Infant Sleep Sack

Back when my children were babies, we had bumper pads, blankets, and toys in their crib.  All those things are a no-no today as I’m sure you all know. Sleep Sacks have replaced blankets to keep babies warm over their pajamas.  Eva has a couple but I was intrigued with creating something prettier than the standard fleece sacks without the price tag of the boutique ones.

I had a hard time finding just the right pattern.  I had seen some pictures on Pinterest that had a two piece front, with the bottom section pleated or gathered a bit and I fell in love with it and bought a similar pattern.  It allowed me to do machine embroidery on the top.  But, the pattern called for shoulders that overlapped with buttons and a bottom zipper which mom didn’t see as ideal.  So, using some ideas from the pattern I purchased, I moved on to Butterick and Burda.  But neither were lined, and neither had the separating, upside-down zipper we were looking for.

I began with the top front, doing the machine embroidery I had wanted to include.  I backed the fabric with a lightweight interfacing, and I used cut away stabilizer in the hoop.  The outside fabric is a Kaffe Fasset cotton and the inside is a white flannel.

After joining the top and bottom fronts, I moved on to the zipper.  I chose a 22″ lighter weight separating zipper.  I wanted a flap behind the zipper that would keep it away from baby.  I used the same fleece I used as the lining, cutting a 5″ width, folded in half, and attached to one side of the zipper.


 After interfacing the seam allowances where the zipper would be inserted, I attached the zipper to each side of center front.  I inserted the zipper upside-down, with the stop near the neck and the sipper tab at the bottom, both tor ease of changing and also to keep the large tab away from baby.


I wanted the lining to be secure in the sack so I wanted to attach the lining to the zipper entirely by machine before attaching any other parts of the lining..  After that I topstitched the zipper.  I didn’t like where the tab met the bottom, so I inserted a fabric tab to clean the area up.

Finally, I wanted the lining to be completely finished on the inside, with no exposed seams so I stitched the lining the back and front at the neck and arms, leaving the shoulders free.  I then pulled the lining and outer fabric apart and stitched right side together (leaving some inches open to turn).  And lastly, after turning right side out, I closed the shoulders by stitching the shoulders of the outer fabric by machine and the lining by hand.

All told, I am pleased.  Hope Eva is too!



A Special Doll (More from Tilda’s World)

In my last post, I told you that I had become a little enamored with Tilda’s World and some of the lovely toys, dolls, and ephemera she creates.  After my two monkeys I decided to try my hand at a doll or my sister’s birthday.

This pattern is from Tilda’s Summer Ideas.   I think I mentioned in my last post that I find the directions a little skimpy so I watched one of the several videos on YouTube that was very helpful with the construction.  While Tilda does sell her own fabric, hair, make-up, etc., I improvised with materials that I already owned.  I used a coarser material for her skin so that the stuffing didn’t show through at all.  Her hair is a very cool yarn and I unwound some of the strands to give it some fullness.  Tilda recommends painting the eyes but I used 5 mm half round eyes.  I also used stamping ink for her blush, but think I will use regular blush make up the next time around.


I’m a firm believe that the filling makes a big difference and recommend using a very soft fluffy filling. I have found Fairfield to be very high quality.

Also a word about construction which I didn’t catch onto immediately.  Being a garment sewer for he most part, I am used to cutting out a pattern piece, placing it on fabric and cutting out the fabric.  But for these dolls (and other Tilda creatures), you trace the pattern on your fabric, stitch your tracing lines, and then cut.  (Picture below)  This is important because it adds a quarter inch on each side.  I didn’t realize this when making the monkeys and their arms and legs are thinner than intended.


 All in all, I am happy with the first try and see lots of room to improve going forward.  I have another one on the burner for another sister at the end of this month and for two grand nieces in March.

Hope to get some real clothes sewing in between!


Tilda Monkeys

“Tilda is a craft brand founded by Norwegian designer Tone Finnanger in 1999, best known for its “whimsical and naive characters in the form of animals and dolls …” 

That is the description given for the characters and other decorative items designed by Tone Finnanger and I honestly couldn’t improve on it, so I won’t. She has written many books devoted to her designs and I’ve recently purchased several of them.  I’ve moved away from clothing just for a bit in order to do some gift giving to some to the little ones in my life.  

It was hard to choose where to begin with these little pieces of magic, but since I have always loved monkeys, I will start there.  I’ve done two monkeys, one for a great nephew, and one for a granddaughter (more about that later).  

First up…

This handsome young man is made of a beautiful wool silk that my mother purchased many years ago and that still resides in my stash.  His face is velvet and his ears are suede.  He has a nice warm wool scarf as well.  He is a bit thinner than he should be as I was initially confused by the limited directions.  I traced off the pattern and cut it out.  Actually you trace out the pattern on fabric and stitch on the lines you traced and then cut it out.  As I said, directions are a bit skimpy in my opinion.  But, he is charming.


It calls for the arms and legs to be sewn on, but I opted for grommets instead which I like.  However, please do hammer them in tightly as they will unsnap if you don’t.


The second monkey is for little Eva.  Eva is our granddaughter, born in March, and one of the reasons I have not been blogging much.  I am completely smitten!  Photo of Eva will follow.  I did not use grommets for Eva because of her young age.  I also used fabric eyes and the fabric is from the wonderful Kafe Fassett!  And, the tutu is sewn from one of her mother’s tutus when she took ballet lessons as a little girl!!



African Wire Work

One of my favorite machine embroidery companies is Hatched in Africa.  I think they have some wonderful ‘quirky’ images.  One of their series is called African Wire Work, and it is these designs, plus some oddly cut remnants of black and white seersucker from my stash that were my inspiration for fall jackets for two of my grand nephews.

The jackets are from an independent company, Jackie Clark Designs, and the pattern is called Cute as a Button Baby Jacket.  It only goes from infant to 4 toddler.

I played a lot with vertical and horizontal lines when I worked, trying to be mindful of design elements.  For example, I liked the way the serged edges on the sleeves looked — it seemed to me that they echoed the vertical lines in  the fabric and the embroidery so I decided to leave them.   I also wanted to repeat the vertical lines when attaching the pockets on the smaller jacket and the patch that I added on the back of the larger jacket (not in the pattern).  So, I attached them with a wide machine blanket stitch.

The jackets are hooded are lined with red flannel.


The size 4 looked very short for my nephew, so I ended up doing a band in a contrasting seersucker and attaching it at the bottom.  I had used the contrast fabric to line to pockets as well.  Because the jacket was finished when I discovered it was a bit short, I had to think about how to attach the band so it didn’t seem like an afterthought.  I constructed it completely before attaching it.  I wanted a 2 inch addition so I cut 5 inches, seamed it to match the side seams on the jacket, folded the band in half and folded the vertical raw edges down 1/4 inch.  I then seamed either end and turned the whole band right side out and slipped it over the bottom of the jacket, encasing the jacket like a sandwich and top stitching it to attach it.  Little red and black metal tractor buttons on the pockets complete it!


Louise Cutting Light and Shadow

This is from Louise Cutting’s Light and Shadow pattern.  It’s done up in a grey patterned rayon.  It is very easy to sew and, for me, is flattering as it skims the hips without being too oversized.  I like the neckline, both front and back.  It has some nice detail with the neck facing top-stitched down.  It’s very hard to see unless you blow up the pics and look very closely, but the neckline and the hem are done with a twin needle for a little extra punch.

The scarf is a simple infinity scarf made up from some vintage obi silk picked up on Ebay. I’m sure I’ll make this up again, with some variation.  Good go-to top for jeans.


Louise Cutting’s Artist In Motion

 I’ve been keeping an Inspiration Board on Pinterest to try to get a handle on the kind of styles that I am drawn to so I can incorporate them into my sewing. I really like this look – sort of represents how I’d like to dress on a casual day — a little boho chic.  So, I am in search of the right pattern to  duplicate it.

My first attempt was with Louise Cutting’s Artist in Motion pattern.  It has a vest and shirt – the vest is one size fits all and has a lot of the angles and loose fit that I am looking for. It looked as if would be shorter than I wanted so I  added an inch to the back and front – unusual since I am only about 5’3″.   I didn’t want to take the time to make a real muslin so went straight to some fabric that’s been in my closet for a very long time.  It’s very lightweight, almost lawn and has a floral pattern that is sheer in places.

I’m relatively happy for a first round.  It would look much better with a collared shirt and the right jewelry, but I  do like the fit and and the draping..  I think it has a lot of potential – the sides are open with a button at the top, but I can see then closed as well.  I can also see the front and back pieces cut up and seam allowances added to give the effect of the picture above.  The neck and armholes/sides have self made bias binding.  The edges have nice mitered corners, so typical of Louise Cutting’s impeccable designs.  I’m anxious to continue to play with this one but am excited with its possibilities. 


Bright Red and Leather Tote

Although I have more bag patterns that one can proverbially ‘shake a stick at’ I was still intrigued by Anna Graham’s (Noodlehead) book Handmade Style.  This book is lovely to look at and very well written.  I especially like the bag below which isn’t available on her website, only in the book.  I thought it was the perfect project for some red canvas and brown sueded leather that I had.

One of the things I like about Anna’s bags is her use of rivets and other metal pieces which, I think, really adds a professional look to a bag. And, I am really into using light weight leathers and suedes these days which, again, I think adds a lot.  If you are looking for smaller pieces of leather, there is a wonderful company called Brettuns Village located in Lewiston, Maine.  It is primarily mail order and is only open to the public from 10 – 2 on the first Thursday of every month.  But they have lots of small and large pieces of leather in various colors.  And, since it’s unlikely that many will be lucky enough to make the trip up there, they are very helpful in answering any of your questions or making a recommendation if you tell them what size and what project you are looking for a piece of leather for. 
 The space between the rivets is open and great for a cell phone, sun glasses, pen or other necessities one needs to reach quickly.  I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for to use as straps so I ended up with brown webbing which I stitched red grograin ribbon onto.  

Below is just a quick zip make up case to throw into the bag!


Variation On A Shirt

My husband is a big fan of visual interest in his shirts.  It started a while back while window shopping in Palm Beach and coming across some prohibitively priced shirts that he fell in love with.  Gamely, I promised that I would give them a try.  This is my second result, which is better than my first.  Hopefully my shirt making skills will continue to improve.

If you are going to invest time in a shirt, I highly recommend David Page Coffin’s book, Shirtmaking, Developing Skills For Fine Sewing or the DVD Shirtmaking Techniques.  Actually, there is a great deal more information in the book so I highly recommend getting both.  Although I used a commercial pattern, most of my construction techniques come from Coffin’s book and DVD.  His work is beautiful, both inside and out, and he walks you through techniques that hopefully guarantee a professional looking result.

Some photos below. 

The buttons I used are from Sawyer Brook. Sadly, the owner is retiring and looking for a buyer for the business.  I so hope she finds one and that it stays in New England.  Although mainly mail order, you can visit the location most days.  We have so little left here in New England for garment sewers.  Quilt shops galore, but sadly not so for fine garment fabrics.

And, of course, there is the mandatory monogram on his shirts, with a tiny border of the contrast fabric along the top of the pocket.

One tip I will pass along is the importance of changing out presser feet often.  It takes just a moment, but the results of using an edge stitching foot for the huge amount of edge stitching (and top stitching as well) are well worth the effort.  A flat fell foot is very helpful as well, though you can duplicate that effect pretty well by improvising with a standard foot as well.