Category Archives: reconstructed

For Julie, Sheri,

… and anyone else nervous about cutting up that sundress to make a skirt.

If I can cut up this fancy flower girl dress –

Awwwwww.

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to make this fabulous princess dress up skirt –


Please note she’s still wearing the gloves. They didn’t make it to the wedding, but when dressing up, they are always worn with this dress skirt.

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then you can certainly take scissors to an outgrown sundress, or thrift store find.  Just do it.  It’s not scary, it’s fun.  I promise. 🙂

Along with the peer pressure, I need to send big thanks to Julie for the FOE.  It made this even a quicker, easier project than usual.  Also, it looks super cute –



As always, it’s important that the waistband isn’t actually ON her belly.  “NOT ON MY BELLY!!!”  I see a lot of low-rise jeans in her future.

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And considering I basically did this exact thing for half of her Halloween costume, I’ll just throw that in here too.  I took her practice dress, cut off the top, added elastic (blahblahblah etc etc.)  Then I used the satin from this dress and made another of these tops with it.  Add ribbon, tulle, yet another felt crown, and you have a princess costume!

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Introducing the Fairest of Them All…   Princess Violet!

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This time the peasant blouse really did take me less than an hour, the dress to skirt took maybe 20 minutes.  I can make those crowns in my sleep at this point.  The most time-intensive part was the ribbons on the shirt, but all together I think I spent less than two hours on this, and only used stuff I already had in the house.  She told me it was the “BEST, MOST BEAUTIFUL, MOST PRINCESSY OUTFIT EVER!”  She wore it the day before Halloween to trick-or-treat (don’t ask.)  She wore it to school on Halloween to show it to all her friends.  She wore it Halloween night to the bowling alley.  She wore it the day after Halloween so I could take pictures.  She wore it yesterday just for kicks.

I am SuperMom, hear me roar! 🙂


What’s so maybe?

I know you all are eager to see the 62 tshirt bags I’ve made, but first a quick post to prove that I do make stuff out of other materials.  It’s not all tshirts all the time over here –

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Sometimes, it’s awesome Ikea fabric that I bought for no reason other than I couldn’t leave the store without it, and a thrift store baby blanket that (again) I bought for zero reason whatsoever.  Seriously – I think I bought this blankie after Jonas was already two.  That would make Violet four.  I bought a girl-colored fleece baby blanket when my girl baby was a four year old.  it’s possible I have a bit of a hording problem.

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My sister in law had a new baby girl this summer.  When she had her first, Joe handled the new baby gifts.  I remember him shopping and boxing up a bunch of baby boy clothes.  This time, she had the baby while he was in Iraq.  I didn’t even know, because the emails only went to his account.

Weeks later, when he got home, he said something along the lines of “Oh, my sister had the baby.  Can you, like, knit something or something for her?”

Honestly – it’s amazing the man has lasted as long as he has.

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All folded up and ready for wrapping.

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I thought about it and cursed at Joe and checked out baby clothes online and finally went and stared at my fabric stash for a while and thought “Hmmm.  That Ikea fabric would match that baby blanket that nobody has ever used…. ” and a “quilt” was born.

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Maybe Katy.

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I’m putting “quilt” in quotes in the same dismissive way McCain says “health” because it’s a pretty lousy quilt.  It’s barely quilted.  Where it is quilted, it’s puckered and amateurish (because God Forbid I read a freaking tute or check out a library book or take a class or something before I do this.  Winging it has always served me sooooooooo well in the past, after all.)  I didn’t piece together the top – the blanket was a patchwork fleece blanket.  I basically cut a piece of fabric to fit, cut letters out of the extra, appliqued them on, then attached the two together (and not all that neatly.)

Love love love the back of this thing.  That fabric is sooo happy.

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I unpicked the hem all around the edge of the blanket, cut my fabric the same size as the hemmed version, then rolled the fleece back over the raw edges of the floral to “bind” it.  (Did that make sense?  Here – maybe this will help – )

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What did I tell you?  The back is definitely the best part.

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This blanket was definitely a learning experience.  It has it’s flaws, (boy, does it ever) but it was made with love for a sweet new niece, it’s soft, it’s happy, it’s more than big enough for learning to roll over and chew on toys and find your feet –

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Shown with 35lb terrorist for scale.

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– it’s machine washable, it’s girly without being too precious…  I think it works.  It’s certainly good enough to puke on, which is what I remember my kids doing on their blankets at this age.  Well, that and…  eh, let’s just skip the poop talk for once, shall we?

Welcome to the world, Katy girl.  Hope you like your blankie. 🙂

Fun with Tshirts, part 2

When I last left you, I was busy appliqueing any little boy shirt that got close enough to my sewing machine. I knew there was a reason I still had all those little baby washcloths!  Terry-cloth bowling pins are fantastically soft, AND absorbent! Score!

Well, of course I cannot be permitted to sew for the boy without bestowing twice as much crafty goodness on the girl.  Forget the fact that she asks me to make her things then never wears them (as opposed to Mr. “Is my bowling shirt clean?” Jonas.) Forget how he loves to “help” me sew and is really into the whole process while she really wants me to just magically make things appear without having to take any time away from playing with her and/or cleaning up after her.  Forget it.  Just make me something, woman!

Her wish is my command.  A few more reconned tshirts for your viewing pleasure –

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This summer she REFUSED to wear anything with sleeves.  Even if it was the Fourth and her only patriotic shirt happened to be a T instead of a tank.  What’s a Mommy to do?

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Well – this Mommy didn’t feel like sewing.  So she got out the scissors and cut away everything but the front and a couple of long straps.  It was cute, it was comfy in the heat, it didn’t work so well in the car because the knots bothered her back.  I’ll have to rethink their placement if I ever do something like this again.

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Along with refusing to wear anything but tank tops, the Twink generally refuses to wear anything but skirts.  Imagine my surprise when she picked out a tank and shorts outfit at the store as her “first day of school” outfit.  Imagine my complete lack of surprise when we got home, she held up the top, and asked “which of my skirts do you think this will match?”  Argh.

The answer was – none.  She had no skirts that her new top even remotely matched.  I, however, had two mens XL navy tshirts.  Hmmmm.

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For those of you who follow my other blog – yeah, she totally didn’t end up wearing this on the first day.  To review – she asked me to buy the outfit.  She then rejected the shorts and conned me into making this skirt.  After all that, she chose to wear an old, slightly stained sundress for her first day of kindergarten.  It’s a miracle she’s survived this long.

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This skirt was really quick and easy.  I just cut the bottoms off of the two shirts for the two tiers.  Of course, then I decided that I liked the raw, unfinished edge – so I cut up the hems.  Way to plan ahead.  She’s pretty happy with it, though, considering it’s navy blue.  Blegh.  Princesses very rarely wear navy, or black, or brown.  Those are generally “bad guy colors”.  If I sound like an expert on this, it’s due to the fact that I’ve sat through many a lecture on the subject.  I can tell you that gray is also unacceptable… unless it’s “sparkly, or shiny.  That means it’s actually SILVER, not gray, and that is the color of TIARAS, which makes it VERY princessy.”

While I was cutting up shirts, I opened this one up and stretched it out flat –

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Nice toes.

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– and had a crazy idea.  I thought to myself  “Hmmmm.  That there is a stretchy circle.  A stretchy, finished circle about the size of the Twink’s waist.  A stretchy, finished circle about the size of the Twink’s waist with a bunch of extra fabric around it.  Hmmmmm.”

So I cut out a circle around the neck hole and  – voila! – with no sewing at all not one tiny bit just cutting no sewing did I say no sewing? because this was seriously a 3 minute project I came up with this –

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Twirliness helps offset the un-princessy color.

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Super-twirly super-quick super-simple circle skirt.  It sees absolutely no wear thanks to it’s plainness and color, but I feel like if I could be bothered to applique some hearts or flowers or maybe add a ruffle or something it would get worn.  And if I ever find a mens XL shirt in pink I know exactly what to do with it now.

So.  Tshirts.  What do you do with ’em?

Score!

For years I never threw anything away. I saved old clothes that I hated but thought the fabric had potential. I saved sheets and pillowcases with stains or holes or that fit a bed we sold 5 years before. I bought interesting fabric remnants and carefully added them to my pile of crap that I never, ever did anything with.

When we moved here, I finally got rid of it all. In Arkansas I had a room for my junk. Sure, it was the “guest room”, but if you ignored the bed what it was was a room full of paint and fabric and buttons and yarn and beads and a sewing machine. That never got used. I knew that here there would be no extra room. I had an extra kid instead, who would be selfishly taking up the third bedroom with his trucks and books and changing table. It was time to purge.

I got rid of so, so much. So very much. Stuff I had saved for YEARS because, dammit, I could MAKE SOMETHING WITH THIS. You know. “One day.”

Now, that I have no stash, and no easy access to Walmart or Joann’s… NOW I’m finally making stuff. Regularly. It’s ironic, no?

All this to explain just how freaking excited I got when I scored THIS at the thrift store… FOR A DOLLAR!

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That is a size 3XL pink prom dress right there. Enough tulle and pink satin to outfit an army of preschool princesses. 🙂

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I saw it at the shop the week before, and asked the price. 15 bucks. Are you kidding? Do I look like a woman willing to spend 15 bucks at a thrift store? Hell – I’m barely willing to spend 15 bucks at the regular all-this-stuff-is-brand -new-not-pre-owned store.

The next time I went in, there was a big sign saying “TODAY! All clothing only $1!”. I went right to it. What a freaking steal.

Now the question of what to do with it. The Twink has demanded that I simply make it small enough to fit her. “Don’t change ANYTHING! Just make it SMALLER!” She seems to think that my skills include being able to alter a dress from a 3XL to a 4T. Yeah.  While it’s nice to know she has such a high opinion of my abilities, it’s a little daunting to think that all I can do there is disappoint her.

While I ponder that a bit, I did manage to rack up major Mommy points by turning this –

Wrap that came w/ the dress. Yeah – all for a buck, baby!

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into this –

Not only is it a new “princess skirt”, it’s one I let her wear out in public. It’s like I’m running for office or something. My polls have never been better.

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This was, hands down, the quickest and easiest sewing project I’ve ever done. Ever. This was easier than turning a tiered dress into a skirt. Everyone with a little girl should go check out their local thrift shop for formal dresses that come w/ wraps RIGHT NOW. All the ends were finished. It was a big rectangle of fabric with four finished edges. It literally took me less than 10 minutes to turn it into a skirt. Me. Slowest Woman On The Planet. All I had to do was fold over and sew a casing, thread the elastic through (half of my time was spent on this), then sew the short edges together to form a circle. There was no hemming, no folding over twice, no french seams. Finished edges = easy project. 10 minutes later the Twink was in new-skirt-heaven, and I was getting all the hugs and kisses and praise that should, in a fair and just world, be mine to receive every damn day. I’ll take what I can get.

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In other Twink-pleasing-yet-crafty-news, I’ve started her window.

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The problem with painting for bigger kids is that they have OPINIONS. “Flowers and hearts and stars… IN CIRCLES. Not all crazy like Jonas’s window. “

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I managed to sneak in the random sizes and placement of the “circles”. Also – she hasn’t seemed to notice that they’re really *not* all that circular. She likes it. When I first drew them on she said “Hey! They look like stones!” Ok, I can go with that. Painted stones with flowers and hearts and stars. 🙂

This is my last window, and I have tons of paint still. I’m planning to go very experimental here. In the past I’ve always treated these like a coloring book. First I draw the lines, then I color in the spaces. Done. This one I’m going to treat more like an actual painting. When I’m done coloring in, I’m going to go back and add texture and maybe color on top of color. At first I felt really restricted by her ideas for the window, but now I’m getting pretty excited about making it as interesting as I can within those restrictions. Watch this space – experimentation begins this week.

Great Success!

It fits!

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See the ruffle? So cute! So easy when you’re reusing old stuff!

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She loves the purse, too!

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What’d I tell you people? Babies love purses!

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And because it’s made from a sheet and a nightgown, it is TOTALLY comfy enough to snooze in…

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Everybody now – “Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww!”

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For something I made up as I went along, with no measurements, no pattern, nobody to try it on… Man. Time to give another go at that hot pink yarn while I’m on this high.

Great Success!!! 🙂

Happy Handmade Birthday

By far, FAR, the most search engine hits this blog gets is for people looking for “handmade birthday present”. So far we’ve done a gift for a two year old boy, and a four year old girl. When one of the cutest babies I know was turning one, I knew I had to figure something out. What do you give a one year old girl who has a big sister? She has all the toddler toys she needs. She has all the hand-me-down clothing she needs. Obviously, it’s time to make something just extra cute, and stop worrying about her “needs”. Everyone should have a pretty new dress on her birthday. And maybe a little purse. With very short handles since the birthday girl is still young enough to think putting something around her neck would be a good time.

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Ooh! I just realized that Madam’s skirt is going to coordinate w/ this gift nicely. It’s like I totally planned that when I asked her to hold the bag.

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I really enjoy making these little bags. They take me no time, and I think they’re a cute way to “wrap” a small gift. Plus, both of my kids (yes – the boy child, too) really liked to carry around little purses at that age. The act of putting something into it, then carrying it to another room, then pulling that something back out? SO ENTERTAINING! They were constantly moving socks and binkies and little people from room to room via small tote bags. So I figured the birthday girl should have one, too. A pink one.

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There you go. Check out the skirt next to the bag lining and contents. Ha. Thrift store sheet that I got on bag-sale day and have since turned into A) a circle skirt that Violet wears at least twice a week B) her nightgown C) the fabric parts of the crown/tutu set I made for her friend and D) this kiddo’s dress. Pretty soon the whole base will be full of little girls wearing this rose fabric. The thing must’ve been a king because I still have tons left. Circle skirt, anyone?

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Action shots coming soon.

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I started with this tute and went from there. The fabric I was using was way too thin to go unlined, so I used the bottom part of an old, soft cotton nightgown for the lining. Which worked out real well because I was able to leave the gathered ruffle at the bottom there without actually having to do any gathering. (Yes – I realize you don’t really see any ruffles. Trust me, it’s there. Maybe I’ll catch it in the action pics.) Then at the last minute I decided to keep the top layer open down the sides, so it was more fluttery and less boxy. I want it to move when she walks (toddles 🙂 ).

I had to guess at most of the measurements, as the birthday girl was nowhere near my sewing machine and I have nobody even CLOSE to a petite one year old in this house to try it on in her stead (my two year old weighs 35lbs. Yeah.) So they’re coming over this week (if I can manage to go a day without an ER visit, that is) for me to make sure it fits her (and take many, many pictures for my huge blog following Mom to see.)

I love the fabrics. I love how light and floaty it is. I love that little appliqué heart. I love pink and brown. I love the puffed sleeves. I really, really hope it is at least close to fitting her. Close enough that I can make it work. Although, if it is way too completely never going to work WRONG, Violet has graciously offered to let me open up the sleeves and neckline and give it to her as a blouse instead. And it’s hard to say no to this –

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Could you say no to that?

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So, will it be a toddler dress? Or a big girl shirt? Am I done? Or do I need to go shopping for a book and a stuffed animal after all? Tune in (whenever I get around to it) for the exciting conclusion of : Give Handmade! And Stress About It For Way Longer Than It Would Take You To Buy A Freaking Present! 😉

She posts!

I know!  I’m surprised, too!  But wait – it gets even more unbelievable….  I not only have something to post about, I have a SUCCESSFUL something to post about!  Hallelujah!  (I should note that it in no way involved that pink yarn.  Maybe that’s the key to success.  I feel a yarn swap coming on.)

On to the (SUCCESSFUL!) crafting!

I said on my other blog that the post was going to start with this –

Who needs hangers when you have such an eager little helper?

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But really, if we’re going to do this chronologically, I need to start here –

That’s Madam’s computer chair my fabric is resting on. What?  You didn’t have your very own hot pink office chair as a kid?

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– and here.  The first is a picture of a sheet I got at the thrift store who-knows-how long ago.  I picked it up because I thought the print was sweet, it’s a king size – so tons of fabric, and it’s sooooooo freaking soft.  I was thinking it would end up as the back of a quilt maybe.  Or maybe I’d make a simple duvet-cover type thingy out of it to cover up one of the uglier warm blankets.  Something.  Something on the bed.  It’s so soft and I like the colors.  I wanted to do something with it that would leave me snuggled up against it.  Enter the link – a blog post about making your own pj bottoms.  Duh.  So simple.  Why had this never occurred to me?  For the love – she says “trace a pair of pj’s you already have” and I smack myself in the forehead for never thinking of this.  So here you go –

Do you see how that first photo ended up being part of this project?

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I love them.  They hit me right at the knee, have wide legs and elastic all around the waist (the bow is just for show.)  I made them a bit lower-rise than I like, but they’re jammies.  Who cares!  They’re not so low that I’m flashing people, and considering I don’t (generally) (only in emergencies) (like if Jonas throws Violet’s Barbie off the balcony and I have to run down 3 stories to go get it before it gets run over by the lawn guys) (It’s been an eventful day) leave the house in them, I don’t think it’ll be an issue.

I’m also making Madam a nightgown out of this same sheet.  She seems to think it’ll have puffy sleeves, I’m just making a basic “pillowcase dress” style nightie.  She insists I make myself a top, too.  If we are going to have matching jammies, I need to have bottoms AND a top.  “Shorts are not jammies!  They are just shorts!  You need THE WHOLE OUTFIT!”  We’ll see.

So anyway, back to the photo of the very large skirt.  I’m chugging along on the pj’s, when I decide I need a different fabric for the trim.  I go hunting and find…. nothing.  But wait!  Didn’t I buy a ginormous skirt once on clearance?  With some not-real-thought-out-plan of altering it to fit me?  And if I did that, wouldn’t I then have some leftover fabric?  In a lovely brown?  That would go nicely with this floral print?  Hmmmmm….

Pardon the pajama top.  And the mess behind me.  I barely get dressed and clean up when Joe *is* here, you think I do it when he’s gone?

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I remember seeing these skirts all marked waaaaaaaaaaay down (I think I got it for three bucks), but they were all big sizes.  After searching the racks 38 times for my size, I switched to trying to find the biggest one they had.  If I was going to be cutting some off, I wanted to get as much fabric out of it as possible.  (See that?  Thinking ahead.)  It was really easy to do – I just put it on, pinned it where it fit, and sewed it from the pin to the hem.  Then I turned it inside-out and sewed it again.  (Is “sewed” a word?  Spellcheck isn’t dinging me, but it doesn’t seem right.  Stitched?  It’s not hemmed.  That’s what you do to… well, the *hem*.  Whatever.  I made it smaller.  With my sewing machine.  Then I cut off the extra and used it on the jammies.  The end.)  I think I need a serger.  That would keep me from having to do all these french seams (SEAMED!  There’s the verb I was looking for!)  I guess I could just get some pinking shears and save myself the $300, but honestly – doesn’t everyone need a serger? Or at least, don’t *I* need one?

So – grand total for the day = one pair of new jammie shorts, one skirt that actually fits now (as opposed to being just another thing I bought to fix up “some day”.)  Not a bad day.  (Also – one halfway finished nightie for the Twink.  With any luck, action shots will be up tomorrow. )

Good day. 🙂