Halloween Roundup

We are already into November and the Halloween frenzy has passed so I’m going to do a quick document, since interest at this point might be a little low.  We had a great Halloween with a couple opportunities for the kids to dress up in their costumes.  They picked such fun ones that I decided to go all in and actually sew a bit from patterns. Behold Luke, Minnie, and Annie!


My son loves all things Legos and Star Wars currently so Luke Skywalker was his choice. Using an adult WalMart sweatshirt I just cut and hemmed it into the shape we needed and from felt and velcro I sewed the belt and bootcovers.  This post here was the most helpful on that process.  I hot glued lots of strips around the covers to get the details Luke’s had in our inspiration picture.  I used the same process for Minnie’s yellow shoe covers.  This idea is so brilliant because incorrect shoes so often ruin the costume’s look, but who wants to spend that kind of money for a possible one-time use?


The dress for both girls’ costumes was Simplicity 2989.  I came across that suggestion through Google leading me to someone’s Annie dress creation on Burdastyle.  It was perfect for both costumes and my youngest likes the swingy skirt so much I know if I sew from this pattern again “for real” she’ll wear it a ton, because the Minnie costume gets put on at some point most days.  She’s wearing it as I type, actually.  So that’s a pattern recommendation.  Pattern sizing was slightly big but not too bad.  I think each wore one size down. Both dresses have slight modifications, but the Annie dress more so.  I added a waistband inset and changed the curved peter pan collar to more of a point, although it looks pretty curved in these shots.  Since these pictures were taken I did add the white bands to Annie’s sleeves, as well, before Halloween night.

    IMG_4981 IMG_5007

Minnie’s bloomers were sewn from SnazzieDrawers Lucia Bella Pantaloons, a pattern I already owned but had not yet used.  I struck out trying to find Mickey ears around town so I ended up having to make my own.  I followed this mom’s tutorial more or less with supplies I had on hand at home.  I had to order Annie’s wig and it arrived just in time for the carnival.  We also needed a heart locket, so my mom brought over some junk jewelry and harvested a filigree heart off an old earring and worked it with a jump ring onto a chain.  Thanks mom!  She helped me get this all done in one day by helping with pattern tracing and cutting while I worked away on the sewing machine. And as every crafty parents eventually discovers, you put all this work into costumes and details and by the end of a fun carnival the layers have been stripped away amid all the fun. Evidence:

bounce house


Simplicity 2226 Three Ways

People speak of their TNT patterns often.  I haven’t sewn long enough to have lots to choose from, but for now Simplicity 2226 seems to be it.  Plus, I think I like to sew from the same pattern multiple times.  The second and third time through are so much quicker.  I love this pattern for the pockets the gathering in the front and back and especially the chance to accessorize with skinny belts.

First, my most worn version:

IMG_3287 IMG_3295

This has been such a versatile skirt and has seen a lot of wear all summer.  Its a mustard linen-look fabric. The color seems to complement half the tops in my closet.  Plus, like I said…belts!  It is such a simple skirt, but I always get compliments and have been asked several times where I got it, which is fun because that is the only question to which I’ll confess, “I made it!”


Second, a maxi version:


This is a silky fabric from JoAnn that I thought was so beautiful and muted in color.  I saw this whole outfit in my head and bought shirt, shoes, and belt with this in mind, so it was definitely not allowed to become an unfinished project.


A better shot of the fabric:


And in reverse order, the first version I sewed from this pattern:


Already donated!  I guess that answers the question of whether I am overly attached to the things that I make.  I don’t seem to have a problem moving on if its something I don’t like or isn’t made well.  This one was a rayon print from Joann.  I got sucked in by a better quality fiber than I usually find there, but just didn’t love the print once it was sewn up and, being my first version, it came out a bit big with poor finishing.  I’ve started a denim version that can take the #3 spot, instead.

In all versions I removed some of the fullness from the gathers both in the front and the back.  After I finish the denim skirt, I think its time to move on to another skirt pattern.


So I am working on Valentine’s Day tops for my girls, and I got to reminiscing about what I have made for my kids over the years.  I don’t really want to go far back to do in-depth reviews of everything, so I am just going to document it all here (mostly for myself) with a few notes on patterns if I feel so inclined.  It’s that part of me that wants to preserve memories, so everything is just going in this post.  I’m probably just using this as an excuse to procrastinate on recent things that need to be photographed and reviewed!  Here we go!

I just need to preface that for almost every item I could probably state, “I learned a lot working on this one,” because, really, I have learnt as I went and this is pretty much a thorough history of what I have made minus some odds and ends, baby stuff,  and some extensive home dec.

Miss A’s 1st Birthday Outfit:

bday1  bday2

I had to sew my first daughter her first birthday outfit!  This is McCall’s 5834 wrap top with the youcanmakethis.com’s Layered Tulle Twirl Skirt.  I LOVE this outfit.  The wrap top has so many possibilities.  I wish I’d sewn more from this pattern.  I learned about bias binding on this one.  A close inspection in person shows one really shoddy arm-binding and a perfect one.  Guess which one is the one my mom sewed (as well as the entire neck-binding)?  That is another theme that runs through some of these clothes:  “Mom Saves Daughter’s Procrastinating Butt the Night Before Big Event/Photo Session.”  She’s really the best, has been sewing nearly her whole life, and was a Home Economics major.  The skirt is amazing, gets lots of compliments, and is a step up from a plain tulle tutu skirt because of the incorporation of fabric in the layers.  BUT, be prepared to gather forever.  I am a slow sewist, but this skirt – which I have now sewn twice – takes a long time to put together.  I don’t think I have it in me to try it again until I do it on my serger.

mccalls 5834

Christmas 2009:


I really like the color story here.  Mr. T (my son) is in a vest made from Simplicity 4762.

simplicity 4762

Poor boys – they get vests and ties while the girls get all the fun stuff.  But they really don’t care, and he gets my sewing attention where it counts to him:  Halloween.  He’s very detail-oriented, so I get specific requests and instructions and I have spent a significant amount of time for him pretty much every year in that category.  With this vest, I learned that your lining needs to be at least as big (or bigger) than the shell.

Simplicity 4762 Oliver and S

Miss A is wearing the Oliver and S 2+2 blouse in an eggplant poly silk.  I really love this blouse and it is what I am using for the girls’ Valentine’s shirts, so I’ll review it later, although these can be found all over the internet.  Such a simple, modern top with just the right amount of embellishment.  The skirt is also a tutu from youcanmakethis.com called the Fancy Filled Sewn Tutu in three pretty, subtle shades of tulle: eggplant, rusty orange, and a brownish color.  This one is easy peasy and always get compliments at dance class.  She was 18 months here and both girls aged almost 3 and 4.5 still wear this over a leotard to dance in the fall, so I think we got our money’s worth.  You can make this for every holiday and event throughout the year, and the instructions have ideas for what to use as “filling” in the pocket layer.  I later used it for a princess costume for her and filled it with painted wooden castles from the craft aisle, silk flowers, and ribbon.  It’s a favorite in the dress-up box now.


Christmas 2010:

xmas2010 Amundson (15) Amundson (20)

Again, boy gets tie; girls get elaborate outfits!  Mr. T’s tie is a pattern from youcanmakethis.com.  I found the sizing off, and you can see here it is hanging longer than I’d like, but it’s a good tie pattern and you can get it right by sewing a muslin first (or better measuring).  Here Miss A is in the second version of the Layered Tulle Twirl Skirt.  Miss B is in New Look 6903, which I altered just a bit to add various fabric bands, ruffles, and tulle.  I see in my notes although she’s 9 months old here, I sewed the newborn size, but with the size small length.  That’s pretty typical of Big 4 patterns to run large.  Otherwise it was a very simple pattern to sew from and makes a really pretty dress for such simple lines.  I found the yoke with working buttons to be a nice detail.

new look 6903

And since we’re on this pattern, I am going to sneak in one Halloween costume made from this pattern for Miss B because it turned out so darn cute:

candy corn

As Miss A would say, it’s so darlable!  I was very proud to get the point done right in the hat, because I failed years earlier on a Hersey Kiss costume for my son.  We still get great laughs around here about the “poor, melted” Hershey kiss without a proper point!

candy corn costume

We’re almost there!

Christmas 2011:

xmas 2011

That one shows the outfits well, and here is our favorite “fun” one:

xmas 2011

I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with too much sewing that year and I had found the pretty plaid skirts on clearance at Target the year before, so I just wanted to add that extra-special little something for each girl so that they weren’t dressed identical or straight from a catalogue page.  That’s the benefit in knowing how to sew, right?  The boy was thrilled that I let him wear jeans…no need to sew him anything!

A 008-ND

For Miss A, I sewed a vest from Simplicity 2534.  I love this pattern, and how this turned out.  Plus I learned the difference between bias binding and bias facing.  This one called for bias facing.  I am pretty sure I figured it out through my Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Sewing.  The size 3 (her age here) fit well, but seemed a little short for my taste.  I would add length next time, and hopefully there will be a next time in either the vest or coat version.  Miss B is in New Look 6039:

A 015-ND

This pattern would make an awesome princess/peasant costume with the criss-crossing straps.  Although I did staystitch the neckline, it still seemed to stretch out too large.  Or perhaps the pattern drafting is off.  I’m not really sure which it is, and it has made me hesitant to try this pattern again.  But it made a very cute overdress.

Simplicity 2534 new look 6039

Easter 2012.  I did a little bit of reusing here.  Miss B wore the 1st birthday outfit at the very top of this post as a hand-me-down, and I made Miss A a coordinating dress with the leftover fabrics:

IMG_1981 IMG_1961 IMG_1974

This dress is another version of the Oliver and S Birthday Party Dress that I reviewed thoroughly on a previous post here.  On this one I used the tie variation instead of the button tab.

We made it!  You deserve an award if you have read this far.  I can see that I have mainly sewed for occasions such as birthdays, Easter and Christmas.  I have less motivation to finish if there isn’t a deadline looming.  I hope to change this in 2013 and sew more consistently on most days and at a fun, enjoyable pace.  Also, I spent the last several years sewing for my kids and upon reaching a certain skill level I decided last year I wanted to sew for myself, too.  So I hope to spend 2013 sewing mostly everyday,  wearable clothes with just the occasional special-occasion outfit, because there is a certain amount of items here that got very little wear.  However, I regret none of it.  Each project has taught me so much and I remember fondly them wearing each one.  Sewing is such a rewarding and useful hobby.  Until next time!

Winter White

This was supposed to be an easy, breezy summer skirt, but since I didn’t finish it until late fall (in time for family pictures), I started calling it my “winter white” skirt.  I love this Simplicity pattern by Cynthia Rowley – Simplicity 2215 – and have adored nearly every version I could find on the Internet.  Like here, here, and here.

Pleated Skirt

Pattern Sizing: 6-22.  I probably ended up with a size 14, although I started bigger and had to figure out how to take it in after the side pockets and invisible zipper were inserted!  I ended up taking in some of the pleats to make it work.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  Yes!

Pleated Skirt

Were the instructions easy to follow?  As I have said, I am still new enough to be a dedicated follower of instructions.  I thought these were good and if you read carefully, you can definitely figure out the side pockets with invisible zipper, although it was tricky.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  I really love the uneven pleats.  I am a big fan of assymetry (and actually, symmetry, too!).  And I love that it has pockets.  I think its a flattering silhouette for my shape, too.

Fabric Used:  An off-white linen blend from JoAnn, and ivory rayon bemberg for the lining, also from JoAnn.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  Based on the reviews I read before this make I added 2.5 inches to the length of the skirt, and 2 inches to the waistband.  I also added a lining.  This book helped me with that process.  To make your own lining pattern for a full skirt basically you fold out the pleats/gathers to reduce excess fabric, and cut your lining with the new pattern.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  I plan to sew the dress and more versions of the skirt.

New techniques learned:  My first invisible zipper!!  Hip hip hooray!  With the help of both of these Colette tutorials: Photo tutorial and Video tutorial.  I found the combination of both helped my success on the first try.

Pleated Skirt

Conclusion:  Interesting pattern that I feel very comfortable wearing and fits with my lifestyle.  I can see a variety of iterations in different fabrics and lengths to get a lot of mileage out of one pattern.