Some Ponyo Love

A pinafore dress patterned with Ponyo running on top of giant waves laying next to a pair of matching baby bloomers.

When we first found out we were pregnant, I enthusiastically purchased 3 yards of gender-neutral patterns from Spoonflower. A yard of firefighter fabric in their organic cotton knit, a yard of kiwi bird fabric in their organic sweet pea gauze and a yard of Ponyo Fabric in petal signature cotton. Then, I enthusiastically set off to find gender-neutral patterns to work each of the fabrics up in.

For the firefighter fabric, I made a pair of easy-knit overalls. The kiwi bird fabric became a bubble romper. Ponyo, however, sat staring at me for months because I couldn’t find a gender-neutral pattern that fit what I wanted to make with it. There isn’t a good reason as to why, but for some reason, all I wanted to do was make a Flutter Pinafore Dress out of the material. Honestly, it wasn’t even that the dress had ruffles (especially when you consider that I didn’t even add ruffles!). Something about the fabric just screamed to me that it wanted to be a dress and not overalls or a romper.

So I sat on it, occasionally taking the adorable fabric out from time to time to see if I could find a pattern that excited me as much as the Flutter Pinafore Dress. Trying to decide if I should cut my losses and make the dress for a friend or if I should compromise and convert the dress into a romper. In the end, I spent a lot of time knitting and sewing other things. Allowing my mind to forget about Ponyo until about a week ago when I started to have enough energy to start thinking about being creative.

The back view of a pinafore dress patterned with Ponyo running on top of giant waves laying next to a pair of matching baby bloomers.

I would be lying if I said that the Flutter Pinafore Dress was not enthusiastically printed and taped together. Due to looking for alternative patterns for so long, the Ponyo fabric was going to become this little dress no matter what, it was just a matter of who was I going to make it for (and I was sort of hoping to keep this one).

Monica Bacon is a fantastic pattern writer for beginners because each step shows an image of what you’re meant to do. In true Paige fashion, I hated gathering the skirt but am happy with how it came out. The only thing I would do differently would be the addition of the elastic on the back of the dress. For starters, using 1/4 in was too small to synch the back completely (but I had so much of it leftover from making crib sheets that I couldn’t help but commit). The other thing I would do differently would be to thread the elastic through the back instead of attaching it before sewing around the waist (which is what the pattern called for). In my mind, I would have less sewing to do and less ends to clip, but in the end, attaching the elastic early lead to a finicky five minutes. I also added a decorative star stitch to the bottom of the skirt, which would have looked even cuter if I had considered the color of starfish instead of using white thread (but hey it’s still cute!).

I love this little dress and wish I had the skill set required to convert it into adult size.

Ballerina Crossover Pinafore

A size 6 month pinafore dress with a repeating ballerina pattern laying next to a pair of matching baby bloomers.

A few times a year, not specifically in honor of the new year, I sit down with my fiber and fabric stashes and look through them. Am I still inspired by the materials in each stash? Do I still see myself working with them? Fabric and yarn are meant to be used and enjoyed, if I am no longer the person doing those things I like to think that I’m releasing them to find the person who will. While going through my fabric stash this time around, I stumbled on the half a yardish of fabric that I used to make my first Cleo Skirt.

Honestly, I forgot about this fabric and how much I enjoyed working with it the first time (which is why I like to sit with my stash from time to time). Occasionally, I rediscover leftover fabric (or yarn) and let it go because I don’t see myself making something out of it a second time. Sometimes because I didn’t enjoy working with the material the first time, others because I’m happy having made the one thing. Even knowing that the fabric can get a little wrinkly when worn, I instantly knew it needed to be a crossover pinafore. The frog one I made a few weeks ago came out super cute and I can’t help but smile at the idea my own little girl with little ballerinas on her. Combine that with by the time she’s 6-12 months the weather will be warmer and I couldn’t cut the fabric fast enough.

Back view of a size 6 month pinafore dress with a repeating ballerina pattern laying next to a pair of matching baby bloomers.

My straps came out better than the first time I made this pattern, but honestly, they’re still not perfect. As with the first one (we didn’t know we were having a girl, so I’m thrilled that she’ll be rocking the little frogs instead of it going straight to a friend), I used some leftover black fabric to make the linning and had just enough fabric left over to squeeze out a pair of bloomers.

Strap skills aside, this is still a pattern I can see myself reaching for time and time again. The fabric requirements are low and the total time from start to finish is so fast! Even if our little one doesn’t end up wearing a pinafore every day this summer, it’s definitely become a staple baby shower gift.

Firefighter Knit Overalls

A while ago now, I stumbled across a firefighter-inspired print on Spoonflower and purchased a yard of it in their organic cotton knit. The theory behind this purchase was twofold: it’s a super cute pattern to make something for a baby and it would give me the chance to work with their organic cotton knit without committing to an adult size project.

Sewing with this fabric is like sewing with butter. Seriously, there were parts of this project that were 4-5 layers thick and my machine didn’t even skip a beat. Plus, it’s softer than I was expecting and one can’t help but imagine a pair of pajamas or an everyday dress being made with a different print.

In terms of choosing a pattern for the fabric, I knew that I wanted something on the gender-neutral side. As much as I love the Germanium Pattern as a dress workhorse, even using the sunsuit hack limits the sewist to a more feminine garment. Not that baby cares! Let’s be honest, baby will wear anything that you dress them in at this stage of the game. It’s really the parents that you’re sewing for at this stage of the game and, even though my husband and I are the parents for this one, I really wanted to add another workhorse pattern to my arsenal.

I don’t remember how exactly I stumbled upon OhMeOhMySewing Patterns, perhaps a Pinterest search for baby sewing patterns put them on my radar? While they have many patterns that have quickly earned an “ohh I want to make that someday”, I knew I found the pattern I was looking for when I saw their Knit Overalls Pattern. Cute little pocket on the front, the ability to choose between snap or button closures… it was perfect for filling the hole in my pattern collection. I also love that it goes up to a size 5 years!

Initially, I meant to sew the 9-12 month version in pants because it’s going to be chilly by the time our little one can wear that size, but I wasn’t paying attention when selecting pattern pieces to cut out and ended up cutting out the front and back pieces for the shorts instead of the pants. Completely my fault and not a reflection of the pattern.

All in all, these little overalls came together super quickly and I’m thrilled with the final result. I may modify the bottom closure next time in order to incorporate snaps for easier diaper changes, but otherwise, the only change to the pattern I made this time around was to add topstitching to the top edging in order to help the lining stay in place after washing.

Having sewn the pattern using a knit fabric, I’m confident that the shorts version of this pattern could also be used when working with woven fabric (and you could probably lengthen the legs to turn them into a pants version). That being said, if you’re someone who works more with wovens than knits, OhMeOhMy also has a Woven Overall Pattern.

In case you were wondering, I’m already jonesing to make this one again. Perhaps another shorts version for my niece’s upcoming birthday?

Toddler sized overalls with yellow buttons and a firefighter pattern printed on them that includes hoses, fire extinguishers, hats, boots, axes and fire hydrants.

Kiwi Bird Bubble Romper

Front view of a bubble romper made with gauze fabric with multi colored cartoon kiwi birds.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, we’re expecting an addition to our little family! I feel like it’s taken me forever to start crafting for them. For starters, we don’t know the gender of our child. While this doesn’t affect the colors or fabrics that I use, it does seem to have an effect on the patterns that I want to work with.

Honestly, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of gender-neutral sewing/knitting patterns out there unless you’re willing to make “just a sweater” or “just a onesie”. Don’t get me wrong, those are important and would get a lot of use… they’re just also not very fun to make. I can’t help it, if we have a little girl there will be more hand-sewn dresses in my future. It’s not that I wouldn’t knit or sew for a little boy, it’s just that there seems to be fewer options to choose from. So really, until our child starts to have strong opinions about what they wear it will be a little bit of this and a little bit of that (and even when they do start to care it will still be a whole lot of hand-me-downs).

I have never worked with gauze fabric before, and while I’m not on a mission (at this point) to try every fabric out there, Spoonflower’s Sweat Pea Gauze combined with cartoon kiwi birds seemed like a fun summer combination. Add in a free swimsuit pattern from Made-by-Rae in order to adjust the base of her Germanium Dress and you’re on your way to imagining how my afternoon went. Filled with deep breaths, “you gots this”s, and a triumphant look what I made at the end.

Back view of a bubble romper made with gauze fabric with multi colored cartoon kiwi birds.

Why not just use the entire swimsuit pattern from start to finish? To be perfectly candid, it probably would have been easier due to having fewer pieces. In my opinion, the bodice area on the swimsuit is slanted towards the feminine side and I wanted to make sure that this romper could be worn comfortably regardless of gender. Plus, the swimsuit has a lot of gathers in the top and I honestly wasn’t in the mood to mess around with that many rows.

It will be interesting to see how the final garment wears on a person as the gauze fabric has a lot of drape to it. This may be a situation where it’s less poofy from the fabric and more poofy due to having a diaper underneath, but either way, it’s a cute ensemble to add to our collection (that and it feels good to be crafting for our little one)!

Time will tell if I will reserve gauze fabric for dresses, shirts, and pants that don’t bubble as it was a little tricky to work with. I also plan on using this tutorial to modify an overall pattern I found so that it has snaps for easy diaper changes. Stay tuned, and be prepared for some baby knits to make an appearance soon!

“Saving” My Emery Dress

Young woman wearing an ill-fitting short sleeve dress. The dress is green with frog faces on it.

In May/June of 2021, I enrolled in an Intro to Classic Dressmaking class at Notion, where I attempted to sew an Emery dress out of a frog patterned quilting cotton. Attempted for a few reasons, for starters, it was hard and I’m by no means an expert sewist (yet?). The more important reason, however, is that when I blended two sizes together to form what I thought would be the correct size bodice I was left with a shoulder area that could have been smaller (aka I probably didn’t need to blend a larger size into a smaller size)! This is probably why people sew a mock version before attempting the project in their final project, similar to creating a large swatch in knitting. Needless to say, the only way my Emery dress would fit would be if I suddenly grew about two cup sizes.

If I’m honest, the dress sat on the floor of our bedroom for several months. Literally staring me in the face day in and day out with its cute (and just a tad creepy) frog faces. My husband, who hates clothing on the floor, stopped offering me pitying looks about the situation after about a week. At least he didn’t say anything about moving it, I was suffering from a feeling I’m sure his inner artist understood.

A size 6 month pinafore dress with a repeating frog pattern laying next to a pair of matching baby bloomers.

It finally came to me, after spending probably too much time on Pinterest looking up sewing projects for babies (their clothes don’t require a lot of fabric!) and a strong desire to have the little frogs live out their destiny to adorn someone’s body. In less than an hour, my missized Emery dress became an adorable Crossover Pinafore (free pattern from Smashed Peas and Carrots) with matching bloomers!

Pros and cons of the Crossover Pinafore really come down to how well you can manipulate fabric around the tight corners that form the straps (which in my case means that they’re a little wonky). I like that the pattern is reversible, but I used some leftover black cotton from an art project my husband was working on, and don’t foresee anyone flipping this particular version to that side. It was also a fantastic excuse to pull out my machine’s buttonhole maker, which always blows my mind a little bit. All in all, I can see myself making this when a friend announces that they have a little girl (Is this too girly for a boy to wear? Do babies even really care?) on the way with purposefully picked lining fabric so that it’s actually reversible.

Now that it’s done, I can’t help but think about the remnants that can be found in my fabric stash. I must have enough fabric leftover to make another one (combined with more black remnants of course!).