and tracing along the needles as if it were a pencil.  Plus, you can always make it more complicated if you want to.  Here are some supplies that will help you, and then I’ll give some examples of how to spice up this basic design.

Supplies needed for embroidery on a regular sewing machine

  •  Your design
  • Water soluble stabilizer–I really like Solvy by Sulky.  It’s great for transferring a design and making some nice stitches.  That you can wash it out in the end makes for stitches that won’t be damaged by pulling away the excess stabilizer as can happen in a lot of tear-away stabilizers.
  • Fine line permanent marker–for tracing your design!
  • Uncut fabric or a project that’s already in progress: anything is game here, and you can even use this technique to embellish ready to wear items.
  • Thread of your choice: contrast is key, so you’ll want to practice on some scraps if possible to help you make a good decision.
  • Glue stick:  For gently securing the stabilizer to your work area.
  • Machine foot of your choice: I go into the advantages of each foot in the video for this project, but basically, my top 3 choices are straight stitch foot, clear applique foot, and a free motion embroidery foot.

How can you use this design?

After you’ve downloaded the design, the PDF file will give you a tutorial and several ideas for how you can use them.  I also give some basic directions to help you achieve what I’ve made.  There’s actually a 5th level of difficulty here that I didn’t cover with this project but that I did get to in my violin t-shirt that I’ll talk about another day.  It’s basically a hybrid of applique and embroidery, and it’s one of my very favorite techniques!

Simple and clean

The easiest way to incorporate the Angle Roses Embroidery Template is to simply stitch it out in one color.  A good strongly contrasting thread will be a great choice.  Here I’ve added to a Blank Slate Patterns Texana tank.

embroider on a regular sewing machine

If you want to spend some more time, add multiple motifs on a skirt


Punch it up with color

Before you stitch out the design, add a little color to your fabric.  Here I roughly stitched back and forth with my free motion foot to lay down some color.  It’s amazing how much the character changes with this little addition!


Color between the lines

After stitching out the design, why not go back and stitch with some contrast thread to bring it into full color?  The roses came into full bloom in this funky quilted necklace.

embroider on a regular sewing machine

I’d love it if you would join the newsletter if for no other reason than I’m itching to see what you would do with this template!  There’s so many possibilities!  To make it easy to sign up, click on any of the pictures in this post or below, and it’ll take you to the sign up.

Thanks so much!!!


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distressed sweatshirt

It seems that distressed fabrics are having their thing.  I’m always slow to jump on things fashion trends, but once in a while, it’s kind of fun to just experiment and see if you might possibly like something.  Refashions are one of my favorite ways to experiment with fashion.  Your investment in the project is low, so if it’s a total flop, no love is lost.  And if you really like the end result, you may just gain some fuel in your creative tank for future projects.  With that in mind, I set out to make this distressed sweatshirt refashion.

Distressed Sweatshirt Refashion

distressed sweatshirt

My questionable morning style sense

In the mornings, I am always cold.  I don’t like wearing kimonos (not warm enough, giant sleeves that get caught in my breakfast), and a jacket is not necessarily how I want to start the day.  For years, I’ve always grabbed a white very oversized sweatshirt hoodie.  It went through all of my pregnancies from week 0-40 and back again and all that postpartum time too.  By the end it was really gross.  In its stained and shredded state, I donated it and started wearing my husband’s hoodies.

At some point, my husband started complaining about his hoodies being left all over the house.  To remedy this, I recently went thrifting to find some kind of sweatshirting to make a version of Ottobre’s “Hideaway Hoodie” (Ottobre 2-2017-8)

from Ottobre 2-2017

Oatmeal and salmon

distressed sweatshirt

No I don’t eat salmon in my oatmeal.  That strikes me as odd, and not something I’d want to eat in my morning hoodie wearing session.  But thrifting did yield me a pair of oatmeal colored heavy french terry sweatpants as well as a salmony pink xxl french terry sweatshirt.  I instantly loved the salmon, but the oatmeal was too boring for me despite it being nice fabric.

distressed sweatshirt

To remedy the situation, I dyed the sweatpants with Rit DyeMore Kentucky sky.  Because I wanted a little more depth, I added 1/2 capful Rit DyeMore in Daffodil yellow to the dye pot in a couple of places.  I did not agitate the yellow once I added it; instead I let it spread out in the pot naturally.  What I ended up with was a fabric that was sky blue in places and a bright springy green in others.


So what does all this have to do with distressed fabric?  Well, while I liked both of the colors after I dyed the sweatpants, it wasn’t obvious how they would go together.  They’re nearly on opposite sides of the color wheel and I had no middle tone that could pull them together.  I thought and thought until someone in Sew Much Talent popped up with a simple t-shirt made in distressed jersey.

The wheels started spinning in my head, and I thought I could connect them together if I slashed both colors and backed them with the opposite color.  The brand Generation Love has several distressed sweatshirts that are worth checking out.

Crazy piecing

This sweatshirt pattern is very long–it’s nearly knee length on me.  Unlike some of the sweatshirt dresses that are out there (Victory Patterns’ Lola comes to mind), it’s not super boxy and has some good shaping with princess seams in the front that end in deep, cozy inseam pockets.

distressed sweatshirt


Because of the length, I had to do a lot of creative piecing with the pattern.  One of the things that I love about refashioning is how it forces you to use every scrap available.  So it was with this refashion.  There’s seams in weird places that would never be there on a garment made from yardage.  It’s a look that’s either crazy cool or just crazy.  In the end, I had about a 6″x6″ square left from both fabrics.


distressed sweatshirt

For most of my colorblocked projects, I will sketch out possibilities before I start cutting into fabric.  It’s kind of amazing how many different looks you can get by just moving colors around a bit.  For this one, I just kind of made decisions as I went along based on the limited yardage I had available.  I really like how some parts of it turned out.  The bi-color hood is a favorite, and I used the right and the wrong sides of the both french terry colors for a subtle difference in places.

Underlining and slashing

distressed sweatshirt

To achieve my distressed look, all of the sleeve pieces and the front pieces are underlined.  The green/blue is underlined with a salmon colored stretch lace (refashioned from a top).  For the salmon french terry, I used a seafoam quilted ponte leftover from another project I’ve not yet blogged.

Before I underlined everything, I used my rotary cutter to make horizontal slashes at random on the pieces.  I pulled at them *gently* to open them up a bit.  French terry has very little recovery, so it distresses really easily.


For this one, I didn’t use my serger. Of late, I’ve been using my regular sewing machine to sew seams on heavier knits like this, and then using my coverstitch to topstitch.  The coverstitch adds to the casual look and it does a nice job of flattening down these heavy seams in a nice professional looking way.

Welcome Colorado Spring!

Our weather has been, and is very fickle in Spring.  One day it’s 70, the next, there’s snow.  This has been a perfect sweatshirt for this time of year.  The day I took these pictures, it was about 45 and brazenly sunny.

distressed sweatshirt

Taking risks in sewing

I won’t be slashing up my fabrics anytime soon, but it was good to do something out of the ordinary for this project.  Sometimes I think it’s too easy to get stuck doing the same thing, making the same kind of garments the same way.  There’s nothing wrong with that, especially when you’re tired or your sewjo is gone, but there’s days that it’s good to push yourself to try something new.  If for no other reason, try something new so that you can have an opinion about it.

distressed sweatshirt

What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your sewing?