Our niece celebrated her fifth birthday in the middle of July. And I was late getting her present in the mail. Embarrassingly late. Not just in mailing but in making — or, rather, deciding what to make.

I hate being struck by indecision, but especially when it means that I miss a birthday because I can’t making up my freaking mind. *sigh* And then it hit me: Why not make her something from … my book? As soon as I considered it, I knew exactly what I’d make: one of the skirts with a tee to match and maybe some kind of hair thingy.

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner, folks!

Seriously. Once I decided what I was going to do, I knew the perfect fabric (Patty Young‘s Flora & Fauna) for the skirt and trusted that the rest would just fall together. I thought I’d use a white T-shirt but happened upon the most perfect coordinating shirt at Target. I couldn’t believe how well it matches! It’s like it was meant to be. Meant. To. Be.

You may have noticed that the skirt isn’t visible in the above photo. That’s because I can’t show it to you yet. I did, however, take a full-length picture of Liesl modeling the entire outfit to share with you when I can. In the meantime, let me tell you a little more about the shirt and headband.

The skirt uses a border print fabric and I ended up with a nice chunk of polka dotted scrap after I cut out the pieces. It took no time at all to cut a few bias strips from it, sew them end to end and then finish the two ends (serged then turned under and topstitched). I left the edges unfinished — in theory, they shouldn’t fray — then sewed two parallel rows of gathering stitches so I could create the ruching detail. I just followed the curve of the neckline, then sewed it down with a zig-zag stitch.

I opted for the bias-cut ruching and zig-zag sewing because of the curved shape but also because that fabric needs to be able to stretch when the shirt is pulled over the head. Make sense?

The headband was another stroke of luck. It came in a three- or four-pack of headbands (Goody brand, also at Target) and was a great match for the aqua. I simply used my Clover Yo-Yo Maker to whip up a fabric yo-yo with some of the leftover scraps, then fussy cut one of the bees from another fabric to make the covered button for the center. A few hand stitches and voila! A fun, coordinating headband that completes the head-to-toe look.

And Liberty for Me

I totally swooned when I saw that Liberty of London was coming to Target. And while I couldn’t help but buy two sweet little outfits for Miss L, I found nothing for me to wear. Sure, there are plenty of dresses and tops — but the styles are not flattering to my figure and I’m not a huge fan of polyester.

I eyed the dresses in the girls’ department, thinking some of them looked rather roomy. Roomy enough to make into a skirt for me?


I wear about a size 14 and bought a size L sundress. I think I really could have gone down to the size M, especially since I’m losing weight (wooohooooo!).

The tools you’ll need:

Sewing machine
Seam ripper
Bodkin/safety pin
Chalk or other fabric marking pen
Elastic (3/4″ or 1/2″ non-roll)

1.Remove the pockets with the seam ripper. Take care not to poke through the skirt!

2. Use the seam ripper to separate the shirred top portion of the dress from the skirt. Set aside the shirred portion. (I’m contemplating removing the elastic thread from the leftover piece and making a coordinating headband with the fabric.) See photo here.

3. Again, use the seam ripper to remove the black elastic from the skirt portion. Mine was sewn on with black thread, so I made sure to pick out only those stitches. Set aside elastic for reusing another time. See photo here.

4. Press the newly cleaned edge of the skirt.

5. Flatten the skirt, front to back, with the skirt right sides out. You’ll notice that the front edge dips with a nice, natural waist curve, while the back waist is convex. Use the chalk to trace the curve of the front waist edge onto the back lining.

6. Sew a row of basting stitches from one side seam to the other, about 1/4″ below the line you drew on the back of the skirt.

7. Trim the excess fabric from the back of the skirt, using the chalk line as your guide.

8. Finish the new back waistband edge (I serged it to match the front).

9. Fold over the top edge of the waistband 1/4″ to the wrong side of the skirt and press. Fold over another 3/4″ (if using 1/2″ elastic) or 1″ (if using 3/4″ elastic) and press again.

10. Stitch close to the inside folded edge of the waistband, all the way around the skirt, to create a casing. Take care to leave a 1-1/2″ opening for inserting the elastic.

11. Measure your waist and cut a piece of elastic about 2″ shorter. Attach the bodkin to the elastic and feed it through the casing. Overlap the elastic ends and stitch closed (make sure the elastic isn’t twisted in the casing first!), the stitch closed the opening in the casing.

It’s a Mish Mash

Sarah, Taffy, Patty and I had a blast picking out fabric at the Alexander Henry booth when we were at Market last October. When these great bird prints arrived at the shop last week, Sarah called to let me know and I immediately started thinking of something fun to make with them.

I loved the Pink Fig Mish Mash Skirt pattern because it provided the opportunity to use all the fabrics — and more — in one fun and funky piece. While the pattern calls for 10-15 fabrics cut to 5/8 yard, Sarah and I figured out that I could get away with fat quarters instead (although we did opt for a 1/6 yard cut of fabric for the waistband). When the pattern called for a longer cut of fabric, I just divided up the fabric and sewed up the pieces to make the longer strips (this was needed for only two fabrics, BTW and pretty much used up each of those FQs).

In addition to the great AH fabrics, we mixed in some solids, a few Kaffe Fasset prints, a little Henry Glass (Bubblegum Basics), some Robert Kaufman and a touch of Lecien Mini Miu. The underskirt is Erin McMorris’s most recent line with some tulle I had on hand.

I did find the cutting and measuring a little intimidating but I just sketched out the skirt layout and planned each piece before I started cutting. I think that really helped me make sure I didn’t have fabrics of the same color or print next to each other, as well as plan the pieces so I didn’t run out of anything unexpectedly.

I neglected to double check each measurement before I cut so I did end up with some pieces that were shorter than others. After I pieced all the non-gathered strips together, I just evened up the bottom. It really was no more than 1/2″ and obviously is still plenty long.

If I had to do it again, I think I would adjust the gathered strips so they are not gathered within 1/2 inch of the top and bottom. I think this would help the rolled hem look a little neater, as well as help with the sort of balloon-y look of the gathered strips where they meet the waistband.

The instructions called for a lot more embellishing and topstitching than I did, and I think I’ll give those a whirl the next time I make this skirt. I think I’d really love to make it with a less diverse color palette for some variation. And I’m eager to try out the embellished tee the next time, too.

For reference, this skirt is a 5T and plenty long to get worn for a couple or three years. Liesl is a skinny size 5 (and only about 42 1/2 inches tall). I made it as a shop sample and didn’t mind it being a little big, since it may be a while before we get it back.

Tomorrow: The Sew Liberated Flora Tunic & Twirl Skirt!

Whip it Up

I have been a sewing machine the past couple of weeks, which means less time for the Internets since something’s gotta give. Housework has been pretty limited, too, although I did cave in to the laundry (Laundry 987, Mary 0) and fold and put away the mountain heaped on the living room chair.

But when I haven’t been ignoring laundry, I’ve been sewing every chance I get. Between orders, new stuff for Etsy and Miss L’s fall wardrobe, I’ve been mighty busy. In a good way, of course. You’ll have to wait for the fashion show, though. I have yet to get pics of pretty much anything other than this skirt. And I didn’t take that picture, although I was quite involved with it. 😉 I’m quite pleased with it. It’s a wrap skirt made from Sandi Henderson’s Farmer’s Market fabrics. I’ve been meaning to sew it for a while but didn’t get the chance until this week. It turned out even better than I imagined!

OK, back to the sewing room for me. I’ve got work to do!

P.S. Picked up my leftovers from the consignment sale yesterday and I am super happy with my scant pile. Only a couple of mama-mades didn’t sell. Yay!