Sunday, April 14, 2013


When I was little, my aunt (who is also my godmother) made a ton of dresses and clothes for us. Or at least it seemed like a lot at the time.  I remember dresses, rompers, pajamas, and playclothes.  She made my first communion dress and then made a matching mini version for my cabbage-patch style doll.  She often made little outfits for my Barbies and Ken dolls, too.  My birthday usually involved a handful of items for me and/or my dolls.  She taught me to sew and, obviously, I still enjoy it.*

I don't make a ton of stuff for the kids, although I do make some.  Last fall for August, I threw together 4 pair of elastic-waisted jeans with side pockets on the legs.  In any pants that are not denim, my boys will wear a hole into the knee within the first 4 wearings.  Boys pants that are elastic-waisted are always a soft knit material; but the tougher pants are always zippers and snaps and a hassle for potty training.  I gave up on the fashion designers figuring it out (being the same people who also seem to think it's necessary to make all girl's Easter and most Christmas dresses sleeveless) and made denim material pants with elastic waists.

I made backpacks for both big kids because they only need to carry their lunch box and at most one folder, but the "small" backpacks are too small to hold either of those things and the "kid-sized" backpacks are ten times bigger than necessary.

I've also made a dozen or so dresses for Katie and pajama shorts for the boys and blankets, hats, and such. I had planned to make Katie's First Communion dress, but Rob's mom offered to do the shopping and buying, and so plans were happily modified.

I made Katie's veil this weekend and decided that I could recreate the whole outfit for her doll, Gianna.   I made a matching veil that took less than 5 minutes and came out perfectly cute.  Then I went for the dress.  Katie's dress is a pretty classic tank-style top with a gathered 2-layer skirt and then just has the pearl detail at the waist (picture).  I figured I could take the basic dress we've used to make several dresses already (the Katie dress), cut two skirt pieces and layer them, and attach the trim.  The pattern is super easy to follow and usually takes less than an hour for me to complete from start to finish, so I figured it wouldn't be a big deal.

DSC_5608.JPGThree hours, an intensely itchy face due to some crazy reaction to the satin fuzz; one botched zipper that meant it wouldn't go over her hips (cursing at the designers for giving the doll such generous hips...); more cursing as I ripped out the zipper and released satin fuzz straight into my nose, apparently; cursing when the satin ended up unraveling to the point of undoing a seam or two; absolutely hopeless when I realized I'd cut the non-standard-to-the-pattern ribbon ties too small and would have to tear the side seams out to fix it; frustration when I remembered that I usually added an inch or two to the skirt length and so it's well above-the-knee instead of mid-calf like Katie's...not the most rewarding afternoon.

But Katie (claims that she) loves it.  Having seen my parade of melt-downs, she may just be humoring me, but I'll take that as a success either way.

*I'm not sure what I mean by "enjoying" it.  I love coming up with projects and I like the act of completing the steps, but every time something goes awry--from an empty bobbin to a totally dysfunctional zipper situation like today--I curse and grumble and hate it.   And then I usually like the end project unless, like today, I'm so annoyed by the time I'm done I would rather never see the project again.  Me and sewing: "It's Complicated".


  1. My kids know that for me, sewing and cursing go together. I'm with you - I love sewing as long as it goes well, but I get EXTREMELY frustrated when things go wrong...

    Jennifer M.

  2. Amen. I picked up sewing watching my mom and reading books. Sewing was always a stressful job for my mom. She would weave her fingers into her hair on both sides of her head and then rub them on her scalp from side to side muttering, "aaaarrrrRRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!"

    I mutter through the laying out and pinning and cutting part but make it through the sewing (barely). I love finished projects though. So I keep at it.

    I need your backpack details, please? I'm in the same boat with my kids.

    1. I will be making a backpack for August at some point and/or a bigger one for Katie as she has a binder for music days and a binder for book club days which don't quite fit in her homemade bag but the store bought ones are just so so big! I'll try to do a tutorial. It's a fairly simple draw-string top with no gussets or other headache inducers.

  3. LOL, thanks for the commiseration! There was a point yesterday when the zipper totally fell apart on me and I whacked the dress onto my sewing table ten times and screamed something like "I just want something to work correctly. I just need ONE THING to work CORRECTLY!" And then I threatened to throw the whole project in the trash and start over next weekend and Katie started crying and (not proud) I then yelled something like "Can't I have have my own TANTRUM!? I have to share my TANTRUMS now!!!?" Sewing: bringing us to the brink of sanity.