Ruffle Dresses

sister dresses

I love buying pdf patterns, especially when they go on sale. Quality is all over the place, though, and sometimes it’s hard to predict what you’re going to get before you open up the file and start reading it through. The Kikoi Ruffle Dress is an adorable pattern in the photos, but when I read through the “tutorial” to make these sister dresses, there were a few changes that I wanted to make. (I know most people are different, but I personally don’t love patterns with photos for every step. I’m not particularly visual, and photos of white thread on printed fabric don’t help much. Well written technical text with diagrams where needed would be my preference. As would a strong line diagram so I can judge what I’m getting without trying to decode a set of photographs of finished samples. Although sometimes I buy things just to figure out how the designer worked out the puzzle of putting something together).

The biggest change I made was to line the bodice instead of using bias tape for edging. I also moved the seam where the ruffles join to the back (even though that put a seam in the ruffles down the center front) because I thought it looked weird for one side to be flouncy and the other more “flat”. I used my rolled hem foot for the bottom edge of the ruffles, and that was awesome. I wish I had extended the back piece a little further so there was a better overlap since I used buttons instead of snaps. I also think 1/4″ seam allowances are on the slight side for clothing, but it would have been annoying to cut 1/4″ off the pattern and then add 1/2″ on, so I left it or did a slightly larger SA sometimes.

These were a gift, and I started wondering about the fit on actual children toward the end. I made a 4T and 12 mo. The bodice is basically the same width for both, just a different length (which might be accurate because kids grow up, not out much). But the under-skirt didn’t seem to have a lot of room for movement. I learned some things about the different ways of assembling ruffles for skirts, which means I analyze new patterns with that feature differently now.

Rainbow Braid Baby Quilt

Rainbow Braid Quilt

I really like this quilt, but I feel like in some ways it’s just ticking the boxes of a so-called “modern” quilt or pinterest trends. Solids (ombres)? Check. Chevrons/braids? Check. Text/number fabric? Check. Low volume background? Check. Whatever, I like it, and it was really fun to make.

Rainbow Braid Quilt

I really like sharing process photos on instagram, so look over there if you’d like to see how it played out. It started with a “simply color” jelly roll and a braid block, which is nothing new. I made one rainbow block and one monochromatic block, and then decided I wanted to play with different color combinations instead of sticking to one idea or the other.

Rainbow Braid Quilt

I put the blocks on point and used “architextures” prints in black, white, and gray for the background and border. I buy fabric for stash, not by project, so I had to use a couple prints to make it all work, but I think they blend.

Rainbow Braid Quilt Back

The back was from a fat eighth stack I had of Simply Color, and was a simple design I had in mind from those fabrics, so it was fun to do here. I originally wanted to use a white or cream background, but thought a print would be more forgiving for a baby quilt that will be used on the floor. If I had more fabric I would have tried to match up those stems! I quilted this in straight lines offset through the center that you can see here.

Close up of Quilting

This headed off to a soon-anticipated baby girl last week!

Rainbow Braid Baby Quilt

(Someone else likes to pose for pictures)


Patchwork Please Handy Market Tote

My mom carries a lot of totes between her different workplaces. So when I was looking at Patchwork Please to see what my first project would be, I knew this tote would be received well. I have a stack of music-themed fabrics with my mom’s name all over them just ready to make things for her. I didn’t quite get this done in time for her birthday, but with time to spare to get it linked up for the Zakka 2.0 sew-along!
I read through the directions a couple times, but they didn’t all make sense so I just put it together how it made sense to me for the most part. I really should have added the buttons for the pockets to keep them in place. I used some home dec fabric as interfacing, which is what I usually do on bags instead of keeping a supply on hand of a wide variety of interfacings.
As far as the pattern directions go, there was room for improvement. I would have loved a helpful hint on how the sample in the book had such square corners. Mine didn’t turn out so boxy. They could have used some technical help, too: the pieces were referred to as “the square” or “the linen piece” instead of labeled “A, B, C, etc” so if you’re using a different kind of fabric it was tough to keep track of what’s what. There aren’t any diagrams to show you what’s happening, so the clarity in the written instructions is very important. Thankfully, this is a pretty straightforward tote that isn’t too tough to figure out if you’ve sewn totes before.


Improv Play

Feather / leaf
It's an experiment. I'm learning things, at least.
Progress.After I finished the triangle quilt, it was time for some fabric play. It’s been a little while since I’ve tried to build something in an improvisational way from start to finish.

I’m a much better quilter in my head than I am in real life. The only way to get better is to practice, and this is part of that process. I’m not quite sure about the overall effectiveness of the layout, but I’m thinking of it as an improv sampler – a few curves here, some crazy piecing over there.

Improv top done

This quilt snippet started with some Marcia Derse fabrics, a thought of Gail Baer’s colorblock quilts for that center section, and some practicing with curves. I think I’ll do some circular quilting to finish it up and see if I can help flatten out the whole thing.

Treasure Pocket Pants

Treasure pocket pants #sewing #sewingforboysCarl's not a fan of the crazy pants (treasure pocket pants). They are kind of bell bottoms

Have you made these pants from Sewing for Boys? They’re really appealing as a way to include a spot of cute fabric on the side of some boys’ pants, plus pockets are fun (except Will doesn’t use them yet). They’re kind of a pain to make, though! There are several errata for the book, as with most sewing books, unfortunately, but after staring for awhile at instructions that didn’t make sense I decided that  I should probably just sew them like it made sense to me, instead of worrying too much about following them. There were a couple new things to learn, like the hem facings and faux fly, but I did the waistband a completely different way that worked better for me. Now that they’re done, Carl thinks they’re too girly, and I admit they are kind of like bell bottoms. I’ll have to use a pair with a slimmer leg for my next pair of boys’ pants, and maybe keep the contrasting fabric to the inside.

Simplicity 1688


This dress was nowhere near my to-sew list, but when we got an invite in July for an August wedding I realized I would probably have enough time to make something and started looking through my stash for something that would be dressy enough, a little beyond work wear. I had 1.5 yards of this AMH linen print stashed for a skirt, but there is enough for this shift dress too, for a totally different look! the blue is the only solid I had that would somewhat coordinate in a heavier weight fabric, and it’s a Lisette twill from Joann’s. Thank goodness for pictures of finished objects made in the AMH print – most of the swatch photos I’ve seen online don’t really show the lime green grid very well. There was enough fabric for me to play with the placement, but obviously I didn’t realize the band would be around the widest point of my hips with a bullseye on my belly, or I might have shifted it a little!


There aren’t many pattern reviews for 1688, but everyone always complains about how there’s too much ease in big 4 patterns, and to look at the finished garment measurements. I don’t know if I based my measurements on the finished jacket instead of the dress, but I measure a 14 and made a 10 on top and 12 on the bottom, and had to eke out the seam allowance on the top with not a lot of room on the bottom either (but I didn’t change the seam allowance there). I feel like I could have made a straight 14 and had a little extra room to breath, although maybe the darts wouldn’t have been as spot-on. The other thing I would note is that I usually have to take out an inch or two in torso length to avoid pooling in the back. I didn’t adjust this pattern at all for that, and it fits well.
The lining is an orange linen-rayon blend. Not the softest on my skin, but about the same weight as the dress. If I’m not sure if I’ll finish a project, I definitely don’t want to buy new materials for it! I used to dislike any hand stitching on a garment as a sign of something being homemade, but I decided that it’s a feature because when do you get so much care and attention paid to store-bought goods. Beyond the fact that never would a store-bought dress be sewn to my exact measurements like this.
I was feeling pretty good about making the dress until the zipper. I installed an invisible zipper and it couldn’t hold the strain of holding that much of the seam together over my pear-shaped (I mean AWESOME shaped) hip-waist ratio, so I put in a hand stitched metal zipper instead, and it worked better, although the stitches at the bottom popped out when I wore it so I had to sport a safety pin that day, so there’s a repair to do already. Oh well, my next one will be better.


I’ve made myself a few skirts and easy tops recently, but it feels like a nice accomplishment to put together a dress, for some reason. Let’s hope there are more soon!

Matthew’s Texty Triangle Quilt

I already wrote about about the process of making this quilt, so today’s the day for lots of pictures of it all done! I took it along when we went blueberry picking last week, and it was hard not to just focus on the fluffy clouds and bright blue sky.

Triangle Quilt
Triangle Quilt
Triangle Quilt
Triangle Quilt
The black border is Chicopee ladder dot, and the binding is Cloud 9 scribble. 

Triangle Quilt Back

The quilting on this is not the best, but it’s because I wasn’t very careful with basting or getting the wrinkles out of the batting. The back has more text, numbers, ikea prints, and a few Miscellany scraps. There are folds, but I’m over it now.
The Quilt Holder + FriendAnd one last picture of my great quilt holder and favorite photo bomber!