Hippo Baby Bunting

Pattern envelope for Simplicity 9215 showing a baby in a fleece bunting.

While I spend more of my time knitting than sewing, it’s safe to say that I tend to reach for both with a mentality of either “this will be fun” or “I could make that”. While perusing baby patterns last fall, I stumbled across Simplity 9215 which offers the sewist the ability to transform fleece fabric into a jacket, pair of pants or baby bunting. Combine that with Joann Fabrics having a sale on fleece during the upcoming weekend and it felt meant to be.

Now, the pattern envelope claims that this is an easy project. Having just curned out a wonky looking baby bunting I think it’s safe to say that the pattern pieces were finicky and the instructions left a lot to be wanting. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the indie patterns I’ve been working with or perhaps I’m simply not in a place where I can picture how what I’m about to do will translate into the finished garment. Either way, I will aknowledge that my beginner sewing status played a role in the wonkiness of the finished garment as well.

For starters, the zipper is one of the first items that you sew on rather than the middle or last steps as I’ve previously worked. This is tricky because the instructions have you working with the front and back piece without the extentions in one step and then add in the extension in the following step. Honestly, it would have been easier to either attach everything together and to attach the zipper after sewing the shoulder seams and inserting the sleeves. In the end, I skipped the extensions (I’m still unsure how they fit together with the final grament, which is ok because I opted for a contrasting zipper on purpose) and was able to manuver my sewing machine around the extra bulk caused by installing the zipper so early. Also, my 14 inches zipper was a little smaller than the length of the body, I should have opted for 17-20 inches.

Another modification to the instructions I would have made (and highly recommend) is sewing the toe piece to the front before attaching the front pieces to anything. The area you’re manipulating is so tiny that any reduction in bulk is going to make it easier. Then, while I would like to think I could try pinning the bottom of the foot in such a way that I could sew around the foot and then up the side seam, the reality is that the bottom of the foot really can’t be attached until both leg seams are completed. So this step would indeed need to wait until closer to the end.

Finally, I couldn’t wrap my head around how to attach the mittens to the sleeves in a way that would make them usable. Now that the project is over, I think I would be able to if I were to rework the pattern? The directions here left a lot to be desired, but I’ll chalk this one up to being a newbie.

Would I make S9215 again? Perhaps in a larger size than 0-3 so that the manuvers are easier to make, but I also don’t see myself making this as a gift for anyone until I’m a little better at sewing. Luckily our little one will be small enough that the sizing won’t really matter (the feet in particular didn’t work out quite right). All in all, happy that I worked through the pattern (I learned a lot!), but a little bummed that one foot is smaller than the other and the larger foot is a weird shape.

A hooded baby bunting made of fleece with a hippo pattern on it.

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!).

Diving into knit fabrics with the Isla Dress

Several years ago, I took a refresher class at Gather Here where I made a box bag. Although living in a studio apartment with another person and paying my way through graduate school meant that I didn’t have the funds to buy a sewing machine (or collect fabric as well as yarn and fiber) nor the place to work, the class was a fun way to work on skills that I hadn’t used since I was 14.

A few months after finishing school and leaving the city behind, I found a vintage machine for $20 and found myself dipping my toes into the water. Friends graciously accepted felt catnip toys, no one commented on my asymmetrical pleating as I wore my first handmade dress or the pointy corset of my second one and our dog enthusiastically curled up on a fleece dog bed. During the time, I took advantage of my large kitchen table and the fact that I lived alone, which is a nice way of saying that, in addition to yarn, fabric and thread were left everywhere.

I don’t blame my husband (then boyfriend) moving in for changing the pace at which my exploration into sewing occurred, I blame the pandemic and the need to suddenly work from home full time. Overnight, I went from having space to spread out (and a patient partner who doesn’t mind creative chaos) to needing a table and desk for us to work. It was more practical to take on additional knitting projects, I didn’t have to break down a work from home set ups in order to be creative.

Then we bought a fixer-upper and the focus shifted again, this time causing both of our creative minds to pivot towards turning our house into a home. Months of peeling a hundred years worth of wallpaper (literally), plastering and painting later, my husband turned to me and asked if he could build me a craft table now that the first floor was mostly complete. Two days later, he was encouraging me to do my research on a new sewing machine so that we could by a new one on black Friday.

A few more virtual classes later, via Notion Fabric and Craft and Creativebug, and I found myself taking on sewing my wedding dress and buying fabric to attempt to make a button down. My niece received a sewn dress for her birthday and I upcycled a thrifted chair. Despite all this newfound enthusiasm and confidence, I couldn’t help but continue to limit myself to woven fabrics because they were predictable (more or less) and didn’t require me to do anything special to work with them.

An impulse buy of a blue knit fabric with strawberries from Notion forced me out of my comfort zone and into the world of stretch fabrics. Armed with the Isla and Jade patterns from Made by Rae, I worked through the directions and managed to sew an Isla dress with long sleeves (the sleeves came from Jade). The neckline does not lay straight because I didn’t realize I needed to pull the neck binding while attaching it, but the sleeves turned out ok because I learned from that mistake. In the end, I created a cozy dress that fits great and, by working with a knit fabric, I forced myself to realize that my understanding of how sewing works has come a long way.

Not only will I make this dress again, I’ve already purchased fabric to do so! Assuming I find the time to iron and cut fabric, I’ll be sporting a handmade ghost Isla dress with Jade sleeves while handing out candy on Halloween this year!

A young woman taking a photo of herself in a floor length mirror wearing a blue handmade three quarter sleeve dress with a strawberry print.