Friday, April 27, 2012


The Tale of Eco-Princess...

Well, not the end of the post.

This Earth Day challenge was unlike anything I have ever done before, that's for sure! I have a real problem of buying fabric. Sometimes I buy fabric because I love it, even though I have no idea what I am going to use it for. To be earth-friendly this week, my goal was to make an outfit entirely out of t-shirts already in my house, spending zero dollars, and doing something that any other earth-friendly person could do as well. I achieved the last goal and almost the first two, but did end up buying three extra t-shirts from Goodwill and a bottle of purple Rit dye.

I raided our closets and dressers for old t-shirts that were stained, too small, or otherwise haven't been worn in years. The humble beginnings:

Although the construction of the dress came together exactly as I had initially planned, the whole concept evolved as I went. When you're reusing materials you kind of have to just go with the flow, let go a little bit of control, and see what the finished product turns into. It was a lot of fun!

This look is made up of two pieces. First is the dress, pieced together with our favorite screen-printed images and tied in back with a large bow. The neck and sleeve bands are cut from the neck bands of the old t-shirts. It has an elasticized waist and is finished on bottom with a double row of stitches (everyone sewing with knits should have a twin needle!). The second piece is a petticoat I made entirely out of whatever was left of the t-shirts. The dress is perfectly finished in every way, but the petticoat I wanted to leave raw with unfinished edges. I cut out as many strips as I could, sewed them together, and let my ruffle foot gather it all together. I attached the ruffles to two circle layers and then to an elastic waistband, circle skirt style.

My favorite part about the concept of this dress is the many possibilities! Use color dye. Use favorite characters. Use ripped, stained, or otherwise unwearable shirts. Use daddy's favorite team t-shirts! Use her old baby onesies (we used one!). Use the neckbands that are already there for you on the t-shirts. Use any pattern of dress style you want. Heck, even use the tags you cut out to make a bracelet (see below!). Use your daughter in the designing process and you will have a custom dress just for her that she will love. The important thing is that you are reusing what you already have and are cleaning out your closets a little bit in the process.

It is so much fun to see how it all comes together!

I always like to show pictures of my clothes inside out so that you can see all the pieces that came together and to show how important quality construction is to me. Remember when I said the petticoat was raw? Notice the sleeve opening on it's side in the bottom picture. Did I bother to cut it out? Nope. It adds to the funkiness. Plus I was working with only the scraps of shirts I had left so I had to make do.

First, head over to Project Run & Play and VOTE for my look! And second, go search through your closets for old shirts that can be turned into something new and special, reusing things you already have!

Eco-princess would approve.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hopscotch Romper

Presenting... the Hopscotch Romper! Project Run and Play Week Two is all about sportswear. Not jerseys and gym shorts, but defined as: stylish but wearable, comfortable and interchangeable multi-purpose clothes that combine practicability with style. For children's sportswear I instantly thought of recess. As a former first grade teacher, I've had my share of recess duty and those kids need to be able to swing, slide, climb monkey bars, and play tag (or hopscotch) without worrying about their clothes. And if you can combine comfort with style, then that's even better!

I'm a sucker for a romper. They are so comfortable and wearable, and yet they still look dressed up. For example, she could comfortably wear this Hopscotch Romper to the park and then add a big beaded necklace and look all dressed up for a friend's birthday party (it is definitely multi-purpose!). I made the romper out of a Michael Miller interlock knit fabric. If we are talking sportswear for children, it has got to be knit! This knit specifically is incredibly soft and high quality. It is nice and stretchy, but it keeps it's shape (unlike those cheap t-shirts we all have that become short and wide after we wash them). High quality knits can be pricey, but so well worth it! There's nothing worse then spending time to make something just to have it unwearable after one wear or wash.

The romper itself features a peter pan collar, sleeve and leg cuffs, a button band, and two little pockets, all trimmed with a fun mini pom-pom trim. I added an encased drawstring waist that really gives the whole thing a perfectly comfortable fit. I love to mix vintage elements with modern style and fall somewhere in between. I could see this being worn by a little girl playing hopscotch back in the sixties just as well as I can see it being worn today.

*Stop photo shoot! The hopscotch queen has fallen and has seen a drop of blood! The entire neighborhood is hearing her piercing cry.*

Will she ever hopscotch again?

Only time will tell.

Here are a few more photos of it unworn and some inside out, so that you can see better all the pieces that came together to make this romper. I wish everyone could pick it up and inspect it and feel the softness, to really show it's craftsmanship, but these pictures are the best I can do. Notice from inside out the drawstring waist and the gathering in the back neck and sleeves. This thing came together like a dream... meaning, knits are not so scary to work with and they actually are easier in many ways than regular old quilting cotton!

Oh wait... she does hopscotch again!

Please head over to Project Run and Play and VOTE for my look! I am so excited for my outfit next week (and pretty much every single challenge) so I have got to stay in the running!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Thank you

This is a belated thanks to everyone who supported and voted for me last week for Project Run and Play... thank you! I'm so excited to share my sportswear look on Friday! We were given all the challenges and themes for the contest about a month before it all actually begin, in hopes that we would be able to work ahead and save ourselves some grief. Unfortunately, March (and now April) seemed to be the month where it was one thing after another and I got asked to help with a lot of things. I can't help it... I'm a yes-person! So instead of being ahead of the game, I am taking pictures and writing up posts for Friday's challenge while also designing and sewing for the following weeks challenge, all the while my brain wheels are turning for future ideas after that. Yes, it is crazy, but so so fun. I really don't want it to end!

One of the biggest things I was working on over the last month was costumes. I got asked to do costumes for the Youth Roadshow for my church. A whole lot of work, but remember I am a yes-person? And I will always be a yes-person when it comes to costumes because I looooove making costumes. And I love the youth too.

The play was a fractured Sleeping Beauty tale and characters included a prince, princess, maleficent, a dragon, trees, castle walls, and a rock, among others. Check out most of the costumes in action at one of their practices...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mermaid for Eachother

Project Run & Play has begun and I am so excited! This is my first look, called Mermaid for Eachother. The challenge was a pattern remix of Dana's Circle Skirt Tutorial, a super simple skirt pattern with a million remix possibilities. This skirt was my sixth legitimate skirt idea, all of the previous plans being super cute, but just not feeling right. Recently Drew has been wearing and flopping mermaid fins all around the house and like every four-year-old girl, she lurves mermaids. In her eyes this skirt is by far the best thing I have ever made her, and I didn't succumb to buying her Disney paraphernalia, so I have done my job!

I definitely wanted to keep this look as a skirt, instead of make it into a dress, because skirts are so versatile and easy for little girls. To Dana's pattern I gave the skirt a lot more gather around the waist for a really full look, gave it a peek-a-boo lining, and added what I believe is the *ultimate* waistband for girls. I would use this waistband for any skirt, shorts, or pants. It looks so professional, is super comfortable, and is fully adjustable to grow with her. She will be able to wear this skirt for 2-3 years I am sure.

Which is great for all the hours I spent on the main feature of the skirt... the mermaids! I drew out the mermaid pattern and using fun fabric and fusible interfacing I attached them to the skirt. Then I painstakingly hand-stitched around each detail of those beauties while my husband and I relaxed together at night, me with needle in hand and him watching ESPN. I really enjoyed getting to work on this part of my look while sitting on the couch next to him, rather than behind my sewing machine. My favorite thing about this skirt is that just relaxed and from a distance, the mermaids make a really cool looking pattern. But spread it out and you can see the individual mermaids and that is cool too!

Not to be overlooked is the adorable gingham top. The best part about sewing clothing is all the fun little design decisions and details you can make. I cut the pockets on the bias along with all the trim and found just enough of the vintage rosebud buttons for the perfect touch. The collar has a secretary-ish tie and I just love the look of this top together with the skirt. Although each piece individually could pretty much be worn with anything else Drew has in her closet. I can't wait to mix 'em up! (I'd try gingham top with skinny jeans, except it is too hot for jeans already here in Phoenix!)

This photo shoot was a blast too. The girl refused to stop twirling and leaping around and being a bit of a dork with her glasses.

Please head on over to Project Run & Play and vote for my look on the top left sidebar!